Mobile Archive


Dungeon Keeper stacks deck in EA’s favor when it comes to Android feedback

Chris Plante for Polygon:

It’s typical for an app to ask the player to submit a review after it’s been played for a few hours. A prompt appears, pointing to the app store, where the player can select 1 through 5 stars and leave a blurb of text.

In Dungeon Keeper, if the player selects the “1 – 4 Stars” option, they’re directed to a private feedback submission page. Only if the player selects the “5 Stars” option will they be taken to the Google Play page, where they can leave any rating they wish along with a blurb. The system is designed to make good feedback public and visible, and to allow EA to keep negative feeback hidden so it can be dealt with privately, or ignored entirely.

While people can still leave whatever feedback they want to on the actual Google Play page, I’d wager that most of the people giving the app lower than 5 stars won’t take the extra time to do that step. What EA is doing here smells awful fishy by any stretch, despite being a logical action for a company trying to maximize it’s public star-rating from a corporate marketing standpoint. It’s just a symptom of what affects a lot of companies who look at their customers as, well, customers rather than people.

via Dungeon Keeper stacks deck in EA’s favor when it comes to Android feedback | Polygon.


Zynga And Insider Trading

Ben Popper for The Verge:

“Zynga is a company very focused on data. Mark (Pincus) wants this business to be driven by numbers, not by hits,” said one employee. “They analyze every action in the game and try to optimize the business. The rely on franchises to eliminate risk.”

Because this sounds like a great long term strategy for a “games” company.

via The Verge.


Infinity Blade 2’s ClashMob Mode

Donald Mustard, Chair Creative Director talking to Douglass C. Perry for Kotaku:

“This is part of the great social experiment,” said Mustard. “We live now in an asynchronous world. Here’s an example. My wife and I love to play Scrabble, but with our kids and schedules, we don’t have enough to play together. So we play it, turn-based, on our phones.”

I’ve been having a ton of fun with “Infinity Blade 2’s” ClashMob. It gives me everything I want from a mobile game – bite-sized action, great graphics, tangible rewards, and reasons to check back every so often on my own schedule. Basically imagine “Tiny Tower” except you actually play a game and get rewards. The cherry on top is that you feel like you are a part of something more epic by taking on a boss with a billion hit points alongside people across the world.

Like real life, though, it’s kind of deflating when you contribute a lot to a seemingly doable task and find out that your teammates couldn’t do the same. While I think the mode could definitely use some tweaking, Chair is really onto something here in creating a truly great unique mobile gaming experience that combines the best of all worlds – skill, graphics, time commitment, and rewards.

via Kotaku – It Takes A Global Effort To Drain New Infinity Blade II Boss’ Billion Health Points.


Infinity Blade: Dungeons

An Unreal Engine-powered dungeon game on my iOS devices? Why, yes, please take my money as fast as possible.

(I imagine that the game will have enhanced graphics on the iPad 3 that it won’t on other devices. Infinity Blade has quietly become the key “wow” gaming franchise for new Apple device launches.)


Ghost Trick Now Available on iOS

The only thing keeping Nintendo and Sony handheld systems relevant in the age of iOS/Android gaming is the fact that they offer high quality game experiences that can’t be replicated elsewhere. Of course, there are certain console titles that play just as well, if not better, on touch screen only devices, Scribblenauts Remix being one of them and Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective being another.

Capcom’s finally released Ghost Trick on iPhone/iPad as a universal app (with iCloud saved games enabled!) today. I haven’t actually played through the original version on Nintendo DS yet, but hear it’s a pretty good game. It’s a detective adventure game where you try to solve your own mysterious deaths as a ghost. There’s a bunch of parallels with the Phoenix Wright series, if you’ve ever played those.

You get the first two chapters of the game as a free download, and can purchase the rest in app for $9.99. It’s a pretty good steal, given the fact that Ghost Trick just came out barely a year ago as a $29.99 retail Nintendo DS title. Plus, you’re arguably getting a better gameplay experience as you don’t need to use a silly stylus or carry around a Nintendo DS with you.

I’m midway through the first chapter now and will most certainly be buying the rest.

Updated Protip (2/3): The iCloud interface is really ambiguous and scarily written. (“There is a chance that you might lose your progress” on both options?? Come on Capcom!) I’ve tested it, though and you want to hit “Sync iCloud backup data” to upload your current save to the cloud. Tapping “Sync this device” brings the save from the cloud down to whichever device you are using now.

Download on iTunes


Viggle Is Basically A Freemium Game That Pays You For “Watching” TV


Last night I was browsing the “Featured” tab on the App Store on my iPhone and came across an interesting new app called “Viggle,” which promised to reward me with fabulous prizes for watching TV. Now, I watch my fair share of TV, so naturally this proposition intrigued me.

Basically, the service asks you to “check in” when you are watching a TV show, similar to GetGlue or IntoNow. The difference is that with Viggle, you get 2 points every minute that you’re “watching” TV. When you’ve collected enough rewards points, you can redeem them for things like Amazon, Best Buy, Sephora gift cards or a month of Hulu Plus service.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Yes and no. The “prices” of the rewards are high enough that you can’t really quit your day job and watch TV all day. A $5 gift card to Starbucks or Best Buy costs 7,500 points, which equates to 62.5 hours of TV watching. There are other ways to gain points, the most significant of which is by checking into “Featured” shows. Being checked into Glee nets you an extra 325 points, for example. You can also get scattered bonus points here and there for setting reminders to watch shows, answering trivia questions, or watching video advertisements. Many people have already reported redemption of the rewards, so at least Viggle is coming through on their end of the bargain as of now.

The biggest problem I had with the service is that the audio detection simply doesn’t work. I tried sticking my phone next to both my TV speakers for an episode of Family guy and next to my iPad streaming an episode of 30 Rock and neither would register on Viggle in four attempts. After two failed attempts, Viggle will give you the option of manually checking into a show. The catch is that you can only manually check into programming that is currently on “live” TV. (Viggle asks you for your cable provider in order to offer you options) I managed to “check in” to Jimmy Fallon’s show even though I wasn’t watching.

This got my gaming mind thinking. Since there’s a cap of 120 points per hour (you don’t get extra points for channel flipping), your best bet at points generation is to make sure you are always checked into a show. You can do this even if you aren’t near a TV by failing the app into letting you check into something manually. It’s a pretty silly busywork task to have to open an app on your phone and do some taps every hour or so to generate points, but it’s really no different than checking in to harvest your plants in FarmVille or opening a new floor in your Tiny Tower. To take the freemium game analogy further, earning bonus points by “watching” a video advertisement is basically the same thing as watching a progress bar as your Sim goes poop. There’s even rewards for opening Viggle at the right time (bonus points for checking into a featured show).

Granted, having a random list of checked in shows may not be as appealing an end result as a flourishing TinyZoo with Panda Bears, but I’d wager that getting gift cards to real stores is probably a good piece of compensation for that. I think that if I’m ever feeling bored enough to want to do some tapping on my phone, getting some more Viggle points may be in my future.

Since Viggle’s website has nothing but a link to their iTunes page, if you want more details on the service, checking out their Twitter feed is probably your best bet. The service says they are working on both Android and iPad versions of their app for release “soon.”

Download Viggle on iOS


Steam Releases Mobile App

Well, well well, Steam. Look who’s decided to join the mobile apps party.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Valve jumped into mobile. Right now the features list looks pretty basic, offering only friend status updates, chatting, and access to the Steam store. While good for impulse buys or checking up on deals, I was actually hoping for at least an achievement viewer. There’s nothing I like doing more when I’m away from my computer than wistfully reflecting on all of my gaming accomplishments.

Obviously, the mobile app’s functionality will only grow from here. After all, Steam itself started off as a pretty basic client, too. It’ll be interesting to see if Steam expands its tendrils into the mobile gaming distribution arena, given that both Android and iOS already have exclusive channels for that. Perhaps Steam will become more of a content curator? There’s certainly a lot of trash to wade through in those marketplaces.

Though the app is still in an invite-only beta mode right now, you can still download it and poke around the offline mode. If you’ve used the iOS Gmail app, the Steam app UI looks very similar.

Download on iOS and Android




Hero Academy Is My New Favorite iOS Game

The chaps over at Penny Arcade turned me on to a great new asynchronous turn-based strategy game for iOS called Hero Academy.

Tycho’s description:

There’s plenty of asynchronous tactics games available on mobile platforms, but this one hits the sweet spot in so many tradeoffs that each turn is like munching a little stack of Pringles.  For example, the “playfield” is small, like a boardgame.  It could be bigger, but it’s not; at the same time, it’s not so small that positioning is minimized.  Each turn consists of five – and only five – actions, and you can play your turn over and over again locally until you’ve found the optimal investment of those actions.  Maybe a single unit takes all of them.  Maybe it’s a turn you use to equip for the countercharge.  Turns are never onerous, they always consist of some scientifically optimized volume of input.

Simplifying the description of the game further, you might just call it “Tactics With Friends.” It plays like a very polished, welcoming version of your favorite turn based strategy game (Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars, Jeanne d’Arc, Fire Emblem, etc.) combined with a little card game intrigue. See, in addition to commanding different kinds of units, you always have a “hand” that you can use to either deploy new units, equip them with bonuses, or play effects on the board. Some tricky schemes can be set into motion by playing out unseen resources.

It’s a free download and though it’s got some microtransaction upselling and interstitial ads, it’s never onerous. As if you needed another reason, the game’s developer, Robot Entertainment, consists of some of the people who made Age of Empires and Halo Wars from Ensemble Studios.

Give it a shot. Keep in mind that it’s a “multiplayer only” game, though. There’s no single player campaign, but random opponents have proved to be worthy adversaries.


Microsoft Releases Xbox LIVE iOS App

I’ve been playing with the new Xbox LIVE iOS app this afternoon and have to hand it to Microsoft – this thing looks slick. It’s got the new Metro UI that’s on the new Windows Phone and now the Xbox 360. The app looks and performs wonderfully even in iOS, especially on the iPad where it literally turns your iPad into a mini Xbox 360 dashboard. If you use Xbox Live with any sort of regularity, there’s no reason not to get this app asap.

Currently, it’s got the basic functionality of things you’d want to do away from your Xbox, like check/send messages, achievements, and friend activity. You can even check out some streaming video content from the Xbox LIVE team. You can’t, however, browse the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and make downloads or purchases. This would be the logical next feature add and I’d be surprised if Microsoft didn’t implement this sooner rather than later. After all, allowing players to impulse purchase content on the go can only do good things for Microsoft’s bottom line.

Here’s a list of features from Major Nelson:

Some of the features include:

Read and send messages to friends
Manage your friends list, invite new friends
Read and Edit your full LIVE profile (name, bio, motto)
Change your avatar features/items with the avatar closet
View and compare your achievement progress with friends

Download the iOS app here for free

via Xbox Live’s Major Nelson


Play Shuffleboard By Daisy Chaining iPhones

Holy crap, this is a great idea.

Developer Peak Systems has a shuffleboard app that lets you connect up to eight iPhones together to create a makeshift shuffleboard table. Yeah, I know, the iPad is probably a better size for the game, but it’s much less likely that you’re going to have a bunch of iPads in the same location unless you’re involved in some really geeky activities.

It may not have the same feel as a real shuffleboard table at your local dive bar, but hey, if you’ve got a bunch of friends with iPhones over at your place for some drinking, why not give it a shot?

Ultimate Shuffleboard on iTunes is 99 cents.

Here’s a video demonstration cooked up by former Tumblr lead developer Marco Ament: