Some good news, we've just launched a HUGE iOS update for Buddy & Me, upgrading it to Buddy & Me: Dream Edition! The new version 2.0.0 update is for iOS 10+ devices, and includes all the new Outfits, Seasons, Boosts, and art Galleries from the Wii U version, as well as iOS 11 support and upgraded graphics.
Although we weren't able to include the Wii U exclusive Samus/Link-inspired and Wii U-inspired outfits, we created a couple new ones for iOS: a holiday-themed Santa outfit, and a Steve Jobs-inspired outfit (black turtleneck, jeans, grey tennis shoes):
***Important note: It's been a long time since Buddy & Me originally released on iOS, with lots of new hardware and software OS generational leaps since then. We decided it was time to update our hardware support accordingly: the Dream Edition requires iOS 10+ devices to play. This makes it easier for us to support the game moving forward, and showcase the best graphics possible.
Some more good news, the tvOS version should be coming along very shortly! After updating the Unity build for iOS, we found it was very easy to support Apple TV as well. We just need a few more weeks to make sure it's perfect before considering launch. It will be available as a universal purchase, so if you already have an iOS version, don't worry, you already own the upcoming tvOS version as well!
Once again, thanks so much for your patience and support over the years! Please give the update a try, and help us out by passing along the news!
A quick update with some exciting news, our follow-up to Buddy & Me, an interactive children's book for iPad called Care for Our World, has launched on the App Store!
And like Buddy & Me, Care for Our World been featured by Apple... in the "New apps we love" section of the App Store home page, and on the top of both the Books and Kids categories!
If you have or know any young kids (recommended ages 3-8) that enjoyed the relaxing experience of Buddy & Me, they might enjoy taking a look! We hope this app inspires kids to appreciate and care about the natural world we all share.
So back to that image from our last update… want to know what’s in the box? Read below for more details… and send us your feedback!
Wii U “Dream Edition” for Nintendo eShop
Now that the game is running in Unity, we have the ability to give at least one final gift to our fans. Back when we announced the game on Kickstarter, we were inspired by the number of Nintendo fans and websites that quickly spread the news about Buddy & Me, even before we discussed the possibility of a Nintendo platform launch. As recognition and genuine thanks for that amazing support, we added Wii U intent as a stretch goal midway through (April 2013 Update here), and many of you joined our Kickstarter community as a result. Although we were disappointed to eventually miss that goal, we certainly didn’t forget. That’s also in part thanks to persistent Nintendo fans and journalists… even two years later we still get asked regularly about a Wii U version by curious folks reaching out (questions which we have tried to dodge as respectfully as possible, until we were sure we could pull it off).
And so, we’re very excited to announce that we’re working towards a new and upgraded version of the game, a Buddy & Me “Dream Edition” for Wii U on Nintendo eShop, coming soon!
Thank you Nintendo fans for your patience! Partnering with fellow indie studio Sky Tyrannosaur (http://www.skytyrannosaur.com/), as we speak we’re busy adding new features (in addition to the Outfits, Seasons, and Boosts available in the Samsung Smart TV version) to make this version special. We hope to have it available this spring. To recap for anyone that hasn’t read our previous update, the Wii U edition will build upon some of the cool new customization features previously only seen on Samsung Smart TVs, including unlockable Outfits, Seasons, and Boosts:
MORE OUTFITS. But we didn’t stop there. We want the Wii U Dream Edition to be the best version of the game yet. So we started by expanding player Outfit customization with some fun new designs. A couple of the designs are a subtle homage to some of my favorite game characters from past adventures. Can you guess who?
GALLERY. In addition, we’re adding an unlockable “Concept Art Gallery” for a behind-the-scenes look at how our characters and world evolved from their initial ideas. It’s the equivalent of a movie DVD’s “special features” look at production, that we thought our fans would appreciate.
The game is already running on Wii U dev kits, and looks great. We’re working on polishing those new features and fixing bugs now, in hopes of releasing the game for digital distribution on the Nintendo eShop sometime this spring. We’re planning on making the game available in North America, Europe, and Australia, with other countries pending.
And for those of our Backers that joined our Kickstarter with the genuine intent of backing a Wii U version, as a token of our thanks, after launch you can contact us to get a complimentary download code.
But What if the Dream Edition was More?
While the Wii U build will absolutely be the best & biggest version of Buddy & Me yet, it may also be the last. And if that’s the case, it begs the question of how we can make it even more special. After such a long journey there are still a few items that, budget permitting, we think could make it unforgettable for players. Features that should have been in the game from the very beginning, but we chose to cut in a trade-off for cross-platform support. I wanted to share that wish list with everyone now and get your feedback... if there’s enough interest, maybe another crowdfunding effort could give it the boost it needs.
ZIPLINES. We’ve known for a while that our core gameplay could use some more variety. As noted in our April 2014 Backer Update, we almost did it, having prototyped Ziplines and proven they were a lot of fun. Although the prototype is still functional, they will still take a little more time to finish polishing them in code, as well as adding level editor support, and of course building levels and integrating/balancing them with the rest. We estimate this will take an additional $5K in budget.
LOCALIZATION. While our game isn’t a complicated one, it would nevertheless be wonderful for players to read our menus, tutorials, and other information in their native language. However, to do so first we would need to re-work our existing interfaces (a combination of programming and UI art time) to be able to handle multiple languages. We estimate this will take an additional $2.5K in budget.
BUNNY COMPANIONS. Early in development we realized that if we wanted a game to be relaxed enough to allow players the chance to focus on companionship and exploration, we needed to be more forgiving than the average endless runner. So when the player falls, we save them by pulling them back up with a mysterious angel bunny that appears as needed. It works, however, we didn’t do a great job of explaining it… while brainstorming how to address that, we came up with a fun idea for an additional character on the screen: an ever-present “Bunny Companion” that follows the player around from the beginning of every session. Not only would it help explain how the player survives falls, it also opens up the possibility of unlocking new bunny types, giving us some fun character variety! We estimate this feature will take an additional $2.5K to implement.
Way back during the planning phase of Buddy & Me, we realized that it would be a good idea for players to be able to take a break from endless running, and spend some time somewhere else in the game. We wanted to build on our environment theme of “treehouses” and do something special: A Treehouse-building mode where players could spend their collected Star Seeds to unlock a tree house layout, room by room, which would be populated with Angel Bunnies. It had instant appeal as both an “antfarm” experience watching the bunnies, but as a timeless childhood fantasy of building a sprawling network of imaginative treehouse rooms.
Following the release of last year’s breakout mobile hit “Fallout Shelter”, we also realized that with some extra work, our Treehouse idea could actually be expanded to be its own standalone spinoff sequel to Buddy & Me. But that’s a very big project for another time... in the meantime, it's reinvigorated the idea of including a simpler Treehouse Mode with Buddy & Me: a fixed-layout of ~20 rooms that can be unlocked with Star Seeds from the main game, and populated by adorable Angel Bunnies mulling around and singing along.
We estimate the cost of bringing this new mode to the Wii U build to be about $20K to cover code, art, animation, and sound. In addition to making the Dream Edition a huge step up over previous versions, it might even serve as a prototype to later turn the Treehouse idea into a full-featured game of its own.
Thoughts? Feedback Welcome.
What do you think? Excited about the Wii U eShop build? What’s your favorite idea for potential wish-list features (Ziplines, Companion, Localization, Treehouse Mode)? Are they worthy of another crowdfunding campaign, or has our time passed? We’d love to hear your feedback in comments below, Facebook, or email!
It’s been a long time since our last update, I hope some of you are still following along! We’re still alive, and I’ve got some exciting news I’d like to share in 2 parts. Keep reading for a summary of what we’ve been up to in the past year+, how we transitioned to Unity and updated the game for Samsung Smart TVs (see video below!)... and a little hint about something we’ve been secretly working on (more to come on that in Part 2).
But first, a quick announcement… although I’m embarrassed that it took so long to make, we do finally have a limited run of “The Art of Buddy & Me” books available. We’re in the process of having them signed by contributing artists, with our first priority of sending them to Backers that ordered them. The books are hardcover, with 43 pages full of beautiful artwork showing how we got from initial ideas to finished assets, including some concepts that we cut from the final game. Here’s a preview:
Backers that are owed a book, I’ll be contacting you soon to verify your address. Everyone else, afterwards we should have a few extra signed copies available for sale on our website if anyone’s interested.
I should also mention, we also now have T-Shirts in our new Store if anyone wants some Buddy & Me fashion! Click the link for our Store page:
While I can now proudly announce that Buddy & Me has a still-growing estimated 170,000 players across all platforms (not to mention another 100K pirated copies), it’s been a long journey with constant challenges!
Following our February 2014 Google Play release (as well as Fire TV and Kindle FreeTime support), things slowed down a bit. For a variety of reasons, supporting Android in general took a lot more time and resources than anticipated, much more than our Kickstarter budget allowed. We also lost some update momentum during that time, as our focus on supporting an ever-expanding platform list hampered our ability to work on new features, including many that we had originally hoped to have available at launch.
I could write an entire novel on this learning experience, but in short, we took a little break from development, recovering for a bit while comparing how the iOS and Android markets responded (Android is a very different audience!!). We put a few things on temporary hold, like the in-progress Girl character and Ziplines (which we had already announced as almost done: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1644707178/buddy-and-me/posts/804433 ). It was a tough time… we knew our sales would benefit from additional features & depth that players expect from similar mobile games, but there was only so much we could do on a limited budget.
In retrospect, I think an important lesson learned is that for a small team such as ours, cross-platform support should be approached with caution until a game’s feature set is stable and competitive for its first marketplace. I'm proud that we stood true to our Backer promises to deliver, but it came at an unanticipated cost. As easy as modern game tools make cross-platform support sound, with each new platform, another layer of paperwork, updates, customer support, and platform-specific requirements are added to the team’s workload. It’s an ongoing challenge.
But I digress… after a quiet second half of 2014, in the New Year, things picked up again!
Also in early 2015, we started work on an interesting opportunity to work with Samsung on their new Smart TVs, which come with an app store already installed. To best support the Smart TV environment, it required us to switch engines to Unity 3D. To do so, we partnered with Unity experts and fellow family-friendly game developer, Studio Pepwuper. It was hard work, but the end result was amazing: it’s the best-looking and biggest version of the game yet, allowing us to add a layer of customization features for players: unlockable Outfits, Seasons (each with a unique landmark), and Boosts (for players to chase high scores).
You can see more about the new features in the following video:
This version of the game is available on a limited selection of 2014 and 2015 model Samsung Smart TVs. It also happens to be Free to Play (FTP), which is a first for Sunbreak, an ongoing experiment. It's part of a larger, deep conversation about the ever-evolving business and culture of mobile games, as well as how that applies to indies and to family-friendly audiences.
So what’s next?
With all the effort put into transitioning into Unity, we’re anxious to take advantage of Unity’s cross-platform support. While we don't quite have the budget to retroactively update all our old platforms' builds, we do still want to do something very special. In next week’s update, I’ll share about what we’re working on now, plus some hints about other future project ideas.
I hate to tease, but, I wonder what’s in the box Buddy got for the holidays? Hint: Wii haven’t forgotten our promises.