All Posts By Rob Rich
I think Terminator lore might have gotten it wrong. Skynet wasn’t developed by the military, it was the natural progression of cloud gaming and AI functions. Most iOS users already take advantage of wireless data transference between devices, and there are a surprising number of games out there these days that involve very little player feedback. So think about that while taking a look at this list of games you can play without having to devote a lot of time or effort to the process. I mean who knows? Maybe the real Skynet is just a free-to-play sequel away…
Mega Mall Story
Kairosoft is pretty much the reigning champion of high quality (yet accessible) iOS sims. Their entire library is fantastic, as far as I’m concerned, but Mega Mall Story stands out as the least gameplay-intensive of the bunch. Constructing new shops and researching new mall technologies is important, but most of the time players simply have to sit and wait while their mini consumers consume and fill their virtual bank account with millions. Gotta love making money hand-over-fist for doing nothing.
Released: 2011-08-09 :: Category: Games
This surprisingly entertaining mix between Minecraft and The Sims is its own reward, but it’s also pretty low-impact. Once players queue up a large list of actions, ranging from crafting multiple tools to hollowing out an entire cave system, they can just sit back and watch their tiny minion do their thing. Or not, since the latest update now allows the virtual prospectors to finish their actions even when the game is turned off.
Released: 2013-01-10 :: Category: Games
Rivals at War
I’m pretty sure I’ll catch a little flak from Carter for including this in the list but I’m willing to take that chance. Rivals at War is about as hands-off as a war game can get. Players construct a team of soldiers using cards, upgrade their abilities, swap them out for better killers when needed, and send them off to battle. Completely automated battles that don’t even have to be viewed if players would rather skip ahead to the results. Aside from occasional team maintenance there’s little player influence, which is great for some quick on-the-go play.
Released: 2013-03-06 :: Category: Games
Of course I’ve saved the best example for last. As far as I can tell, iOS games don’t get any more hands-off than this. Players get to name their character, who’s really a pawn that blindly follows their iPhone-toting god, and that’s it. The game does everything else – combat, quests, equipment, guilds, PvP, etc – on its own. Players can stop in and encourage or punish their follower as they see fit, but that’s about all they can do aside from simply checking in to see how things are progressing. It’s the ultimate game for people who don’t have a lot of time to commit to playing games.
Anyone who’s ever been to Manhattan, let alone actually lives there, can tell you that getting around is something of a pain at times. Actually that’s not true. Getting around Manhattan is a nightmare most of the time. Between subway re-routes that aren’t even mentioned in their respective stations to obtuse maps, simply getting from Point A to Point B can require a stop over at Points X, Y, and Z. It gets even worse when you’re in a hurry.
With the ineptitude of the MTA in mind, I’ve compiled a list of apps that should help anyone, resident and tourist alike, find their way around with a bit less hassle.
iTrans NYC Subway
The App Store description claims that this is the “ultimate NYC transit app,” and they aren’t wrong. It’s not perfect because the MTA is rarely “on schedule,” but it’s about as close are you’re going to get. Predicted train arrival times, schedules, maps, location based navigation to nearby subway entrances, step-by-step directions for a planned trip, bus info, and real time train delay info when connected to WiFi will all make getting around beneath the city streets as painless as possible. Provided you don’t get elbowed in the face by one of those dancing panhandlers.
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Navigation
HopStop Transit Directions for iPhone
Now this is the app for serious trip planners. It covers virtually all possible transit routes ranging from cabs to buses to trains and beyond. It can call up schedules, maps (even viewable offline), ETAs, lists several possible routes, and even allows uses to set their preferences to avoid or stick to specific modes of transportation. Heck, it can even save recent searches to be called up later.
Released: 2009-02-05 :: Category: Navigation
What makes this one so notable is that it’s essentially dozens of useful NYC-centric apps in one place. It can call up video from live traffic cams to plan ahead for a road trip. It can call up a bunch of info for various galleries, shopping hotspots, and more. It can search for parking and WiFi. Museums and various tourist attractions are on the list, too. It’s kind of the one-stop shop for any and all information you may need to plan a trip into the city; whether it’s for a few days or a couple of hours.
Released: 2009-12-04 :: Category: Travel
A lot of people don’t realize it until they see it for themselves, but Central Park is big. So big, in fact, that it warrants its own app. This “insider’s guide” covers events (concerts, etc), notable locations to check out (did you know it has its own zoo?), and even helps you find a bathroom. It can guide you wherever you’d like to go using its GPS functions or even let you wander at your own pace while tossing up alerts every time you near a spot you want to check out.
Search the neighborhood for supplies and desperately fight off the zombie horde in familiar local spots in this apocalyptic MMO.
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I freaking love mech games. It’s just a shame that this is a largely ignored genre on the App Store. Or at least it was, until Small Impact Games took it upon themselves to show it some love.
M3CH looks to be the answer to iOS mech combat fans’ prayers. Of course showing a little love yourself on the developer’s Kickstarter page might speed things up a bit. It evokes a similar feeling to other gritty/semi-realistic mech piloting titles and sports some pretty impressive production values. I had to pry myself away to ask M3CH’s animator, James Rowbotham, about Small Impact Games’ baby.
Were there any particularly major influences in the design of M3CH‘s world? I know it’s not exactly the same but I’m getting a pretty strong Steel Battalion vibe from it.
At the time 3D iOS games exploded, we were playing a very mixed bag of games but fortunately they were all with the same genre, Mechs! We just loved the direction the iOS store was heading, it was screaming for a game with user-friendly touch-screen controls but with the in depth details you get in our favourite mech games.
Surprisingly however, Killzone 2 was a big inspiration in terms of AI and cover based action. What some mech games lack is the use of buildings as cover and enemy’s that work together to out flank you, something we saw that had been untapped in the genre (a lot of open spaces/terrain), so we looked at the great AI in Killzone and their behaviour and found a way to work it into our game.
You folks have done a bang-up job with the control scheme. Was it the product of rigorous testing and polishing or did you know right from the start how you wanted to handle it?
The aim with M3CH since the beginning has been to try and create an iOS game that doesn’t feel like it’s an iOS game, and more like a console experience. Touchscreen controls are notorious for being hard to use and something that we really wanted to nail. We went through a lot of different iterations to get to where we are now; having both shoot buttons on one side, holding down shoot instead of the auto toggle system, putting the shoot buttons on the thumbsticks and a lot more. We are keeping open minded about it and although we are getting later into development if we have an idea for an even better control set then we will be sure to test it out!
Were there any mech designs you wanted to include that ended up being scrapped?
There are quite a few that didn’t make it into the game (we already have 40 different mechs in the game). At the moment we have a mix of legs styles such as reversed legs in the game but [an] animalistic style is something we are keen on in terms of animation and how the mechs behave.
What exactly are your plans for the multiplayer?
We are hitting some technical limitations which means it most likely be 1-on-1 to start with. We would love to get a larger number of players battling at the same time (8v8 is the dream!), especially where the winning players get new weapons unlocked and credits to spend. At the moment its deathmatch style gameplay but we have plans set for objective based multiplayer.
Are you allowed to talk pricing?
It’s still early days but we are hoping for around the £1.99 [$2.99] price range. One thing we are certain of however is that we don’t want pushy monetization and in-app purchasing interrupting your gameplay experience, all mechs and weapons are attainable without too much grinding and we reward dedicated hard working players with big payouts.
How about a release date?
As for a released date, a lot of that depends on the kickstarter campaign, if we are successful then we are aiming for an April release this year.
Greedy Bankers Vs. The World was only the beginning for Alistair Aitcheson. Now we have Slamjet Stadium to satisfy our same-screen multiplayer desires. Think football re-imagined by a bunch of aliens who were trying to piece the rules together a couple hundred years from now and you’ll have the basic gist of it.
Where exactly did you pull Slamjet Stadium‘s inspiration from? Not just the wacky-looking gameplay; I’m talking about the physical roughhousing, too. Super-intense family game nights as a young boy perhaps?
Haha, I don’t know really! I’m generally a fairly calm and friendly guy. I was never into rough-housing at all when I was a kid! I am very competitive though, as my friends know – I’ll always be looking for a way to mess up my rivals in any game.
So I wanted to experiment more with this kind of game design. The original prototype for Slamjet Stadium came out of a big batch of experimental multiplayer games I did over the summer and tested out in the pub.
Often you’ll find yourself scoring by spotting a really awesome shot or powerup, so paying attention to the board is really important. Hand-grabbing is certainly a useful tactic, but it’s only one way of doing things. That makes play really dynamic. One moment it could be best to play rough, the next moment you might need to think fast, or play accurately.
While we’re on the subject of the multiplayer, how are you going to influence players to stop being polite?
People tend to jostle as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, and surprisingly that’s usually quite a lot! There’s typically a “eureka” moment when one player realizes they can get in the way of their friend, or use their opponent’s characters instead of their own. The physicality often grows from there!
So I’ve put messages in the loading screens suggesting ways you can “cheat.” The game’s advising you to play foul, so it must be okay! That eureka moment has to inspire creative play, so it’s important that players know that the game isn’t degenerating into chaos.
Would you mind going into a few specifics? Stuff like general gameplay, number of teams, differences between teams (if any), etc.
Each player gets two characters on a team, and the rules are fairly simple. You grab a character with your finger, pull back to charge their engines, and let go to send them flying across the screen. You want to hit the ball into your opponent’s goal, and the first to score five points wins the match.
There are also various power-ups and stage hazards that appear: rage power to smash up your opponents’ characters, freeze power that traps them in ice, multiball release, powerful gusts of wind.
My favorite activates “Last Man Standing” mode, where traps come in from the side of the screen, and it’s up to you to avoid them (or throw your opponents into them); a point is awarded to the survivor!
There are nine different arenas in the game, with different effects and hazards. As for the teams, there are six to choose from and each has different physical properties: shape, weight, boost power and grip.
Are there going to be multiple game modes? Might we be able to look forward to something similar in a future update?
Right now it’s split into Multiplayer and Solo Play. In solo, you take on a gauntlet of computer-controlled opponents over three leagues of increasing difficulty. Beating each one unlocks an extra multiplayer stage, and you can compete via GameCenter over your fastest completion times.
In Multiplayer it’s very much a quickmatch format: you choose your teams and arenas, and can have a rematch or pick new teams after someone wins. I’ll probably add some extra variations and setups in updates; I guess it depends on what players want to see after the initial launch. My focus was on getting players into the action as fast as possible.
All the elbow-slamming, wrist-grabbing, butt-nudging madness of Slamjet Stadium can be unleashed upon your iPad on March 14th for $2.99.