Hot on the heels of PeopleFun’s last mobile game release in January, the excellent Adventure Smash. The studio is hot on the heels with their new game ‘Spell Blitz’ available from now on Android, iOS and Facebook. Spell Blitz lives up well to its name, its a word game where players are presented with a board and 90 seconds to try and spell out as many words from the letters on the screen in time. There are leader boards and higher points can be scored with longer words, special letters and bonuses for fast spelling! Read more
Dave Pottinger, founder and CEO of BonusXP has posted his Cavemania post-mortem blog on Gamasutra. Post-mortems are always very interesting reading and Cavemania’s is no exception. In the post we learn about how Cavemania started off as an RPG game as opposed to the “match 3″ game we see in the finished product. The blog also talks about various highs and lows during the development and describes the studios design methodology.
Starting from the beginning just how did BonusXP end up with a match-3 Age of Empires esque strategy game? The project first started off and an RPG which was worked on by one full-time programmer. Read more
Yesterday Zynga announced the shocking news that it was closing its Zynga Dallas and Zynga With Friends studios. Prior to Zynga’s acquisition of these teams they were known as Bonfire Studios and NewToy respectively. It was not long ago back in February 2013 that Zynga’s Chief Operating Officer, David Ko announced that it was merging all of its Texas operations under a single office as part of cost cutting moves for the struggling company. Now it seems those cost cutting measures have gone even deeper resulting in the layoff of all staff from the studios formed by Ex Ensemble Studios members. Read more
PeopleFun the studio founded by Tony Goodman has launched its second mobile game to the masses. Aptly titled “MixTwo” the latest game shows players two pictures and when combined the pictures reveal a linked word. For example match a cat and stripes and what do you get? Tiger, of course! Read more
When I was preparing this review for Word Chums, it hit me. Word Chums is like one of the following analogies, so pick the one that applies to you depending upon your age. It’s like you went from cassettes to CD’s or home phone landlines to a cell phone or dial-up internet to broadband. When I went from Words With Friends and other word games to Word Chums there was no going back. When I first installed Word Chums I immediately noticed some things that may seem trivial when you see them on a press release or someone tells you about them. But upon further inspection there are major changes to the genre of the game. And by major I mean they improve the experience by one hundred percent. The guys over at PeopleFun took what annoyed me about other word games and they fixed them. And some of them I didn’t even know that I disliked until I played Word Chums.
First of all I can verify if a word is real before I submit it. And I was really growing tired of being rejected over and over when trying to submit a word for verification. Word Chums automatically turns the word green and gives you a point value called a scoring badge and you can see how much it’s worth. Now I can spend my time finding the best word instead of being rejected all day… I don’t do well with rejection. They also made games for 2-4 players, head to head, 2v2 teams. You and your friends battling it out and pairing up with each other is a big improvement.
Part of it is also streamlined game play. And what I mean is I don’t have to go back to a menu and select a game and go to another menu and hit a button. There are fewer steps in getting to other games. I can simply take my thumb, swipe and go to the next game. This is a very streamlined interface. I didn’t realize how much it annoyed me for me to go back and pick and hit another menu and go pick another game. So adding streamlined game play and streamlined interface into the game makes it a hundred percent better for me.
There is a core gaming experience that revolves around some characters called the Chums and I really like them. They have fun gear that you can buy as you win games. You can get coins and use those coins and buy hats and canes and hairdos and all types of stuff. I didn’t know if I’d be into it but I like it actually. You see your friends’ characters change things and add glasses, add coats, all types of things inside the game to make it a more enjoyable experience. They have taken a fun feel that many other games have and they put it into a game that usually looks academic. Most word games have a tile placing academic look and academic feel to them. The people at PeopleFun have overcome this obstacle and actually took these two and merged them. They have merged the academic fun with the personalities of these Chums. Word Chums has also been a wonderful success at expanding my vocabulary. Now I can actually touch a word and it will tell me the definition of it. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it really annoyed me when people played words that I didn’t think were actually words that are in the dictionary and I wanted to know what they meant. I would actually take my phone and Google it and look it up and try to figure out what the word meant. It was just annoying to me. Now with a single touch – Boom! I can touch the word and I know what it is because the built in dictionary shows what the words mean. Perfect.
They’ve also added hints so if you run into a problem you can use your hints to point you to a location of a higher point word. The good thing is that it doesn’t give you the highest word, it gives you a high point word and you can actually beat the hint word, which I think adds a great balance to the game because you don’t actually pay to win.
Word Chums has leader boards and you get experience points with each game played and you level up. They also have a ribbon system for the best word and best game of the week. That doesn’t seem like a big deal but I like that the leader board changes each week because I feel like I have a shot at redeeming myself when playing bad.
I didn’t like when games kept a continuous record of lifetime losses only. If I was losing to a friend and they were 74 wins to my 10, I didn’t think I was ever going to catch them. And so the new leader board gives me new challenges and another chance to beat them. So in short, there are weekly refreshing leader boards and ribbons making me go back in there to get revenge and beat my friends. So it has kind of a competitive game experience to it also.
In closing, Word Chums has taken all of the things I have disliked about different word games and they fixed them. And another thing, PeopleFun kept all the things that were great. I think they looked at these other games, they looked at the word games that people play and they said- These things don’t need to change, there are great mechanics, there are great things in the games that people love. Leave them alone. Now what do people dislike? And they fixed all the things I disliked.
So remember I warned you – Once you buy Word Chums there’s no going back.
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By Kenny Newell
When I was preparing this review for Word Chums, it hit me. Word Chums is like one of the following analogies, so pick the one that applies to you depending upon your age. It’s like you went from cassettes to CD’s or home phone landlines to a cell phone or dial-up internet to broadband. When I went from Words With Friends and other word games to Word Chums there was no going back. When I first installed Word Chums I immediately noticed some things that may seem trivial when you see them on a press release or someone tells you about them. But upon further inspection there are major changes to the genre of the game. And by major I mean they improve the experience by one hundred percent. The guys over at PeopleFun took what annoyed me about other word games and they fixed them. And some of them I didn’t even know that I disliked until I played Word Chums. Read more
Ex Ensembler’s Paul and David Bettner who set about forming the hugely successful mobile studio NewToy have confirmed that they have now left the mobile gaming giant, Zynga. Paul and David Bettner joined Zynga after NewToy was acquired in December 2010. Back then the brothers commented that joining Zynga made perfect sense as both parties “share the same dream of building a social treasure”. Since the acquisition the NewToy studio which was re-named “Zynga With Friends” have greatly expanded the “With Friends” series of games from the massively successful Words with Friends to including Hanging, Matching, and Gems with Friends. Read more
Tony Goodman’s recently announced new mobile studio “PeopleFun” are poised to launch their first game on the iTunes store tomorrow. As anticipated their first title will be “Word Chums”. So what is this all about I hear you ask? Well, the premise is that it is very similar to existing word games like Words with Friends. However, what makes this game stand out is that it is very visually unique. Colourful to say the least, Word Chums adopts typical Ensemble Studios design styles with rich and bright colour palettes to help engage players and make it a pleasure to play. Take a look at the screenshots below and you’ll see just what I mean – this game is bright! Read more
Two new ex-Ensemble studios form: BonusXP and PeopleFun. Word Chums expected as launch title (Part 1)
VentureBeat has reported this week on two new studios forming from Ensemble Studios veterans. The first studio to be announced was “PeopleFun” a new venture from one of the key founders and CEO of Ensemble Studios, Tony Goodman. The other announcement was also from one of Ensemble’s long serving employees, Dave Pottinger who lifted the lid off his new studio “BonusXP”. These new studios are both small studios focussing on mobile gaming and join the line of many other ex Ensemble formed studios to enter the mobile market including the very successful “NewToy” and “Bonfire Studios” who were acquired by Zynga. So lets take a look at these exciting new announcements in more detail! Read more
After a teaser on the website for the last few days, Robot Entertainment have taken the wraps off Game 3.0 – Hero Academy! Hero Academy is a game for iOS which means it will be compatible with iPhone and iPad’s. So lets delve in and find out what its all about! Read more