It appears that News Corporation and Apple are really trying to make The Daily a total success and delayed the publication to figure out how to make it most successful.

Magazines not long ago saw a drop in readership on the iPad and the news must have been discouraging to Apple. This is the reason for the delay I think as Apple wants to make The Daily as successful as any print newspaper has been and possibly revolutionaize news. Rupert Murdoch probably wants the same thing to happen as does Steve Jobbs.

Apple might see the future of newspapers not on newsstands but on electronic devices such as the iPads and other tablets. Can this be the true savior of the journalism industry and “print” media? Could we, as journalists, be working from our homes and actually making big bucks while reporting, writing, and taking images-videos of news and features?

Yes, many of us are already doing this, but I mean with nice profits added on and the professions shifting this way from newsrooms. I think a journalism degree and good writing should account for something. Combined with being Web savvy, being able to edit videos, blog and add Images — we should be compensated for our work — even though we love it and would do it anyway.

I myself hope to write for some big publications or at least be compensated for my writing and would love to see online magazines and newspapers, even ones exclusive to tablets, a huge success.

Publishing eBooks on the App Store, writing for online media outlets and newspapers as well as blogging are perfect examples of citizen journalism, new media and traditional good reporting converging. Now with the iPad and the tablet revolution, lets hope the success and reinvention of journalism will finally happen. Despite common perception, I think it’s a great time to get into the field.

According to Engadget, the iPad 2 might have a new and faster processor and a retina-like display with double the current pixel density. It might also sport an SD card slot.

I think the rumors sound wonderful if true but a bit farfetched. That is if the iPad successor, rumored to be coming out and unveiled within months, is to remain at current price points.

The SD card slot rumors sound plausable and really necessary in my opinion. I believe flash memory is too expensive to match what netbooks have as storage with movable hard drives so slots like SD is where Apple needs to expand until the prices and technology advances.

Dual cameras are also rumored to be included and I think there is a very likely chance of this happening. No reason not to put that in as the current iPhone 4 has dual cameras. Facetime or some sort of Skype conference calling would rock on an iPad.

I also think that the iPad will have more accurate or higher-def pixel density than the current model, but it really begs the question of how much higher res the display will be.

One thing that is absolutely necessary in my book is for the second iPad to have more ram and be geared from the get go for multitasking. 512 mb is the very least but I would like to see a gig in there. The ram is also more expensive and not the standard ram sticks we see in computers or netbooks however but I believe Apple can pull it off.

[Engadget]

Posted: January 15, 2011 in Apple Tech News, iPad News, Rants & Raves
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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.).

Hello to anyone who reads this blog. I haven’t added any recent reviews or updates in a while but have been pretty busy. I’ve been writing for AppModo (as well as subsidiaries of iPadModo and MacModo)¬†right now and here is my profile with a list of stories I’ve written in the past week or so:
AppModo, iPadModo, and MacModo.

Apparently, the Evac HD review wasn’t posted on TheAppera but I’m going to leave it here. It must not have been the type of game James found his readers would enjoy and it’s a shame as it is great. I am also putting off working for NoDpad off for a while due to AppModo policies of not writing for competing sites. It is worth it for me though as AppModo is a great site with all kinds of tech topics to talk about — not just games. There is also possibilities pay and advancements hopefully so I can do what I love as a profession. I am also looking for various other part(maybe full)-time jobs that relate to the Web, tech or writing in some way or form.

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.

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Apple and Gaming
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-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.

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Apple and Gaming
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(nodpad link to my article)


Thursday is a big day for iOS game releases. Infinity Blade, Puzzle Quest 2, Dead Rising, Dungeon Hunter 2, and Illusia are already out in the New Zealand App Store and coming to Europe and U.S. in less than a day. Puzzle Quest 2 was submitted December 1 but was quickly pulled due to timing mistakes. Some of the most anticipated games to ever grace the App Store are being released and Thursday is, for some reason, usually the day of the week when big titles come out. Also, as Christmas approaches developers and publishers want to push as many of their games out to maximize profits. These are just some of the big anticipated titles but there are quite a few other games also being released to keep an eye out for.

For New Zealand gamers here are the App Store links:
Infinity Blade by Epic Games
Dungeon Hunter 2 by gameloft
Illusia by Gameville
Dead Rising by Capcom
Puzzle Quest 2 by NamcoGames





-Review is up on NoDpad

Braveheart HD by Gajin Entertainment is a new action role playing on the App Store that offers a nice breath of fresh air. The game is very accessible not just to role playing game fans but fans of dual-analog shooters. It is not without flaws however and can get repetitive if you are used to traditional RPGs.

This is an action RPG that is mostly action and little role playing. The battle system is intriguing here because you circle with your thumb to unwind an attack motion and have to move round the game map hitting every enemy in sight. But unlike many dual-analog shooters there is a second (ranged) attack option — like using crossbows among other weapons — that is used by holding a finger on the screen and pointing to where you want to shoot with another. On top of this there are perks or actions awarded for killing enemies like health generation and there are also items to be gather on the battlefield. The interesting battle system has a few problems though. Sometimes it’s hard to unwind the swing already in motion –which is done by circling your thumb in the opposite direction –and Richard just swings in the opposite direction instead of stopping it.

Although easy to get into, the game gets challenging fast and you will need to use the shops in the game’s city menu to buy elixirs and upgrade weapons. To gain gold and experience points you will be doing side-mission hunts in similar locations to where you progressed in story mode.

The game centers around a campaign of a renegade knight named Richard who offended the king, got imprisoned, and now has a chance to win his freedom by finding a grail guarded by a dragon. Besides the story mode, there is also a challenges mode where you try overcoming various game challenges the game throws at you like killing a set amount of enemies in a set time frame. The challenges mode adds longetivity to the title but the story mode is its bread and butter. There are elements of the story unveiled via cut scenes between each mission completed. As you progress through these stages, you gain access to new territories, with different backrounds.

Likes

Default controls: There are two control options, but the default method based purely on touch and not an on-screen analog is a great control mechanism, and I love the aiming system of the range weapons the game offers. It is fun mixing up meele ring-around-the-rosy swings with the ranged weapons.

Fun Story: I also enjoy the story and think it has character compared to most RPGs on the App Store, as you aren’t some super-righteous noble knight here.

Production values: I also like the graphics and movement animations, and the presentation in general is very high here.

Dislikes

Repetitive gameplay for an RPG: There isn’t much variation in the levels and it gets repetitive killing waves of enemies in every level. The game gets really challenging as well and you have to grind through the hunts after a while and this adds to the repetitive nature of the game.

Lack of control outside combat: There are no areas to explore outside the pre-arranged levels you fight in.

Hardcore RPG fans may find Braveheart’s level layout and arcade nature too simplified—as the App Store’s RPG offerings can get quite deep these days—there is still a lot of customization and depth offered here and the combat is intriguing.

Braveheart HD was developed by Gajin Entertainment, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPad.  The price is $2.99.

-I also posted this editorial on NoDpad

As many iDevice users and touch gamers know, a DOS emulator was released for the iDevices about a month ago and pulled by Apple the very next day. The emulator works a bit more natural and works better on the iPad than the iPhone due to it’s larger screen and two orientation viewing angles it offers. It even has a layout depicting mouse buttons and a computer keyboard that can be switched off to full screen with icons of touch keypads. Evidence of this can be seen by googling iDOS as mostly just iPad articles pop up with a brief mention of the iPhone version that was also released.

In terms of apps and games that this emulator supports, the results are very mixed — this is mostly because of speed issues. The emulator also requires either basic knowledge of DOS command prompts or some experimentation and instructions in order to segregate files correctly and get games running. Despite this, the DOS is the home of many great games and classics that started some of today’s most popular game series. Elder Scrolls, Warcraft, Fallout and it’s Wasteland prequel started on DOS. many of the greats will not run fast enough on this emulator in it’s current state but other games will. It takes some fiddling with the configuration file at times as well to get some games up and running at the max potential.

Here is a list of games that I found quite playable and enjoyable that is worth trying out on iPads:

The original Warcraft is quite good here with speed being just fast enough to enjoy. Panzer General is another good little strategy gem that plays quite well and has a slow turn-based pace that runs quite well. Darklands is an amazing open world role playing game for its time that plays very well and I highly recommended. Survivor horror Alone in the Dark does slow down but is just playable enough to keep on the list. Zeliard is a very interesting 2d platformer with RPG elements that plays well. Jazz Jackrabbit series are some other great platformers I recommend. Pirates is also worth a try as it runs just smooth enough. And, Master of Magic is an interesting strategy game and works great as well.

These are just some examples of games I have got to play quite nicely and will continue to enjoy on this emulator but there are many more not mentioned worth trying. On the iPad it’s wise to set the cpu core config to normal and cycles around 3500 worked for me most of the time as the best default setting in the dospad.cfg configuration that can be saved and replaced via iTunes. Many of these games have their own niche of configuration to run well like. An example of this is Ultimate Underworlds and Ultimate 7 requiring an opposite setting in dospad.cfg — one needs xmx=true and ems=fale and the other the opposite — although both run too slow to be truly enjoyable they show a glimmer of hope to what kinds of western RPGs could be made. The other issue is that adding and replacing files can be confusing as dragging zipped files is the only thing you can do via iTunes and not actually entire game files with subfolders.

One thing the emulator has shown me is what is possible in the iPad’s future. If games like Warcraft can be enjoyable and fun to play imagine what Blizzard could do with RTS games if they embrace the device like ported all three Warcrafts to the App Store. What’s interesting is many pc games could be done with a fake mouse icon and this has hampered some genres before. The emulator shows that a fake icon that you control via touch but not directly touching the icon itself but touching the screen near it thus not obstructing view, can work quite well. The iPad’s screen is big enough for this kind of control to work. Before fiddling around with this emulator I was only exposed to RTS games on the App Store that have direct finger control like touching units or drawing boxes around them for control. This brings a whole new idea and option that can be done for such genres like RTS games. What bugs me about the current way RTS games selection controls are is sometimes you end up selecting the wrong units or have a hard time making a box the perfect size with your fingers for the units you want to command.

Beside RTS games, the emulator shows how classical PC games like Pirates and Might of Magic could work great if embraced on the IPad by the big companies. I think the iPad can offer potential for many classical computer games to be revived and even complex or hardcore games can work. The battery life of the iPad and screen space allows this vs. the other iDevices although I believe there is room for all of them. Many of these games are known for landscapes with large view screens and different caves or dungeons to explore and find on a world map. I really like what I have seen from iDOS despite speed and configuration issues and hope Apple will find a way to embrace such emulation whether by buying the rights from Gates himself or only offering limited quantity of games like the current ZX and Commodore 64 emulators do. I have seen a recent resurgence of classical gaming on the App Store and in gaming in general with titles recently being released on the App Store like Warlords Classic that recently was released.

-This review was posted for TheAppera and its format (but not online yet)

Captain’s Fury($0.99) by Dragon Team Interactive is a pick up and play type of arcade shooter that should fit well with iPhone casual gamers but those looking for a little more depth and variety of gameplay than move-and-shoot should look elsewhere. The game is hampered by repetitive gameplay and control problems like movement via tilt.

Presentation

Captain’s Fury has a tutorial that explains the controls and aims of the game by showing how to take down both ships and enemy planes. There isn’t really much of a story here or any cut scenes. This is purely am arcade game.

There are various missions to go through as you progress in the game and each mission is even further split up by battleship engage in against enemy ships and equipment. You must destroy the opposing forces engaged to move on to the next battle and eventually mission.

Controls

You can only move left and right on the sea’s 2d plane and you’re going to be tilting your iPhone back and forth repeatedly as you constantly have to switch directions to avoid enemy fire (I’ve read that the iPad version has touch dpad arrows instead). The ship actually moves quite slow and is slow to react with the default accelerometer sensitivity that can be changed in options. You might as well learn to take hits from bombs that are usually too fast to dodge anyway — especially before upgrading the cruiser’s speed with points accumulated during the missions.

Gameplay

Gameplay consists of controlling a battlecruiser ship and taking down enemies while avoiding torpedoes, missiles, and bombs. There are various enemies trying to destroy you in this game beside just enemy ships like planes, helicopters, and large bosses. You have cannons at your disposal in the beginning of the game but as the game progresses you can upgrade to additional weapons. You can also shoot up at enemy planes. The various weapons also provide strengths and weaknesses.

There are ten stages total in the game and each is divided by acts or battles to win before moving on.

Suggestions

Being able to save between acts or battles and not just once accomplishing stages would be nice. The movement controls also need some fine tuning. There is also no multiplayer of any kind nor GameCenter support.

Conclusion

Although the game can drag on due to there being couple acts per stage and it has repetitive gameplay and control problems, for those looking to just blow a bunch of vehicles up Captain’s Fury should provide some satisfaction. The game is very casual and arcade oriented and there is little strategy involved outside upgrading ship parts. It is also quite a large download although the current price tag at $.99 for both the iPhone/iPod version and iPad HD version is quite nice.

 —  Posted: November 28, 2010 in Apple and Gaming
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