An arcade inspired RPG strategy game for the iPhone.
Build a team of 3 from 9 unique classes and battle through 10 stages to victory.
Use pixels from your opponents to boost power or save them for a higher score. Post your score online and prove your team as the greatest Pixel Fighters of all time.
Pixel Fighters was developed between May and December 2010 as Kyle Newsome's first iPhone application. The game started as a much smaller side-project to learn programming in Objective-C but turned into a much greater labour of love.
In late June 2010, Kyle met his design team eWork Proxy on Craigslist after posting an ad to hire design help. After showing the game prototype to eWork, they introduced Kyle to the Cocos2d for iPhone Framework.
The business relationship evolved to a stronger partnership and both Kyle and eWork are very proud to present Pixel Fighters.
We look forward to hearing your feedback and developing new game art and content in the very near future!
~ Kyle and eWork Proxy
April 21, 2012, 10:24 am
Thanks to everyone who has played and supported Pixel Fighters. This game project is now considered over. Rather than work with this game any longer, I want to pursue new exciting projects that I can bring my leanings from this game to. This was my first game/application ever and it has been a fantastic project, I am grateful to have had the experience.
If you want to learn more about the project from a behind the scenes developer perspective, you can read my personal blog and post mortem here: www.bitwit.ca/blog/pixel-fighters-a-post-mortem/
What is the right balance for the RPG in the mobile phone gaming realm?
I love all games from big to small. From MMOs to a simple game of Snake, they all have caught my attention at the appropriate time and place. In fact, Snake's hay day was when it was the only option on the first Nokia cell phone most of us owned ten years ago. These days, however, its been all too easy to make just about any game possible on a mobile phone and funny enough, Snake is still a good choice! Why is that? Because its actually very appropriate for mobile phone gaming. I wish I could say the same for every game on the iOS App Store today...
The RPG category, in my opinion, is not reaching its new mobile phone gaming potential because, most traditionally, RPGs are not designed for quick mobile play. They aren't practical for when you're out on the go with limited spare time.
There are tons of great games for mobile play out on the App Store to learn from though, so why does the RPG category not catch on faster? I think there are a few reasons.
Breaking It Down
There are many reasons that the RPG category still needs improvement for mobile play. For one thing, we are seeing a lot of game ports from other systems into the App Store. Don't get me wrong, I still love RPG games in their classic sense but they aren't designed for mobile play.
The App Store market is unlike other gaming markets because its open to so many people who aren't as gaming minded. Most iPhone/iPod/iPad owners I know would never buy a Nintendo DS or a PSP. Heck! I've never bought a DS or PSP either because I'm just not that kind of gamer. I love my console games, PC games and my iPhone mobile play games.
So when approaching the App Store market, I think the RPG needs to be approached differently, blending a bit of the old and new together to make an awesome hybrid. Here are a few key components, in my opinion, to a mobile RPG.
Easy and Fast Pick Up Play
Easy pick up play consists of two important things.
Making it easy and fast to pick up the first time
Making it easy and fast to pick up every time after that
The first consists of getting the game moving quickly, introducing the dynamic effectively and getting you moving. Solomon's Keep and Infinity Blade are two examples of easy first pick up play. The story isn't too elongated or texty to start and the controls are simple enough and introduced at the appropriate pace.
The second consists of getting people back to where they were quickly. The reality is, we all multitask and sometimes all we want is 5 – 10 minutes of entertainment. So mobile RPGs need to get people in and out of the game quickly with no fuss. Most games I've played actually do this pretty well. If you want to cover a lot of story, add a skip option (Queens Crown did this very nicely) . Which actually brings me to my next point.
I love a good story but I hate a long story. Sue me.
What is one of the best known stories in the iPhone game world?
Angry Birds. I feel like I know so much about the plight of those birds through a few barely animated cutscenes, some engaging gameplay and great sound that displays character. Think about my experience as a gamer on the go using this app, it's very easy to sit through story before things get fun.
Steve Krug wrote a famous web usability book called Don't Make Me Think which I read not too long ago. In this book he mentions the concept of a 'Reservoir of Good Will'. In simplest terms, it is like a bucket of water that represents our attention span. Every time the we get irritated, some water spills out of our bucket. When our bucket of water is empty, we are sufficiently pissed enough off to leave, delete or, worse yet, rate poorly.
Nothing spills my 'Reservoir of Good Will' quite like a text-heavy, elongated and non-skippable story.
We've got limited time to be convinced it is worth sticking around when we pick up new mobile games. In my opinion, something fun or awe inspiring needs to happen within the first minute of opening the app. If a heavy story is going to take up more than that minute, it probably needs a skip option. Log the meeting minutes in a journal for me to look up at my convenience.
Updates that add new dynamics and difficulty
This is an important key that iPhone RPGs and tower defense games lack. Some of the most successful iPhone games historically have updated relatively often with new content for free. Secondly, the new content features improved and increasingly difficult challenges. Angry Birds, Cut The Rope and Trainyard are probably my favourite three examples. It keeps the game fresh and gives opportunity for the developers to incorporate new ideas and respond to feedback.
Quick response to community / Strong feedback gathering
One of the best dynamics about MMOs is the ever changing world. Whether a game is an MMO or not, however, why can't it be an ever changing app? The best apps demonstrate signs of this. Beyond the bug fixes, listening and responding to community with additions/improvements based on their feedback is imperative. We want a say in our gaming! I understand MMOs have nice and steady budgets and I'm not asking for limitless expansions on $0.99 – $3.99. All I want is an effort to listen and evolve after game launch.
Achievements and Unlocks
Gaming has reached a new level of A.D.D. where if you aren't constantly rewarded and patted on the back for what you are doing, interest fades. Achievements and Unlocks are an all too necessary reminder that you are totally awesome and accomplishing something with your afternoon. They are a great way to raise that replenish that "Reservoir of Good Will" to the point of support and good ratings!
We are also in a new era of social and competitive gaming. Leaderboards are always a great bonus and the more a score is actually directly comparable and somehow controllable by the gamer, the more meaningful it is. I understand that RPG scoring is a challenge since it is somewhat subjective how all stats tie in and the games are often 1 Player focused. It is also hard to transcend gear or experience points and hours played to reward those with the most skill.
Many Stats + Lots of Gear + Hours and hours of gameplay = A score with no meaning
In my opinion, if the gameplay is like this, I suggest a side challenge added as a feature with a new separate leader-board. Even the playing field as best as possible, transcend gear, make the challenge bit-sized enough and reward skill over power. One of my favourite RPG mini challenges of all time, is the Final Fantasy 7 Battle Arena – Challenging gamers between stages to play slots to change the fate of their next battle.
Leveraging device capabilities
Mobile phones are unlike any other device we've gamed on before. So all games should be taking advantage of the Gyroscope, the Bluetooth, the Camera etc…
If the game plays in landscape, does it flip 180 when your turn your phone upside down?
It might seem like a trivial improvement but take this as an example:
My iPhone has one of its speakers busted so when I hold it one way in landscape, my palm muffles the sound. If the game can't flip itself 180 when I turn my phone upside down, I don't hear much when I play. I also use my phone when its plugged in to charge sometimes. Let's also not forget that different Apple iOS devices have the headphone jack on different sides. Personally I see the 180 flip as a bare minimum feature.
In with the Old and also in with the New
I respect that some might see this as the wrong thing to do to simplify the RPG for better mobile gaming. Dont get me wrong, traditional RPGs should still continue to be everything that they are. I will die if the old RPG format fades, seriously. All I'm saying is I'd like to see some good simple ones for on the go. More RPGs that are designed for a 5 minute wait to a 20 minute bus ride.
Put Up or Shut Up
I am no real authority on the RPG. Everyone's a critic and talk is cheap. This January, I am releasing my first game ever for the iPhone, Pixel Fighters. It's not the greatest game for iPhone ever, but it does incorporate a lot of what I have discussed as best as I have seen fit. With the assistance and support of many friends and an awesome design team, we have gotten it this far. With your feedback and support I hope to continue improving and polishing this game to make it the best value in RPG mobile play available on the App Store.
Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think. Let’s discuss mobile RPGs in this thread. You can also follow me on Twitter @pixelfightergm.
I hope that you will join me in the ongoing discussion of the right place for the RPG in the mobile phone realm.