Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Rollin’… in my 3.0

This piece was first published at iPGN. To see my original article, click here.

Rollin’… in my 3.0 thumbnailI’m currently drowning under a deluge of updates. It’s kinda fun. With the new 3.0 firmware having recently dropped, publishers are rushing to get their newly-improved games to the public. I’ve gotten updates or new releases of Baseball Sluggers, Star Defense, and Enigmo so far. I’m willing to be that there will be more by the time I’ve finished writing this.

Oh, here comes Leaf Trombone. Sweet.

While I won’t be among the lucky few getting the new iPhone 3G S, I do get to use the new firmware – it’s the every-man’s upgrade, providing you ignore the fact that us second-class iPod Touch users have to pay $9.95 for it. It’s a fair price, though, for all the fun little upgrades I’m getting. I won’t really be going into detail on them here – expect that in a later piece. Here are the things I’m enjoying so far:

plusPlus+: Ngmoco’s social gaming service is now available. I was expecting to have to download a separate application, but they’ve thoughtfully built it into their games. There’s now a small Plus+ button on the top right of my Star Defense screen. The service is relatively simple, but well thought out – you’ve got the ability to set a profile pic and status, receive news on Ngmoco’s most recent efforts, buy their other games you haven’t purchased yet (that’s a nice incorporation of the in-app purchasing feature), send challenges to other users, and compete for leaderboard positions. There’s also an achievement system they’re calling “gamerpoints;” it’s already making me feel like I need to earn more commendations in Star Defense.

I’m not sure what Ngmoco’s position is on letting other developers build in support for the service, but that would really make it the killer gaming feature of the update. Much, much worse would be if others roll out copy-cat services and you have to register and invite friends a dozen times over for each different publisher’s games.

sdStar Defense: Bug fixes, the ability to challenge friends using the Plus+ service, another of the worlds, Rydhon, has been added to the Challenge mode. You can now send friends direct challenges using push notification.

Enigmo: Users can now purchase additional level packs from in-game.

Leaf Trombone: Using the new push capability for apps, Leaf Trombone now lets you know whenever someone judges your performance. Also, if you’ve got a model with Bluetooth you can now play duets with your friends. Given my lack of musical talent and the company I keep, I imagine that would only end badly. It’s a cool feature, though.

bsBaseball Slugger: There aren’t any updates (other than you know, the game being available), but I would like to point out a couple of things. First of all, see the icon for it? I made that happen. I didn’t sketch it, or help come up with the design, or do any sort of collaborative work. Actually, I mostly just told them they should make a new icon. Still… I’m totally taking credit for that. Also, I’m kinda bummed that the upgrades I earned during the beta aren’t carrying over to the retail version. Them’s the breaks, I guess.

Rest assured the App Store will be seeing many more updates over the next few weeks as publishers incorporate 3.0 firmware capabilities into their games. Additionally, I fully anticipate paid content becoming available in games like Sims 3. More and more games will be offering the App Store equivalent of DLC (downloadable content) with new in-game purchasing. I’ll be honest – I fully expect a lot of developers to put out half-baked content in an attempt to ride the hype of the new firmware. Don’t always buy the new stuff just because you can. After everything has settled down a bit though, we should begin to see some creative uses of this feature that are of benefit to end-users.

PS: if anyone wants to play against me in Baseball Slugger or challenge me in Star Defense, my usernames are Mrexplode and mrEXPLODE, respectively (Baseball Slugger is case-sensitive, I think). Bring it on!


June 20, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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