Welcome to the official blog of My Owl Software, creator of the excellent Apple Jack games!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Just a quick post to say that the 10 or so testers that kindly gave up their time to put Apple Jack through it's IBM compatible paces have done an excellent job, and left me with a long list of things to do before I can finally release it.

The first attempt was a bit of a non-starter, since it failed to install properly on all but one computer.

The second version ran properly for the most part but generated the aforementioned list of shame, which I shall work through over the coming weeks.

No more testing is needed now. Thanks to everyone who helped out or offered help once I already had enough helpers; names will be added to the credits menu before release and I'll send the finished games to you once I know better where they are going to end up.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Testers needed!


The PC versions of both Apple Jack games are now basically done, and they both run well on MY computer.

But PCs are a varied bunch, and I'd like to see how they work (in fact, if they work at all) on as many different computers as possible. Would you like to help test the two games? Simply seeing if they install and run would be a great help, regardless of whether you actually play them or not.

Also the keyboard and mouse controls need a good test, and I'd like to see how smooth the games are on lower spec systems.

Testers will get the full versions of both games when they are released, and also I'll put their name in the  credits section (buried right on the last page, but still).

If you're interested, please email me at the my_owl email address on the top right, and I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Since I last, er, blogged, I've been s-l-o-w-l-y working on converting the two Apple Jack games to PC. Not a difficult task, you might think, given that they were developed on a PC in the first place, but you reckon without three important factors:

1) I was a bit burned out after the year+ working on AJ2 and haven't been motivated to do much programming.

2) While the games runs perfectly with a controller on PC, keyboard & mouse controls are a different story and 'aim mode' has been a pain to implement. The best I could come up with is a system which uses the keyboard to move and the mouse to jump, pick-up and throw. By holding the throw button the aim arrow appears which you can then move around with the mouse. Takes a bit of getting used to but it works.

3) Reprogramming all the menus has been a proper pain in the arse. It's almost as if I didn't plan ahead when I did them initially and made things ten times harder for myself!

That said, most of the work has been done now, and after a bit more polishing up they'll be ready for testing.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Stuck? Youtube has you covered!

I think we can all agree now that Apple Jack 2 is the best game ever made. A Gameranking of 83.33% is proof enough of that.

However, it HAS received criticism from some quarters for its high degree of difficulty, and while I'd never dream of making it any easier (man up, pussies), a chap called hwogrillo on youtube has helpfully decided to play through the whole game level by level, which may help you out a bit if you're stuck.

Here's his video showing him completing level 30 : Stacking, and one of the more problematic puzzles in the game:

Very useful!

If you need help on another level or just want to watch the ending credits (he uploaded them too) his channel can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/hwogrillo?feature=watch

I assume it's a him.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Review Roundup Vol.2

Apple Jack 2 has had several more reviews since that post a couple of weeks ago, and here they are:

First up, the pleasingly named CHUD.COM do an indie round up every week and their reviewer Robert Ottone was very fond of the game, calling it 'an absolute masterpiece' and placing it alongside Botanicula as one of his favourite indie games of the year. Read it here.

Wesley Copeland at VideoGamesInteractive starts his review with ' Apple Jack 2 is: Zany, funny, beautiful, weird, pulse-racing and most importantly fun!, and continues to rave about the game throughout the rest of the review. And I didn't have to pay him a penny! Read it here

Long term Apple Jack supporters Armless Octopus weren't quite do effusive in their praise, raising concerns about the game's difficulty and hit detection. That said, they still call AJ2 one of the best games in it's genre and award it four stars, which will do me just fine. Read it here.

TheXBLIG had similar concerns about the game's difficulty, although their reviewer Tim Hurley felt that the rewind feature helped in softening it slightly. He then goes on to call the soundtrack 'Coldplay-esque', which I'm not so sure about. Does it sound like Coldplay? I don't immediately want to punch someone when I'm listening to it, so on balance probably not. Read it here.

Lastly, Keza MacDonald gave the game a full, front page review at IGN, calling it 'One of the loveliest things on the Xbox' and awarding it 8/10. Apparently my personality shines through 'in every piece of artwork or puzzle setpiece' so it's almost as if she awarded ME 8/10. I'll take that, frankly! Read it here.

EDIT: Since I posted these reviews, both Eurogamer and Edge have reviewed the game:

Eurogamer loved it, giving it 9/10 and comparing the variety and invention of the levels to Bangai-O, which pleased me greatly (I love Bangai-O). Read it here.

I hope the Edge review ends up in the magazine like the first one, but I can hardly turn my nose up at an online review that calls it 'every bit as inventive and challenging as the original'. 8/10! Read it here

Good eh! A ton of positive reviews overall, including three from major gaming sites. Special thanks to intro artist and professional copywriter Neil W for preparing the press releases.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Patch notes


Are you enjoying / have you enjoyed Apple Jack 2? It seems to have gone down well, all in all, but one or two issues have cropped up for people playing the game. To that end I've released a patch which makes it more stable and fair to play:

- Fixed crash bug that sometimes occurred when sliding down a hole.
- Adjusted level 2 to work better for people with manky controllers.
- Also adjusted levels 8, 24, 50 & 51 for various reasons..
- Made the saw blade hit-circle more forgiving.
- Stopped the slight stuttering just before a new song plays.
- Added coin, combo and death stats to the pause menu.
- Made spikes speed up during rewind (purely cosmetic).
- Fixed bug that zoomed in to intro art on second viewing.

Nothing earth shattering, but the crash bug especially was annoying. You'll be prompted to download the patch when you next play the game and all your old save data will still work fine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Apple Jack 2 soundtrack available now!

As excellent and life-affirming as Apple Jack 2 is, you can't play it all the time.

Sometimes you need to go to the toilet.

Sometimes you need to go to work.

Sometimes you have to heave your body upstairs to have laboured, joyless sex with your boyfriend / girlfriend / wife / husband.

None of these things will ever be as good as playing Apple Jack 2, clearly. But with the new Apple Jack 2 soundtrack album, courtesy of This Eden, you can enjoy the acclaimed music of the game at any time, day or night!

What's more, you only have to pay what you think it's worth! Get it here:


They also have a self-titled proper album available, so buy that too while you're at it.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Apple Jack 2 responses


I've had lots of positive (and one negative) reaction to the game so far, so I thought I'd use this post drop a few links on yo' asses.

First, Indiegames.com found the intro very funny and used words such as 'interesting' and 'creative' to describe the game itself. It should probably be pointed out that they only played the demo though, the cheap sods. Read it here

Adam Pettifer writes for a group of websites under the Your Local Guardian banner, and liked it a great deal, saying "I don’t remember enjoying any 2D platformer quite this much, not Sonic 1 or 2, not Super Mario World on the SNES, nothing.". Slightly over the top possibly, but it's great to read something like that! Read it here

Indie Gamer Chick wasn't a fan of Apple Jack 1, so I wasn't expecting a great deal of gushing praise from her this time around. And so it proved to be. She preferred it to the first game, but ultimately she doesn't much like difficult platform games, and didn't think the adddition of a rewind mechanic helped enough to ease the pain. Read it here

Critical Hit start their review with a disclaimer stating that one of their staff, Kate Willaert, did the cover art for the game (which is true - see a few posts back). This doesn't take the gloss off of a very positive review though, which praises the graphics, the music and the level design, and awards a score of 20/20 Read it here

Will Porter at Hookshotinc said that the game 'stapled a smile onto the front-side of my fizzog', which is as good a place as any for it, I suppose. 'Highly, highly recommended', he goes on to say, and uses the term 'pluck-n-chuck' to describe the gameplay, which is too good not to steal and claim as my own. Read it here

I think there was another one but I can't find it at the moment.

There should be some more reviews coming soon if my inbox is to be believed, but in the meantime you could always take a look at the official Apple Jack 2 threads at Neogaf and Rllmuk. They were both started by the excellent Matt, who goes by the name of toythatkills.

I'll be getting a patch ready for the game soon, and many of the bugs and issues mentioned in the above threads will be addressed. A couple of crash bugs in particular are high on my list.

Finally, Gamers Dissent did this playthrough of the first few levels, complete with commentary, which I enjoyed greatly:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Apple Jack 2 is out!

Get it here: http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-GB/Product/Apple-Jack-2/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258550b4d

..And once you've given it a go, don't forget to give it an honest rating on the dashboard!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Apple Jack 2 released June 14th!

Nine months late but entirely on budget (£0.00), Apple Jack 2 will be released next thursday, the 14th of June...

...For a paltry 80 MICROSOFT POINTS!

That's cheaper than a big bag of crisps, even before you factor in the expense of driving to the shop to pick them up. My Owl Software's commitment to the environment means that Apple Jack 2 will be delivered digitally, direct to your Xbox, absolutely free of charge!

Anyway, does this bag of crisps contain OVER 60 LEVELS of deep-fried platform-puzzle mayhem, with a seasoning of giant monsters, huge fruit-multiplying combos and head scrambling puzzles?

No. It just contains some crisps.

To conclude: you'd have to be an idiot NOT to buy Apple Jack 2 next thursday, from the Xbox Indie games channel!


PS. If I promised you a download code for the game, I'll email them off once I get them, probably on thursday.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

We apologise for the delay...

Thanks to a change I made right before submitting the Apple Jack 2, a bug was found in the game and I had to pull it from peer review early. Since the rules state that you have to wait a week before resubmitting a game, it'll be saturday before I can put it back up. It'll then take several days or longer to (hopefully) pass.


Oh well, at least I've used this extra time to make a few improvements to the game, namely:

-The daytime sky is now a slightly nicer blue.
-The shadow on Jack's head moves a bit when he runs.
-Songs 2 and 3 are swapped around.
-A barely noticable graphical glitch when Jack runs off of a moving block has been fixed.

Exciting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

In other news, the Dream Build Play contest will soon be ready for entrants to upload their games. This is the first one that's come around at the right time for me to take part, and I'm looking forward to seeing how well AJ2 does. Hopefully the time I've spent polishing it will count in its favour.

Monday, 23 April 2012


I FINALLY managed to get my arse in gear and make a trailer for the game:

Music: 'una spiaggia a mezzogiorno' by Ennio Morricone, from the film 'Vergogna schifosi' (me neither).

It's in the final stages of testing now so it should be out in a couple of weeks max.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Imagine my suprise, when, completely unsolicited and out of the blue, Kate from www.katewillaert.com sent me this brilliant Apple Jack 2 box cover:

Apparently Kate read my comment in the last post about trying to do a cover loosly based on the Mario 2 box art, and with her advanced drawing skills did it herself, properly.

Now, clearly it's a lot better than the mouldy old cover from my last post and I'd love to use it. What concerns me is the legal / moral issue of using something SO similar to the original:

...especially when the game already 'borrows' the pick-up-and-throw game mechanic from SMB2. Even if there isn't a legal problem in using it, I don't want the game to be seen as some sort of Mario tribute, since it's very much its own thing. That said, there's no doubt many more people would click on the game if it had Kate's box art. Hmm.

Anyone have any opinions on this?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

My first attempt at 'box art' for the game, adapted from one of the intro frames (drawn by Neilw). Honest opinions and improvment advice welcome, since I can't decide whether it's any good or not.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Big List

There's just a bit of bug fixing left now until the game is finished, although the closer you look for problems in a game the more you see, so it might take a little while still.

Happily, the game will certainly be finished by May 15, the submission date for this year's Dream Build Play contest, so AJ2 will be a part of that. My first one!

Lastly, I've finished naming all the levels bar a couple. For what it's worth, here they are (subject to change and with potential small spoilers):

Apple Jack's Great Escape
Dead Aim
The High Walled Garden
Fatal Frame
The Polychromatic Threat
Plug the Gap
The Pain Engine
The Bacon Exchange
Fern Hill
The Flattening
The Panda Factory
The Shadow-kin
There and Back Again
Escort Mission
The Ring of Stone
The Great British Summer
Ammo Shortage
Low Flying Washing Machines
The Giant Panda
The Cyber Tree
Four Crannies
Fruit Fall
The Tiny Little Shed
Ex Marks the Spot
A Church of Trees
The Watchful Face
The Plummeting Swineherd
Test Chamber One
Jumpy Pumpy
Another Escort Mission
Spiral Death Chase
Shifting the Monolith
The Bunkers
The Statue
Peanut Dispenser
Dawn of the Naked Eye
Beside the Seaside
Beach Huts
Cloud Splitter
The Floating Gods
Time to get Pushy
A Cage of Sand
The Enormous Space
Apple Crumble
The Grindery
Upstairs, Downstairs
The Magic Coves
Deep End
Describing the Parabola
The Bee Box
The Spotted Castle
Zones of Calm
The Coastal Shelf
Vertical Slice
William Tell the Panda
Apple Jack's Great Escape

Monday, 20 February 2012

I think I can see the finishing line...

All features are now in place and the game is finally running on my Xbox. I was pleased with how it looked on a 1080p TV - more detailed and with less jaggy edges than the first game, which I played directly afterwards for comparison. The framerate seems rock solid 60fps too.

Now It's just a case of removing a load of bugs and finishing off any little details. I'll probably play through it a couple of times with a notebook, jotting down any issues or crashes, and them ticking them off.

I'll have to get a trailer ready before long, too.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Short update

The game is now in a state where the title screen, main menu, intro, levels and between-level transitions all flow together properly, although currently if you play it up to the end it runs out of levels and crashes.

I now need to add all the audio stuff that I stripped out at the start of the project, and find new sound effects for the things that weren't in the first game. I also need to find new ambient background atmosphere for the new environments. Shouldn't take too long.

After that I'll buy a new XNA membership and try uploading the game to an actual Xbox for the first time since I started making it over a year ago.

Friday, 13 January 2012

AJ2 logo

Having finished the bulk of the intro sequence, I quickly knocked up this logo:

Looks OK doesn't it? It uses the font I used a lot in both games, Euphoric: (http://www.dafont.com/euphoric.font). I then found an apple skin type texture to fill the letters with, adjusted the colours and voila! Only took half an hour.

Now that's done, I need to connect the title screen, main menu, intro and levels together so that they all flow from one to the other without crashing.