Today we’re pleased to announce a major update to Linea Sketch, our digital sketchbook for iPad and Apple Pencil. Version 4 brings a host of long-requested features that creators are sure to love: editable text annotations, a new watercolor brush, lockable layers, and much more.
The Text’s The Thing
Linea Sketch 4 brings the ability to add text and labels to your sketches. Tap the new “Aa” icon to enter Annotation mode, then tap anywhere on your drawing to create an annotation. Scribble with an Apple Pencil to edit directly or tap with your finger to invoke the keyboard and type your own text.
Choose from a wide variety of fonts including Linea Sans, a new custom typeface designed especially for use in sketches. You can easily adjust text formatting, alignment, and colors. Use preset sizes for a uniform appearance, or scale text dynamically with a simple tap and drag. Text can also be merged into a layer, letting you transform and stylize it as needed. The possibilities are endless.
Water Water Everywhere
With Linea’s new watercolor brush, you can now paint and fill your creations organically. Create rustic and artistic effects by painting with pigment in three different modes:
Simple for textured, painterly strokes.
Wet for watery strokes with pooled pigment at the edges.
Cloud for textured splats that are great for skies, landscapes, or backgrounds.
Linea’s watercolor brush is unique and allows you to apply color in many new ways. We encourage you to experiment with the brush’s various modes to find the one that works best for your creations.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Version 4 also includes a host of important features and improvements designed to reduce friction and save time when drawing in Linea Sketch. Chief among these improvements is the ability to lock layers: when you open the options for any layer, you’ll see a lock icon that prevents changes. Locked layers speed up your work flow, since you don’t need to worry about stray marks, merging, or accidentally modifying part of a layer.
We’ve also added the ability to adjust corner radii on rectangular ZipShapes. After you draw a rough shape and hold at the end, you’ll see four new green drag handles. Drag a handle and all four corners will adjust in unison, or tap & hold on a handle to adjust the corners individually.
There are many more improvements, including the ability to organize custom color chips, larger sizes for drawing tools, and snapping to size or aspect ratio when transforming. The version history has full details.
Introducing Linea Premium
Linea Sketch continues to be a FREE download with features that can be used without payment. Beginning today, new features like Annotations and the Watercolor Brush require a Linea Premium subscription. The good news is that you can sign up for a FREE two week trial and take these new tools for a spin.
If you’d prefer get these features without a subscription, Linea Premium is also available as a one-time purchase that unlocks the new features, as well as ones in the future, without recurring payments.
If you haven’t tried Linea Sketch yet, today’s update is the perfect opportunity to see why so many people call Linea their favorite sketchpad. Visit our YouTube channel to learn all about the app, see helpful tutorials, and get tips and tricks. The version history page has a complete rundown on what’s new, and a download of Linea Sketch is just a tap away. You’ll be creating in no time!
The bots are back! Today we’re announcing the grand opening of Frenzic: Overtime’s Test Lab. Compete against friends and other players worldwide in WhizBot’s exciting daily challenges. Devise unique strategies to earn Squarks and complete bonuses as you fight to earn your place as top bot on the leaderboard.
Report to the Test Lab every day for new levels, bonuses, and endless challenges that build on the skills you’ve already acquired playing Frenzic on Apple Arcade. There are a bunch of fun Game Center achievements to earn, rewards for maintaining daily streaks, and even special holiday events you won’t want to miss.
We’ve also joined forces with the amazing team at Backbone, makers of our favorite handheld controller for iPhone, to bring you something special – a super-cool, Backbone-themed skin for DoBot. Simply plug your iPhone into Backbone while playing Frenzic: Overtime and DoBot’s slick new appearance is revealed. Trust us when we say you’ll be the envy of every other bot on the assembly line.
Today’s Frenzic: Overtime update also contains many visual and gameplay enhancements, bug fixes, and improved localization. We’re also paving the way for new Frenzic goodness in the months ahead: follow Frenzic on Twitter to be the first to know! We can’t wait to see how you stack up in the Test Lab: these challenges won’t beat themselves!
Started by illustrator and animator Jake Parker in 2014, Inktober encourages artists, amateurs and professionals alike, to express themselves every day during the month of October. Each day people craft a sketch or drawing based on the day’s creative prompt in their favorite artistic mediums, be they analog or digital.
Back in 2019 and again in 2020, we created a set of handy Inktober templates for our iPad drawing app, Linea Sketch that outlines the prompts for each of the 31 days in Inktober. The prompt list for 2021 is officially out and we’ve updated these free templates to help Linea users stay organized as they sketch, doodle and draw their way through to the end of the month.
These Inktober 2021 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 2021 templates are completely free, easy to set up, and offer a nice way to join in on the inking fun. Speaking of easy, this year we’ve improved the process of importing the templates into Linea Sketch on the iPad. Using the magic of iCloud, users will be able to get up and running with their templates in just a few seconds. If you need a fallback, the manual method of importing each day’s templates still works like a charm.
Lastly, don’t forget to tag your Inktober Twitter and Instagram posts with #LineaSketch – we’ll be re-tweeting and sharing our favorite drawings on Twitter and Instagram. Download those templates and charge those Apple Pencils, October will be here before you know it!
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:
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.
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.
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 firsthitgames 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.
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.
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!
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.
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 :-)
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!