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Strike Wing: Raptor Rising to Get a Huge Update That Adds New Mode, Improved Graphics and More.

Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 16th, 2014
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Strike Wing: Raptor Rising, the space combat game from Dream Builder Studios and Crescent Moon Games, will soon be getting its biggest update yet.

Version 1.3 adds in a host of improvements, including a completely rewritten graphics engine, a new Story Mode, redone ship models, tweaked controls, improved enemy AI, and more.

Strike Wing: Raptor Rising is available for $0.99 on the App Store. The new update will be available later this week.

Evergreen Studios Announces Release Date for New Game, Tales Of Honor: The Secret Fleet

Posted by Tre Lawrence on April 10th, 2014

Evergreen Studios has announced that its upcoming game, Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet, will be available for iOS devices via the App Store on April 24.

Timed to match the time period of the recently released 'Tales of Honor: On Basilisk Station' comics, the game follows the action of a newly minted naval academy cadet looking to save the day. For fans of David Weber's Honor Harrington, it should be a real treat.

Evergreen senior executives Scott Kroopf and Richard Browne are eager to the game hit the App Store. “Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet is the next phase in the expansion of the Tales of Honor story world,” says Kroopf. “Now gamers can discover the unique battle tactics and enjoy the military authenticity of the Honorverse. The game, like the recently released comic, is intended to function as a standalone experience, yet we're designing them to be complementary. Our goal is to make it easy for fans of all types to explore the rich universe that David Weber has created."

Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet will be available for free. The second comic issue of Tales of Honor: On Basilisk Station will be available in comic stores and digitally on Comixology.com on April 30.

For more information, please visit www.tales-of-honor.com.

GDC 2014 - 1849 is an Interesting Mix of City Builder and Spacial Puzzler

Posted by Rob Rich on March 18th, 2014

SomaSim's 1849 is a sim about the California Gold Rush in the same vein as older objective-driven simulations and city builders. It's also got a surprising amount of puzzle-like elements as you'll quickly find yourself trying to figure out the best way to make use of the limited space you're given.

The core idea behind 1849 is balance. You need to mine gold and other precious metals to earn money. You also need food and lodgings for your citizens and workers or else they'll abandon ship in a heartbeat. But in order to do that, you'll also have to make sure to provide other amenities such as schools and access to a saloon to keep the citizens of your ever-growing city happy. The catch is that every city (of which there are 20, each with their own overarching goals to complete) has a limit to how far it can expand. So in order to create a successful self-sustaining city you'll have to pay close attention to where you place what buildings and how many you construct.

SomaSim is aiming for an early May release. A specific price point hasn't been locked-in yet, but 1849 will be priced at a premium and offer additional content packs in the future.

Strike it Rich in 1849 When Gold Fever Infects the App Store in May

Posted by Rob Rich on February 20th, 2014

SomaSim Games has recently announced 1849; a city management sim set during the California Gold Rush.

You'll have to make good use of an area's topography as you attempt to expand several real cities from the time period - or fail miserably, of course. 1849 will feature a total of 20 different scenarios, most likely involving different cities and events, as well as a sandbox mode for those of you who just want to build and rake in the dough.

1849 is due out in May for the iPad.

Using Aio Wireless $15 Tablet Plan on an Old iPhone

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 18th, 2013

I recently discovered something interesting. Checking out Aio Wireless, I discovered I could add data-only service to an old iPhone for as low as $15 per month all-in and no contract.

Aio Wireless is the new LTE pre-paid service from AT&T. It's not listed anywhere that it's run by and uses the AT&T network, but this is mentioned in press releases about the service. They offer both recurring and single month services.

Aio Wireless offers a set limit 250MB tablet rate for just $15/month. With additional GB available to add for $10/month. Not a bad deal. To use the Aio service a SIM card will need to be ordered from the site for $9.99 (make sure to order the correct size for the phone or tablet to use). In my test it got to me in just a day.

Once the account is set up and the SIM is registered for the $15/month tablet plan, the SIM will then work in any iOS device that is unlocked and compatible with the AT&T network. Even an iPhone. Voice and SMS won't work, and don't expect it to since this is just a data service. But iMessage will work as well as any other feature that uses the data connection.

The downside, and it's not a big one, is that the service provided for pre-paid cell phone services like this is never first-tier. Meaning it isn't prioritized on the host network like contract services. Aio Wireless specifies that the LTE service is capped at 8MB. Still a great speed, but well below the 30-40Mbps I have seen on AT&T LTE. So data rates will be slower, but still very usable. Especially considering the price.

I'm guessing this little loophole will be closed eventually, but until then it's a great way to give access to an old iPhone or iPad for an extra device for a relative, to use as a hotspot, or to have a device on another network.

Transport Tycoon Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on October 8th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ROUND
The classic PC sim makes its way to iOS, complete with rewarding gameplay and a convoluted interface.
Read The Full Review »

The Island: Castaway 2 HD Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on September 12th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: CASUAL ISLAND DWELLING
Distinctly laid back, The Island: Castaway 2 won't challenge but it should entertain most players looking for a casual sim.
Read The Full Review »

rymdkapsel Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on August 1st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: BETTER LIVING THROUGH GEOMETRY
It's hard to tell just what rymdkapsel is with nothing but screen shots to go on, but rest assured that whatever it is, it's awesome.
Read The Full Review »

Smooth Operators! Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 9th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NO NUISANCE CALLS
Ever wanted to run a call center? Probably not, but Smooth Operators! makes the experience a lot more interesting than the real thing!
Read The Full Review »

Aviation Empire Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 4th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: AIRLINE DISCOVERY
Ever wanted to control an airline? This might be just what you wanted.
Read The Full Review »

War of the Zombie Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 1st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: BROKEN BUTTONS
This zombie apocalypse sim would be fantastic if it weren't for all the rough edges.
Read The Full Review »

Total Domination: Reborn Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 28th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: FOR ENTHUSIASTS ONLY
Total Domination: Reborn does a lot of things right but the PvP elements feel a bit too extreme.
Read The Full Review »

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 20th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: VIGILO CONFIDO
Not only is XCOM: Enemy Unknown one of 2012s best strategy games, it's also one of the most faithful iOS ports I've ever seen.
Read The Full Review »

Galaxy At War Online Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 18th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: THE FAMILIAR FRONTIER
Galaxy At War Online has all the familiar trappings of many compelling freemium games. The problem is that it's a very familiar formula. And it's not actually free at the moment.
Read The Full Review »

Veni Vidi Vino - Vineyard Valley will be a Freemium Sim Worth Playing

Posted by Rob Rich on June 14th, 2013

Sometimes it seems like the majority of free-to-play games focus more on arbitrary time limits and less on actually making a compelling experience. Dave Calabrese, President and CEO of Cerulean Games, feels pretty much the same way. Not content with many of the current freemium sim-style games out there, he and his team set out to create something more akin to one of those meticulous “tycoon” style games that were all the rage back in the 90s. It’s a tall order, but it looks like Vineyard Valley is coming along quite nicely.

148Apps: What inspired you all to create a virtual free-to-play rendition of that "build a vineyard" dream most world-travelers seem to develop?
Dave Calabrese (DC): This entire venture actually started because a friend of mine from school contacted me one evening. She informed me about a large community who used to play a game called My Vineyard. That game went offline over a year ago, however the community has been dying for something new, and nobody would listen. So I did the research, and felt it was a viable business direction! We spent 3 months just having fun and planning out something awesome. So we took all our notes – everything from the community, all of our own ideas, and ideas of what the general public wants and nobody is giving them – and assembled it into the Vineyard Valley that you see planned today!

148Apps: I see in your Kickstarter description that Vineyard Valley won't be using typical free-to-play "pay to win" models or rely on energy. So how *are* you making use of the freemium model? Is it primarily through Vinos? And what exactly are Vinos, anyway?
DC: We have a pretty cool system that we are using to monetize the game. We call it the Five Point monetization system. The concept is – as you may have guessed – something where we monetize on 5 separate levels. Only one of those actually has the players spending real money – and that is where Vinos come into play. You earn them by running your business properly, and you can purchase them using real money. Aside from that one and only currency exchange, the player won’t have to spend physical money – which allows us to keep it freemium. The other four methods incorporate partners, advertising and more.

148Apps: I'm intrigued by the more classic approach to a business sim you're using for Vineyard Valley, especially the idea of trading wine between players. But why exactly would players want to buy and sell wine from each other? Is there some sort of added incentive to exchanging with someone else aside from simply seeing what other players have created?
DC: Good question – and I think you are going to really dig the reason. Part of your vineyard is you have a shopping village. This shopping village is something you design and build just like anything else in the game. You start from essentially a wooden stand on the side of the road, and build it into a full blown village with shops, cafes and more. This is where some of that classic business sim comes into play. Your vineyard in the game – just like when you go to a real life vineyard - sells bottles of wine. This wine shop is located in your shopping village. You choose what is sold there. Now, each wine will have a type of rating which denotes its quality, uniqueness and more. Say you create a wine that has a very high rating. You can choose to put a bunch of its bottles in your shopping village, however you could also sell a bunch of bottles to your friends. Just like in classic business sims such as Theme Park, NPC visitors come and tour your vineyard, and shop in the shopping village. The higher rated wine you have, the more it will attract more visitors. Not just rating, but also the proper time for the right wine – a pumpkin wine might attract more visitors around Halloween, while a refreshing Ice Wine might attract more visitors in the middle of summer.

148Apps: Since you're obviously trying to avoid making Vineyard Valley too much like the majority of other freemium sims, what other games might you be using for inspiration? My guess is older PC business/tycoon titles, which I'm all kinds of okay with.
DC: Exactly, older business sims. Specifically, the original Theme Park from the mid-90s. Today’s business sims are nothing more than seeing how well you can follow the leader while mindless clicking things. See, that’s also what made My Vineyard different – there was a lot more you could do than just mindlessly click and follow the leader. We’re of course staying as far away from cloning My Vineyard as possible, however the base inspiration is still there – design and build in a sandbox environment, and have fun with your friends.

148Apps: Are there any pointers you'd like to share with prospective winery managers eager to jump in to Vineyard Valley once it's released?
DC: Once you finish watching the game introduction (yes, the game has an ongoing story), think through the base options and decide on the initial kinds of fruit crops and wines you want to develop. Just like the wine, you can also sell and trade the raw ingredients with your friends. Maybe your vineyard will specialize in grapes along with citrus fruits, while your friend’s vineyard specializes in grapes and stone fruits. That’s a great opportunity to trade with each other. Maybe you will also become an expert in citrus fruits and have very special fruit types available that others won’t so easily get…

Thanks to Dave for setting aside a few minutes to discuss digital wine with us. Anyone interested in backing Vineyard Valley’s multiplatform development can do so on its Kickstarter page, and the sooner it gets funded the sooner we can all presumably start with the fruit fermentation.