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Old June 21st, 2011, 09:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Truely Free Games (without ads)

I'm curious, what FREE (as in: not a demo, not a light version, not ad-supported, not premium-item-selling, not virus-enhanced-illegal-copy, not beta) games have you found on the Android Market so far and how do you like them? There are quite a few, but they're tough to find, so maybe this is a good chance to create an index.

I'll start:

aequilibrium
This game is stupid. But it's also incredibly beautiful in it's simplicity and for some reason it really makes me want to improve my high score. In aequilibrium (yes, lower-case "a") you have to tap the corners of the screen as they light up (and quickly), while balancing a ball with the accelerometer. Nothing more.

Armadillo Roll
Armadillo Roll was created for Qualcomm to show off the graphics their chips could produce. As such, the gameplay is very simplistic: Reach the bottom of the hill in the least amount of time. To be honest, it's not a game with much replay value, but somehow I would feel bad not to recommend it, since it's one of the few GPU demos that at least manage to provide acceptable gameplay.

Frozen Bubble
A port of the popular Linux game of the same name, which is in turn a clone of Puzzle Bobble (also known as Bust-A-Move). Your aim is to clear the playfield by shooting colored balls up so that they form groups of three or more. Doesn't sound like much, but just like Tetris it quickly becomes addictive. There aren't a lot of graphics, but what is there looks beautiful. Highly recommended.

Gurk, the 8-bit RPG
Gurk is not a good game. In fact it's an example of everything you can do wrong while developing a RPG-like game: Clunky, static graphics. Strange button controls. Aimless wandering without any real quests. But for some reason, every once in a while I like to open it and remind me of the old RPGs I used to play on my MasterSystem.

Mastermind
A port of the classic codebreaker game with a nice interface.

Mines (Minesweeper)
There's nothing great about this game, but it's a solid port of the standard Windows Minesweeper.

Missile intercept
The retro graphics are just too cute. Tap the screen to create explosions that devour the incoming missiles before they destroy your city. Simple, but entertaining.

My Paper Plane
(Don't confuse this with MPP2, which is from the same developer, but a totally different game). My Paper Plane tasks you with collecting diamonds in a cute little 3D world. You control your plane using the accelerometer, which works perfectly (just don't look for realism), trying to plan your route so that at just the right time, you'll be exactly at the height you'll have to be to collect the gem. This may look like an arcade game, but it's really all about timing and strategy. Highly recommended.

OpenSudoku
A well thought out interface and easily downloadable puzzle packs. What else could you possible want from a Sudoku game? Highly recommended.

Ralph - 2D Platformer
Do be honest: I haven't even finished the first level yet. The graphics are.... simplistic? .... naïve? ... well, not beautiful by the usual standards. Your aim in this little jump 'n run is to collect all bones before the timer runs out. The accelerometer controls work very well... but there really isn't a lot of time.

Replica Island
A good plot, cute characters, polished graphics, flawless input. This is the perfect platformer on Android, plain and simple. Highly recommended.

SameDroid
Tap groups of identically colored stones to make them disappear. Create big chains to extend your time and use the gravity control to decide where new stones should appear. It's an old game principle, but this version brings a nice polished interface and a few fresh concepts. Highly recommended.

ShokoRocket
Guide the mice to their hole by planting arrows in this cute puzzler. A re-imagining of the classic Dreamcast Chu-Chu rocket game with new levels, new graphics and new controls. Highly recommended.

Snes9X EX
An great emulator for the SuperNES/SuperFamicom. Be sure to use it with games YOU ACTUALLY OWN.

Solitaire
Standard solitaire for those times when you forgot your cards at home.

Super Stacker
A simple reaction game: Build a tower by putting layer onto layer. Your timing determines the size of the layer. It's simple, but the precise controls still make it a lot of fun.

TiltMazes
An ugly-duckly if ever there was one. In fact the game is entirely unplayable with the default sensor controlls, since the screen rotates over and over. Luckily, gesture-controls are included as well. Your aim is to send a ball through a maze, but you can't stop the ball once it rolls. The graphics are practically non-existent, but the high-quality puzzles really make it into a great game, even with all these flaws. Highly recommended.

Trap!
You have to make a given field smaller and smaller by cutting away bits and pieces with horizontal and vertical lines. The balls on the playfield roll around and when they collide with your line before it has reached both ends of the screen, you'll have one life less. This is one of those games that you hate to love. The graphics are ugly, there are too many menus, the effects are cheesy and the gameplay is basically copied from Qix on the Gameboy. This game should not be any good, but the wonderful controls make it into something very, very special. Highly recommended.

Unique Rabbit
A cute little Jump 'n Run, that doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but the cute design and nonsensical mission descriptions alone make it enjoyable.

Vexed for Android
Like Sokoban with Gravity. Vexed is perhaps one of the greatest puzzle games available, and like with all great puzzle games, the basic task is very simple: Remove all blocks by pushing them together into groups of two or more. But good puzzles make it very hard to achieve this simple goal, since you might (for example) inadvertently remove a pair of blocks too early, leaving a single unremovable block. This version has almost every puzzle pack ever created, meaning months and months of entertainment. Graphics and controls are not exactly innovative, but they are clean and don't get in the way.Highly recommended.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 11:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't have anything constructive to add to this thread. Instead, I'll state my position that we should try to support legit devs with our money in order to increase the amount of quality games on Android, rather than hoping for "truely" free games. Threads like these, while helpful to many frugal folks, simply reinforce the notion that Android users are cheap and do not like to pay for games...

As you were
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 03:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have actually bought 39 games by now + several applications (plus I am a devel, eventhough not for Android yet), including two "donation" items. I agree you should support developers, but having free alternatives is important as incentive for developers to create high-quality applications & games.

About being cheap: Yes, I don't pay for applications that fail to provide better functionality than free alternatives. I generally don't like paying for an item more than I think it is worth... that's why I have a €200 P500 instead of a €600 iPhone. For me that seems like a positive trait, but of course other people may see things differently. Not that I care
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 04:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, the only way I could recommend games here is when you also accept ad supported games, because they are in my opinion truly free. But then we already have threads that do exactly that

It is often indistinguishable if a game has ads or if it doesn't because there could be just no ads in your vicinity or game version. I mentioned once in a review that a game that was really good was totally adfree for me, then the dev contacted me and told me that there are in fact ads, but they were just none in Germany at that time.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 04:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Could be... but to be honest, most games that I've found really have no chance since I've got a searchable index of all Android games here that I'm basically looking through to find non-internet-connected $0 games from developers that don't have a second app with a similar name available
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 05:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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BTW I've found and tested a few more in the meantime:

aequilibrium, Gurk, Mastermind, Mines, Missile Interception, SameDroid, Solitaire, SuperStacker, TiltMazes.

I'll write up the descriptions in a second.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 05:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Sounds interesting, I'm always interested in more game tips.
Just another sidenote, if ads bother you, you could also root your phone and install adfree.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 05:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It's actually rooted (the LG P500 suffers from a big nasty bug that essentially turns any touch-controlled game into a sobbing mess), but I think you should decide if you want a game or not. The ads are part of the price... buy it, use it with ads or find a free alternative, but don't strip the ads from the free version, that's just wrong.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 06:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Added links and descriptions for the beforementioned games + ShokoRocket and Vexed (how could I forget to add those: they are practically part of my system software!)
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Old July 8th, 2011, 12:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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more than 85% of android users in my country dont even have creditcards
and threads like this are very helpful as many prefer free apps/utilities/games without ads
and we are very much thankful for all those developers who gave us such apps
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Old July 8th, 2011, 06:40 AM   #11 (permalink)
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IMHO Aren't 'Lite' games (mostly) still free games in their own right? So excluding them into the same category as a paid for game is a bit unfair.

They have all of the same characteristics of a free game in the sense that they take time and effort to design, develop and publicise, they aren't costing the end user a penny, they aren't ramming adverts down your senses and they do provide a range of entertainment.

@Essex - couldn't agree with you more.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:17 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Define "Lite"... if it's meant to playable on its own, I might consider it free. Puzzle games where only one mode is accessible might fall into that category. But if the "Lite" version is either littered with ads or has only very limited replayability with the included content I'd classify it as non-free as it isn't possible to play it for a longer period of time without purchasing the full version.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 05:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A little out of place here, don't you think?
a little, but here's the point - mobile gamers (especially on Android) notoriously don't wanna pay for stuff. Also they don't want to have ads in their games (I don't like that either). As a developer I am scratching my head trying to think "how can I put something out there that people will download, but not charge for it - but still make money.."

I think it's the perfect time to try unusual things like this (which doesn't occur so often) and people will either appreciate it, denounce it, or ignore it. It's going alright so far, but the biggest issue is really getting into a thread like this (where such a discussion is relevant) and asking right at the horse's mouth, what do you want?

It would be great if all apps had full-features and were free, and if I had the means I'd love to make everything that way, but you know how it goes. I do think there's room for a compromise, and in a case like this - make a game where people play it just enough with the ads, before they (the ads) go away and the person gets to keep the full game - it seems like a fair scenario, right? (and if you don't like the game enough to earn it, then just don't play it anymore) What similar schemes have you seen that you might prefer, and seem fair to everyone involved?
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Old July 8th, 2011, 07:05 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Like I said... I'm actually a notorious buyer of games (41 on Android so far, to the point where I often pay for stuff I don't have to: just bought Proun for €18, which you can also legally get for free, CoolReader for €2 and so on and so forth), so I'm not actually the kind of person you should ask about that.

So telling you how to win over people who usually want free stuff is obviously not what I'm qualified for; what I can tell you is how I usually make my purchase decisions.

Rule #1: It's got to have a demo
This is fairly essential and is especially true for the higher priced games... without a demo I'm usually not going to bother. A demo for me is a time or content-limited version of the game that is not littered with ads. Specifically, I'm usually looking for games that have the word "DEMO" in them and do not request any permissions beyond internet and, if it looks really interesting, identity: but ask for location and I'm gone.

Rule #2: It's got to have a full version
I like keeping my options open. Specifically, I want to be able to switch between demo, ad-free and (rarely, but this is probably something other users would want) ad-sponsored at any time. So if there's only an ad-sponsored version, you'll usually won't get me to install it.

Rule #3: Watch those permissions
Ask for GPS without any explanation (or an explanation saying that you don't use it, but your ad-provider does) and I'm gone, simple as that. Same goes for network-based location. There are things that are private... I can live with handing my device ID over (but I don't even like that), but anything beyond that means that I'm not going to install your software, plain and simple.

Rule #4: It's got to look like the developer cares about the game
This may seem irritating to you, but it really is a factor for me: How much spam is there about this game? Does the developer encourage people to give bogus ratings? Does the description of the game encourage people to write to the support email? If 1,2 are true and 3 false, then I assume the developer is more interested in a quick buck than a good game.

Rule #5: Updates
I look at the version history and at the comments on different version and try to find out how the game has progressed so far. Now, if the game is nearly perfect there probably won't be many updates, but if I find a lot of device issues, but a total lack of updates, it again looks to me as if the developer wasn't really comitted to the game.

Rule #6: Wow-factor
I freely admit that I'm a sucker for graphics. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's got to have a great 3D rendering engine, but that it sports a unique, professional, but still impressive look. Look at SteamBirds for example. The graphics are minimalistic in one way, but they come together beautifully.

Rule #7: Uniqueness
The games I love most are those that take an established genre and ad their own flavor. They Need to be Fed would probably fall into that category (the game doesn't have a demo, but I was so impressed with the description that I took the risk): They take the jump-n-run genre and add their own unique design, along with a play on gravity. Pure gold.

Rule #8: Media
OK, so I don't read as much magazines as other people do before buying a game, but I notice when people talk about a game... and that in turn usually starts with good media coverage. This is an old hint, but free review versions for magazines are usually a good idea. I actually used to write for a palm magazine a few years back and that was one simple way to get your foot in the door.

Rule #9: Customer support
I'm certainly more likely to buy a game from a developer that I already know than from a stranger, so make sure that you actually respond to support requests if you want me to buy another game from you.

I guess that's all I can think of right now. So the basic rule is: Make a game that's better than the free stuff.

P.S. Forgot one:

Rule #10: Keep them Betas coming
A Beta is usually a good sign to me that again, the developer wants to get things right instead of just pushing the game out as fast as possible. The availability of a beta will instantly boost your credibility as far as I'm concerned.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 10:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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awesome, very handy checklist from someone who gives a damn : ) Let me take you to task on a couple of things, for argument's sake - but I do appreciate that you've outlined what you as a consumer approve & disapprove of (and that you represent a segment of the audience)

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Rule #1: It's got to have a demo
This is fairly essential and is especially true for the higher priced games... without a demo I'm usually not going to bother. A demo for me is a time or content-limited version of the game that is not littered with ads. Specifically, I'm usually looking for games that have the word "DEMO" in them and do not request any permissions beyond internet and, if it looks really interesting, identity: but ask for location and I'm gone.
As a consumer myself, I am with you "demos - good" but as a developer, I feel demos must have some monetization (ads or whatnot). Also as a consumer, soooo often I will DL a demo just to see what's the dillyo, and feel gypped if the demo is too limited - it's got to have enough of a complete experience there or I will be annoyed. Just the same, if it's got "enough content" (and I find this is often the case, in demos on any platform these days for my ADD-attention span) than unless I truly must have more of this, I am very content with enjoying the demo and not much beyond that. There's simply too much product out there competing for my attention. So again, as a dev, I suspect most people will rather sample my demo and that's all they'll ever want and I need to get a little bit of scratch out of that somehow.

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Rule #2: It's got to have a full version
I like keeping my options open. Specifically, I want to be able to switch between demo, ad-free and (rarely, but this is probably something other users would want) ad-sponsored at any time. So if there's only an ad-sponsored version, you'll usually won't get me to install it.
I agree, although I am still scratching my head about this one too. I made a full version of 180 available at the insistence of the programmer, to appease that relatively vocal minority. To the Free version's 20k downloads (since April of this year), we've got about 100 actual sales of our $2 ad-free. You can do the math - I'll likely always have a paid version out there, but I might hike up the price juuuust a little (going to $2 rather than $1 seemed like it might be extreme to me, ain't it a crazy world we live in?) Again as a consumer, of course I want this option as well, and so long as the price is not outlandish I am all for it.

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Rule #3: Watch those permissions
Ask for GPS without any explanation (or an explanation saying that you don't use it, but your ad-provider does) and I'm gone, simple as that. Same goes for network-based location. There are things that are private... I can live with handing my device ID over (but I don't even like that), but anything beyond that means that I'm not going to install your software, plain and simple.
Can't blame you there. We had to make some permissions available (for openFeint and AdMob) and even then a *couple* of people whined, and given the sketchy times we live in where our devices can be transmitting some of our most personal data without us realizing, I don't blame ya (at the same time, people line up in droves to spill their guts to the mega-corporations through Facebook & such, but that is another story). Anyway I think this stuff is still early, but I think a. ads are necessary for a developer and b. openFeint (social gaming) adds a HUGE value to a game. I'd rather piss off a few than exclude these features.

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Rule #4: It's got to look like the developer cares about the game
This may seem irritating to you, but it really is a factor for me: How much spam is there about this game? Does the developer encourage people to give bogus ratings? Does the description of the game encourage people to write to the support email? If 1,2 are true and 3 false, then I assume the developer is more interested in a quick buck than a good game.
Agreed, if a developer doesn't care about the game then why should the customer? Unfortunately there is a great deal of crappity crap clogging up the airwaves; however (and I say this coming from iPhone-land) there's a ton more higher-quality product which is raising the bar. I think it's safe to assume you'll see more of that stuff making its way to Android in greater volume as well soon, anyway. As for encouraging (non-bogus) ratings, that does get irritating, but especially in these times (when it is hard to get people to even pay for stuff, yeah I am beating a dead horse) things like ratings are a valuable way of "giving back" for obvious reasons. But,it should be handled with some delicacy.

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Rule #5: Updates
I look at the version history and at the comments on different version and try to find out how the game has progressed so far. Now, if the game is nearly perfect there probably won't be many updates, but if I find a lot of device issues, but a total lack of updates, it again looks to me as if the developer wasn't really comitted to the game.
Don't blame you, but it's important to note that if a game has tanked, it might not be worth following up with. As a developer, it's important to follow up release with a very thorough "bug addressing" period. The vocal audience will appreciate it, and the rest of the potential audience will enjoy a better experience as well. However if only 30 people download your game and that's that, then it's kind of a sign that your game has bigger flaws than merely "crash on exit" : (

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Rule #6: Wow-factor
I freely admit that I'm a sucker for graphics. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's got to have a great 3D rendering engine, but that it sports a unique, professional, but still impressive look. Look at SteamBirds for example. The graphics are minimalistic in one way, but they come together beautifully.
Agreed. So many games look like crap, but the tech we have now means it's not hard to make things look at least competent, if not polished. It does take time and money, of course - but a dev has to make the effort because screenshots are one of the most important selling points of an app, and if they fail to impress, then it's on to "what's next?"

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Rule #7: Uniqueness
The games I love most are those that take an established genre and ad their own flavor. They Need to be Fed would probably fall into that category (the game doesn't have a demo, but I was so impressed with the description that I took the risk): They take the jump-n-run genre and add their own unique design, along with a play on gravity. Pure gold.
This is a tough issue as well. As a designer I feel empowered by the mobile format (touchscreen is awesome, despite what naysayers complain about) and at the same time, the average mobile gamer expects a very familiar/understandable experience from the first 15 seconds. Business-wise, I always say "I'd be more successful if I just re-skin Bejeweled" but I do think as a developer I can have it both ways (make something different and take a chance, just make it seem accessible enough from the early part of the experience). This is a very complex part of the process, and I can understand why many fail at it: though I stand by my guns, I don't enjoy this job if I don't accept that challenge to be creative.

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Rule #8: Media
OK, so I don't read as much magazines as other people do before buying a game, but I notice when people talk about a game... and that in turn usually starts with good media coverage. This is an old hint, but free review versions for magazines are usually a good idea. I actually used to write for a palm magazine a few years back and that was one simple way to get your foot in the door.
This also much harder than one would expect; the media is fairly flooded with review requests these days, to the point where they will routinely ignore them (in fact, more than a few explicity state "if you are a developer, don't even ask us for a review.. we'll find YOU") A lot of sites also tie it in with requests to buy expensive advertising space for them to even look at a game, which just feels wrong for so many reasons. Sadly, most notable sites want to only cover the bigger news that will grab eyes, and that's what everyone else is talking about as well, so for the indies that leaves little space for us. Still, we always have to try, and I always will - although I know they usually won't care unless I have something that looks like gold from merely a screenshot alone (and that often doesn't mean a game will be appropriate for the format.. see answer to previous point!)

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Rule #9: Customer support
I'm certainly more likely to buy a game from a developer that I already know than from a stranger, so make sure that you actually respond to support requests if you want me to buy another game from you.
Don't blame you there, and I work hard to establish my brand as much as my IP. I spend a lot of time trying to get my name/logo/etc out all over the place and run promotions, etc to generate a little bit of goodwill. Gets expensive for time and money of course, both of things which I'd prefer to spend on actual game development; but these days with so many developers out there, it's foolish not to do a certain amount of this (why do you think I am posting in a forum right now?)

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Rule #10: Keep them Betas coming
A Beta is usually a good sign to me that again, the developer wants to get things right instead of just pushing the game out as fast as possible. The availability of a beta will instantly boost your credibility as far as I'm concerned.
I thought this would be important, and was surprised to learn that wherever I advertised (a lot of places) many folks were not interested in helping out with beta support. Even those that did, most never followed-up anyway. It's all part of the larger issue (too much choice, too many games) that being part of a beta doesn't really feel special anymore, and really "who wants to help refine an incomplete game?" It's still a necessary part of the process, but not one that I ever expect much usefulness to come out of anymore, sadly. There's much more useful/gratifying ways for me to test my games.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 11:37 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Very interesting... especially since your answers suggest a totally different way to approach customers than I'm used to: You think about the customers a lot more directly... I'm coming from a pure tech background and am used to not dealing with them directly but through the tech-savy audience who then spread the whole thing to forums, friends, the press and so on. So when I want readers, users or whatever, my normal approach would be to find out where the "power-users" are and how to reach them... and please them: That's probably why I suggest so many things that the average user wouldn't notice or care about... for me it's about pleasing those that influence a larger group. I'm not claiming that this approach is better or even working at all these days, it's just what my guts tell me to do. But most of the reasons why my guts tell me that are experiences from a time when the market wasn't as flooded... back then we were actually asking for review copies, eventhough we were one of most popular pages for PalmOS software news.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 12:05 AM   #17 (permalink)
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BTW, it's 7am over here and I haven't slept yet, so I can't give you the long explanation now (I'll do that tomorrow), but there are a couple of issues with the actual game for me.
1. I've got no ads. Not that I'm complaining, but Germany isn't exactly a market where you expect ads to be unavailable... you might want to check with your ad provider.
2. My finger gets in the way. Why is all the information at the bottom of the screen for a game that's supposed to be played with one finger moved along the bottom as well? I can see why the current "cookie" is there (but even that might be better placed at the top: reaching there to flip it is much less of an annoyance to me than having to constantly lift my finger to see what color it is), but why all the rest?
3. That little dancing something is cute, but also distracting as hell... at least offer an option to disable him.
4. It's too hard. This probably sounds a little whiny, but there's a reason games like Bejeweled enjoy such success. From where I'm standing there are exactly two levels of difficulty that work well for mobile games (that are not just passively waiting for input like Vexed or Sudoku): very, very easy and hard. Either you sit down and focus on the game, looking for a challenge... or you're on the go and want a quick distraction. 180 right now sits somewhere in-between. How about a few bonus cookies that don't help your score, but allow you to continue a game that would otherwise be lost?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 01:55 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Very interesting... especially since your answers suggest a totally different way to approach customers than I'm used to: You think about the customers a lot more directly... I'm coming from a pure tech background and am used to not dealing with them directly but through the tech-savy audience who then spread the whole thing to forums, friends, the press and so on..
I see your point and have tried that to degrees, but in my experience (especially with iPhone) things have already been so saturated for so long now that it doesn't seem like a good way to go for me. I have been able to get some more "well known" posters in forums to preach the gospel for me, but it's too late for awhile now. I think also the nature of the games I have put out generally doesn't appeal to the "forum-reading" crowd or press folks so much anyway, since no matter what a puzzle game looks like, it's always going to be "just another puzzle game" in the eyes of most folks regardless of what it's hook is (unless it has a great brand or something)

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BTW, it's 7am over here and I haven't slept yet, so I can't give you the long explanation now (I'll do that tomorrow), but there are a couple of issues with the actual game for me.
1. I've got no ads. Not that I'm complaining, but Germany isn't exactly a market where you expect ads to be unavailable... you might want to check with your ad provider.
2. My finger gets in the way. Why is all the information at the bottom of the screen for a game that's supposed to be played with one finger moved along the bottom as well? I can see why the current "cookie" is there (but even that might be better placed at the top: reaching there to flip it is much less of an annoyance to me than having to constantly lift my finger to see what color it is), but why all the rest?
3. That little dancing something is cute, but also distracting as hell... at least offer an option to disable him.
4. It's too hard. This probably sounds a little whiny, but there's a reason games like Bejeweled enjoy such success. From where I'm standing there are exactly two levels of difficulty that work well for mobile games (that are not just passively waiting for input like Vexed or Sudoku): very, very easy and hard. Either you sit down and focus on the game, looking for a challenge... or you're on the go and want a quick distraction. 180 right now sits somewhere in-between. How about a few bonus cookies that don't help your score, but allow you to continue a game that would otherwise be lost?
1. no ads, that's upsetting.. considering I have a high amount of active installs but a low number of ad requests, I think you might be driving the point home that there's a bigger problem here : ( I've noticed the issue myself during testing, still trying to get my head around some of this stuff.

2. we spent a lot of time iterating on the design, testing it, getting feedback, overall it works for "most" people all things considered: there's always going to be a certain amount of folks who will just need to get used to it, and this is a symptom of trying something different. Personally I hold the device in my palm with my thumb floating over and off to the side, it's very comfortable for long periods and allows me to see everything with no issues (plus doesn't even require another hand!) Take time and you will find your way with it, alternatively you could hold the device in one hand and use your index finger from the other to "point" on it. Mind that you can drag your finger over several pieces in succession (this is integral to better scoring/chains)

3. characters are there simply to help for marketing purposes and I have gotten all kinds of feedback about them, bad and good. Overall I think it helps, and most people don't pay attention to them after a few plays (over time the eye tends to focus on the playfield, where the intense action is going on, rather than the periphery of the UI) I would like to do more with the characters down the road, but for now they are really just window dressing.

4. I hear you on the difficulty, this was one of the biggest issues we had during production; balancing the game. I really hate how so many modern games want "everyone to feel like a winner" right off the bat, it's such an empty and tiresome experience: once you figure out the hook of such a game, there's little reason to plumb the depths of it's play beyond "get all the stars" for most people, and that feels so cheap and empty to me as an old-school gamer. A well-designed game should be easy to pick up and learn immediately, but with enough technique and "tools" (things the user can creatively figure out how to do, seemingly on their own, without having their hand held through the process). It's cliche as hell to say, but it is what I have always loved about a game like Tetris which still makes it so pertinent to play today; anyone can pick it up, experiment, discover their own unique play-styles and they won't be blocked simply because "no you are supposed to play the game in this exact manner according to the strict design." That sucks and designers (in general) have really regressed when that becomes so acceptable. Instead we've made 180 easy to start and gradually (but kind of quickly) slam you with consequences as you "get" it, and it's up to you to figure out how to play the game in a way that works for you and be able to survive. As the game gets faster and more intense, many of the techniques you've developed must similarly evolve to keep with the pace. So then, it's not a casual game after all but a hardcore one, but then this is what many games were like back in the hardcore arcade days : ) And it is resonating with many people, even if they can't quite put their finger on it, and I am happy that enough of our target audience can still be receptive to this style.

Also, we have a casual mode in development as well, which takes these mechanics and uses them in a very different pace. Still working out the kinks but I think it will work quite well with a more general audience..

Thanks for trying out my game : )
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Old July 9th, 2011, 09:18 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I'd like to start with 4. if you don't mind:
Even Tetris is fairly forgiving if you don't aim for the high score. Pretty much the only way to loose quickly is to either start off at an insane speed, or to play a Tetris-Quad only game. 180 has a much smaller playing field, which makes it a lot less forgiving. If I don' focus entirely on the game I can loose in a couple of seconds, where it usually takes me a couple of minutes in Tetris... that's what makes Tetris so beautiful for me: Eventhough it's an "active" (doesn't wait for input) game I can play it at any time; the way I play determines if I'm in it for the distraction or the highscore.

3. I'm admittedly a sucker for options and while you're right: I'm getting used to the animations, the question remains: Why do I even have to get used to it?

2. Ah, the sliding-select really changed a lot here... thanks for the pointer.

1. What ad provider are you using? Just so that I know who I should stay away from.

I've also found a little bug: If you leave the game via "Home", right after you've lost a game and the message is onscreen, once you return the message will be gone and the only way to get away from that screen is to kill the game.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 06:05 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'd like to start with 4. if you don't mind:
Even Tetris is fairly forgiving if you don't aim for the high score. Pretty much the only way to loose quickly is to either start off at an insane speed, or to play a Tetris-Quad only game. 180 has a much smaller playing field, which makes it a lot less forgiving. If I don' focus entirely on the game I can loose in a couple of seconds, where it usually takes me a couple of minutes in Tetris... that's what makes Tetris so beautiful for me: Eventhough it's an "active" (doesn't wait for input) game I can play it at any time; the way I play determines if I'm in it for the distraction or the highscore.
Again, this was a very difficult thing to balance - for a long time in development it was unforgivinglyhard, and then it skewed so easy that it was not fun (and became a drag to play). We eventually settled on making Easy "so Easy it becomes boring after a few plays, but ramps up toward Hard in appreciable time" and Hard is "only worth trying to play once you have a solid grasp of the mechanics" (and even then, many people seem to be happy sticking with Easy for the long-term). I considered a Medium mode, but adding in too many options is murder for a casual game - and again I really am a fan of the old-school mentality, where the player just gets "thrown to the wolves" so to speak. It's maybe a bit of a downer for the modern casual gamer in a way, but I'd rather make a game which can be enjoyed for a long time with some depth which encourages player growth, than one that is going to pander and ultimately become boring and stale.

It is worth pointing out that once you do have a solid grasp of the mechanics (have practiced a good bit), the early stages of the game become almost ridiculously easy, and the gimmick of 180 is that since you have so much control over how it plays, you can ramp it up to difficult (+'ing extra rows in constantly) or play it slow and easy (setting up complex chains at your own leisure). The game slows a great deal once you get used to clearing in a way that Tetris (or similar games) never do, and it makes sense to up the pace proportionately otherwise.. it gets boring and draggy.

Again, the planned casual mode will be a lot more "play at your own pace" which should satisfy the player who demands that sort of experience, without sacrificing the immediacy and intensity of the more arcade style of the original.

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3. I'm admittedly a sucker for options and while you're right: I'm getting used to the animations, the question remains: Why do I even have to get used to it?
This does strike me in that a few people really have such a problem with this : ) Didn't you ever play Bust-a-Move or Tetris Attack back in the day, were there characters so offensive and distracting to you? If enough people make a stink about it then of course I will just get rid of them, but if only a small amount of people get nit-picky about what I consider a very peripheral feature in my game, then I'd prefer to concentrate on more pressing matters : )

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2. Ah, the sliding-select really changed a lot here... thanks for the pointer.
Yes this is key to the game's enjoyment, and I am sad to notice that the majority of people who play it haven't really noticed it unless I've pointed it out personally. We tried to show it off in the demo but even that did not communicate too well, but I think it's more the matter of a casual player of our game vs someone who's more deeply into it. I'll make a Player's Guide at some point spelling out all the techniques and secrets and hope that it will be a decent enough compromise, for those who really want to get the most out of our game without having to go through the motions on their own..

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1. What ad provider are you using? Just so that I know who I should stay away from.
AdMob, which is a very common ad service - and therefore I'd suspect the problem might be on our end rather than theirs, but who knows. I've got the programmer to update their SDK and we'll have a new version updated soon, I hope you don't mind if I ask you to test. You can understand this is a very serious issue for me..!

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I've also found a little bug: If you leave the game via "Home", right after you've lost a game and the message is onscreen, once you return the message will be gone and the only way to get away from that screen is to kill the game.
good to know, I'll pass that on! thanks again for all your input, it's very helpful I'll leave you with this, a youtube video that shows off some of the more dramatic gameplay
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Old July 9th, 2011, 06:23 PM   #21 (permalink)
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As a consumer myself, I am with you "demos - good" but as a developer, I feel demos must have some monetization (ads or whatnot). Also as a consumer, soooo often I will DL a demo just to see what's the dillyo, and feel gypped if the demo is too limited - it's got to have enough of a complete experience there or I will be annoyed. Just the same, if it's got "enough content" (and I find this is often the case, in demos on any platform these days for my ADD-attention span) than unless I truly must have more of this, I am very content with enjoying the demo and not much beyond that. There's simply too much product out there competing for my attention. So again, as a dev, I suspect most people will rather sample my demo and that's all they'll ever want and I need to get a little bit of scratch out of that somehow.
Have to say this is really informative reading for me as a fellow indie dev, especially since you've got a good background in the industry. Thank you and keep it coming!
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Old July 9th, 2011, 10:20 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Headcasegame, I have deleted your post as that app is not "truely" free as what the OP is referring to.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 06:06 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Old topic, but I think this version of Snake deserves some love
https://market.android.com/details?id=snake.src&feature=search_result#?t=W251 bGwsMSwxLDEsInNuYWtlLnNyYyJd

There are no ads, no permissions at all.
I think the reason it has so many low reviews is because people don't realize how the controls work. It is a D-pad so if you want to your snake to go up you really have to tap at the top of the screen. Once you get that down, it works very nice imo.
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Old March 4th, 2012, 11:28 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I don't have anything constructive to add to this thread. Instead, I'll state my position that we should try to support legit devs with our money in order to increase the amount of quality games on Android, rather than hoping for "truely" free games. Threads like these, while helpful to many frugal folks, simply reinforce the notion that Android users are cheap and do not like to pay for games...
Many people write software for the joy of it. Many of them are better than the people who charge money. The looming obvious example being Windows vs Linux. Plenty of people are talented, but have a day job doing something else.

Free software is great! Adware is worse than just charging for something, since you're "paying" with your wasted time and annoyance every time you use it.
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Old March 4th, 2012, 11:30 AM   #25 (permalink)
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BTW I'm after a free version of Tetris, and the card games Hearts and Freecell. Plenty of them on the Marketplace, but are they any good?
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 03:24 PM   #26 (permalink)
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This has been a very interesting forum to read. I should probably start, by stating that I'm simply a consumer, and not a developer, nor will ever be a developer. (I'd rather stab myself in the foot to earn a trip to the hospital than have to go back to programming... Find it way too tedious and monotonous for me.. Sooo kudos to all those who CAN develope )

There have been many good points here, and I find that I agree strongly with hansschmucker and thoroughly enjoyed reading his list of program selection rules. It sort of clarified what I look for when trying to find a game.

I would like to add something specifically about ads though. They may be providing you money, but they ARE NOT FREE. From my end, if you're downloading an ad, REGARDLESS OF IT'S SIZE, then I'm paying to view your ad. This is extremely wrong in my opinion. I completely understand that the developers need to earn their living for their wares, but this in my opinion is stealing.

Point in case, it was determined in the US decades ago, that advertising via the fax machine was stealing the companies resources. It was forcing the company to use their paper, toner/ink, electricity, and wear on their machines, to force them to view your advertisements. Putting an advertisement in a 'free' or 'demo' version of a game is the exact same thing. I have to pay for that download bandwidth, and therefor: it is mine. Not yours. The result? That if there is any program which requires any internet connection, AT ALL, then it is history and I'm on to the next app.

As for the remaining permissions? The only permission that I can feasibly accept is writing to the SD card. I mean, if it's going to save the game then there isn't any other option for it.. Anything else about my phone state, location, (network or GPS), phone id, call state etc... they're all crap and result in the same forgone conclusion: this app is not worth having on my phone.

So my solution? Offer me the limited 'trial' version. But it has to be ad-free, and it has to be playable and functional. I'm not opposed to purchasing something that I like, but I'm not going to blindly go out and hand out money in the hopes that I do like it. By giving me this option, it tells me that you, as a developer, actually care enough about me, as a consumer, to ensure that if you're going to take my money you want me to enjoy what I've purchased. It also ensures that I will use the search feature to look for other programs you've created, and if I like them, guess what!? I'll buy them too!

I will freely admit however, I may not be in the majority market. I'm smart enough (at least I like to think so) that I actually look at what I'm about to buy, review it, test it, and make an informed decision about whether to purchase it. Every time I don't go through that (for instance my Dell XPS x702l laptop, do NOT ever buy one of them Huge mistake...) I regret it...

In addition, yes, I have an android (obviously) and I shelled out good money for it! So I do feel entitled that I should be able to have some apps/games that I will actually use on it, that I shouldn't have to pay for, because honestly? Verizion/Google are ******ed when it comes to putting apps that they think I will use. The VAST majority of their apps get immediately uninstalled or at the very least hidden (haven't yet taken the plunge into rooting my phone, it's a bit more technical than I'm willing to do as yet.. sadly..) Point in case: I hate professional sports. Always have, especially after working as a medical responder (EMT) for football and soccer games. People leave their brains in the vehicles, or at home, when they attend, and thus I can't enjoy them. I'll play the games with friends, in a non-competitive manner, but will have nothing to do with the professional versions. Thus, forcing me to have an NFL game on my phone? that just pisses me off! I feel it's a waste of my available resources, and thus a waste of my money. Not good business...

Anyway, that was a bit of a rant, but hopefully it aided in demonstrating my response...

Oh, and by the way hansschmucker, as an update for your original post: Missile Intercept seems to no longer have a free version (according to the aforementioned rules) it now requires the internet for ads.. An alternative, which I found, and does not have any permissions at all, was Simple Missile Command..

Opensudoku also now requires the internet, and states that it has ads. Again, a very sad discovery. A possible alternative is Anduko Sudoku

There were several others..

But thanks for the awesomeness to post this thread! Prior to finding it I had the following games:

MiReversi
Mi Firework
Dice Shaker
Andoku Sudoku

And have been able to add:
Solitaire
Trap!
Mines
Simple Missile Command
Gurk
aequilibrium
Frozen Bubble
Mastermind

So again, many thanks for this post!
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Old August 10th, 2013, 02:16 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Great list OP, I have played Replica Island and it is definitely worth checking out if you are in to platformers. Anyone have more suggestions for solitaire type games that don't have ads?
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 06:24 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I detest ads. I am all for supporting the game and app makers but these ads have gotten way out of hand and ridiculous. Finding an ad free game is pretty damn hard these days. What I don't like is most of the free games are saturated with ads and don't offer a paid version with no ads. I kind of wonder why that is. I guess they make more money from the ads than just charging for the game. I'd much rather pay for a game with no ads than get a free one with ads. Most of my installed games on my cellphone are free with ads. This is not because I'm cheap but because they don't offer a paid version with no ads that I can buy.

About that list. I've seen a ton of Solitaire games and none I've seen so far are without ads. Which Solitaire has no ads?
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:20 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Considering most games for android are not that expensive paying is not much of a problem . But take my country for example, we are unable to pay on google play, and so many apps are not available in our country. So we either have to pirate the game/app or find other ways... Luckily most devs are happy to help and if you contact them they provide alternative paying method or they gift it to you. But not all... So free games are what I usually look for
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:16 PM   #30 (permalink)
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I don't have anything constructive to add to this thread. Instead, I'll state my position that we should try to support legit devs with our money in order to increase the amount of quality games on Android, rather than hoping for "truely" free games. Threads like these, while helpful to many frugal folks, simply reinforce the notion that Android users are cheap and do not like to pay for games...

As you were

I'm one of those guys!

Frankly, everyone's gotta eat, right!?
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Old January 3rd, 2014, 05:46 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Yeah everyone's gotta eat. Just make the games with an option to buy with no ads. A lot of them don't do that and only offer free games with ads. I do NOT support the game makers that do this. The game makers who choose to make games that shove ads down your throat with no option to get rid of them (like buying the game), them sombitches can starve to death for all I care.
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Old January 6th, 2014, 07:41 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Yeah everyone's gotta eat. Just make the games with an option to buy with no ads. A lot of them don't do that and only offer free games with ads. I do NOT support the game makers that do this. The game makers who choose to make games that shove ads down your throat with no option to get rid of them (like buying the game), them sombitches can starve to death for all I care.
I'm sure I can find a reason to say the same about your occupation. What do you work in?

I find it annoying as well. I bought Asphalt 6 and it came with no ads (IAP were later added), but now, Asphalt 8 is loaded with IAP ads. I'd pay $5 for The Sandbox if it removed the ads, but that's not an option.

The worst are the ones that include ads AFTER purchasing.
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Old January 8th, 2014, 02:25 PM   #33 (permalink)
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I really wouldn't mind it if games were either A) "Free" with Ads and IAP, or B) Paid, with no ads and sensible IAP, or C) Paid with no ads and no IAP

I'd be willing to pay $10 for Asphalt 8 if it were just not so horribly IAP-oriented. Give me a $10 option with no IAP, ads, and superior money generation so I'm not forced to play literally 50,000 races to get every car, or pay $100 to get all the game content
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Old January 15th, 2014, 01:16 PM   #34 (permalink)
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go for the free mame simulators out there not so sure about the legality of the roms though!!
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Old January 15th, 2014, 01:18 PM   #35 (permalink)
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probably been said a thousand times but the really good games you either pay for or accept the annoying adverts, nit saying anything new I know but so true
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Old January 15th, 2014, 02:49 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Nethack RPG opensource linux game ported to android. Originally an ascii game, has tiles to choose from. Dungeon game, with random generators, random mazes etc.
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Old January 17th, 2014, 11:33 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Another one is Pixel Dungeon. Not really my cup of tea, but it's totally free.
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Old January 20th, 2014, 12:28 PM   #38 (permalink)
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just had to do some cleanup.....if you are a dev please promote your app/game here:App & Game Announcements - Android Forums if you have not already
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Old January 20th, 2014, 01:49 PM   #39 (permalink)
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ok, sorry for that one...
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