# Icy Tower

Icy Tower

Developer(s) Free Lunch Design
Designer(s) Johan Peitz
Artist(s)
Composer(s) Anders Svensson
Engine Allegro library[1]
Platform(s)
Release date(s) EU 20011222December 22, 2001
(see history)
Genre(s)
Mode(s) single-player
Distribution Internet, magazines

Icy Tower is a popular freeware computer game by the Swedish game developer Free Lunch Design. This is a platform game that is set in a tower and the player's goal is to climb as high in the tower as possible without falling off the bottom of the screen. The higher the character climbs the faster the tower's floors move downward and hence the more difficult the game becomes. By default, the player controls the character using a keyboard.

## Gameplay

A screenshot of Icy Tower 1.4.

The player starts the game on the ground floor of the tower. In order to climb the tower, the player must jump from floor to floor, an action controlled (by default) using the spacebar. The game character can pass through the floors of the tower from below but will land on them when falling from above. Once the player has landed on a floor, he can move across its surface using the arrow keys. By moving across the floor the player builds momentum, and the more momentum a player builds up the higher his next jump will be. The character can also bounce off the vertical walls on the left and right edges of the tower, allowing the player to switch direction while maintaining momentum.

If a player builds enough momentum, he can climb several floors at once in a single jump. Extended sequences of such multi-floor jumps are referred to in the game as combos. A combo ends when a player makes a jump which covers only one floor, falls off a floor and lands on a lower floor, or fails to make a jump within a certain time frame (about 3 seconds).

The floors of the tower begin to move slowly downward once the character reaches floor 5. Every thirty seconds after this initial movement, the downward motion of the floors increases in speed, and the game tells the player to "Hurry up!" Should the player miss a floor and fall off the bottom of the screen, the game will end. The game also ends if the player is standing on a floor and the floor moves off the bottom of the screen.

The goal of the player is to reach the highest possible floor and accumulate the highest possible number of points. Points are awarded based on the highest floor reached in the game as well as for the player's combos.[1]

The tower is of infinite height and it is impossible to reach the top.[1] After the game ends, a replay of the game may be saved for later viewing.

### Floors

The horizontal length of each floor depends on the player's progress in the tower, the version of the game, and a random factor. Their arrangement is entirely random. Their appearance changes every 100 floors until floor 1000.

### High scores

Icy Tower records players' best results in built-in high score tables. Scores are recorded in several categories including highest score, highest floor, and longest combo. Players may also publish their accomplishments in online high score lists. Online high score lists may require players to provide replays from their games as evidence for their results. The official Icy Tower list resides on the web server of Free Lunch Design.[2]

It is also possible to compare performance of two players using the so-called K+ method. The K+ formula is a product of a sum of quotients, where the divisors and dividends represent records of both players in a specific Icy Tower category. For example, the K+ value from Score, Floor and Combo is represented by the expression

$\frac{100{\left[ \sqrt{\frac{Score_a}{Score_b}} + 2{\left( \frac{Floor_a}{Floor_b} \right)} + \frac{Combo_a}{Combo_b}\right]}}{4}$,

where $Score$, $Floor$ and $Combo$ stand for the highest score, highest floor, and longest combo, respectively ($a$ and $b$ standing for the players being compared). The K+ mechanism is often used in online high score lists for ranking players.

## History

1.0 1.1 1st EU 20011222December 22, 2001 2nd EU 20020111January 11, 2002 3rd EU 20031011October 11, 2003 4th EU 20040131January 31, 2004 5th EU 20050906September 6, 2005 6th EU 20051029October 29, 2005 EU Cancelled[nb 3] 7th EU 20081006October 6, 2008 8th EU 20090603June 3, 2009 9th EU 20090924September 24, 2009 10th EU 20101112November 12, 2010 11th EU 20110131January 31, 2011
Xjump, the game which inspired the makers of Icy Tower.
Icy Tower 1.0.
Icy Tower 1.4.

Icy Tower was created by a Swedish game developer Free Lunch Design using the C programming language and the Allegro game library.[1] Its designers were inspired by Xjump, a game for the Linux operating system.[3]

The game follows a sequence-based software versioning scheme. Its current version is 1.5. Changes in the minor number denote the entire package of the game being changed, together with its sound and graphic resources. Changes in the release number denote a release of a patch, i.e. a modified executable file purpose of which is to fix software bugs present in previous releases of the game. Patches for Icy Tower are being circulated both inside and outside official game packages.

The makers of Icy Tower maintain contact with its players, and their opinions were being taken into consideration in the course of developing new versions of the game.[4][5] The list of the most significant changes made to it to date includes:

Records file (1.1)
An automatically generated and updated binary file that contained data about the player's records at a given time. It could be subsequently submitted to the then official online high score list.[citation needed]
Replay files (1.2)
Small binary files that contain the recording of a given Icy Tower game and the nickname of its maker. Replays are less prone to cheating by manually modifying them than were files used to store players' records in Icy Tower 1.1. Replay saving and viewing features were being improved concurrently with the entire program. For example, replays have since been made easier to sign (1.2.1) and rewind (1.3), as well as possible to sort by various criteria (1.3). It has also become possible to view a progress bar of their duration, their maker's nickname and the arrangement of keys pressed during their making when watching them (1.3) and to save them automatically whenever a player beats his personal record (1.4).
Configurable keyboard settings (1.2)
The possibility to personalise keyboard keys responsible for the character's movements in the tower. Since Icy Tower 1.3 it is also possible to customise the key pausing the game.
Shortened floors (1.3)
This change was introduced in order to make gameplay over the 1000th floor barrier more difficult. In Icy Tower versions prior to 1.3 a sufficiently skilled player was able to casually climb as much as several thousand floors, even at the fastest rate of the downward movement of the screen. This was undesirable, as replays from such games often lasted several minutes or more.
Removal of the immaterial floors bug (1.3)
This bug, known as the "ghost floor" bug, was a collision detection glitch that occasionally caused random floors in the tower not to stop the character falling onto them, usually ending the game as a result. It had only been occurring at the highest game speed and caused several players to quit playing altogether. It was the primary reason behind the making of Icy Tower 1.3. Its creators originally only intended to fix the bug in question in it,[6] release the new version as Icy Tower 1.2.2 and distribute it as a patch.[7]
Player profiles (1.4)
A concept of user accounts (profiles) was introduced in order to help several players play a single instance of the game. A profile contains certain publicly accessible data about the achievements of its owner (his average and best scores in the game, for example), as well as his personal game settings and preferences. The default profile is the so-called guest profile.
Support for secondary categories (1.4)
A possibility to manually change default game gravity and speed and default floors length was introduced (this change emulated – to a limited degree – features and options that were previously available for players only by the means of special trainers). Results achieved in the environment modified in such manner do not, however, affect the state of the built-in high score lists, which only register results recorded in default conditions. The categorial scope of the built-in lists was nevertheless expanded; since Icy Tower 1.4 they also register scores in categories formerly considered secondary (such as JS or CC).
Measures against slowdown (1.4)
Icy Tower 1.4 estimates the possibility that the player's computer was artificially slowed down and records results of this estimation in replay files. A standalone program named SDbuster (Slowdown Buster) was also created in 2007 to help detect slowed down replays, which calculates the possibility of a given replay being slowed down based on previously remembered differences between replays recorded in normal and reduced speed.

Lesser changes include an audiovisual overhaul of the game (1.4, 1.5), the possibility to choose the default floor type of the game (1.2) and the possibility to create custom game characters (1.2). Additionally, four new combo rewards were introduced, namely Super!, Fantastic!, Splendid! and No way!, and thresholds of combo length for certain rewards were increased (1.2).

### Ports

Developer(s) Xendex Entertainment
Publisher(s) Hands–On Mobile
Distributor(s) region-dependant[8]
Designer(s) Johan Peitz[nb 5]
Platform(s) Java ME
Release date(s) EU 20081006October 6, 2008
Genre(s)
Mode(s) singe-player
Distribution WAP Push (MIDlet)
Developer(s) Free Lunch Design (Muskedunder Interactive[nb 6])
Designer(s) Johan Peitz[nb 5]
Platform(s)
Release date(s) EU 20090924September 24, 2009
[9][nb 7]
Genre(s)
Mode(s) singe-player
Distribution online game
Icy Tower iPhone
Designer(s) Johan Peitz[nb 5]
Release date(s) EU 20101112November 12, 2010
Genre(s)
Mode(s) singe-player

On March 14, 2007, a press release has been published on the Free Lunch Design website announcing the establishment of a partnership between FLD and mobile game developer Xendex Entertainment regarding the porting of Icy Tower to the mobile environment.[10] The ensuant game named Icy Tower Mobile (ITM)[nb 4] has been released on October 6, 2008. Due to limitations of mobile platforms the game lacks several features present in its PC counterpart, such as publishing replays from games outside the mobile phone or changing default game characters.[11]

On September 24, 2009, a Free Lunch Design game named Icy Tower Facebook (ITFB), developed on the Adobe Flash platform within the development framework of the Facebook social networking website, has been released.[9][nb 7] Icy Tower Facebook allows players to compare their results with results of their friends within the Facebook system. It is also possible for players to personalise their in-game avatars and unlock additional game levels (so-called towers), which correspond to various game styles in the PC version of Icy Tower, by exchanging them for the virtual currency of the game (so-called coins). ITFB lacks the possibility of recording replays.

On November 2012, an official continuation of Icy Tower named Icy Tower 2 was released. It is available for iOS; and Android. According to the producer estimates on November 23, 2012, a number of downloads of Icy Tower 2 reached a million copies. There also exist unofficial Icy Tower ports for the Nintendo DS[12] and PlayStation Portable[13] video game consoles, made by players.

## Reception

Icy Tower ranked high in the "Most Popular" ranking of the "PC games" section in the Download.com software directory website; its average monthly number of downloads was "more than 20,000" in 2006, amounting to over five million as of 2009.[14][15] The total number of Icy Tower downloads was estimated at over 11 million in 2008.[16] In terms of the number of websites devoted to the game, it is most popular in Czech Republic, Germany and Poland.[17] Central European countries are also home to a major portion of top Icy Tower players.[2][18] According to Johan Peitz, the author of the game, the reason behind the popularity of Icy Tower is that it allows players to compete in several different categories, for example in striving for both high floors and high scores.[19]

Online Icy Tower communities allow their members to exchange high scores, replays and comments about the game and its gameplay. Additionally, players frequently compete against themselves in online competitions. Icy Tower tournaments usually consist of a number of rounds, each lasting one or more days. In every round, contestants are required to record one or more replays with a result in a specific category of the game.[20][21][22] Players have also organized live meetings, which took place in Cracow and Warsaw, Poland[23][24][25] and Prague, Czech Republic[citation needed].

On May 30, 2007, an official Icy Tower website operated by Free Lunch Design was launched, available at icytower.­freelunchdesign.­com.[nb 8] On June 3, 2009, the day of Icy Tower 1.4 release, an additional, complementary site has been opened at icytower.com.

Internal structure of Icy Tower allows for the use of skins through downloading and installation repackaged resource files.[26][nb 9]

Since the version 1.2 Icy Tower allows players to create additional custom characters which may replace the three default characters provided in the game package. Making a new character only requires the player to create an image file of a certain structure. It is possible, however, to also create more complex ones, using which will cause the game to modify its soundtrack[27] and colour palette[citation needed].[nb 10]

There also exists an array of tools that assist players in training, changing the game physics or analysing their results.

## Notes

1. ^ As the person responsible for the renewal of the game graphics in Icy Tower 1.4.
2. ^ It is possible to run Icy Tower on the Linux operating system using the Wine software. "Icy Tower". WineHQ AppDB. Retrieved September 8, 2009.
3. ^ Icy Tower 1.3.2 was a cancelled release which was designed to prevent players from playing if their computers were recognised by the game as overly slowed down. This measure against slowdown was subsequently abandoned in favour of the SDbuster program and, later, inbuilt features of the game (since Icy Tower 1.4).[citation needed]
4. ^ a b The game is also known as Icy Tower ME (ITME).
5. ^ a b c As the designer and artist of Icy Tower in the version for personal computers.
6. ^ A Swedish game developer that owned Free Lunch Design as of March 2008. "What's new". Muskedunder Interactive. Retrieved December 30, 2009. "The Swedish flash game developer Muskedunder Interactive today [i.e. March 30, 2008] announced it has acquired the independent game developer Free Lunch Design."
7. ^ a b The version of Icy Tower Facebook released on September 24, 2009 was a beta release. As of 2009, no final version of ITFB has been released.
8. ^ The site has subsequently been relocated to itc.­freelunchdesign.­com.
9. ^ It is also possible to modify sound resources of the game.
10. ^ Since Icy Tower 1.4 it is no longer possible to change the game palette using a custom character.

## References

1. Free Lunch Design. Icy Tower. PC, (v1.4). (Readme file named "Icy Tower v1.4").
2. ^ a b "Highscores". Icy Tower Community. Free Lunch Design. Archived from the original on June 3, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
3. ^ Serafin, Lukasz (September 28, 2005). "Intervju med Johan Peitz" [Interview with Johan Peitz] (in Swedish). cure.se. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2009. "[...] I got the idea from Xjump, an old game installed on the school computers. I expanded and improved the gameplay, packaged it neatly, and there you are – the first version was ready."
4. ^ "IT In Multiplayer? (NETWORK) Yes or NOT AT all?". Free Lunch Design Forum. October 1, 2005. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
5. ^ "A new version?". Free Lunch Design Forum. January 28, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
6. ^ Peitz, Johan (July 18, 2008). "The needs of the one - or the many?". Sleeping Eggplant. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
7. ^ "Icy Tower 1.2.2 Beta!". Forum Icy.pl (in Polish). February 14, 2005. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
8. ^ "Icy Tower Mobile". Free Lunch Design. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
9. ^ a b "Links on "Icy Tower"". Facebook. September 24, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2009. "It's finally here: Icy Tower for Facebook! The game is limited to 5000 players during the initial test phase, so claim your slot now!"
10. ^ "Free Lunch Design Takes Games to the Next Level" (PDF). Free Lunch Design. March 14, 2007. Archived from the original on March 23, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
11. ^ Maliszewski, Piotr (July 29, 2008). "wywiad z twórcami Icy Tower Mobile - Xendex" [interview with the creators of Icy Tower Mobile - Xendex]. ICYTOWER.mobi (in Polish). Icy.pl. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
12. ^ "I'm porting IT to the DS". Free Lunch Design Forum. December 23, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
13. ^ "LUA Icy Tower v0.6". Downloads / LUA-Spiele (in German). PSPSource.de. February 4, 2007. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
14. ^ "NEWS: Icy Tower climbs the charts". Free Lunch Design Forum. February 27, 2006. Retrieved December 26, 2008.