Prime Division Out Now!

Gee, it’s been quiet around here, hasn’t it? Well, the wait is finally over! Here comes Prime Division, our fun little mobile game about prime factorization!

Did you ever marvel at the fact that every whole number can be represented as a product of a set of prime numbers? Of course you have. And so did we, that’s why we made a game about dividing numbers with primes. We call it Prime Division!

Prime Division is all about dividing increasingly high numbers down to 1. Challenge yourself with six exciting modes and become the greatest division magician in the world!

Now out on the Google Play Store. Get it now!

Get it on Google Play!

If you want to keep up to date with new releases, you can sign up for our newsletter. We won’t bother you too much, promise!

Hackenstein

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The Wizard is released!

Out now: The Wizard!

The time has finally come! Today we release our turn-based dungeon-puzzler The Wizard! For free!

Now, you might think to yourself, “Really? For free? But why?” Well, it’s not the first time that question has come up, so we had ample time to prepare a detailed and all-encompassing explanation:

…why not?

We look at The Wizard as an opportunity to share our lighter side with you and to experiment with various ideas and approaches to developing and releasing a game, and we just don’t wanna charge you for that right now. If you happen to like what we do and would like to support us, that’s awesome! You can donate whatever amount you see fit over on The Wizard’s page. It’s basically Pay What You Want, you can play for free or help us out, whatever you feel like. Rest assured, you’ll have our undying gratitude either way.

ostbonusOh, but that’s not all! As a special thanks to those particularly generous, donations of $6 or more will get a digital copy of the magical The Wizard soundtrack!

But enough of that, it’s time for you to go and play The Wizard now! Hope you have fun!

Hackenstein

ps. For those in the business of hosting high-quality, mobile-ready HTML5 games, we’ve got good news for you, too! From today on, non-exclusive licenses for The Wizard will be available in the FGL Game Shop. You don’t even have to use FGL if you don’t want to. Just send me a mail!

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The Design of The Wizard Part 2: Spellcasting

Welcome to the second part of my design ramblings, which also happens to be the third part of The Wizard’s post-mortem. Should you have missed the first two parts, you can check them out here and here.

Now that we know how both wizard and player learned to walk, it’s time we take a detailed look at the spellcasting system, which is probably the most unique feature of The Wizard. Again, and even more so than last time, my incompetence as a programmer played a fairly big role in its creation. Cluelessness really is the mother of invention. Or something like that.

Now, the easiest way to add spellcasting to your game is via an action bar. I guess you could call it the “traditional” approach. This wouldn’t have been too hard to implement either, but two things bothered me about this: First off, I find action bars kinda ugly. An action bar drawn by me? Even worse. And thanks to Oryx’ sprites everything was already looking surprisingly good, so I was not willing to deface it by tacking an action bar on top, even if it was just an experiment. Secondly, clicking on icons to cast spells isn’t very wizardly. In fact, I think this is the reason why I usually don’t play mage classes in games. Magic is supposed to be a mysterious, arcane art. You can’t achieve this with a profane action bar.

Tutorial hint for the first spell

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The Design of The Wizard Part 1: Walking

Welcome back to the second part of me rambling about the conception, development, release, and monetization of The Wizard. (If you haven’t read the first one but would like to, click here.)

Last time we left off with the wizard standing in a sewer level with lots of rats but no ability to walk, cast spells, or do anything else, really. And with me not being much of a programmer of course. Funnily enough, that one had a big impact on some of the most important design decisions.

Green Walking Tiles

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The Birth of The Wizard

This is the first of a series of posts about the conception, development, release, and monetization of The Wizard, our first attempt at making money with games.

The Wizard started out as a small experiment I worked on to learn the Phaser HTML5 framework. Back then, Crabman and I had just decided to take a break from our work on Till Last Light after realizing that we wouldn’t be able to afford the graphics we had in mind. Obviously we needed a smaller project for our humble beginnings. So we came up with a plan: We’d each create a small prototype in four weeks’ time and then we’d choose one of them as our new project.

I’m no programmer, so I knew I had to find something to help me with the more complex stuff I usually delegate to Crabman. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy programming, I just hadn’t gotten a lot of programming experience as a game designer. For TLL we had worked in Javascript and HTML5 and it had been a lot of fun, so naturally I started looking for a HTML5 framework. At the time there weren’t many game specific HTML5 frameworks, but there was one that seemed especially promising: The Phaser Desktop and Mobile HTML5 game framework. I downloaded it and quickly realized that it was exactly what I had been looking for. Additionally, it had a nice little community (which grew a lot since then) and awesome support for something that’s basically maintained by one guy. It had me convinced right then and there. I never even tested anything else.

The next step was to get some graphic assets. I wasn’t sure what kind of game I wanted to make yet, but I had been in love with Oryx’ sprites ever since I played Dungeons of Fayte. This was the perfect opportunity to make a game with his 16-bit fantasy sprite sheet. Convincing Crabman that we absolutely had to buy the sprites was easy enough, now I just had to figure out what to do with them.

My first idea was a group-based RPG about monster game keepers. They would get called by villagers every time a monster population grew too large and threatened the ecosystem. So, nothing fancy, just a few different classes, a dozen monsters, a bunch of items, various NPCs with individual quests and an open game world. It didn’t take me long to realize that this idea was getting too big already. To keep things simple I decided to start as small as possible: A single character in a small level with just one enemy type. Using the 16-bit fantasy tiles and the Tiled Editor, I created a small sewer level. Choosing the enemy was a no-brainer: It had to be rats, the traditional first enemy type, which meant only the player character was missing.

I was staring at the sprite sheet, contemplating on what character to use and listening to my fantasy playlist to get in the mood. To be honest, I don’t remember if it was during “Wizard” by Uriah Heep, but I know it was on the playlist. I’m usually not a fan of wizards in games – it’s mostly because the actual spell casting seldom feels right – but the sprite of the wizard intrigued me. Why didn’t he have a face? From a practical standpoint it also seemed like a good idea. A wizard didn’t need an item progression, implementing different spells would be enough. Thus The Wizard was born, or at least his first basic incarnation as a simple sprite inside of a small sewer section with a bunch of rats.

Stay tuned for the next part in which we’ll find out how the wizard learned to walk, cast spells and who is responsible for his lack of a face!

Hackenstein

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Where There’s an Award, There’s a Speech

Remember when we got that award for The Day the Laughter Stopped? Well, I finally got around to editing, uploading, and whining about everything I hated about my speech, so you can now admire us in person!

(English captions available.)

Lookin’ good, eh? Me with my Henry Rollins neck and Hackenstein holding the award like the boss he is, we sure broke some hearts that night.

Of course, if you missed any of this, you can read up on our DCP experience here, and if you’re dying to hear me go on and on about everything I thought was wrong with my speech, you may find sweet relief over at my personal blog.

Crabman out.

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The Joys of Being an Award-Winning Studio

Oh have you not heard? It was my understanding that everyone had heard…

Two days ago, we won an award for The Day the Laughter Stopped. Or did The Day win an award? Well, someone certainly won an award and The Day was somehow involved. Which means we’re an award-winning studio now. And I hope it means I’m an award-winning writer, too. Because I like saying that. Award-winning. So fancy.

Either way, the event ended up being not quite as cringeworthy as I had feared (still was of course), I gave a speech I hated but everyone else seemed to be ok with, and we got drunk off our asses, mingled, and met some pretty cool people. As always, my heart broke a little every time someone came up to me to tell me about their friends and family who went through the same as the girl in the story, but their support and display of gratitude were overwhelming and beautiful, so all in all, pretty sweet experience!

Award-winning Crabman out.

Gallery

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Hooray, the Owl Turns One!

Exactly one year and ~4 hours ago (on a much nicer and warmer day, by the way), we sat in a very old man’s super fancy office, listening to him read a 1000-page contract at a pace slower than hair grows. It was the last of a series of tedious steps which I, gracious as I am, let Hackenstein handle entirely on his own, so this is all I know about what happened there.

But now here we are, one year later, during which literally nothing happened (except for The Day, The Wizard, our nomination, the cancelling of our nomination, and some other small stuff of course), ready and psyched for another year of sort of being around!

So I guess, yay for us and Happy Easter to you!

Crabman out.

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To Be or Not to Be Nominated: A Totally Official Statement

Well, cat’s out of the bag then, eh? Time for a Totally Official Statement™!

In case you missed it, The Day got nominated for Best Serious Game in the German video game awards (Deutscher Computerspielpreis), along with Scorpius Forge’s Evolution: Indian Hunter and Kalypso’s Rise of Venice. Naturally, we were pretty excited about that, which is, also naturally, when things went awry.

Long story short, bureaucracy happened. That’s how we roll in Germany, after all. The details are not at all exciting and, in our opinion, the DCP’s business how they want to communicate them to the public, but since there’s some vaguely misleading information going around, we’re gonna give you a brief rundown of what happened.

1. The jury couldn’t settle on a winner, so after long discussion they decided to drop the category. We’re all a bit sore about that, but it’s not as simple as “Just pick one!”, sadly. It certainly had nothing to do with none of the games being worthy of recognition though.

2. We were all consulted on how we wanted to handle this going forth. They offered to treat us as regular nominees and to include us in all promotional campaigns and whatnot, and while Kalypso voiced some concerns over that solution, they initially agreed to go along with it since the rest of us agreed it was for the best.

3. Some other things happened that we’ll discuss at another time, but while all of this has been a little frustrating and disappointing, the staff has been nothing but kind and courteous during their efforts to work out a solution, so I’m not all too happy about some of the articles’ implication that there was any kind of funny business or cover-up going on. We were all blindsided by this, staff included, and they handled it with as much compassion and consideration as one could’ve hoped for.

Bottom line, we’re not psyched it played out like this, but we can’t fault the people who are now taking flak over this either, and while a controversy is always good publicity, it doesn’t feel quite right to throw those who did their best to help us out under the bus.

That is all.

Official Crabman out.

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