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Barrel River 2 Gets Big Update!

Today I have released a big update to Barrel River 2, the WebXR enabled 3D barrel racing game!

Barrel River 2 now allows you to spend all of those coins you found on the river in the new river shop. Purchase upgrades and customizations to your barrel to help you achieve top distance. And speaking of top distance, there is now a global distance leaderboard for users who are signed in with their Ape Apps Account. Also if you are signed in, you can now customize your character by using one of your My Tokens characters as your barrel "passenger!"

Barrel River 2 is available for free as a progressive web app (PWA) by going to this address:

It can be played with a keyboard, gamepad, motion/tilt controls, or in VR by using a Google Cardboard headset or opening up the above link in your browser on your Oculus Quest! Check it out today, and good luck on the river!

#barrelriver2 #mytokens

Announcing Level Up 2!

Way back in 2012, I released a game called Level Up RPG, which was my first cross-platform game based on Web App Core. Level Up became my first game to gain any sort of popularity, and spawned a handful of spin-off games, including Ninja Level Up and the Deimos Trilogy (which in turn spawned the My Colony Universe of games). Around 2015, I started planning out the story and concepts for a sequel called Level Up 2 - The Tower of Jupiter, but never really got too far beyond the planning stages. Then last fall, I started doing actual work towards bringing the concept to life, built on a new Raycasting engine I started building in my spare time (you can follow the early development of the Raycast engine with this playlist on my YouTube channel). And now finally after about seven years of on-again off-again planning and development, Level Up 2 is ready for it's "official" announcement!

In terms of story, scope and scale, Level Up 2 is easily going to be the biggest game I have created to date. The story takes place after the events of the original Level Up. Pete, the potion merchant from the original game, has discovered a mysterious artifact called Jupiter's Rock which has given him immense unholy powers. Drunk on power, Pete lays waste to the Epic Tree and in it's place constructs a massive tower of evil (the Tower of Jupiter) from which he unleashes a reign of terror over the realms of Level Up.

Gameplay in Level Up 2 will feel familiar to players of the original game. I am designing it to be as easy to play as the original (particularly for mobile quick pick-up and play) while at the same time expanding the concept with pretty much all of the long requested features I received from the original game.

In the original Level Up (and all games based on it's engine), each "world" was just a static background image that different enemies and items would be drawn on top of as you progressed. In Level Up 2, the worlds are rendered using the aforementioned Raycasting engine. You still move on a "track" in a linear fashion, but you actually now move forward in a 2.5D world (think original Doom/Doom2).

Unlike the original game, Level Up 2 now has towns, waypoints, and the ability to revisit areas you have previously visited. These new abilities lead to another new feature, Quests. Different NPC's will be able to give you both main and side-quests which you can accomplish for gear, glory and profit, many of which may require you to do back and revisit areas which you have already been through.

Another big new feature of Level Up 2 is online multiplayer! Friends will be able to join your game and help you along your current path. Your character is saved online, and items/loot/experience you gain while playing in a friends world will carry over to your own game. This allows you to trade items with other players, or if you have a friend, you can help rush them through the earlier parts of the game, or fight a particularly hard boss.

In the original Level Up, all fights were 1v1. In Level Up 2, not only can you have a party of your own (your friends, or NPC's/pets which may join your team), but the enemies may also bring their friends along for the fight. Some boss fights might see you taking on a whole horde of enemies at once.

The new rendering engine allows for some cool special effects that were just not possible in the original game. Magic spells and enchanted weapons are now accompanied by their own special effects. You will also now see your weapon/shield in your hand while you play the game, one of the most requested featured from the original. Other players will also be able to see your items equipped on your character. You can also completely customize your in-game character by selecting a Token created using the My Tokens app.

Another new concept in Level Up 2 is that the game comes in three different "editions" or "flavors." When you first launch the game, you are automatically randomly assigned one of the three editions. The game will then be slightly different, depending on which edition you are assigned. Some spells, items, enemies, areas will only be available on certain editions. This gives an added benefit to joining and exploring a friends world on multiplayer.

Moving on, Level Up 2 also introduces skills classes and specializations. You can now train and specialize in certain types of weapons (daggers, long swords, etc) and your power with each weapon will depend on your skill. Skills will improve as you use each weapon class. This means that, unlike the original Level Up, picking the best items for your character is not as simple and straight forward as just picking the item with the best overall stats.

Level Up 2 is being designed for Desktop, Mobile and TV with full touch/keyboard/gamepad support. A lot of the UI design, interface and core concepts I am borrowing from Morrowind/Oblivion, which were my two favorite games from the Xbox and Xbox 360 respectively, so a lot of inspiration is being taken from there.

I am pretty excited about Level Up 2, just because this is a game that I myself am really looking forward to playing, especially with a party online. My goal is to release this thing on or as close to November 11, 2022 as possible, since that would mark the 10 year anniversary of the original Level Up. I hope to have most of the core engine concepts wrapped up sometime next month, which leaves me several months after that to just pump out content for the game (which it is going to have a lot of). There should be a beta available for the game this summer. As I mentioned before, this is going to be the largest game I have ever released, and I really think that people are going to get many, many hours of fun out of it. So stay tuned for more, and I will let everyone know when the beta is available this summer!

#levelup2 #levelup #ninjalevelup #deimos #mytokens

Turn Your Phone, Tablet or PC Into a Walkie Talkie with Walkie Cloud!

If you've been in the market for a new walkie talkie but you're looking in the say, $0 price range, then you need to check out Walkie Cloud, the free new online walkie talkie service from Ape Apps!

Walkie Cloud is a peer-to-peer voice communication service. You simply enter a channel name you wish to talk on and then hit Join. The channel name can be anything you want, and all users who are on the same channel will be able to communicate with each other. The range is limited only by whether or not you have internet connectivity.

Walkie Cloud is a Progressive Web App ( PWA ). This means that you can use it on mobile, tablet, or desktop and if you wish, install it just like a native application. On Chromium based browsers, you should get an install notification in the address bar if you wish to install the app, and on iOS, you can simply tap on the bottom-middle Safari share button and then select Add to Homescreen.

Walkie Cloud is available now at the below URL. If you would like to see more features and capabilities added to the app. feel free to use the in-app 'Send Feedback' function to leave suggestions on how to make it better!

#pwa #walkiecloud

Announcing Barrel River 2, My First VR Game!

Last week I ended up purchasing an Oculus Quest 2, and to celebrate the purchase I wanted to see if I could create a VR game for it. So after a few days of hacking one together, I am ready to release my first attempt at actual VR programming, Barrel River 2!

Of course, you don't need a VR headset to play Barrel River 2. It supports multiple play modes, including keyboard, gamepad, and motion/tilt controls on mobile. No matter how you play it, the game is a pretty big improvement over the original Barrel River that I released back in 2014. Similar to the original, the goal is to collect coins while you avoid the fish and rocks. I have retained all of the corny sound effects from the first game, but the graphics have all been redone, this time created using Voxel Paint.

If you try out the game, be sure to sign in with your Ape Apps Account, which will make the game save the total number of coins you collected. In future updates I plan to add things like barrel upgrades and powerups you can get using the coins you collect, so start building them up and saving them to your account now!

You can play Barrel River 2 on any platform straight from the web browser. VR support works with the Oculus browser, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and even Google Cardboard players. Bookmark the Barrel River 2 page or install it as a PWA!

#barrelriver2 #voxelpaint #barrelriver

Pixel Paint and Phasing Out of Web App Core

Today I am updating Pixel Paint to v2.0.0, which brings some UI improvements and the addition of layers, but more importantly, this release of Pixel Paint marks the beginning of a long transition period that is going to completely transform the entire Ape Web Apps ecosystem.

Ape Apps was started back in 2010 with the primary focus on Android apps, and in 2012, I launched the website Ape Web Apps as a place to host HTML5 versions of my apps and games. At that time, I also created wrapper host applications for Android, iOS and Windows for porting my HTML5 apps to "native," and exposing them to native platform features. In the years since, almost my entire software library has transitioned away from pure native applications to web applications, powered by the cross-platform Web App Core framework, which I have been updating and maintaining for the past 10 years.

Since that time, the concept of the Progressive Web App (PWA) has emerged, and web apps have been rapidly gaining capabilities to rival many of those found in native applications, making many of the capabilities found in Web App Core unnecessary or redundant. Furthermore, many of the old restrictions on web apps have been lifted. One example as that of storage space. Back when My Colony was first released, some browsers limited the storage space available to an app at 50mb, and for a time, there was an issue with players losing saved games because they were bumping up against that limit. Today the storage quotas are pretty much limited only by the free space available on the device, just like a native application.

Over the years, a lot of functions, features, and abstractions have been built into Web App Core to make cross platform development simple. As such, the library has continued to grow and grow over time. A relatively simple app like Typepad also carries with it all of the features and functions available in Web App Core, even though it only uses a small handful of them. This makes the app a lot smaller and slower loading than it needs to be.

The "industry" has also pretty much settled on the design pattern that each individual PWA needs to be hosted on it's own domain (or subdomain), which is in direct conflict with the design on the Ape Web Apps website. Sure it is workable the way Ape Web Apps is currently set up, but there are some issues that are going to become more apparent as time goes on, especially when it comes to the new File Handling API. Web apps like Voxel Paint can be associated with specific file types (like the .vpp file) so that you can double-click on them on your device and automatically load them up in the Voxel Paint web app.

This is awesome functionality, but since the PWA framework is designed to have one app per domain, things start to get messed up when you have multiple PWA's installed from a single domain (like Ape Web Apps) each trying to be associated with different file types. On some platforms, such as Windows 10/11, it still kind of works. On others, such as Chrome OS, it's totally broken. It's important that I get on top of these coming changes now, before features like File and Protocol handling become more widespread across the various web browsers.

So changes are on the way to Ape Web Apps (and the Ape Apps Launcher) that are going to impact a large percentage of the library. Firstly, a lot of the apps are going to be moving to new web addresses, the first being Pixel Paint.

Old URL:
New URL:

These moves will be made one by one as I convert these apps off of Web App Core. The moves also make the apps load a lot faster, since in stead of loading the entire Web App Core library, they are only using the specific functions that they need. Web App Core is being replaced by a much smaller library that basically only handles Ape Apps Account related functions, such as account login, managing premium licenses, etc.

I hope to have most apps converted off of Web App Core over the coming year, but not everything will be making the move. Some larger apps such as My Colony, My Colony 2, and some of the EZ Office related applications use so many of the Web App Core functions anyway that there would be literally no size or performance benefits to moving them off, and doing so constitute a substantial undertaking. Moving an app to a new domain also means that current saved data (that wasn't synced to Ape Cloud) would be lost, which is not acceptable for My Colony.

Going forward though, no new apps or games will be based on the old Web App Core framework, and Web App Core will only be maintained to address bugs and issues with existing applications, no new features will be added.

On apps that make the move off of Web App Core, I will still be providing a slimmed down "native" wrapper for users who wish to get the apps from an app store, but now more than ever, users will be better off installing the app through their browser as a PWA. The native apps will be little more than a webview that hosts the PWA and will have more overhead due to being packaged than just installing the PWA through the browser would. This is how all of my apps on Windows 10/11 and Steam already are, and once Android and iOS move in that direction, I will be able to make updates to all platforms without even having to submit new builds to the various app stores, saving myself a ton of time and work.

So those are the changes coming down the pike. The Ape Apps Launcher and Ape Web Apps websites will still be maintained and updated, but a lot of the links will just be redirecting you off-site. It will actually probably be better for some of the apps in terms of search engine discover-ability, being surfaced to their own domain or subdomain. I know on Pixel Paint, it's lighthouse score (which Google uses for page rankings) went from the failing to nearly 100% due to the increased loading time by no longer using Web App Core, so that should help as well.

In the meantime, check out the latest update to Pixel Paint at it's new URL, and check out the PWA by installing it to your homescreen!

Ape Apps, LLC is an independent software development company founded in 2010 by Brandon Stecklein. Over the years, Ape Apps has published over 400 apps and games across various platforms. You can get in touch with Brandon on Twitter or by leaving a post on his wall @bastecklein
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