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Teenage Dirtbag

What on earth do you get a teenage software company for its birthday?
Strange Flavour Ltd. is 13 years old as of tomorrow (April 1st 2017). We’ve been releasing games as Strange Flavour since 2001 but went full time with it and set the company up with Freeverse as our publishing partners on April 1st 2004. (we picked that day as it’s also Apple’s birthday 😉 )

I’ve made a list of every Strange Flavour game that’s been released for this blog, but I thought you might find it interesting to hear about some of the great ones that *nearly* made it to release…

First up of course, is Airburst XBLA. This was the ultimate version of Airburst, written for the XBox 360 and unfortunately shelved very near to completion due to running out of budget and a need to shift to iOS game development when that became available to pay the bills. (which was lucky for us as that was when we wrote Flick Fishing and paid off all the debts Airburst XBLA had run up 😉 ). Airburst XBLA was a pretty awesome game though and it’s on our “One day…” list.

France France Revolution: You might remember our Apple Design Award winning game ToySight. It was a compendium of arcade games all controlled by the iSight camera and there was one game that didn’t quite make the final package as it wasn’t quite there yet.
In France France Revolution you waved your arms in time to music to attract the attention of the Scarlett Pimpernel so he could come and rescue the French Noble about to get his or her head chopped off by the Guillotine 🙂

A notable mention is one we did actually release, but it was a special project for a drug company to use at shows and was a special ToySight game where you play as a new drug fighting colon cancer (quoting the client “Best damn ass cancer game ever!”) . File that one along with the crowd controlled version of Totem Ball (and the play while you’re queuing for a Caterham thrill ride version of SlotZ Racer) under “cool but weird exhibition stuff”!

Strange Flavour’s Games

We have actually finished and released a huge number of games though. Here’s the full list of what we’ve done in the last 13 (or 16) years…

Bushfire (Mac)
Airburst (Mac)
ToySight (Mac) (also ToySight Gold with extra games)
Airburst Extreme (Mac)

Spyglass Board Games (XBLA)
Totem Ball (XBLA)
helped on Marathon Durandal (XBLA. Freeverse did most of the work, we just consulted)

The Plank (iOS)
Flick Fishing (iOS), (also Flick Fishing HD, Flick Fishing Free, Flick Fishing Free HD) and updates for 5+ years
SlotZ Racer (iOS)
Warpack Grunts (iOS)
SlotZ Racer 2 (iOS, Apple TV)  SlotZ Racer 2
SlotZ Racer Caterham Special (iOS)  SlotZ Racer Caterham Special
Apple Dash/Bob (publisher & added code) (iOS)   Apple Bob
Melvin Tiles (iOS)
Any Landing (iOS, Apple TV)   Any Landing 
Snapmatch Soccer (iOS)
Fast Fishing (iOS, Mac)
SlotZ Racer Zenos Special (iOS)   SlotZ Racer Zenos Special 
Tiny TrackZ (iOS, Apple TV) Tiny TrackZ
Fish! (iOS,Apple TV)   Fish!
SpinnYwingS (iOS) ( AppleTV and Mac coming soon!)  SpinnyWings

If you include the alternate versions of Flick Fishing, that’s 29 professional game releases in 16 years. Not bad for a tiny 2 man team. I think I’m taking the day off tomorrow 🙂

Updates Updates Updates!

It’s been a month of updates!
SlotZ Racer 2 finally got its new 2.09 update with MFi controllers, new cars and general updatey goodness to work on newer iPhones and iPads and Fish! had a couple of point updates to fix bugs, tune things and add a couple of minor features that players requested.
Adam’s even been working hard and updated the Strange Flavour website too! (more tweaks ongoing in that department).
We’ve actually got another SlotZ Racer update in submission as a bug snuck through in the championship mode of the game, so expect to see that hit the App Store this week.

Next up in the updates department is a fairly big one to add all the extra locations and features in the iOS version of Fish! to the Apple TV version. Both the Apple TV and iOS versions will be getting another update later on with some rather cool new features.

We’ve not forgotten our other games either, while they may take a bit longer, there’s updates in the works for Tiny TrackZ on iOS and AppleTV (and an OSX version at some point too!).

Happy Birthday Apple!

I’ve already posted about it being our company birthday today (1st April), but the big news is of course that Apple is 40 today and the oldest computer company in the world (that actually makes computers) so I thought I’d show you a list that explains why we’re such fans of Apple here at Strange Flavour.

This is what a couple of guys with off the shelf Macs can produce in 12 years..

5 Mac games
1 Mac game for medical research
3 Xbox 360 games, plus helping another get finished
16 iOS games
and 4 Apple TV games

About 30 million people who’ve bought or downloaded them and played them and approximately 2000 years (yes years) of gameplay time.

Also an Apple Design Award and a MacWorld Best of Show award plus had an animated short based on one of our games shown at ComiCon 🙂

That’s the level of productivity you get when you work on computers and software you can rely on (we did try using a PC for the Xbox 360 development but it was too unreliable and Windows worked better on a Mac anyway 😉 ).

Hopefully, by the time Strange Flavour reaches 40 I’ll be posting these updates from my Apple Hover Sofa (TM) using the thought transcription mode in my iShirt (TM)

Happy Birthday Apple and here’s to many more!

Thanks also to all the great people we’ve worked with over the last decade or so at Freeverse, Apple, Microsoft, Caterham, Zenos and Unity to name a few!

More Fish!

Well, after a lot of work, the iOS version of Fish! is now out and on the App Store (Fish!) !

The iOS version has 2 new locations, the River Tam and the Pirate’s Cave, along with 3 new fish to try and catch and some more game modes.

Harking back to Fish!’s roots in Flick Fishing (what *is* the correct apostrophe usage to indicate ownership after a proper noun that ends in an exclamation mark btw? ) I’ve added Pass and Play game modes for both the tournament types. This means you can play a tournament on a single iPhone or iPad by taking turns.

The big addition though is network play. I’ve added this to all game modes so you can link up over your local network and play against your friends. You can even do this in Pass and Play mode so you can play as Team vs Team! (Team 1 takes their turn, then pass their devices to Team 2).

All this of course will be coming in an update to the Apple TV version of Fish! So you’ll be able to use your Apple TV as a server and play with up to 4 players. Note this is full local network play, not just using your phone as a remote. Which means if your kids keep beating you, you can send them to their rooms and you can all carry on playing together 🙂

Thanks to me making a typo in the press release, Fish! for iOS was announced at the wrong price. So for the launch week only (until 17th March) I’ve set both versions at the discount price of $2.99/£2.29 to honour this mistaken price. As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t do sales, so this is a pretty much one off occasion and it’s worth nabbing the game at this price while you can. If you’ve already got Fish! for the Apple TV of course, you can download it free on your iPhone anyway!

SlotZ Racer Update

We’ve been *really* busy behind the scenes and the SlotZ Racer update is almost there. Because it’s taken so long to do though, We’ve decided to make a little change and make both of the extra car packs that were previously available as IAP included for free in the game. However, I am going to be putting the price of the game up by $1 as that fits the size and scope of the game more and hopefully means we’ll be able to afford to do more updates a little faster!

So again, it’s worth grabbing SlotZ Racer 2 now! (and of course, it’s Universal Purchase, so buy it on one device and you own it on all of them)

 

Oh, and I’ll leave you with this great review we had for the iOS version of Fish!

*This* is why we write games 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 16.12.50

 

 

 

 

Fish! .

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m just finishing up my work for the year before a short break. We recently managed to launch our 4th Apple TV game, Fish! after some very hard work and it’s going well. Fish! is a more direct sequel to our classic game Flick Fishing (none of that fast fishing stuff this time, promise!) and you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve been working hard on the iOS version of the game for release towards the end of January so you can play it on the bus. You can also use the iOS version as a remote controller for the Apple TV version to bring it up to 4 players.

As with all our Apple TV games, we’ve made Fish! a Universal Purchase, so if you buy the Apple TV version, you automatically own the iOS version and vice-versa. We think this is the way to go for any Apple TV games as it lets us give you a remote option on the iOS version.

The update for the iOS version of SlotZ Racer 2 is also nearly done. This won’t have the wifi remote option *yet* (as it’s a bit more complicated for that one) but it will have all the other features from the Apple TV version like MFi game controllers and the zippy Zenos E10 and E10S sports cars!

I hope you all enjoy your holidays and your games!

An Update on Updates :)

Now that Tiny TrackZ has successfully left the engine shed, we’ve set to work on some much needed updates for all of our games and working on making new paid versions of the Play Nice ones.

First up is Any Landing. The 1.2.2 update is undergoing testing at the moment and focuses on updating to properly use the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screen sizes as well as fixing a bunch of annoying bugs. I’ve also re-jigged the ads a little to make them less annoying although due to changes in what’s allowed in apps now, I’ve had to remove the “Free wings for having our games installed” page. Watch for the update of Any Landing PlayNice in the next couple of weeks.

The paid version (i.e. Any Landing) is almost done, so that should be submitted soon after Any Landing Play Nice. Gameplay wise, it’s more of a challenge as you can’t adjust the difficulty downwards by spending money to buy more powerups but you do start with more Wings (and the bank option is on by default, so you can build up your coins to use).

We’re already working on the first update to Tiny TrackZ. This will focus on bug fixes, optimisation and general tuning. We’re planning the first actual content update, which will have some German locos and wagons and suitable layouts to play with. As Tiny TrackZ has done pretty well in the German App Store though, we’re putting extra effort in to get a German localisation done for this content update too. I’m aiming to submit the bug fix update by the end of this week and the content update will follow later once Adam’s had time to do all the new artwork!

Fast Fishing is also in the update process. As mentioned in a previous article, there’ll be Fast Fishing PlayNice which will be the update for the current Fast Fishing and Fast Fishing, which will be the new pay once version. We’ve got some fun new content planned for these that our old Flick Fishing fans will like, so it’ll take a little longer. It’ll be worth the wait though 🙂

Last but not least I’ve also been spending time updating SlotZ Racer 2 🙂 Apart from fixes to the screen mode to cover newer iPhones and adding MFi Controller code, it also adds the Zenos E10 and Zenos E10S sports cars from SlotZ Racer Zenos Special. These will be available as part of the main set of cars, so won’t need unlocking.

Being able to spend time on these updates is only made possible by our most excellent players buying our games and keeping playing them (and telling their friends so they can buy and play them too).

 

Update:  We’ve been asked (especially by one very keen Fast Fishing app reviewer in the US 😉 ) to update our original iPhone fishing game Flick Fishing over and over again. The problem being that as we wrote it to be Freeverse’s IP and it was on their App Store account, it’s moved with that account to their new owners. So unfortunately the situation is that while we’d love to update it, we simply can’t as we don’t have access to it.

That’s one reason why we wrote Fast Fishing. It’s essentially the same as Flick Fishing in how it works (the actual fishing code is the same) as we don’t own the Flick Fishing brand, but the code is still ours 🙂 With Fast Fishing we wanted to try a different gameplay mode to suit current gamers, but there’s still a definite fan base that wants an up to date version of Flick Fishing. However a lot of them bought Flick Fishing later on in its development when it had lots of features in it and don’t remember the original release which only had the basic fishing spots and a couple of tournament options.

So don’t worry fans, we’re expanding Fast Fishing towards what you want. It won’t be immediate, but we hear you and appreciate your keen feedback 🙂

If you want to contact us directly to let us know what you’d like to see in our game updates or report any bugs, remember can contact us at info@strangeflavour.com  and we’ve also started an email newsletter so you can keep up to date on our latest work Strange Flavour Newsletter

 

App Store pricing and our new games

If you’ve read my previous blog you’ll know we’re switching from our Play Nice free to play system to a straightforward one of paid games.

The plan is to try and update our Play Nice games to have paid versions. Generally speaking they will be the same game but without the pay as you play options. We debated what to call them though? Snap Match Soccer Paid?, Fast Fishing Pro? Any Landing Plus?

Eventually we decided that as the new, paid, versions would be the ‘normal’ version of the game, it’s better to rename the old versions of the game by adding ‘PlayNice’ to them. So if you’ve got any of them, the name will change but they’ll still work the same.

We’re obviously keeping the old versions on the App Store as over a million players have downloaded them and they’re still being played every day. Plus some players have bought content and it would be unfair to penalise them. As far as is practical we’ll be keeping them updated too.

We’ve put a lot of thought into pricing too. With Flick Fishing we were one of the first app developers to recognise that gaining chart position made selling the game at the lowest price point of $0.99 worthwhile. That was of course the early days of the App Store and it worked fine then. However in the current App Store chart position isn’t quite so valid unless you can guarantee a top 10 position and way too many people seem to equate a $0.99 game with one they can wait for until it inevitably goes on offer as a free game. So we’re only going to keep the $0.99 price point for old games as a ‘budget’ label. These are our older or less popular games that we still want people playing but probably won’t have a lot of time to update that regularly.

For the bigger games we’re starting at $2.99 as a base point. Our thinking is pretty simple in that all our games are worth at least that and players who are only interested in cheaper or free games have plenty of options to trawl through 😉

Tiny TrackZ for instance is a simple (but rather deep) puzzle game, so the iOS version is going to be launched at $2.99 with the Mac version coming in at $6.99 (this covers the extra development time, lower customer base and wider range of machines to support). It may have some IAP packs to extend it at some point but only for big content add ons.

The relaunched Any Landing is going to be $3.99 as it will effectively be the same as the Play Nice version rewritten as if you’d paid the full $9.99 option for everything.  Fast Fishing will be $2.99 and Snap Match Soccer will be our first $0.99 budget title. We’re already testing the first version of Any Landing in paid mode.

Tiny TrackZ Promo Video

Here’s a little video we did for Tiny TrackZ!

The actual game will be out soon on August 13th for iOS and following soon after for OS X.

 

Music : “Ballycastle Bay” performed by the Fairey Band.

All rights reserved. Any unauthorised copying, reproduction, rental or broadcast of the information contained in this product is a violation of applicable laws.
Music under license from Delta Leisure Group.

Tiny TrackZ R&D

Sometimes when we write a game, we possibly take our research a little too seriously 🙂

Back in 2008 when we first started writing SlotZ Racer, I delved back into my childhood hobby of slot car racing and spent a lot of time playing, setting up tracks and racing Adam before I even started on the main code.

Just after SlotZ Racer was released in early 2009 I already started thinking about using the track system to do a railway game. Our dad used to be a big model railway nut, so we’d grown up building and running OO model railway layouts that either took up a spare room or an extended shed. It’s something neither of us had done in a while though, so I put together a prototype of a game called “TrackZ : Pocket Railway” (continuing the Z naming theme from SlotZ 😉 ) while I bought myself a small N Gauge set to experiment and generally play with to us back into the right mindset for model railways.

By the time we had the original prototype of TrackZ ready, Adam and I had both built N Gauge layouts. Mine being the original “Ives Yard”, built on my desktop around my iMac as an Inglenook Sidings style shunting layout (although with longer sidings).
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Around this time, our publishers Freeverse were being bought out another publisher and there was a general change in direction as to what type of games they were interested in publishing. It was also getting obvious to us that TrackZ was turning into a huge project that could take us a couple of years to write if we carried on making it into the same sort of feature set as SlotZ Racer with a track editor (as railways are a lot more complicated!). So reluctantly we put the project on the back burner while we moved onto other games.

We didn’t stop railway modelling though. By that point it had become a proper hobby again, so here’s some pics of what I’ve been working on since then as my R&D for Tiny TrackZ…

My layout is called Ivebridge. It incorporates the original Ives Yard layout at one end but is now a much bigger layout with a lot more scenery.

Ivebridge ShedIMG_0001

While Adam spent some time working on his smaller Dunmarsh layout, he recently expanded the range of his hobby and he’s now helping out at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, restoring a full size coach to its former glory..
Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 15.32.17

Above all this though, we love writing games. So while researching the subject matter for them is fun and sometimes becomes a full on hobby in itself, the games are the fun bit!

Tiny TrackZ is due for release on iOS on August 13th with the OS X version to follow.