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Found 52 results

  1. Telltale Games has revealed the release date and trailer for the upcoming part two of Batman: The Enemy Within. Titled 'The Pact,' the second episode of the five episode series focuses on the aftermath of a mysterious assassin's latest handiwork. Explosions across Gotham shake the city to its very core. Batman attempts to track down the culprits behind these misdeeds, but finds himself up against a foe that might even stump the Dark Knight himself. Meanwhile, John Doe traps Bruce Wayne in a complicated scheme - and the only way out is to follow it through. Beginning with episode two, Telltale will be launching all episodes on all platforms simultaneously. We reached out to Telltale for clarification on whether that simultaneous release schedule will extend to other Telltale game series or if it is limited to The Enemy Within. We will update with an answer. Episode Two 'The Pact' launches October 3 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac. In addition, the first two episodes of the series will become available on iOS and Android-based devices that same day. The boxed version, which Telltale has taken to calling the 'Season Pass Disc,' will also release in stores on October 3. The disc unlocks all previous episodes as well as all future episodes as they release.
  2. Telltale Games has revealed the release date and trailer for the upcoming part two of Batman: The Enemy Within. Titled 'The Pact,' the second episode of the five episode series focuses on the aftermath of a mysterious assassin's latest handiwork. Explosions across Gotham shake the city to its very core. Batman attempts to track down the culprits behind these misdeeds, but finds himself up against a foe that might even stump the Dark Knight himself. Meanwhile, John Doe traps Bruce Wayne in a complicated scheme - and the only way out is to follow it through. Beginning with episode two, Telltale will be launching all episodes on all platforms simultaneously. We reached out to Telltale for clarification on whether that simultaneous release schedule will extend to other Telltale game series or if it is limited to The Enemy Within. We will update with an answer. Episode Two 'The Pact' launches October 3 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac. In addition, the first two episodes of the series will become available on iOS and Android-based devices that same day. The boxed version, which Telltale has taken to calling the 'Season Pass Disc,' will also release in stores on October 3. The disc unlocks all previous episodes as well as all future episodes as they release. View full article
  3. In 2009 casual gaming was gaining steam. Flash games were all the rage, mobile was taking off, and Zynga was the new hotness with Farmville dominating Facebook. Then, as the year was drawing to a close, a small development team in Finland with 51 games games under its belt released what might possibly be their final game: Angry Birds. We all know what happened after that. Angry Birds has been downloaded and played over one billion times - ONE BILLION! With numbers like that we have to ask the question seriously: Is Angry Birds one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Bad Piggies 'Rise of the Piggies' by OC/DC (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03335) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  4. In 2009 casual gaming was gaining steam. Flash games were all the rage, mobile was taking off, and Zynga was the new hotness with Farmville dominating Facebook. Then, as the year was drawing to a close, a small development team in Finland with 51 games games under its belt released what might possibly be their final game: Angry Birds. We all know what happened after that. Angry Birds has been downloaded and played over one billion times - ONE BILLION! With numbers like that we have to ask the question seriously: Is Angry Birds one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Bad Piggies 'Rise of the Piggies' by OC/DC (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03335) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  5. If you were a Sega fanatic back in the day and have been searching for an inexpensive (read: free) way to relieve those memories, Sega just might have something for you. Sega Forever, which launched today, is a free collection of classic games for download on iOS and Android devices. The collection's library spans the Master System to the Dreamcast and everything in between. Each title features wireless Bluetooth controller support, leaderboards and saves. The site promises new releases every month, and kicks off with Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon. While the games are all free, they do contain in-game ads, so the experience certainly comes with that caveat. Players will have to pay a one-time fee of $1.99 in order to dismiss ads from a select game permanently. Game controls from consoles transferred over to mobile devices also aren't always the smoothest, so allowing players to decide if a port is worth $1.99 is probably one of the more consumer-friendly ways of implementing this retro gaming program. You can find out more about Sega Forever by visiting its official website. If you want to experience an insane blast from the past, check out the website's hyper-90's launch trailer. What do you think about Sega Forever? Let us know how you feel about playing your favorite Sega classics on the go! View full article
  6. If you were a Sega fanatic back in the day and have been searching for an inexpensive (read: free) way to relieve those memories, Sega just might have something for you. Sega Forever, which launched today, is a free collection of classic games for download on iOS and Android devices. The collection's library spans the Master System to the Dreamcast and everything in between. Each title features wireless Bluetooth controller support, leaderboards and saves. The site promises new releases every month, and kicks off with Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon. While the games are all free, they do contain in-game ads, so the experience certainly comes with that caveat. Players will have to pay a one-time fee of $1.99 in order to dismiss ads from a select game permanently. Game controls from consoles transferred over to mobile devices also aren't always the smoothest, so allowing players to decide if a port is worth $1.99 is probably one of the more consumer-friendly ways of implementing this retro gaming program. You can find out more about Sega Forever by visiting its official website. If you want to experience an insane blast from the past, check out the website's hyper-90's launch trailer. What do you think about Sega Forever? Let us know how you feel about playing your favorite Sega classics on the go!
  7. Pokémon Go may not dominate the public consciousness the way it once did, but that hasn't stopped Niantic from improving the game with updates. The company announced two big (and free) updates are heading to mobile title. Gyms are receiving a massive overhaul to make "ownership more collaborative" and encourage players to interact with their gyms in new ways. Prestige and training no longer dictate how Gyms operate. Players can instead store Pokémon in six permanent slots, with challengers battling a Gym's monsters in the order they were assigned. A new motivation system impacts a Pokémon's CP by lowering it with each defeat. However, friendly trainers can boost motivation by feeding defending Pokémon berries. The Gym's Photo Disc can now be spun to obtain items (just like with PokéStops) and Badges can be earned and leveled up by interacting with your team's Gym. Raid battles allow trainers to face powerful Pokémon in 20-player strong battles with raid bosses. These timed events temporarily take over Gyms, and defeating these bosses will reward valuable new items as well as the chance to capture the boss. Players will also be able to invite friends into private raid groups using a custom code system. Keep an eye for these changes to start rolling out in the coming weeks. You can read more about the updates on the Pokémon Go blog. If you haven't opened Pokémon Go in a while, are these changes enough to lure you back in? UPDATE: Raids in Pokémon Go have now fully rolled out and are available to all players at level 5 and above! View full article
  8. Pokémon Go may not dominate the public consciousness the way it once did, but that hasn't stopped Niantic from improving the game with updates. The company announced two big (and free) updates are heading to mobile title. Gyms are receiving a massive overhaul to make "ownership more collaborative" and encourage players to interact with their gyms in new ways. Prestige and training no longer dictate how Gyms operate. Players can instead store Pokémon in six permanent slots, with challengers battling a Gym's monsters in the order they were assigned. A new motivation system impacts a Pokémon's CP by lowering it with each defeat. However, friendly trainers can boost motivation by feeding defending Pokémon berries. The Gym's Photo Disc can now be spun to obtain items (just like with PokéStops) and Badges can be earned and leveled up by interacting with your team's Gym. Raid battles allow trainers to face powerful Pokémon in 20-player strong battles with raid bosses. These timed events temporarily take over Gyms, and defeating these bosses will reward valuable new items as well as the chance to capture the boss. Players will also be able to invite friends into private raid groups using a custom code system. Keep an eye for these changes to start rolling out in the coming weeks. You can read more about the updates on the Pokémon Go blog. If you haven't opened Pokémon Go in a while, are these changes enough to lure you back in? UPDATE: Raids in Pokémon Go have now fully rolled out and are available to all players at level 5 and above!
  9. Just when people thought their time on Pandora might be taking a hiatus, Telltale swoops in with a trailer that teases the first episode of their Borderlands series. Unfortunately, the trailer doesn't give any hints as to a release date, but it looks like Telltale is still planning to release it in 2014. While we were shown a preview of the first episode in action back during E3, the first episode finally has a name: Zero Sum. Additionally, we now know the official casting details, final casting details. The season will feature Troy Baker as Rhys, Laura Bailey as Fiona, Chris Hardwick as Vaughn, Erin Yvette as Sasha, Patrick Warburton as Vasquez, and Dameon Clarke reprising his role as Handsome Jack. We can also confirm that there will be five total episodes of the Tales from the Borderlands series. Tales from the Borderland will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, with some slight variations in price. It looks like the console versions will retail at around $4.99 per episode with season pass options for $19.99. The PC version will be a season pass for $24.99. Android and iOS devices will also see the first episode of the Telltale's Borderlands before the year is out.
  10. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series made some waves when adventure game developer Telltale Games teased it at the tail end of last year. We now have a narrower release window with the series set to premiere this spring on consoles, PC, Android, and iOS. Much like Telltale's Game of Thrones, their Guardians of the Galaxy series will tell a new story set within the universe seen in the films. Familiar characters such as Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot all return with a redesigned that aims to fit them in with the art style of Telltale's vision. The new tale follows the galactic group of reluctant heroes as they discover an artifact of immense power following a climactic encounter. Each member of the team has a competing interest in the item, but so does an enemy who represents the last of a dying race who will hunt the team to the ends of the galaxy to obtain it. The Guardians will be traveling to a wide number of locations including Earth, the starship Milano, the hollowed out space titan skull called Knowhere, and beyond to locations not seen in the films. Borrowing from the films (and Telltale's natural affinity for including fantastic musical accompaniments to their games), the Guardians of the Galaxy series will feature a licensed soundtrack of its own to help players slip into the retro-camp fun in store for them. today at PAX East in Boston at 6pm in the Albatross Theater, so if you are at the show be sure to stop and give it a look. Telltale Games will be hosting a panel discussing their creative process on the title. Those who can't be there in person can check it out live on Twitch. Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series premiers on March 17 at SXSW in Austin, TX at the Paramount Theater. Telltale will be hosting a Crowd Play event where attendees can help decide what decisions are made on the big screen during the live gameplay via their mobile devices. In order to attend, interested people will need to obtain either an SXSW or SXSW Gaming badge and seats will be available on a first come, first serve basis. The voices for the Guardians of the Galaxy series won't be the same as the ones from the movies. Instead, Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series) will take on the role of Star-Lord, Emily O'Brien (Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor) tackles Gamora, Nolan North (basically all games with voice acting, Uncharted) becomes Rocket Raccoon, Brandon Paul Eells (Watch Dogs) gives life to Drax, and Adam Harrington (The Wolf Among Us, League of Legends) groots his best as Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 releases on May 5 and with a narrower release day centered on this spring, I'd be willing to bet Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series will be releasing around that same time, possibly in late April. View full article
  11. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series made some waves when adventure game developer Telltale Games teased it at the tail end of last year. We now have a narrower release window with the series set to premiere this spring on consoles, PC, Android, and iOS. Much like Telltale's Game of Thrones, their Guardians of the Galaxy series will tell a new story set within the universe seen in the films. Familiar characters such as Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot all return with a redesigned that aims to fit them in with the art style of Telltale's vision. The new tale follows the galactic group of reluctant heroes as they discover an artifact of immense power following a climactic encounter. Each member of the team has a competing interest in the item, but so does an enemy who represents the last of a dying race who will hunt the team to the ends of the galaxy to obtain it. The Guardians will be traveling to a wide number of locations including Earth, the starship Milano, the hollowed out space titan skull called Knowhere, and beyond to locations not seen in the films. Borrowing from the films (and Telltale's natural affinity for including fantastic musical accompaniments to their games), the Guardians of the Galaxy series will feature a licensed soundtrack of its own to help players slip into the retro-camp fun in store for them. today at PAX East in Boston at 6pm in the Albatross Theater, so if you are at the show be sure to stop and give it a look. Telltale Games will be hosting a panel discussing their creative process on the title. Those who can't be there in person can check it out live on Twitch. Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series premiers on March 17 at SXSW in Austin, TX at the Paramount Theater. Telltale will be hosting a Crowd Play event where attendees can help decide what decisions are made on the big screen during the live gameplay via their mobile devices. In order to attend, interested people will need to obtain either an SXSW or SXSW Gaming badge and seats will be available on a first come, first serve basis. The voices for the Guardians of the Galaxy series won't be the same as the ones from the movies. Instead, Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series) will take on the role of Star-Lord, Emily O'Brien (Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor) tackles Gamora, Nolan North (basically all games with voice acting, Uncharted) becomes Rocket Raccoon, Brandon Paul Eells (Watch Dogs) gives life to Drax, and Adam Harrington (The Wolf Among Us, League of Legends) groots his best as Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 releases on May 5 and with a narrower release day centered on this spring, I'd be willing to bet Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series will be releasing around that same time, possibly in late April.
  12. Most people know Dream Theater as a progressive metal band from the mid 80s that has released albums on and off for the past thirty years. While that would generally lead to a band fading into obscurity, Dream Theater does not go quietly into that good night. The band has partnered with Norwegian indie developer Turbo Tape Games to create a game based on their 2016 album The Astonishing. The game, titled The Astonishing Game, allows players to take part in the album's rock opera storyline, which delves into a conflict between artists and a totalitarian government. It features digital likenesses of the band members and various other musicians as they do battle with the machines of an empire to win over the general population. The turn-based strategy game allows players to choose to side with the musicians or the authoritarians. The game comes with a single-player campaign and a multiplayer mode to challenge other Dream Theater fans (or those curious about what a Dream Theater game would be like). On top of that, players can be eligible to win prizes by playing The Astonishing Game. Those who play can win tickets to upcoming shows, backstage passes, signed merch, and more. The rules for winning prizes can be found on Turbo Tape Games' website. You can grab The Astonishing Game on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. View full article
  13. Most people know Dream Theater as a progressive metal band from the mid 80s that has released albums on and off for the past thirty years. While that would generally lead to a band fading into obscurity, Dream Theater does not go quietly into that good night. The band has partnered with Norwegian indie developer Turbo Tape Games to create a game based on their 2016 album The Astonishing. The game, titled The Astonishing Game, allows players to take part in the album's rock opera storyline, which delves into a conflict between artists and a totalitarian government. It features digital likenesses of the band members and various other musicians as they do battle with the machines of an empire to win over the general population. The turn-based strategy game allows players to choose to side with the musicians or the authoritarians. The game comes with a single-player campaign and a multiplayer mode to challenge other Dream Theater fans (or those curious about what a Dream Theater game would be like). On top of that, players can be eligible to win prizes by playing The Astonishing Game. Those who play can win tickets to upcoming shows, backstage passes, signed merch, and more. The rules for winning prizes can be found on Turbo Tape Games' website. You can grab The Astonishing Game on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
  14. The Weirdest Mobile Game Developer - Usaya

    There are games tinged with strangeness and there are games that revel in oddity that make their way into mainstream gaming, but I recently discovered a developer that seems to have cornered the market on bafflingly bizarre mobile games. Usaya, a Japanese developer that has been working on small games for iOS and Android since 2013, thoroughly earns its title as weirdest mobile game developer. I took the last few days to play some of their most popular titles and here is what I found. 採用セヨ!【キモい候補者を面接だ!】 Like most of Usaya's library, their first game's name isn't officially translated on the app store, but Google's translation dubs it "Hiring Ado! 【Interview a cheap candidate! 】". The game text of Hiring Ado! was never translated into English either, so I learned everything about it purely through trial and error. The basic premise has players interviewing candidates for a job and sorting the candidates as quickly as possible. However, some of the applicants are aliens and can't be allowed at work. The aliens are distinguished by their variety of vegetable, squid, mushroom, or typical green heads. Players have a set amount of time to get through candidates without hiring an alien or booting a human. The gameplay might be very simplistic, but the visuals will, uh, certainly stick with you. ちくわ猫~超シュールでかわいい新感覚、無料にゃんこゲーム~ The second game in Usaya's mobile lineup feels perhaps the closest to what a normal mobile game might be. The title translates roughly to "Chikuwa cat ~ Cute new sense with super surreal, free Nyanko game ~" and that's a pretty apt description of the game itself. Chikuwa is a Japanese food roll, and Usaya's chikuwa cat jumps from chikuwa roll to chikuwa roll. Players must try to go through as many rolls as possible, timing their jumps perfectly, before running out of lives. A boss encounter occurs every so often in which the titular chikuwa cat must smack into the boss a few times before continuing. The minimalist presentation definitely sets it apart from Hiring Ado!, while the gameplay reminds me of jumping from barrel to barrel in Donkey Kong Country. So far, you might be thinking that these aren't terribly odd. The alien game was a bit weird, but this second game seemed relatively normal. Strap yourselves in, dear reader, because we are about to go a bit silly. うさぎと牛乳瓶 Have you ever dreamed of saving cute, little rabbits horrifically trapped inside of empty milk bottles? Then Usaya's "Usagi and milk bottle" is the game for you! Players have a set amount of time to swipe the screen, pulling cartoon rabbits out of their glass prisons. Use caution while saving those animals, however, because someone has left live grenades in a few of the milk jars! If you throw them in with all the rabbits... well... no one wants that to happen. There are also small humans and human-bunny hybrids that have found themselves in the same predicament as the rabbits? I think they might give point bonuses or extend the remaining time, but I'm not entirely sure since everything is in Japanese. It's such an odd concept, but the visuals come across as so endearing that it just makes you give a bemused smile. Daikon Joshi Usaya's fourth game, Daikon Joshi, has a very simple, straightforward description in the app store: "In this action game you play as a high school girl who climbs up a radish." That is exactly what the game is about. I don't know why or for what purpose, but the world this high school girl inhabits houses radishes of increasing height. Players make her climb each radish by tapping on the screen. Reaching the top in record time is made more difficult by obstacles like protruding radish roots. It's... um... quite something. I don't know whether to laugh or be subtly creeped out by it. All of these are nothing, however, to the crown jewel and most recent game in Usaya's growing library of peculiarities. My Horse Prince I honestly don't know what to write about My Horse Prince, but it is both the weirdest thing Usaya has made and, as far as I can tell, its most popular game. As opposed to the touch-control gameplay of all their previous titles, Usaya opted to make My Horse Prince a narrative-focused visual novel. The plot follows a girl who goes out to a horse ranch one day to meet cute boys and discovers that she has a strange disease that makes her see human faces on horses and gives her the ability to speak with and understand them. Aaaaaand she finds the horse she is sucked into buying cute instead of mind-numbingly horrifying like a normal person. The reviews of My Horse Prince are overwhelmingly positive. One user by the name of Devin Spencer wrote, "This is the worst game I have ever played. I love it." Another described it as "a hot mess of fun and questionable ideas," and that's a great way of describing it. Usaya clearly meant My Horse Prince to be a comedy poking fun at the visual novel genre and how ridiculous some of the games in it can be - I'm looking at you, Hatoful Boyfriend. There are a few laughs both genuine and nervous to be had in the writing, but I'm not sure how many people can overcome the deeply disturbing human-faced horse. Remember when I said My Horse Prince was Usaya's most popular game? It was so popular that they went back and gave it an update that added three new chapters to the original ten. Let that sink in: My Horse Prince is now a thirteen chapter long visual novel game about a woman who falls in love with a horse. More than anything else, My Horse Prince solidifies Usaya's place as the weirdest mobile developer. I'm glad they're out there being the wild card of the mobile gaming space because some developer has to take that title and own it. All their games are free on the Android and iOS app stores, though some include microtransactions to remove ads. Where does Usaya go from here? I have absolutely no idea, but chances are their next project will be completely unexpected and jaw-droppingly strange.
  15. There are games tinged with strangeness and there are games that revel in oddity that make their way into mainstream gaming, but I recently discovered a developer that seems to have cornered the market on bafflingly bizarre mobile games. Usaya, a Japanese developer that has been working on small games for iOS and Android since 2013, thoroughly earns its title as weirdest mobile game developer. I took the last few days to play some of their most popular titles and here is what I found. 採用セヨ!【キモい候補者を面接だ!】 Like most of Usaya's library, their first game's name isn't officially translated on the app store, but Google's translation dubs it "Hiring Ado! 【Interview a cheap candidate! 】". The game text of Hiring Ado! was never translated into English either, so I learned everything about it purely through trial and error. The basic premise has players interviewing candidates for a job and sorting the candidates as quickly as possible. However, some of the applicants are aliens and can't be allowed at work. The aliens are distinguished by their variety of vegetable, squid, mushroom, or typical green heads. Players have a set amount of time to get through candidates without hiring an alien or booting a human. The gameplay might be very simplistic, but the visuals will, uh, certainly stick with you. ちくわ猫~超シュールでかわいい新感覚、無料にゃんこゲーム~ The second game in Usaya's mobile lineup feels perhaps the closest to what a normal mobile game might be. The title translates roughly to "Chikuwa cat ~ Cute new sense with super surreal, free Nyanko game ~" and that's a pretty apt description of the game itself. Chikuwa is a Japanese food roll, and Usaya's chikuwa cat jumps from chikuwa roll to chikuwa roll. Players must try to go through as many rolls as possible, timing their jumps perfectly, before running out of lives. A boss encounter occurs every so often in which the titular chikuwa cat must smack into the boss a few times before continuing. The minimalist presentation definitely sets it apart from Hiring Ado!, while the gameplay reminds me of jumping from barrel to barrel in Donkey Kong Country. So far, you might be thinking that these aren't terribly odd. The alien game was a bit weird, but this second game seemed relatively normal. Strap yourselves in, dear reader, because we are about to go a bit silly. うさぎと牛乳瓶 Have you ever dreamed of saving cute, little rabbits horrifically trapped inside of empty milk bottles? Then Usaya's "Usagi and milk bottle" is the game for you! Players have a set amount of time to swipe the screen, pulling cartoon rabbits out of their glass prisons. Use caution while saving those animals, however, because someone has left live grenades in a few of the milk jars! If you throw them in with all the rabbits... well... no one wants that to happen. There are also small humans and human-bunny hybrids that have found themselves in the same predicament as the rabbits? I think they might give point bonuses or extend the remaining time, but I'm not entirely sure since everything is in Japanese. It's such an odd concept, but the visuals come across as so endearing that it just makes you give a bemused smile. Daikon Joshi Usaya's fourth game, Daikon Joshi, has a very simple, straightforward description in the app store: "In this action game you play as a high school girl who climbs up a radish." That is exactly what the game is about. I don't know why or for what purpose, but the world this high school girl inhabits houses radishes of increasing height. Players make her climb each radish by tapping on the screen. Reaching the top in record time is made more difficult by obstacles like protruding radish roots. It's... um... quite something. I don't know whether to laugh or be subtly creeped out by it. All of these are nothing, however, to the crown jewel and most recent game in Usaya's growing library of peculiarities. My Horse Prince I honestly don't know what to write about My Horse Prince, but it is both the weirdest thing Usaya has made and, as far as I can tell, its most popular game. As opposed to the touch-control gameplay of all their previous titles, Usaya opted to make My Horse Prince a narrative-focused visual novel. The plot follows a girl who goes out to a horse ranch one day to meet cute boys and discovers that she has a strange disease that makes her see human faces on horses and gives her the ability to speak with and understand them. Aaaaaand she finds the horse she is sucked into buying cute instead of mind-numbingly horrifying like a normal person. The reviews of My Horse Prince are overwhelmingly positive. One user by the name of Devin Spencer wrote, "This is the worst game I have ever played. I love it." Another described it as "a hot mess of fun and questionable ideas," and that's a great way of describing it. Usaya clearly meant My Horse Prince to be a comedy poking fun at the visual novel genre and how ridiculous some of the games in it can be - I'm looking at you, Hatoful Boyfriend. There are a few laughs both genuine and nervous to be had in the writing, but I'm not sure how many people can overcome the deeply disturbing human-faced horse. Remember when I said My Horse Prince was Usaya's most popular game? It was so popular that they went back and gave it an update that added three new chapters to the original ten. Let that sink in: My Horse Prince is now a thirteen chapter long visual novel game about a woman who falls in love with a horse. More than anything else, My Horse Prince solidifies Usaya's place as the weirdest mobile developer. I'm glad they're out there being the wild card of the mobile gaming space because some developer has to take that title and own it. All their games are free on the Android and iOS app stores, though some include microtransactions to remove ads. Where does Usaya go from here? I have absolutely no idea, but chances are their next project will be completely unexpected and jaw-droppingly strange. View full article
  16. Armor Games Brings Zombie RPG Sonny to iOS

    Back in 2007, the internet was a different place and so was the indie gaming scene. Getting a title onto a digital platform like Steam was still enormously difficult for small-time game developers. Most solo game talent cloistered themselves within obscure forums or strove to make projects that might attract the attention of a game studio. However, many, many developers opted to put out in-browser games based on Flash software. Of these, Armor Games' Sonny was one of the finest. Sonny and Sonny 2 were played a over 35,000,000 times and garnered significant praise from critics. After years of publishing games like Kingdom Rush, Armor Games has turned to Sonny and reimagined it for iOS devices. Not content to merely port the game they sponsored a decade ago, the indie publisher brought back the game's developer, Krin Juangbhanich, to remake the original Flash games with a new storyline and tighter strategic gameplay. The artwork has been redone by Jet Kimchrea and the action is now backed by an original score from David Orr, who worked on the original Sonny games and might be best recognized for his work on the Castle Crashers soundtrack. As Sonny, a man resurrected from the dead with no memory of his past life, players must master an expanding assortment of abilities and allies to progress through a twisted, post-apocalyptic future. Strategy and planning pay off in the turn-based RPG that now features the ability to empower Sonny mid-battle to gain an edge over grunts and bosses alike. Honestly, the original Flash game was one of the finest the internet could offer a decade ago and a new, expanded version on iOS excites me. Sonny is available now on iOS, check it out if you are looking for an excellent mobile RPG.
  17. Back in 2007, the internet was a different place and so was the indie gaming scene. Getting a title onto a digital platform like Steam was still enormously difficult for small-time game developers. Most solo game talent cloistered themselves within obscure forums or strove to make projects that might attract the attention of a game studio. However, many, many developers opted to put out in-browser games based on Flash software. Of these, Armor Games' Sonny was one of the finest. Sonny and Sonny 2 were played a over 35,000,000 times and garnered significant praise from critics. After years of publishing games like Kingdom Rush, Armor Games has turned to Sonny and reimagined it for iOS devices. Not content to merely port the game they sponsored a decade ago, the indie publisher brought back the game's developer, Krin Juangbhanich, to remake the original Flash games with a new storyline and tighter strategic gameplay. The artwork has been redone by Jet Kimchrea and the action is now backed by an original score from David Orr, who worked on the original Sonny games and might be best recognized for his work on the Castle Crashers soundtrack. As Sonny, a man resurrected from the dead with no memory of his past life, players must master an expanding assortment of abilities and allies to progress through a twisted, post-apocalyptic future. Strategy and planning pay off in the turn-based RPG that now features the ability to empower Sonny mid-battle to gain an edge over grunts and bosses alike. Honestly, the original Flash game was one of the finest the internet could offer a decade ago and a new, expanded version on iOS excites me. Sonny is available now on iOS, check it out if you are looking for an excellent mobile RPG. View full article
  18. The Original BioShock Goes Mobile

    To those of you still clinging onto some hope that BioShock Vita might still be happening, I'm sorry. To the rest of you, prepare to visit Rapture once more on iOS sometime this summer. Despite the recent shuttering of Irrational Games, 2K Games retains the rights to make more BioShock titles, including re-releasing past BioShock games. Thus, 2K tweeted today that BioShock will be coming to iOS sometime "soon." Screenshots have also appeared on the web, which you can check out on the Extra Life Facebook page. Even though BioShock came out seven years ago, 2K Games' China studio clearly had to make some sacrifices in the graphics department to fit within Apple's size limits. While Extra Life hasn't had any direct hands-on time with the mobile title, Endgaget has a great preview that details their brief stint with iOS BioShock.
  19. I’ve been directed through a labyrinthine maze of small meeting rooms and temporary walls that represent the barrier between Wargaming’s inner workings and the public spectacle they have going on outside. E3 is fully underway and I’ve arrived at the heart of the colossal structure that is Wargaming’s E3 booth; a veritable two-story behemoth that’s larger than most houses. With the hugely successful World of Tanks continuing to rake in new players every day, World of Tanks 360 proving itself to be very popular among American gamers, and World of Warplanes spreading its wings, Wargaming has set its sights on finishing World of Warships. That’s why I am there; they will be showing me live, pre-alpha gameplay from their latest build of World of Warships. Christine Yeo, Wargaming’s PR manager, and Ivan Goldensohn, a marketing specialist for Wargaming, greet me at the door to meeting room #8 (mind you, this is on the show floor and I am in a hallway that has more meeting rooms on both sides). After a minute or two of introductions and chatter, the three of us begin talking business. On one wall of the meeting room hangs a giant television on which Ivan begins showing me World of Warships. He has to talk loudly to avoid being drowned out by the realistic sounding explosions. Later I would find out that the explosions sound authentic because the sound design team finds, fires, and records each specific gun and cannon type used in World of Tanks, Warplanes, and Warships. If they can’t find a working model for the gun they need to record, they recreate it to the best of their ability and record the facsimile’s sound. Ivan talks, almost yelling over the sound of explosions, “So, now my plane has been sent out, I’m switching back to macro-management, as I like to call it, versus micromanagement. My turrets are rotating, I’ll see if I can get one more here… See, but this guy’s in a cruiser, so it’s going to be a lot harder to [an explosion drowns out his words and a siren begins blaring].” In World of Warships, players can send out scout planes to get a view of the battlefield (battle-sea?). These planes are controlled by AI, but players can set waypoints for the planes to follow. As you can imagine, these planes represent a huge combat advantage, so both teams will have to pay attention to who has the most vision in the skies. There are a number of different tactics to consider when facing down enemy ships. Two of the most important factors to keep in mind are your target’s hull integrity and the hit points of the individual gun emplacements on the target. You can focus on either sinking the ship or defanging it and eliminating its total hit points. Depending on the class type of your enemy and what warship you happen to be piloting, one option or the other might be more effective. To that end, there are different methods of attacking. We were shown sniper and torpedo modes. The artillery mode previously shown in 2013 has been removed from the game since it incentivized players to hang back behind islands and shell each other. This just ended up rendering the game not as much fun. The sniper mode works much as you might assume from the name. Players enter a sniper-esque view and aim their cannons at their intended target and then take into account distance and adjust accordingly. Torpedoes are one of the most deadly weapons on the seas and can easily destroy an unprepared ship. They can be aimed quickly and will travel in a straight line until they hit something. Players can adjust the spread and aim of the torpedoes; a narrow spread will equal more damage, but is more likely to miss, while a wider spread will more likely score a hit, but do less damage. Ivan continues to show me the various features of World of Warships, “You’ll notice at the top we are seeing some base capture icons. Similar to World of Tanks, we have this Capture the Flag style game. I don’t think they have anyone who’s fast enough to catch up with us, but this looks like torpedo central to me, so I’m going to lock on to him. I’m going to increase my spread to have a greater chance of hitting him. I can then follow these torpedoes and I can actually switch between them. It’s all the little features like this [the explosions of a nearby enemy ship drown out Ivan’s words] help the game come together. Being able to watch your torpedo actually slam into the enemy-[explosions from his torpedo fill the screen as the sound fills the meeting room]” I laugh, “You got him!” Even in pre-alpha, World of Warships looks gorgeous. Wargaming is aware of how great their game looks and has added various ways to get up close with the action and drink in the visuals. A perfect example of this is the ability to have your camera follow torpedoes that you’ve launched. This leads to a few tense seconds of “will it hit?” nail-biting and the opportunity to see a glorious explosion or two or three, depending on how many hit their intended target. Wargaming even added the ability to switch between the torpedoes to capture the action from the best possible angle. Given the presence of scout planes shown in-game and the history of the time period that Wargaming seems to be on a mission to capture, I ask the inevitable question, “Are there any plans to have cross over [between World of Warships] and World of Warplanes?” Christine responds with what seems like a practiced reply, “You know, that is something that people always ask us. We are definitely thinking about different options, but right now I can’t say anything in the near future. It’s just a lot of balancing that we need to take into consideration.” “Well, yeah, it would certainly be a huge undertaking,” I say. It isn’t as simple as just slapping together the code for World of Warplanes and World of Warships together. Balancing how the two games would interact with each other while still maintaining the level of strategy and fairness that have been cornerstones of Wargaming’s titles would be a game designer’s nightmare-level challenge. “Right,” returns Christine, “But [it is understandable] that people ask because the fact that you can send out scouts and meet with aircraft carriers, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.” “And you know, we are always open to suggestions and what players want is what we usually do,” Ivan pitches in his two cents. As the match ends, Ivan turns to me saying, “It is still in alpha stages. It’s not perfect, but it looks gorgeous. The level of complexity is there, but the ease of use and jumping into it is really cool. And, you know, some of the more complex elements like sending out a scout plane, you’re not going to have to deal with until you get up a couple tiers, so the game is going to dynamically introduce you to those concepts.” “So what elements are not present here that will be in the final version?” I ask out of curiosity. “Well that is a really good question. What’s cool about developing a game like this, is when we are talking about changing it we are not like, ‘we’re going to make this gun slightly bigger’ or ‘this tank, this plane, this ship is going to be slightly faster.’ We are saying fundamentally, from the ground up how do we modify it to be exactly what our players want.” As an example, he mentions the elimination of artillery that was stifling gameplay options for their players. Another thought occurs to me, “What happens when you ram into another ship?” “A lot of damage,” laughs Ivan. “A lot of these models aren’t finalized, so the damage on them isn’t complete. But, I mean, in the final game you are going to be seeing stuff like ships breaking based on where they were hit. So, if you blow off the back of a ship with a killing blow, you will actually see that ship break in that spot, or torpedo damage will cause ships to sink in a different way from overall damage, or bomb damage from airplanes will cause different damage to the top of the ship. So, all that stuff is cool, but then in the fundamental game mode we will be constantly switching it up.” The eventual goal is to have battles flowing and allowing players to join 15v15 warship battles. Even though the game is in pre-alpha, it is hard not to feel a jump of excitement at the prospect of thirty players going at each other on the high seas. Ivan then hands me an iPad to try out World of Tanks: Blitz. As I begin to play (I’m going to fess up, I am absolutely terrible at World of Tanks on PC and I fared little better in World of Tanks: Blitz), I notice and comment about how great the game looks for an iPad app. Ivan launches into an explanation of how they fit Blitz onto an iPad, “This could be a PC game, but this is running from my iPad right now. […] People say, ‘where did you have to make sacrifices to put this on an iPad? What did you have to pull out of a 30GB PC client?’ The answer is nothing. Instead of taking things out, what we did was modify the game to be more app friendly and we used that to our advantage. So, you see we have the module system, all of this is just as complex as the PC. I can switch out the engine, my turret, and my tank. All of this is going to affect my percentages and every detail from your equipment I can put on my tank and there are five different consumables that I can use. What we did instead is we said, ‘where is the game different as a mobile game and how do we change that?’ So, all the maps are a fifth of the size. They are tiny. It is so much more fun. Suddenly you have this little map you can run across the whole thing in a minute and a half and everybody is jumping right into the battle. You have these super focused, super intense battle modes. It is like instead of taking out content, we switched it to make it mobile and it ended up helping everybody.” It turns out that while the PC version takes up around 30GB, the app uses a minuscule 500MB. And it does look remarkably good. The presentation is a bit barebones, but the things that are in-game look great. The maps are just as small as stated, but for a mobile game that’s perfect. I fiddle with the iPad for a few minutes before a Finnish player takes me down like a clumsy, tank-sized bull in a china shop. People who are into fast-paced, military combat games and are looking for a mobile title to fill that particular void couldn’t do much better than World of Tanks: Blitz. It is free and currently available. The conversation turns to World of Tanks 360 and the updates that they have been rolling out for it since release. To sum up the changes these updates have had/will have in the near future: Weather variance to will be added to maps that provide different visibility and aesthetics. New autoloaders, new tanks, new maps, new modes are constantly on the way. World of Tanks: Soccer is a game mode released specifically for the 2014 World Cup. Like the title suggests, players battle it out on the soccer field in tanks trying to score goals by any means necessary. Platoon groups can now go up to seven members instead of three. The conversation draws to a close and I begin to make my way out the door. I think to myself how glad I’ll be to return to E3 next year and see the next incarnation of Wargaming’s immense booth and have another opportunity to sit down and chat with people who are as passionate and committed to their game as Christine and Ivan. There are a lot of video game developers out there these days, especially in the free-to-play market, but Wargaming is special. Wargaming’s commitment over the years to responding to its massive player base is something from which many developers of online games could learn a thing or two. On top of that, they deserve praise for how well it handles free-to-play, right alongside Riot Games. I might be awful at playing their games, but I respect Wargaming for making those games well. As of the writing of this article there is still no official release date for World of Warships, though the beta is speculated to be beginning sometime in the next couple months.
  20. Halfbrick, the studio behind hit games such as Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, has announced Bears vs. Art... which is exactly what it sounds like: Amazing. The premise is simple: players control a bear as it infiltrates various galleries and destroys the artwork. Unfortunately, sneaking through museums as a bear is a bit harder than one might imagine, what with all the spikes, lasers, thieves, security guards, and over 120 levels. What's a bear gotta do to rip some paintings? The iOS title released today in Canada and Australia with a global release still up in the air. However, Halfbrick promises that eager gamers won't have long to wait and asks everyone to *bear* with them. With the video game industry's obsession with dark, gritty games, it is nice to see developers like Halfbrick who are willing to take incredibly silly ideas and make them realities. What do you think about Bears vs. Art?
  21. Year Walk Strolls onto Steam

    The critically acclaimed iOS indie adventure title Year Walk by developer Simogo is now available on PC and Mac via Steam. Adventure game aficionados and fans of creepiness, rejoice! Year Walk thrusts players into a beautiful, disturbing world set in Sweden during the 1800s. The protagonist is on a vision quest through a dark wood to get a glimpse of the future. Mythical monsters, confounding brain teasers, and bizarre sights await. The PC version boasts a few improvements over the mobile version. Some of the graphics have been overhauled and improved, new puzzles have been added, and a map now graces the game. Most importantly, the companion app that was meant to be downloaded and used along side the game to help work through the puzzles and decipher the myths and legends is now integrated directly into the game. Have any of you Extra Lifers out there played Year Walk? Planning on picking up the Steam version?
  22. UPDATE: Flappy Bird Flaps No More

    UPDATE: Dong Nguyen has clarified why he decided to pull the plug on the latest mobile sensation. Nguyen gave an interview to Forbes that confirmed that Flappy Bird is gone forever and won't be coming back. Why did he decide to take his game off the app market? Turns out he did it as a form of public service. Nguyen stated during the interview that, "Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, but it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird." Prior to taking down the game Nguyen couldn't sleep due to the guilt he felt over people's uncontrollable urge to play his game. When asked if he might regret his decision, he responded, “I don’t think it’s a mistake. I have thought it through.” Certainly this has been a very interesting situation, what do you think of Nguyen's stance on the success of his game? Can a game be too successful? Original Story: On Sunday, Dong Nguyen, the creator of the popular mobile game Flappy Bird tweeted that "he couldn't take this anymore" and that he would be taking it down within the next 22 hours. Today, Flappy Bird is no longer available on the Android or iOS. Flappy Bird met with massive success following its release, but left Nguyen feeling alienated and he eventually grew to hate the game. People can only speculate as to why Nguyen decided to take down Flappy Bird, but it could have to do with the harassment he received from "fans" or from the press coverage that disrupted his life. What will Dong Nguyen do post-Flappy Bird? His final tweet following the Flappy Bird take down announcement is simply, "And I still make games." We'll all look forward to whatever he makes next.
  23. FTL: Advanced Edition Coming Soon

    The award-winning game Faster Than Light is receiving a free expansion that includes a slew of new features and it will now see an iOS release on the iPad. FTL, a beautiful, brutally difficult Rogue-like game, is one of my favorite indie games or the last few years. You take command of a spaceship tasked with warning the Federation of an impending attack by rebel forces. Every playthrough is drastically different and exhilarating, and players find them selves compelled to play again and again even though beating the game is a near herculean feat of micromanagement and luck. The expansion includes new tools, systems, and weapon abilities including: mind control, hacking, area of effect targeting, weapon overcharging, and basically more of everything. A new sector as well as new events have been added to the game, written by returning writer Tom Jubert and special guest Chris Avellone, who has worked on Planescape, Wasteland 2, and Project Eternity. Additionally, developer Subset games has listened to community feedback and added a few oft requested features like saving crew positions on the ship, the ability to save and quit during combat, and finding more items to purchase in stores. As someone who loves FTL, this is pretty much a dream come true. The PC and iPad versions will launch at the same time in early 2014. Subset will also be working to get FTL on Android tablets, but will not be bringing the title to phones due to the limited amount of interface space.
  24. In the midst of a hectic, crowded, and noisy E3 2013, there was a quieter (albeit only slightly) corner of the show floor. Out of curiosity and after being dazzled by the lights and bombast of the larger booths, I decided to wend my way through the smaller set-ups in this calmer section of the expo. I was approached by a representative of Blue Marble Games, a relatively new developer that focuses on creating games that are both fun and will hopefully help people with brain injuries, especially returning veterans. I was introduced to Nina Withrington, a physical therapist who works with the programmers and artists to help create Blue Marble’s games. At E3, Blue Marble was showing off a collection of games called RESeT, which collects information about performance that therapists will be able to use to identify problems with patient cognition like memory or attention span. I was able to chat with Nina about RESeT, Blue Marble, their other upcoming game Treasure of Bell Island, and their crowd-funding attempt, Zoezi Park. Jack Gardner: Why don’t you start at the beginning? Nina Withrington: To start from the beginning, this is a suite of games called RESeT. It basically has two parts: An assessment section and an intervention section. These games were made with funding from the Department of Defense for mild traumatic brain injury for the soldiers and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to serve them, because [brain injuries are] a big issue in that population. So, what we’ve done, we have a research team in-house, which I am a part of. I am a physical therapist. Bonnie here is an occupational therapist with a PhD in metrics and math and the owner of the company is a physical therapist and has a PhD in neural science. Garnder: Wow, so you’re a bunch of smart cookies! Withrington: [Laughs] We’re doing all right, we’re doing all right. Yeah, between us we have 75 years of clinical experience. It is really great that we get to work with a team of game designers, programmers, and artists to build these games from the ground up with clinical input in mind. So, going to the literature [and seeing] the current clinical guidelines, the evidence, what clinicians are using, and then inputting that into the game. That’s the whole idea behind this. [Gesturing to the table-sized touchscreen computer on which RESeT is running, Withrington begins flicking through the menus, showing me different features.] So, this is the assessive portion. You can see that it challenges different things that can be impaired in brain injuries: visual perception, visual-spatial inattention, memory, attention, executive function, which is organization and planning, coordination, and patient recorded outcomes. So, the game I’m going to show you here is called Asteroid Adventures and this is an assessment of executive function. It is our gamified version of a common test used in the clinic called 'the trail-making test.' [I took a couple seconds to look the game over. It appeared to consist of identifying the patter and order of numbers and letters in the sand and pressing them in the right order. As I am playing, matching the correct pattern, Withrington continues to talk.] The traditional test is done on paper with circles and a pencil. That’s the difference. Running in the background of all these games is a database that tracks every tap that is made on the screen. From that we can figure out what someone’s response time was, where they made an error, and what they did after they made an error. Did they keep tapping that same thing? Did they pause and make the same error? Did they pause and then make the right choice? That can tell us a lot about what is going on while they are doing an assessment. Another thing, on a big table like this we also know where you touched. [Withrington pulls out her laptop and shows me a map of the Asteroid Adventures. The image is identical to the game I just played, but there are red marks across the left side of the screen, while the right side is relatively clear.] This is actually some data from a person with a brain injury who played this in our offices and what you can see is that all of his mistakes were made on the left side of the screen. What that tells us is that he has some inattention to that side, which is common in brain injury, not necessarily in mild traumatic brain injury, but more severe brain injuries. We can collect that data, which is kind of neat. Let me show you one more thing… We’ll do the same test one more time, but a different version of it…. Just so you know, this suite of games is going to be at the clinical trials at Cedars-Saini* this summer. So, it will be a validation study of the assessment portion. Which is very exciting for us. Another thing about our games is that they are levelled, so that someone who is healthy can play these games and have just as much fun as someone with impairments. So, they level up and then they level down to a lower level. So, that way, if someone is going through the rehabilitation process their family can play with them, and they can play with their friends and they have something to talk about besides their injury. Which I think is really awesome, personally. I am going to show you one more evaluation. This is the same thing, but in this one, there is a line being drawn. Gardner: So, same kind of deal as before. Withrington: Yep, it is the same thing. The major difference being that you are getting this additional queue, right, so you know where you’ve been. Then I can show you the data and show you why that is interesting. [In the interest of time, Withrington does the level herself, performing admirably despite the level being upside down from her point of view, and once more pulls out her laptop to show me data.] This is what I wanted to show you. This blue line is the sandbox one, where you get this queue of where you’ve been, the line. This red one here is the one where you don’t get that queue. This was done with the same player with brain injury. You can see when he has the queue, he goes really fast in the sandbox. When he doesn’t have the queue, it takes him 3-4 times as long. That is a memory issue, where was I last? Trials B, where you switch between number and letter, he does about the same on both, which tells us he primary problem is memory, not flexible thinking. That’s the kind of granular data that you can glean from something that is on a platform like this and gives you data in the background. All of our games port to tablets and they play on the PC as well, so there are lots of platforms for them. We also have another game called Treasure of Bell Island, which is a strategic adventure game, and what happens is- I don’t have a tablet right now, but the player has a cast of characters and they have to solve the mystery of an island. They have to explore the island, they have to hunt to feed their crew, they have to keep their crew sheltered, and all of these things as they go along solving this mystery and collecting golden bells. Each of the mini-games challenges a different aspect of cognition, memory, attention, and executive function. So, there is a whole narrative, you have a purpose, and it is real-life, you have to think about others, not just yourself. So, that is a really great, fun game that we are doing as well. Gardner: Over time do these kinds of games improve that kind of mental cognition? Withrington: That’s a great question. These were literally just built. Gardner: So, we don’t know yet. Withrington: So, we don’t know yet, that’s the answer. But, we have taken the evidence from the literature and I can say they do challenge all of the impairments, but whether that will translate into real world will take lots of studies to figure out over years. In the meantime, this is what we’ve got and it can be used, in my estimation. Especially when you consider that therapists are taking games off the shelf and trying to make those work. Saying, ‘well, at least I am getting this challenged a little bit.’ You know, they are looking at it from a task analysis perspective and saying, ‘what is being challenged here and can I make that work?’ Gardner: Is this available now? Withrington: It will be available soon. Very, very soon. Gardner: And people would just be able to buy this on the Apple App Store, or…? Withrington: They could buy it from our website. That will be the first place you will be able to buy it. We’re not quite on iPad yet. We are working hard to get there, we have a preliminary build, but hopefully we will be. That’s the plan. But it can be played on PC if someone wanted to play on PC. Gardner: What is this going to cost? Will it be free? Withrington: No, that’s a great question. I am not the business person for Blue Marble, but I do know that we are committed to making these affordable. It will never cost more than an off-the-shelf game or what you would spend on a regular app. What would probably cost more would be if you wanted to know the data all the time. That takes a lot more maintenance on our end. But certainly, just to buy the game would be, you know, an average priced game, even though it has so much more going into it, like actual research. Gardner: When someone buys the game, how do they access the data? Withrington: The data is online. They can log in and see it there. Gardner: Would therapists be prescribing these games? Withrington: What’s great about our model here is that it could just be used by someone picking it up and wanting to use it or you can work with a therapist if you have impairments. The way I see these cognitive games is that they could be used as brain games too, because they level so high. But if you do have impairments, you probably should work with a therapist so they can help you through the game and develop strategies for you. In this game we have lots of mini-games as you go up in levels that challenge certain things specifically, so if a therapist has assessed someone, they can say, ‘you know, focus on these challenges, and don’t worry so much about these.’ Gardner: Are you working with other physical therapists not associated with the development? Withrington: Yes, all throughout our design process. It is what we call user-centered design. We go out and do focus groups with all of our end-users. That is clinicians, people with disabilities, caregivers, and family members. We get everybody’s input: What would be fun, what doesn’t work here, does this mechanic really disturb your vision, etc. We have to consider things like that. There are certain mechanics that we can’t do in games here. Is the art too complicated? These are things that are all barriers for [people with brain injuries to enjoy] entertainment games. Gardner: Can you tell me a little bit about how Blue Marble started? Withrington: Yes, absolutely. Dr. Sheryl Flynn is our CEO. She is a physical therapist and has a PhD in neural Science. She won a grant from the Department of Defense to make the Treasure of Bell Island game, which was our first game. Gardner: Treasure of Bell Island is out right now? Withrington: Almost. We just redid the art. So, probably in a month or two, that game will be out. Gardner: Also on the same platforms as RESeT? Withrington: Yes, on tablet and PC, working on the [iOS] process. So, anyway, she won the grant from the government to make that one and then we got a grant to make RESeT and we had gotten another small grant to create a prototype for a game that helps prevent falls in older adults, and that small grant enabled us to create a very basic prototype with just one or two exercises in it, but we want to put in a whole suite of exercises from the Otago exercise program, which has been shown to prevent falls in older adults by 35%. We would love to get the generations playing together and doing that. We are doing crowd funding to raise money to hopefully be able to build out that game. It is Whenyouwish.com and the game is called Zoezi Park and Zoezi is Swahili for exercise. Because you have to train balance to maintain balance and I know as our population ages it is a very big public health issue and just a caring-about-our-seniors issue. I think that what Blue Marble Games is trying to do is pretty great, and not something that we see very often in the video game industry. Check out their products and their stuff if you want to see something unique in the industry. For more information on RESeT go here. *Cedars-Saini is a non-profit hospital that also functions as an academic center for health science.
  25. This week Daniel Jones flies solo in an Honorable Mention dedicated to the zen mobile game Alto's Adventure. The endless runner (endless ski-er?) utterly captivated Daniel in early 2015 and has been a game he has found difficult to put down ever since. The premier effort from studio Snowman it managed to generate some significant buzz in the mainstream press who praised its quality. Take a ride with Daniel as he takes you down the slopes of the thoroughly enchanting indie skiing odyssey. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: Chrono Trigger 'Neuga, Ziena, Zieber, Zom...' by The OC Jazz Collective and Wiesty (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03411) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes (consider leaving a review!). A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday