New Patch, Bug Fixes and More

UPDATE: The patch is live! Please let me know what you think!

A new patch has been shipped to Apple for review, version 1.12! This much-needed patch includes a host of crash fixes and bug fixes that should make your play experience… well… less prone to make you want to throw your device against the wall!

Here are the updates in this version:
– Fixed the hanging crash in the tutorial that a disturbingly large number of players were encountering
– Fixed the LEVEL 24 crash bug preventing it from being beatable in certain circumstances (occurred if you ground slammed while in an alternate dimension)
– Added a new loading UI to the opening sequence – especially helpful on older devices that have a slightly longer delay
– Fixed a dozen or so smaller bugs

Check out the new way of interacting with Doodads!
Close-up of the new Doodad UI
 
FRED's new fear, Agoraphobia, comes pre-conquered - slam the ground!

Below is a list of the major, new additions in version 1.10 that you may have missed:
– New Doodad, Plunger Cannon, allows players to place a cannon that fires gigantic, red plungers at frenemies.
– New Fear, Agoraphobia, comes pre-conquered at the beginning of the game giving new players the ability to ground slam sending frenemies flying (this conquer’s FRED’s fear of crowds)
– OpenFeint support, including GameFeed, achievements and leader boards
– New Doodad UI, making it much easier to toggle/remove/rotate Doodads that you’ve placed

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Mystery Ball: Beginning is a free prequel to Mystery Ball launching in a few short weeks on December 8th! The game will span 10 completely unique worlds, three Doodads, and a brand new fear for FRED to conquer. Today I am announcing FRED’s new fear for this standalone game, Agoraphobia!

FRED before the events in Mystery Ball - he's a hacky sack!
 

In Mystery Ball: Beginning, all events take place just prior to the beginning of the Grand Experiment. The Professor is conducting a qualification exam on potential patients, and FRED happens to be The Professor’s first test subject. During the exam, FRED must learn to conquer his fear of crowds through collecting Bravery Badges. Like in the main game, conquering this new fear unlocks an ability for FRED to master. In the case of Agoraphobia, FRED earns the ability to quickly launch into the air and then slam the ground, creating a shockwave that sends any nearby Frenemies flying! Frenemies remain stunned for a few moments (wouldn’t you be!?), allowing FRED to make a quick escape.

Mystery Ball: Beginning will also feature one completely new Doodad, which will be announced next week. Both the new Doodad and fear ability will be added to the main game in the first content expansion before the end of the year.

Check out the following sneak peek preview of the new FRED and watch as he learns to launch Frenemies like never before!

11-11-15_jonathanmast

Note from Mystery Ball creator David Howe: When I was nearing the final months of development on Mystery Ball, I knew how critical balancing the game and tweaking it based on player feedback was going to be. Opening the signups locally and online, I fully expected a wide variety of age groups to want to test out the game. What I didn’t expect, and what turned out to be the greatest, most positive experience of this game’s development, was a beta tester who inspires me more than any other. Jonathan and Jawanda Mast’s daughter Rachel has been FRED’s biggest fan, and her excitement about the game has encouraged me to continually give everything I have to make this the best game it can possibly be. Here is their story.

Each generation likes to tell the next what it was like back in the day. When it comes to individuals with developmental disabilities and technology, we really will be talking about the “back in the day” sooner instead of later. As the father of an amazing 12-year-old daughter who is an actress, cheerleader, dancer and earned a spot on the principal’s honor roll at Indian Trail Middle School, Rachel’s future will be dramatically different from mine. Rachel also has Down syndrome.

What is Down syndrome? Down syndrome is the most common genetic condition.  The most common form of Down syndrome is called Trisomy 21, because it involves an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. People with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

We knew immediately that the iPad would be a game-changer for people with disabilities. It didn’t take long for my wife Jawanda and I to realize that technology would open doors for Rachel to do things that the world could not have imagined 15 years ago.

Rachel Mast: FRED's biggest fan!
The Professor from Mystery Ball at the game's launch party
 

It has been amazing to see Rachel use the iPad. We have found several great apps to tie to her schoolwork. One is the use of electronic flash cards. Rachel is a visual learner and loves the interaction the iPad gives. The hundreds of index cards we used are now obsolete.

I am writing this blog specifically about Mystery Ball. I was fortunate to attend Red Nova Labs’ Venture Friday the day David Howe, the creator of Mystery Ball, gave his demo. Everyone who attended was invited to be a beta tester. I decided to sign up and see how Rachel did with the product. She would provide a great perspective. I get asked by a lot of parents who have a child with Down syndrome for app and game recommendations. I downloaded Mystery Ball that weekend and Rachel immediately made that her top game. She gave her feedback, both pro and con.

Read more of this article by clicking “Continue Reading” below.

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Curious what went into Mystery Ball? Wonder where the wacky phobias and fear upgrades came from? What Doodads are in the game, and how do they tie into the Professor’s master plan? Haven’t played the game yet? Check out this short, 5-minute video as it walks you through the creation of the game by its developer, David Howe.

If you’re still waiting for the patch to fix compatibility with iOS 4.0-4.3, sit tight! The patch is expected to be approved by Apple any day now.

As always, thanks to Mia of Red Nova Labs for putting this developer diary together!

Mystery Ball Launch Party

Mystery Ball’s launch party was a smashing hit at Red Nova Lab’s HQ in Westwood, KS. With somewhere near 100 attendees, ranging from the young-in-age to the young-at-heart, the party celebrated the game’s launch on the App Store on November 4th.

Brothers play Mystery Ball together at the launch party
The Professor made a surprise appearance!
 

The launch party featured Mystery Ball Brew, a custom stout brewed by local microbrewery Wilderness Brewing Company, and 1919 root beer for younger guests. Attendees received customized launch goodies, including custom pilsner glasses and t-shirts. The Professor also made an appearance, and kids who attended had the chance to take a swing at the game’s main characters that were made into piñatas.

Custom, souvenir glasses were created just for the event's attendees
Unique t-shirts were handed out to anyone who was able to make it
 

More pictures and reviews after the break…

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The v1.0 save bug has been fixed with the release of v1.01. Unfortunately, this patch also only supports iOS v5.0. If you have iOS 5.0+, you’re in for a treat: iCloud support is great if you happen to have more than one iOS device. Mystery Ball is a great excuse to finally dust off your phone, iPod Touch or iPad and go update the operating system to the latest and greatest 5.0! That said, if you are still going to stay with v4.0-v4.3, you should wait to play Mystery Ball until I can get v1.02 through Apple’s approval process. This typically takes a week, and I will update here when the patch is available. If you buy the game now and realize you don’t have iOS 5.0 and are not going to update, just sit tight: as soon as v1.02 of Mystery Ball hits the App Store, you’ll be notified through the Updates section of the store and get the update free.

I hope you like the game, please feel free to contact me with any questions or issues you run into.

11-11-03_launch

Mystery Ball is finally available for download on the iOS App Store! Launching at $0.99 through launch weekend, be one of the first to get your copy! To celebrate the launch of the game, I am releasing a new gameplay trailer, featuring lots of never-before-seen footage of the game. Tomorrow I’ll also be posting a hot-off-the-press developer diary video, with all kinds of behind-the-scenes action!

Fellow FRED fans, go download your copy from the App Store and discover the true Mystery behind The Professor’s Grand Experiment! Once you’ve conquered all of FRED’s fears, start working your way up the Time Trial leaderboards… best of luck to everyone! Let’s make November 3, 2011 FRED DAY!

Happy Mystery Ball Halloween!

Special thanks to Lee Howe for putting together a great surprise in the middle of his Halloween Lights show in Lawrence, KS: a special tribute to Mystery Ball’s theme! The show currently consists of five songs, ranging from Lady Gaga’s “Monster” to the classic “This is Halloween” to one of Inception‘s thrillers, the show has a diverse playlist designed for family-oriented fun! If you’re in town, be sure and check it out and cheer for Mystery Ball’s theme. You can find the show on the corner of Pebble Ln and W 30th St, just off 31st near Target.

Click Continue Reading to view the video!

As the Beta is coming to a close and Mystery Ball is quickly approaching Gold Master, I am truly excited to share with you the game’s pre-release trailer! Unveiling much of the story behind the game, The Professor details his Grand Experiment in this two minute video. The trailer features scenes from all three major locations in the game, the Grassy Plains, Windy Desert and Rusty Lab.

In addition to the launch of the game’s latest trailer, I have also put the finishing touches on the game’s Game Center integration. The game features 30 different achievements, spread throughout the game. Unlike most games that quickly toss this in as an afterthought, these achievements have been carefully selected and coded to reward outside-of-the-box thinking and clever gameplay. Each achievement has a completely custom icon for completion, and several achievements have progress tracking so you know where you stand.

Mystery Ball - Unique Achievement Icons
Mystery Ball - Creative, outside-of-the-box rewards

Time Trial mode is also debuting in the final phase of the Beta, launching this weekend. Time Trial-enabled worlds hook directly into Game Center’s leaderboards, and the players with the fastest times are recognized not only on Game Center, but also in the game itself. The fastest time is displayed directly on the world select screen, and the top 10 times are displayed at the end of each course.

Big thanks to Mia and Rick of Red Nova Labs for putting this trailer together. Their vision from start-to-finish brought the characters to life. To view the trailer, click below for more.

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Beta 2 of Mystery Ball shipped to the testing crew this weekend. Among several key bug fixes and a layer of polish across the board, this update features The Professor’s debut! Pivotal to the game’s story, The Professor kicks everything off in what he refers to as his “Grand Experiment.” Talking as if he has known the player for years, The Professor reminds us what we’re getting ourselves into, offering an optional, interactive tutorial sequence to get our feet wet.

The Professor Unveils the Interactive Tutorial
Floating through nasty obstacles in the Windy Desert

Throughout the tutorial, The Professor explains that it is the player’s duty to accompany FRED into this labyrinth-like hole he has fallen into, and drive him to conquer his fears. Specifically, it is your goal to help FRED overcome his fears of being touched, heights and time. The Professor has spread what he calls “Bravery Badges” throughout the puzzles FRED will come across, and through collecting them he can best his irrational emotions. By mastering his fears, FRED unlocks his true potential, earning new abilities that will surely help as the puzzles become more challenging.

Flying over a Trap Door with FRED's Hover ability earned from conquering Acrophobia
The Professor uses an old soccer ball for the tutorial to avoid damaging FRED

Click Continue Reading to learn more about The Professor’s Grand Experiment…