wwTouch is a new app from FrozenPepper that brings the strategy and depth of classic board games like Axis and Allies to the iPad. We recently hooked up with developer Ottavio Radicati to get the dirt on this exciting new game.
Sci-Guys: Thanks for talking with us! Can you give us a little background on you, your software development, and how you came to write software for iOS?
Ottavio Radicati: Hi, I’m Italian, and I founded FrozenPepper two years ago, soon after the appStore Launched. I had always studied / sort of worked in 3D graphics, but with the AppStore introduction and finally a great marketplace where to sell games digitally I concentrated totally on learning how to code and make games for the new apple devices. I have started with very simple games while learning, and last year, I started working together with 2 other great appStore developers, iDev2 and Ethervision, on some quite successful RC (remote controlled) plane and heli simulators, thanks to the RC series (which we are constantly expanding) we could concentrate on a long term project for the first time, so wwTouch development begun, being surely the most complex project we worked on up till now.
The unity game engine helped me a lot to transition from the 3D graphics experience I had to game design and programming, and the AppStore finally was something accessible even for me, letting me reach an audience which would have been simply not possible with my fundings, plus the iPhone platform was fantastic for games, so it all came together in FrozenPepper.
Sci-Guys: Have you considered other platforms to develop your software on?
Ottavio Radicati: Surely we have been thinking a lot of other platforms, especially the mobile ones (as they are more accessible), but at the moment they are much worse in many ways, compared to the iTunes / iOS ecosystem; Tons of different screen resolutions, hardware producers and components, device performance, touch input quality, sensors available, all of that paired with not very inviting marketplaces and not all devices having access to those marketplaces.
All of that makes the transition to other mobile platforms not something that is “impending” for us. We simply have to wait some more for others to catch up with Apple, at that point we will surely be working for that to.
Sci-Guys: Obviously we are very excited about your new game wwTouch. Can you give us some more detail on it?
Ottavio Radicati: wwTouch gets a lot of inspiration from Axis and Allies and Risk, it was born after some nights spent with friends playing Axis And Allies board game. After 2 games, each one lasted 13 hours, my frustration was immense. It was a cool game, but who the hell wants to spend 13 hours in front of a board game, most of which you are waiting for other players to do something? So I started thinking about a computer version, but, with the iPad, we discovered the perfect platform!
The game tries to have deep strategy options together with a decently fast game play. The game was developed with multiplayer on the same ipad in mind, sort of a modern board game, but we gave much attention to AI (and we will continue expanding it) to have a fun game also when playing by yourself. Special thanks goes to Pietro Paolini that took care of Ai and map pathfinding, as well as being fundamental for combat solving and general help. Also longtime partners iDev2 and Ethervision followed the development providing support since the beginning of the project.
Here the “official game description :
WWTouch is a comprehensive 3-D map-based, strategy game that was built specifically with the amazing functionality of the iPad in mind. If you are into immersive strategy games like Axis & Allies, WWTouch is exactly what you have been waiting for. WWTouch supports up to 5 players at a time playing on the same iPad as you try and build your armies and defeat your friends in the quest for global resource domination. Think of WWTouch as the most advanced strategy board game you can play. Choose from 9 types of armies and weapons to build and to ultimately control land, air and sea. The more territories and resources you have, the more armies, ships and planes you can build and thus the more you can expand your empire. From huge maps (the entire world) to small maps (North and South America) to a medium sized battle in Europe and Africa, you can play the app as in-depth or as quickly as you have time for. WWTouch is played in landscape mode but flip the iPad to portrait to see the latest results of the game via a newspaper layout. Also in portrait mode is an in-depth manual explaining all the rules of the game. Choose from 3 different levels of Artificial Intelligence as you go head to head (to head) against computer opponents. If West Point isn’t using WWTouch for Advanced Officer Training, they soon will be!
Sci-Guys: What was the most challenging part of creating wwTouch?
Ottavio Radicati: One of the hardest / nicest parts of the development has been the user interface and interaction. We wanted to keep the game simple to use and learn, use the most from the ipad touch tech and screen size, but also have some deep strategy possible. I think that things such as the info you can browse in portrait view, dragable panels, multi-touch, really help in displaying and letting the player interact with all the info and actions in wwTouch.
But the hardest and most annoying thing about all the development of wwTouch, were the first 2 months of working on the game without having a real device to test the game on. We are also discovering the importance (especially in this kind of game) of professional beta testing, the first version of wwTouch revealed some bugs we were totally unaware of, and had us working for 3 days like mad men to fix them and post an immediate update to apple. Surely next time we will increase attention spent for Beta phase…
Sci-Guys: Can you describe some of the bug fixes/ improvements you are working on?
Ottavio Radicati: We have submitted an update to apple for review which includes an impressive amount of fixes / changes, all thanks to our users. Plus we plan on extending the game.
On wwTouch.com there is forum, which can be used to discuss wanted features / improvements / ideas etc. While we want to keep the game simple, we are also willing to increase the strategic challenge, so things such as espionage, diplomacy, fortifications, etc. might hit the game quite soon.
We also are committed to introduce gameCenter, multiplayer online games, and other Major features soon after iOs 4 becomes available for ipad.
Here is what is included in wwTouch 1.1 update, which we have submitted to apple a few days ago :
- much improved camera movement
- solved crashes at startup
- fixed bug that prevented from building in factories placed in ”Italy” territory.
- much improved double tap detection on territories
- fixed South American territory colliders which had bugs.
- fixed bug that would occur when 1 of the AI players was totally defeated
- Added 4 tutorial “windows” explaining how transport planes, transport ships, submarines, and neutral territories work
- fixed crashes when in portrait mode
- added sounds when in battle
- fixed “factory panel” update – now it will shift to factory you’re building on and update when adding units
- added “Prod left” indicator in the “factory panel” which will inform about remaining production for that industry
- increased 3 star AI difficulty
- fixed some newspaper display bugs
- Fixed bugs when going back to main menu
- Improved memory handling
Sci-Guys: Have the sales/reception/reviews of wwtouch been what you hoped for?
Ottavio Radicati: We had been working so much on wwTouch in the last months that we where taking too much for granted, so we omitted some fundamental explanations to the user, plus we beta tested the game on “clean devices” which were basically never used, with all the memory available, while most users iPad are full of apps and constantly used, so we had some problems with un-expected crashes or slow downs due to this memory use. But apart from a few problems, we knew some elements of the game could be improved, and are very happy to do it with feedback from users.
We are happy with how it’s going, a lot of people wrote about how they loved the idea and game and helped with the first update, version 1.0 of wwTouch has some issues, and thanks to the users, we have already improved it a lot, so that it will progress towards the best it can.
Sci-Guys: We love the concept, and there certainly doesn’t appear to be anything close to this style of game in the app store. Thanks for producing this ambitious game, and talking with us about it!