The Breakroom

xScope 25% for Iconfactory 25th

August 9, 2021

By Webmaster

xScope product logo

In June we celebrated our silver pixel anniversary, 25 years of serving clients, creating software, and pushing pixels just for you. As part of that celebration we’ve been offering discounts on some of our apps. We’re happy to announce that our helpful screen measurement tool, xScope, is up next!

For the next two weeks, today through August 25th, you will receive 25% off xScope’s retail price when you buy a single user license from our newly-revamped xScope order page. Use the following promo code to get your discount:

ICON25

You can now purchase directly from the Iconfactory using Apple Pay, PayPal, or a credit card. Our new order page handles upgrades for single user licenses, promo codes like the one above, and multi-user discounts for teams of up to 30 people.

It’s never been easier to equip your designers and developers with xScope, the app we like to call our swiss army knife for the screen. Enjoy!

Frenzic: Overtime – The Long Wait Is Over

July 7, 2021

By Craig Hockenberry

Last month’s announcement was a long time coming.

Frenzic on macOS was introduced 14 years ago. For players on iOS, it was a mere 13 year wait.

Our First Wait

The long delay shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise: the development history of Frenzic is full of waiting for the right moment. It started at the beginning of 2007 when we released Frenzic on macOS. Something else happened at the same time: an iPhone announcement.

We loved playing Frenzic, and were very proud of our work on the desktop, but as soon as we held an iPhone in our hands, we all knew that Frenzic was going to be fantastic on a touch screen. And so began our first wait: for a development platform where our ideas could flourish.

Our first prototype used a “sweet solution” with Safari’s web technologies. While it was an excellent way to test out game interactions and to get us even more excited about the iPhone, it just wasn’t enough to do the game justice. In retrospect, it is pretty sweet that you can still play Frenzic 1.0 in a web browser.

A demo reel for the original Frenzic.

While we waited for a native development environment, jailbreaking started during the summer of 2007. With apps like Lucas Newman’s LightsOffTouch, the future of iOS gaming was clear because we were carrying it around in our pockets. Could we be even more excited about bringing Frenzic to the iPhone? No, but yes.

The excitement kept ramping up: first with the announcement of an SDK in October, then the start of native development in March. The wait was worth it because we could finally make the product we wanted.

Several months later we released one of the first hit games on the App Store. It was a showcase of what this new device could do and how gameplay would forever be changed with the introduction of fingers.

Then began the longest wait of all.

The Longest Wait

We all wanted to do a sequel and had both the creative urge and technical ability. The struggle was finding a way to be paid for our work. As with the original game, there were several prototypes, but we couldn’t find a way to keep Frenzic fun in a world where free-to-play dominated. Coins for pie pieces may make sense for your local bakery, but it had no place in Frenzic.

Two prototypes: one for play testing and another experimenting with flat design.
Two prototypes: one for play testing and another experimenting with flat design.

That all changed in March 2019 with the announcement of Apple Arcade. We finally saw a way to make the game we wanted. Thankfully, Apple agreed and everything lined up for the project to start a year later in March 2020.

Wait, What?

Was there something else that happened that month? Oh yeah, a global pandemic.

After waiting over a decade for this opportunity, we weren’t going to let a novel coronavirus mess things up. We locked down and got to work.

In retrospect, Frenzic gave us something wonderful during a difficult time. Our social activities were curtailed, but we still had an outlet for our creativity and a team that supported each other through thick and thin. Like everyone else, we struggled with the “new normal”, but in many ways, what we were working on felt very familiar.

The first few months were spent prototyping (there’s that word again!) and refining new gameplay. One of the first things we did was resurrect the original game to refresh our ten year old memories!

Parallax prototyping shown in three dimensions.

This was our first project in Unity, so there was a learning curve for everyone involved. We also had to grapple with the fact that we were going to localize this product in 17 languages (Dio mio!) Game prototypes were made and discarded and made again; six months later you could earn goals in all levels. We then polished and tested and polished again. And added some Easter Eggs.

(Fun fact: Frenzic’s original creator has a brother who co-founded Unity Technologies.)

Worth the Wait

There were many challenges during the year and a half it took to develop the app, including an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on the day we uploaded our first version for App Review. But we persisted and made something that we’re all extremely proud of.

Many of our beta testers weren’t even born when the first game was released, but the wait has been worth it: we finally got to make the product we wanted. We hope you agree.

And we have lots more planned for the future. But, of course, we all have to wait for that to happen :-)

In the meantime, there’s lots more to learn at frenzic.com. Follow us at @Frenzic for news and information, including help with finding those Easter Eggs!

Making Music for Robots

June 28, 2021

By David Brasgalla

Frenzic: Overtime is the fast-paced sequel to the original game which first debuted thirteen years ago. Everything about this new title has been propelled far beyond the original – including the soundtrack music which is streaming now on Apple Music and Spotify.

When I created the original music for Frenzic, I’d been a casual GarageBand user for several years, and my construction method reflected that: I was mainly working with Apple Loops and one-shot WAV files. This was a perfectly workable solution at the time, but the use of standard libraries of loops and sounds meant I’d have to accept a certain generic flavour to the result. I’d certainly become adept at spotting those familiar loops in other musicians’ music, and I knew they would certainly hear them in mine in turn.

When I sat down to create the music for Frenzic: Overtime, I began with that same technique out of habit, this time using Logic Pro. As soon as I heard the results of my first experimentations, I knew I was going to have to push myself much farther this time. Logic Pro has an impressive array of loops available, but I wanted to find a unique sound for the game this time. I needed to compose!

Next Steps

My main desire was to evoke a lot of the classic synth sounds I grew up with in the 70’s and 80’s – artists like Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode, Vangelis, Tomita, and Wendy Carlos. This would be a way to pay tribute to all of them, and I’d probably never get a better opportunity. There was also a definite “kid in a candy store” element at work, as all of today’s great synth tools would have cost a substantial fortune back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, yet I can now obtain nearly anything at very affordable prices, or even free. 

A small peek at what went into just one of the tracks for Frenzic: Overtime

Setting to work, I decided to make the all of the various tracks be variations on my update of the original Frenzic theme music, and to see just how far I could twist and manipulate that theme. I created three pieces of music for each of the three major gameplay modes – one piece for each difficulty level therein. The tempo of each piece corresponds to the difficulty level: Easy/110, Medium/120 and Hard/130 beats per minute, so that the pace increased alongside the game challenge (WhizBot’s Lab is heard outside gameplay, and is intended to be relaxing for the user as they decide how to spend squarks and set up their powerups).

As I was creating the game’s sound effects at the same time, I felt it was important to keep the texture of the music distinct from those FX, so that the user wouldn’t get confused and perhaps think that a sound within the music track was somehow part of the gameplay. Generally, there’s a liberal use of reverbs to give the music a more ambient character, to push them farther away from the listener, while the FX were kept rather “dry” and upfront.

What became the most enjoyable part of the process was the actual performance, playing the parts and creating my own passages (I’d sometimes realise I’d just been playing the keyboard for a while out of inspiration, grooving on the sound and not actually recording anything). Once I had something I really liked, I’d run the piece past the rest of the Frenzic team, and Ged would give me feedback like “Add a touch more mystery…” or “How about a slightly sinister edge?”

Sometimes things went a bit too far  – Hacker Three had actually been inspired by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ amazing soundtrack for Watchmen, and originally ended in a sort of industrial, wailing guitar-like solo, rocking fairly hard. It was fun, but I when I revisited it after a bit, I knew it was wrong for the flavour of the game. I decided to invert that whole section at the end of the piece, which now becomes quite subdued and opens out in a way that better suits the Frenzic: Overtime aesthetic. A trace of those guitars is still left in Primary Two – I just couldn’t let them go completely!

As much fun as it was to have access to all of those classic synth sounds, some of my favourite passages are where I started going off into my own territory. Brian Eno has written that he feels we tend to put about twice as much material into a song as we really need to, and I think in my case that’s probably true. I definitely stuffed a lot into these tracks. However, it was when I started opening things up that the most satisfying results emerged for me. A good example is in Primary Two (right around 1:06) when I scaled everything back and let it all breathe. That’s the kind of point where I managed to move out of being propelled more by homage and pastiche, and it’s just all me. Sabotage One also has a lot of this going on.

The Technical Bits

The first main audio unit I started with was u-he’s excellent (and free!) Tyrell N6 software synthesizer. This wonderful little gem was perfect. It was really fun and inspiring to use, and had exactly the kinds of sounds I was looking for. The Tyrell led me to u-he’s Podolski synth which was just right for many of the prominent basslines, and the Zebralette synth was also pressed into service. Futucrafts’ Kairatune unit provided some playful and quirky additions on several songs.

Immediately realising that using a screen keyboard would not suffice, I rapidly moved through some MIDI keyboards: I began with a tiny Nektar SE25 mini-key that could fit in my backpack, jumped very quickly to a Nektar Impact LX25+, a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32, and finally an Arturia Keystep to get the Aftertouch feature. I’m sure I’ll keep moving upwards in this department.

Logic Pro also has some excellent drum synths built in, but I ended up creating mostly custom kits using Logic’s Drum Machine Designer. My two main kits were called “Retro” and “H4CKR”, with the latter being quite grainy and blip-like, and they were filled with all kinds of sampled treasure I’ve gathered over the years. I also built a little custom reproduction of the Roland CR-78, which I’ve always had a particular fondness for.

For effects, I made good use of Logic’s built-in Space Designer reverb (mainly for all the great movement effects), but I also can’t say enough good things about Valhalla’s effects plug-in line. I found myself turning to SuperMassive, VintageVerb, Delay and Shimmer extensively – probably too much! Sean, Don and Kristin – you all made my work so much easier with your great software.

That’s a Wrap

The entire musical project ended up taking just under a year to complete. By the time I’d finished the last sections of music, my working process had completely changed, and I had learned so much about recording and mixing that I needed to go back and remix everything in order to unify the soundtrack. It was good to have a deadline, though, or I might still be tinkering with it!

Working on the Frenzic: Overtime soundtrack has been an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience from start to finish, and has thoroughly re-awakened my interest in recording music. As I listen back over the finished work, I’m very pleased with how it all came together, and how well the music sits alongside the wonderful work created by the other members of the team. As I had originally hoped, there’s certainly a lot of those iconic 70’s/80’s synth textures and flavours present, but I believe we also managed to forge a new musical identity for Frenzic that is forward-looking and fun. Now it’s time to build some power cores!

Celebrating Our Silver Pixel Anniversary

June 22, 2021

By Ged Maheux

Download our free Silver Anniversary Wallpaper on Patreon

Twenty five years ago this week, Talos, Corey, and I first pushed pixels into icons of our favorite Star Wars, Star Trek, and cartoon characters and published them under the name Iconfactory (Icnfactory, actually). So much has happened since then, both with the company and the world in which we live, that it would be impossible to do it justice with a blog post.

Suffice it to say that we are humbled and gratified you have stuck with us over this many years, helping us not only survive, but thrive. We’ve grown by leaps and bounds, pushed billions of pixels, published dozens of apps and games, and had the good fortune of working alongside some of the most talented engineers, designers, and companies in the industry.

I’ll be honest, there have been times we didn’t think we were going to make it. But with hard work, teamwork, a little luck, and a lot of attention to detail, we’re still here doing what we love.

All because of you.

As I write this, the long-awaited sequel to one of our most beloved games, Frenzic, is sitting in Apple Arcade being downloaded by fans who have stood by us for a quarter of a century – as well as thousands of people who have never heard of our little company-that-could. How amazing is that? 

We’d also like to give a special shout out to all those past team members who have gone on to bigger and better things but nonetheless helped us get where we are – David Lanham, Travis Zuker, Louie Mantia, and Tyler Anderson. Thanks gang!

If you had asked any of us if we’d still have the honor of doing the things we love and getting paid to do them 25 years later I don’t think any of us would have believed it. So for Corey, Talos, Dave, Craig, Anthony, Sean, Cheryl, Mindy, Kate, and myself, thank you for an amazing 25 years in your service.

We can’t wait to see what happens next! 

DoBots, Assemble!

June 18, 2021

By Webmaster

Frenzic: Overtime title graphic featuring InfoBot and DoBot

Today’s the day! The long-awaited sequel to Frenzic, one of the App Store’s first hit games, is now available on Apple Arcade. Frenzic: Overtime combines fast-paced and engaging play with stunning visuals and sound in an arcade-style puzzler for players of all ages.

Creating this game has been a labor of love for all of us here at the Iconfactory, and we absolutely cannot wait for you to play it. It’s packed with dozens of challenging levels with pulse-pounding music, never-before-seen puzzles, multiple game play modes, a light-hearted storyline, and so much more.

DoBot gears up to the challenges of daily life at Frenzic Industries
Frenzic's Hacker levels in action
Frenzic's fast-paced puzzles are a blast for players of all ages
Players face a variety of fun, challenging puzzles in Frenzic: Overtime

We have a lot to say about Frenzic: Overtime. The long road from the original to today’s sequel release, how Apple Arcade helped bring it to life, what went into its creation, and what’s on the horizon for Frenzic’s future. We hope you’ll join us, but for now there are puzzles to solve, corporate ladders to climb, and a world to save. Head on over to Apple Arcade, get Frenzic: Overtime, and start building your powercores!

Frenzic: Overtime – Dress Like a Bot!

June 14, 2021

By Ged Maheux

Frenzic: Overtime t-shirt designs: DoBot Ready to Assemble, Frenzic Industries corporate logo and InfoBot Loves You!

InfoBot dropped by to let us know that while everyone waits for the game to hit Apple Arcade on Friday, June 18th, the gift shop in the lobby of Frenzic Industries is open and accepting pre-orders for Frenzic apparel. And by gift shop we mean the fine folks over at Cotton Bureau. We’ve teamed up with them once again to bring you high-quality, screen printed shirts in three fun designs. The T-shirts are available in sizes for men, women, and kids, and can be ordered starting today through June 24th, with delivery in mid-July.

Frenzic enamel pins with DoBot, pie pieces, Frenzic Industries logo, and Iconfactory logo.

In addition to T-shirts, we’re also offering a cool set of Frenzic: Overtime enamel pins. Each pin measures 1” in diameter and is inspired by the Game Center achievements you earn as you work your way up the Frenzic corporate ladder. The set is rounded out with a sleek new Iconfactory logo. Supplies of these pins are extremely limited and they’ll be gone quicker than a malfunctioning DoBot. If you want a set, head over to Cotton Bureau and order yours today!

Finally, if you’re a Patreon backer who subscribes at the $10 level, make sure to use your discount code when ordering Frenzic shirts and pins at checkout for some special savings. Iconfactory patrons also get exclusive wallpapers, avatars, and other digital goodies, including early access to new software releases. If you’re not a subscriber to our Patreon, now would be the perfect time to sign up.

And if you haven’t already, head over to Apple Arcade and smash that GET button to be one of the first to play our all-new puzzler when it’s available for download on the 18th. We think you’ll really going to love Frenzic: Overtime!

Twitterrific – What’s On The Menu?

May 17, 2021

By Sean Heber

Today’s update of Twitterrific for iOS modernizes menus, tweaks navigation structure, and improves some long-standing design limitations. All of the changes in this release are free and geared to make Twitterrific even easier to use.

Main navigation has moved from the top to the bottom on both the iPhone and iPad screens. There are many benefits to this move away from the title bar: you now have four fully customizable slots for your favorite items (previously there were only two). Searches can be used in any slot, giving direct access to tweet and people search or to quickly view trending topics. Customers have been asking for this ability for years and we’re happy to finally offer this improvement.

Twitterrific's new menus.
Twitterrific’s new menus make taking action quick and easy!

As a result of the navigation change, the title bar at the top of the screen gets some new capabilities: it now sports a menu that adapts to the timeline you’re viewing. Tap this menu to instantly jump to the last unread tweet, save a search, share a discussion, filter tweets, and more.

The new menu structure lets you search timelines at any time while reading. Previously you had to sacrifice your reading position before searching.

We’ve adopted modern pull-down menus that activate with a long-press. This includes on the body of a tweet, links, media thumbnails, and more.

When VoiceOver is enabled, users can access the new pull-down menus using the triple-tap gesture; and when active the tweet pull-down menus include “More Actions” with additional functions such as replying, quoting, liking from another account, viewing any thread participants, and opening a tweet’s attached location. Previously these actions were more difficult to access or missing entirely when using VoiceOver.

We’ve also improved the layout of the search view and trending topics, added a new haptic vibration when refreshing, and added a handy counter to thread views so you know just how many tweets are above your reading position.

If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also updated the macOS version with new app icons, media viewer improvements, and bug fixes for fonts, themes, and more.

Be sure to check out Twitterrific’s release notes for the entire list of what’s new then head to the App Store and download Twitterrific 6.3 for iOS. The app is free to download so enjoy and thanks for your support!

Frenzic: Overtime – Coming Soon to Apple Arcade

April 2, 2021

By Ged Maheux

Frenzic: Overtime hero image of DoBot standing outside Frenzic Industries holding a powercore

Today we’re pleased to announce that Frenzic: Overtime is coming soon to Apple Arcade. This new game combines fast-paced and engaging play with stunning visuals and sound. It’s an arcade style puzzler that players can easily pick up and enjoy for a few minutes or even hours. We’re thrilled Apple is giving us this opportunity and can’t wait for you to play it!

“Life on the factory floor at Frenzic Industries can be a bit chaotic as players assemble powercores for the new ZapBots. As players meet their shift goals in a timely manner, they’ll be promoted to more rewarding positions on the assembly line. Players will face over 45 levels, multiple gameplay modes, and hundreds of mini-goals as they uncover the secrets of Frenzic Industries, and ultimately, save the world.”

All of us here at the Iconfactory have dreamt of creating a sequel to the original Frenzic, which first debuted on the App Store thirteen years ago. Thanks to Apple Arcade, that dream is about to become a reality. We’ve taken the original game and propelled it not just to the next level, but far beyond. We can’t wait to tell you more about what went into its creation.

So hang tight while the assembly line powers up! There are powercores to build, secrets to unveil, and much, much more in the days ahead. Stay tuned!

Family Sharing Is A Go!

December 9, 2020

By Ged Maheux

Ever since Apple announced last June that family sharing would be extended to include subscriptions and in-app purchases, we’ve been anxiously awaiting its availability. Today, we’re pleased to announce that family sharing of subscriptions and in-app purchases has been enabled in Triode, Twitterrific and Linea Sketch.

This means that if you subscribe to any the premium features in these apps, or have bought an individual in-app purchase in any of them, those subscriptions and purchases are now also available to anyone you’ve added to your family sharing plan.

This great feature helps you save some money by letting everyone in the family take advantage of all that our apps have to offer at no extra charge. Enjoy!

Linea Sketch + Inktober = BFF

September 25, 2020

By Ged Maheux

Inktober 2020 Templates

October is our favorite month of the year. A time when the air starts to chill, we bust out our comfy sweatshirts and turn our eyes towards our favorite holiday, Halloween. It also marks the month-long celebration of Inktober which encourages artists, both amateur and professionals alike, to pick up pen and pencil and express themselves each and every day during the month with a drawing.

2020 prompt list

Last year we created a set of handy templates for Linea Sketch that outlined the prompts for each of the 31 days in Inktober and we’ve done it again for Inktober 2020. These Inktober 2020 templates are broken out by pages and numbered to contain the prompt for that particular day’s drawing. The templates are great for those who like to have a uniform set of drawings for the entire month or who want to stay tight and focused on their daily creations.

Linea’s Inktober 2020 templates are completely free, easy to set up, and should quickly get you on your way to joining in on the inking fun. Last year we created a short video tutorial on how to get the templates into Linea Sketch for the iPad that will help guide you through the process this year as well. Be sure to check it out.

Lastly, don’t forget to tag your posts with #LineaSketch – we’ll be sharing our favorite drawings over on Instagram. Get your Apple Pencils ready. October will be here before you know it!