I am enjoying the iOS game Dots. It’s incredibly simple, which made it incredibly frustrating when I couldn’t reliably get about 130 points. Then, I talked to Tien, who gave me one simple trick that seems obvious now, but eluded me.
If you make a square of like-colored dots, it clears that entire color from the board.
With this, a few more tactics, and some luck, I managed to get 384 points. This isn’t a walk-through, but here are a few more tips I’ve picked up:
Always keep a reserve of the Shrinkers. They’re cheap (10 for 500 dots) and useful when you are one dot away from a square. I sometimes use 2-3 per round since I can replenish them in just a few games.
If you can make a square, don’t waste time connecting other adjacent like-colored dots; they’re going to get cleared anyway.
If you can’t get a single square in the first ten seconds, just start a new game. Doing well requires a string of squares in a row.
When you are on a roll, use a Time Stop. It’ll add 5 additional seconds and they’re not terribly expensive.
This is easily the most innovative review format I’ve seen. Maybe it’s not a form that needs innovation, but Kill Screen managed to take advantage of a medium in a way I hadn’t considered before. According to the review, the game is about iteration and “may be a commentary on the grind of gaming, the relentless churn of killing and harvesting to gain new equipment so that we can kill and harvest more effectively.”
I won’t spoilt it by telling you how this differs from a normal review, but it’s highly recommended if you like video games and critical writing.
2DBoy, the creator of the fantastic game World of Goo, discuss their learnings after releasing the game for the iPad. It was first released, to much critical acclaim, two years ago, which makes this an interesting case. Impressively, they sold 125k copies in the first month, more than any 31 day period on Steam or WiiWare.
While the story is interesting, especially for game developers, this last snippet is a real keeper.
What makes this even more amazing is that this is a two year old game released on a platform that is less than a year old. The iPad doesn’t have the benefit of an install base built up over several years.
It’s crazy to think that despite the number of consoles out there for Wii and Xbox that the iPad is able to drive results like this. I’m not yet sure if Apple has made a fantastic gaming platform or if they realized that convenience is more important than a big screen for most gamers.
Canabalt, Eliss, Solipskier, Osmos, Drop7, and Spider are all on sale. I own four of these games and that’s about 33% of all the iPhone games I own. Bonus: one-third of the proceeds will be going to charity.
A month or so ago, Microsoft released the Kinect, a device that tracks your movement and let’s you control a game with your body. It’s spectacular technology and I have no interest in buying one. The games are subpar, it’s $150, and I actually want it more for non-game uses. Controlling my computer or aspects of my house via specific body movements is far more interesting.
On that note, here are my 4 favorite Kinect hacks. People quickly figured out how to make use of the thousands of IR light blasts and their experiments give some hints to future uses of the technology.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
This is my favorite hack of the bunch. If they’re not already using similar technology in Hollywood, they will be. [via waxy]
3D Video Capture with Kinect
This is the first hack that I saw and it blew my mind. If you had four cameras mounted in the center of your ceiling, you’d have complete coverage and be able to explore the space in 3D. It’s only a matter of time before high-end real estate picks up on this and let’s me view a demo unit live.
Optical Camouflage Demo with Kinect
This video goes on way too long, but it’s an invisibility cloak! We’ve discussed having an always-on video conference between our NY and SF offices. I’d love to turn on a real invisibility mode when I don’t want to be bothered. [via Engadget]
Interactive Puppet Prototype with Xbox Kinect
You only need to watch a few minutes of this, because you quickly realize that puppetry is going to get a lot more exciting. Imagine going to Disney World and watching actors perform a live, animated version of Toy Story. [via Ze]
This article is really long and I read it in fits and starts over the last month, even though I’m genuinely interested. Still, there’s lots of good stuff in there. Here are three quotes, first about Madden missing quite the opportunity.
Hawkins: “You stayed with me. EA is about to have an IPO [initial public offering]. You can have as much stock as you want.”
Madden: “What do you mean by ‘have’?”
Hawkins: “Well, you have to buy it — at the IPO price.”
“Hell, I’m just a football coach,” Madden says now. “I pointed with my finger, all knowing, and said, ‘I gave you my time. I’m not giving you my money.’ I showed him!”
From 1989 to 1999, EA’s share price went from $7.50 to $70. Madden laughs. “That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life.”
This bit is about some astute corporate shenanigans.
Secretly, Hawkins assembled a team to reverse engineer the console — that is, figure out a way to make EA’s games run on Sega’s hardware without its technology or approval as a way to avoid licensing fees altogether. Publicly, he began negotiations with Sega, once meeting with the company’s executives while the reverse-engineering project went on in a nearby room. The gambit was risky: Once Sega caught wind of EA’s plan, it likely would sue — in part to discourage other software companies from following EA’s lead, in part because reverse engineering without copyright infringement is technologically vexing. Hawkins’ team, however, managed to pull it off.
Meanwhile, Hawkins revealed his reverse-engineering project to Sega and offered a deal. Let’s team up against Nintendo. Share the glory. You can sue, but we did the tech fair and square and have great lawyers. So make us an official licensee. And give us a reduced rate. Sega normally charged an $8 to $10 fee per game cartridge. Hawkins asked for $2 per game and a $2 million cap. Negotiations stalled.
“Only two times at EA did everyone in my management team pull me into a room and say, ‘We all disagree with you,’” Hawkins said. “The first time was about not having private offices. The other time was this.”
He stuck to his guns. Ten days later, on the eve of a major consumer electronics show in Chicago, Sega relented, afraid EA would sell its reverse-engineering knowledge to other software companies and torpedo the Genesis’ entire business model.
This next quote reminds of productivity software development. Once you start something, you can’t stop or people go nuts.
Cummings: “Updating player gear is such a pain. Like a guy changing from a single wristband to a double. It never stops.”
Young: “We have people that just catalog this stuff every week. A player will start wearing team-colored gloves. A team will put a special logo on the 20-yard line for Week 8. Another team won’t wear a special patch. And if we don’t have that, it ruins the game for some people.”
It’s no surprise I like this — it’s essentially Canabalt on skis with tricks. Also, I’m mostly posting this because the iOS app was having trouble tweeting my current high score of 8,341,511. Considering the world leader is over 3 billion, I’ve got a ways to go.
Update: Okay, it’s 5 minutes later and I just got 27.6 million. Maybe I’ll stop posting scores for a bit.
Boing Boing brought them in to play the game and they seem to enjoy it and find it authentic. I particularly enjoyed this back-and-forth:
K: If they had shabu (crystal meth) as a power-up item, that would be realistic. It’s a yakuza game.
S: They have sake!
M: Kiryu is an executive, right? We all know the guys at the top don’t drink or do speed.
S: Yeah, not anymore.
M: Can you smoke in the game? I forget. That should be a power-up.
S: Cigarettes and shabu should be in every yakuza game.
A playable recreation of Halo for the Atari 2600. The author, Ed Fries, also wrote about creating it. He apologizes about writing for a general audience, but I’m glad he did.
The thing you need to realize about the Atari 2600 is that it is an incredibly limited machine. It has only 128 bytes of RAM and without bank switching the maximum program size is just over 4000 bytes. There are just two 8 pixel wide monochrome sprites, two one pixel bullets, a “ball” and a 40 pixel wide background (and even that is exaggerating…). There is no memory to store the screen image like any modern console or PC, instead it has to be drawn a line at a time by changing the values of the registers that control the sprites and background. The processor is so slow that only 76 clock cycles occur while a line of the screen is being drawn, and the simplest 6502 instructions take at least 2 clock cycles. So just to draw an image of the Master Chief is pretty tough. To create a complete game while living within these constraints is much harder.
The first game available is called Ni No Kuni and will be a game on the DS in December and PS3 next year. Jori and I will be visiting the Ghibli Musuem on our trip to Japan next month. Maybe they’ll let us try it out? In the mean time, watch this trailer.
It turns out that the educational game came at the request of Charles Watson, who runs a computer project dedicated to providing computers with low power consumption parts to schools in developing counties. Dealing with students, he noticed that many of them enjoyed Flash games, but most of those games were violent and generally devoid of any educational content.
I never got the first one, but it was one of the main draws of the PS3. This looks so awesome. I wonder if they’ll let users charge for the games they create. You might also want to read more about it.