The Breakroom

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 Follow us at @Frenzic for news and information, including help with finding those Easter Eggs!