An exclusive look at the rebalancing of Chickens Can't Fly for Windows Phone

Chickens Can't Fly aquarium laboratory

The new Aquarium laboratory

We’ve already posted the official release notes for this week’s Chickens Can’t Fly version 1.1 update as well as the game’s permanent price drop to 99 cents. But the update actually contains a lot of changes that aren’t touched upon in those brief notes. Specifically, the difficulty of several levels and Achievements got updated for the better. As your favorite lovable (but humble) gaming writer actually had a hand in initiating those changes, I thought it would be fun to share them with you in greater detail.

Head past the break for an up-close look at the Chickens Can’t Fly update, exclusive screenshots, and news about unlocking levels and Avatar awards!

What’s in an update?

The most significant additions in the update are the Aquarium laboratory with 14 new levels and unique power-ups and obstacles; two unlockable Avatar awards; unlockable chicken skins (outfits), some of which are available as PDLC; asynchronous Xbox Live multiplayer Challenges; and the PDLC Dojo laboratory. The Aquarium and Avatar awards have a few issues though, which we’ll get to in a bit.

On top of those major new features, the update packs these changes:

  • Added rewards for finishing levels with more lives 10% bonus score for each life remaining at the end
  • Per popular request, we added a new ringtone with the main theme song
  • Re-balanced some difficult levels, and made them easier
  • Reduced the requirements for Gold medals in some levels that were almost impossible to get (thanks Paul for the great suggestions on these)
  • Fixed performance/framerate issues in some Butchery and Physics levels
  • Made the ‘Hungry, hungry Chicken!’ achievement easier to get by humans
  • Music doesn’t loop anymore between re-starts of the same level, so even if you die quickly, you’ll get to hear all of it
  • Corrected translations (Thanks Mark, Luc, Vicente, Fabio)
  • Streamlined the Trial and added a few ‘demo’ experiments from later laboratories
  • Squashed a few little bugs

Going for the gold

Chickens Can’t Fly DLC and Ringtones

Now let’s talk about the rebalancing. Upon release, Chickens Can’t Fly was actually a very tough game – frustratingly so at times. Much of the frustration centered around the levels’ gold medal requirements, which weren’t always realistic or relied too heavily on luck and extremely specific circumstances. Developer Amused Sloth made two sweeping changes aimed at bringing the challenge down to intended levels. First, they reduced the Gold requirement in a number of levels. Second, (as stated above) players are now awarded a bonus score for their remaining lives at the end of the level. This reduces (but doesn’t quite eliminate every instance of) the need to commit suicide in order to earn more points prior to reaching the level’s end.

Hair-pulling levels

Chickens Can’t Fly multiplayer and avatar awards

Those changes are great, but some levels still proved problematic. I singled out the four most troublesome levels pre-update:

Butchery 8 (Can Chicken Paint Walls): If you're painting the walls and avoiding death, you won't finish the paint requirements until right around the beginning of the third checkpoint. This allows virtually no time to start a multiplier and collect corn before completing the level. It is possible to meet the requirement by sacrificing a few lives and getting the painting out of the way before moving on to the next checkpoint(s), but IMO players should never have to kill themselves in order to get the best medal.

Cemetery 14 (Can Chicken be Extra Careful): This took me TWO HOURS to complete with a Gold Medal. In that time, I managed to complete the level without meeting the gold requirements about 9 or so times. I believe this is the hardest level in the game due to the high density of traps. Collecting power-downs (or cakes and then subsequent items) is just too dangerous.

Physics 7 (Immaterial Chicken): The least enjoyable level in the game. It doesn't even teach players how to use the Demeterializer properly because the item doesn't work the same way in other levels that it does in this one. Other levels that are designed to introduce/teach a powerup allow players to activate those power-ups at will or collect them and then activate them. Since Demeterializer is just on all the time in this one, the results are obnoxious...

Even just collecting items is tough because at any given moment you're likely to be transparent. Slowing down until the Chicken becomes solid will cause the power-ups to run down. PLUS Chicken doesn't collect corn or items that he is on top of when he re-solidifies - he has to move off of them and move back (while still solid) in order to collect such items.

Physics 14 (Scientist): It takes enough time and effort to survive this level at all without the possibility of completing it with too few stars (which happened to me five or so times in an hour). The only way to meet the Star requirement is to string together several Shrink items since the Shrink multiplier stacks. But there's no guarantee that such a configuration of Shrinks will even appear. Thus players have to repeat the level over and over until the odds work in their favor - both annoying and unfair.

Chickens Can’t Fly DLC skins

And here is how Amused Sloth subsequently tweaked the levels in the update:

Butchery 8: Reduced score targets to 350 for Silver and 700 for Gold.
Cemetery 14: Reduced score targets to 350 for Silver and 700 for Gold. Also, slightly reduced the density of obstacles and evil power-ups.
Physics 7: This was a pain for lots of people. We reduced the requirements to 200 for Silver and 400 for Gold. The Lives bonus helps here a lot, also. We also increased the possibility of getting power-ups. However, this still remains a bit frustrating.
Physics 14: We lowered the score requirements to 1500 for Silver and 3000 for Gold. We also reduced the density of obstacles and increased the density of helpful power-ups.
Others: Other levels were adjusted too (especially the 'Extra Careful' ones, where we both reduced the density of obstacles, and the Gold targets), but generally [we stuck to] minor tweaks to [their] Silver and Gold requirements.

The Hungry, hungry Chicken Achievement

All of those changes make the 25 GamerScore ‘Chickens Can’t Fly!’ Achievement so much more reasonable (and fun) to earn. But what about the dreaded ‘Hungry, hungry Chicken!’ Achievement? As stated in our review, unlocking it originally would have taken something like 80 hours of grinding in order to acquire a million pieces of corn. That was never Amused Sloth’s intention, so they’ve done what they can to correct it by making the corn counter fill up faster. Post-update, each piece of corn the player collects counts as 10 corns towards the overall counter. As a result, the Achievement now unlocks 10 times faster than before. Thank goodness! (Update: the 10x multiplier isn't working for everyone and will be fixed in the next patch.)

Even better, the latest Weekly Challenge ‘Week of the Corn’ contains more corn-grabbing opportunities than ever before. It's a perfect way to knock out that Achievement for scoring 300,000 in a single level too, provided you have a coupleof hours to kill. Don’t forget to complete it, Achievement hunters!

New problems born

Title updates have a fair chance of introducing new problems of their own – remember last week’s Shuffle Party update? As such, a handful of new Chickens Can’t Fly issues have popped up:

Unlocking the Aquarium: Players who completed every experiment prior to the update unfortunately haven’t been able to unlock the new laboratory. This is due to a bug and will be corrected as soon as possible in a new title update.

Avatar Awards: Chickens Can’t Fly has two awards: the Chicken Helmet, for obtaining 15 Gold medals, and Chicken Slippers, for winning a multiplayer challenge. If you’ve already got at least 15 Golds, the helmet should unlock at start-up or after completing one game. Slippers will require completion of a challenge, which shouldn’t be too hard. But the award notifications sometimes unlock without displaying a notification, making it hard to know you’ve got them.

If you think you should have them, exit the game and choose to customize your Avatar through the Xbox Live Extras app on your phone. Then simply put ‘em on! You won’t be able to equip the awards for the first time on a console or PC, because that data is stored directly on the device that unlocked them.

Duplicate game: Many folks (including me) unwittingly purchased the Must-Have Games for Windows Phone using preview links earlier this year. Unfortunately for us, games bought this way don’t register as the ‘official’ versions and can’t be re-downloaded or updated. To receive continued support for those titles, affected users had to repurchase said games.

More bad news: if you had the old version of CCF on your phone, the progress you made in it won’t transfer over to the new version. Version 1.1 will show up as a duplicate game in the Games Hub. You’ll need to delete the old version and start anew if you want to experience the update’s benefits. This issue could have been avoided if only Microsoft would allow users to back-up and transfer Windows Phone save games.

Xbox Live issues: Some users have experienced problems connecting to Xbox Live in-game after the update. Amused Sloth expects the problems to die down after a day or two, once the back-end Live infrastructure has time to fully update.


Chickens Can’t Fly skin select

Thanks to the version 1.1 update, Chickens Can’t Fly is truly one of the very best games on Xbox Live. Check out our original review or just get it here on the Marketplace!


Reader comments

An exclusive look at the rebalancing of Chickens Can't Fly for Windows Phone


Great article, wonderful to see the developer do so much to support the game.
And I still can't get the slippers to unlock?  Anybody help on this?  (And I checked my Avatar, they're not there.  So it didn't have anything to with the lack of a notification).

So I bought the game using the preview link, but I didn't buy the game? WTF!? So I paid extra for it and now if I want any updates I have to pay more? This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Why is this be so screwed up? I think someone (MS or the developer) needs to step up and fix this issue.

I was on the fence about the game for a while and I finally decided to try it out.  Well... can't install it.  Says my phone is incompatible.  It's a 1st Gen Focus.  Running OS 7.10.7720.68.  Would still like to try it but I guess I'll have to wait until upgrade time, which for me is WP8, or W8P if you're in the 54%. ;)

The game runs on any Mango device. I personally ran it on a Samsung Omnia 7 (equivalent of Focus in EU) with the latest OS upgades, and it installs and runs properly....

How on earth do I get this to update? I've still got version 1.0 on my phone and I see no update notification in the marketplace. If I navigate directly to CCF in the marketplace, I don't see an update option, only the share button.

often if an update is available but isn't shown on your homescreen 'market place' tile go to the app (in market place) it will only show share (if you already have it installed), then go back to the search results / app list then go into the app again (still in market place) and it will usally then discover the update and let you install it. silly i know...

Thanks for the tip. Had to try that 2-3 times before it finally showed up but i've got the update now.

thanks for the insights. I had beaten all the original levels but was a few gold medals shy of total domination. as I was typically only a bit off on most levels for getting the gold, the rebalancing, and in particular, the addition of the extra pointes for lives is really helping. i noticed the bug with the aquarium being unavailable, look forward to that fix, but in the mean time the ninja levels are sweet!!

Nice to see post-launch support for a game (or any application, for that matter).  I bought this a while ago, but haven't started it yet.
As the author mentioned, I really wish we could back up our saved games though.  I just had to send my phone out for warranty repair, and of course all saved game data will be wiped when I get it back.  Glad I didn't have any "grindy" games on the go, but it's still annoying.

I know the progress issues sucks big time.
For our next games, we will store the save data in the cloud on our servers (if the users allow it), until WP7 will support this automatically (I hope soon).
We wanted to get this in CCF too, but due to lack of resources and budget we were unable to do that.
Catalin - Lead Developer of CCF

(Hey you guys are doing a great job. Keep it up.) I know the RPG Dragon's Blade already has an implementation of this, giving the user a code so that the game data can be transferred to any device. It's quite nice.

Great game, and great to see this kind of effort from developers.

Speaking of updates... do you know anything about the Pirates! update? Haven't had time to really check it out. Had a lot of storage related problems during that update though, so I recommend anyone about to download it to have a chunk of free space first.

I am a little confused by the Hungry Hungry chicken achievement. If it is now achievable 10x faster, then you would only need 100,000 pieces of corn. So if you are playing the current challenge, and there is a 2x bonus multiplier while playing, I would assume once you get a score of 200,000, you should unlock the achievement (and that is assuming you started with nothing).
What I am seeing however through the achievement progress bar, is that I am making progress, but nowhere as fast as if there was a 10x multiplier.

Unfortuntely, it seems anothr bugs slipped through, and the 10x faster doesn't always work. I've seen it work for some people, but not for everyone.
This is also on the top of our priority list (together with the Aquarium being locked). We've finished coding on this issue today, the game in now in QA, and we hope to submit it to MS for certification by the end of the week.
We'll leave the current Challenge a while longer, to compensate for our stupidity.

Oh believe me, I am not complaining, I just found it odd with what was reported with this article and what I was seeing via the progress bar. Anyway, I can confirm it is definitely not working for me. Thanks again.

That's how you write a article about a game update..  WTG Paul! now if you could find out what the deal is with the Pirates update, that would be great.
But we both know not all dev's respond like Catalin =) She's a class act. Great example of what dev's should strive for.

for the slippers go on your Xbox then to change avatar. when you get there go to awards then select the slippers and choose to download. also did you get the prompt when you started the game after winning a challenge saying they unlocked?