Astraware Easter Updates

We’re busy working away at a few things to bring some improvements!

As well as continuing our work on Mijnlieff (to fix the bug introduced by iOS8) and simplify the purchasing system, we’re doing a bit of an update on Astraware Crosswords too.

First of all we’re taking a bit of a style update and making our puzzle games have a rather neater visual style which matches the latest iOS and Android styles a bit better.

crosswords-title   crosswords-ingame

This also means we’ve changed a bit of the look within the game itself, and so it’s a goodbye to the pretty (but space-wasting) curvy swooshes and in with a straighter keyboard area, which means we can make the keys a bit bigger and also display more of the clues too.

We’re switching out the banner ads which would be constantly running along the top of the screen as you play, which means more space to see the clues all of the time, and no more flashy distracting ads at the top of the screen. Instead we’ll have a single ‘interstitial’ style advert after you’ve completed the game. If you’ve already decided to support us directly by purchasing the no-ads option, then you won’t see the new ads either 🙂

Last up is that we’ll be including a neat support system directly into the game – which means you’ll be able to send us a message and see the reply from the game itself, as well as being able to access all of the online FAQs we’ve written too. We hope this will make it an easier process to get support if you need it, but also with the FAQs right there too, providing some of the answers even faster!

Happy Easter!

Happy Thanksgiving 2014!

Here’s wishing all of our US friends and family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

A reminder that you can get our Thanksgiving themed Wordsearch for free from the Apple App store for iPhones and iPads, and  Google Play store for Android Phones and Tablets!

Hoping you have lots of fun with your families, a good meal, and stay warm!

Howard & David

Crosswords Icons?

Crosswords comes with some puzzles built in, and of course the new Daily puzzle each day and weekender available each Friday, but avid fans will often want to add extra packs of puzzles!

These are available as ‘in-app purchases’ from within the game.

 

deluxe1

Deluxe Pack 1

deluxe2

Deluxe Pack 2

deluxe3

Deluxe Pack 3

fun1

Fun Pack


easy1

Easy Pack

family1

Family Pack

vacation1

Vacation Pack 1

vacation2

Vacation Pack 2


tough1

Tough Pack

 



 

Each of these is a separate purchase and adds in a range of puzzles into Crosswords, the bigger the pack, the better the value!

The Nook Deluxe version comes with Deluxe Pack 1 built in, so you won’t see it as a purchase available in the shop.  If you have the Deluxe Pack 1, then you’ll see Pack 2 available for purchase, and then on to 3.

Once you’ve made a purchase the ‘new game’ page will change to show you which of your purchases are contributing puzzles to each of the various selections. The Easy pack adds in a range of easy puzzles, the tough pack just adds in hard puzzles, the other packs add in a range of sizes and difficulties!

Here’s an example to show you how it looks after you’ve made a purchase – the icons are pretty small but now you know what you’re looking for, you can see the difference!

Nook-HD-DeluxePurchase

 

Is your device Haunted?

Staffordshire, UK – October  24, 2014 – Astraware® releases Haunted, a brain-teasing puzzle game for iPad®, iPhone® and Android phones and tablets.

Just in time for Halloween, Astraware has released Haunted, a brand new game that has you finding your way through room after room of puzzles with monsters to avoid and treasure to find.

Haunted is a game for those who like to use their brain to solve puzzles, rather than be the fastest to tap. Find your way through each room one step at a time, and the monsters in the room react to your every move. Zombies are slow and move towards you, but other monsters behave in other simple (but different) ways, and learning how they move is the key to solving the game!

Take your time to plan, there’s no need to be hurried, and you can undo your moves as often as you like or reset the room right back to the beginning if you decide that a particular path isn’t going to work out. Stars are awarded for each room you complete, just one for escaping, two for escaping with all the possible treasure, and three for finding the perfect route with the minimum number of steps. You can go back at any time to re-attempt a room and get that coveted third star.

The first launch has 6 houses filled with a total of 80 rooms to solve, some are straightforward and are there to help you to learn, some present real challenges! There are four monster types, as well as pit traps and treasure to find, with more to come in future updates. It is ideal for ages 7 and up.

Haunted is available to download on the App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore for Android and NOOK Apps.  It is a free download with occasional adverts on iOS and Android, and is set at $2.99 on NOOK with no adverts.

For more information on Haunted, see the Astraware page at: www.astraware.com/games/haunted, or view the presskit.

About Astraware

Based in the heart of England, Astraware is Howard Tomlinson and David Oakley, who have been passionately developing games for handheld devices since 1997.

Thoughts on Apple’s September 2014 Event

 

For Tim Cook and Apple, this was obviously one of those company-defining events that don’t happen very often. Cook had pretty much confirmed that they would be announcing a new product category in comments earlier in the year and also by the venue: the Flint Centre in Cupertino was previously used to announce the original iMac and the first iPhone. So, what of the much-anticipated “iWatch”, and of the iPhone 6?

iPhone 6

buystrip_hero_largeQuite a lot of the details had already been leaked by Chinese manufacturers, so we knew that there would be a 4.7” phone and probably a 5.5” one. In terms of the aesthetics I’m happy to see the rounded edges (the iPhone-shaped imprint in every pair of jeans I own is embarrassing), but the protruding camera lens had me wondering whether Steve Jobs would have allowed that to be announced. Still, it’s de rigeur these days… The phones are significantly thinner than the already slim iPhone 5s, so maybe that’s a reason for the bulge. I’ve always had my iPhones in cases anyway so hopefully that would make it flat?

The display details are of particular interest to us, as we have to make sure our games look their best on all the popular screen resolutions, although the new iPhones will automatically upscale from the iPhone 5’s retina display. The larger Plus phone has a standard 1080×1920 screen, as used in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Nexus 5. That’s great and means that we can support that with ease (I’ll explain our “display metrics” system another day). The iPhone 6’s 750×1334 screen is quite, um, unique though, so I’m guessing we’ll use the common Android 720×1280 resolution and spread things out a bit.

While the iPhone 6’s screen keeps exactly the same “retina” 326 pixels per inch, the Plus has a rather tighter 401. Obviously our eyes have improved 23% since Steve said that the iPhone 4’s retina display was basically as good as you need. But hey, at least it’s not the LG G3’s insane 538 ppi. Apple don’t usually ramp up specs just for numerical superiority.

Other than that, the new iPhones are predictably faster, have a better camera (though interestingly they’ve again gone for better optics while keeping the megapixels the same) and supposedly better battery life.

Apple Pay

The era of the ‘i’ has passed: maybe it’s just getting too expensive to buy up the trademarks these days. Apple Pay is basically a combination of the new iPhones’ NFC capabilities (Apple always get there in the end), the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and another new secure chip for storing payment identity details. As usual, Apple, being an American tech company, announce this all as if the whole world still uses the magnetic strips on their credit cards. No, most of us can already use ‘contactless’ payments. Oh well!

That said, Apple Pay seems to be a well thought-through and seamless system which does tick the boxes in terms of convenience and security. But if you might be going to a store that doesn’t support contactless (and maybe it actually needs to be Apple-specific software on the terminal) then you’ll need those credit cards…

Apple Watch

See, no “i” here either! The Apple Watch looked surprisingly unsurprising to me… The round Moto 360 is significantly more exciting to look at. It looks quite thick, which is always a turn-off for me when it comes to watches. But Apple have understood that watches need to be more personalised than phones, so it’s good to see a wide range of different styles of straps and three different materials for the watch itself. Gold, if you so desire!

In terms of the software, things seem pretty well thought-through for a 1.0 release. Nice virtual watch faces, good Siri voice control, tidy integrations with email, calendar, messages etc. The ability to communicate with other Apple Watch users via a virtual (tiny) scribble pad looks quite interesting – I can imagine partners or friends building up a library of pictograms for common interactions.

Some pre-event coverage suggested an on-watch App Store, which seemed like a recipe for chaos to me. What they’ve actually done is made watch apps extensions of (the mandatory) iPhone’s apps, via “WatchKit” (which joins a long line of kits such as StoreKit, HealthKit and MapKit). I couldn’t discern from the video how sophisticated this is, though it seemed to enable some quite elaborate graphics, interactions and hardware integration. I wonder what the possibilities are for games? Could something like “2048” with its purely swipe-based control be made to work on there? How about long-term games where you need to tend to your crops/troops etc? There’s certainly some opportunity for exposure from Apple for developers that can do unique things here.


The new iPhones will be available from the 19th of this month, so as usual there’s not long for developers to think about getting games updated in time for launch! But how about Apple Watch, coming in the new year? How about something that works with that…?

 

Astraware Rummages In Pockets, Inserts Coin, Starts New Game

We’ve had quite a crazy roller-coaster ride since starting Astraware back in 2000, creating new games, supporting new technology and devices, and growing the company with the addition of great staff to the team. We’ve had great luck with some products at just the right time (Zap!2000, Sudoku), and worked with some great licensors to make mobile versions of their games (Bejeweled, Collapse, and many more!).  We’ve also had our share of downs too – our biggest was that as Palm OS declined, we weren’t able to pick up as much from other platforms.

This year we said a sad farewell to the last of our fantastic employees, leaving just David and I in Astraware once again, just like we were back in those early days. Except perhaps with 30 years more experience between us, and a nice suite of popular games that bring in just enough to keep us going as we work on the next titles.

We’re updating our website (with WordPress and, for now, the lovely ‘Enfold’ theme) to concentrate on our main products. Yes, we’ve had lots of extra games over the years, but in order to make a clean and maintainable site, we’re prioritising the games which are most popular (and newest, of course!)

So, as we start up our new-look site, we’ve taken a good look back at our history, and we’ve got a lot to celebrate and be proud of!

  • Created a business doing what we love
  • Provided first-real-jobs to more than 10 raw graduates, giving them that critical ‘experience’ they could use to progress up the career ladder
  • Provided over 100 years worth of employment across all of the staff
  • Welcomed 7 babies to the world between the team
  • Created over 100 different games, across 10+ platforms, some original, some licensed
  • Made many games that are loved and played every day, making a real and positive difference to many people’s lives
  • Published over 50 games for other developers, and sold games for even more.
  • Created a respected and ethical business (we didn’t manage to please all of the people all of the time, but we’ve managed pretty well!)
  • Met and made many many friends along the way, team members, beta testers, colleagues, partners, and random crazy conference buddies. You all rock and have made Astraware a real adventure!

Looking forward again now, we’re maintaining our most popular games (especially those with daily content) and working on adding more games that keep our long-standing and loyal audience happy and entertained.  Will we make the next sudden unexpected big hit? We’d love to think so – like every other developer – but more realistically we know we can make good games that we can maintain and keep going for many years.

Here’s hoping you’ll keep with us as we start another go on the ride! Who knows what track we’ll follow this time around!

Howard and David

Welcome to our new blog!

It’s been a long time since we were able to add new content, but that’s only because our old web system was not as enthusiastic about new content as we are!

Read more

Astraware brings award-winning board game to mobile devices; Mijnlieff now available for NOOK, iOS and Android

Staffordshire, UK – November 29 2013 – Astraware® and Hopwood Games are excited to announce the release of the award-winning Mijnlieff board game app for NOOK®, iPad®, iPhone®, iPod® touch, and Android phones and tablets.

The partnership between Astraware and Hopwood Games will allow users to enjoy this brilliant two-player game directly on their smartphone or tablet. The game includes a built-in tutorial, 12 Viking AI players with their own playing style, the ability to play with your friends online, a range of tilesets and backgrounds to customize the look and an achievement system.

“We are proud to be working with Hopwood Games to bring this fantastic abstract board game to mobile devices,” said Howard Tomlinson, CEO of Astraware. “In particular we are excited with the social connectivity which allows players to have a game with their friends in real time or even turn-by-turn with friends in different timezones!”

The objective of the game is simple: to create more lines of three than your opponent. There are 4 types of pieces which each restrict where the opponent may play and each player starts with two of each piece. The board itself is modular and can be arranged in different ways which encourage a range of strategies. The Square layout is great for learning the game; the other variations are perfect for more seasoned players.

“Astraware has done a great conversion of the Mijnlieff,” added Andy Hopwood, game creator and founder of Hopwood Games. “I am amazed with how they managed to capture the complex simplicity of the game and how accessible it will now be for players around the world.”

Mijnlieff is available to download on the App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore for Android and NOOK Apps. For more information on Mijnlieff, see the press kit at: www.mijnlieffgame.com.

Astraware brings award-winning board game to mobile devices; Mijnlieff now available for NOOK, iOS and Android

Staffordshire, UK – November 29 2013 – Astraware® and Hopwood Games are excited to announce the release of the award-winning Mijnlieff board game app for NOOK®, iPad®, iPhone®, iPod® touch, and Android phones and tablets.

The partnership between Astraware and Hopwood Games will allow users to enjoy this brilliant two-player game directly on their smartphone or tablet. The game includes a built-in tutorial, 12 Viking AI players with their own playing style, the ability to play with your friends online, a range of tilesets and backgrounds to customize the look and an achievement system.

“We are proud to be working with Hopwood Games to bring this fantastic abstract board game to mobile devices,” said Howard Tomlinson, CEO of Astraware. “In particular we are excited with the social connectivity which allows players to have a game with their friends in real time or even turn-by-turn with friends in different timezones!”

The objective of the game is simple: to create more lines of three than your opponent. There are 4 types of pieces which each restrict where the opponent may play and each player starts with two of each piece. The board itself is modular and can be arranged in different ways which encourage a range of strategies. The Square layout is great for learning the game; the other variations are perfect for more seasoned players.

“Astraware has done a great conversion of the Mijnlieff,” added Andy Hopwood, game creator and founder of Hopwood Games. “I am amazed with how they managed to capture the complex simplicity of the game and how accessible it will now be for players around the world.”

Mijnlieff is available to download on the App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore for Android and NOOK Apps. For more information on Mijnlieff, see the press kit at: www.mijnlieffgame.com/presskit.

Astraware announces first game release for BlackBerry Z10

Astraware Crosswords now available on BlackBerry World

Staffordshire, UK – May 30, 2013 – Astraware® is excited to announce the release Astraware Crosswords for BlackBerry® Z10, the studio’s first ever game for BlackBerry 10 OS.

Astraware Crosswords is a popular and well-loved version of this favorite puzzle game and pastime. It offers 45 built-in puzzles in 3 different grid sizes and 3 graded difficulty levels. The game is packed with features users love, including unlimited access to download and play the new Daily puzzle each day and larger Weekender puzzle every week. Players worldwide have submitted in excess of 1 million scores to the global leader board! There is also an option to buy extra puzzle packs for offline play and to unlock the Solver feature.

“We’re delighted to bring Astraware Crosswords to BlackBerry 10 as the first of a range of Astraware titles” said Howard Tomlinson, CEO of Astraware. “Players can pull up the game each day to play the daily game for free during their commute or coffee break, and for enthusiasts there is a range of additional puzzles to play with more available to purchase. We look forward to supporting the platform with more of our most popular games in the near future!”

Astraware intends to bring a number of their latest games to Blackberry 10 to add to the range of quality casual games available on BlackBerry World.

Astraware Crosswords is available now on BlackBerry World. For more information visit here.