Mobile Game: Balloon Run

Balloon Run (screenshot)
I love simple, fast paced games. They are fun to play, and they are fun to make. I have made a few endless runners in the past, and now I give you “Balloon Run”.

Keep your hot air balloon flying! Stay in the air for as long, as you can. Gravity will pull you down, and using the thruster will make you go up. Birds, planes and more will come at you, and may damage your balloon. Get hit one too many times, and you fall out of the sky. Game over.

While I admit being inspired by the Flappy Bird phenomenon, I wanted Balloon Run to be its own and not just another clone. For one, here you find your own path past the obstacles coming at you, as opposed to trying to stay within a single, narrow path. It’s up to you, to find the safest route. Secondly, since you are controlling a ballon, it made sense that as long as you hold the thrust down, you should keep ascending. It’s also not super fast going up, so thinking ahead is necessary.

I also added a few other favorite game elements, like health (“hearts”) and power-ups. There are three small balloons that occasionally appear on the screen. The blue one gives you a 20 point boost, the red heart-shaped balloon restores health, and the green balloon gives you a protective shield, lasting a few seconds. Each game is different, randomly generated within increasingly tough parameters.

Balloon Run (screenshot)
Birds, hang gliders and air planes are all out to get you!

I wanted a game that took a more than just a few seconds to play. For inspiration, I thought of pinball, in terms of how long each game might take, and the practice-makes-perfect element. Practice will make you better at playing Balloon Run.

The game took about 30 hours to make, including the time I spent looking for royalty free sound effects, doodling graphics in Photoshop, and writing this blog post. It is available for free in the Apple App Store, it does have ads, and an option to get rid of those ads with an in-app purchase. Naturally, global leaderboards are supported. The game will also be available for Android, once I have a setup for ads on that platform.

Balloon Run came about as a side project. I made it fueled largely by surplus (nervous?) energy, coming from being in the final phases of putting together my much larger game, Salvage Trader. I was waiting for some of the last graphics to come in, during which I felt creatively restless, and that sort of made me crank this little gem out. Still, I’m surprised it came together so quickly.

Balloon Run - prototype
Here is a very early iteration of Balloon Run, when it was mostly a test of the concept. Almost everything was redone and tweaked several times.

Nebula Rescue 1.1 is Live!

It’s a happy day! The first update of Nebula Rescue – my debut game for iPhone and iPod Touch – is live in the App Store today. This update is important to me personally (here’s why), but still would not have happened without the encouragement and support of people who play the game, like it, and wanted more!

The update includes 20 in-game achievements, ranging from the easily obtained to ones only the most hardcore fans will unlock, and a statistics screen. The stats part was inspired directly by requests from players who liked the old end game screen, which told you how many UFOs you’d shot down, how much space gunk you’d collected and so on. More stats were requested, so I made it keep track of averages and totals across multiple games.

Nebula Rescue 1.1 is available in the iTunes App Store for $0.99. If you enjoy it, I would very much appreciate a rating/review there. Or better yet, gift a copy to a friend.

Here’s what the achievement screen looks like, showing what I’ve managed to unlock between updating the game and writing this announcement.

Several people have asked about an Android version. One is in the works – a beta version has been compiled, but not yet tested. I am taking my time with it, partly because I don’t have much time to spare, and because I don’t have any Android devices of my own to test on, and thus I’m relying on helpful friends. For that reason, there is no official release date for Android (yet).

Show your support by liking Nebula Rescue on Facebook.

Sounds from the Nebula

It’s my birthday, so what better time to share a bit of good news? If I had my way, Nebula Rescue would be out yesterday, but I am still tweaking and adding the last details. But while you wait for the game, here is the freshly released soundtrack! The two tracks featured in the game are now a mini digital album, including an extended version of the menu track, “Making Choices”.

Listen to the whole thing using the embedded player, and get a copy of the entire soundtrack for $1.99 (or more) via Bandcamp.

As for the game itself, it’s really down to the final details now. I had one persistent bug that took two full days to hunt down, but the game plays the way it’s supposed to now, and the difficulty level is balanced how I want it. I still need to add a few sound effects, and Nebula Rescue will be ready to head to the App Store for approval.

Don’t forget that you can “Like” Nebula Rescue on Facebook too – there’s even an email signup, if you want notification when the game goes live (or consideration for a free promo/review copy).