Attention iPhone, free Shapes ahead!

Update: Unfortunately you can’t download Shapes at the moment. My Apple Developer membership expired and I’m not planning to update it right now, since I want to concentrate on some other, not iOS based projects at the moment.

While reorganizing my online accounts and websites I realized, that I had neglected the page I once created for the my first iPhone app. Therefore I decided to give Shapes: Puzzle ’em up – yap, that’s the name of the game – a new home here at Pixels|Bytes. After some more thoughts I also decided that I can bear the few coins I gain from selling it, so you can get Shapes for free from the Apple App Store from now on!

Read on if you want to get some more information about the game and the ideas and concepts behind it.

I developed the original version of Shapes using Flash during a game design course at the Flensburg University of Applied Sciences (FH-Flensburg) back in 2010. After winning the FLOAT Award 2010 in the category “casual game” my game design professor Dr. Knut Hartmann encouraged me to port the game to the iPhone, which I started in late summer 2010. Shapes finally hit the App Store in November 2010 and had more than 3000 downloads after the first week.

The primary goal of the concept of Shapes was it to create a simple but addicting game experience without big graphic effects or other polish, but only with simple game-elements and easy rules. The resulting game can be broken down to three elements:

  • The ship: That’s the green/red triangle.
  • The shapes: The Tetris-lookalike blocks flying around.
  • The figure: The gray blocks in the background.

The ship can fire two types of bullets, Shredders and Catchers. Shredders destroy shapes, wich gives you points, while Catchers fit a shape into the figure. A completed figure multiplies your points. The less shapes you need to fill a figure, the higher the multipler will be. This boils the game down to three simple directives:

  • Shred small or unusable shapes to get points.
  • Catch big and usable shapes to fill the figure.
  • Don’t get hit by any shapes.

The interface of Shapes is simple and minimalistic to prevent the player from getting distracted from the game-flow. To increase the immersion even further the difficulty-level won’t increase in a linear way, but varies between challanging and relaxing phases while the overall difficulty increases over time, which supports the flow experience of the player.

I also tried to make the ship control as easy as possible, so you just have to tap on the screen to move the ship to a certain position. Firing Shredders and Catcher can be done by tapping on the far right of the screen. It a bit tricky to describe, but it’s quite easy to use. There’s a development preview video on the Shapes page which might give you a better impression on how it works. Or you simply download Shapes from the App Store and try it for yourself (it includes a tutorial, so no worries). Have fun :)

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