Apr 15, 2013
Jeff Minter, long-time game developer known for such titles as Tempest 2000 and the divisive Space Giraffe, has been hard at work in recent years on mobile with his studio Llamasoft, exploring different game ideas that fit into his oevure. Now Llamasoft has released an Android game, but under an interesting distribution model: donationware. Don’t expect to find the game on Google Play, but it is available for free from Llamasoft’s website, released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license meaning that it’s permissible to share the game with attribution, but not to use it for commercial purposes or to create derivative works from it.
Jeff Minter says that "We figure this is a nice, fair way to distribute some goodies that were never released, and other things that if sold via conventional App Store means would bring in next to bugger all." You can read more about his philosophy on their donationware model on Llamasoft’s web page, where it is also possible to give money with PayPal.
Gridrunner itself follows the kind of formula that many Llamasoft games follow: it’s a hybrid of several retro titles mixed into one, with the two-dimensional movement of Centipede mixed with an art style similar to Namco’s arcade titles like Galaga, and plenty of crazy powerups and crazy visual effects that Llamasoft games have been known for. Oh, and in the kind of oddball Llamasoft twist, it’s possible to play one of two older versions of the game by tilting the device into landscape mode. Oh, and the "pause" button is a paw. A "paws" button. They’ve even built their own high score service, Llamascores, for competing on the leaderboards across the multiple game modes. The game supports some controllers via Bluetooth or USB.
Llamasoft and Jeff Minter promise that this isn’t the only donationware release – other unreleased or other games may be released with this model, and it could include more Android games. As well, they’re at work on TxK, a revisiting of the Tempest 2000 formula initially for Playstation Vita, but considering that the studio is working on some longer-term projects that could include Android, this could include an Android release. Stay tuned.