We Like Hard Games, So We Made a Hard Game (Thorn v1.0.2 is out!)

on 09/04/2011 by christopher No Comments
When I was growing up, if you claimed that you beat a video game, it meant that you were really REALLY good at it. I’m mostly talking about NES games, which required a ridiculous amount of skill to beat. It still sticks with me that I could never beat Ninja Gaiden. The story was really cool, and I wanted to see what happened. Two decades later, I watched the ending on YouTube.

Over time, quicksave and quickload almost single-handedly changed this. The way games like Call of Duty tend to be played, you can simply run into a volley of gunfire and die, reappearing moments before the events happened.

If a game costs 60 million dollars to make, you don’t want 99% of people missing out on millions of dollars of content because they aren’t good enough to get there.  I think it’s a shift in gaming culture that is worth our attention.

One of our first ideas for Thorn was that it should be prohibitively difficult. Matt had this idea during one of our very first brainstorming sessions years ago to make a cruel game. I think what he was picturing was a game where the traps in the dungeon are actually traps. They are concealed and they can cause permadeath. You were foiled by a trap, you are dead.

I don’t think Escape Mode, in the new version of Thorn that we just released is cruel, but I do think it’s pretty hard. It will take most people a long time to get good enough to see the ending screen.  My endless playtesting over the course of Thorn’s development has made me really good at the game and it’s even hard for me to beat. It takes about a half hour, a good amount of luck, and a tremendous amount of patience and skill. But that’s where we wanted the bar. If it’s hard for us, it’s going to be hard for new players. Those few who get very good at the game will eventually beat it. And you’ll see them on the leaderboards. Next to us.

Escape Mode is a .99c In-App Purchase. The original Survival Mode is now totally free.

Thorn v1.0.1 update — with Game Center support — now available!

on 08/05/2011 by matt No Comments

Awww, yeah. Git your leaderboards and achievements on.


Thorn update sent to Apple!

on 08/01/2011 by matt No Comments

The next Thorn update has been sent to Apple for review! Game Center, Leaderboards, and Achievements coming your way in a few days :)

Here’s a snap to whet your appetite:

How Things Are Going

on 07/21/2011 by christopher 1 Comment

Thorn has been out for over a week, and it has been exciting.

We prepared our toughest skin pre-release. I’ve seen what game releases can do to people, and it’s ugly. There are plenty of reviews and criticisms of games that I’ve read that are borderline soul-destroying. I mentally prepared myself to deal with utter rejection from gamers and reviewers. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

We’ve been well received. For the most part, I feel that players either fall in love with the game or level really fair criticisms at it. These criticisms tend to be:

1. Thorn needs Game Center integration. This is an easy one. We’re going to include it in the next build, which should be out in a matter of days.

2. Thorn needs more mobs. And this is a bit more interesting. Earlier builds of Thorn had tons of mobs with different attributes. Those days, the game didn’t include throwing weapons and it was way less fun. Now that we have ironed out a solid platform, we think it’s worth reintroducing these monsters. After the Game Center build, we’re going to start looking at how to integrate more enemies. Of course, this will probably thrash the legitimacy of previous high scores. If anyone has any ideas how to deal with this problem, we’re open to them.

3. People hate dying and starting over from the beginning. We’re talking about a way to deal with this. Perhaps there are checkpoints or multiple lives? Again, this threatens not only the balance of the game, but also the validity of previous high scores. Tough problems, but they can be dealt with.

As for sales, we think we’ve gotten lucky. The sales probably won’t come close to providing us with the kind of income we would have made if we’d been working at Jobs rather than making a video game. But that wasn’t really the point. Being included on Apple’s New & Noteworthy list was a huge gift and we think it put us on the map.

For our next trick: staying on the map.

Thorn for breakfast? Yes, please!

on 07/20/2011 by matt No Comments

Thorn gets a write-up on mobile app breakfast:

“Thorn has an ornery attitude, and that’s why we like him.” Us too :)


Good Controller is a small independent video game developer based in San Francisco. We are currently working on Thorn, our first project for the iPhone.