Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since September 7, 2010
Jen lives in not so sunny Wales in the UK. A keen games player for the past 25 years, she cites Final Fantasy VII and Goldeneye as 'life-changing', but is just as comfortable delving into the varied world of apps too. As a freelance writer, Jen has found that sleep is an unnecessary complication in life, and isn't entirely sure what she'd do without her trusty iPhone and iPad.
Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 15th, 2014 + 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.
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.
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.”
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 BitLitwebsite.
Hello gods in training:
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.
Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 11th, 2014 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
A new and hefty update has just been released for video texting app, Glide.
The app now offers tabbed navigation, making it easy to switch between friends, chats, and more. You can view when your friends were last active, as well as add distinctive names to personalize and better identify your group chats.
Alongside that, users can now create personal profile pages for themselves, as well as easily forward messages to other chats or share via email/SMS and various social networks.
The update is available now from the App Store and Glide is a free download.
New to the App Store is version 2.0 of Feed, an iPad app that allows you to create music from the sounds of the world around you.
The app offers an intuitive layout that means it’s easy to record, playback, loop, pitch shift, and modulate sounds – all gleaned from your iPad’s in-built microphone. Whether you’re walking through the countryside or taking your daily commute to the city, you should be able to grab some great sounds to use within Feed.
In honor of its significant update, Feed is currently on sale at 40% off, meaning it only costs $1.99 at the moment. Get in fast though as this is a time limited sale.
At some point “very soon,” Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies will be making its way to iOS. It’s already live on the Japanese App Store, so it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing when us Western gamers can enjoy the delights.
Previously solely a 3DS game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is the fifth game in the Ace Attorney series, with you having to solve various court cases by gathering up evidence and determining contradictions in witness statements. I’ve played the 3DS version and it’s excellent. We can only hope that the iOS version comes to our virtual shores very soon.
Never heard of Micromon? Curious to see what we thought of it? Then check out our Micomon Review and decide if it’s the iOS Pokemon-like for you.
Just downloaded Micromon and not sure where to begin? Here’s a helping hand in the form of a selection of tips and tricks to get you started.
Elementary, my dear Micromon
It’s a concept that those used to other RPGs or Pokemon will know by heart, and it makes the difference in battle. Every element has its own strength and weakness. Besides the common/normal type of monster that is pretty neutral to everything, the other four each have pros and cons. Playing to their strengths is vital to success.
Fire is weak against water, but it’s strong against wind based monsters.
Water is weak against wind, but it’s strong against fire.
Wind is weak against fire, but strong versus water.
Mineral (or earth type) is weak against water, but strong against wind.
It’s a simple mantra but one that you really need to remember if you want to succeed. It makes such a huge difference to whether you win easily or struggle greatly.
Grinding it out
You’d be wise to regularly fight it out with other foes. It’s more fun that way, but it also means you can gain new Micromon as well as level-up your team.
The grass is where most of the action is. Look out for sleepy looking Zs floating upwards. That means you can surprise the sleeping Micromon, easily giving you the upper hand.
Get out the grass quickly though, if you don’t want another attack on your hands.
Odds are you’re going to want to catch ‘em all, but if you just want to complete your database, you can simply witness a Micromon to get that all important entry.
Capturing a Micromon is a matter of getting their HP as low as possible beforehand. You only get three shots at this, so plan well.
Save your super chips for super rare or ultra rare catches for maximum efficiency.
Don’t bother with Micromon that have low development rates. They’re never going to get to be anything exceptional so you’re just wasting your time with them.
Similarly, bear in mind that store bought eggs always produce better Micromon than the wild varieties. They develop more quickly and are stronger on the whole.
Battling it out
Some moves require stamina to use them, and they’re always the strongest attacks. Plan accordingly and try not to run out of these essential moves at the wrong time. Keep a supply of stamina potions on standby for the tougher fights.
Don’t be afraid to go on the defensive in order to use a couple of healing potions, especially when up against trainers that can be pretty tough.
Always keep a fast Micromon available. They’re exceptionally useful because they can strike more often – sometimes twice consecutively. They’re also more likely to have healing moves.
The Cardinal Rule
Micromon recently added an auto save function, but don’t rely on it. It’s not particularly clear and you don’t want to miss out on valuable progress. Save often. The last thing you want to do is lose out because you didn’t save at the right time.
Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 5th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Did you like the sound of recent quiz game, QuizTix: Movies, but found your movie knowledge lacking somewhat? How about a video games version instead?
Recently released on the App Store is QuizTix: Video Games, a fun and free way of testing your gaming knowledge. You can answer questions on a variety of different things to do with gaming, plus compete with your friends to see who knows the most.
QuizTix: Video Games is out now and is free to download.
Much has been said over the years about the wonders of BioShock. The world it offers is fascinating and wondrous. The storyline is grippingly dark and sinister. One thing that’s often easy to overlook, because it blends in so perfectly, is the soundtrack.
While the original soundtrack for BioShock is delightfully foreboding at regular points, it’s often the subtle introduction of familiar tracks from days gone by that really makes you tense.
The most iconic of the bunch is Bobby Darin’s ‘Beyond the Sea.’ Full of lyrics like “Somewhere beyond the sea, she’s there watching for me” and “My heart will lead me there soon”, out of context, it sounds romantic and sweet. Walking down the corridors of Rapture and hearing it in the distance, you’re pretty afraid as to what’s about to get you. Liked the song beforehand? Don’t expect to hear it in the same light ever again.
It’s a similar tale for kids’ favorite, ‘(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?.’ As a child, it’s cute and fun. As an adult playing BioShock for the first time, it’ll unnerve you to your core. Why is that music playing on repeat in an empty nursery? What the heck is going on? BioShock builds that tension to delicious levels.
‘Danny Boy’ is another one. So iconic, so familiar. It’s always had a sense of melancholy to it but there’s threat within those words when tied into the world of Rapture. Context has rarely been so important in a game until now.
Soon enough, even seemingly innocuous delights such as ‘Papa Loves Mambo’ and ‘It Had to Be You’ start having an edge to them. The beauty to BioShock is that it makes you question everything, even seemingly pleasant music. The sheer fact that you know this music and probably equate it with happier memories just makes it all the more unnerving.
BioShock isn’t just a game that gets inside your head because of its storyline. It gets there by subverting just how you feel about such musical hits. Even years after first playing it, I can hear Bobby Darin’s ‘Beyond the Sea’ when in a restaurant or just out and about, and I’ll go straight back to those opening moments of BioShock.
When BioShock arrives on iOS, make sure you stick those headphones in – it’s going to be an essential part of the experience. In the meantime, why not get yourself acquainted with it via a Spotify playlist?
Out next week is Tiny Runners: BOOM!, an arcade style 4 player platform racing game from Garage Clans that hopes to be rather fun.
The game has you playing as a tiny runner, attempting to dodge attacks while also throwing weapons at your fellow competitors. Offering cross-device action, including playing with your fellow Android players in the future, you’ll be able to compete in a battle of wits and speed.
It almost looks kind of like Mario Kart without the karts, thanks to the many bombs, saw blades, and even ray guns that you can use to thwart your foe.
Tiny Runners: BOOM! is out August 12. Check out the teaser trailer in the meantime.