Posts Tagged GameCenter

With the release of iOS 7 upon us and a whole plethora of juicy new features for consumers and developers alike to enjoy, we took the time to ask some popular game developers just how they feel about it and what features they’re looking forward to getting more intimate with.

ios7

Look and Design of iOS 7

The look of iOS 7 is a huge change for many, which explains why so many pivotal apps are changing their appearance; to make sure it ties into the new style of doing things. How about with games, though? And do game developers appreciate such a significant change?

For the most part, it’s been considered a positive change from those we questioned. Andrew Smith of AppyNation and Spilt Milk Studios explained, “I like it! I’m a fan of refreshes – and although when I first saw the new look I wasn’t completely sold, since using it in studio on the betas it’s won me over.” Stephen Morris of Greenfly Studios reinforced that view, emphasizing that the “redefining of the experience… it certainly feels fresh and more efficient.”

Some apprehension was felt, though. As Richard Brooks of Rodeo Games explained, “a veteran iOS user may find it a little jarring at first,” pointing out that, “the new look will split the room,” from his personal experience of showing it to others. Ben Britten of Tin Man Games felt the same, pointing out that some people will love it and others will, predictably, hate it.

It’s not all plain sailing though, as Martin Linklater of Curly Rocket explained, “to be honest the colours are a little garish for my tastes. Maybe in iOS 8 Apple will tone it down a little. It’s not quite got the subtlety that Apple is known for.” Aaron Fothergill of Strange Flavour felt the same, diplomatically pointing out that he’s “getting used to it.”

Even those who weren’t a fan had to admit that they, for the most part, appreciated the cleaner interface.

Issues

More positively, few issues have been encountered thus far. For the majority of the people we asked, covering developers such as Hello Games, Hammer & Chisel, AppyNation, Spilt Milk Studios, Strange Flavour, and Green Fly Studios, hardly any issues were reported. The only few problems that did occur related to third-party tools, although noticeably Ben Britten of Tin Man Games found no issues with Unity3D. There were some early day problems with Rodeo Games’s Warhammer Quest as explained by Richard Brooks, “The devices we were testing with were crashing a lot and it was very difficult to get anything working. Warhammer Quest didn’t work at first due to some bugs in the iOS 7 main libraries, so we just had to sit back and wait. After about 4-6 weeks these were dealt with and are mostly good now.”

It’s a pretty positive sign for developers that iOS 7 should prove quite beneficial in the long run, given the limited issues that have been encountered so far.

Controller Support

Concept art of a possible Apple Controller (via PocketGamer)

Concept art of a possible Apple Controller (via PocketGamer)


Arguably most significant of all for many game developers is the introduction of official controller support. How do they feel about it?

“For us, this is the biggest new feature of iOS 7.” explained Aaron Fothergill, “The fact that they’re a standard is the important bit as we can actually design them into our game with the standard features in mind, so we can do it properly. We’ve already got test code in SlotZ Racer, Any Landing, and Apple Dash and we’re just waiting on controllers being available for us to actually test with and perfect the controls before we release games with them in and then we’ll be considering MFI controller as integral design parts of all our games.”

Simon Renshaw, of PUK fame, has similar thoughts. ” I love that its possible to play iPhone games on the big screen with Apple TV mirroring, latency is an issue though, as is battery life, so I kinda hope we’ll see a controller bundled with a magical iPhone-charging HDMI cable!” Martin Linklater also thinks that the controller could be the “real killer feature,” at least once adopted more frequently.

Hello Games’ Sean Murray explained that “touchscreens are great for lots of games – like, I’m really proud of what we managed to do with the touchscreen design with Joe Danger Touch. There are some games that just benefit from buttons and thumbsticks though, and as a gamer, my thumb just feels comfortable sat on a nice analog button. Having officially supported controllers could be fantastic for broadening gaming on iPhones even further than it is today, bringing in the controller snobs like me! We’re working on making something of all this right now, something that makes use of both touch and controller. We’re throwing ourselves into it completely… I think people will be surprised how well it works.”

Consider us fascinated as to what this will mean for Joe Danger on iOS!

Another possible example of a future controller (via PocketGamer)

Another possible example of a future controller (via PocketGamer)


Andrew Smith is keen, but as he points out “[it's] hardly going to sell the games to more people. The vast majority of iPhone users and gamers are perfectly happy with good touchscreen interfaces, so we’ll be happy to continue to provide those!” Greenfly Studios feels the same way, with Stephen Morris explaining “our mobile games are currently more focused on the casual consumer but it doesn’t mean we’re not open to exploring the new niche!”.

Richard Brooks also found such support less than essential, pointing out that Rodeo Games’ titles are “designed entirely for mobile and tablet devices with touch screens and implementing controller support would make them worse.” A fair point indeed. Jason Citron expressed similar views, explaining how Hammer & Chisel is “laser focused on building original high-quality games for tablets. A big part of that is taking advantage of the unique interaction a large touch screen affords.”

With so many of the best developers doing a great job of providing touch-based interfaces, is there really a need for controllers after five years of perfecting touch controls? Perhaps not, but it’ll be fascinating to see how things develop.

Revamped Game Center

gamecenter1
For the most part, the revamped Game Center has been quite appreciated by those we asked. Andrew Smith puts it well, “it’s really neat!” although does admit, while inventing a new word, that the icon is a little un-game-y. Stephen Morris particularly loves that there’s a way to combat cheaters at last, which means “we can focus on providing consumers fun and realistic challenges.” Like any self-respecting iOS gamer, Sean Murray explained “Seeing insane hacked scores on any game makes me sad. I’m… going to really appreciate the added security for score and achievement data, because it’ll hopefully mean there isn’t so much leaderboard hacking.”

Richard Brooks points out what we’ve all been thinking in terms of old Game Center’s looks, “I’m glad they’ve gotten rid of the horrible green felt style though!” because as Simon Renshaw says while describing the old interface as archaic looking, “what young person recognizes the connection between a black jack table and their favorite shooter?”.


So, it’s a fairly positive change for iOS 7 and some of its finest game developers. Understandably, there’s some apprehension as is always the way with such a significant change, but the future is looking pretty bright. In particular, it’ll be fascinating to see what comes of controller support, as well as the new and extra shiny Game Center.

Thanks to Curly Rocket’s Martin Linklater, Strange Flavour’s Aaron Fothergill, AppyNation/Spilt Milk Studios‘s Andrew Smith, Greenfly Studios’s Stephen Morris, Rodeo Games’s Richard Brooks, Laserdog Games’s Simon Renshaw, Hammer & Chisel’s Jason Citron, Tin Man Games’s Ben Britten, and Hello Games’s Sean Murray for taking the time to answer our questions.


Continue reading iOS 7: The Game Developers’ Take On It »

Hit The Ice With NHL GameCenter for iPhone And iPad

Posted by on January 18th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Hockey superfan? This is your app, available for iPhone and iPad as a universal app. Here’s what you get:

- Live Scores and Stats for Every Team and Player
– Live Game Simulation with Near Real-Time Shift Changes, Boxscore, and Play-by-Play
– Post-Game Video Highlights
– Video on Demand Content Including Videos from your Favorite Teams and the Best Selections from NHL Editors
– Full Season Schedule and Standings
– Customized Game Alerts
– Player Profiles with Headshots, Bios and Stats for all Active NHL Players
– Customize up to 5 Favorite Teams

You can also upgrade to a Premium account for $4.99, and get

- Live Radio Broadcasts (home and away)
– In-Game Video Highlights
– Condensed Game Replays

Swipe Bomb HD Review

Swipe Bomb HD Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Swipe Bomb is an addictive pick-up-and-play game that is suitable for players of all ages.

Read The Full Review »
Zepi:Classic HD

Zepi:Classic HD

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Need a new game that will become an old standard? Swipe, tap and zap in Zepi:Classic HD to find quick play nirvana.

Read The Full Review »

If there is one thing that the iOS platform doesn’t lack for it is air combat simulators.  I don’t know whether it is the gyroscopic tilt controls of the device or the touchscreen interface, but developers have been clambering to get their games live on the platform since day one.  The problem was none of these games were able to take advantage of the new microtransaction based ecosystem that now flourishes in portable games.

Set to answer this call of the free releases is Apple’s newly crowned “Game of the Week,” MetalStorm: Online.  Hitting the App Store for the low, low, price of nothing, the game features a wide variety of amazing content, including:

  • Real time multiplayer – compete against other players online on 3G and Wi-Fi
  • Multiplayer, Leaderboards and Achievements powered by Game Center
  • Next-gen 3D graphics with Retina Display support
  • Dozens of unique aircraft to choose from
  • Customize your aircraft with missiles and machine guns
  • Survival Mode: obliterate waves of enemies with a friend in Co-Op multiplayer or singleplayer
  • Perform advanced maneuvers by swiping in different directions
  • Earn XP and level up to unlock more powerful items
  • Talk with other players via the optional in-game Voice Chat system
  • Full 360-degree flight in 3D space
  • Gyroscope enables extra precise controls for iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4th generation devices

One notable absence from this list is a traditional single player campaign.  To some this may be a disappointment, but this is more in an effort to help harness the power of social gaming and leaderboard attacking that GameCenter allows to flourish.

Even after a few test flights I have to say that I am fairly impressed with what I have played.  Unfortunately, I have no intentions of spending any actual cash to “pimp my plane.”  We’re not saying that this is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but be careful.  In-app purchase, as innocent as they may seem, can add up very quickly.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-05-12 :: Category: Games

League of Epic Heroes Review

League of Epic Heroes Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
League of Epic Heroes is a game full of potential but it doesn't quite hit the spot.

Read The Full Review »
Push Panic Review

Push Panic Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Push Panic offers frantic, match three style fun that's worth losing sleep over

Read The Full Review »

The event of the day started out with Steve Jobs introducing his “partner in crime,” Steve Wozniak, who was in the audience. After a quick welcome, Steve Jobs started with a recap of new Apple Store retail locations including Paris, China, and London. The London store marked the 300th Apple Store and they are now in 10 countries. The foot traffic volume is amazing. Apple now sees on some days over a million total visitors combined coming through their stores. Another interesting stat — over 50% of Macs sold in Apple Stores are still to new Mac users, aka Switchers. A stat that has amazingly held for years.

120 million potential Angry Birds players.
Next up for the day is a recap on how iOS is doing. Steve took pride in noting that there are over 230,000 new iOS activations per day. This does not include upgrades. This goes well over and above the Google quoted 160,000 Android devices activated every day. That brings us up to a total of over 120,000,000 active iOS devices. That’s a staggering number for a new platform that is not even 4 years old.

How about some stats on apps? There have been over 6.5 billion apps downloaded so far. That’s over 200 downloaded each and every second. Also quoted was that the App Store recently surpassed 250,000 applications available, which is a number we’ve been tracking over at 148Apps.biz App Store Metrics page.

Continue reading for the rest of the info on the days events — and way too many pictures.

Continue reading The Big Recap — What Apple Announced, and What They Hinted At »

Being an app reviewer, I think that I play more games than the average person. I personally don’t have much of a genre preference, although I do enjoy games that let me upgrade my character(s) or towers, and I have no sort of fan-affiliation with any specific game companies. Deep down in my heart, I also really don’t understand what the big deal is with these “social game centers.”

A friend made a comment to me about an article that I wrote about OpenFeint going multiplatform, and it rung a bell in my head. He said, “Why are people making such a big fuss about GameCenter?” and then looked at me like I should have some sort of profound answer. The answer was a garbled message about the unification of gaming and blah blah blah (I’m letting out my inner Steve Ballmer). Truth be told, I really don’t care about GameCenter that much at all. In fact, I think the whole social gaming platform is pretty ridiculous because developers really aren’t grasping what social gaming is all about.

The only company, in my opinion, that has really gotten it right is Com2Us with Homerun Battle 3D. If you read my articles and reviews, I talk about this game like it’s the next coming of Wonderbread, and it really is that good (and nutritious). I’m not the only one who thinks so either. According to Mobile Entertainment, “players have notched up more than 60 million online match-ups, totalling 480 million minutes spent battering baseballs out of the game’s virtual stadium,” all without the help of a giant social gaming platform backing. With that game, I genuinely care about the competition and get disappointed when my bitter rivals aren’t online. The joy of the system though is that you don’t have to go into another bland page to get some simple high score information, it’s all integrated into the game.

On a customer level, I really don’t think that there is any advantage to using a service like OpenFeint. I don’t mean to knock the service, because it does provide an easy to use area to display global high scores, but it doesn’t, in my opinion, add anything to the game experience. I’ve never invited anyone to a game or used the included IM service, and I really don’t think that the overall score I have makes me want to play OpenFeint games any more. To me, there’s just a bunch of fluff surrounding a game that doesn’t really nurture any sort of competitive spirit. It’s just a nice place for my high score to be displayed.

The only real advantage that I see, for an average gamer, to a unified GameCenter is that my user name will be the same on all the high score lists, and this really only matters if I get into the top 25 of a specific game. I’m not going to go search through a bunch of lists to find my friends in the top 5,000, I just want to see how high of a score I need to get to enter the top 25.

The key to social gaming success doesn’t lie in unifying the platform or stamping your logo on a bunch of games, it’s partnering with developers to make the online experience unique. Nothing about GameCenter will stop me from playing ngmoco games that are on the Plus+ Network because my game purchases are all about the games.

If GameCenter really aspires to be anything near what X-Box Live is, it needs to be so much more that it seems to be shaping up into. I need to able to use my phone as an X-Box headset to talk trash to the people I’m playing against. I need to, within the games, see which of my friends are playing ANY game network wide, not just that specific game. Not only that, but I need to be able to send someone a challenge to another for one game, and while they are playing another game, get my challenge request in some kind of instant notification. I’m not going to check my e-mail for game invites, I want to be able to do it all on the fly. I need all the games need to be connected, all the time.

Until then, “social gaming” on the iPhone just seems like blah, blah, blah, blah (my inner Ballmer has me sweating with rage).

GameCenter is Apple’s answer to the absurd fragmentation of the iPhone gaming world. It is trying to become the X-Box Live of the App Store, the go-to place for high scores, achievement badges, and game invites. Unfortunately for many of the other services out there, such as Plus+ and Crystal, if GameCenter takes off, their existence could be coming to a screeching halt.

OpenFeint, one of the pioneers in social gaming in the App Store, has another idea. Instead of waiting for extinction, they are tapping into a market that Apple can’t touch: Android. With many of their supported games being released cross platform, OpenFeint has decided to let iPhone users and Android users coexist in game matchmaking harmony.

The new system works primarily by SMS and e-mail, allowing for a user to invite their friends to an OpenFeint supported game. With the insane expansion of the Android market, having the ability to play against someone over there seems rather tempting.

One glaring problem with today’s mobile gaming community is how fractured it is across platforms, OpenFeint is bridging the gap between gamers,” says Peter Relan, Executive Chairman of Aurora Feint. “As we expand cross platform this summer, we’re going to roll out services that will help friends that use different device platforms play against each other.

In my eyes, what system I am playing on doesn’t matter in the least. While I generally prefer the ease of use of OpenFeint as opposed to the other systems, I don’t choose my games based on that. Apple’s game center is appealing to me just because I expect the interface to be nice and pretty, but if I can have my high scores stacked up against a bunch of Droid lackeys, I’ll be much happier.

It’ll be interesting to see which service game developers end up going with, and if Apple’s plans for iPhone unification work out. It sure seems to me that OpenFeint is making a pretty strong push with its cross platform integration.

I’m also putting a $50 bet down that Apple will somehow ban the use of rival game platforms, citing that it will become extremely confusing for customers. Watch out!

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