From Unreal Engine's blog:
Unreal Engine 4.3 includes greatly improved mobile support, awesome new rendering features, improved Blueprint workflows, and strides toward an excellent experience on Mac and laptops. Be sure to check out the new World Composition tools, spline features, and the preview of Paper2D, our 2D toolset! Today we’re also shipping SpeedTree 7 support, our work on Metal API for iOS 8 to date, and new Oculus Rift features such as time warping.
Unreal is one of the most popular engines used by game developers today. With iOS 8 and new devices on the horizon, I can't wait to see what kind of advancements Metal will bring for mobile graphics.
This week Federico and Myke talk about setting up an Xbox controller with a Mac, Nuclear Throne, No Man’s Sky and the original Game Boy.
My other podcast, Directional, also ended yesterday. For the final stage, we concluded with a classic topic: the Game Boy.
Get the episode here.
Wikipad, the company behind a gaming-focused Android tablet released last year, has announced Gamevice, an iOS game controller made specifically for the iPad mini. The Gamevice was originally announced for Android and Windows tablets in January but, as noted by TouchArcade, the company has seemingly switched to an iPad-only device, targeting a public release later this year with "additional platforms" following soon.
One of the many announcements from Apple’s last week was Metal, a new low-level framework for creating GPU-accelerated advanced 3D graphics while reducing CPU overhead. In short, Metal is a technology that will grant game developers bare-to-the-metal access to squeeze maximum performance out of the A7 processor for better graphics.
Developed by Game Oven in collaboration with the Dutch National Ballet, Bounden is a new iPhone dancing game for two players. The game uses the iPhone's gyroscope and lets you “twist and twirl elegantly, or get entangled with a friend” in an experience that seems reminiscent of Game Oven's previous work with Fingle and Bam fu for iOS, both games aimed at blurring the line between multitouch and physical interactions in iOS games.
Bounden looks like a unique concept, best explained by the promo video above and the developers' description:
Holding either end of a device, you tilt the device around a virtual sphere following a path of rings. You swing your arms and twist your body, and before you know it, you are already dancing.
Bounden is $3.99 on the App Store, and Game Oven published a series of Making Of videos in a Vimeo album showing the game's evolution and first demos with professional dancers and game journalists. Also worth reading: Kill Screen's preview of the game from a couple of months ago.
Mike Bithell's classic indie puzzle platformer Thomas Was Alone has been released on the iPad today. The game, ported by Surgeon Simulator developer Bossa Studios, features 100 levels, a new on-screen control system designed for iOS, and the same narration by Danny Wallace for which the British filmmaker and actor won a BAFTA Games Award in 2013.
Thomas Was Alone is one of the best games I've played this year. I bought the PS Vita version a few months ago, and I've been constantly impressed by Bithell's tasteful level design and focus on collaboration between characters to get through stages. In Thomas Was Alone, you control a group of AIs who have become sentient and want to escape the computer mainframe they're trapped into; the AIs (Thomas and his friends) are rectangles, and each one of them has a special ability, whether it's higher jump or the ability to float on water. To complete stages, you'll have to think in terms of collaboration rather than individualities: there are platforms that can be reached only if one character helps another jump onto it, while water-based sections require the AIs to proceed on top of the one that can swim. The way AIs, game mechanics, and narrations are intertwined makes for a classy, precise, and elegant game that always requires you to think of platforms as puzzles that can be solved by collaborating instead of running towards the end of a level. I love Thomas Was Alone and I can't wait for Bithell's next game.
Polygon has an interview with Bithell in which he explains the new controls for iPad:
“On either side of the screen, we have these color balls that you put your thumb on in order to select which character you want to use,” he said. “It's a really intuitive, easy thing that you can basically play the entire game without moving your hands.
"That was the thing. It's on iPad. If you're holding the iPad, I don't want you to ever have to move your hands from flanking either side of the iPad in your hands. I don't want you to have to put the weight of the iPad in one hand and then use your finger for something else. It's all played in that kind of default gamer position of the two thumbs, ready to do stuff on the screen.”
Thomas Was Alone for iPad is available at $8.99 on the App Store.
A great passage from Christian Donlan's piece for Eurogamer about the E.T. landfill in New Mexico and lack of restraint on modern app stores:
But with that access - and without curation by companies that actually appreciated games - came a race to the bottom, where much of the good stuff was then buried by an endless deluge of miserable clones and cash-grabs that were allowed in because the gatekeepers didn't care. Free-to-play is not the problem - it's that publishers and platform holders and sometimes even developers let the deeper value of a game erode, that there was often a failure to find the correct free-to-play model that enhanced a game - and that some people apparently think it's fine to refer to their most valued customers as whales.
The difference is that, thirty years from now, there won't be a New Mexico landfill to recover old apps from.
I am arguing that this is what we have forgotten in our chase for mobile profit, that we can’t see the creative woods for the data trees. For all our mountains of information we’ve collected about user habits and sales, the gut-level ability to give joy and inspire our audience remains the job of our industry’s creative people first and every other industry role second. Our ability to communicate to, reach and inspire the people that we make things for is the foundation for everything any artist or craftsperson ever produced.
The fundamental communication power of mobile as a platform to push gaming remains entirely intact. But the logic of chasing mountainous profit is self-defeating.
Inspiring, thought-provoking piece by Fireproof Games' Barry Meade over at Polygon. Data and analytics should aid creativity, not dictate and restrain its genius.
If you read one thing about mobile gaming today, make it this one.
Cult of Mac's Luke Dormehl posted a look behind the scenes of Monument Valley, one of the most unique and beautiful iOS games I've played this year. There are photos of early sketches and an interview with Monument Valley designer Ken Wong, which includes this important quote about movies and game design:
A lot of games make too much sense,” Wong says. “Their makers try and emulate movies, for example — wanting to look like Star Wars or The Godfather. Games can be so much more. The titles that excite us the most here at ustwo are the ones where you get to do really strange things. It doesn’t have to make sense. That’s where Monument Valley came from conceptually.