What do worker bees and freelancers have in common? Well, they both strive to stay busy. I don’t know why the bees do it (instinct I guess), but I know freelancers usually love their job, and they always need the money. BusyBee is an iPhone app that aims to keep freelancers busy by creating a social network for worker bees (freelancers) and lead bees (users looking for services). Basically, you can list yourself as a contractor, create a profile, and keep in touch with other small businesses and freelancers, or you can log in and search your area for specific services (writer, mechanic, artist, etc.) and find a list of workers. It is more interactive than a typical job search, and it allows users to connect with each other instantly via phone or chat. Some of the highlighted features include:
Business profile builder Find work opportunities or find workers, based on your location Chat tool for instant communications Quick message - send quick, pre-built or custom messages to other users Recommends - Recommend colleagues to other users and have them displayed in your profile Multi-profile/Multi-skill – A single user can have multiple profiles that contain multiple skills, to allow flexibility Feed – This will allow the user to instantly be aware of opportunities for their skill, plus a synopsis of their activity (still working on this feature)
So, if you’re a freelancer, contractor, or small business, or you are just someone looking for special services then BusyBee might be the right tool for the job. At any rate, it’s a free app, and I can see it being very useful in some circles.
One of the greatest aspects of game design is the ability to borrow great design elements from proven games and make something entirely new. Endloop Studios is doing exactly that with their latest game, Chicken Balls. In Chicken Balls you play as a veteran war bird named Crash who has to defend his farm from an all out alien assault. In the process of freeing his animal friends from the clutches of the enemy, Crash realizes that the aliens have a more sinister plan than just animal captivity.
The gameplay trailer reveals that the game uses an Angry Birds launching mechanic, but it also includes innovative elements from such classics as Peggle, Pinball, and Pachinko. Lovers of quirky physics based puzzle games should be in for a treat. Chicken Balls certainly appears to have what it takes to be a great success in the app store, and we’ll all find out soon enough because the game is slated to release on March 15th.
If there is an app award for the app with the most specific niche, I think Gigwalk Inc. deserves the crown for their official Gigwalk app. From what I can gather, Gigwalk is a service that pays users to take pictures/videos and review local venues. Once you become a member you can earn Streetcreds to access higher paying gigs, and to increase your status among other Gigwalkers. The app description isn’t very forthcoming, and it generalizes everything with the word “gigs” over and over. Don’t let that discourage you, though, because if you happen to be one of the few people that live in the supported areas you can eventually earn money via Paypal by completing these gigs when the service takes off.
As of now, the app only supports people living in the following areas, but I am sure this will expand if their business model is successful:
(1) Los Angeles Metro Area
(2) New York City
(3) San Francisco Bay Area
(5) South Florida
(7) Orange County
(8) San Diego Metro Area
(9) Santa Barbara Metro Area
The service is currently private, but you can enter your email address at the official website to be notified when they are ready for you to try out their offerings. You can also apply directly from within the app, but location has to be turned on to be sure you are in one of the designated areas. If you meet all their requirements (which are currently a mystery to me) then you might be accepted.
The concept is interesting because it pays users to do something they would probably do for free anyways. How many times have you taken a picture at a coffee shop or restaurant and forwarded it to all your friends to make them jealous? I know plenty of people do it to me. I also always see pictures of concerts and events with descriptions of how awesome they were on my Facebook wall all the time. Even if the pay is low I can really see this taking off because it offers a sort of grassroots marketing to venues that want new ways to advertise. It also gives the businesses critiques that can help them improve, and we all know how popular user opinions are these days (take any surveys lately?). Perhaps, one day this type of service might be in every major city, and our children will all wonder why we ever shared any of our opinions without some sort of monetary gain.
I can remember spending hours of my childhood tinkering with a little game called Mouse Trap. They aren’t fond memories though because the game was frustrating when the mechanisms didn’t work, and they rarely worked. Regardless of the game’s failings, it did instill a love for the Rube Goldberg model in me. I am now, and will forever be, intrigued by falling dominoes, steampunk apparatuses (apparati?), and the creation of Rube Goldberg machines in Garry’s Mod for Half-Life 2. If you aren’t familiar with Rube Goldberg he was an American cartoonist who popularized the concept of outlandish machines performing simple tasks. Most of his illustrations featured insane contraptions doing ordinary tasks like pouring coffee or feeding a pet. Needless to say, his name is now synonymous with the concept.
So, Imagine my surprise and excitement when I found out about Autodesk’s new app/game Tinkerbox which happens to be based around the Rube Goldberg concept. They aren’t really known for their games, but then again, Tinkerbox is more than just a game. The well-respected developers at Autodesk who brought you Sketchbook Pro, AutoCAD, and Fluid FX have released a physics, engineering, puzzle, hybrid game with an educational flair (what a mouthful). The experimental app is hard to define with one word concepts, so I will just give you the full breakdown.
Tinkerbox is a free-to-play game with various physics puzzles built in. Not only can you solve these puzzles and learn engineering and scientific concepts, but you can also create your own Rube Golberg style machines and share them with with your friends. If you aren’t the creative type you can also just download other peoples puzzle machines for the solving. The trailer reveals a plethora of creative options, so I can imagine you will only be limited by your creativity and the amount of time you invest in the app. Oh, and if the theme song in the trailer doesn’t get you pumped about this free app, then I have no idea what will.
Autodesk has even created a website for the game that features tips, news, and a selection of top notch inventions (their name for Tinkerbox creations). The game is free and well supported, so hopefully if it is popular enough we will see some interesting updates down the road.
The developers of World of Goo recently posted a really in depth article that not only reveals its sales record for the first month, but also lays out an in depth overview of their experience with the App Store and the iOS platform. The game has sold an impressive 125,000 copies. That is quite an achievement considering it only sold 68,000 Wii copies and 97,000 PC copies during its best months on each of those platforms. This makes the iPad version of the multiplatform game the fastest selling version.
The article also presents some interesting facts about their pricing scheme, promotion campaign, and how they tailored their development process to better suit iPad gamers. Overall, the game received fairly high praises (check out our review here), but interestingly enough, a few low App Store scores complaining about difficulty prompted the developers to add a prominent level skip button. They also joke about adding in app purchases for the auto-completing of levels, but hopefully that stays a joke.
Not only is the information presented in the article entertaining, it is also educational for aspiring young app developers. 2D Boy even posted a myriad of charts and graphs to back-up their claims, and to provide readers with some visual examples of their progress. With such a great start for World of Goo, we can only hope 2D boy continues to share the love for the iOS platform.
PC and Wii gamers have been enjoying the goo flinging puzzler for quite a while, but World of Goo is still in its infancy on the iPad. The game features physics based construction puzzles and gorgeous 2D graphics. Its gameplay is also perfectly suited for the large touchscreen provided by the iPad. World of Goo oozes charm and deserves a look if you haven’t tried it yet.
Almost everyone is absorbed in some area of pop-culture, but with so many sub genres it can be hard to keep track of what all your friends and colleagues are into. This is why it is so important to leverage your social currency. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is a communications phrase that represents shared information. Sometimes a little social currency is all you need to create a lasting friendship or even land a business promotion. Social networking is a good way to increase your social currency, and with the new app, IntoNow, you can be part of a new type of social network.
IntoNow is an app and a service that links to your Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix accounts in order to share and track your TV viewing habits. It even has a built in IMDb feature for instant access to the webs best source for movie trivia information. With IntoNow you can add shows to your Netflix Queue, get recommendations based on what your peers are watching, and discuss shows with your friends. The app will even let you know when your pals are watching the same programming as you.
Perhaps the most intruiging aspect of IntoNow is its “magic” feature that enables you to press a green button so the app can instantly find out what you are watching. This feature is supposed to work right down to what episode is on, and it is said to recognize shows that are being aired for the first time.
Even if you aren’t that into TV, IntoNow can give you a social edge during your next business luncheon or office party. The next time your boss references that obscure goat farming show you won’t be left standing with your mouth agape. The app is available for free on the App Store now.
Gameloft has finally released a gameplay trailer for their highly anticipated real time strategy title, Starfront: Collision. They also announced that the title will be available for purchase via the App Store on February 10th. This is great news because Gameloft has been pretty hush-hush with the title since its initial announcement. I was beginning to worry that we might not see the title for months. Thankfully that isn’t the case, and all of the die hard strategy fans can now sleep better at night knowing this title will soon be theirs to command.
Welcome to planet Sinistral, where rare Xenodium crystals are coveted by a human mining conglomerate called the Consortium. However, they are not the only ones after the rare mineral. The Myriad, an indigenous race of aliens, is addicted to Xenodium and will do everything they can to prevent the Consortium from plundering their resources. To add to the chaos, a sentient robot race called the Wardens is trying to turn the war in their favor. Whose side will you choose?
This Starcraft “inspired” app features three factions struggling to obtain a rare resource on the planet Sinistral. The Consortium (aka humans) are mining Sinistral for precious Xenodium crystals, but the native Myriads (aka aliens) aren’t keen on giving them up. To add to the chaos there is another race known as the Wardens (aka psychotic robots) who are bent on destroying everyone. The game will have multiplayer in the form of “massive” 4-player local and online battles. The trailer shows off some very nice graphics, and the framerate seems smooth even during intense action scenes. The trailer also showcases a short segment of actual hands-on gameplay, and from what I can tell, the interface looks fairly intuitive. Hopefully, Gameloft has nailed the interface because a lot of fans have been waiting for a definitive iOS real time strategy game.
It is sad that the game only supports 3rd and 4th generation devices, but I’m sure it was hard enough for the development team to squeeze out an acceptable level of performance during heavy combat on current devices. With only three more days until the official release, we won’t have to wait long to find out if Starfront: Collision lives up to all the hype.
A new expansion pack is now available for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. The Desolations of Smaug is available for free and features new campaign maps and bosses for players to strategize against, along with new armor and weapons for them to collect and equip.