Browsing Tag

big fish games


The latest way my day job is eating my brain

Willow Swift

Willow Swift

I’m a big fan of several releases by Big Fish, my day job employers, as y’all know. The last several months, my big favorites have been Fairway Solitaire Blast and Gummy Drop–but both of these games have to move over now, because Dungeon Boss has just rampaged its way into my affections.

It’s another free to play game, available currently only on iOS and Android, and what I’m digging about it is how it invokes my fondness for nethack and old-school D&D–by taking a dungeon adventure and distilling it down into a stream of never-ending boss fights. You get a cadre of heroes to play with, and your goal is basically to cut a swath through increasingly more difficult dungeons. You get 2-4 starter rooms in the dungeon, and then you get the boss monster(s).

The mechanics of the game are super-easy. Combat is turn-based and conducted just by tapping on your target monsters. There are also a host of side things you can do in addition to the main combat–there are specific quests you can fulfill, and you can also go player vs. player by building and defending your own dungeon, and raiding the dungeons of other players.

Design-wise, I find all the characters rather ridiculously adorable. I particularly like how, when you launch a level, your characters (two, three, or four on the various dungeons I’ve played so far) go boinging into place and sometimes do somersaults. It further amuses me that some of the characters who wear robes do not have any visible feet, so they look like they’re levitating instead of walking. And I’ve unlocked enough characters in the game now that I can have my pick of warriors, spell casters, rogues/archers, or fighting beasts. There are also several female characters. WOO!

My favorite characters so far: Willow Swift, Lady Nimriel (elven archers represent!), Abigail the Brutal (I love the juxtaposition of ‘Abigail’ and ‘Brutal’ in her name, and her special fighting attacks are awesome), and Black Diamond (who has a rather distinct Black-Widow-ish vibe about her).

I’ve just blown a good chunk of this past weekend playing this thing, and may have been overheard bellowing “WHO ELSE WANTS SOME?” after a particularly tasty fight with a big pack of boss monsters. ;D

So yeah, if your idea of fun includes whacking the daylights out of dungeon monsters and stealing their stuff (because as the game points out, that’s what HEROES DO lol), give the game a look. And if you jump in, feel free to shoot ‘annathepiper’ a Friend request!

(Disclaimer: I AM an employee of Big Fish, but this post is entirely my own devising and does not represent any official position of my employers. Just so we’re clear on that, mmkay?)


How to gift Big Fish Games

Some of you know already that I work for Big Fish Games for my day job, and because of this, I thought I’d take a moment to provide some helpful data on how to give our games as gifts if you want to give casual games of the sort we sell to your loved ones!

What we sell

First of all, if you don’t know already, what we sell are things in the general category of “casual games”, ranging from Hidden Object-type adventures (some of which can be quite complicated and dark) to Match 3 type games (think Bejeweled, Gummy Drop, or one of my personal Big Fish favorites, Unwell Mel) to card-type games (think Fairway Solitaire and Fairway Solitaire Blast), and many more.

What platforms our games can be played on

We sell games for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Gifting PC and Mac games

We have a page for buying gift credits for standard editions of our download games right over here. (Standard Edition as opposed to Collector’s Edition–the Collector’s Editions of games have extra content available, and they cost more.)

Note that a lot of our recent releases are Free to Play style games, meaning anybody can download and play them, but they have in-app purchases. Gift credits should basically be used on non-Free-to-Play type games.

Gifting iOS games

We sell our iOS games through iTunes, of course. So there are a few different ways you can go about giving out our iOS games as gifts.

One: we have a bunch of app bundles available for our iOS games and you can see them on our site here. And we’ve got a Help page up about app bundles here.

From what I’ve seen googling around, you can buy an app bundle via your computer in iTunes and then you can download the individual apps onto your iOS device, even if you’re not running iOS 8 yet. So if you want to give an app bundle to somebody, and they don’t have iOS 8 on their phone or iPad yet, have them redeem the gift code on their computer. See this post for a longer explanation.

Two: If you want to give an individual game as a gift, you can do that too via the iTunes app store’s usual functionality. As with our desktop games, a lot of our iOS games are Free to Play. So if you see specific Big Fish Games with a visible price on them, those are ones you can give as gifts. (For example, Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, a long-time favorite of mine.)

I don’t know yet whether iTunes app store credit can be applied to in-app purchases on our iOS Free-to-Play games. I’ll update this post when I find out.

Gifting Android games

The vast majority of our Android games are available via either the Amazon app store or the Google Play store.

On Amazon, I don’t see an immediate way to give specific games as gifts–but I do see that you can give Amazon coins as gifts to people, and they can then spend them on apps. Alternately, you can always also buy Amazon gift cards for folks and they can spend those on apps as well.

On Google Play, it’s a similar situation–I don’t see a specific way to give an individual game as a gift. And checking the Help on Google Play’s store, I see that you can only buy physical gift cards for people if you want to give them credit to the store. You can’t buy store credit online for someone else’s account, just your own.

I don’t know yet whether Amazon and Google Play store credit can be applied to in-app purchases on our Android Free-to-Play games. I’ll update this post when I find out.

What games should you buy?

So enough with the details–what games do I recommend?

First, here is an earlier post I did on the topic of my favorite games, including several from Big Fish.

(Note: since I wrote that post I have in fact started playing “Escape from Ravenhearst”, but be advised that that game is particularly dark compared to a lot of our usual fare. It’s one of the few games we’ve published with an actual content warning. It’s not kidding. So if that’s a concern, you might skip that one and go to the next one in the series.)

Some more recent releases that aren’t mentioned in that post: I’m VERY fond of Fairway Solitaire Blast, which is a Free to Play game, but which strikes a decent balance between playability (you don’t really need to buy extra perks to solve levels) and reasonably priced extra perks (you can drop 99 cents on a new pack of lives if you don’t want to wait for your lives to recharge).

And in terms of full-download, premium-type games, I like the “Awakening” series as well, which starts with “Awakening: The Dreamless Castle”. “Empress of the Deep” is pretty cool, too, and it’s got sequels as well.

Any questions?

Any questions? Recommendations to others about your favorite casual games? Tips on how to give games as gifts? Drop a comment and let me know!


Big Fish has game bundles now for iOS 8!

We just deployed this to sync up with iOS 8 coming out, and since I did the testing on the pages for it, I shall take this opportunity to point at this and go HEY LOOK A SHINY THING!

Namely, if you’re an iOS 8 user, you can now install some of our games in app bundles. Buying them in a bundle means you get all of them more cheaply than if you bought the individual games. But if you buy the bundle, the individual games will then deploy to your Apple account, and show up as individual games on your iOS device.

We advertise the bundles on our site even though you do have to click over to the iOS app store to actually get them. We have a total of nine bundles available–two each for English, French, and German, and one for Japanese. So if you want to see some examples, here you go:

To the best of my knowledge you DO have to have an iOS 8 device in order to be able to install bundles–I’ve tested this via an iPad running iOS 6, and the app store claimed that the bundles weren’t available to me. So if this is something you’re interested in, be sure you’ve updated your device to iOS 8.


And for all my Canadian friends, a belated Canada Day present!

I was up until stupid-o’clock in the morning between Monday night and Tuesday morning, along with several other teammates, launching a shiny new thing: we opened up our streaming games service, Big Fish Instant Games, for Canadian users!

So now, if you’re a PC user or an owner of an Android device in either the States or Canada, for a small monthly fee you can have access to any game in our streaming catalogue. You can save your progress and pick it up again across devices and computers, even! (It IS PC and Android only right now, folks, my apologies on that–as a Mac user and owner of iOS devices, I want to see us streaming games onto those platforms too! But we’re working on that part.)

Anyway, Canadians, go clickie and have a look! You don’t have to fork over any money just to try out the system. You can even play games for a short time without making an account, and if you like what you see, then you can make a trial account and have full access to all the games for a week. And look at it this way–if you subscribe, you can consider it a small loan to me, given the high likelihood I’ll be channeling that money right back into fine Canadian traditional music, Montreal-style bagels, and Growers cider. ;D Everybody wins!


By request: my favorite games!

I got asked this question on Twitter, by way of being cc’d on a general question out to 50+ women asking what games they liked and what platforms they’re played on. I’m not actually 50 yet, but since I’m within reasonable distance, I promised my Twitter friend I’d do me a post about what games I play and how!

First and foremost, as long-time online pals of mine will know, I’ve been a lifelong player of Nethack, an ASCII-based dungeon adventure game that goes back into the dawn of Internet time. I started playing that thing on my very first computer back in college in 1987. I’m STILL periodically playing it on my Mac. There are ports to iOS but I haven’t tried those yet.

Aside from Nethack, my gaming interests fall into the general bucket of “casual games”, i.e., the sorts of games you can put onto your PC or Mac or mobile device, play at your own pace, and not have to worry too strenuously about game mechanics. Big recent famous examples of these are Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies, both of which are indeed my bane and my delight. I love PvZ so much, in fact, that I’ve played the damn thing five or six times through on different platforms. (And it doesn’t help either that Popcap keeps adding new achievements!)

And, as many of you also know, I actually work for a casual games company in my day job, i.e., Big Fish Games. Which has upped my casual gaming habit considerably, I’m here to tell you!

Big Fish sells hundreds and hundreds of games, most of which are developed by other vendors. But we develop a few notable lines of games in-house too. I’m a HUGE fan of our Mystery Case Files series, a long-running series of games in the “Hidden Object” genre of casual gaming. (Hidden Object games being the sort where you have an adventure to play through, and many of the screens in the adventure involve a scene of jumbled objects. You have to find a specific list of objects in order to solve the scene, and often, you then have to use one or more of the objects you find to complete necessary game actions.) The earlier MCFs are less complex; the later ones have gotten cleverer not only in terms of plot, but also in terms of variety of puzzles to solve and necessary interactions with in-game characters. The last couple of MCFs have even featured live footage of character actors.

I’ve played the MCFs up through 13th Skull; I still need to play Escape From Ravenhearst (warning on this one, it’s significantly darker in tone than the rest of the series, as well as in comparison to the vast majority of games we sell, so be aware of that) and the newest one, Shadow Lake. Of the ones I’ve played, my favorites are Return to Ravenhearst and Dire Grove. Return to Ravenhearst was the very first MCF I played, and I was impressed not only by the story (I thought at the time, “gosh, I’d love to read a novel version of this”), but also by the soundtrack, which was recorded by an orchestra in Berlin. You can in fact buy the soundtrack on if you want it! Dire Grove, meanwhile, had an excellent storyline and I’ve been having particular fun trying to play a French build of it, to improve my French vocabulary.

Another Hidden Object series we do is the Hidden Expedition series. These are more adventure-based than the MCFs, with less emphasis on paranormal/supernatural stuff. Like the MCFs, though, they’ve gotten more complex with the more recent installments. Of these, my favorite hands down is Hidden Expedition: Amazon, which, again, I’ve played on multiple platforms. Devil’s Triangle is fun, but be aware that it has a cliffhanger. Fortunately, its immediate sequel–Uncharted Islands–is also available.

One non-Hidden Object game we did in-house that I adore is Unwell Mel. This one’s a “Match 3” game–and if you’ve ever played Bejeweled, you know how a Match 3 game works. What I like about Unwell Mel is the schtick that the character Mel has every disease in the book, and you’re the doctor trying to cure him. So all the levels you need to solve are filled with various little germs and/or food that Mel has eaten, and it’s really all rather charming and adorable.

And I can also highly, highly recommend our Mahjongg Towers game for iPad owners. Great work on that one, in playability and design and music. It works very well with the iPad’s multi-touch gestures as well.

I don’t often play games we sell on behalf of other vendors, but I have sampled several. Of the ones I’ve checked out, so far my favorites are the Dana Knightstone series (in which you’re playing a novelist, Dana Knightstone, solving mysteries; the games are arranged in a novel-like structure, and that’s fun) and the Empress of the Deep ones. Both are Hidden Object adventures.

I’ve played casual games on XP, Win 7, Mac OS, and iOS, and so far my favorite experience is actually on my iPad. The touchscreen is an excellent way to play a Hidden Object game, and the iPad’s got a big enough screen that a Hidden Object scene isn’t cramped–which makes objects easier to find. Especially when you can zoom the screen in and out with the appropriate finger gestures.

What about the rest of you out there? If you’re a woman in my age group or older, I’d be particularly interested in what games you like to play to relay to my friend–whether you’re a console gamer or a casual gamer, both, or something else entirely! What are your preferred gaming platforms?


The free, DRM-free, and Kickstarter-provided books are awesome roundup!

Picked up from Angry Robot Books today from their 50 percent off DRM-free sale:

  • Roil, by Trent Jamieson. Fantasy/steampunk.
  • Morlock Night and Infernal Devices, by K.W. Jeter. Steampunk.
  • Hard Spell, by Justin Gustainis. Urban fantasy/detective noir.
  • Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig. Horror/urban fantasy.
  • Empire State, by Adam Christopher. Urban fantasy/noir.
  • Camera Obscura and The Great Game, by Lavie Tidhar. Steampunk.
  • Sixty-One Nails, by Mike Shevdon. Urban fantasy.
  • Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes. Urban fantasy.

And, picked up for free at work because our licensing department had a bunch of free copies:

  • Unearthed, Submerged, and Vanished, all by Jordan Gray. These are the rest of the Mystery Case Files books put out by Harlequin–i.e., the books very loosely based upon our Mystery Case Files games at work! Kind of obliged to read these, I think. 😉

And, picked up because Kickstarters are awesome and I love this whole idea of throwing money directly at people to make art go (not that I have a vested interest in that or anything):

  • No Dominion, by C.E. Murphy. Urban fantasy, a companion tale to the Walker Papers, from the point of view of cab driver Gary. Cannot wait to read this now that I’ve finished Raven Calls!

This’ll put me at 65 for the year!