This week's pick offers proof positive that simple design crafted around a single innovative gameplay loop can serve as the foundation for an entire game
I just spent the week at the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and one of the most noticeable trends I noticed was the number of game developers who spoke openly about switching their lead platform from iOS to the PC.
The reason? Discovery. The other reason? From the developers’ perspective, Steam is more enticing because it is a more robust and fully developed gaming platform than both Android and iOS. Even if it also presents a challenging environment, communities can more easily form around games on Valve’s digital distribution platform. And, as many, many developers told me directly, they can always port over to iOS or Android if they are able to find success on the PC.
It is worth noting that the majority of the developers discussing this shift are hard-core to mid-core developers intent on making games for hard-core and mid-core gamers. Pure mobile developers still exist in massive numbers though, and could be found everywhere at GDC, which continues to grow and grow and grow in audience attendance.
Yes, there were lots of Clash of Clan clones. But I also saw a number of progressively modern games, some highly experimental designs, and some really simple concepts that looked like prototypes, but played like sophisticated, well thought-out products.
This week’s Game of the Week falls into that category.
(Game developers: sign up for TabTimes' free Tablet Game Business newsletter)
Jump! Chump! is such a simple concept it feels like a student project. But it is surprisingly addicting. You control two blocks named Jump and Chump. One of these guys jumps up on your screen when you press the top half of your iPad. The other jumps down, when you press the bottom half. You can also press both halves of the screen at the same time to make both blocky characters jump.
It is hard to believe, but is a fairly innovative play mechanic. (I can’t think of any other game that has used this set of controls.) The core gameplay loop is that a series of blocks comes hurtling horizontally towards both characters from either side of the screen. The challenge is to get both characters jumping over the blocks without getting smashed. Score is kept via a timer that tracks how long you last.
this sounds easy, it is not. In fact, Jump! Chump! is much harder than it sounds, mostly because our brains aren’t used to tracking dual threats and responding with dual controls.
The end result here is magic. Like many of the game developers at GDC, I found myself wishing that Apple’s Gamecenter had more robust means of connecting with your friends. All you can do with Jump! Chump! is see the high scores (some of which are outrageous) and challenge your friends to beat your scores.
While this is better than nothing, I found myself wondering how much potential there is for more active connectivity between friends playing Android tablet and iPad games.
(For the best iPad games, sign up for TabTimes' free iPad Games newsletter)