Space Age – first teased over two years ago – joins Monument Valley in my list of best iOS games of 2014, and it is the kind of game that I believe anyone with an iOS device should play. Space Age looks great, sounds fantastic, and is filled with witty dialog that powers an intriguing story of space exploration and distant memories.
Posts tagged with "games"
Monument Valley, one of my favorite iOS games of 2014, will receive its first expansion next week. Titled “Forgotten Shores” and priced at $1.99 as an In-App Purchase, the expansion will add 8 new levels to Monument Valley and further explore the story of Ida and Totem.
Liz Stinson writes at Wired:
Monument Valley was designed as a complete story; the 10 levels formed a beginning, middle and end. When you closed the app for the final time, there was closure. But people didn’t want closure. They wanted more Monument Valley. Its designers were torn: They wanted to add more levels, mostly because people were asking for them. But they felt Monument Valley ended on a high note–1.4 million downloads, to be exact. “It was never 100 percent settled on that we were going to create more content for Monument Valley,” says Gray. “It’s very much a self contained experience. So the question was, how do we create something that doesn’t disrupt that?”
ustwo made a beautiful and poetic game with the original Monument Valley, and I can't wait to get my hands on the expansion pack. You can read my original review of the game here.
Created by Vlambeer (the indie studio behind Apple Design Award winner Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers, and other games), distribute() is a new tool to help game developers keep track of a press list. From the website:
distribute() is modelled to save you valuable development hours you'd otherwise have to spend on distributing builds and maintaining press lists. Simply send out a distribute() link for your game to your press contacts, and distribute() will organise all required information into a neatly organised list the system manages and maintains for you. Furthermore, distribute() will simplify numerous public data sources into a simple Reach statistic to help you decide how to prioritise your press strategy for your new release.
There are several interesting ideas in distribute(), but this one struck me as a genius addition:
Verified press contacts help you avoid fake requests from video content creators or people pretending to be from larger websites or YouTube personalities. Verified press contacts are manually vetted and constantly updated to reflect the ever-changing games press landscape. Additionally, distribute() can be set to handle requests from verified accounts automatically, so that you can be sure esteemed members from the press can get access to your game as soon as you flip the switch.
Properly maintaining a press list is hard, especially if you have to focus on other aspects of launching a game on the App Store or other platforms. If you're a game developer, sign up for the distribute() alpha here. Vlambeer also made presskit(), a free tool to create press pages.
Zen Garden, the demo that Epic Games showcased at WWDC '14 for the Metal announcement, has been released today as Epic Zen Garden.
Epic Zen Garden is a demonstration of Metal's capabilities, and it's meant for modern hardware. I spent about 30 minutes with the game on my iPhone 5s and iPad mini, and I think it looks great. It's especially impressive in motion.
It's fun to tap areas on screen and see how Metal can animate thousands of objects at once. I can't wait to see what kind of new experiences iOS 8 and Metal will bring for mobile gaming. Epic Zen Garden is free on the App Store.
Square Enix announced their new video game streaming service earlier today, coming next month as an app for iOS and Android. Dive In, slated to launch on October 9th in Japan, will allow iOS users to play Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XIII by streaming them from the company's cloud, for a fee.
Kotaku writes about the games that will be added after the initial rollout:
In November, Final Fantasy VIII and The Last Remnant will be added. December will see Final Fantasy XIII-2, while Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII is slated for 2015.
Dive In will let gamers try out the titles in a thirty minute demo, free of charge. Streaming blocks of three days, ten days, thirty days, and 365 days, however, will require a fee—a fee which can vary from game to game.
Prices will vary from around $2 dollars for a three days' worth of streaming to $12 for thirty days. According to the Dive In website, the app will run on both phones and tablets, with a 3Mbps WiFi connection required to stream and play games (6Mbps recommended).
In screenshots posted by Inside Games, Final Fantasy VII and XIII are shown with on-screen controls to make up for the lack of physical input on iOS and Android; at this point, it's not clear whether Dive In will support iOS game controllers or if the app will eventually expand to OS X.
Last month, Square Enix confirmed that they would continue to port older titles in Dragon Quest series to mobile devices. Dive In appears to be part of the company's Project Flare, a technology first announced in November 2013 and set to power several of the company's future initiatives in cloud gaming.
Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird, is coming out with a new game for iOS, which, like Flappy Bird, will be free to download from the App Store. TouchArcade has published an exclusive preview of the game, which is called Swing Copters and that will be released this week on Thursday (August 21).
Swing Copters will have a similar mechanic to Flappy Bird, but unlike its predecessor it will launch with a $0.99 In-App Purchase to remove ads.
Swing Copters captures all the “just one more try” of Flappy Bird, and seems even more brutally difficult. In the game, you play as a little dude who has a propeller on his head. Swing Copters coaxes you to tap the screen, at which point you're airborne, wildly flying to one side. Tapping changes your flight direction, and the goal is similar: Fly through as many gates and get as high as you can. Sort of similar to Flappy Bird, but going up instead of to the side.
A great retrospective on Mac gaming by Jeremy Parish:
Mac games were actually pretty weird and unique in the olden days, and I actually could see someone being a Macintosh-exclusive gamer in the ’80s. The platform offered (1) mouse-based controls and (2) no color, or at least no guarantee of color support until they stopped selling the Mac SE and pre-PPC PowerBook lines in the mid-’90s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mac games felt a little different from console and DOS counterparts. Another factor there came from the fact that Macintosh had system-level support for graphics, it using a visual interface and all, whereas other computers kind of needed to be tricked in various degrees before they’d display images.
I'd argue that the Mac App Store has helped in facilitating distribution of modern Mac games, although, from a gamer's perspective, it's still inferior to other services – especially for clarifying hardware requirements.
Simogo, makers of some of my favorite games for iOS (Year Walk and DEVICE 6), have announced their next game, The Sailor's Dream, launching later this year. The Sailor's Dream will be a “challenge-free experience in which you explore a non-linear story through words, music, sounds and illustrations”, and, based on the trailer and screenshots seen so far, it looks like Simogo is once again trying to redefine the scope of innovation in mobile gaming.
Don't miss Leigh Alexander's interview with Simogo at Gamasutra, which provides background and context on the studio's latest creation:
“We want it to feel both relaxing, like diving into a tiny little world in which you can enjoy just interacting with, looking at and listening to things,” Flesser continues. “But then there's also this element of exploring a quiet story, and tying it together in your head. So in that way it is like a dream, exploring a strange world, with tiny bits of reality breaking through in different ways.”
You can watch the trailer below, and check out the game's first screenshots at the official website. You can read my review of Year Walk, Simogo's hit from 2013, here.
BioShock, Irrational Games' masterpiece originally released on Xbox 360 in 2007, is coming to the iPhone and iPad this summer with a mobile port developed by 2K China, the same studio that handled XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS devices. BioShock is considered one of the most important games of the last generation of home consoles, and, for the upcoming mobile version, Polygon's Brian Crecente notes that it “feels very much like the original, especially when played on an iPad and with a controller”.
In order to fit within the size limitations of the App Store, BioShock's graphics and effects have been toned down, which, according to previews of the game published this morning, results in visually inferior experience for those who remember the original game on Xbox. Here's Ben Gilbert, writing at Engadget:
Yes, BioShock doesn't look as good on iOS. It's the truth. In-game lighting and shadows are cut down pretty dramatically, as are art assets. The grandeur of Rapture is distinctly less grand, which sucks some of the life out of one of my personal favorites. The first thing you'll notice is “iOS fire.” The game's opening – a plane crash – puts main character Jack in the ocean surrounded by some hideously ugly fire animations. It's the first hint that the iOS version of Rapture has been shrunken down to fit within Apple's app store file size limitation, and it's a nagging issue that I couldn't shake in my hands-on time.
Over at TouchArcade, Jared Nelson has another preview of BioShock for iOS with a hands-on video:
One thing that struck me about playing Bioshock on a mobile device is that it's a very intimate experience. Over the last decade, high end televisions and home theater systems have become common, making for incredible environments to play through immersive and atmospheric games. And Bioshock is one of the most atmospheric of all time. However, there's really something to be said for having your very own little screen running the game, right up in your face as close as you want it to be.
BioShock was released in 2007, in the formative years of last-gen consoles. Based on the previews and first impressions published today, it sounds like modern iOS hardware would be capable of handling the original game's graphics and assets, but file size limitations are preventing developers from putting a full console experience into an App Store download. Considering Apple's push for console-quality game technologies such as controller frameworks and Metal, this seems fairly anachronistic.
BioShock Mobile will be released sometime this summer for iPhone and iPad at a “premium price” with no In-App Purchases, and it will include a digital art book and Game Center integration. Make sure to check out the hands-on video at TouchArcade.