I know I said I wouldn’t talk about FFR anymore… but the fact that I’m still getting about 5 comments a day on my FFR Lo-Down post, I felt I needed to do something for those fans aching for a place to call home. So I decided to purchase a vBulletin license and set up a forum.
To start, I have 2 forums… General and FFR People. General will be for anything… suggestions, feedback, bugs, what you had for breakfast… whatever. If I see certain things are requested (such as a Walkthroughs or Flash Game forum), I’ll add them. The FFR People forum will be for those former FFR users to congregate, meet up, talk about the good old days, that sort of thing.
Hopefully this will be beneficial to some folk. Take a look and register.
I’ve started work on Tass Approved GAMES, the portal side of this site. So far, I have 1 game up for you… a personal favorite… This Is The Only Level by jmtb02. I’ll make sure to keep everyone up to date as I continue to add more games to the site (I’ve got about 70 picked out so far). As I’ve mentioned, I’m open to suggestions on future games to add. I’m also open to suggestions and constructive criticism for the page layouts. So please post comments telling me what you like, what you don’t, and why.
To go along with the games, I’ve added a walkthrough section to the site. I’ll try to add a walkthrough for every game… even if I didn’t make it.
Thanks and enjoy TITOL! A small fairy has told me to be on the lookout for a sequel in the coming weeks. PLAY THIS IS THE ONLY LEVEL NOW.
My last post was a bit of a lead in to this… I’m going to begin hosting some popular flash games on the site. I’d like for the site to be more than just a blog, and turning it into a destination for quality flash games is the next logical step. To accomplish that, I took the baby step of installing a wordpress games plugin. I’ll be messing around with it a bit this week, and hopefully will start adding a few games once I get the layout how I want it (which will probably be harder than it sounds, given how completely inept I am at anything web design related).
I have no plans of adding thousands of games. For one, that’s WAY too much work. Also, it’s not my way to endorse crappy games… which is what having them on my site would be. So, the only games you’ll find on my site will be ones that I approve of and am comfortable endorsing and letting you guys play. I’m open to suggestions as well.
The real goal, eventually, will be to start licensing games to draw users to the site. But that seems very far off, given that I still don’t understand how some of these sites are able to spend thousands of dollars on a marginal game that likely won’t get more than a few hundred thousand gameplays across the web. I’ll save those questions for another post though.
So I was talking to Greg today (Kongregate’s Greg)… and it came up that there haven’t been many great games released recently. Laments were had about lack of sponsored games and lack of video views. Tears were shed (probably… Greg’s that kind of guy). He then asked me what the guys at Armor were working on, and the list of stuff I gave him surprised me when I looked at it.
Armor has 5 full-time flash developers. This is what they’re working on:
Tony: Shift 5 & a spoof TD game based around his spoof RPG game
Con: The Last Stand: Union City
Krin: nothing official, but his forum’s moderator posted that he’s working on a Sinjid sequel
John: FlipSide, a mini-game compilation akin to FSF meets Simon Says… I have a feeling the title will be changed before release… I haven’t played it, but from my understanding of the game, the title doesn’t seem to fit that well.
Joey: that phuzzle that I mentioned in an earlier blog, plus he mentioned some sequels in an ArmorBlog interview.
Now, what does this all have in common? Not a single original idea in the lot… every single one is a sequel (I’m stretching a bit on John’s game, but go with it). This seems to be a big trend in flash games recently… very few new ideas, lots and lots of sequels / title re-works. BTD4, BTTD, CycloManiacs 2, Perfect Balance 2, Epic Quest, etc etc. I could give a very long list.
There’s nothing wrong with sequels. It’s far easier to come up with 1 great idea and then capitalize on the success of that game by releasing sequels. But you can only rest on your laurels for so long… it’d be nice to throw some new concepts in now and again. Console games have been doing it for years. My fear is that this is some sort of early warning bells for the start of the industry’s decline. I’m likely being paranoid, and this just happens to be a lull time, but I’m mostly dependant on ad revenue from video views to live… so forgive me my paranoia.
What are your thoughts on flash game sequels? Are you happy to see a 5th SHIFT game or 4th Bloons TD game? Where would you like to see these top developers spending their time? I’m a bit torn on it myself. This is something I’ve told more than one developer: Sequels have name recognition. That can be a good or bad thing (or both to different people). People KNOW what Sonny is; they aren’t going to play Sonny 3 if they didn’t like Sonny 1/2… even if Sonny 3 is 100x better. So you’re immediately alienating part of your potential player base. But, there is the other half… those who will immediately play it because they recognize it and like it, and portals that will host it for the same reason. With a non-sequel, players have no bias… they see a name, a picture, and a rating and decide if they want to try the game out or not. There are obvious pros and cons to both, depending.
Last March, I was fortunate enough to meet the entire Hero Interactive studio… Jared, Eric, and Steph. Cards were played, fun was had by all. Since then, I’ve done what I can to assist them on their games; my usual stuff… feedback, testing, walkthroughs. They seem to value my input and listen to my suggestions, which is always nice.
Today I was given the opportunity to test their long awaited BTTD. I’m not going to spoil anything or give much away… you’ll get to play it yourselves soon enough. But, what I really noticed was that I had very little to critique. It’s obvious right from the start how much work went into the game. Granted, they were able to learn from all the feedback from Pirate Defense… but actually doing it and doing it well is a feat worth praising.
What I will say is that the game is VERY hard. Like… VERY hard. At least for me. The easy levels are exactly that… easy. The medium levels aren’t hard either. But the difficulty jump on the hard levels is BAM. I spent a few hours messing around on a bunch of different hard levels, and beat exactly 1… imo, the easiest one (only hard until you figure out that specific level’s trick, something none of the other levels have). I’m hoping Jared will take some pity on me tomorrow and explain what I’m doing wrong to fail so miserably.
One note in my defense (read: an excuse)… I don’t juggle. If you watch my videos, you’ll notice every single TD video I have is no-juggle. The only times I’ve ever juggled is for The 100 on DTD and the 4-entrance spawn speed thing for DTD Pro, both of which were badge reqs that were 100% impossible to do without juggling. I will try something 100 times to try and do it without juggling (DTD Pro Scenario 23) before attempting it with juggling. I can juggle; I just abhor the micromanagement aspect of it… not to mention that I feel like I’m cheating every time I juggle.
So I don’t know how many vids you’ll be seeing from me on BTTD. I’d love to do them; I know Jared will feature them in-game and they’ll get a ton of views… I just don’t want to cop out and make juggling vids. Maybe he’ll appreciate my failures and accept my vids on easier levels… then take vids that other people make of the hardest levels with juggling and add those as well. It just really does feel like failure on my part, and that is not something I accept easily.
Most of you are now asking yourself, “Who is John Cooney?” John is more commonly known as Jmtb02 (John MounTain Bike 2002 *snicker*), and he is the Head of Game Development for Armor Games. Basically, he gets paid to go to an office and make flash games as well as oversee the progress of the rest of the in-house team. Now, why is he a machine? Since 2002, John has pumped out over 50 games. Think about that… FIFTY different games. Granted, there are a solid number of sequels, so you’re really talking 30-35 original concepts. But that is still an insane number of ideas that have not only manifested in his mind… but actually been worked on through to completion and release. So I tip my cap to this crazy machine of a developer. He also happens to be a really cool dude… just don’t IM him randomly with nothing to say, he doesn’t like that (really, we ALL dislike it… but again, topic for another day).
Also, a slightly disappointing development took place this week. John released his newest game, I Hate Traffic, to much fanfare and rejoicing. The disappointment is that I had been talking to him for a few weeks about the progress on the game… but apparently there was some miscommunication between us that led to him releasing it without giving me an opportunity to test it, give feedback, and get a walkthrough prepped. In the scope of things, no biggie, but it was a bit disappointing in that the game wound up being released with a memory leak in it that I spotted within 5 minutes of playing. John found it quickly after I described what I thought was causing it, and it was promptly fixed… but I’m sure everyone would have rather caught it before it was public.
In more Armor Games news… I’m REALLY looking forward to getting my hands on Joey’s upcoming puzzle platformer (or phuzzle, I forget which). I can just picture Joey sitting in his chair, lollipop stick embedded in his keyboard, cackling at my inevitable frustration from his devious creations.
So, I haven’t really decided what I want out of this site. Is it a depository for my walkthroughs? Is it a place for me to talk about recently released or upcoming games? Do you care about what I do in my personal life? Beyond that, I only just started to advertise this site at all, via annotations in my Bloons Tower Defense 4 vids. I’ll continue to do this, hopefully starting to drive some traffic to the site.
Basically, for the 30-40 people that actually check this… what do you want out of this site? Please post comments as to what you want me to post about and what you don’t want me to post about. I’m thinking about putting up more random content, about stuff I do and about upcoming games (with developer/sponsor permission, of course).
On that front, I’ve spent most of the past 6 weeks playing Sacred Seasons, a flash-based MMO that is free to play. I’ve quickly risen to one of the highest levels in the game (probably top20), became a moderator, and am working to assist on balance/gameplay. I find it amazing how all of my addictions turn into jobs… shocking, awesome, and amazing.
BTD4, Bloons Tower Defense 4, was released today. The core mechanics are the same as the previous ones, but the addition of MochiCoins to the game has changed the dynamic. Now, you have to unlock new towers, upgrades, and game modes… or if you’re lazy (or want extra powerful stuff, or new maps) you can buy all the upgrades for instant gratification.
Bloons really seems to be the most mainstream series in our segment of the casual game market, so I see no reason why the premium content won’t do very well for the Harris brothers; their iPhone apps have already proven that people are willing to shell out a few bucks for their monkey popping thrills. Perhaps this will be the first stone on the other side of the scale towards acceptance of microtransactions in flash games.
Should you need trouble, I whipped up this little vid… I was rank 20 at the start of the vid, 25 by the end:
PS – Would someone PLEASE tell my fine Kiwi friends that video ads on websites that auto-play with audio are REALLY annoying. This has just started to happen, but I’ve noticed it on 2 of my favorite indie developer sites, NinjaKiwi and Pencilkids.
Sequel to Saunavihta, same concept, few new cool stuff added… and harder. Now you get Yeti’s that throw you and helium balloons that will raise platforms!
New physics puzzler, stacking game… ala Totem Destroyer or Redstar Fall. E-Motion! Has some cool new features, like changing gravity, spinning wheels on ropes, anti-gravity, bounce, and more!
Pack 1, Levels 1-20:
Pack 2, levels 1-20: