2012
12.20

As I predicted early on, putting aside time to record my progress would be hard when in the heat of actual development. It’s not all bad, because with this update I have three games I have created in Game Maker to share. I find Game Maker a great tool for prototyping and suspect it’s powerful enough to create a full featured game. It’s “drag & drop” coding feature is great for getting your hands dirty, and learning how to structure the events of your game.

Game Maker

I began Game Maker by following a tutorial by Derek Yu. It runs through the steps, start to finish, on how to make a shoot ’em up level. It gave me an idea of how to navigate the Game Maker UI, and how to manage my assets and code. I found this extremely helpful, not only for learning Game Maker, but game development in general. If you are interested you can check it out: Game Maker for Beginners: Part 1. I replaced all the sprites with those from Air Fortress, and threw a little eyeball creature of my own in for the hell of it. A link to play it is provided below.

Air Fortress

After completing what I could consider my first game, I was feeling pretty confident, so I decided to undertake a project of my own from scratch. I wanted to take an old game idea, and put a slight twist on it. I decided to do a capture type game, where an object is bouncing around the room, and you have to confine it with barricades to a set amount of space. My little twist was that these barricades (in my case force fields) have health, and can only be hit so many times until they are destroyed and the ball breaks out. I had a hell of a time making the walls draw correctly, and getting the ball to bounce off the drawn walls at the correct angle was even worse, so I took a break from it, poking at it from time to time.

While developing my own game, I started going through another tutorial, but this time for a platforming game. I picked up The Game Maker’s Companion because it has some “next level” tutorials, and I felt like I had a good grasp of the concepts. The tutorial makes full use of the Drag & Drop functionality within Game Maker, which I don’t particularly love, so I decided to convert the entire thing over to using GML, which is Game Maker’s build in language. Someday I am going to require the additional power and control enabled through GML, and frankly I find the Drag & Drop stuff unintuitive and hard to decode exactly what each element is doing. This introduced me to a whole bunch of different functions built into Game Maker, and helped me finish up my own game. Check below to download both.

 

All the games below run in Windows. If you want a Mac build to try out, I can also throw that up here.

SpaceFortress

Here is the shoot ’em up game I built with Derek Yu’s tutorial. Derek Yu is pretty awesome with Game Maker. The first version of Spelunky was build by him in GM. Again I went through using Air Fortress sprites, and added some of my own stuff on top of it.

Fishpod

This is the game built in GML from The Game Maker’s CompanionAll of the art was provided. I rewrote it and designed a level around it.

Capture

This is my first game built from the ground up! It’s just a prototype, and I’m aware of the collision bug, but I’d like to hear some feedback on the concept. Also, if anyone has advice on calculating the area not inhabited by the ball object based on dynamically drawn borders let me know. 🙂 That’s my next challenge.

 

 

2012
11.16

I’m getting near the end of my “Nerd Ranch” book, which has lead me back into doing some cocoa stuff. This is directly applicable to what I’m trying to do with the MPG Application, and I should be able to wrap that up soon. I was able to pull my entire Diablo 3 profile down and save it to a .html file through Blizzard’s web API. Now I have all sorts of data about my D3 heros, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. I think I’ll just take the knowledge gained and move on.

 

Apart from coding, I have designed myself some moo.com cards, and I’m working on a logo design for my wife. We pick up contract work here and there, and wanted a fun and interesting way to market ourselves. She is a fantastic photographer who upholds her own blog, and I urge you to go check it out. Here are my mini moo cards:

 

 

 

Well, that’s all I have for the week, short and sweet. I need to go finish my current challenge. To remove a row from my table, and create unique errors.

2012
11.08

In addition to teaching myself Objective-C and object oriented design principles throughout the week, I’m going to make a conscious effort to update this blog on my progress. I’m going to try to keep these short, as it takes time from actual work, but this should have a number of benefits:

  • It will help me remember what I’ve been learning, and where I have come
  • It will keep me motivated
  • I will be forced to step back from my work for a second to breathe, reflect, and rejuvenate
  • It may inspire someone who passes by my little blog to pursue game development, or any other dreams they may have
  • Also it will ensure my blog doesn’t just die a slow Mr. Orange death

I’ve recently joined the TIG Source Forums and introduced myself with a question that has been popping up over and over the last few weeks. “When (does a person choose) to stop programming and begin game development.”? The thread can be found here. Some of the answers were expected. I know it’s best to Just Do It!, but a lot of people revealed something I’ve been slowly unearthing. Programming is not solely a strong academic skill. While it’s heavy in math, and to a degree science, it’s very similar to art or any other creative skill. I’ve been stuck in a loop of teaching myself syntax, or language. I have  good grasp on the “language” of numerous code environments, but I know little about actual implementation and design. Sure I can implement a ‘number of seconds I’ve been alive’, or ‘draw a pretty picture with a turtle’, but I don’t hardly know where to start when developing an actual game. THIS concept can, like any other creative skill, only be learned through practice and refinement. I’ve dug myself into a hole where I thought I could learn, and preemptively design my product in the best way right from the beginning. An artist doesn’t create a masterpiece by staring at paint swatches, chewing on brushes, and reading about color theory on the toilet. An artist creates a masterpiece by creating many many masterful pieces of shit first. A lot of it is throw away, but the experience and knowledge gained from mistakes is invaluable. This is what programming is. It’s not knowing that logically 2+2 does and always will = 4.

I have decided to finish my “Nerd Ranch” book, and along the way my Miles Per Gallon application, before I begin prototyping my ideas. I figure finishing something I’ve already started can only help. Now, back to my NSMutableArray *stocksInPortfolio and the valueOfStocksInPortfolio method of my Portfolio class.

2012
11.01

Yet another blog where the title of the post should be “It has been a while”. While this is fitting, it doesn’t explain much, so let’s get into that!

My latest posts have been related to “Games to Poop too”, and I have been playing the same game for the last 6 weeks or so, Outwitters, but I haven’t wanted to take the time to write about it. I’ve been busy with something else.

I have been doing a little drawing, but I haven’t felt the desire to post it on here. I’ve been busy with something else.

Now before I unleash the proverbial cat, or if anyone is really on the edge of their seat right now let’s call it a lion, my newest activity is contained within reason and rational. It is something I’m passionate about, but I also have a family and a full time job, so I’m keeping things in perspective, and have labeled it “hobby”. This hobby has been in the works for a number of years with it’s highs and lows, but now that I’m in South Dakota, I’ve taken the opportunity to concentrate on learning to program. This is something that helps me at work, because everyone I work with is a programmer, but it also helps me pursue my passion.

Indie game development has been on a steady incline since Al Gore invented the internet. He didn’t, but you can always rely on Fox News to spread a ridiculous rumor. Things like Steam, The Humble Indie Bundle, Xbox Arcade, Wii Ware, whatever Sony has going on, and the mobile space, have really given small teams the medium to publish and market their games. Tools like Unity, Game Maker, Stencyl, etc have given these same teams the tools to develop something in a timely mannor. No longer does a person have write an entire game engine by scratch.

Games have been my passion since I was 5 with the NES, and I’ve always had the underlying dream to be a game developer. In college, while studying motion graphics and animation, I began to seriously question the financial viability of that path. Later as I began to talk to people in the industry, and the big game culture began to creep out on personal blogs and news sites the dream of being a game developer began to diminish. Being a blind cog in an enormous machine for years does not intrigue me.

Indie game the movie

This is where the concept of indie comes in. I was aware of the scene, but it honestly wasn’t until I watched Indie Game: The Movie, that I thought I could get into it. I was inspired by the touching stories of every one of them. The passion, and the personality they put into their work was intense, it was personal and an extension of themselves.

I’ve been self teaching myself programming for months now. I started with JavaScript, then went to Python, and now I’m getting deepest into the Objective-C world. Not necessarily because I want to make iPhone games or anything, but because the MacBook is a fantastic development environment. Also, with the popularity of Apple these days, I can’t see a reason not to explore the games on mac. I started my journey with Lynda.com, which is fantastic for learning the basics, but NOT great for retention. I need something with assignments and I even considered going back to school, but have recently been going through “The Big Nerd Range Guide” and the challenges at the end of each chapter have been fantastic. I’ve always learned better through application and problem solving on your own is invaluable.

xcode

But now I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I have 3 game ideas that I’ve been slowly fleshing out, and I’ve been doing some programming exercises, but at what point do I just start making games? Is it best to just start going on a prototype  and learn the programming techniques as I go? If anyone has any advice in that regard let me know.

That is my path toward something new. A hobby, that so far is saturating my every free minute. At work I listen to podcasts, and at night I code/prototype. BTW, if anyone knows of some great podcasts related to game development I’d love to hear about them.

2012
04.24


zombie dogs

Who: Devel­oped and Pub­lished by Imangi Studios, LLC

What: Grab and run reactionary game

Where: The outskirts of a temple surrounded by swamp and jungle

When: NOW! FREE on iTunes (iPhone, Touch, and iPad)

Why: Mobile gaming isn’t all casual as this will get your heart pumping

What are your favorite parts of any Indiana Jones, Laura Croft, and Uncharted movie or video game? Think long and hard because you are being tested. It’s the near death experiences they go through when concurring brutal traps! It’s overcoming danger by thinking on your feet, and keeping your head on a swivel! Temple Run does that and only that, by cutting out all the travel, and plot, and character development, and ass shots… leaving you with raw adrenaline pumping action.

 

Temple Run Title Screen

Your mission, which you have already accepted, and complete with the press of a button, is to steal an idol from a temple, deep within a swampy jungle inhabited by bone headed monkey-like things. Now that you have the idol, your only objective is to get out alive, but WAIT! Hold up! … … ok, there we go. My 3GS has a bit of a hard time getting the camera spun around, while it’s trying to log me into Game Center, but after the initial load up things run fine. A text message will kill me from time to time, literally, well in game literally, not me personally, I must clarify.

The draw of Temple Run are the gestures, and how quickly you can react to your environment. The number of gestures in Temple Run require some finger dexterity and if limited to one hand make sure you have an easy to grip case. You wouldn’t want to shatter your phone on the floor or drop it in the toilet. Nearly every gesture I can think of on the iPhone is utilized, minus the “pinch” as far as i know.

 

Sliding under fire trap.

A downward swipe allows you to slide under traps.

Gesture List:

  • Swipe up: This will make you jump, letting you jump over gaps in the path, or reach a path above you.
  • Swipe down: Down makes you slide, quite a ways actually.The swampy jungle must make the path quite slick. “Temple slippery when wet.”
  • Swipe Left and Right: This seems like a simple one. You swipe in the direction you want to turn so you don’t run off the path. The tough part is they often place turns right after jumps. This means you have to jump a little early so you can land in time to switch direction.
  • Tilt Left and Right: Tilting is one of the most important gestures in the game. It lets you strafe from side to side to pick up coins that are used to purchase things from the store. You will also need to tilt the phone to run along the edge of damage paths. Also, some paths are super narrow and don’t have edges, so you will have to be careful how far you tilt your phone when going for that attractive line of 25 shiny coins.
  • Finally the Double Tap: As far as I know, this is the final gesture. It is used to activate your wings, which imbue you with resurrection for a limited time.

All of these gestures are great for immersion, but I think they missed a great opportunity for force feedback. Running into a tree, or falling to your death could be made so much better with a quick vibration. Even landing after jumps, or possibly collecting coins or powerups could warrant a small jolt of the device.

Collecting coins in Temple Run.

The game isn’t too difficult if living is all you focus on, but you will also want coins for unlocking powerups, utilities, and extras. Here’s where a bit of strategy, a bit of risk vs reward comes in. Strafing over to collect some coins while you go around a corner, then switching sides around the turn, and having to quickly jump or duck to avoid death is tough. I recommend running through a few times without worrying about collecting too many coins, because as you progress you run faster, adventurers have reverse affects from exhaustion, and there are a lot of things going on at once. This speed progression makes perfect sense for game design. Things move faster, and require quicker, and more varied gestures. As far as lore is concerned I guess the guy just goes for a casual jog, before he realizes he’s being chased by face eating zombie dogs, or the coins themselves amp him up.

 

 

Temple run powerup list.

Powerups are as follows:

  • Mega Coin – Grabbing one of these will instantly give you a lump sum of coins, sum increases with level.
  • Coin Magnet – Draws coins to you so you don’t have to tilt and jump to grab them. Did Sonic the Hedgehog have one of these? I swear he did. Duration of magnetic field increases with level.
  • Invisibility – The name of this confuses me a bit, or I don’t know all it’s benefits, but it seems to just create a magic bridge over gaps and allow you to run through obstacles. Again, duration increase with level.
  • Boost – This powerup scared me for a while. I wondered why I’d want to run super fast, which would essentially ramp up the difficulty level. Well, not only does it speed you up, but it makes you invincible. You will auto jump, turn, and slide your way through obstacles. All you have to worry about during this time is grabbing coins, but be careful, because it’s easy to get comfortable and die when it runs out. This can also be lengthened with levels.
  • Value Coins – As your progress, coins are worth more than just 1. I think this brings bonus coins closer to the start line, so you don’t have to run as far to find them.

Utilities:

  • Resurrection Wings – These will save your ass if you die, but they don’t last forever, so try to use them when things get tough, or if you’re really cool, right before you die. These also slow you back to starting speed, so it can make traversing the traps that come up later in the run a bit easier to manage.
  • Boost – Gives you boost for the first 1000m of the race.
  • Mega Boost – Gives you boost for the first 2500m of the race.

Characters:

  • Guy Dangerous – This is your starting character. His animation, and grunt sound reminds me of Jake from Hunter Hunted. Jake – Hunter Hunted
  • Scarlett Fox – Looks like she may be Jake’s sister.
  • Barry Bones – Some tough cop.
  • Karma Lee – Has fast legs. I don’t know if she actually runs faster in the game.
  • Montana Smith – aka Indiana Jones
  • Francisco Montoya – A conquistador out for all native’s valuables
  • Zack Wonder – Football star out in the jungle, for some reason.

Wallpapers: These are downloadable wallpapers for your actual phone. This is a neat idea.

  • Temple Wall
  • Guy Dangerous
  • Evil Demon Monkeys – Seen at the top.

Also, if you’re one of those instant gratification types, you can purchase coins for real money. You gotta love people’s willingness to buy digital currency or items in a game.

Temple Run leaderboard

Something isn't right.

 

 

I’m pretty sure, like many games, the leaderboards are bunk. Unless there is an arbitrary score ceiling and many people that are amazing at the game. I can’t imagine scoring that many points in this game. I have been using a couple strategies that work pretty well though my best run is still only 6,000 meters. I have been using my first Resurrection Wing at about 2,500, and if I survive long enough I try to die when it is about to ware off. This not only allows me to keep running, but it also slows my pace greatly, making things a bit easier. I have also been swiping left or right on straightaways so I run into the wall and this also slows me down a bit, but you have to be careful because if you stumble or hit the wall again right afterwards the zombie dogs will eat you up.

 

 

Quantitative Review:

  • Gameplay: 8.9 – The gameplay is pretty simple and repetitive, but it’s use of so many touch screen gestures that translate well into the game make it quite fun.
  • Visual: 8.2 – The 3d graphics look good, but I’m not a huge fan of the swamp color, and some of the portraits look a bit funky.
  • Sound: 7.7 –  It’s hard for me to pin-point my issue with the sound, but I don’t love it. It’s kinda cheesy, almost retro, but I suppose that fits this game pretty well. The falling or colliding sounds are always amusing.
  • Presentation: 8.6 – My 3GS has some trouble getting this going, and any notification can bog it down. I have to close a lot of my background programs for this game to run well. Once things get going, I enjoy the UI, and find everything easy to access and understand.
  • Focus: 9.7 – Temple Run will demand all your attention to play well. The gestures are responsive and support your heightened level of adrenaline.
  • Overall: 8.6 – This 3d action adventure is definitely worth checking out. It’s more entertaining than JUST something to tide you over for a few minutes.

 

Temple Run is a great example of a game that uses the strength of the platform to create a unique, and engaging experience that may otherwise not be expected on a handheld device.

2012
01.25

Who: Devel­oped and Pub­lished by Miniclip (miniclip.com)

What: Frag physics fun

Where: Many themed worlds

When: NOW! $0.99 on iTunes

Why: Blowing stuff up is always entertaining

 

Physics is the science that just keeps giving in video games. Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Where’s My Water, and Fruit Ninja are just some examples of games that use physics as a prime game mechanic; maybe you have heard of them? Fragger is similar in mechanics, and throws challenging level design and explosions on top of it.

Void of any story, your goal is to blow every character in the level apart with small explosives, most often grenades. You chose an angle and strength for the trajectory of your frag and let go, much like you did in Kitty Cannon back in the day. Once it stops, or comes very close, it will explode setting of triggers, destroying barriers, or disuniting your foes. This concept is simple enough but the gameplay lies within the level design.

Desert Strike

 

Desert Strike is the name of the first world you must deface by blowing everything up. It is also the name of a terrific game on the Sega Genesis that occupied much of my youth. Things start out pretty simple. Some punks are hanging out in holes and behind walls hoping you are incapable of placing your finger on the screen and then lifting it. Difficulty progresses quite nicely, giving a player the chance to get a feel for how powerful this SWAT dude’s arm is. At perhaps the 8th level, because the guy standing at the top of the crates is surprisingly hard to take down, you will realize you are out of ammo… FAIL! Though, now you mean business. Each toss is carefully planned. Sometimes you may even take out two birds with one…. frag, and by birds I mean Counter Strike-like terrorists. Your rating, 3 stars max, depends on the number of grenades you have once the level is clear.

If you are having trouble on a specific level you can view the solution or skip it, but these are in limited supply and additional ones cost REAL money. A “SAVE MY SOLUTION” feature is a nice addition. It lets you show off your amazing understanding of physics when applied to grenade tossing.

There are several Achievements to unlock and Fragger works with Game Center, so you can compete with your buddies. Completing a level often gives you remote bombs that you can set off whenever, and at some point you get infinite ammo, but I don’t remember the exact requirement for that. The remote bomb buff will help you tremendously if you are a completionist and want to go back through levels with perfect stars. This is currently what I’m working on, and some levels are still extremely difficult to perfect. One of the best Achievements asks you to ENRAGE 3 enemies and blow them up. To ENRAGE (I can’t seem to type that without using caps) someone you must bean them in the head a few times. Yes, it is funny.

I do have a couple gripes, but the main one is common with any, “aim & fire” mechanic: pixel perfect accuracy. Some grenade placements require a perfect angle and power level to attain, and force you into a throw then reset loop until you find the sweet spot. This can feel extremely monotonous. That paired with levels requiring a sort of progression with the eagle eye shot at the end will make you put the game down. This must be how they sell the Skip and Solve packs. Another small irritation is the UI flow. There is no way to exit a level from the completion screen, and no way to exit a world from the in game menu. For example, now that I’m going through levels and trying for all 3 stars I want to go into a specific level, finish it, and return to the level select screen or even the world select screen. Currently I have to choose Next or Replay to reload a level and then exit to the level select screen. Only from there could I go back out to the worlds. It’s a minor nuisance, but there’s no reason it needs to require that many clicks.

Pirate Bay's cannon level

 

Fragger currently has 12 worlds with around 30 levels a piece. These worlds are quite unique, and give everything just enough of a new taste that it feels different from before.

Desert Strike & Lost City have a very similar theme. You’re a counter terrorist eradicating terrorists in new and old urban areas.

Planet X places you on an alien world riddled with shinnies and slimies.

Atlantis puts you into some underwater ruins with shirtless dudes that look like ‘Baby’ Brent from ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’.

Artic Storm was released around Christmas last year I think so everyone is bundled up to look like santa, but that doesn’t matter you still want to blow them up.

Heart Attack is where things start getting a little strange, and I assume this came out last February. No longer are you a law enforcing officer. You are Cupid in a diaper, armed with deadly hearts, and forcing your love explosion on heart broken bandits. They die in an explosion of hearts so I assume you have helped them.

Horror Ville brings Frankenstein’s Monster out for you to bombard in dilapidated buildings just in time for Halloween.

Ancient Times throws you back to the middle ages against dumb-witted goons in Egypt, Rome, Greece, and South America. Your weapon of choice this round is a golden ball of some sort. Golden apple maybe?

Honey Bunny is another holiday themed world. This time you’re wearing a bunny suit and chucking deadly eggs at painted targets. It seems a little sick.

Treasure Bay was definitely inspired by ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. You’re cannonball toting avatar can hardly stand up. I found the integration of pirate items into the construction of the levels particularly well done in this world.

Monster Dash . . . I can’t help but think of River City Ransom when I see the art for this one.

Stick Man makes me happy. I don’t know if it reminds me of the stick men duels from forever ago, but this world is entertaining.

The levels create some great puzzles that range from making tough throws, to destroying barriers to launching other explosives in sequence or tandem in an effort to reach a hidden enemy.

Stick Man

 

Quantitative Review:

  • Gameplay: 9.6 – The quality and variation in level design that’s crammed into the limited real estate of a phone is terrific. The game could use a few alternative bonus features like napalm grenades, or cluster bombs. Even if they somewhat break the game, sometimes the reward for beating something as intended, should be rewarded with something ridiculous.
  • Visual: 8.9 – The visuals are quite good, but nothing groundbreaking for the iPhone. The different themes are well designed, but I’d like to see a bit more variation in the enemies. Perhaps some defining characteristics in their visuals to establish a type of nemesis throughout the worlds.
  • Sound: 9.1 – Sound effects were pretty standard, but the soundtrack is great. There is some bad ass music in the Monster Dash world, and there’s a song in Heart Attack that will bore itself into the base of your skull.
  • Presentation: 7.8 – The whole navigation thing is a pretty irritating, but the reason it dropped below a B are the ads. You can’t load up the app and complete a new level without them pimping one of their other games, and you will get harassed to rate the app often, even if you have already taken the time to do so.
  • Humor: 8.6 – The developers definitely had a sense of humor with this game and the level themes are a strong indication. Just reading through the list above you can tell things are getting more and more silly as you go along. I look forward to a new world!
  • Overall: 8.8 – Fragger has been in my arsenal for a while now. I’ve lost my progress a few times though phone upgrades and jail breaking, but I continue to go back and play through it.
2012
01.24

 

 

It has been quite some time since I threw a Starcraft II related post up here on the blog. Hell, it has been a while since I’ve updated this blog at all before this week, but I vow to be vigilant! I vow to type stuff! And I hope to get into Diamond League before Diablo 3 comes out. Why that timeline? Well…

  1. The game is a ways out yet. This gives me till AT LEAST March 7th when the game is currently rumored to be released.
  2. Once Diablo 3 comes out, it will occupy all my game time, so Starcraft II will likely fall by the way side. I’m sure I’ll still get the urge to play once a week or so, and maybe Diablo will feel too easy and it won’t hold my interest.

So in an effort to get to Diamond, I have been trying to play a few games every night. This usually means about 30-60 minutes of game time each night. It’s not going to make me pro, but I’m hoping I can at least get promoted.

2012
01.21

Who: Developed and Published by NimbleBit (they sure are)
What: Sim Tower condensed

Where: Eight bit world that can only go up.

When: NOW! Free on iTuens

Why: Stacking pixelated stores for little people to NOM NOM through is quite addicting for 53.6 second spurts.

 

What makes mobile gaming so popular? Easily accessible? Simple to pick up? Relatively cheap? Those are all good reasons, but add addictive gameplay and the ability to play anywhere at anytime and you have Tiny Tower. Tiny Tower can be played in under a minute at a time. If you’re waiting for your lunch order, you could build your own deli floor, staff it, and start gaining money toward your next floor.

You begin the game with a lobby as the first floor, where you go from here is up to you, as long as it’s up. I was amazed by how much the size and aspect ratio of a cell phone screen catered to a game like this. It felt natural to flick up and down between the floors ensuring their employees were busy.

Each floor can be filled with 1 of 6 different business types: Food, Service, Recreational, Retail, Creative, and Residential. A residential floor can house 5 bitizens max. These guys pay rent, and are willing to work anywhere within the tower. This tower is their only world, they know nothing outside of it so I suppose they have little choice. The tower seems to have a wide variety of things to do so it’s pretty all inclusive though I’ve never seen a bathroom. They do seem to hang out off screen to the right from time to time so maybe they take care of that over there.

Each bitizen has  their own unique talents ranging from 0-9 in each of the 5 business areas. Placing them in a business that corresponds with their skill will reward you with faster stocking and overall more coin. Placing a full proficient (9 skill) bitizen in an accompanying job will reward you with a tower buck. Tower bux can be used to expedite stocking floors, construction projects, upgrading your elevator, and other things. Bux can also be gained by finding a lost bitizen somewhere in your tower. Misplaced bitizens can be fired and rehired somewhere else, or if you dislike them you can kick them out of the tower all together. Occasionally you will roll a bitizen of all zeros and ones and it won’t feel too bad evicting them, but it’s easy to get attached to these little guys. They come in all sorts of different flavors. The amount of variation in such a limited number of pixels is pretty incredible, and their environments look great. 8 bit graphics will never die.

The floors of this pocket tower are just as varied as their inhabitants. Frozen yogurt, hat shop, comedy club, pharmacy, coffee house, and many more will be constructed at your request. Choosing a business type that’s in high demand, or could be stocked with some very talented unemployed bitizens is a generally a good idea. These floors will take a while to be constructed, which takes longer the higher you go, but once complete they are ready to be staffed with up to 3 bitizens and 3 items or services. Stocking takes some time too, and it depends on the type of business you are running. Making a sandwich takes less time than building hospital for example, and each subsequent item per floor takes a bit longer, but nets a higher profit so it’s best to fully staff and stock every floor.

All this time waiting for things to build and stock items can be part of the fun. Special characters will show up that speed the process up and delivering them to the desired floor via the elevator is a large part of managing your tower. Also, with everything having a countdown, you can schedule your Tiny Tower around your day. Going to bed? Build a new floor or stock something that will take all night then watch it make you money the next day. The app can easily send you push notifications when something needs your attention so I found it fun to set several 15 minute actions at once then just wait till I was pushed a notification. Tiny Tower integrates itself so well into the lulls of your day it’s hard NOT to play.

Quantitative Review:

  • Gameplay: 8.4 – The game is very simple to play, but it’s hard to tell if you are playing it well. Most of the enjoyment comes from timing everything perfectly so you can set up as much as possible the next time you load up the game. You feel best when you spend the least amount of time in the actual game because you set everything in motion that you could. The lack of “active” gameplay is made up for in the games ability to fuse with almost every routine during your day. Walking to a meeting, brushing your teeth, cooking a hot pocket, and yes of course making poo.
  • Visual: 9.3 – The 8 bit graphics strike a certain chord of nostalgia back to the NES days. It’s fun to see what each floor will bring and NimbleBit adds new and interesting bitizens to the game from time to time. I can’t get over the hilarious “nom nom” animation the bitizens make as they consume items on a floor.
  • Sound: 8.5 –  Sound is fairly minimal in this game. Most of the sounds come from alerts or UI inputs. This seems like a conscious decision as it can get a little noisy when you have 50 floors.
  • Presentation: 9.8 – As I’ve said, the joy of this game lies in small bits of management. Getting in, setting a bunch of timers, and getting out in less then a minute is made possible by the quick loading of the app, and great in game performance. The 8 bit graphics and vertical layout of the world make it possible for you to scroll through a seemingly infinite number of floors. I have 50 floors rendering on a iPhone 3GS and the performance is flawless.
  • Integration: 10.0 – I cannot think of a better, more casual way for a game to integrate with your everyday life and I’m sure things have gotten even better since I last played.
  • Overall: 9.2 – Between the art style, simple interface, and ability to play for seconds at a time I found Tiny Tower very addictive. The strengths of mobile gaming materialize in Tiny Tower, and no matter how busy you are day to day you downtime that could be filled with this mall like sim. Now if only they could integrate more multiplayer features, like allowing you to zoom into the towers your friends have built. Tiny Tower is the ideal mobile game for the new wave of casual gamers.

 

 

2011
10.04

This is a problem I have been running into a lot lately. It wasn’t until I put about a hour into Bioshock 2 and found out I couldn’t SAVE, that I got frustrated enough to want to fix it. Let me reiterate that. I bought a game, but couldn’t save my progress until I was signed into my Windows Live ID. This DRM shit is getting out of hand.

So the problem is this: 80048821

Basically Windows Live doesn’t recognize your username, or your password is wrong so it’s unable to authenticate.

Surfing the Google will point you at a variety of culprits. The most common is to open a list of ports on your router. Others have you check your version of Games for Windows, reinstall the game, or even hack some registry files.

Solution?

Your password IS wrong! Apparently passwords with special characters trip up the whole system and you can’t log in EVEN if your password is correctly inputted. It’s recommended to use alpha-numeric characters only and stick to 6-10 characters.

Do I even have to point out the irony of Microsoft requiring a simplified password for it’s online environment to access it’s own game system on it’s own OS?

2011
07.07

google+

Google+ or G+ is an interesting name. It’s simple, easy to remember, and takes ownership over a very popular mathematical symbol. It is also quite bold. I wonder if it will be able to live up to the hype. Not just the hype of being Google’s effort in the social networking site wars, but also the hype that the name implies. “Plus” is defined as being positive, more, or adding to something to create a greater value. Google revolutionized search engines and in many ways the Internet as a whole. For a search engine that surpassed 1 Billion unique visitors just a couple months ago, the concept of a “+”Google is something quite momentous. The standard is now set and I suspect even Google is a bit intimidated.

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