After more than three years of development, one platform change, tons of rework, a whole lot of testing, and nearly two years since my last blog post, I am proud to announce that our newest game, Orbi, is now available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad touch.
Unlike Cornhole Pro, which brings a real game to the iPhone, Orbi is all original content and features three action-packed levels where you take on wave after wave of enemies in your quest to restore order to your people.
Oh, and it’s only a dollar. What’s there to lose? Check it out and let us know what you think.
Or, why all the bad things you heard don’t really matter
Apple’s new iPad doesn’t have a front-facing camera. It won’t run multiple apps at the same time. It can’t play Flash movies. It’s just a big iPod touch. Other tablets run a full-fledged operating system. Most of all, the iPad lacks – the horror! – a physical keyboard.
Such is the litany of shortcomings being strewn about the web in the wake of Apple’s big iPad reveal. No doubt with all the mixed reviews, you may be wondering, “Do I really want an iPad?” You already have an iPhone. You already have a laptop. What’s the use of one more web-surfing, email-checking gadget to lug around?
The use of such a device, while perhaps not immediately apparent, is profound, and the iPad may very well change the way we all think of computing. Yes, I mean that.
So why do you want an iPad? Here are five reasons (you can thank me later):
It’s the screen, stupid. Yes, the iPad does pretty much the same stuff as the iPhone or iPod touch. The difference, and it’s a big one, is the size of the screen. Let’s face it, the iPhone browsing experience is phenomenal — for a smart phone. It’s mostly useful for resolving arguments about that movie with Jessica Biel or the genetic origin of broccoli. It’s not good for in-depth research or serious browsing. Sure, I check email a lot on my iPhone, but I don’t send much email from it — at least not anything longer than a sentence or two.
A larger screen changes all that. Suddenly web browsing, email, video, even games, become more than something I do while trying to kill time in an airport. They become things I sit down to do in my free time. Sure, I could already do these things with my laptop, but if we’re really honest, what we need is…
The feel of a (text)book. Laptops are clunky. They require elaborate cases with lots of pockets, tiny little mice, power cords, and computer skills. For some people, all these things are positive. For most, they are not (though many may not realize it). The iPad promises to bring the feel of a book (or notepad) to your computing experience. Hold it in one hand, however you like, wherever you are. Rest it on your lap. Set in on a table. Control everything with your hands. Ever thought about curling up under a blanket (or Snuggie) with your computer? That’s the kind of experience we’re talking about.
Educational uses for the iPad deserve an article of their own. Forget about one computer per classroom. Forget about computer labs where students can barely see the teacher because of bulky hardware. Most of all, forget about kids with chronic back problems. Every textbook, in one place (hard to forget the math book now, huh, Jimmy?), weighing 1.5 pounds. Texts can be enhanced with video, sound, and interactive demonstrations — the possibilities are inspiring.
The complete digital living room. I contend that most people will use the iPad, most of the time, in their primary living spaces. To me this is positive. The digital living room is not a new idea, and we have been moving in that direction for years. The iPad may complete the transition. I play games and watch movies on my Xbox 360. Apple’s own Apple TV lets you bring entertainment from your desktop to your TV. Some game consoles provide a web browser for surfing on your TV, but the experience feels forced.
Each of these pieces is good at something, but none is good at everything. While I am playing a game, my wife works a crossword puzzle in the newspaper. The iPad can bring her endless crossword puzzles without changing where she is or how she is positioned (feet up, wrapped in Snuggie). This is a big deal. The combination of large screen across the room and small(er) screen at your fingertips is going to work because it’s familiar. Which brings me to…
Browsing without working. Americans (particularly young ones) spend more time each week surfing the web than watching TV. The reason older folks (like, over 40 or something) don’t do as much surfing is that web browsing is too much like work, bro. When you already spend 12 hours a day at a desk, it’s not particularly appealing to forgo the morning paper to sit in your home office and browse CNN.com. For many adults, the iPad may finally break the painful connection between computing and working.
Pay-as-you-go mobile internet. Though I believe most people will use their iPads at home, on-the-go types will have the ability to plug into the internet from anywhere, with no strings attached. Cancel anytime. In the U.S. especially, the data plans being offered with the iPad are groundbreaking. Turn on a data plan when you go on your vacation or work trip. Turn it off when you get home. No hassles, no money lost for unused service. Not only do these data plans open the door for more mainstream pay-as-you-go services, they acknowledge the idea that different business models may be appropriate for different settings. I may want unlimited internet in my house (or on my phone, which I have with me all the time), but when I’m on the road for a couple weeks, I may want to pay only for what I use on this additional device.
When all the dust settles and the pundits have had their say, the iPad’s perceived shortcomings are largely irrelevant (Besides, aren’t these the same gripes we hear about the iPhone?). Ultimately the criticisms are quibbles about one feature or another, and the technorati will always have them.
No, the iPad will succeed because it provides one thing: comfort. The last reasons why people avoid computers in their day-to-day lives may finally be dissolving. And when using a computer becomes as natural as picking up a book and turning the page, we will have crossed the threshold into a truly digitized world.
Introducing Mimic 3D, the latest title from Groundswell Games, now available for iPhone and iPod touch. This mind-bending memory game offers smooth, intuitive gameplay that is easy to pick up and hard to put down. Easy single-touch controls ensure that anyone can begin testing the limits of their memory right away.
Intuitive touch and drag controls
Randomly generated memory sequences each time you play
Unique sounds for each cube face
‘Replays’ that help you remember a sequence if you’re having trouble
Variable game speed settings to control the flow of the game
I’ve been toying recently with the idea of loading an XML file of Flickr’s “most interesting” photos into a Unity scene and letting people explore them that way — kind of like a 3D photo gallery. I got it working a while ago but couldn’t think of a good way to arrange the photos for viewing until I started looking at maze generation algorithms.
So this little scene first generates a random maze and then populates the walls with recent photos that rank well for interestingness on Flickr. Thankfully the Flickr API has a nice way to pull those photos. The photos that appear change regularly, and the maze is different every time. The result has a nice art gallery feel to it.
Use the W, A, S, and D keys to walk, and your mouse to look around . Clicking while looking at one of the oh-so-interesting photos will open its Flickr page in a new window/tab in your browser (your pop-up blocker may block it, so look out for that).
There is no way out of the maze at the moment, so just look around as long as you like. If you refresh your page, a different maze will generate, but the photos will mostly be the same. If you come back tomorrow, they will all be different (since the most interesting photo stream will have been updated).
Hope you enjoy it. And let me know what you think!
Articles have been popping up recently about several new augmented reality (AR) apps available for the iPhone. For those unfamiliar with the term, or who haven’t read the articles, augmented reality is the idea of superimposing computer-generated information onto views of the real world. It’s kind of like having a HUD for your life. Terminator, anyone?
With the iPhone’s camera, GPS system, and compass, it’s possible to point your phone at something and have an app send back useful information about what you see. The app could even superimpose that information on your view, thus providing a connection between your own visual field and the all-knowing Internet. “Augmented reality browser” is probably the best term for this type of app, at least according to a recent New York Times article.
Augmented reality and gaming
But what about gaming? How can we use this technology to create new types of entertainment or enhance what’s already available? Some ideas:
Mini-AR — One type of AR game that has already emerged involves placing traditional video game fare within a real (often miniature) environment. Check out, for example, this siege game that can be played on a desktop:
(There are more videos like this at Games Alfresco, a site dedicated to AR gaming.)
Another possibility is travel-based role playing. Imagine a game that imposes a fictional story on the real world. Like a murder mystery set in your home town. You assume the role of a detective following up on leads and searching for clues. You have to drive around town for real to solve the case, but the victim, characters, and evidence are all super-imposed on real locations. A multi-player version could have you team up with friends, each person playing a different role, to solve the crime.The scope of such games is potentially global. Sure, travel costs could be prohibitive, but what a fun thing to do on vacation. This is table-top role playing taken to the next level (ok, the next level after LARPing).
With some sort of AR headgear, games like laser tag or paintball could be dramatically enhanced. When setting up a game, you and your friends could pick a scenario (WWII, urban warfare, alien invasion, whatever) and stage your match in much more thrilling fashion.
Multiplayer matchmaking — If you’re involved in some sort of live-action augmented reality game, AR technologies could help you find other players. I could set my phone to broadcast my location and game preferences for other players to see in their AR view. So I could be standing in a train station, scan my phone across the crowd, and spot people interested in a game.(This same idea could apply to social networking, by the way. People at a party could broadcast their Facebook status so others could see it literally floating above their heads. Not saying it’s a good idea…)
AR and you
Certainly augmented reality technology is in its infancy, but its potential is profound. Obviously there are risks as well, to security and privacy most of all. But I suspect AR is going to be HUGE, and even the most mundane details of our lives will be affected (driving, grocery shopping, traveling, conversation). It will happen gradually (though maybe not slowly), and games will have a key role in setting the direction this technology takes.