Posts Tagged wine
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.
Wine is a great delight to drink. To many, it’s as great a joy to collect as it is to drink. Such people might be rather pleased to see an app such as My Wine Cellar which aims to help them keep track of their collection in an attractive and useful way.
The app which is currently available for free, allows users to track their wine from purchase to wine tasting notes. Designed by Australian fine wine supplier, Oz Bouquet, the app is clearly designed precisely for the wine drinker’s interest.
For each bottle, the user is able to add information such as the name, brand, vintage, category such as if it’s a sparkling wine and the country of origin. Users can then add more personal information such as when they took a drink of it, an appropriate occasion, the price and any other notes such as how it tasted. This can be further enhanced by adding ratings out of 5 stars for color, smell, taste and the overall manner of the wine.
For easy consultation, users can customize each bottle with the relevant shape, color and label to aid as a quick reference tool. It’s easy enough to get everything set up just how the user wants things to be laid out, and the interface makes for an attractive wine cellar style look.
Besides being great for the individual user to quickly check their collection, My Wine Cellar could be a great tool at a dinner party. Users could demonstrate to their friends their collection so that they can easily check what wine they fancy trying with their meal. Or of course, the owner can always simply gloat at their impressive collection.
Finally, there’s the ever trusty ability to share wine notes via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.
My Wine Cellar is out now for all iOS devices and it’s a free download.
I wish I knew something about wine. I enjoy wine. I know what I like about wine. But I have to rely on advice and iPhone apps in order to have a clue about them. By the looks of things, WineStein Pro is right up my street offering some pretty comprehensive information on all things wine.
WineStein Pro is a wine calculator, basically. You enter the meal you’re planning on eating, right down to how you’re preparing each ingredient, tap the button and WineStein Pro determines the best wine to go with it. Giving you a score out of 10 as to its compatibility, WineStein Pro explains what type of wine it is (such as red or white, dry or not), what kind of price you should expect to pay (using Euros as a guide rather than dollars) and the grapes used. If you pay the $2.99 annual subscription fee, you can also look at more than one result and filter according to wine type and price if you’re on a budget.
It’s all pretty comprehensive covering more than 2000 ingredients, 600 wine types and hundreds of sauces. While an internet connection is needed to process the calculations, WineStein Pro has pretty much everything covered. It’s free to download and the extra options such as filtering and more variety is only $2.99 for a year or $0.99 for a quarter. Plus it’s an universal app. What more could you ask for?
For those of us of legal age and discerning taste, there’s nothing better than a decent glass of wine. We’re also big fans of social networking and can often be found enjoying a tipple with Twitter of an evening. If you’re following this train of thought so far, why not take it to the next level by combining the two disciplines with one iPhone app? That’s what you get when you download the free GrapeVine app, a social network for wine lovers.
Whether you know your Pinot from your plonk or not, GrapeVine aims to bring the world’s wine drinkers together to share new flavors and find out more about the drink they love.
Friends can quickly be found within the app and categorized by the types of wine they drink. Comments can be added to wine picks and networks created as well as friend lists. As one reviewer says, GrapeVine is “like Twitter for us wine folks”.
The app itself is neatly designed and offers a range of customization options including skinning and profile creation. You can even add friends from your iPhone’s Address Book to begin sharing their tastes on “The Vine” which is where most of the grape-based banter flows. Each wine suggestion comes complete with information on the wine type, country and year and also includes a short description of how the wine was discovered by the user, along with pictures. Fortunately, Twitter’s 140-character limit doesn’t apply here.
Among the networking flavours found in this full-bodied app, hints of commerce also mingle, with a clever shopping list feature that helps you track down suggested wines at your local store. Not only that, but GrapeVine is open to the wine industry so sellers can promote their upcoming wines and promotions directly to the consumer via the app.
“We’re democratizing wine”, says GrapeVine co-founder Helena Mitchell. “Every wine drinker is now a respected tastemaker and potential trendsetter on GrapeVine. Every wine business can contribute to GrapeVine’s consumer conversation and discovery experience, regardless of size, location or budget.”
After a quick play with this app we were excited by its potential and look forward to seeing how this new type of social network develops. Of course, those who prefer a cold Bud and a burrito (and believe us we do too) may not be quite as entertained by this app, but if you’re even a little bit curious about the world of wine, we’d recommend giving GrapeVine a try.
An iPad app is also in the works according to GrapeVine’s managing director, Kim Alexander:
“iPad is definitely in the plan. The multimedia aspects of wine shares on The Vine and content we provide in Wine Geek are perfect for iPad and will look even more beautiful there. As a distributor of people’s proprietary content, our job is to offer platforms like iPad, to make the content its best. You’ll see us move more and more into celebrity, lifestyle and entertainment wine content, also making it critical to provide a beautiful aesthetic. We have some very exciting and new ways to talk about wine in the works, including a bit of a makeover ourselves.”
GrapeVine is available for free on the App Store for iPhone and iPod touch users. Free registration is also required to begin using the app.
For those of you with comprehensive Wine Cellars, Open Cellar provides an excellent portable app that allows for easy organization. It's ability to communicate with Windows and Mac versions of the same program, as well as internet backup for free make this a great app.
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