Tag Archive | "games"

How to Optimize Your Ultrabook for Maximum Performance

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Ultrabooks might not be able to play the latest blockbuster titles at max settings like a full blown liquid-cooled gaming desktop, but there’s still a heck of a lot of great titles that they can play. I’ve been using the Asus UX31E (Core i5 Sandy Bridge with Integrated HD3000 graphics) to happily play Minecraft, Tribes Ascend, Half-Life 2, Day of Defeat Source, Bit Trip Runner, League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, and plenty more. Having my Ultrabook running at peak performance means I get a competitive advantage and the most enjoyment thanks to my games running smoothly and responsively.  This guide will tune up your Ultrabook to run at maximum performance and will benefit your graphical applications even if you aren’t a gamer!

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An Open Letter To PopCap: Where is Insaniquarium for Smartphones and Tablets?!

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insaniquariumFollowing my open letter to the makers of Worms, here’s another game-themed letter to the makers of another fine game.

Dear PopCap,

Insaniquarium.

That’s really all I should have to say. Here we are, a few years into the mobile app store scene and the game is nowhere to be found. This amazingly addictive game was practically destined to be a success on modern smartphones, so where is it?

For those that have never had the satisfaction of simultaneously making sure that hundreds of cartoon fish are properly fed while also defending them from alien attackers, Insaniquarium is a truly unique game that’s addictive, and one of those rare World of Goo-esque games that was born on the PC but would actually function way better on a touchscreen.

The game involves purchasing various fish, and keeping them fed properly. But this is no sissy aquarium simulator. Staying true to it’s name, Insaniquarium is loaded with arcade action. Properly fed fish reward you with coins which let you purchase other fish, upgrades for food or weapons, and all the while you’re goal is to collect enough cash to purchase three pieces of an egg which completes the level. What’s really quite neat is that the egg hatches as you beat the level to reveal a creature that you can use on future levels. These creatures have all manner of special attributes, such as the ability to help defend your fish from attackers, or help keep them fed. You can only have a small number of the creatures equipped, so your strategy depends on which creatures you choose to work with. The game offers surprisingly deep gameplay for one that is so cartoonish in concept. This video gives a good idea of how the gameplay:

The first version of Insaniquarium was released years ago as a free online game. Subsequent versions were released for Palm and Windows Mobile, but this was back in the day of resistive screens and styli.

Today’s capacitive screens and high-performance phones would be a perfect match for Insaniquarium. The game, which relies exclusively on mouse clicks, would be so much more intuitively and enjoyably played with simple finger taps. On a large screen like the Motorola Xoom or iPad 2, Insaniquarium could even work as a multiplayer game! Not to mention that the gameplay is perfect for quick gaming sessions during a lunch break or while waiting in a long line. And let’s not forget that Insaniquarium existed before the idea of achievements – the inclusion of which would make this game even more delightful and challenging (I can already think of plenty: complete a level with no fish deaths, acquire 500 fish at one time, beat a level with just one fish – the list goes on!). The game’s content also has wide appeal as it’s cartoonish, and easy enough to understand, to appeal to youngsters, but has gameplay that scales well enough to appeal to someone like me who would be considered a serious gamer.

Seriously PopCap, Insaniquarium could be a massive hit in the app stores. You’ve got a wonderfully unique game here and one that needs few (if any) conceptual modifications to work flawlessly on hundreds of millions of modern phones and tablets. I’d take Insaniquarium over Angry Birds any day, please consider releasing this masterpiece to the devices of today.

Sincerely,

Ben

(Update: Video) Minecraft Pocket Edition to be Released First on the Xperia Play

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Update: Mojang has released a video of Minecraft Pocket Edition running on the Xperia Play. We can see here some Creative-mode play:

minecraft logoIn what is undoubtedly an important step for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, the mobile version of the indie-hit game Minecraft will be released on the game-centric smartphone before any others.

Minecraft is an open-world building and survival game that has taken the gaming world by storm since it’s release in 2009. It’s hard to explain exactly what Minecraft is, but the developers offer this video on their site to attempt to convey the game to newcomers:

Not only is Minecraft a major success, it’s also unique because it’s developed by Mojang, a company made up of a few indie developers, rather than being backed by a major publisher. The desktop version of the game, which runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, is still in beta but has sold more than 2.3 million copies. Needless to say, Minecraft is big, and securing it as an exclusive launch for the Xperia Play is a big deal for a phone centered around mobile gaming.

Mojang founder, Markus “Notch” Persson mentioned back in March that work on a mobile version of Minecraft had begun and later news indicated that it would be available for iOS and Android when launched.

Now, Gamasutra is reporting that a Mojang representative has confirmed that Minecraft mobile will be released first on the Xperia Play and presumably have some duration of exclusivity on the phone. The version made for the Xperia Play will reportedly have controls optimized for the phone’s unique gaming buttons and control pads.

It’s unclear whether or not the release will be exclusive to all phones, or Android devices only.

minecraft on xperiaIt sounds as though Minecraft Mobile will not be an exact recreation of Minecraft as we know it on the desktop. Gamasutra has a quote from the company noting that the game will be tuned specially for mobile devices:

When playing on smartphones you will have a different screen size compared to PC, different hardware, different attention spans and thus the game needs to be customized to fit the mobile specifications

As a Minecraft player, I’m not sure exactly what to think of this. I’d love to be able to connect to my server and play the game on the go from a device that could fit in my pocket. If I’m forced to play a single player version of the game, or one that is incompatible with the desktop version, the allure of Minecraft Mobile will be greatly reduced for me and perhaps many others. Here’s to hoping that the mobile version sees feature parity and compatibility with the desktop version!

More info about Minecraft Mboile is expected at this year’s E3 which will be held in just a few days from June 7th to the 10th.

Perhaps once Minecraft Mobile is release across numerous platforms, people can all stop ranting about Angry Birds and start playing a game that’s actually good (yeah, I said it).

An Open Letter to Team17: Your Game Could Be an App Store Hit with One Small Change

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wormsLet’s talk about Worms.

No, no that kind…

For the uninitiated, Worms is a popular game franchise developed by Team17. It is a type of artillery game where players control a team of cartoonish worms and use creative weaponry to defat the opposing team. Here’s a brief video to give you an idea of the gameplay:

The Worms games are available on a number of platforms and have recently found their way to iOS and Android. They appear to be pretty well received on these devices, but I think there is a key component missing that could push them from popular to blockbuster hit:

Dear Team17,

I’ve been playing your awesome series of games, Worms, ever since Worms Armageddon came out on PC 12 years ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of hilarious battles on the PC, on the Xbox 360, and even on my iPhone. Worms is regarded as an all-time classic by myself and many others.

worms gameplayI was extremely happy to see that Worms found its way to mobile platforms like Android and iOS because it meant I could partake in the enthralling battles in miniature and have them in my pocket whenever I needed a good game to play. However, there’s something missing. I do believe that one simple change to the way that the Worms games work on Android and iOS would bolster sales and turn Worms into a huge success on these platforms (not to mention: they’d be a blast for your customers). That thing is play-by-mail.

Now I’m not actually talking about playing through mail, but rather using the term to describe the style of play that we see with games such as Words With Friends. WWF is great because you don’t have to sit down for an hour long game. Instead, players make moves whenever it is convenient for them. The moves are stored on the server, then sent to the opponent whenever they open the game on their end. Instead of needing to dedicate a large chunk of time to the multiplayer game, players can make moves in tiny increments which is way more convenient, and means that you can participate in a game while you are waiting in line at the grocery store, rather than having to sit down on the couch at home and devote your full attention to a real-time game.

Worms is already designed from the ground-up to be a turn based game. Moving to a play-by-mail model seems only natural and would absolutely improve the experience for your customers on mobile platforms. You’d also be filling a gap that has been left by WWF; I can’t tell you how much I’d rather call an airstrike on the worms of my opponent than to score points with letters in a lackluster word game. I think a large group of people would agree.

I know I called play-by-mail “one small change” and I know that’s not exactly true from the developer perspective. To the player, the game would operate very similarly, but it would likely take a lot of work on the backend. Still, I know it’s not impossible, and I think it would be absolutely worth it. I would love to be able to play long-term multiplayer games of Worms against my friends, and I know many of them would love to as well. If you convert the Worms games into a play-by-mail model, I think you’ll find huge success on the App Store and the Android Market (especially if you make these two platforms able to play against one-another).

Sincerely,
Ben

Nvidia Showcase Tegra Games

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With an incoming surge of Tegra dual-core Android tablets and phones hitting the market Nvidia have made the move to highlight Tegra optimised games. To do this they have created a new Android app called Tegra Zone that will soon be available via the Android Market.

Tegra Zone will launch highlighting several games including Dungeon Defenders, Fruit Ninja HD, Back Breaker THD and Monster Madness. The highlight from that list is Dungeon Defends as it’s the first Unreal Engine 3 game to arrive on the Android platform offering immersive gameplay and stunning graphics.

Tegra Zone is designed to complement the Android Market as it offers additional information about the game such as professional reviews, gameplay videos and game trailers while at the same time allowing the user to download the game through the Android Market.

Source: Nvidia via TheNextWeb