All Posts By Jennifer Allen
The recent update of Battle Command! has been quite a significant one, adding a new way of working together and sharing resources through a player-driven economy. The update adds a new resource in the form of Darium, which can be used to produce specialized troops and weapons. The unique part of this is that you can only gain the resource by working together and sharing other resources with your alliance mates. It’s a new twist on a familiar format and has the potential to change a lot within the F2P empire building landscape.
Because of that, we took the time to talk to Lead Producer for the game, Greg Mueller, to learn more about how such a significant inclusion came to be.
148Apps: How did you come up with the new resource sharing system? What was the thinking behind it?
Greg Mueller (GM): Players in Battle Command! are very engaged with their Alliances. We have a boosting mechanic where players can send free production boosts and building speed-ups to their Alliance mates. This is a very popular feature in our game with close to 1 million boosts sent per day. We know players enjoy interacting with their Alliances, so we designed this new system to add even more depth and interaction to the Alliance play. We also wanted to give players a way to uniquely contribute to their friends in the game so we added the three resource types that can be shared. This way you might have Diamonds and I have Amber and we both benefit by sharing those with one another.
148Apps: In what way do you expect it to change how players interact with each other and play the game?
GM: This update will definitely add even more emphasis to being in an active Alliance. Players will be sharing more, chatting more, and helping out their friends in a variety of meaningful ways. It takes the social aspect of the game beyond simply chatting or donating troops. With this new Darium resource players will also be able to build six new offensive and defensive weapons, each of which adds a new layer of strategy to the game.
148Apps: How balanced is it? Will players now be pretty much expected to be part of an alliance in order to be successful?
GM: The vast majority of our mid- to high-level players are already in Alliances, so most players won’t have to change the way they play at all to enjoy this new system. We’ve spent a lot of time play testing this both internally and in public beta to make sure we keep the game balanced for players who choose not to join an Alliance.
148Apps: How will the story-arc be affected by this new resource and gathering method?
GM: The Darium update comes with its own original story. The update introduces a new class of units and defensive structures that all look, feel, and act very unique. We had a lot of fun with the story and artwork to make these new units feel powerful and mysterious and fun to use.
Thanks to Greg for taking the time to answer our questions.
Battle Command! is out now on the App Store.
Tap Sports Baseball is a pretty simple game to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy game to master, by any means. To start your batting career off well, we thought we’d give you the heads up on some handy tips and tricks.
Curious to see what we made of this whole “tap to bat” management sim? Check out our Tap Sports Baseball review!
- Learn when to hit the ball. It’s not always every time the ball comes at you.
- Sometimes you should let the ball go. Recognize what the pitcher is doing and whether that means there’s going to be a strike or ball up ahead.
- Miss the curveballs till you get your timing spot on. It’s all too easy to get a foul ball early on.
- Turn the sound up and listen for the sound of the ball hitting the ground to know it’s coming in low. If it is, don’t bother swinging for it.
- Learn when to hit early and when to hit late. It’ll change the trajectory quite significantly. Swinging later tends to place the ball on the opposite field while swinging early focuses on power.
- As in real life, right handed batters tend to do better against left handed pitchers, and the same occurs in reverse.
Statistics are Important
- If your player has a low hitting or power score, and there’s a runner waiting on first, bunt to get that runner across. You’ll sacrifice one out but it’s often worth it.
- Consider the speed of your runner when running for a base. 6 or higher and you’re fine, but lower than that and you should play it safe.
- If your pitcher is getting tired, the game will let you know. Acknowledge those prompts, sub him in exchange for a new relief pitcher. You don’t get to control the pitcher directly so take advantage of this limited power that you’ve been given. Tired ones will just make mistakes.
- Keep an eye on everyone’s stats. Hitting dictates the batter’s ability to make contact, while power tells you how far they can hit the ball. Speed is how fast they can run to base, and bunt indicates how well they’re going to bunt. Adjust your strategies accordingly.
- You’re given bonus games occasionally. Use them. There’s no reason not to and they’ll often help you progress faster.
- You can earn free gold by watching videos. Do this as much as possible as you probably don’t want to spend real money unless you have to.
- Plenty of things can be purchased but focus on upgrading your pitching and hitting coaches, as well as the other coaches available. Buying a free agent might seem tempting but focusing on coaching means the whole team benefits rather than just an individual player.
- Remember you can’t help with defense/pitching, so focus on those upgrades as that’s where it’s really going to count.
- Have plenty of games going on at once. Not everyone plays very often, or sometimes at all, so it’s more fun that way to ensure there’s always something to do. More importantly, advancing to the league playoffs depends on a certain number of wins so you want to work towards those as quickly as possible.
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Everybody’s favorite abusive To-Do list app, CARROT, has just benefited from a rather substantial update.
The update brings with it a speech synthesizer, a new story chapter to do with Captain Whiskers, and a cowboy cat costume in the Shop N Slack store. For those at level 15, there’s now a new way to quickly add items to your list through swiping down.
60 new rewards can also be earned (according to the developer, they’re mostly cat facts) and there are 5 new challenges to test you.
For the uninitiated, prepare to be insulted regularly by this bizarre motivational tool. There’s no other task management app quite like it, but it’s a great idea.
CARROT is out now on the App Store and is priced at $2.99.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Currently on sale for the grand price of nothing is third-person shooter, EPOCH.2.
The game has you trekking across a post-apocalyptic landscape as you battle robot against robot. Using an intuitive finger swiping control method you’ll be able to select targets, dodge incoming fire, make split-second tactical decisions, take cover, and launch various special abilities. Wave upon wave of enemy robots are against you in arena-style combat, so it should be a pretty frantic but satisfying affair.
EPOCH.2 is on sale in honor of it being Apple’s pick for App of the Week this week, so expect it to be a pretty limited offer.
A few weeks ago, LEX developer Simple Machine took the unusual step of making the code for it open-source, thereby enabling anyone with the knowledge to manipulate the code in whatever manner they wished.
At the time Kurt Bieg, CEO of Simple Machine, explained their reasoning in doing so: “we believe ownership is becoming obsolete, this is our way of inspiring young and old people to read, learn, and ultimately manipulate code that came from a studio known for taking chances and innovating puzzle games.”
A few weeks into making LEX open-source, and given the rarity of this occurring, we thought we’d take the time to follow up with Kurt and see how things have progressed.
One such outcome was this:
Simple Machine’s ‘dream outcome’ according to Kurt, with coder Bill Kendrick having played LEX then used the source code to create a variant for the 8-bit Atari system.
“We don’t have any quantifiable numbers on how many people read it or anything, but this made it real for us. The first point to point cause and effect. Now we just have to buy an Atari for the office so we can play it,” explained Kurt.
Enlightening us on their motivations, Kurt told us about Chupamobile: a site where you can buy game code, press publish, and effectively make money with little effort.
“I was horrified at first, then I showed some of the team, and one person, Anne Peng, our community manager at the time who has since moved on, actually thought it was a good thing. Insta-curious.
“The team ended up having an hour long discussion about the depths of open sourcing our code or not. We talked about the Threes/2048 controversy, the 1982 Pac-man/K.C. Munchkin court case, and overall where everything in this whole crazy planet is heading.”
Kurt went on to compare the situation to the Napster/Metallica issues of early 2000s. “We are moving towards an ownerless society, and the current “clone craze” in games is a path where the lines between who owns what are visibly blurring. What you have is an amazing new way for games to be distributed, where the code is available for everyone to read and learn from. Not everyone has the best intentions, that’s for sure, but we feel like it’s very parallel to the Napster/Metallica issues of early 2000s. Here we have a band that grew to popularity by people copying their songs on blank tapes off the radio, only to sue their fans for the very same behavior a couple decades later. In my view, we’ve been moving towards this sharable culture for quite some time, only now do we have the technology where it has become mainstream.”
Kurt felt particularly invigorated by their decision when a vote of confidence came in the form of Elon Musk of Tesla opening up their patents to the public, suggesting that Simple Machine are onto the right idea when it comes to shareable culture.
One significant issue, however, is the financial aspect of open sourcing. How is Simple Machine planning to stay financially solvent if their code is available to everyone?
Kurt explained, “The answer is, we don’t have an answer yet. We believe that Simple Machine is about being a window to new ideas. With each game we try innovate in some unexplored area, like The Outcast for instance. Open source has huge benefits for everyone involved. I can’t say that we’ve seen any profit lost from doing it. I can say that our hearts are warm after seeing some one interpret LEX and demake it for Atari. You could maybe draw a line and say that open sourcing has connected us directly to more fans and that our reputation has grown in a new direction.
“Overall, we’re happy some people are finding inspiration from our code and that it makes the overall developer/customer experience more than just a money transaction. It’s a bit more of a two way street, and that’s our ultimate goal.”
It’s certainly ambitious and ultimately very positive and selfless of the folks at Simple Machine. It’ll be fascinating to see how things turn out in the long term for them and, of course, we’ll be keeping an eye on their progress and future titles.
Thanks to Kurt Bieg for taking the time to answer our questions. LEX is available now from the App Store, priced at $0.99.
Avid book readers will appreciate the dilemma. You want to buy a new book but do you want a physical copy or an e-book that you can more easily take with you while you’re out and about? Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, making it a tough call.
There’s a newly launched service that aims to solve this problem, though. It’s called BitLit, and it hopes to revolutionize things when it comes to your ability to read whenever, however. Currently, over 120 publishers have signed up to the service with nearly 20,000 books available through it. A pilot deal has just been signed with HarperCollins, while other publishers such as O’Reilly and Angry Robot are also on board.
The way it works is that you simply take a photo of your book cover, write your name on the book’s copyright page, take a snapshot of that, then send it through for your ownership to be validated. Then an eBook comes through in return; one that can be used on all of your devices – such as an iPad, Kindle, Kobo, or Nook.
We took the time to ask the firm a few questions to learn more about the service.
148Apps: How does the funding model for BitLit work? How do publishers gain from this approach?
BitLit: When a publisher offers the eBook for free, then it’s free (as in beer) for everybody, we take no commission and the user gets a free eBook (who doesn’t like free stuff). About 30% of the eBooks in BitLit are free. If the eBook isn’t free, then BitLit takes a small commission from the sale — that’s how we keep the lights on and servers running.
The upside for publishers and authors is twofold: Firstly, print books that include a free/discounted eBook sell almost twice as well in bookstores than books that don’t include a bundled eBook. Secondly, for books that people already own, there is the opportunity for an incremental upsale — less than 1% of readers purchase titles at full price in both print and digital formats, 48% of readers say they’re willing to pay slightly more to get both formats. Currently you can only buy print or digital; BitLit lets the author capture value on the reader who wants both.
148apps: Are there any plans for it to be possible to validate your purchase without writing in the book?
BitLit: We ask our users to validate the book by writing in it is so that the book can’t be returned to a bookstore. But we know that readers sometimes don’t want to have their messy writing in their book. For these folks, there’s the option of using an Ex Libris book stamp to mark that the book is theirs.
148apps: How long does the process take before you can download a copy?
BitLit: If you have neat handwriting the process takes about 30 seconds. If the automated algorithms can’t recognize your hand writing, then it might take up to 15 minutes for a human reviewer to validate your print edition. We deliver eBooks via email download link, so even if you use BitLit on your smartphone to validate the book, you can be reading on your iPad in less than a minute.
148apps: What plans are there for expansion to cover more titles?
BitLit: We have a dedicated content acquisition team whose job is to get in touch with publishers. We already have some great publishers like HarperCollins, O’Reilly, and Angry Robot on board… and we’re in talks with a lot of other great publishers that we hope will be joining soon. Stay tuned.
Thanks to the folks at BitLit for answering our questions. The app is available now and is a free download. To check what books are eligible, you can consult the BitLit website.
Curious to see what we thought of 22Cans’ whacky-looking god sim? Check out our Godus review!
Enjoying the delights of Godus but could do with a helping hand? We’re here to give you some simple tips and tricks to get you started and on your way to being a great God.
You Gotta Believe
- There’s going to be a lot of sculpting ahead of you, especially early on. Try to plan ahead. Belief fades fast and you don’t want to run out midway through creating a flatter plain ready for developing on. Don’t just clear land for the sake of it. Think it through before you begin.
- The same goes for building structures. You want to keep people together for maximum efficiency and don’t forget that early on, only nearby workers can get to work on building a new settlement. Later on, you’ll be able to entice them further afield but you’re quite restricted at the start.
- Make sure there’s room to place trees near the settlements. More belief is gained that way, which is always a good thing.
- Remove rocks that are nearby such dwellings, as they’ll decrease your belief gains.
- Removing rocks, as well as surplus trees, is also handy because it provides you with some easy belief. Do it. Often.
- Belief isn’t used up if you’re sculpting land from beneath the sea so if you’re desperate for space and low on belief, drag out the beaches.
- In other games, collecting all that belief would be irritatingly tedious, but Godus simplifies matters. You can just hold a finger down and drag it around to collect belief up en masse.
- A similar process can be used to ‘leash’ followers but you want to use that ability sparingly as it uses up belief.
Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day
- Keep building and steadily expanding. The more followers the better as it’ll unlock new cards and generally provide the whole point of the game. It’s a slow process, but worth it.
- Make room for farms and mines to be near settlements. You need plenty of both and clustering will soon be essential to your success.
- Work towards the beacons scattered around the land. They’re Godus‘s way of encouraging you to follow a certain path but they’re pretty handy for unlocking new areas.
- When you’re worried about your followers’ and their eating habits, cast Rain of Purity on Crop Fields. Wheat grows much quicker this way than waiting it out. It can make all the difference.
- Unlock cards as quickly as possible but don’t necessarily use them all. Some are more hassle than they’re worth so be wise with what you upgrade via stickers.
- Speaking of stickers, these can be gained through completing Journeys but also through discovering treasure chests littered around the world. Look out for differences in the land, such as a sparkly section, and start digging to retrieve anything from diamonds to stickers.
All in the Journey
- Regualarly going on Journeys is essential to progression, as well as having more fun with Godus. Do so frequently.
- When you first start a Journey, plan what you’re going to do carefully. The time limits are often tight, especially when you’re fighting with poor path-finding. Those followers really aren’t very bright at all.
- Don’t bother sending more followers than you need to. It’ll just be a waste if you fail the level.
- Treat the followers like Lemmings. They’re dimwitted and really need to be dealt with like mindless drones. Because that’s exactly what they are.
- Because of that, make sure you block paths to stop them from either going the wrong way or walking into danger. The Journeys are often simple enough. The tricky part is in keeping those followers safe from their own stupidity.
- You’ll be infuriated at times, either by your followers’ inability to think or just the slow pace of the game. Be a kind God. Using negative God powers only tends to cause trouble in the long term and you want to keep your people happy through any means necessary.
- Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take a while to get in your stride and truly see significant improvements. Accept it and enjoy.
Simple yet ideal for younger gamers, Scooby Doo! & Looney Tunes Cartoon Universe: Arcade is a fun collection of mini-games.
Read The Full Review »