There’s no shortage of big-name mobile games out there from juggernauts like EA and Sega and Rovio and Gameloft, and while indie developers can rarely compete on budget, they can compete on ideas.
As very much suggested by the title of this here feature, I’ve pulled together a list of four indie mobile developers worth watching.
In keeping with Mobot tradition, this list is presented in no particular order. And inevitably I’ll have forgotten one or two along the way; I’m not saying that these are necessarily the four best, merely the four that popped into my head when I thought: ‘****, I have to write some sort of feature tomorrow morning.’
Ready? Let’s dance!
Name: Dong Nguyen
App of note: Flappy Bird
Say what you like about Flappy Bird, but there’s no denying that it is – or perhaps more accurately was – a smartphone gaming phenomenon.
Flappy Bird simply nicked a handful of assets from Mario, and tasked players with tapping the screen to keep the eponymous bird afloat, effectively carving an arced path through a series of pipes. Hit one of those pipes, and it’s Game Over.
A simple concept, no doubt, but it was the difficulty that gripped players, with many struggling to get into double figures.
Of course, Flappy Bird was ultimately pulled from the App Store and Google Play, with crazy old Dong fearing that he’d ruined people’s lives – the game being incredibly “addictive”. Still, he reckons it might come back, eventually…
It remains to be seen if Dong can match the popularity of Flappy Bird with his next effort, though he's surely already set for life. Flappy Bird was reportedly bringing in $50,000 a day in ad revenue at one point. Good grief.
Name: Asher Vollmer
App of note: Threes!
In my Threes! review in February, I scribbled: “Threes! is one of those games that makes you wonder: how did no one think of this before? Simple on the surface, it’s actually a surprisingly deep – and addictive – puzzle game. This will easily be one of the best smartphone games of 2014.”
I stand by that. Threes! definitely is one of the best smartphone games of 2014 so far, and remains installed on both my iPhone and iPad.
It’s also one of the most cloned smartphone games of 2014 (so much so that I went on an impromptu rant a couple of weeks back), with rubbish like 1024 and 2048 essentially stealing the idea and replacing multiples of three with multiples of two.
As Asher says: “Making games is easier than ever, but it's still hard as heck to design them”.
Name: Nicoll Hunt
App of note: FIST OF AWESOME
There’s plenty to love about Nicoll Hunt, including his beard and his sense of humour. Is he crazy? Almost certainly.
Nicoll describes himself as “Either the saviour of indie games, or everything wrong with them”, and adds that he’d “much rather be Jeff Minter than King.com”. In a nutshell: he’s not just out to make a quick buck with freemium crud.
In fact, he has an idea that’s quite the opposite, having tweeted yesterday: “Experiment: starting tomorrow I'm going to increase the price of iOS/Android #FISTOFAWESOME by ~$1 every week till I forget or get bored.”
Name: Kurt Bieg
App of note: 4 Thrones
I mention 4 Thrones as Kurt Bieg’s app of note, though I’m reminding myself again that Circadia has had a ton of postitive feedback on the App Store. Must review it soon.
Anyway, yes, 4 Thrones is a solitaire variant – and a surprisingly good one. Initially I thought it was ok-ish; it wasn’t until I read the accompanying blog post about the behaviour of the cards (with a distinct Game of Thrones flavour) that I really appreciated it.
Kurt’s most recent effort is the insanely simple match game Hoots, but even that’s way better than it should be. Looking forward to seeing what the Simple Machines guy does next.