Dong Nguyen, Flappy Bird creator, tells all to Rolling Stone

Mar 11, 2014

Few games or creators have ever managed to upset the status quo in the way Flappy Bird and Dong Nguyen did. The game skyrocketed to #1 with zero marketing, earned its creator hundreds of thousands of dollars, and disappeared from the App Store due to a sense of ethics and responsibility; the game was simply too addictive, its creator said.

Asides from a few tweets and a whole lot of speculation, though, we’ve had little to go in in terms of what really happened with Flappy Bird – or to its creator Dong Nguyen. But now, thanks to an interview with Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, we have the whole story.

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If you have even the slightest bit of interest in the phenomenon that was Flappy Bird, you owe it to yourself to check out the whole article. That said, here are a few highlights of what we learned;

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Block Fortress: War Review

Mar 11, 2014

Block Fortress: War is a real-time strategy (RTS) game from Foursaken Media. It's also hard. Damned hard.

Nobody really expects a real-time strategy title to be as easy-going as a walk through a grove of block-shaped trees. We're talking about war, after all. People die in wars. Zombies explode in wars. Nevertheless, casual RTS fans will probably balk at Block Fortress: War's steep learning curve. Even genre veterans may quickly realize they've met their match.

Block Fortress: War takes place in the far-flung future. Space has been colonized, and the universe is very square. That's not to say it's lame: it's literally made out of cubes. 

Block Fortress: War

As humanity zips around the universe, it logs more face time with aliens. Many of these critters are hostile and wish for our destruction. What do we do with angry aliens? We go to war with them, of course. 

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Block Legend Review

Mar 11, 2014

I've not felt the draw of a Puzzle Quest game since the first one. The novelty of RPG mechanics met with match-three gameplay wore out for me quickly as I realized even the developers behind them weren't sure what made those games great.

Now I have Block Legend. It's full of obligatory pixel art and chiptunes and the super deformed character design you expect from an indie dev. What it's not is a Puzzle Quest game -- it's not even a match-three game. It is, however, a blend of puzzle and turn-based RPG.

Block Legend

Your character (more on those later) moves from left to right automatically, running into enemies while you match blocks below, a la 10000000. Rather than switching blocks about to match, any number of identical tiles can match at once. 

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Could Kik Messenger save HTML5 games?

Mar 11, 2014

HTML5 games reminds me of Oakland, California.  Oakland is the smaller sister next to San Francisco, on the wrong side of the Bay.  Every year, we say, this will be the year that Oakland becomes the Brooklyn of the Bay Area.  But, it never happens.  It’s always next year.

That’s the story of HTML5 and games.  Whether its Facebook embracing or dropping HTML5, HTML5 startups getting funding then imploding; the imminent success of HTML5 games is always a year away.

But this year may be different.

There are awesome HTML5 game technologies available, such as Tresensa, GameClosure, Clay.io, and Goo Technologies.  Spil taking the lead with new ad technologies and $5 million in funding.  

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And then there is Kik.  Kik is a messenger platform with 100 million user and over 275,000 new users signing up everyday.  What makes Kik unique compared to other games-focused messenger platforms such as Line, KaoKao, WeChat, and Tango is that does not distribute third-party game apps.

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Halfbrick's next game has bears. They win.

Mar 10, 2014

Art is stupid. Bears are awesome. You might disagree with one (or both) of these statements, but you know who doesn’t care? Halfbrick. The makers of Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride, and Colossatron are about to take the art world by storm – by tearing it apart with Rory the Bear.

The next game from Australia’s mobile masters is Bears vs. Art, their “first true puzzle game,” according a press release issued today. And thanks to an early launch in Australia and Canada, you don’t have to go by the press release alone.

The object of the game is to destroy the art in 125 galleries by taking the shortest route possible (while avoiding a multitude on security measures). Mostly because bears are awesome.

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There’s no date yet on a worldwide release, but with a soft launch already live, we don’t imagine you’ll have to wait too long to get grizzly on a Picasso. 

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The numbers don’t lie: home gaming consoles are in trouble

Mar 10, 2014

With new console launches from Sony and Microsoft mere months in the rear view mirror, we won’t blame you if you buy into the hype and consider 2014 to be a golden age for gaming machines; a veritable Renaissance for living room gaming. But the endless TV ads and Best Buy displays that are selling you this fantasy are devoid of one thing: sales numbers. And as TechCrunch has reported today, they’re not good.

Referring to leaked NPD data on North American console sales for January 2014, TechCrunch paints a fairly dismal picture for the living room market as a whole – one in which only 16 million next gen consoles have sold to date. At fault, in their opinion, are a myriad of factors – including casual gamers moving to mobile and hardcore gamers moving to PC.

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As the editor of a site primarily focused on mobile and PC gaming, I hate to say I told you so, but… you’re gonna let me have this one, right?

 

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Game of Thrones Ascent mobile dated: Winter is coming (this spring)

Mar 10, 2014

Back in January, Gamezebo’s interview with Disruptor Beam CEO and founder Jon Radoff revealed that Game of Thrones Ascent was headed to mobile. The big question was when, but the company kind of answered that today: early spring, close to the time when Season 4 of the TV show gets rolling on HBO.

Disruptor Beam isn’t going it alone either. Following up on a partnership formed for the popular web version of the game, it’s teaming with Kongregate to bring Game of Thrones Ascent to both iOS and Android.

“Since the early stages of the game’s development, our intention was always to release Game of Thrones Ascent on mobile devices,” Radoff said in a press release. “Now that we have had great success growing users and revenue across web platforms, we are excited to be bringing the game to mobile players. That’s what we’ve seen first-hand with Kongregate, and why we are excited about partnering with them for our mobile release, continuing to build upon this vast and passionate community of players.”

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Kongregate is best known as on online games portal, but it did announce a $10 million mobile publishing initiative last year. It’s also owned by GameStop, which should help when it comes to marketing the arrival of Ascent on mobile devices.

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Costume Quest 2 is GO! Set to spook gamers Halloween 2014

Mar 10, 2014

Oh my god, oh my god, Costume Quest 2 is happening.

Phew, now that that’s out of the way, here are the details. The second full game in the “my first RPG” series was announced courtesy of developer Double Fine and small-time publisher Midnight City.

In typical Double Fine fashion, the announcement comes by way of an amusing live-action short featuring Tim Schafer himself. Beyond the title and publisher, the video does little to inform us about the game.

 

Costume Quest was one of several downloadable games cited with helping to save Double Fine after several financial (though not critical) flops. In the original, players controlled a group of trick-or-treating children whose imagination transformed their costumes into the real thing and allowed them to fight supernatural mischief-makers.

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Here's what Whitaker Trebella, creator of Polymer and Pivvot, is playing

Mar 10, 2014

Whitaker Trebella is a busy man. When he’s not making great mobile games like Polymer (recently a Starbucks free game selection) and Pivvot, he’s composing the soundtracks to all of your other favorite games. Tilt to Live, Super Stickman Golf, Velocispider – the tunes in those games are all Whitaker.

Keeping him busy nowadays? A crowd-powered attempt to bring Pivvot to Steam. The game is on Steam Greenlight, and if you’re already a fan of his work you should do the man a solid and give it an upvote.

With so much on his plate, you’d think it would be a real challenge for Mr. Trebella to take a break from contributing to games to actually play them. He’s inclined to agree – but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t managed to squeeze some game time into the last few months.

We recently chatted with Whitaker to answer that one burning question that’s on all of our minds: what’cha been playing?

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If... Review

Mar 7, 2014

Obvious moves aren’t that interesting. So when it came to light that EA founder Trip Hawkins had a new startup working on a game to teach kids social and emotional learning (SEL), it raised some eyebrows. Well, mine anyway, and possibly Dwayne Johnson’s. Now that game, If…, is live, and it’s no less intriguing in the way it blends high production values and dedication to its mission to create a viable alternative to much of what school-aged children might otherwise play on their iPads.

The story of If… (the title is inspired by a Rudyard Kipling poem of the same name) unfolds on a planet called Ziggurat where anthropomorphic dogs and cats once lived together in harmony. But something has happened to upset the balance, and it’s up to your child’s customized canine character to get to the bottom of it, starting with a special town called Greenberry. Your guide is named YouDog, a mentor figure who’s one part Yoda, one part Mr. Miyagi and one part man’s best friend.

If...

Other characters follow through the portal to Greenberry in short order to help you with the literal rebuilding. This is the least compelling part of the gameplay, requiring the simple gathering of several resources to restore buildings to their former glory.

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