August 20, 2009

Stick It Action Releases First Major Update

Stick It Action, the addicting stick figure animation App for the iPhone and iPod Touch, has just released its first major update to the App Store. Before we get into the updates lets talk a little bit about what this App is all about.

In Stick It Action you create your own stick figure animations by adjusting the stick figures movable joints and taking frame by frame snapshots. Anybody who's ever doodled in the corner of their notebook in class knows the basics of this App. The App provides several background images to choose from such as a western themed saloon town, a castle, a warehouse and others. You can always choose a blank, white background if you'd like.

But it doesn't stop there. Stick It Action provides several pre-designed weapons and objects to place in your animations for your stick characters to interact with. Trees, cars, mailboxes, explosion graphics are just a few of the objects you can use in your animation. There are also knives, rifles, shotguns, laser guns, grenades to arm your stick figures with.

In a first for this genre of application, the creators of Stick It Action created an automated firing sequence for all of its weapons. Activate the firing sequence and drag a line from the weapon to its target and the application will fire the weapon. The weapons projectile will move from the weapon to the target and the snapshots will be taken automatically, saving the player precious time.

The creators of Stick It Action readily admit they may have rushed version 1.0 into production. But it was done with a purpose. They understand that there is a large community of stick figure animation fans who have very strong feelings on how such an App should work. The goal was to provide a bare-bones platform with a few really cool features and allow the community to decide where it goes from there. The results have been eye opening. Just look at the ratings and you'll see that people seem to either love it, or hate it. But what is interesting is that the people who are giving the one star ratings are also vocal about what it would take to change their opinion. This is exactly what the creators were looking for. Feedback. And lots of it. The passion that stick figure animators showed in their feedback using the comments section, direct email, or forum posts confirmed their suspicion. They may not like it now, but with features x, y, and z they would LOVE it! For .99 they are willing to keep the App on their device and see what the updates bring.

While not every user request was put into the first update, many were. And big one's too. Some are just reserved for future updates. There was a bug with the zoom function that somehow made it past their testers. An embarrassing snafu which is remedied in the update. So what are some of these new features that users called for and were granted?

Update 1: Sound effects! There are now over 40 sound effects an animator can choose from including gunshots, explosion noises, guitar riffs, laughter, singing and much, much more.

Update 2: Onion skinning. Users wanted the ability to see where their stick figures or objects were at after their last snapshot. Onion skinning is where you can see a shadow of the previous frame. This gives the animator more control over the positioning of the stick figures and objects. Previously, it was hard to determine if you were moving your character in a straight line, or into the ground.

Update 3: Rotating weapons and objects on X-Axis. In version 1.0 your gun pointed either left or right. You couldn't aim up or down. Now, you can rotate your weapons or objects so they point in any direction you desire.

Update 4: A non-linear firing sequence. A cool concept which the users improved upon. Who are the developers to say a bullet can only go straight? You know what? The users are absolutely right. Now your bullet, laser beam, knife, or cannon ball (did he say cannon ball?) can go straight, curved, loop in a circle or even go backwards. It's the users animation, and they are the directors.

Update 5: Zoom and Pan. In version 1.0 you double tap a stick figure to access its movable joints. Then you double tap to zoom out, then double tap another stick figure to zoom in and move its joints. Then double tap to zoom out again. Then you take a snapshot. Then you double tap the first stick figure again to access it movable joints..... you get the point? Version 1.1 fixes this. Now you double tap a stick figure to zoom in, you move his joints and then simply pan over to where the other stick figure is and move his parts. Now you take the snapshot. You can now also manipulate any objects while zoomed in.

There are also two new backgrounds, some guitars and cannons added. Most importantly, the bugs have been ironed out.

Ratings are sometimes hard to read into and can be misleading to potential buyers. In the case of Stick It Action this is absolutely the case. There are almost as many one star ratings as five star ratings. The difference with Stick It Action is that the one star voters are willing to hang in there. They have given their feedback and want to see where this App goes. And their voices have been heard....