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Carter Dotson

Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since June 5, 2010

I'm Carter Dotson, freelance writer based out of Chicago. I've been a fan of portable gaming since the days of the black-and-white Game Boy, but now mobile gaming consumes my life. Along with writing about mobile gaming. Which is why you see all these posts below. Also, check out The Portable Podcast, every Tuesday here on 148Apps.

Connect with Carter via:
Game Center: wondroushippo
OpenFeint: wondroushippo
Twitter: @wondroushippo
Google+ Profile
Skype: wondroushippo
Email :: carter.dotson@148apps.com
Personal site :: http://about.me/wondroushippo
M.U.L.E. Returns Review

M.U.L.E. Returns Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The classic Atari game of supply and demand economies is back with a fresh coat of paint.

Read The Full Review »
Warlords RTS Review

Warlords RTS Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Rally the troops and get ready for a challenging RTS experience that's also totally metal.

Read The Full Review »
Assassin’s Creed Pirates Review

Assassin’s Creed Pirates Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Want to wreak havoc all over the high seas? Then Assassin's Creed Pirates is a great way to do so, Assassin's Creed fan or not.

Read The Full Review »
Ben 10: Wrath of Psychobos Review

Ben 10: Wrath of Psychobos Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Ben 10: Wrath of Psychobos has good ideas in play but falters in its execution.

Read The Full Review »

The Portable Podcast, Episode 211

TPPTwitter_Web

Skating on thin ice!

On This Episode:

  • Carter and Brett Nolan discuss their recent iPad purchases, what they think about the first wave of MFi gamepads, and recent releases Touchgrind Skate 2 and Icycle: On Thin Ice
  • .

    Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Co-Host: Brett Nolan, AppAddict.net
  • Music:

    How to Listen:

    • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
    • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.
    • Listen Here:

    Apps From This Episode:

    $8.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2013-11-14 :: Category: Games

    $4.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2013-11-21 :: Category: Games

    $2.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2013-11-27 :: Category: Games

    Cornfox & Bros. and publisher FDG Entertainment’s Oceanhorn has been an anomaly in the rise of free-to-play games on the App Store: it’s one of the few attempts at making a grand-scale game on iOS and priced at an $8.99 cost that few others have dared to try. The game’s launch saw it rocket to #1 in the paid app charts and in the top 10 of the top grossing apps, bolstered not just by its App Store Editor’s Choice but by a pre-release hype cycle that’s rarely seen for mobile games.

    Oceanhorn‘s price risk has paid off: the game recouped its production cost in less than a week, seemingly showing that the kind of games with high production values and premium price points can succeed on the App Store. Thomas Kern, Executive Producer of Oceanhorn at FDG Entertainment, spoke to me about the game’s success at its price point.

    148Apps: Why launch at $8.99, and that price point specifically? $6.99 has been a more typical “high” price for games on the App Store, and $9.99 is a more “round” number – so why $8.99? Was launching at a premium price point the plan all throughout development?
    Thomas Kern (TK): We’re not setting prices on trends or from a psychological “round number” point of view. The launch price is related to the production cost and quality of the game. We got lots of emails and feedback about the price and it was all positive. People felt it was the right price and the game has done tremendously well at $8.99. We’re very happy about the success of the game.

    Oceanhorn-3148Apps: Was there ever any thought to making the game free-to-play, or incorporating a hybrid model like what Infinity Blade uses?
    TK:The plan for this game was always to go the traditional premium route, something players are used to from game consoles or handhelds. Oceanhorn is a loving tribute to games we enjoyed in our childhood and we see it as a fan-service to offer the full experience without additional costs.

    148Apps: The game was bolstered by Apple’s featuring of Oceanhorn as an Editor’s Choice – do you feel like the game would have done as well without this?
    TK: When we launched the game it immediately shot up the charts, before Apple even featured it. It was great to see that Apple agreed with many happy users that this game is a milestone in iOS gaming so they featured it very prominently and supported the game’s launch the best way they could. It seems Apple really appreciates efforts like this, after all, Oceanhorn‘s development time was over 2 years!

    Oceanhorn-2148Apps: What about the long-term prospects of the game? Can the game continue to succeed at $8.99?
    TK: It does! We see very healthy sales and we’ve recouped the investment in less than a week. For us and the development team, the game is already a great success.

    There is no sale to be expected, Oceanhorn will stay at $8.99 but we’ll add more content to it in 2014 so the value will become even better.

    148Apps: Do you think that other games can succeed at high price points? Do you believe that Oceanhorn changed anything with the market?
    TK: We’ve been contacted by many people in the industry and they’ve been surprised about the success despite the high price point. Especially because the production cost was recouped really quickly. Oceanhorn definitely proves that premium games are not dead and it’s a viable business. We can’t beat some insanely successful Free2Play game revenues, but that was not our plan. Healthy revenues don’t require a position in Top 10 Grossing.

    Thanks to Thomas Kern for his time.

    $8.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2013-11-14 :: Category: Games

    Tic Tactics Review

    Tic Tactics Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Tic-Tac-Toe with intense strategy? Tic Tactics provides just that.

    Read The Full Review »
    Blek Review

    Blek Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Blek is a beautfiul minimalist puzzle game that has players drawing lines to follow a path that will hit all the dots in a level, requiring planning and spatial awareness to master.

    Read The Full Review »
    Roccat Power-Grid Review

    Roccat Power-Grid Review

    iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
    Roccat Power-Grid is a customizable and extensible app that can turn an iPhone into a way to remotely display computer stats and issue controls.

    Read The Full Review »

    Assassin’s Creed Pirates is not the Assassin’s Creed game you’d expected to come to mobile, as it’s more of a straight-up pirate adventure with boats than any kind of character-based action game. Of course, the recent console release kind of took its own path by shifting to a piracy theme, and the mobile game goes whole hog into the concept. Players take command of their own pirate ship, starting off with a small schooner but eventually make their way to becoming a pirate king while wreaking havoc all over the Caribbean.

    ACP_Screenshot_Previews1Gameplay consists of several different phases: there’s a top-down navigation mode, where players can sail around looking for treasure and to take on other captains on the high seas. It’s possible to go into a 3D view of the action, and is necessary for some events, to try and chase down other ships. Then there’s combat, which involves trading cannon volleys, trying to dodge enemy attacks, and exploit their weaknesses.

    The connection to the traditions of Assassin’s Creed seems tenuous at best, at least initially: there’s the famous iconography of the series but Edward Kenway, the protagonist of the console game, isn’t anywhere to be seen – at least early on. This is an entirely separate experience, though the game certainly could link up to AC4’s narrative at some point later on (I won’t give away any secrets). In reality, it gives off the appearance of trying to fit in thematically with the game, but in my playing of it, it seems to stand up well on its own.

    ACP_Screenshot_Previews2As a whole, it gives off the vibe of being like Infinity Blade in a fleeting sense. A large part of it is the combat being based off of dodging enemy attacks, and then delivering timing and precision-based weapon strikes from one’s boat back at the enemy – or enemies! The ability to level up and get upgrades for the boat and crew feels like a familiar aspect too, but that’s true of most any iOS game nowadays. But really, it feels like the developers paid attention to making a game in the same sort of vein – of exploring and becoming stronger – but decided to use the concept to fit in with what the piratical theme.

    Assassin’s Creed Pirates releases on iOS on December 5, and even for people who aren’t too exposed to the series this shows some promise as a high-seas adventure.


    Often, incoming emails can feel like things to do – important items just kind of floating around the inbox until they’re finished. Want to add these emails to the iOS Reminders app so that they can be dealt with in an important place? Well, this is possible by using IFTTT. Here’s how to do just that.

    First off, download IFTTT and register an account with the email address that you primarily want to forward items from. Now create a new recipe, which is what IFTTT calls the actions that it executes.

    For starters, let’s choose the Mail option. You can choose to forward all mail from your registered email address to the IFTTT trigger email address, or only emails tagged with a certain hashtag.

    IFTTT If Email

    For the second part of the recipe, choose iOS Reminders. By default, this will add the email subject as a reminder to a list called IFTTT. However, that is an option that can be changed from the IFTTT recipes menu.

    IFTTT Part 2

    Tap on the recipe to open up its options, then tap Edit Recipe. From here you can configure what the reminder title will be, which list it will be added to by manually entering the name of the list, and what, if any, priority the reminder will have. Tap the blue plus sign next to an option to add in specific dynamic text like sender, body text, and more.

    IFTTT Options

    Now, if you use Gmail you should use the Gmail channel when setting up your recipe. This adds more options for what can trigger the IFTTT recipe. This can include emails from certain senders, emails with certain labels, starred emails, and more.

    IFTTT Gmail Recipe

    What the label trigger can do is make it easy to manage emails using Mailbox. Create a list in Mailbox with the title of your choice. Let’s say it’s Reminders. In IFTTT, have the label that the recipe is added to be [Mailbox]/Reminders. Now, whenever you add an email to that list in Mailbox, that will trigger IFTTT to add it to Reminders.

    IFTTT Mailbox Options

    Now, you have a convenient spot to do things like send replies to emails once they are cleared from reminders. You can create a recipe in IFTTT to send emails when a reminder is completed in that list, but you might want to send more personal replies. Still, it is an option.

    Hopefully this helps you get your inbox under a bit more control by utilizing IFTTT’s powers of automation!

    Papa Pear Saga Review

    Papa Pear Saga Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Yes, there's fun to be had – but is it fair?

    Read The Full Review »
    Stellar Wars Review

    Stellar Wars Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Stellar Wars excels thanks to the immense variety of the gameplay scenarios it presents.

    Read The Full Review »

    One of iOS 7′s new features is the iCloud Keychain. What this allows is for passwords and credit cards stored in AutoFill to be shared between iOS devices and Safari on Mavericks so that you can easily retrieve them without needing to type them in again. It is also engineered to protect your data through an additional security key and two-factor authentication. Here’s how to set it up, use it, and protect yourself.

    iCloud Keychain can be set up when setting up a new device, when updating to a new iOS version, or from the iCloud menu in Settings. When setting up for the first time you’ll be asked if you want to enable iCloud Keychain and to create a security code. By creating a security code, this will store the data in iCloud; if you don’t create one it will still allow for data to be shared between devices, but it will not be stored in iCloud and you will need to authenticate a new device from another device with iCloud Keychain enabled on it. Authenticating from another device requires putting in the password to the iCloud account and choosing “Allow” on the dialog that appears.

    HowToKeychain1

    HowToKeychain2

    To save a password or credit card to iCloud Keychain, just log in to a site or use a credit card in Safari. A dialog will pop up asking if you wish to save to the iCloud Keychain. Now, when you try to use a saved login or credit card from another device, Safari can automatically fill it in no matter where it was originally saved from.

    HowToKeychain8

    It’s important while using iCloud Keychain to have a passcode of some sort on your device. This treats you physically using your device as secure, so make sure that there’s a security mechanism in place to ensure that your device is being used only by yourself or someone you trust. Otherwise someone can easily get access to your passwords and credit cards just by having your unprotected device.

    What the security code for iCloud Keychain does is make it simple to sign in to the iCloud Keychain from a new device without needing to log in on that other device. This is a separate code or password from your login passcode, though it can be the same.

    By default iCloud Keychain will prompt for a four-digit security key, though it’s possible to either have an advanced security key that can contain letters and numbers, and/or one that is randomly-generated for complexity. If you forget this key, then you can use a second device in order to approve it. It also provides security so that even if someone compromises your iCloud account and wants to set up iCloud Keychain, they still can’t get into your data unless they know the second password or if they have another device of yours that they also know the password to.

    HowToKeychain6HowToKeychain7

    If you disable iCloud Keychain on a device by disabling it from the iCloud Settings, you can prompt to save the AutoFill data locally or erase it.

    HowToKeychain4

    Hopefully this demystifies this very useful feature!

    Rovio’s taking the Angry Birds out of the air and into… cars? Yes, it’s time for Rovio’s famous characters to make the natural leap for any popular character – star in a kart-racing game – with Angry Birds Go. While conceptually it makes perhaps a bit more sense than, say, Sonic the Hedgehog as the birds have generally needed the help of mechanical contraptions to get anywhere in the past, it’s still a bit silly on paper. However, what’s not silly business is that this is Rovio’s first free-to-play launch of an Angry Birds game, as this has been soft-launched in New Zealand ahead of a global launch. So, I take Angry Birds Go for a spin in this edition of It Came From New Zealand!

    AngryBirdsGo-8The racing has been tremendously simplified to where players really only need to concern themselves with steering, not even needing to brake, much less accelerate. Each racer has a special ability that helps them get to the finish line before their opponents, such as a floating bubble or a speed boost. Prepare to grind and become familiar with the game’s tracks. Each track has a variety of events to play on it, such as races, time trials, and a fruit smashing mode where points are earned for running into fruit strewn across the track. There goes the idea for a Fruit Ninja kart racing game, eh? Each event has a certain performance minimum, forcing players to upgrade and buy new cars.

    AngryBirdsGo-6The game steadily introduces the ways in which it intends on making money. First, there’s coins for upgrades. Then there are gems for boosts, though these can be collected in the game itself. There are IAP for better cars, including some rather expensive prices for the best ones. It’s possible to use Telepods to unlock cars, too. There’s an energy system where different racers must be used as their energies run low. Each racer has a different special ability, though the car stats remain the same.

    Angry Birds Go feels like a highly-polished product right now, and it’s likely that how the game monetizes is what’s under major scrutiny here as it should be out in a couple of weeks. Just how free it is will take some time to see – and this game succeeding or failing could have a big impact on Rovio’s future releases as well. This should be an interesting one to keep an eye on.


    The King of Fighters ’97 Review

    The King of Fighters ’97 Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    The King of Fighters '97 is an excellent port of a classic entry in the Neo Geo fighting game series.

    Read The Full Review »

    The Portable Podcast, Episode 210

    TPPTwitter_WebAlone in the stars!

    On This Episode:

  • Carter talks to Orian and Felix from Liv Games about the conclusion of the Wars trilogy, Stellar Wars, how they think this is the best one yet, the struggles of trying to succeed in the current market, and the struggles of working as a remote team.
  • Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guests: Orian Livnat and Felix Embree, Liv Games
  • Music:

    How to Listen:

    • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
    • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.
    • Listen Here:

    Apps From This Episode:

    $0.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2013-11-14 :: Category: Games

    MOGA Ace Power Gamepad Review

    The first official MFi gamepad is here, from the maker of the best Android gamepad on the market, but does this gamepad make the grade?

    Read The Full Review »

    Castle of Illusion Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Castle of Illusion resurrects a gaming classic with modern standards.

    Read The Full Review »

    It Came From Canada: Boom Beach

    Supercell has made an absolute killing over the past year with two colossal hits in Hay Day and Clash of Clans. The latter particularly has been a rather successful and influential game, spawning countless imitators but only in style, not in success: the game has duked it out with Candy Crush Saga for number one on the top grossing charts. But now, Supercell is ready to land on the beaches of the future with their latest game, Boom Beach. It’s currently seeing a soft launch in Canada, so we got on our boots and readied a dispatch on Supercell’s latest in this edition of It Came From Canada!

    BoomBeachPreview-7

    Boom Beach, like many other games including Clash of Clans, has two phases: building and combat. Building involves, well, building out a base. It’s very similar to other free-to-play building games: build resource stockades, material harvesters, and other handy buildings all set to wait timers that can be skipped with secondary currency. However, the interesting part begins with the combat.

    The combat gameplay has players choosing which troops they want to launch onto the invading beach, with units like heavies able to withstand lots of blows on the front line while troopers hide safely behind them. From there on out the battles take place mostly automatically, but players can call in artillery strikes to help take out certain buildings so it’s not an entirely passive experience. Players spend gold to help uncover new parts of the world to go and attack – starting with CPU encounters before eventually getting to face other players by upgrading the radar to a higher level. Still, this is a strictly-solo affair for the early days of play.

    BoomBeachPreview-5It’s all a very familiar formula, but it’s one that’s certainly deeper than the average free-to-play game. It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out in the coming weeks as it ramps up to a worldwide launch, and if long-term it winds up being much different from Clash of Clans. Still, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and Supercell is hardly going broke with their formula.


    I have a reputation for being able to go toe-to-toe with developers at their own games, beating their best times and high scores. This is Carter vs. the Developer.

    Disc Drivin 3Disc Drivin 2On this edition, Carter takes on Michael Bean of Pixelocity Software at the classic turn-based racing game, Disc Drivin’. Squaring off on one of the game’s new mirrored tracks, the victory condition is simple: whoever crosses the finish line first wins. Game on, gentlemen!

    $1.99
    iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
    Released: 2010-12-13 :: Category: Games

    $2.99
    iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
    Released: 2011-03-18 :: Category: Games

    HOOKBALL Review

    HOOKBALL Review

    iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
    Fight against time with a hookshot in Hookball.

    Read The Full Review »

    Touchgrind Skate 2 Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Hop back on the board with one of the best skateboarding games around.

    Read The Full Review »
    Steam Punks Review

    Steam Punks Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Steam Punks falls well short of the game that it could be, but its promise is still evident.

    Read The Full Review »
    Cavorite 3 Review

    Cavorite 3 Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Cavorite 3 looks nice and has a clever mechanic at the heart of it, but it just never feels right.

    Read The Full Review »
    Air Supply Infinite Review

    Air Supply Infinite Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Tired of frantic endless runners? Air Supply Infinite is a slow burn. An endurance test.

    Read The Full Review »
    LEGO Lord of the Rings Review

    LEGO Lord of the Rings Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Go on a light-hearted version of the quest to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

    Read The Full Review »

    The Portable Podcast, Episode 209

    TPPTwitter_WebDream a little dream of a helicopter.

    On This Episode:

  • Adam and Alex of One Man Left come back on the podcast to discuss Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous. Find out how long the title had existed, why the powerup selection in the sequel is so different, and why Classic mode is actually good now!
  • Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guests: Adam Stewart and Alex Okafor, One Man Left
  • Music:

    How to Listen:

    • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
    • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.
    • Listen Here:

    Apps From This Episode:

    $2.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2013-11-14 :: Category: Games

    Oceanhorn Review

    Oceanhorn Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Oceanhorn is a beautiful and ambitious game, but it's missing that special something to make it great.

    Read The Full Review »
    Football Heroes Review

    Football Heroes Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Football Heroes has a good game of football at its core, but some of the missing features are killer.

    Read The Full Review »
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