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AZ Tech Beat | July 23, 2017

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Phoenix game developer releases endless scroller parody

Phoenix game developer releases endless scroller parody
Matt Haldane

Indiana Stone is a new iOS game from Phoenix developer Tim Winsky and it is already getting some positive attention.

Released in March, the game was briefly featured in Apple’s “New & Noteworthy” and “What’s Hot” sections of the App Store. Winsky said this is critical for developers who don’t want their apps to get lost among the hundreds submitted to Apple every day.

“So many apps come out everyday that an app is pretty much invisible unless Apple promotes it on one of its featured lists,” he said. “I didn’t realize myself exactly how flooded the market is. It is a little bit scary when you take a step back and look at it.”

Indiana Stone is an endless-scroller game in the vein of Temple Run, but Winsky said he made the game to be different from such games even though it invites comparisons. Winsky said he started developing Indiana Stone before Temple Run was released, but he now appreciates that the game can work as a parody of that game in addition to the obvious Indiana Jones homage-which is self-evident as the player controls a boulder chasing a look-alike of the famous archeologist.

Winsky is a fan of homages, parodies and puns. His company TwinSky Games is a play on his name. Indiana Stone, while made as a 3D game, uses blocky graphics to give it the iconic pixelated, 8-bit graphics look. When a player beats the game on a certain difficulty level, there is an exchange of gratitude between the boulder and an idol that harks back to the kind of scene a player might have seen after using Mario to save Princess Peach.

IndianaStone5The game itself has many different challenges and three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard), which are unlocked as soon as the game is beat on the preceding difficulty level. The game modes include story mode, challenge, quickroll and endless gameplay.

Story mode is where the player gets to choose the difficulty level for the game. Quickroll takes the player to a random level and selects a random object to be played. Certain objects will be unlocked as a player progresses through the game so there are more options than simply being a boulder (a drum and barrel are two such objects).

Endless gameplay is just as it sounds: play until you die (or run out of speed, in the game’s vernacular). The challenge option is probably the most unique. It tasks the player with certain challenges which unlock new challenges within the game.

For $2.99, there are a lot of options in Indiana Stone. It is not as polished as games from large companies, but it offers a fun new twist on an old model and supports an Arizona independent developer.

Winsky said it is a good time to be an independent game developer, now that distribution systems like the Apple App Store and digital game vendor Steam have leveled the playing field. Winsky has been developing games for PC for more than a decade.

Winsky praises the game developer community in Phoenix, “It’s a great city. I know a lot of very passionate game developers who live here.”

The first game he ever designed to be sold was a parody of the Mario franchise. It was called Super Smashed Brothers and the protagonists were “drunk and stumbling around.” He sold about a dozen copies when he released it in 2002.

“Looking back on it now, of course, it’s a little bit embarrassing,” Winsky said. “But I learned a whole lot by making it.”

Though he still does not make enough money from his games to support himself, he saved up enough money to quit his job at the end of last year to focus on developing full-time.

Winsky remains realistic about success, but he said his programming job left him unfulfilled.

“My hope is to release at least three more games before I run out of money,” Winsky said. “I figure I have this opportunity so I may as well run with it.”

Download Indiana Stone from iTunes.

Learn more about TwinSky Games here.