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In the past few days leading up to the launch of Lotsa Blocks, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on the long road we took to get here. We started sketching and prototyping for Lotsa Blocks about when we were shipping Ramps for iPad late last year. At the time, we were looking to design an even simpler game than Ramps, hoping we could build it in a reasonably short period of time.
While I believe we met our goal of a simpler design, it turns out realizing our vision took a bit longer than we anticipated. Lotsa Blocks was a ten-month project for us, created over the course of many late nights and weekends.
We decided to start with a core stacking mechanic, and let our experimentation help us discover the identity of the game. It wasn’t long before we learned we would need to approach game design carefully. Too many blocks on-screen at once meant poorer performance for older devices. Once we had an understanding of what our technical limits were, we started trying a variety of ideas that could potentially shape what the game could become.
Early on, we knew we wanted to incorporate some sort of multi-player component, though neither of us had ever created a multi-player game before. Part of our experimentation was evaluating the capabilities of what Game Center had to offer for turn-based and real-time gaming. We loved our results, and decided to take the extra effort to polish these additional modes up and include them in the game.
Perhaps in our future games we will improve at vetting our ideas, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of working on each of these game modes for even another game under our belt.
Tyler and I have always wanted to make a video where we tell the story of our game to give people a peek into our creative process. It was a long, challenging road creating this game with many moments where I scratched my head, thinking, “this can’t be done.” We pushed forward, dreaming of posts like these on the verge of sharing our game with the world, and found a way to create things in this game that I never dreamt I would be able to pull off as a developer.
We have always approached our games as a creative, artistic pursuit first. The joy of creating, delighting and entertaining is the greatest reward for us, and we try to keep that top-of-mind even in a project as massive as this one was. I sincerely hope you enjoy our video, and our game, and look forward to creating more like them for you to enjoy.
Exactly one year ago today, Tyler and I joined forces to create simple, pick-up-and-play games for modern touch platforms. We christened our effort “Backabit” (Tyler’s mom came up with the name) because of our fondness for timeless, old-school gameplay.
To celebrate how far we’ve come, we want to give something back to you. For a short time, we’re giving away Ramps for iPhone. Seriously, take a look… it’s 100% free.
If you’ve already got a copy, thank you so much! This wouldn’t be possible without your support. Now’s your chance to gift a copy to friends, family, even your dog!
We’re cooking up some big plans we hope to announce in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to this blog or follow us on Twitter to keep in the loop.
Tyler and I recently participated in an episode of the Friends Electric Podcast that was posted earlier today. If you’re interested in hearing more about how we created Ramps, the story of how Backabit came to be, and some tidbits regarding what we’ve got in-store for the upcoming release of Ramps HD, this is an interview you won’t want to miss!
We’re also excited today as we’ve released an update to Ramps to the App Store to address several bugs we discovered related to version 1.1. In addition, Ramps 1.1.1 now supports multi-touch! Yep, we should have supported multi-touch from the very beginning, but we didn’t want to release this capability until we got it just right. Now, you can use as many fingers as you can fit on your iPhone or iPod Touch (the answer is five) to move your ramps around and send Superball flying into the air!
After several long months of crafting, polishing and fine-tuning, Ramps 1.1 is finally released into the wild. We couldn’t be more excited!
Once you update Ramps from the App Store, you’ll find 100 new levels containing 300 new challenges, nine achievements, two new leaderboards and six unlockable balls! We even have two new tracks from Essa… they’re riffs on his previous light world compositions and they sound amazing!
We’ve heard from some players that they wanted more challenging levels to conquer. Inspired by one of our favorite Super Meat Boy design elements, we decided to create alternate dark worlds to compliment the existing light worlds. These new versions of the 100 original levels contain new challenges and gameplay mechanics we think you’ll really dig!
We didn’t just add new content, though—we also added Superball!
Superball can grab some extra air time while becoming invulnerable to whatever baddies may stand in its way. This only lasts a short time, and can only be used once per ball, so make sure you use your Superball juice wisely. Transforming into Superball is easy: just tap and hold anywhere on the screen!
Doing a major update also gave us a chance to catch up on some housekeeping. We improved the usability of several aspects of the game. For example, when you are in a scrollable level, there’s now a GO! button that travels with you as you scroll, so you never have to scroll back to the dispenser to spawn a new ball. If that ball dies, you’ll snap right back to where you left off.
We also redesigned the help screens to be simpler and easier to scale. As we add even more cool stuff, it will be a lot easier for us to show you how it works, and quicker for you to get back to the action!
Oh yeah, one more thing…
Buried deep within Ramps, where only the most skilled players can find them (Hint: you’ve gotta complete everything), there are unlockable tributes to two of our favorite iOS games: The Incident and Wispin! The developers of these fine titles were gracious enough to give us permission to pay homage to their characters. We continue to admire and be inspired by their contributions to touch gaming.
We’re so excited about our new release and we really hope you enjoy all the new content. Soon, we’ll have another big announcement for you regarding our plans for a… ahem… larger screen.
And.. one more one more thing…
For just a few short days, we are offering Ramps on sale for just $.99! Now is a fantastic time to check it out!