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Category: Flipline Rewind

Flipline Rewind: Unfinished Sarge Game

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By , May 8, 2019 10:29 am

Hey Everyone!

To celebrate OnionFest, we have an extra-special Flipline Rewind for all of you!

It was January 2007 when we decided to start work on a sequel/spin-off of Papa Louie: When Pizzas Attack! We wanted to focus on Papa Louie’s main antagonist, Sergeant Crushida Pepper. We now simply refer to him as Sarge.

We wanted the player to see things from the perspective of Sarge immediately after the biggest defeat of his career by Papa Louie. Sarge was demoted in the Onion Army and put on recruitment duty by the Army General.

In order to rise through the ranks and bring glory back to his name, Sarge needed to rebuild the Onion Army one recruit at a time.

This puzzle-platformer was going to be structured around picking up and throwing things. He would recruit new onions by pulling them out of the ground, and use them in battle by tossing them around. Along his journey, he would come across a wide variety of onions. One such group of onions were Rocket Onions. You may have seen them in a past holiday post. Fun fact: our customer, Boomer, was created based off of our old designs for the Rocket Onion.

Some old friends and fresh enemies were to also set to make appearances in the game. Radley Madish was originally created for this game, and was to be the mad scientist who created Rocket Onions.  Ever wonder why Jellybacks seem a little out-of-place in our games? That’s because they were designed for Sarge’s game, and at the time, we had planned out a world that wasn’t entirely made up of food-based baddies.

At the time, Flash games were still at their infancy and they were still a few years from reaching their peek. During that time, many companies and portals were experimenting with different ways to monetize Flash games. While ad-revenue was just starting to pick up for Flash games, the emerging concept of Microtrans for free games were being beta tested in the form of Kongregate’s Kreds and Mochi Media’s Mochi-Coins.

By the end of planning, we had decided on an episodic style for the game. As Papa Louie’s ad revenue was not sustainable at the time, we decided that Sarge’s game would be divided into many Episodes. Each episode would then have three chapters. The first chapter was free, while the remaining two would be unlocked by our favorite salesman, Big Pauly. He would sell you a key to unlock the rest of the map via a small in-game purchase.

Being episodic, the gameplay would be very story and character driven. Lots of NPCs and story based goals for each of the levels. Looking back at the plans, it sounds like a pretty fun game.

So What Happened??

Well, after an intense round of development that lasted a few months, we had a working demo of the game engine. Unfortunately we had bills to pay, so we had to get back to work doing not-so-fun stuff like making websites for consulting firms. Papa Louie: When Pizzas Attack, although very popular, was not bringing in enough money on ad revenue alone. In order to make this Sarge game a reality, we needed to find funding for it.

We were also worried that by the time we could finish a game of this size, people would forget about the world of Papa Louie. So we started brainstorming about a different game, that we could feasibly create, and give our small fan base something to do until the next big game. That game would eventually become Papa’s Pizzeria!

In the meantime, we pitched the Sarge game to several companies. One of those companies was Kongregate. They were looking for games to fund as part of their Premium Development Program. After a quick phone pitch about the Sarge game, we understood that they needed something much larger that incorporated multiplayer and a more robust micro-payment system. We were a little down that the Sarge game would be put on the back burner, but the idea of landing a game on Kongregate’s Premium Development Program was a dream scenario. So we ended up pitching them several other games that would better fit into the program. One of them was a large, island hopping adventure game, and the other game which ended up getting green-lit was Remnants of Skystone.

With Remnants of Skystone, we were able to build off of the platformer engine that we created for the Sarge game. We even incorporated enemies and mission ideas from Sarge’s game, albeit in a much more edgy/grittier fashion. Wrangling cute cow-like Mooners back to their mother became guiding explosive Embermites to their targets, and fuzzy Slender-Foots became creepy Stiltskins, just to name a few.

Papa Louie 2 & 3 were also based off of Sarge’s game engine, and revisited a lot of characters, animations, and game ideas from that original planning session of Sarge’s game.

Ultimately, we would spend the next three years working on Remnants of Skystone. After that game was released and sadly proved to be unsustainable, we had to quickly find other ways to pay the bills. Unfortunately, at that time, making Sarge’s game without funding was just way too risky. But for a game that was never fully realized, it has had a lasting impression throughout our entire gaming career.



Flipline Rewind: Jacksmith

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By , April 6, 2016 9:17 am


At the inception of Papa’s Burgeria, we came to the realization that we could go well beyond pizza with our hands-on style of gameplay.

On that very day, we quickly scrawled down on our whiteboard the basic core structure of what makes a Papa’s game work. While doing that we quickly discussed, “Whoa, wouldn’t it be cool if you made weapons instead of food”. Not knowing where to go with the idea, we wrote “sword crafting” on the whiteboard and left it at that.

Several years and 5 Gamerias later, we wanted to try something brand-new. Although our Papa’s games were immensely popular within the casual games arena, they never quite caught on with the “core” gaming crowd. We would always see our Gamerias getting low ratings on sites geared towards fighting and RPG games, and understandably so. When you’re all about shooting hordes of zombies, a game simulating food preparation was probably not your immediate idea of a good time.

So we decided to challenge ourselves: We would make a game using the main concepts of a Gameria which would somehow appeal to both the “core” and the “casual” gamer. We immediately looked up on our whiteboard, and in that little unerased corner we noticed our years-old note mentioning “sword crafting”.

From there, ideas started pouring out…

What Went Right

1: A World of Warriors and Weapons

We started with a rough idea about the game taking place in Medieval times, where you would be playing as a blacksmith. To bridge the gap between core and casual players, we decided to leave ordinary humans out of the picture and use animals for our entire cast of characters, focusing on the animals that would be found in Europe during the Middle Ages. At one point we even had an idea that you were a field mouse riding on top of a turtle, but we decided to go with larger animals instead.

At first, we thought the whole game would be structured around building swords. However, as we started fleshing things out, we quickly realized we would need a variety of weapons to craft. Soon we “hammered” out our final list of weapon types: Swords, Bows and Arrows, Maces, Pikes, Axes, and Shields.

2. Battles and Bombs

Throughout the course of the brainstorming session, we realized how anticlimactic it would be to make all these weapons for warriors, then call it a day and close up shop. That worked for the Papa’s games, because nobody wants to sit and watch Wally eat an entire anchovy pizza. But in this game, players would know that all the real action was taking place beyond your blacksmith shop, so we decided that the player would need to come along for the ride and see how the weapons held up.

This is when things really started to diverge from the Papa’s formula. Story ideas started flowing, where the Blacksmith was rallying the troops, and he was slowly moving down the road to the final battle. The stationary blacksmith shop soon became a traveling wagon in the distance as the troops battled in the foreground. Seeing your weapons in action would be exciting, but we decided that the player would need something to do during this time so it didn’t just seem like an extended cinematic interlude. Initially, we thought simply picking up loot that the baddies dropped would suffice. After a few tests, we realized that there needed to be something to tie the player in with the action. That’s when we came up with adding a cannon to the wagon, which could use a variety of cannonballs, each with distinct properties that could either help fight baddies or power up your party.

After we planned how the battles would work, we started to flesh out what the player’s progression would be like in the game. We started with the core concept of how progression works in Papa’s games, where you always make forward progress based on how well you perform your tasks, and you never move backwards or get overly penalized for how poorly you play. We learned in Steak and Jake that it was very frustrating to have your progress reset after making one mistake, so we try to keep this lesson in mind for all of our extended-length games. But in Jacksmith, how would a player know if they did exceptionally well crafting weapons? That’s when we decided to add a treasure chest at the farthest point of the battle trail for each day. If you crafted great weapons and used the cannon just right, you could reach these goals, but if you didn’t you would still be that much closer to your next level-up and unlockable item.

So the next problem was what to put in those treasure chests besides just a bunch of loot and gems. As we worked on how weapons would be designed, we soon figured out what would work as a great reward for these chests.

3. Open-Ended Orders

While planning how players would design each weapon order, a problem soon arose when we realized that a player’s inventory of parts and ores would always be changing. Warriors wouldn’t be able to have specific weapons to order, since you might be all out of silver ore or that cool diamond arrowhead. That’s when we came up with the idea of open-ended orders for each weapon. Each animal would have a weapon of choice, and when they came to your shop, they would simply ask for that type of weapon. It would be up to the player to craft the best one for the situation.

We were then faced with another question: Why would you decide to use one part over another when crafting a sword? We decided to give elemental properties to each part and style of weapon, and in turn, elemental properties to different enemies so that strategy became priority in crafting the weapons. Of course, for players to develop a strategy on how to defeat that day’s enemies, they would need to actually know what kind of baddies would be along their path that day. We decided to add a blacksmith apprentice who could scout out the trail before the start and report back to Jacksmith, and that’s where Scout was created. He’d still need to tag along with you and the warriors so he’d be available to help the next day, so we decided he could man the cannon as well.

Now that we had elemental parts and open-ended orders, we had a perfect idea for what could be in the treasure chests: Epic Weapon designs! Since orders were open, we thought it would be cool that if you made a very specific type of sword, using all of the right parts, it would give your warriors extra stat boosts in the next battle. This would also lead to another layer of strategy, where the player might save up certain parts or ores for later instead of using them right away, in hopes of unleashing an Epic Weapon when it would really help in an upcoming battle.

What Went Wrong

1. Elemental Enemy Overload

Enemies were initially just monstrous versions of all the warriors, but when we needed elemental baddies, we decided that each enemy would have a unique visual style for each of the 8 elements. We started on the shield-wielding Woolcrest, with each variation redesigned to match each element. For the wind element it became a Woolwind with feathers and a beak, while for the water element it became a Riverhoof with fins and gills. This proved to be far too labor intensive, and with 72 more elementals to create, we had to resort to simply changing their colors, and even that took a while.

2. Too Much Time Outside

Early on, when the battle sequence was more of a leisurely hands-off experience, we thought we needed to avoid a landscape constantly looping as the battle moved down the road. A great deal of time was spent making randomly-generated backdrops that were different throughout the entire trail. However, once we incorporated the cannon into the mix, we realized that the player was more concerned about the state of their troops, the cannon refills, and picking up loot to notice if they saw that rock in the same location two screens back.

3. Overbooked

One last thing that went wrong was simply the fact that we were not prepared to handle a second highly popular game franchise. Because of this, we were unable to make a timely sequel which would have kept the franchise’s momentum moving at full speed.



Jacksmith was born out of a self-imposed challenge that we could make a game that both “core” and “casual” gamers would enjoy, one that would be highly-rated among fans of the Papa’s games as well as with those who love strategic, battle-fueled games across other sites.

In the end, Jacksmith was a success! The majority of our fanbase fell in love with the game, and it was highly rated across all gaming portals both core and casual. To that degree, we underestimated the success that Jacksmith would have, and we were unable to put our entire focus into a timely sequel that would have surely kept the Jacksmith franchise moving forward. But fortunately, almost 4 years later, Jacksmith is still a relevant Flash game that is being played by hundreds of thousands of people each week!


Play Jacksmith!




Flipline Rewind: Papa’s Freezeria

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By , January 26, 2016 9:41 am


The date was August 5, 2011 when Papa’s Freezeria launched on Flipline.com. It had been over a year since our huge MMO game Remnants of Skystone had launched and quickly failed. We were frantically working on games during this period, doing everything we could to keep Flipline afloat. During this small window of time, we managed to launch seven Flash games including Papa’s Freezeria.

Work on Papa’s Freezeria started immediately after the successful launch of Papa’s Taco Mia! Once it was completed, we started looking for someone to sponsor the game before it was released. Around this time, large gaming portals would sponsor your game by giving you upfront money in exchange for their links and branding to appear in the game. This also usually included some period of exclusivity, where the game would only appear on the sponsor’s website before being available anywhere else.

We were lucky enough to have Armor Games sponsor Papa’s Freezeria, who had also sponsored our platformer “Steak and Jake” the previous year.

What Went Right

1: Sundaes + Concretes

The idea for an ice cream based Gameria actually arose while brainstorming Papa’s Burgeria, though we made Papa’s Taco Mia next instead because we were still uncertain how ice cream would work. But with fresh eyes, we came up with the idea of combining two tasty ice cream treats: the sundae and the concrete. For those not familiar, a concrete is a treat in the US that is like a milk-less milkshake, blended with larger toppings, and eaten with a spoon.

Concretes are great, but when put into the context of a game, it’s just mixing a few ingredients and blending. We decided to add an additional step where you are placing toppings on top of the concrete like a traditional ice cream sundae. From that idea, we created a perfect “blend” of sundaes and concretes that made the gameplay more entertaining, and the orders even more tasty and unique.

2. Customizable Lobby

Papa’s Freezeria’s big addition was the customizable lobby. Our previous Gamerias did have furniture, but the lobbies were pre-designed, and you were simply unlocking the hidden furniture.
The problem with that system was the limited amount of furniture that could be brought. Once again, people found themselves late in the game, with tons of tips and nothing to spend them on.

Now that the lobby was customizable, we could design a huge catalogue of decorations to put in the shop. Players could then pick and choose what furniture and posters they wanted to display. This ended up being a hit, and people were posting pictures, showing off their own unique lobbies in their games.


What Went Wrong

1. Working on the Build Station

This was by far the trickiest station to figure out. We spent a lot of time, testing different mechanics to get the blendable ingredients in the cup. At first, all the mixables and syrups were laid out on the screen, and you had to manually pick them up and squirt them into the cup. Initially we had a very complicated portioning system, where the larger the cup size was, the more scoops you had to put in. It was tedious, confusing, and was too similar to the Topping Station.

We decided to scrap everything and speed up the process with the use of push-button machines. We added moving meters so that you had to time the button press in order to get the perfect portion of ingredients. And as a bonus, if you timed it just right, you would get extra tips from the machine.

This added a unique and fun gameplay experience for the Build Station while speeding up the overall build time.

Early Prototype of the Build Station with Taco Mia place-holders. At one point we thought it would be fun to draw on the cups.

2. Hackers + Exclusivity

When Papa’s Freezeria successfully found a sponsor, we created a special version of the game that would be featured on their site. As was common at the time, the sponsor would have the game exclusively on their site for a while before other websites could show it. After this exclusivity period was over, we would release a second version of the game (called the “viral version”) that could be spread across the other major gaming sites and could be played anywhere. This viral version would also feature MochiAds in the game, which was an ad system we used at the time and was our primary source of income.

Of course we didn’t want the sponsor’s version of the game spreading across the internet early, so we programmed the game to only work on the sponsor’s website. If someone tried to copy this game onto another website it just wouldn’t work, and they would have to wait until we released the “viral version” if they wanted a copy for their website.

Unfortunately, as soon as the game launched on our sponsor’s site, a Chinese gaming site stole the game and hacked into it. They removed our site-locking code, so that the game would now work on any website (including their own) instead of being exclusive. This version immediately went viral, and spread across the internet. Even worse, we realized that while the hackers were removing our site-locking code, they also removed all of the MochiAds that would normally be shown in the game. We made Papa’s Freezeria with the intent that the ads in the viral version of the game would help pay for the time spent making it, and help pay towards us making other games.

We were devastated. Within a day, the game was on thousands of sites illegally, and we were losing out on all the ad revenue we desperately needed to make. During this time we worked like crazy to contact each and every site owner, and inform them that they had an illegal version of the game and they needed to wait until August 5th to get a copy of the viral version. Some sites were really cooperative and removed it, but a good majority simply ignored us.



Papa’s Freezeria turned out to be a fan-favorite Gameria. It was our first foray into sweet foods, and proved to be immensely popular. However, the launch of Papa’s Freezeria was disastrous thanks to the hackers, with tons of lost revenue and tons of stress. The launching of a game is the most critical part of game development, and Papa’s Freezeria’s taught us a lot.

Papa’s Freezeria was the last time we looked for a sponsor (Cactus McCoy 2 sponsorship was already set up, even though the game launched later). After our experience with Papa’s Freezeria, we decided the whole process was far too risky for us. We wanted our future games to be released virally from the start, so the official game with ads could be spread immediately instead of giving hackers an opportunity to exploit a site-locked version, and cut us out of the equation.

For the next Gameria release of Papa’s Pancakeria, we decided to go it alone and self-sponsor the game. At the time, this idea seemed crazy to other developers (and sponsors), but it ended up being the single best move we have ever made. When we started self-sponsoring, our website traffic grew exponentially, and the ads on our website were finally able to cover our development costs. This was huge because we were able to be truly independent. We didn’t have to worry about finding interested sponsors, or make adver-games for other companies. Now we could focus on creating the games we love to make and our fans love to play!


Play Papa’s Freezeria!




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