Friday Slide: Obsessions in the Making: Dino Run for iPhone

Occasionally, the freelance gods sit me down at a very specific topic for a significant chunk of time. So far, my May has been all about web-based flash games.

There are worse places to be, of course. It’s fascinating to reflect on how accessible games have become since we had to bang around our Nintendo to make it work. Our iPhone and iPod Touch are on-hand to keep us company at the bus stop, and once we’re settled into our cubicles, we can open up our Internet browsers and play hundreds of free games (in between quick sniffs for the boss).

One web-based game that keeps me enthralled as soon as I fire it up is PixelJAM’s Dino Run. In Dino Run, you’re cast as a plucky velociraptor who’s had the misfortune of being born at the tail end of the Cretaceous age. When the Big One falls and kicks up a fast-moving pyroclastic wall, you must, to quote Pink Floyd, run like hell. If you manage to maneuver your way through the prehistoric landscape, dodge smaller meteors, and find your way over larger, slower dinosaurs (“BEEP BEEP”), you might find a small nook that offers survival.

Dino Run drew me in with its frantic action, thumping soundtrack (which gets more foreboding as the game progresses and the world inevitably tears at its seams) and its unique artwork, which combines simple retro sprites with slick animation. And now I give my life unto PixelJAM, as I have received word that Dino Run is coming to the iPhone.

I stumbled on the news via a blurb on Gilbert Guerrero’s Teaching Blog. Mr. Guerrero saw a very early demonstration of Dino Run for the iPhone at last month’s 360|iDev indie developer conference held in San Jose, California. Needless to say, news about a web-based Flash game receiving a port to the Flash-less iPhone is intriguing on its own. I wrote to PixelJAM for confirmation.

Miles Tilmann, who describes himself as one half of PixelJAM (“Rich Grillotti is the other half”), got back to me quickly. The port, Tilmann says, is happening “slowly but steadily,” though calling it a “port” is a bit misleading. Tilmann explains:

“[Dino Run for the iPhone is] a ground-up rewrite with a new physics engine and new levels. It’s not a sequel, but more like a re-do. Its going to have most of the other levels and features of the original, plus some new stuff thrown in, just because we have the opportunity to improve it a bit.

“We have a lot of the engine worked out, but not a lot of the graphics just yet. Spiralstorm studios are doing the actual code for the game, and we’re providing graphics and design.”

So we’ll have lots of new features, and still be able to decorate our raptors in dozens of little hats? Pardon me. I have to call up my future and tell it to go on without me. Once I get my favorite eight-bit dinosaur on my iPhone, my days are spoken for.

But who needs work, anyway? I can subsist on air… provided it’s not choked with gas and ash.

As for those of you who don’t work from home and have to keep looking over your shoulder for the boss man (taking your eyes off the screen is a surefire way to lose at Dino Run, by the way), consider doing like a murder of crows and setting up a sentry system.

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