Archive for the ‘Apple and Gaming’ Category

One thing I have noticed during the last few months is how Apple continues to invest in releasing new iPad models during different times of the year and that come with different titles. The company is also making these iPads different in terms of price, size or form factor, and hardware specs.

 

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This in turn may be good and bad for consumers. By having choices, they can really find out what they want and need for their needs at different price points. However, this also means they have to invest their time into research and in the end may purchase the iPad that wasn’t meant for them or that they could have gotten a better deal on if they really knew the market.

An example of this was Apple’s recent push with the now outdated iPad 2 hardware and the original iPad Mini hardware. In terms of refurbished products, they are still both sold at similar price points ($248 for iPad iMini vs $279 for iPad 2) and Apple continues to keep the iPad 2 as the refurbished model to get rather than put an iPad 3 or The New iPad in there as the cheaper product with the full screen. 

This confuses consumers who are on a budget because they would be smart to not listen to Apple’s marketing and purchase the iPad 2 at this price since it is the full sized iPad with the same hardware specs as the Mini. The Mini is simply the newer product that hit the shelves, but in reality both of these iPads have similar hardware specs within them.

This goes back to the question: are there too many choices and price points right now on the market available to consumers within the iPad lineup? I think the answer is yes. Even when we do not take the refurbished models into consideration, the main iPad lineup still includes the Mini as an option along with the Mini with Retina, iPad Air and the cheaper and a bit older iPad with Retina display (iPad 4).

At least it is the iPad 4 now that is being sold cheaper than the other models new, because until recently this was still the now much-outdated iPad 4 that Apple had in this bracket. 

On the main website (when not clicking on compare models) it is a bit less confusing with the latest Mini and iPad Air being displayed side by side. This was a smart move by Apple. It tells consumers to get the product they want depending on size they want or need and price. However, the market is a lot more confusing than this when venturing further into Apple’s website and really figuring out what you as the consumer want and need.

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Basically, Apple may be biting themselves a bit in the foot by not offering a shoppers guide of sorts on their website that guides consumers into choosing the right tablet for them. There is still and expectancy of knowledge or research on the market involved and this gets even more confusing for consumers shopping for rival Android tablets as a potential replacement for the iPad. 

 

 

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If you are an iDevice developer or a PR representative for any company making apps (whether gaming or any other type of app it doesn’t matter) I am now offering my services to write press releases for your upcoming app or just-released app.

The rates will depend on the type of press release I am writing (length) and whether the developer will provide all the information we will put together into a nice format. If we have to do additional research and interviews (say of a CEO) I will charge more. The prices are negotiable, so feel free to e-mail me and inquire.

If you e-mail me, I can send you some samples of ones I’ve written. I mostly followed the prmac.com format. Here are recent samples of what I’ve written for a contact:

IntelliVocab 1.5 Released to Improve English Vocabulary Interactively

IntelliVocab for Business Announced

iCan ABC Announced

References:

Lana Parker
PR Manager
lana760@gmail.com
Twitter: @VelvetMobile

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The next huge up-and-coming iOS title, SuperBrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP is packed with all kinds of artistic flair and beauty. The pixelated beauty is finally coming out and will be hitting the iPad exclusively.

The game looks to be a medieval swords-and-shields type of game with magic and sci-fi plot twists thrown in. It also seems to have a lot of surreal elements thrown in. Will the game transform the platform as we know it into a new direction? I certainly think it will. It looks like art and game finally combined into something truly special.

And guess what? It’s coming Friday, the 11th. Apple’s next tablet iteration was unveiled yesterday at an Apple news event in the same downtown area and timeframe as the Game Development Conference (GDC 2011)– that was and still is underway.

What is kind of ironic, is that at GDC 2011 many iPhone and iPad developers were trying to showoff their upcoming apps. Yet Apple swayed many bloggers and journalists from that conference and into their own news event — with Steve Jobs speaking.

Here is a piece I posted for tablets.com — Where I’ve been writing as of late — about how Apple really tried to crash Nintendo’s GDC announcement and timed their own event to run concurrent to Nintendo’s.

Nintendo also took some jabs at Apple (although not directly), according to various sources present at Nintendo’s keynote, where Nintendo President Iwata made a speech.

Iwata basically claimed that Nintendo games are superior and Tablet and smartphone games are too cheap and ruining gaming. Here is what he said according to Jim Dalrymple from Loopinsight:

“Iwata said he considers Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to be the only ones making high-value gaming products.”

So he thinks Microsoft makes quality products? I wonder if he says the same thing when it comes to their operating systems.

This just shows how scared Nintendo is right now and threatened it the compny executives must feel by Apple and Google. Someone should ask Iwata when a game with the scope of Aralon, or an Elder Scrolls type of experience hits the Nintendo handheld.

Here is my coverage of the iPad 2 and what it will offer for Tablets.com:

iPad 2 Revealed by Jobs Himself

Enough with iPad 2 Specs, How Bout Some Software News

This was my story for Appmodo that had a different spin with all the info presented in one post concentrating on specs, features:
iPad 2 Specs Unveiled from Apple Event

Although impressive technically and in regards to the added cameras, I will probably hold off on the upgrade until the iPad 3 and here is the reason why.

A Photoshopped image I made using ‘Art Studio HD’ for one of the Tablets.com posts:

I recently came across two interesting concepts while searching for apps on my iPad. Games that fall into a new category of gaming that mixes with other forms of media. In a sense gaming, music and books coming together to tell a visual story. I am specifically referring to games that combine story books or interactive novels with visual representations called game books — as well as games that combine visual gameplay with voice-based audio interaction.

One example of an audio-type game is Papa Sangre. The game plays without any visual graphics of any sorts and has you engage in a mystery of sorts dealing with the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition. Here is the app description from the official website:

Papa Sangre is a video game with no video. It’s a first-person thriller, done entirely in audio by an award-winning team of game designers, musicians, sound designers and developers. We’ve created an entire world using the first ever real-time 3D audio engine implemented on a handheld device. Which was BLOODY HARD.

It is interesting how certain developers are using all of the features of the iPad or iPhone like voice recognition with the microphone. This is an example of thinking outside the box. This concept reminds me of another game released a few months back by Square-Enix called Voice Fantasy. The game featured a light-hearted RPG storyline that was played with voice commands. The characters would be generated based on voice as well. I found it an interesting, albeit a bit shallow, concept that Square-Enix could run with in future titles if done right.

Another interesting concept I’ve ran into lately on the App Store gaming scene are interactive novel-games or books that have graphics, visual representations, and even quests with non-linear gameplay elements thrown in. Think of these apps as a mix between a book and an RPG-adventure game.

A recent example of such an app to get recognition and that is hailed as pretty much the cream of the crop (by TouchArcade at least) is the recent Fabled Lands HD, that is exclusive to the iPad on the App Store and features RPG elements in a book format.

According to Ellisthion from Dice of Doom, the app is ” a completely open game that has been compared to an MMO in book form, with no linear storyline and the ability to roam around the world as you see fit.”

With all these gread ideas being put together to add immersion to games, I think there is a lot to go in gaming before innovation ceases and the medium fails to advance. We are just scratching the surface here with ideas like voice recognition and sensory imagery being integrated into gameplay decisions. We will have greater roles in games rather than just watching a storyline unfold. Same thing holds true for digital novels and eBooks. As society moves away from print we will need something to compensate for the lack of that paper feeling reading is associated with and all the benefits a real book offers over a digital copy. Interaction is one way to keep our attention.

I think the future of gaming is headed in the virtual reality direction but the first step being sensory in origin — not necessarily with helmets or big visual devices putting our eyes in a different dimension. There is more than visual cues to an experience. The App Store, in particular, just continues to amaze me though with apps constantly pushing the boundaries.

In association with the Daily App Dream giveaway, Hurdle Turtle is available to download for free on the App Store. This game should be familiar to retro gamers who love systems such as Intellivison and the games that it offered, as ‘Hurdle Turtle’ goes directly with that style of play.

You control a turtle through obstacle courses — the initial course unlocked for you is a standard olympic track — where you can only move around a path set for you that is constantly shifting toward the right. And while your turtle moves, you will have to control his directions of movement and jump over obstacles and objects in your path.

As you unlock new tracks things will get bizarre for you; as the second track had me dodge deer and other animals in the forrest for instance. There are also different turtles with their own costumes and outlook to unlock.

‘Hurdle Turtle’ may be the giveaway’s highlight, but it isn’t the only free app being offered by the Daily App Dream giveaway. Two other games are currently free and as part of the giveaway as well — they are Peppy Frog and iDork XL.

‘Peppy a frog’ is a fun little arcade game where you control a frog in a pool of water while trying to eat small fish and avoid being engulfed by the larger ones. ‘iDork XL’ is a line-drawing game where you help a stick-figured man make his way past 64 levels and draw the path for him.

Daily App Dream is a giveaway to iDevice gamers with different titles on the App Store going free for a day. There is also an app for the giveaway, Daily App Dream, that will inform App Store gamers what titles have gone free periodically.

Taken from Flickr by David Ortez

A private school in Tennessee, called Web School, has decided to go digital with their textbooks for students with the iPad.

According to 9to5Mac, the Knoxville-based Web school will actually require all fourth-grade to 12th-grade students for next year to purchase or rent the iPad. To rent the iPad it will only cost $20 per month.

It is great to see schools make the transition to digital media and embrace new technology like the iPad. The iPad is very lightweight, portable, and offers great eBook, PDF readers. Students of all ages are sick of carrying heavy books around.

Since many of these students are already wanting the iPad or some tablet, this will be a way to teach them to use it for more than just listening to music or watching movies. By embracing the technology, a teaching method can become fun for even the usually less-motivated students. On the other hand, there could be drawbacks to this method of teaching, like the students being distracted with all the other features the iPad offers to even finish reading their textbook.

According to the article by 9to5Mac, distractions like Twitter and Facebook will be blocked somehow on campus though.

[9to5Mac]

I found a great little piece with a long two-part audio segment relating to citizen journalism and Web-based journalism:
Journalism? Are you crazy?

The message is clear; anyone who has anything to say can be heard and do reporting these days. We do not need gatekeepers anymore.

My experience with print media has been less than stellar. I did some internships and do have some experience in this field, but there are numerous reasons for my criticism. One is that many editors seem to think they are gods, or that they can alter and change your writing to suit their personal style. This got me really angry because the writing was so altered that it didn’t even sound like it was coming from me at times. It was also altered, or edited, in areas not having to do with copy errors or AP style errors at all — simply preference by the editors. A lot of the editors still around in print are also not willing to embrace social media, the Web, and citizen journalism. Some of these papers also rely entirely on interns (who do not get paid) for actual journalism work, while they sit in their chairs and rule as if they were kings. They also do not value the things that younger readers in the midsts of Web 2.0 value: social media, interaction and news that reaches them.

I can go on and on about my dislike for traditional journalism in the newspaper sphere of things. Shocking headlines for example and ruining someone’s reputation to get your name as a journalist out; or quoting one side of the story without the other. These are all central California themes we see from these small town-newspapers who want to do things the easy way rather than put actual work into every story they cover. There is a reason many crime suspects, and their families, refuse to answer reporters’ questions anymore.

This is also a reason I have been focusing on freelancing and technology reporting. I find that having such a niche is indispensable in today’s world with more newspapers and print media falling. I enjoy news and breaking events as well; but do not want some old guy sitting in a sofa telling me what to do or how to put the shock value at the audience — at the expense of someone else. What needs to happen is for online outlets to be able to gain revenue through more means than Google Adsense and for Web news to become more profitable.

There is a lot to like about traditional journalism; especially the professionalism and standard taught to students that prove quality over teh interwebz speak. However, this doesn’t have anything to do with print media necessarily because real journalists can work remotely or freelance as well.

Well, since I want to make this post fit in with the theme of this particular blog, where does the iPad fit in with Citizen or New Journalism? The iPad is light, portable, has apps from Youtube to Twitter to WordPress itself. The battery lasts all day.

When the camera comes in with the next generation of the iPad and the flash-memory improvements arise, we can really talk citizen journalism on the go (literally all day anywhere you are at the time you could be participating in citizen journalism).

Citizen journalism to me means using Web tools like Twitter, Youtube, WordPress, and your journalism degree and background of good writing — to create unique content and on-the-go with the iPad is the perfect way to do it. I think this is where the future revolution of journalism will go. Not just writing but being able to create new content for the masses in general (video, audio, writing, etc.).

Evac HD by Hexage is a great tribute to simpler arcade games of a past era — notably Pac-Man and its offshoots — but the game offers a completely new way to complete the main objective of collecting dots to exit a level. Instead of just avoiding enemies and waiting for the one powerup allowing you to eat them, as is the case in Pack-Man, Evac allows you to crush your enemies by manuevering blocks around them. The game also adds a wide range of powerups to have in your arsenal like being able to shoot lightning bolts to freeze the enemy squares or an aura forcefield that destroys them fully.

Presentation:

The game has a lot of personality and great animation with various blocks having their own distinct look and faces with features like eyes and a mouth. There really isn’t much of a story however outside a pink block, with a face, trying to escape his environment designed to keep him locked in. I also want to add how wonderful the sound effects and music are. It really is like a trance type of electro-beat that plays in the backround and as you gain rogress, you really feel the rush of the music with you. The beat also changes in mid-level overtime as you gain progress and higher multipliers.

Controls:

The pink square in your disposal is controlled by a virtual dpad that never really gets in the way of the action and is implemented pretty well. At times moving perfectly in a specific direction may cause problems, but only in wide open spaces. You can move Cratos as well as certain yellow blocks to manuever through each level and find exit points after collecting all the dots. Other blocks are immobile, however, and you have three chances or lives to avoid the red enemy-blocks. As you keep gathering point multipliers are awarded as long as the pink square doesn’t get hit. There are also various platforms that need to be activated in order to open an entry point or door to a new section of the level and this is done by doing puzzles such as moving a block onto a switch.

Gameplay:

You are a pink square block trying to find a way to escape the game-world environment constraining him and avoid red enemy-squares in the process. In the first few tutorial levels a yellow and immobile block named Cratos teches the mechanics of the game. He can also be moved around in mid level. A purple arch-rival named Shadowbox will also make an appearance from time to time during levels to tell you how pointless trying to escape is and how he really is in control.

Some of the game’s levels include puzzles like manuevering around spikes or dead ends with a ghost powerup for example. Or going through a row of spikes that pop up at different intervals. There are 24 levels in total and there is a nice variety to the level design and challenges presented.

Suggestions:

One thing that dissapoints me personally is the lack of a recent update for the iPad’s latest OS’s multi-tasking ability although I heard the other iDevice version supports it. If you exit the game in the middle of a level to do something else on your iPad you will have to restart the whole game once reopened. Another gripe is I would love the view or camera angle to stay put without scrolling and screen orientation to be consistent without black bars or emptyness on edges. There is no reason, on the iPad’s largeer screen, that the entire level shouldn’t be visible without scrolling. On the other hand it could cause obstruction of view because of controls and hands using the virtual dpad but that could easily be corrected by having a part of the screen not in-level specifically designated for the dpad.

Conclusion:

Evac HD features a great deal of fun for puzzle and retro fans alike. There is a wide selection of obstaclea and puzzles to overcome and enoigh levels to last you a while. The price is a huge selling point in my book however as it is only $.99 — both for standard and iPas HD versions — and that is a steal for such an innovative take on an old-favorite formula. There really is no excuse to not at least give the title a try. With so many games beingnvlones of each other these days or ripoffs rather than new takeson established formulas, I appreciate the efforts done in Evac HD and recommend it quite highly.

-This review was also posted on TheAppera

The warfare on the eastern front in World War 2 consisted of huge clashes of arms between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Not many games or even films can capture the immensity of the conflict. Tanks after tanks were thrown into cauldrons and smashed to pieces. It is no surprise that the latest online tank game for the iDevices is centered around that conflict. Battlezone 3d Eastern Front($Free) by Noumena is such a game and you will be able to control famous tanks from the era like the T34 or even the Tiger. This is an ad-sponsored ‘freemium’ game that includes the purchase of tank coins to gain access to better tanks as the other option is to gain in-game currency in through kills. A first-tier tank can be purchased for $300 and doesn’t utilize a single tank coin, second-tier tank can be purchased for 1 tank coin or $500, third for 2 tank coins or $750, and the fourth for $1250 or 5 tank coins. Beginning players start out with 10 coins and the number can grow or diminish depending on how well they play or end up utilizing their tanks.

The game starts you off with $500 and you have to work your way from there if you haven’t purchased any IAP (in-app purchase) tokens. However due to the title still being fairly buggy in the version I tested, sometimes going to the store from the in-game menu can lead to the App crashing. The developers have added some updates but not an official update to version 1.0 on the App Store — in the game’s menu-news screen however they state that they released a balance patch on November 30 and an in-game upgrade of a new map — so they are trying to listen to some feedback it seems and the bugs can hopefully be ironed out. But than again, they still haven’t removed the game’s ads or included a purchase version of the game that removes them despite criticism.

Presentation

The menu music is fairly standard for such a genre with military-style backround sounds but can get repetitive but once on the battlefield there is only the sound of the engine rolling onwards. There are also some nice sound effects like bullets being fired from your tank or hitting something during battles. The graphics are also fairly good and typical of games of the genre outside the Battlefield series although there aren’t too many shades of color or variation in the backrounds. The landscape in general is barren with trees and hills being the only thing to maneuver around.

Controls

There are two dpad icons near the bottom of the screen that are used for control of your tank. The left icon changes the speed or ability to move backwards and the right icon changes the turret positioning by allowing you to rate it left and right as well as raising and lowering it for aim. The tanks all control in a variety of ways ranging from quick but easy to destroy to the heavy hitters that aren’t as mobile but can fire further away along with their armor advantage. Each class of tank requires its own strategy and mastery of control. In general however, the cheaper the tank the harder it is to be effective against the enemy. There is also a waiting period, that depends on the tank you choose, between reloading and firing succeeding shots. It’s possible to also see ranks and even chat in the game’s menu when waiting for your tank to re-spawn.

Gameplay

The game is an online team tank simulator with simplified or arcade nature that consists of two modes of play. The modes are king of the hill and team warfare. King of the hill has each side battling for control of a hilltop and holding it from the advance of the opposite side. There are four tanks to choose from for both sides ranging from the tin can T-26 on the Soviet side to lS-2 mammoth and on the Nazi side has a similarly weak Panzer-III to the powerful Tiger-I. Beside the main online game mode there is also an offline practice mode that is essentially a deathmatch used to hone skills.

Beside the two dpad icons for movement and speed, The hud display consists of a radar showing locations of enemies and friendlies, HP and ammo, the amount of money accumulated through destroying enemy tanks, and the time left if there is a time limit. There are also small flag icons showing the number of ally and enemy troops and a change of view input as well as a grid set to the speed of the tank as well as two fire icons. The tank controls automatically without having to hold the forward button giving you the ability to concentrate on turning the turret and aiming.

Suggestions

Please add a purchase-version of the game that doesn’t require ads to pop up after being shot. This caused me so much frustration seeing my tank destroyed and quickly the screen turning to some ad or a foreign site as I thought I was still clicking the fire button only to find out I just got destroyed. The ads are also in the multiplayer menu when choosing a game to join so it’s not like that is the only time possible to implement them. I would also suggest more game modes like a survivor type of mode where the last tank wins. There also isn’t really any non-team based options here outside the offline-practice mode for deathmatch fans or lone warriors to play. I like how the developers added the ability to customize your icon image and username in the profile menu.

Conlcusion

The action can get very fun and frantic with a lot of tanks shooting in all directions and trying to gain a team advantage. With many rooms being occupied by full 20 person games, and the game being fairly popular there is no reason not to give it a try. There is also some mastery and skill required in aiming and the game rewards you with currency or coins. Although after a while for all except die-hard war gamers and on-the-go tank enthusiasts Battlezone will get repetitive. If some more modes are added and possibly gameplay elements like new vehicles this could provide for a battlefield-like experience or engine to draw from.