Tag Archives: iOS

Lumino City on iOS

Developer State of Play:

Lumino City has been created in a unique way. Everything you see on screen was made using paper, cardboard and glue, culminating in the building of a 10 foot high model city. Laser cutting was used to create finely detailed environment, and miniature lights and motors were built in to bring it to life.

This game is truly a work of art. Not to mention the captivating execution of story just moments in.

“Winner of numerous international awards including the BAFTA for Artistic Achievememt…” For some reason, regrettably, I held out on playing the Mac version. Happy to have this in my pocket. Looks stunning on iPhone 6s.

Lumino City is now available for iOS.

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Heroes of Might & Magic III HD Edition

One of my all-time favorite games has been re-released on Steam, iOS, and Android. I spent countless hours with Heroes of Might & Magic III growing up, and during my late-twenties nostalgia trip, had been itching to play again. The HD sheen doesn’t do much more than make the game look like what I remember playing, but I’m thrilled they kept the jagged animations around.

Steam | iOS | Android

[Via The Awesomer]

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Space Age Color Blindness Options

@Spaceageapp:

Making sure Space Age is colorblind friendly.

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Awesome accessibility awareness. And top level too. (Tap Options on the title screen and there they are!) That alone earned Big Bucket Software my $3.99.

Space Age: A Cosmic Adventure is currently available for iOS. Looking forward to playing. Also hearing great things about the soundtrack by Cabel Sasser.

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Ustwo Offers 8 New Monument Valley Chapters for $1.99, Gets Hammered with 1-Star Reviews

@ustwogames:

Seems quite a few people have gone back and 1 star reviewed Monument Valley upon update because the expansion was paid. This makes us sad.

Terribly sad news. Admittedly, I initially tweeted the new levels were free upon seeing that my app had automatically updated to 2.0. After a quick check and ‘duh’ moment, said tweet was deleted and replaced with the following:

Monument Valley 2.0 by @ustwogames is out! $1.99 IAP for 8 new chapters:
https://t.co/5diI1iys0V

My review of 1.0:
http://t.co/vNJ9V7vBZz

I’m so thrilled that the folks at Ustwo decided to release additional content for Monument Valley. The game is an artistic treasure; mind-bending and beautiful. Worth well over $6 for the complete package, if you ask me.

Eli Hodapp at TouchArcade has a brilliant piece on the dilemma. Likewise, John Gruber’s take is spot on. Relinking to some other worthwhile pieces on free-to-play and premium models:

Ustwo: Monument Valley “left money on the table” with premium pricing
Ustwo director of games Neil McFarland on the creative benefits of avoiding free-to-play via GamesIndustry.biz.

Mobile is burning, and free-to-play binds the hands of devs who want to help
Barry Meade of Fireproof Games writing for Polygon.

Finishing with an excerpt from my Monument Valley 1.0 review, dated April 6, 2014:

It seems the urgency for time has permeated the minds of the developers at ustwo. Monument Valley’s 2-3 hour play-through is the perfect amount of that decadent cake. The experience of Monument Valley is sure to please both the hardcore gamer and casual audiences alike. In fact, it is the perfect example of the importance of short and sweet, possibly introducing these polarizing audiences to a new approach in game design as seen in Journey, The Room, or EDGE. And like that decadent cake, Monument Valley’s length, design, and puzzles are mesmerizing enough to feel satisfied yet haunting enough to warrant constant craving. If DLC is abound, sign me up.

Signed up for $1.99 this morning. Would have given more if they asked.

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Biophilia is headed to classrooms

Vanessa Thorpe, The Guardian:

[Björk’s] initiative, funded by the Nordic Council, is designed to be non-academic and has already been used in an informal way in Iceland. In an interview with the Observer magazine to be published next week , she said the programme had been “really popular with kids who have ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] or dyslexia” because it gets away from the classroom-bound, traditional nature of the Icelandic curriculum. “Unfortunately, it means we have to sit down and write a curriculum, and that’s a contradiction.”

Biophilia was such a brave and ambitious project ( I expect nothing less of Björk). Stellar news.

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Mobile is burning, and free-to-play binds the hands of devs who want to help

Mobile is burning, and free-to-play binds the hands of devs who want to help

Barry Meade of Fireproof Games writing for Polygon:

In 2013 mobile games made over $10 billion globally and allegedly this is great. $10 billion sounds a lot, it is a lot, but the makers of Candy Crush alone took almost $2 billion. Throw in the top ten and there’s most of your games market gone; hoovered up by ten cute grinding games that are clones of each other. Any remaining change from that money is scraped off the table and scattered across a games industry trying to service a billion devices.

A 2 percent “engaged’ audience does not seem towering in achievement for a creative industry that looks to draw its players into new experiences. We’re living in a world where Netflix’s content inspires hysteria in grown adults, so is mobile gaming really in the same league when 98 percent of its gamers spend more on pencil sharpeners than games made by our billion-dollar leaders?

In my experience, The Room sparks the same water-cooler conversations for non-gamers that Myst did. It appears Monument Valley is doing the same, as experienced with my non-gaming colleagues. I think “the binge” has hindered the TV water-cooler conversation now that everyone is on their own schedule. Delivery of challenging and original yet “polished” and “possible” experiences can bring back the general audience gaming conversations we had on the playground.

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Mariothon

Mariothon

A Mario Kart running app.


Recently, Jane McGonigal’s “Reality Is Broken” has encouraged me to spend a lot of time pondering what it would be like to be a game designer; constantly considering the artful blend of psychology and technology and its impact on the entertainment, fitness and education industries.

“ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: wanted to break 6 mins in a mile time trial on the track; ran 5:45 and had more in the tank. ” – Christian Spicer, @spicer

#GeeksinSneaks

While on a jog with the gamified Nike+ Running app, I contemplated this hashtag. Aside from the Geeks in Sneaks meet up group and loads of gamified fitness apps (Wii Fit; Zombies, Run; Kinect Sports Rivals, etc.), I wondered if something more could be done to encourage those identified with the geek community to promote fitness regimes.

Initially, I had the lofty idea of organizing a crowd-funded #GeeksinSneaks race (5K, 10K, half/full marathon) full of cosplay, video game prizes and exclusive comics and geek apparel/memorabilia. If this idea were to draw a big enough crowd, its scale would limit the event to happening at fixed times in fixed areas. It may not be enough to encourage constant activity.

Then I thought about the Nike+ Running app. I am able to use this app on my own time. Day or night, weekday or weekend. While I appreciate the app’s gamification elements, they have now worn off to some degree; however, they were enough to get a jogging regime to stick. I now use the app simply as a fitness tracker. I wondered, “is there another way make running a gamified experience and broadcast it to a massive audience?”

Then it hit me.

Nintendo has repeatedly stated that they have a renewed focus on the smartphone ecosystem and health. They also plan to release Mario Kart 8, a beloved franchise, on May 30th. While real-life Mario Kart already exists, I was unable to find Mario Kart adapted into a running game. What if Nintendo were to release a gamified smartphone running app with the mechanics of Mario Kart built in. Lets call it “Mariothon.”

Mariothon

In Mariothon, players are able to set up a race with up to say four runners. Each player is required to where headphones with an attached button-mic to hear in game alerts and trigger events. At certain distances, players are awarded items (simulating Mario Kart’s mystery boxes) that they can use at their leisure by clicking the button on their headphones.

For example, at a quarter mile, a runner earns a lightning bolt. Once used, an in-game alert informs all other runners in the game to walk until the effect wears off. Another variation might add time to the paces of the competing runners. A banana peel might be used as a surprise attack when another runner crosses a certain geo-fence. Blue shells would have a direct impact on the leader, forcing them to stop dead in their tracks or pausing their “distance ran” meter. First to a specific distance wins!

Obviously, not every run will users want to incorporate the game element. In the event of solo runs, the app could serve as a simple run tracker with many of the same achievements offered in the Nike+ Running app. Cross-brand incentives could also award solo runs. Besting a 7-minute-mile or completing a 10K could unlock characters or tracks in Mario Kart or other console-based Nintendo games. (similar to Hearthstone’s unlockable WoW mount)

As a non-developer, I have no idea if linking players and dropping geo-fenced items is a possibility. I also understand that the initial development of this app would certainly be a huge undertaking. While this would join the many gamified fitness apps on the market, the Nintendo and Mario Kart branding may be enough for it to stick with a larger audience.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Is this something that would interest you? Does this already exist? Has fitness gamification worked for you? If so, what fitness apps are you utilizing and how are they helping?

—–

Image source The Augusta Chronicle


Originally published on TheStarrList.com

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Monument Valley – A Review

The beauty of brevity. The pleasure of paradox.


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Ten puzzles. Ten gorgeous, mind-bending, paradoxical puzzles. This is a video game you will complete. In fact, Monument Valley may the first video game many will complete. This is by design.

“With so many games, people never see the end, because there’s so many hours of gameplay, we wanted to make a game where you see the whole thing.” – Dan Gray, Monument Valley Executive Producer in an interview with Polygon

As a child, completing a game was a triumph. This was not due to lack time, rather heightened difficulty. Personally, my choice in games was largely based on franchise rather than quality. In turn, this provided me with a library of poorly designed “classics” such as Sonic The Hedgehog and Battletoads. Hours were spent replaying games from Stage 1-1 on to the point where I was forced to power down the console. Check points were few and far between. Save files were non-existent. When asking a video game funding parent if their child had completed any, you’d be hard pressed to receive a positive answer.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this notion has persuaded many audiences away from video games entirely. If they cannot be finished, what is the point?

Now in my late-20s, working 10-12 hours per day, fitting in crucial exercise for a metabolism that seems all but lost, weekends spent running errands that have stacked up, and nurturing a relationship with my soon-to-be wife, I find very little free time to invest in my love for gaming. The minute-to-minute time I do find is spent reading pieces on Polygon or IGN, sharing these with the greater social media landscape. Echoed in Ben Kuchera’s post “Parenthood makes gaming better by making time your most precious resource,” the value of time skyrockets as we age. The pastimes of yesteryear begin to seem wasteful, yet we strive to retain a connection to our childhood identity. After all, it is the foundation of our dreams. It is who we are and where we are headed.

Since playing Final Fantasy X (recently remastered for PS3 and PSVita) in high school, I have searched for games with rich story. Until the rise of indies, these only seemed attainable through 15-40 hour bouts of character and world building, effectively turning a game into an interactive novel. Fitting one of these epics into my day-to-day has become a near impossible feat.

This is where Monument Valley succeeds. Piling mass amounts of beautiful art and ambitious puzzle design into a bite sized experience is the video game equivalent of a decadent cake. Too much is overbearing. Not enough is unsatisfying. There is a balance.

Monument Valley immediately finds it’s footing through a rich color palette, a soothing soundtrack, and delicate animation. The player understands this world and its inhabitants. The story is used as a mysterious additive that comes secondary to exploring the gorgeous worlds built on paradoxical M. C. Esher design.

Puzzle solving through the discovery of paradox makes the player feel empowered and unstoppable. The experience of breaking illogical boundaries through new perspectives gives players the opportunity to live out their fantasies; it offers a sensation of seeing The Matrix or experiencing the paradox of Inception first-hand.

As the game progresses, the solutions to impossible geometry become more and more difficult to discover. It was not uncommon for me to consciously forget my knowledge of the real world and instead fall back on memories of mazes and Puzzlemania books of my youth. As the difficulty builds, the frustration of adulthood becomes more apparent. Our desire to know how things work is challenged to near breaking point. Even those with a basic understanding of code, animation, and design will scratch their heads and ask of the developers, “how did they do that?” Somehow, the player is able to move the on-screen character through paths that did not previously exist until viewing the vertical world from a different angle. Genius.

It seems the urgency for time has permeated the minds of the developers at ustwo. Monument Valley’s 2-3 hour play-through is the perfect amount of that decadent cake. The experience of Monument Valley is sure to please both the hardcore gamer and casual audiences alike. In fact, it is the perfect example of the importance of short and sweet, possibly introducing these polarizing audiences to a new approach in game design as seen in JourneyThe Room, or EDGE. And like that decadent cake, Monument Valley’s length, design, and puzzles are mesmerizing enough to feel satisfied yet haunting enough to warrant constant craving. If DLC is abound, sign me up.

Monument Valley is available exclusively on iOS (iTunes)


Originally published on TheStarrList.com

 

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