It’s an embarrassment of riches here at Appy Place, as we today have not one but TWO terrific new games to recommend.
Casey’s Contraptions is the eagerly-anticipated new game from local developer and friend-of-Appy, Snappy Touch. In Casey’s Contraptions, you solve physics-based puzzles by positioning cartoony household objects on the play field, then set them off to create chain reactions that will surprise, delight, and (hopefully!) solve the game’s many puzzles.
Casey’s Contraptions shares several of the virtues of Snappy Touch’s previous game, Flower Garden. “One of the goals I’ve had since I turned indie has been to make games that rely on creating and sharing things,” Noel said. “The kind of feeling and emotions you evoke creating something is very different than what you get by destroying it.”
The origins of the game also harkened to Noel’s childhood. “I used to love to build things out of Legos, Meccanos, or anything I had around,” Noel said. “Combining that idea with a modern physics simulation and a touch platform like the iPad seemed like a perfect combination.”
While published by Snappy Touch, Casey’s Contraptions is the result of a partnership between Noel Llopis and Miguel Ángel Friginal. The game that would become Casey’s Contraptions grew out of prototypes developed after Noel and Miguel had a chance to work together at 360idev in San Jose.
“After 360idev I came back really motivated to seriously become an indie game developer,” Miguel said. “A couple months went by, and Noel sent me a first prototype of Casey’s Contraptions to check out. You could totally see, even that early, the game had so much potential.”
Though Miguel wrote code by trade, Noel convinced Miguel to join the project as an artist.
“Although I had spent years in the advertising industry as a graphic designer before doing web development, I had never worked as an illustrator,” Miguel said. “I was not even looking into that kind of job.”
But Miguel found working as an artist was a familiar experience.
“People don’t realize game art and coding have a lot in common,” Miguel said. “In both cases you have a problem that needs a solution.
“Programmers look at a coding problem, say move a shape in the screen, or determine collisions at interactive rates, or share a level’s solution, and immediately create a model in their head. They divide this model into smaller chunks they solve, and the parts they don’t know how to solve they either research, solve through experimentation, or simply avoid.
“For a graphic designer it is basically the same: the problems are about the messages and emotions you want to communicate, or maybe about usability, or consistency with a vision. The variables are colors, shapes, fonts, graphic styles … You create small pieces first, and what you don’t know how to solve you either research — looking at what other better artists did before you — or you experiment until the pieces fit.”
Experimentation, of course, is at the heart of Casey’s Contraptions. Each level offers a new puzzle to solve, and the best way to get there is through experimentation.
“The level creation process was very organic. At the very beginning we were just making up random stuff, exploring the solution space,” Noel said. “We were doing cool stuff and challenging each other to solve them. Those early levels were probably some of the hardest levels to solve we’ve ever created. We’ve been dialing the difficulty back since then.
“Since we didn’t rush the game out and we gave ourselves the time necessary to do it right, by the end we had a pretty good feel for levels. We could create a level on demand for a particular part in the game and it would fit in pretty well with the difficulty curve.”
With 72 levels in the game at launch, and more to follow in updates, there are plenty of puzzles for players to explore.
“My favorite levels are the ones that can be solved in completely unexpected ways,” Noel says. “You can think outside of the box and come up with completely crazy solutions. There are no rules here other than the laws of physics, so it’s possible to come up with some really, really unusual contraptions. That’s why being able to share solutions and see your friends’ solutions is so awesome.”
Building a community of players for Casey’s Contraptions is a priority for Snappy Touch, and that’s why an iPhone/iPod touch version of the game is on the way.
“The first prototype of Casey’s Contraptions was running on an iPhone,” Noel says. “But the game was screaming for a larger screen and more space to manipulate items in a more natural way. We spent a long time getting the user interaction on the iPad just right. And with what we learned, now we can go back and make a much better interface for small screens.
“We already have fan requests for Amiga and C64 ports,” Noel adds, with a smile. “That might take a little longer though.”
Coming sooner will be content updates for the game.
“More locations with extra levels are in the works,” Miguel says. “Each location will also introduce new items to unlock and use in the editor. We are really excited about how every time we add a new item the possibilities explode; new interactions become possible, and the combinations with the other items create really unexpected mechanics that we are all too happy to explore in the new levels, or even better, have our players find, and show us what’s possible. That’s the best part of the game for sure.”
Join the fun by downloading Casey’s Contraptions for iPad by clicking HERE, or on the big colorful game icon below. Casey’s Contraptions is a good game by good people, and it has Appy’s seal of approval!Praise For The Other Guys