On the art style side, we chose to use pixel style with dark color scheme. The style is not common for iOS apps and inconsistent with the general UI guideline of Apple’s products, but it seemed a natural choice when it comes to a “pixel cross” game. The central idea of this retro-looking style is to completely eliminate anti-aliased images, only use pixelated graphic elements.
We started the development in February, 2010. Our team has 4 part-time developers: Hansen, Frank, Ye and me. Especially, Ye was a big fan of Nintendo’s Picross DS, which became our primary reference and ultimate benchmark from quality respective.
We had a tough discussion about whether we should make it a universal application to run on both iPhone and iPad. And we realized that it would be impracticable to put a medium size board on iPhone screen without zoom-in. The operation would be unnatural. So we decided to give up the iPhone and concentrate on iPad only.
Although all of us are experienced console game developers, neither of us had experience with iOS before. And we could only work part-timely on this project, around 6 hours per week on average. The workload would be overwhelming for us if we built everything from scratch.
iPACROSS is a Picross-like puzzle game for iPad and, more importantly, our first attempt in the area of iOS development. We have 4 team members, video game industry veterans. Each one of us has quite a few AAA titles under his belt. But as indie developer, making iPACROSS for iPad, later for Mac, was for sure somewhat virgin experience to all of us. Like many other stories, the story behind iPACROSS has its own ups and downs.
If you are not familiar with Picross game, just look up the word on YouTube. Simply put, it’s a number deducing grid based puzzle game. iPACROSS does have some achievements. This game’s iPad version used to climb to the 1st puzzle game in Japanese App Store. Both the iPad and Mac version was featured in AppStore for several times. Even today, when I was writing this, it’s still among the hot games in Mac AppStore. Although it was not the type that everyone would like, the game has built up its reputation among loyal players. According to AppPicker, iPACROSS has an averaged rating with 4 1/2 stars.
Technically the game is not completely finished yet. As one of the two planned free updates, the 5th pack of puzzles will be released in a few days. We have also started the work for the final puzzle pack, and wish to finish it soon.