We are very pleased to say that Bad Hotel, already known as one of the best credit crunch satire musical tower defence games on the iTunes Store, has been awarded a Scottish BAFTA for Best Game!
It’s really exciting for our work to be acknowledged, and the awards ceremony was loads of fun too. We would like to thank Creative Scotland and Channel 4 for their support.
For now our shiny new award is on our award shelf (which doubles as soldering station). Hopefully there are more on the way!
Bad Hotel, our latest music-defence-construction game, will be coming to the iTunes App Store on August 14th!
You can read our previous blog post about it and visit our swanky dedicated Bad Hotel website.
If you are interested in reviewing the game for a reputable news outlet, blog, or similar, please visit our press page to learn more and request an advance promo copy.
Hello folks! We are very proud to announce our next game for iPhone and iPad – Bad Hotel. Coming soon to the App Store.
Bad Hotel is an insane hybrid of a tower defense game and a procedural music toy, with beautiful art and tons of bullets. You can watch a teaser video at the Bad Hotel website.
We’ve received some really lovely preview coverage around the internet, including on Gamezebo, PocketGamer, and Touch Arcade, who did a really in-depth look at our work, inspiration, and motivation, and had this to say about Bad Hotel:
The resulting game is much less of a toy than Lucky Frame’s earlier apps. It’s challenging, engaging, and defies genre boundaries. And it retains the studio’s apparent love of the absurd.
In Bad Hotel you are a budding entrepreneur, whose hotel is rather unfortunately located within the territory of Tarnation Tadstock, the Texas Tyrant. Your only defense against Tadstock’s army of seagulls, rats, yetis, and more is to build your hotel as quickly and intelligently as possible, using an array of increasingly sophisticated weapons.
The beautiful artwork, quirky storyline, and frantic gameplay all work seamlessly together with a generative music system, which creates original music depending on the player’s actions and decisions. The player becomes a composer, creating complex musical structures to defend their hotel. A vast variety of music can be generated, from delicate beach chillout to country banjo techno.
We have submitted the game to Apple we are just waiting for approval before announcing a launch date. Give us a shout if you’d like an advance copy for review, or if you have any questions.
All three of us here at Lucky Frame are first and foremost artists. We each come from different artistic backgrounds (design, music, printmaking) but we prioritize creation, meaning, and experience above all else.
We also like fun and beautiful things. That’s why when we saw Ian Snyder’s unVerse, a Flash-based music generation system, we got in touch with him right away.
Ian makes some really amazing art and games (check out Star Swing for a really interesting and pretty one-button game), and unVerse is a super beautiful little generative music system. It uses a minimalist system of white points floating on a black screen. When two points approach they will connect and push each other away, generating a musical tone. Dragging your finger across the screen pushes the points, creating stunning patterns reminiscent of shooting stars.
When we played with his Flash version we quickly realized that it would work really well on iPad/iPhone, since clicking and dragging is a bit clunky but glass screens are really quite conducive to gliding your finger. We contacted Ian about making an iOS version, and he very graciously agreed.
So in our spare time (well, Jon’s spare time) we made a pretty little app version of unVerse. We eventually submitted it to the iTunes store and we were very excited to release it to the world. And then Apple rejected it.
Yes, that’s right, we were rejected on the grounds that unVerse is “not very useful”. Hmm. Strangely, an app that plays a sound of an airplane appears to have more use than our generative music system. Anyway.
To continue with my narrative, I decided to respond to our rejection:
We strongly believe that our app unVerse provides significant entertainment and artistic value. It is a beautiful application of a complex generative system, offering an accessible way to explore procedural music creation. Far more than a simple soundmaker, it fits in with our company philosophy by introducing powerful musical concepts through an aesthetically interesting and understandable interface.
unVerse looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, and is fun to use and play with. That makes it a worthwhile app to have on the store.
Director, Lucky Frame
Their response was rather unhelpful.
Thank you for the feedback. However, it would be appropriate to incorporate additional features and functionality to resolve this issue. If you wish to appeal your review, you can submit a request to the App Review Board.
I took them up on their offer, and submitted a request to the App Review Board. A few days later I got a call from an Apple representative in California. I should say at this point that the representative was very nice and respectful throughout the conversation, and I enjoyed speaking to them.
In a nutshell, they told me, the app needed more ‘features’. “I love this app, I really do,” they said, “it’s beautiful. It just needs…more.” They explained that this could take any number of different forms – different sounds, different colors, different movements, anything. It just needed more.
This is infuriating. There seemed to be no comprehension of the inherent contradiction between “this is great” and “but it needs more”. The whole reason unVerse is great is precisely because it does so little. It is a study, a little glimpse into a musical and physical interaction. If the app had more options and things to change, it would artistically break down and lose its way. “Oh Mondrian, your paintings are great, but they could just use a couple of curves”.
This line of reasoning is essentially “if it’s not right, add something”. This really goes against any design philosophy that Apple has, not to mention standard design or user experience practice.
While other developers (I strongly dislike using that word, but that’s a different story) might go ahead and add some extra features and re-submit, we have chosen not to do so. It is against our artistic and creative philosophy to arbitrarily add features, and it would not make sense from a company standpoint to invest more time in an app that could very well be rejected once again for not conforming to some random reviewer’s idea of what constitutes “useful”.
Instead, we can offer this video (and this website) that shows what could have been.
As a post-script, I should add that I don’t mean this to be a giant condemnation of the App Store, or Apple, or anything like that. Without the App Store we would not even be in a position to complain about how we can’t distribute one app to millions of users worldwide – our previous apps have been installed on thousands of devices, and of course that is absolutely amazing. My criticism in this case is more to do with how we evaluate creative output, and it’s a problem that could be applied to any number of situations, from apps to music interfaces. An unfortunate byproduct of consumer-focused digital media is that perhaps more than ever it prioritises adding “stuff” rather than trying to really explore and experiment with specific interactions, reactions, and interfaces.
We are very pleased to be taking part in the Because We May group sale that is going on at the moment – it’s a whole bunch of amazing indie app developers who have joined together to put their games on sale. So we have put Pugs Luv Beats, our IGF-nominated adorable canine musical game, on sale for just $.99 through Friday! To celebrate, here’s a little video showing some behind the scenes footage of our promo video shoot. Say hello to our friends Jake, Frankie, Esther, Zelda, and Paddy…
Oh man oh man oh man oh man. We are very excited here at the Lucky Frame offices, because we learned yesterday that Pugs Luv Beats is a finalist in the prestigious 2012 Independent Games Festival Awards. We are one of only five finalists in the “Excellence in Audio” category.
The judging notes say:
“This one took me by surprise. It’s super charming and the music integration into the gameplay is really creative here. I was enjoying the audio until I realized that the planet selection screen basically allows you to play two monosynths and…at that point I was sold!”
Awwwwwwww, that just warms our little pug hearts.
So that means that some contingent from Lucky Frame will be headed to San Francisco for GDC and of course the awards ceremony. We are extremely honored and proud to be amongst such an amazing selection of games.
If you haven’t played Pugs Luv Beats yet, go to the website now, or just go straight to iTunes to buy it for yourself!
Here’s a press release about the nomination: PDF, DOC
We are getting very close indeed to announcing our exciting new game.
However, there is one more thing we want to do before we tell the world all about it – we are going to make a video.
Not just any video, but a ridiculous hilarious wonderful video. Dogs wearing hats. Live musicians. A set made of cardboard. NEED WE SAY MORE?!
Well, yes, we do, because we need some help. We are looking for a few volunteers to help us out this Saturday the 10th of December in Dundee. We need a few hands on deck to help capture some footage, maybe take photos, organize the pugs, play the game for us on screen, and generally be awesome.
I should also add that if you have a small dog, such as a pug, please bring it along to star in the video. And maybe wear a hat.
If you would like to come by, in return we can offer a sneak peek and free copy of the game, free coffee and food, and when the video comes out you’ll be able to say “Hey! Guys! Come and see this! I helped with this! That’s the back of my head!”
If this floats your boat and you’re free in Dundee this Saturday, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week saw the culmination of a great project we worked on with the fine folks at Music at the Brewhouse (the same team we did Love Music Festival with last year): the Man High Mixer.
In a nutshell, the Man High project centered around the amazing story of Joseph Kittinger, a US Air Force test pilot who in 1960 jumped from a balloon 19 miles above the earth and survived. He fell at a speed of over 600 mph for 13 minutes and 45 seconds.
To commemorate this amazing achievement, composers Stephen Deazley and Martin Parker teamed up with video artist Andy Macgregor to create and perform a piece of music with original documentary footage of the jump at Glasgow City Halls. As part of this event, Lucky Frame was commissioned to create a piece of software that would allow children to create their own soundtracks to the Man High videos, without any prior musical experience.
The Man High Mixer is the result, and you can download it for yourself and have a go.
It lets you create music for the video based on really simple decisions. For example, you can choose two colors, and have those colors control the speed or volume of a sound. Or you can use video analysis to control a bunch of effects, or use the amount of movement on the screen to playback a bank of sounds. The sounds are all from Martin and Stephen, so you’re basically remixing the piece to your own liking, by making a series of choices.
So last Saturday, the day of the performance at City Halls, a bunch of computers were set up all around the venue, which were manned by a brilliant team of helpers wearing snazzy Man High t-shirts. They all helped any interested children learn how to use the software and make a recording of their compositions. We’ve ended up with a giant library of soundtracks, which I am currently putting on YouTube. They will be up shortly on the Man High website for all to see!
It’s been a great project, and we’re looking forward to doing more like it with Music at the Brewhouse and Love Music.
Today we are pleased to launch our latest mini-project: PYOING!
Pyoing is a two-player, head-to-head game. You shoot little bullets across the screen, with the aim of knocking one of two discs over to your opponents side. But there’s only a limited amount of ammo, and every time you fire your opponent gets your bullet!
In classic Lucky Frame style, we have made a video. I think it speaks for itself. If you can name the inspiration for both the game, and this video, you get a promo code!
Festipods is designed to be a fun and engrossing way of visualizing the Edinburgh festival events that you have attended. You can create your own little petri dish full of little musical creatures which represent the shows you have attended. They are awfully cute, though some are a bit scary. They swim around and make noise, and you can create a link to send to others to show off!
How does it work?
Step 1: Go to Festipods.co.uk!
Step 2: Search for an event that you are attending (or have attended)
Step 3: When you’ve found your event, click “add to pond”
Step 4: Say hello to your Festipod! Make sure to have your volume turned on…
Step 5: Repeat!
To make Festipods, we created a pretty huge library of heads, body segments, and tails. Check out the amazing sprite sheet:
Each festival was assigned a color scheme…for example, here are the heads that Sean made for the Jazz and Blues Festival events:
and here are some Fringe tails:
In the API every event contains a unique identifying number, which we used to generate a unique combination of head, body, tail, size, and sound for each one.
Oh yes, that last one is important. Make sure you have the sound turned on, because each festipod emits a sound, and combining different ones together can have some pretty great results!
Unfortunately, because we are using WebGL, Festipods will not work in Safari or Internet Explorer or early versions of Firefox. Bleeding edge.
To weave all of this together Jon made use of some pretty awesome libraries. These include:
- Tonfall for the audio
- The ubiquitous Box 2D for the physics modelling
- Processing.js to put it all together
and much more.
This project is fully open source – download the whole project here!
So go check it out, and let us know what you think! Share it with your friends! Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, most of all Rohan at Festivals Innovation Lab. Of course, please get in touch with us if you have any questions – email@example.com.