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Splash Update: The Shop is Here!

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Splash’s first major update has arrived on Android and iOS!
Version 1.1 comes jam packed full of new features including:

  • The Shop:
    Head into the menu to find our shiny new shop full of all the goodies you’ll need to make your ocean thrive. Make sure to check back often as these deals will change every day.
  • Treasure Chests:
    These little chests will show up in your sanctuary every couple hours, and can contain anything from shells to upgrade items, and sometimes Splashcash. You’ll get a free chest daily.
  • Who Drops This Item?:
    Tap on egg ingredients in your Aquapedia to see which fish will drop them.
  • Visual Effects:
    The crab now kicks up sand while digging, plus we’ve added extra bubbles and sparkles. Pretty!
  • Notifications Options:
    Scroll down in the settings menu to toggle notifications for eggs, decor, and fish.
  • Gifting:
    Additional gifts can now be purchased for 2 Splashcash (don’t worry, you’ll still get 5 freebies every day), plus when opening gifts you’ll see the name of the friend who sent it as it pops open.

Whew. That’s a lot of stuff! So what do you think – are you enjoying the new features? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jonas shares a cool discovery about Longwing Butterflies

While researching butterflies for Flutter’s latest event, Jonas came across an exciting discovery. Check out the video to find out what it was, and collect your own Longwing butterflies in Flutter!

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Splash is here!

Our new game, Splash, is now available worldwide for both iOS and Android devices! Click here to download and get started on your underwater adventure

This game is a culmination of our learning over the last 3 years of developing and refining Flutter. You’ll notice a lot of familiar elements in there, but also a lot of change. And of course this is only the beginning. There are so many cool new features, characters, and events coming, so the more feedback we get from you, the better informed we’ll be for refining the best experience possible.

We’re so excited to finally share this new chapter with all our amazing players, and welcome a whole new bunch of friends to the Runaway family. Now that you can see these two games alongside each other, you can probably see the direction we’re going in. Our vision is to continue expanding this series to cover a whole range of natural environments using the template we’ve established with Flutter. They will all represent amazing real world species, be focused on mobile, free to play, and constantly evolving as we add new species, environments, and special events.

Thanks again for all your support, and please spread the word about Splash far and wide! :)

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Top 5 Community Questions, Answered!

On our last behind-the-scenes we asked what you’d like to know about Runaway and our games. We’ve hand picked the top 5 questions to be answered, plus the lucky players who asked them will be receiving a groovy Flutter sticker pack!

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Behind-The-Scenes With Tim

It’s a tough job being Runaway’s Director, but someone has to do it :P
This week Tim took a few minutes to sit down and chat with me about the thrills and challenges of his job, what new surprises we have in store, and how a few lucky Flutter fans could win some awesome sticker packs!

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What a Journey

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We can’t believe it’s been two years since Flutter first arrived on the App Store. What a incredible journey it has been bringing this game to you guys and growing the amazingly supportive community that has sprouted up around it.

Two years on we have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. 2 million wonderful people have downloaded the game, our player base is at an all-time high, our team continues to expand, and we’ve just had our best performing event yet. This game has so much life left in it too. So many people yet to discover it. So many new cool species, creatures, and gameplay features.

And perhaps most excitingly, Flutter is about to have company. We’re expanding the Runaway portfolio and taking you to a whole new amazing part of the natural world. This new title and Flutter will grow together in harmony, feeding off each other’s expansion and eventually crossing over in their gameplay. Hold tight, April is not far away.

In the meantime, we’ve got a great weekend sale and bonus for you in Flutter. Head over to the game or Facebook page for all the details. It’s our little way of saying thanks for making this all possible.

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Behind-The-Scenes With Jonas

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For the latest instalment of our behind-the-scenes series, I caught up with the man in charge of making sure our games remain factual yet fun – the one and only Jonas! Here’s what he had to say about the thrills and challenges of being Runaway’s Researcher:

Take us back to the beginning; how did you get started at Runaway?
I actually applied as a programmer since I studied gaming in my undergrad. It wasn’t until the interview that we realised my more recent experience as a researcher would really come in handy for what the company was trying to achieve.

What goes on in a typical day as a researcher? Can you tell us more about how the butterfly sets are selected?
I work closely with the art and design teams, so it’s really important for me to catch up with them and what they’ve been working on. Sometimes they’ll have the entire set planned out, in which case I go straight to finding all the facts and reference images for them. Other times only one or two butterflies will have been chosen, so it’s up to me to create a shortlist of ten or so butterflies, then narrow them down to the final set. It’s really great working with other teams, as we often want to choose different butterflies depending on whether we’re coming from an art or research perspective, but in the end we always choose a bit of both to create the perfect set.

What’s the most challenging part of your role?
Finding out that many butterflies in the game are really struggling in the wild. For instance, the Mountain Snow Apollo love laying their eggs at a high altitude, but the changing climate is wiping out their eggs and they’re having a really hard time. Even more common species, like Monarchs, are facing challenges. Fortunately there are great ways be involved, from planting caterpillar friendly gardens, to finding your nearest Lepidoptera (butterfly) society. See what you can find out about your favourites from Flutter!

On the flip side, what’s the best thing about your role?
Geeking out about butterflies! Being able to learn about the unique behaviours of all these species, then sharing this knowledge with the players. It’s so awesome imagining people seeing these butterflies for the first time and being blown away that these magnificent creatures exist. I couldn’t ask for a better job!

What do you get up to when you’re not at Runaway HQ?
I spend as much time as I can outdoors, hiking, snorkelling…
The rest of the time I’m working on my masters thesis in science communication, investigating how factual games like Flutter can connect people with nature. It’s really awesome seeing how educational games don’t necessarily have to be dull, and in most cases can be more entertaining due to their connection to conservation and raising awareness about the natural world.

Are there any books or websites you’d recommend to anyone who’s interested in learning more about butterflies?
I use LearnAboutButterflies.com and ButterfliesOfAmerica.com quite a lot in my research. There’s also a beautiful book called Butterflies of the World by H.L. Lewis (ISBN:  0-517-48165-0). It’s full of great butterfly facts, and pages upon pages of gorgeous images!

Thanks Jonas! Is there anything you’d like to say to all the readers out there?
I’d be super keen to hear what conservation groups our fans are interested in, which museums they like to visit, and anything else along those lines. Let us know in the comments.

Oh, and if anyone’s worried about us running out of butterflies in Flutter, don’t panic – there’s roughly 20,000 species to get through. 174,000 if we extend that to moths!

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Behind-The-Scenes with the Art Team

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The art of Runaway is created by a team of three talented illustrators based all over the world. This morning I sat down with our lead artist Emma who lives here in New Zealand and called up Lars in Sweden, and Claudia in London for a quick chat about what they’ve been working on, and what we have to look forward to!

A lot of people have commented on the detail that goes into the butterflies and their animation. How do you make them so realistic?
Emma: We use flash to create the animations by skewing the wings at a lot of different angles, but the speed and the movement is all an AI made by the programmers. Early on we spent a lot of time at the Otago Museum’s butterfly house, studying how the butterflies moved. We wanted to capture that graceful yet frantic movement.
Lars: It’s important for us to find a really good reference images of the butterflies. We trace parts like the shape of the wings for accuracy, but we make the colours a bit more vibrant to fit the game environment. We can’t always add every little detail, but the main wing pattern is always true to the real-life species.

What were your influences when developing the art style for Flutter?
Emma: We were mainly inspired by nature. There’s also this nature photographer called Vyacheslav Mishchenko who takes incredibly detailed macros – we wanted to capture this mood with our art.

What do you draw when you’re not drawing butterflies?
Emma: Unicorns, pegasus… winged creatures. Mostly I draw nature or creatures I wish existed in real life.
Claudia: A lot of children’s book illustrations – and selfies, haha!
Lars: Robots and a lot of non-organic stuff. A whole lot of cute creatures.

Check out their personal work here:
Emma: http://www.ermiberm.com/
Claudia: http://lilasoul.tumblr.com/
Lars: http://resken.tumblr.com/

What’s it like working with people all over the world?
Emma: It’s really cool. Because of the time difference there’s always someone working 24/7, so we feel really productive.
Claudia: Yeah, having the time difference makes managing our own time easier.
Lars: We have meetings every day which helps to establish a routine and keeps us in sync. Sometimes it’s hard not being able to just turn to someone and ask a question, but it’s worth it for the focus you can achieve working on your own and not having to deal with the distractions you’d get in an office.

Can you tell us what you’ve been working on lately?
Emma: We’re all working on a new project at the moment, but we’re trying to make sure that the art style is consistent with Flutter. Recently we finished up the latest butterfly set for the next event, which was a collaboration between all of us.
Lars: When I’m not completely happy with something I’ve drawn, someone can always take over so we never get stuck. Sometimes I’ll work on a butterfly from start to finish, but other times all three of us contribute to the process.
Claudia: We learn so much from looking at each other’s technique – it can be really refreshing seeing how another person tackles an illustration and balances it out.

From the Art Team: Thank you to all the lovely people who have sent in fan art. This has been one of the most exciting and rewarding moments of the job so far – keep it coming! :D

 

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Behind-The-Scenes With Nic

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In November Nic joined us as our latest talented programming intern. Since then he’s been bringing a fresh perspective to Flutter and tackling some of the biggest player requests. I stole him for a few minutes today to chat about what it’s like being one of the newest members of Runaway, and whether he can share any secrets about what’s to come…

What’s a typical day in the office for you?
Lots of small jobs; picking out the most exciting or urgent ones and getting them ticked off one-by-one. As far as the actual process is concerned, I’ve been programming for as long as I can remember, my Dad and I used to code on a ZX Spectrum, so it just comes naturally now. It’s like writing poetry – I get completely immersed in the process of getting things just right.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Runaway?
If I was on holiday right now I’d be making video games, so it’s mind-blowing that I get to do this as a job and with such an amazing team! Even though I don’t code everything, I still feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end result. I think it’s really special how small the team is, and that we have people in the same room who help us communicate directly with our players.

What has been your greatest challenge?
My current project is much larger than anything I’ve worked on before and deals with the framework of Flutter rather than the game play. It’s completely new territory for me, so at the moment every day is a journey into the unknown.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on lately?
Lots! I’ve been coming up with new butterfly abilities and coding them, which has been really exciting as it’s a great opportunity to unleash some creativity. I’ve also been working on improving our community goal feature so that it can make a comeback in future events.

Is there anything you’d like to say to all the readers out there?
At the end of the day you can make a great game, but it’s the fans who have the ability to take it and turn it into something more. Since I started working here I’ve been looking closely at the Flutter community and have been amazed by how our players have created an entire world around the game. Thank you for making Flutter so special!

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Your Top 5 Questions, Answered!

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Howdy! Last week we gave our Flutter fans the opportunity to ask us anything on Facebook and vote on their favourite questions. Here’s the top 5:

1. Will you make some way for us to use all the extra honeydew that we can never use up after our forest is fully cleared?
This is something we’re definitely looking into and we’re open to suggestions, although we won’t be providing a Honeydew to Flutterbucks conversion. One thing we’re investigating is personalising some of the daily deals so players who have opened the whole forest get a chance to purchase a rarer resource, but for a big Honeydew price tag.

2. Will we ever be able to gift our flowers or butterflies?
Adding new social elements to the game is really important to us, but adding an ability to directly exchange resources between players would upset the balance and economy of the game in many ways. The design team is working on a new way for players to utilise both their excess Honeydew and flowers to produce a new resource they can use to send mystery gifts to their friends. This is in its early stages, but we think its going to be pretty cool.

3. I’d like to know about the image carved in the frog’s log. Can you tell us what it is and why it was added please? It reminds me of Shrek.
It’s a carving showing where the frog treats live :)

4. Will Flutter ever be available to play on a computer?
It was a very deliberate decision for us to focus all our efforts on iOS and Android. As a small independent team, we need to be careful to choose our battles wisely, with the first priority being game quality and regular updates for our established platforms. That said, Flutter has done well over the last year, and we’re actively looking for new ways to expand its user base. One of those opportunities is bringing the game back into a web browser. While this is a huge undertaking, we have assigned some resource to begin a preliminary investigation here. We’ll let you know when we decide one way or the other.

5. Will you bring back the choice to sell butterflies for flutter bucks?
Check out our blog post for a full explanation of why this change was made. All those points still stand so we will not be reintroducing this feature. However! We do want a way to incentivise players to re-engage with earlier butterfly sets, and we think we have something pretty cool coming that will allow you to do that.


PS: A few of you asked how many of us work at Runaway, so we snapped this quick pic of the New Zealand team. We have three more team members currently scattered across the globe!

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