Swing Copters and Sky Force 2014

It's no secret that I was never a fan of Flappy Bird. Never mind that it basically was capitalizing on people's emotions — their frustrations, really — I just never found it to be a particularly good or fun game. And now we have Swing Copters. It's very much the same idea — your copter rises precariously; you tap to change its direction and keep it on course. Or not, because you'll probably crash in the first 2 seconds. (If not sooner.)

It's not fun, but it's free. And I stopped playing it after about four tries.

Meanwhile, I've spent way too much time this past week playing Sky Force 2014. It's one of those top-down airplane(esqe) shooters that very much reminds me of Tiger Heli and Twin Cobra, both of which I spent way too much time playing as a kid. Sky Force is one of those "free to play" games in which you don't pay a thing for the game itself, and it plays just fine, but it's got a few in-app purchases available that very much will speed you on your way, and get read of the interstitial advertising if you so desire.

So far I've probably spent around $10 on this free game. And I'm still enjoying the hell out of it. Haven't regretted spending a single cent.

And this is one of those cases in which a developer has gotten more money out of me through the in-app purchases than if the game was being sold for $3 or $4 or even more. I wouldn't have had a problem spending that much up front. And I might even have been willing to spend more inside the game itself. And you know what? The game is hard. I'm not speeding my way through it. I'm having to go back through stages multiple times at multiple difficulty levels. And not once has it felt tiresome. Not once has it made me want to throw my phone or tablet in anger. (I'm playing on a Nexus 7.)

Point is, there's nothing at all inherently wrong with in-app purchases or "free to play" — so long as everything's transparent, and the game itself is a good one. Sky Force, for me, definitely meets all that, and then some.

Good apps earn my money, not attract my ire.

A few other thoughts on the week that was ...

  • Well, well. A round LG G Watch, eh? Will need to wait for more than teaser renders to make an educated decision.
  • I see folks questioning why a "sequel" so soon. I wouldn't think of it like that. Manufacturers sell more than one phone model at a time — why not watches, too?
  • (And then there's Samsung, which might well bring its fifth wearable — if not sixth or seventh — in the space of a year at IFA next week.)
  • Good on Coin for sending out an apology Saturday night, a day after most would consider a bait-and-switch announcement. But it still should have done the right thing in the first place.
  • That said, I have serious doubts that Coin will ever get off the ground.
  • We're getting some really good entries in our HTC One M8 Phunk Studio Edition contest.
  • I love those sorts of contests. They're more work on our part, but they're so much more enjoyable than the spammy "follow us on whatever social feed to enter" deals.
  • Here's my workflow for the Android Central Facebook page: Go to post. Delete spam. Ban spammer. Rinse. Repeat. Many times a day.
  • There has to be more to life than Facebook.
  • Scratch that. There definitely is more to life than Facebook.
  • Spent last night at the final Saturday home game for our minor-league baseball team. Such great views. And I'm glad I took the phone I did.

OK, that's it for this week. Time to go melt in the sun for a bit. Catch y'all Monday.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Good games trump gimmicks


Amen. I tried Swing Copters just because this particular developer is interesting to follow. Made about 4 attempts as well, then uninstalled. SkyForce on the other hand, has forced me to start playing with a stylus since my fingers are getting raw from playing so much, plus I paid to remove the ads and I have a feeling that won't be the end of it.

The only thing I find interesting is that he walked away from flappy bird and the money...

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Given the fact that he's released this game with all the negative aspects he allegedly disliked about flappy bird intact, plus the fact that flappy bird would still have been generating ad revenue, I'd say the guy recognised the faddish nature of flappy bird and pulled a clever publicity stunt for the exact reason of garnering interest for his future projects.

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Could be for sure but walking away from that money, in hand, for something that 'might' happen is a heck of a gamble. It did generate buzz though so I have to give it to him

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Fuzzylumpkin- Exactly. He's still getting money from Flappy Bird, and rather than fading like all fads do, he gets buzz and more interest for his next game, or when he posts Flappy Bird again. Smart on his part.

The article was written and exists, and so does the author's opinion. Like many things in the universe, your acceptance or rejection of it is irrelevant.

There's nothing wrong with a simple but very difficult game, it doesn't make it a gimmick either, a lot of stuff are labelled gimmicks when in fact it's jus annoyingly popular or over publicized.

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I agree. And I actually enjoy Flappy Bird. I like difficult twitch games. Super Hexagon and Wave Wave eat a disturbing amount of my time.f

I agree, I don't like my mobile games to be over complicated. Although I was never that into Flappy Bird, I can see what others enjoyed in it. I was a big fan of SuperHexagon as well.

I'm so glad you said this mainly because I felt the same way! I almost feel like it's becoming a bad thing to get extremely popular because it's just going to be called a "fad" or a "gimmick".

Gimmick: a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.
synonyms : publicity stunt, contrivance, scheme, stratagem, ploy; informal: shtick

Sounds like an apt description.

I gave Swing Copters a shot but deleted it after a few minutes. It was insanely hard with no end goal to egg me on. I'll pass on that. The advertising annoyed me, too, and I'm not typically one to care about that. Maybe it was the context: hard to play WITH ads instead of just FUN to play with ads.

I appreciate your honesty about the types of contests you run as well. The people who want to win have to do just a bit more than just comment. Would it be possible to reveal to everyone later what generates more long term engagement?

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one on here that doesnt game at all. Sure I have a few time killers but none that I have to play incessantly.

Since this is the most general article of the week, I have a question for all of you.

I am getting ready to make hangouts my default messenger app, but I have a question. Is there an app, or does it have a setting to show the number of texts received with a little badge on the icon?

I don't think it gets a badge, but I am not 100% sure. As far as games go, I have bought plenty of games, and Plague Inc is the only game, I pay for in IAPs. But I have absolutely none of them on Razr M right now, and I question whether it was wise to pay for all those games.

Thanks for the reply. I didn't think it did, and I have been looking for a setting, so I figured I would crowd source an answer.

Plague Inc is one of the ones that I have for longer waits, and hill climber for the short ones. I might have a social kinda game or two but havent played them in so long I forget. (dice with buddies I think is still there)

Plague Inc is by far my favorite mobile game next to Swordigo.

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Good luck, I tried for a month, it did make me appreciate LG's stock messaging app a lot more. The unread count is not gonna be on a stock launcher, but Nova or similar launchers probably do.

I only have one game on the phone, and only play on computer game, mostly to get drunk with my buddies who are not in my town. So worry not.

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No, you're not the only one who doesn't game.

And for Hangouts, if you use Nova or another third party launcher with unread counts, you can turn it on. I use Hangouts, Nova Launcher, and TeslaUnread.

No badge by default but not hard to add either, as others stated (unless you're against using a third party launcher). How come you're switching btw? I started using Hangouts when I got the Nexus 5, wasn't really a conscious choice tho, it was just there.

I'm not terribly picky about what I use for SMS... Hangouts does seem decently zippy tho, it always seemed like HTC's messaging app would bog down with time, same with Moto's whenever I've used a family member's Moto X.

Did you get my forum PM about the EVO LTE btw?

It's not just you. About the only game I play in any regularity is Solitair lol. Every once in a while I download and try a game that is supposed to be cool, but never get into them for any significant time.

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Not ANOTHER flappy bird post!!!

Haha but seriously, I didn't download swing copter it just looked like more of the same and I didn't wanna contribute to its download count.

I fully agree that we need more "real" games, but that's not really the direction any platforms going in.

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Yup, not going to download the copter thing. Temple Run 2 and Real Racing 3 are my go to games, with about 3/4 others getting some love now and again.

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App

There is WAY MORE TO LIFE than Facebook. I've been Facebook free for almost 2 years now. Really haven't missed out on anything from my 563 "friends". People think they have to have it to stay connected. You don't. If you think you aren't using it that much, pay attention and actually time yourself even if you think your just checking it briefly. At the end of the day you will probably be surprised that a good portion of your facebook time is spent looking at and reading things that have absolutely no interest or value to you but they're there any way. I'm not a facebook hater. I just realized that the fallacy that you have to be on it to be connected is very overrated.

Posted via a beautiful Ebony backed Moto X on Verizon or the amazing Nexus 10 using the Android Central App

I'm not much of a mobile gamer (I prefer either my PS3, 360, or One), but I'll throw Sky Force on my G2 and see how it works out for me.

Swing copters and flappy birds and all the rest are just ripoffs of the ancient Copter, which I was playing on an IBM PC under DOS 3.2. Nothing new or interesting there. Smart watches? Eh. If it's not ticking, I won't wear it. As for contests, clickbait like "Follow us on Facebook and win" is pure spam. Your chances of winning are near zero and you annoy everyone else. Social media may not be evil, but that's what it's mostly used for. Putting a contest on social media is sort of like handing an axe to Lizzie Borden.

I normally don't game on my phone but now I'm playing Sky Force and it IS fun!

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I used to play Skyforce on my Nokia N-Gage. It was awsome and I continued to play now on my Nexus 5. I spend hours of playing and I never get bored. Hard to find this kind of games nowadays

I had the original Sky Force on my Palm Treo 650 and had to give this new version a try a few weeks back. You're right, it IS awesome! Especially the graphics, I forgot how powerful smartphones have become. Resisting spending money on it though....

I don't like IAP at all. I firmly believe that IAP can not be correctly implemented without hosing the balance of a game. Some of them are less destructive to game play than others, but ultimately they do skew the game play for the worse.

Now a twitch game like "Smash Hit" is a better setup. The game mechanics themselves don't change whether you pay for the ability to restart at checkpoints or not.

Regardless, flappy copter was never even on my radar.

I was able to make 22 points on the first day I tried Flappy Bird. Swing Copters is much harder so I've only made it to 5 points. I'm not hating on the developer though; he has managed to make addictive games that display ads every time the player dies. CHA-CHING, PROFIT! That's a brilliant idea!

As for getting better at Swing Copters, hold your phone with both hands. Tap with your left thumb when you want to turn left and your right thumb when you want to turn right. DO NOT TAP AND HOLD, or the little dude will speed up into his death! Now you just have to practice the balancing act until you get better.

It's not a sequel. That's like saying the Note is a sequel to the Galaxy S. Two completely different product lines. I, For One, bought the G Watch over watch over waiting for the 360, precisely because I didn't want a round watch. (And over the S Watch because its easier to replace the bands if needed or desired, if anyone was wondering). The only thing that would tick me off would be if they released this thing with magnitude better specs this close to the other one.

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Thanks for showing me Sky Force! I love it, though it might not be the best idea to play it now with school starting tomorrow...

Same here. I love Flappy bird because I learned how to play it. I still have it installed. This copter game is so ridiculous.

AC App via Nexus 5

The Facebook page is good for clicking through to the website. I don't even check the comments anymore.

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App

What exactly is transparent about IAP apps? Unless I know UP FRONT EXACTLY how much each purchase is going to cost and what it's giving me, there's nothing transparent about it. At this point, I don't even bother downloading any app with IAPs.

Sky Force is great, but I don't think it's any less gimmicky or appeals less to emotion than Swing Copters, Flappy Bird, or any other game. Every game is basically a carrot on a stick (a gimmick that appeals to emotion). It just so happens that with Dong's games, it's a much longer stick and a smaller carrot. I appreciate the fact that you can't just buy the carrot or wait for it to come to you, as is the case with most mobile games, particularly casual Clash of Clans style titles. It's great to see some counterbalance in unapologetically difficult games. Super Hexagon and Wave Wave are in the same boat.

It's worth noting that the iOS version of Swing Copters has an in-app purchase to get rid of ads, while the Android version doesn't. I can only guess that's because it would be relatively easy to sideload an ad-free version on Android.

sky force is a lot of fun, has nice visuals and runs very well. swing copters on the other hand is a waste of space.

Hey Phil,

A round G Watch would look pretty cool, I'll admit, but I still just don't "get it". You guys touched on it during the AC Podcast this week, but do you think it would be possible to get a roundup of your opinions on the Android Wear watches? Jerry mentioned that with the Active Display on his Moto X it is sort of a moot point to have a watch. I understand that this is a new product category for Google and OEMs to go in to, but in your experiences with the watches is it actually adding anything of value?

Or to put it another way: I want one just cause, well, I want one. But how could I justify spending money on it? It isn't as easy as the tablet.

Out of interest, how is purchasing an Android Wear device any more difficult a purchase to justify than a tablet?

Almost all of the arguments that apply to a smartwatch when compared to a smartphone (I could just pull out my phone, I have to charge it every day, why would I spend the money when I already have a device that does everything it does?) can also be applied to a tablet when compared to a smartphone.

A tablet doesn't do anything that a smartphone doesn't do, it just does certain things (like content consumption) better. A smartwatch doesn't do anything that a smartphone doesn't already do, it just does certain things (like notification management and a convenient access to voice input) better. They're specialised, divergent products, not convergence devices. If you think those experiences are worth paying the amount that they're asking for, pay for the products being offered. If you don't, don't, it's that simple.

As for a watch being a moot point while having a Moto X, maybe it is, but I'd rather just have a better phone and simply pay the $250 to get almost every feature Motorola offered.

A tablet, along with well designed apps and accessories, adds more value (to me, anyway). For my usage I have actually not upgraded my computer because my tablet provides web browsing and word processing to a point that a new computer isn't necessary at this time. Mileage will vary on that, though.

The tablet, as a category, also doesn't need another device to function while the smartwatch absolutely needs a phone to work. So while I understand your distinction between convergence and divergence devices I don't think it really fits here. The tablet is a standalone product if you need it to be - the watch is an accessory. It adds to your experience on the phone, not create a new one separate from it.

As far as the watch being worth the money or not that is the exact question I'm asking: is the cost of a smartwatch worth the experience it provides? A notification management tool is cool, but purely for that feature I don't feel it is worth the price. Your usage may dictate otherwise, of course, and justify it hands down. I'll gladly pay for it if it adds a good experience.

Not having a smartwatch yet or personally owning a Moto X I'm not sure how Jerry's trade offs worked. It sounds like a different twist on the same problem, though: he has a different use case than you and for him the Moto X provides everything a smartphone should and then makes the watch not as useful. But I won't pretend to know his entire reasoning - just taking a guess.

Hadn't tried Sky Force before reading this article. Man, this game is awesome and the graphics are stunningly beautiful, and I just realized it's S-pen compatible! My only gripe is the time waiting period before I can play again or after upgrading my aircraft. It feels like I'm being punished for not spending my money or my coins. I'm not a big gamer so maybe this is par for the course these days, but it still bothers me.

N3 via AC App

Free or not, I don't game at all. I guess I'm old school in a way: when I'm alone with time to kill, I open a book.
Well maybe not so old school. I open the book's file.

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i tried swing copters about ten times and was able to score a high of 1. i could never figure out how to control the helicopter left right movements. i think dong nguyen really dropped the ball on this one by making it essentially unplayable.

at least, with flappy bird, i was able to eventually score about a six and the controls made sense instantly.