04 Jan

Fingering is always better at Christmas Time...

04. January 2012 by Alex Stanbury

After a good 14 months in development, we finally released our first iOS game, Elfinger. It actually started life as a simple experiment when I wanted to see how well a Flash app would run on an iOS device; I wanted to test the capabilities of the touch screen so made a simple game where you had to touch specific colours while avoiding others…

It actually turned out to be quite a nice way to play a game, I still haven’t seen any other games on iOS devices where you have to touch multiple objects on the screen at once, although admittedly I haven’t played every game out there. I was inspired to try and create a full game out of this bare bones idea, I made the decision to ditch the Flash to iOS conversion and work natively in Objective-C.

elf4Instead of using simple coloured squares I started to use different animal images and from this the next incarnation of the game was born - Farmer Finger! The idea was that you were a farmer and you had to collect animals that had escaped from your farm into various landscapes such as hay fields and icy ponds. I collaborated with Greg who kindly provided some character illustrations for me to use, going for a basic but fun cartoon-like feel. The game slowly began to take shape, I was learning the intricacies of Objective-C whilst I went along. With no deadline to meet it was a refreshing way to work as I could take as long as I wanted…Or so I thought…It turned out I took a bit too long as eventually the name ‘Farmer Finger’ - which I’d registered with Apple’s app submission portal - had expired, meaning we could not use that name anymore.

elf3That was one of the many lessons learned throughout the whole process (most of them meant I hated Apple a little bit more each time, but that’s another blog post). It wasn’t all my fault though, I was waiting for a certain someone to provide me with graphics, which unfortunately never materialised. I guess that’s the down side of not having a deadline; you are less likely to get things done as paid work takes priority. Farmer Finger was sadly no more and was placed on the back burner…


One drunken night a few months ago the conversation somehow became focused on Farmer Finger. Tears were shed and hours were spent reminiscing about the good times. Eventually amongst the drunken ramblings a miracle happened - it was decided that this game should be resurrected, hurrah!

elf2 I had the idea that as Christmas was coming we should have some kind of Santa Claus collecting presents in snow storyline or something along those lines, my memory is understandably hazy due to the alcohol consumption. By this time we had hired Antonio Banderas look-a-like Nacho, a talented illustrator, whose task it was to provide all the visual assets for this new version of the game that wouldn’t die. Luckily, Nacho had the time to actually do all the graphics I needed and a sterling job he did too. He also came up with the ingenious name, Elf + Finger = Elfinger, obviously.

I spent a couple of weeks updating the app with the new look and added some more functionality. There were the customary head banging on desk moments that every developer knows too well but eventually it was ready to be released to the public. 3 App Store submissions later (It got released with a couple of bugs that were promptly fixed) and Elfinger is now being played by at least 50 people! Yippee!

elf1 From the start we made the decision to release the game as a freebie, the main objective was to go through the whole process and gain experience so hopefully we can make more games in the future either for clients or for ourselves with some kind of revenue generating strategy in place. I think it was all worth it, do you? Why not play it and see? (if you have an iOS device that is!)

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