Chris Sauve:

I wondered: how have Mac developers with existing apps, who had been able to let their design talents loose on the open canvas of OS X, handle these limitations on their icons? Would the beauty of their icons wilt or would the frame sharpen their loveliness?

This is a really cool look at icon design and the different approaches various developers have taken in creating them for iOS. Lots of images and examples.

Ben Kuchera, interviewing the CEO of Days of Wonder:

Hautemont joked that Google created a platform so open that it’s barely a platform anymore. The physical versions of Ticket to Ride are a specific size, and it takes a non-trivial amount of work to make that game fit well on digital devices with comparatively small screens. The good news is that with the iOS platform you need only aim for two screen sizes to hit 100 percent of all devices.

Things are not nearly as simple when you look at Android as a whole. “When you take [a game] to a platform that has dozens of different form factors, screen ratios, and so on, the work is not quite as simple. The question for us, it’s not that I don’t like Android… the question is how could we do that in a way that is satisfactory, and that’s when things start falling apart.” Everyone wants a version of Ticket to Ride that plays at least as well as the iPhone or iPad version, and they want it to run perfectly on their own phone or tablet, running their own version of Android. Trying to deliver the quality Days of Wonder is known for across all the variables of Android is simply cost prohibitive, and Hautemont has no interest in lazy ports.

Besides, there’s also the issue of customers paying for the game.

The Android ecosystem simply makes things too hard for both developers and users.

There’s something to be said for simplicity.

…that sucks all the money out of my wallet, that is.

Maybe this guy is in charge of the Mass Effect 3 marketing plan.

Here’s a trio of stories from Joystiq today:

The Mass Effect series is hitting iOS devices with Mass Effect Infiltrator, coming to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch soon, EA announced. Infiltrator is a third-person shooter featuring weapons and powers from the Mass Effect franchise, where players attempt to free prisoners from a hostile Cerberus base.

Players will receive awards for collecting evidence of Cerberus crimes in their mission, with each discovery and rescue increasing their Mass Effect 3 Galaxy at War Galactic Readiness rating. Actions in Infiltrator can affect the larger Mass Effect 3 storyline, and weapons unlocked in the mobile version can be used in Mass Effect 3.

Sold as long as it’s better and more meaningful than Mass Effect Galaxy (not hard to accomplish). IF it’s anything like the superb iOS versions of Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space that came out of EA I’m sure it will be great.

At an EA event in New York, the publisher revealed another iOS Mass Effect 3 tie-in, joining Infiltrator. “Mass Effect Datapad” is an iPad app that works with the console/PC game somehow. Details are currently slim on this one; we’ll get you more info as we learn it.

I’m buying this even if especially if it is an iPad-browsable version of the in-game Codex, which can trap me for hours if I’m not careful.

Reader Craig sent us this image of his GameStop receipt, where he purchased a code for some Mass Effect 3 DLC ahead of the game’s March 6 launch. He reports that he paid $10 for it.

I don’t ever know what this is other than a title but you can guess that odds are good that I am going to buy it.

The level of anticipation I have for this game is staggering, and I am starting to fear that it will not live up to my own lofty expectations. For me, Mass Effect stands next to Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War, and Uncharted as the defining series of this console generation.

(More on this in a future post.)

If you regularly play games that require manual scorekeeping, you should check this out:

It’s from Matt Rix, the guy who made Trainyard (which was coincidentally enough one of the games discussed in the article I linked yesterday).

The static screenshots of the app didn’t convince me, but seeing it in motion really sells it. It’s a universal app and it’s free for a limited time.

Thanks to Lance Willett for pointing me to this.

Emeric Thoa of The Game Bakers:

Eighteen months ago, when I left Ubisoft to start an independent game studio and focus on making my own games, I looked online a bit to get an idea of how much income I could expect to make as an indie. At Ubisoft I used to work on big AAA console games, and I had some figures in mind, but I knew they wouldn’t be relevant for my new life: $20M budgets, teams of 200 hundred people, 3 million sales at $70 per unit… I knew being an indie developer would be completely different, but I had very little information about how different it would be.

Angry Birds had taken off, Plants vs. Zombies was already a model, Doodle Jump was a good example of success, and soon after I started my “indie” life, Cut the Rope was selling a million copies a week. But except for what I call the “jackpots,” there were very few public stories or numbers on the web, and this meant we were a bit in the dark when we started SQUIDS. I have been tracking figures since then, and I’m writing this article to share what I’ve learned with my fellow indie dev buddies who might be in the same position I was, a year and a half ago.

In this article, I will present all of the post-mortems and figures I’ve found interesting, and I will also explain how SQUIDS fits into the overall picture. But first, I would like to quickly give my opinion on few of the App Store myths you may believe if you’re not an experienced iOS developer. There are plenty of ways to view the App Store, but my point is that you might be a bit surprised by what the App Store really means in terms of money.

This is a great piece with some sharp analysis of how the App Store economy runs and what’s needed to create and make a living off a hit iOS game. If you’ve ever wondered how the business side of that $5 app you just downloaded runs you should give this a read.

(via Clint Hocking.)

Touch Arcade:

We’re happy to report that iOS gamers will soon have the chance to experience the magical little game that is Glider in Calhoun’s upcoming App Store release of Glider Classic. I recently had a conversation with Calhoun, who left Apple after 16 years this past summer in order to bring Glider to iOS, to find out more about his coming release.

I spent a lot of time playing Glider on my LCII back in the day and I’m thrilled to hear that it’s coming back. It’s an inventive game design and idea and should still be fun to play.

Graham McAllister for Edge Magazine:

For many gamers, it’s more likely that they will stop playing at the end of a level rather than in the middle of a level. However, in Game Dev Story, the end of a level is somewhat blurred, as once your game in development is complete, rather than be rewarded with the sales figures immediately, you have period of time where you see your game’s sales figures gradually increase. You’re not inactive, however, because you’ll be taking on contract jobs or starting another game development project so your staff don’t lie fallow, effectively starting a second game loop before the first has finished. This overlap in game loops removes a natural exit point from the game, making it much more likely that you’ll continue to play. Forever.

Game Dev Story ate up a lot of late night time for about a week for me, and it is very cleverly designed in this way. You are constantly being given new tasks to do and it’s not clear when they will end.

It also helps that the game has a ton of charm and even intentional occurrences of “Engrish.”

You can pick it up for iOS here if you are interested in seeing what this looks like. It’s $4 well spent.

SlashGear in proclaiming the death of the 3DS:

Unlike its predecessors, the 3DS is facing a slew of issues. For one, the 3D effect falls short for many folks, and after a while, it becomes more like a gimmick than an integral part of the gaming experience. What’s more, the 3DS’ lack of compelling games (which Nintendo says, will be addressed by the end of this year, thanks to Super Mario 3D Land), is holding it back.

But I think it goes beyond that. The 3DS is failing right now, more than any other reason, because of smartphones and tablets offering compelling gaming experiences. And when the iPhone 5 launches in the next several weeks, you can expect it to officially kill off the 3DS.

This isn’t the only thing I’ve read discussing the quandary that Nintendo finds itself in. Example: Tycho in yesterday’s Penny Arcade post, discussing the battery life of the upcoming PlayStation Vita:

This isn’t just true of the Vita, of course, this battery stuff; if anyone actually played their 3DS for any length of time, I suspect they’d come away similarly despondent, pressing buttons which don’t do anything and looking at a screen which is connected to nothing.

This is that “portability” thing when we talk about a “portable” gaming system.  Portability means more than the ability to carry something or stow it on your person.  Obviously, the word doesn’t mean that – it’s not bound up in the roots.  But the implication is that something may be carried and still retain its function.  Right?  Right.  This isn’t really a philosophical distinction, it’s not hair-splitting for dialectic giggles.  A portable without robust power storage is not.

Handheld gaming is facing tough challenges on multiple fronts at the moment. I’m increasingly finding myself choosing to play portable games on my iPhone or iPad. I’ll go so far as to know I’m going out somewhere where I will have time, look at my DS, pick it up, and then put it back down as I decide it’s not worth the time.

The PSP was arguably always a failure; it failed to capture a solid market and was a product that never seemed to find decent footing. But the DS was one of the most successful game consoles in history, with a ridiculous sell-through and a strong appeal to the casual market as well as great long-form experiences (it’s a great platform to find quality JRPG experiences and 2d platformers). Nintendo sold through no less than four revisions of basically the same hardware—which I believe is also contributing to the market resistance to the 3DS.

Satoru Iwata believes the 3DS has a future, at least officially in response to calls for Nintendo to embrace smartphone development:

“This is absolutely not under consideration,” he said. “If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo. Having a hardware development team in-house is a major strength. It’s the duty of management to make use of those strengths.

“It’s probably the correct decision in the sense that the moment we started to release games on smartphones we’d make profits. However, I believe my responsibility is not to short-term profits, but to Nintendo’s mid- and long-term competitive strength.”

Keep in mind that this is after the Nintendo showcase at TGS, traditionally their marquee event, caused a market reaction that sent Nintendo’s stock tumbling 5%.

For me, it boils down to the following: for $40, I can have this copy of a remake (a remake!) of perhaps the best game of all time:

For about 60 bucks (not counting buying things on sale), I can have this:

And I don’t have to go to a GameStop or similarly annoying store to buy them; I just load up the App Store, make the purchase, and download it. Some of the games on this list have provided me with longer experiences than many DS games, and certainly a better value proposition in the long-term.

This doesn’t even approach the added value of the iPad being my salvation from airplane movie selections (look; an entire TV season in my backpack!), or the fact that I do a majority of my web reading on this device (I found the articles linked in this post using various apps on my iPad). Or the fact that the same experiences are available on the phone I already have with me anyway, or that both devices have at least double the battery life (in the case of iPad, more like triple or better).

There’s a value train that left the station a while back, and Nintendo is not on board. I love Nintendo and the minds they have there designing interactive experiences. Their games were a special part of my childhood. I don’t want them to fail, and I don’t want to miss out on what they are doing (which will likely lead to my purchasing whatever the rev 2 hardware is for 3DS).

Sony finds themselves in a similar situation; an over-designed piece of hardware that will likely have compelling games but a like pricing structure and comparable challenges ahead. The Vita is sure to be impressive and looks good on paper.

But unfortunately for both those companies my money is better spent on iOS.

A pleasant little surprise today in the form of a great update to a fantastic game:

In this very first update we’ve added some awesome goodies for you to try!

MR. CUDDLES – This is a new vehicle pickup that will appear during the course of your normal game – and it’s a giant fire-breathing robot dragon!

You’re my new best friend, Mr. Cuddles.

If you don’t have this game, you should probably take care of that problem.

If you read what I write, you are no doubt familiar with the fact that I very much like the work Harmonix does.

VidRhythm is their newest release on iOS, and it’s a fun little toy. Here’s a clip I made in the car earlier today with the kids:

And another I made just now with the two older ones:

It’s two bucks on the App Store. This app needs more Automattician-made videos.