Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Of Rock and Roll and Cameras

I purposely arrange my schedule around Apple’s media events. No really, I do. Today I actually rescheduled a meeting so that I could read about Apple’s “It’s Only Rock And Roll” event in realtime. In my defense (or defence, for you kids across the pond), I actually got it out of the way early in a responsible, adult manner.

I hate to be anything that even vaguely resembles a fanboy, but I find their announcements absolutely fascinating. Apple has managed to take something that most companies relegate to either a press release or one of a handful of trade shows and turn it into some sort of massive party/lovefest/shindig where the crowd treats company executives like rockstars and treats rockstars like, well, regular folks. Quivering journalist-types and tech bloggers hang upon their every word, frantically posting updates to their website, and mere mortals such as myself eat up those updates like so many delicious cookies. Second-hand love like that requires talent, folks; talent that Apple has in spades. I enjoyed today’s “It’s Only Rock And Roll” event as much as any other of their announcements (well, almost: I was practically jumping up and down in excitement when the iPhone and iPod Touch were announced two years ago). There was just one problem.

The 3rd-gen iPod Touch has no camera. Continue reading


September 11, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Booyah Society: As Dumb As It Sounds

Booyah Society

Booyah Society

Booyah Society: the game where you get points for doing things in real life.

I got an email from a PR rep a few weeks ago about its launch. They describe it as, “The first social game based on real-life achievements.” Hmmm.

I find myself in interesting position as I write this – I haven’t yet tried it. Oh, sure, I’m interested in checking it out, but an ugly beast has raised its head – compatibility. Apparently, Booyah Society will not run on my 1st-gen iPod Touch. Checking again, I realize it does in fact state this on the App Store page, but I’m still somewhat bummed. Apparently I’m a second-class citizen of the App Store, though that’s another article altogether. Back to Booyah Society, or rather, the idea of it.

Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this yet. On the one hand, why not? It encourages gamers to spend a little more time doing things other than playing video games, which I confess often receive a disproportionate amount of my time. The concept actually reminds me of a joke several gamers/writers/webcomic artists have made – the best way to get a gamer in shape is to equate exercising with in-game training. Do some card and raise your stamina two points, bulk up to gain strength, complete obstacle courses for increased agility, and so on and so forth. It’s a funny concept, sure, but how much more palatable does it really make the activity, and for how many people will it actually make enough of a motivational difference?

Even if it is encouraging us to engage the world more directly, there’s also potential for distortion of the original intent. If we only do things to claim in-game achievements, is there really even that much worth to it? Most of us wouldn’t make much more than a minor change in our habits, but the ultra-competitive would likely end up doing things just to say they’ve done them and claim another achievement.

Incidentally, the potential for distortion of the original intent is similar to a certain type of behavior I saw while in China. Continue reading

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , | Leave a comment

Death, Quietly

My iPod died yesterday.

I’m not entirely sure what time it passed, though I became aware of its demise somewhere around 8 pm. I’ve been busy moving back into my house in Oklahoma, and had plugged it into my computer to juice up. The battery on it had been absolute crap in recent weeks, so charging had been taking forever. I popped back into my room, and hit the home button to check the status of the battery.

Nothing. Continue reading

August 17, 2009 Posted by | iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Gaming: Rise of Lost Empires

Rise of Lost Empires

Rise of Lost Empires

Journalism professors tell you something along these lines: your job is to inform, to educate, to entertain, and… something else that I can’t really remember. Presumably, reviewing products falls loosely within those parameters. I’m informing you of a new game, and hopefully entertaining you a little along the way. I maintain an impartial stance toward the creators of the products I review, so as not to taint my report with inaccuracies or favoritism. Part of that is telling it like it is when you come across something that’s really, really bad. This is one of those times. Continue reading

July 10, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Ian Lynch Smith, Freeverse

No can do, you evil blogger.

No can do, you evil blogger.

My Chinese internets aren’t behaving. I would’ve re-posted this whole interview I did for iPGN, but it decided that I should get a “problem loading page” message every time I try to access it. Who knows, maybe I said something that offended the CCP; it isn’t very hard to do, after all.

Instead, here’s the link. Eat Read your hearts out.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Interview, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , | 1 Comment

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: Continue reading

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Gaming: Roundup

I really need to move the App Store button in my iPod Touch to somewhere other than the front screen. It’s just too tempting. Frankly, I’ve been downloading and playing games much, much fast than I can review them. Also, my time and resultant attention span is even more fragmented right now than usual. In light of that, here’s a roundup of what I’ve been playing recently that’s earned the T+L seal of approval:

Shoot dem Zombies!

Shoot dem zombies!

5. Zombieville USA: This one is simple enough. There are zombies. You are not a zombie. You have a gun. You shoot the zombies. Also, you loot the other houses in your neighborhood. Kill a bunch of zombies, get better guns, rinse and repeat. My only complaint is that the 3 difficulty levels probably could have been better balanced – Normal ramps up much too quickly from Easy, and oddly enough Insane mode just doesn’t feel… well, insane. Even so, cartoony graphics and a slightly humorous take on your traditional zombie game make this one a worthwhile purchase. Continue reading

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AppStore Age Ratings: FIX IT!

This article was first published on the iPhone Games Network. To see my original article, click here.

Age ratings need overhaul and reboot thumbnail

Let me start out by saying this: I’m a big fan of the App Store. Hands down, it is the single best distribution model for mobile gaming that I’ve ever seen, and has seen more success in the last year than anyone would have reasonably expected. It’s easily accessible, with user ratings, simple updating, and fair prices. That being said, it isn’t perfect. One of the major flaws in the system is the age-rating labeling system that every game undergoes.

The age rating is supposed to inform users what age level a particular game is appropriate for. In theory, this should let parents control what their children can and cannot play. Most of us don’t bother checking what label a game has received before buying it. I’m an adult, what do I care if a game I plays is rated for preschoolers or teenagers? Allow me to enlighten you on the ratings some of the more mainstream titles have received.

Resident Evil: Degeneration is rated 9+. Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles got a rating of 12+. Terminator Salvation is 9+. Wolfenstein 3D Classic is 12+. The limited visual capabilities of the platform mean these games can’t possibly be as graphic as their console and PC counterparts, but are the ratings appropriate? Hell, the game iDracula – Undead Awakening is rated only 4+. It consists entirely of blowing vampires, werewolves, and witches to bits. Is that really appropriate content for a four-year-old? Granted, it’s the rare pre-school or kindergarten aged kid that will actually ever play the game, but the standards by which games a given ratings really need an overhaul. Continue reading

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Love AppStore (similar to, “I love lamp,” but without Steve Carell).

I love AppStore thumbnail

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

Before I jump into this, I just want to say one thing – I’m preaching to the choir. I know that. If you didn’t like gaming on your iPhone or iPod Touch, then you probably wouldn’t be at iPGN (see that logic? Yeah, that’s an if > then statement. Came up with it all by myself). With that mind, I’m here to tell you that the App Store is the greatest thing that’s happened to gaming in, well, years. I would say the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that’s clearly an exaggeration. And besides – I really like sliced bread. Continue reading

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, Humor, iPhone/iPod Touch, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Gaming: DoodleJump

There is a single game that has effectively captured my attention for the last two or three weeks, and its name is DoodleJump. That’s right, DoodleJump. I didn’t mistype that. There’s doodling, and then there’s jumping. Somewhere in the sweet, sweet middle is DoodleJump.

The art direction isn’t mind-blowing, but it doesn’t hurt, either. Everything looks like it was sketched (or doodled, if you like) on a sheet of graph paper. It’s simple, likable, and visually interesting. That’s a good combo if you ask me.

This is a deceptively simple game, and that’s how it gets you (and I really did mean you just then, cuz it never gets me). Here’s how it works: you play a little guy that looks nothing so much like a cross between an elephant and a lightbulb. And you jump, and jump and jump and jump. Jump until it seems second-nature. Jump until you’re the undisputed king (or queen, for you gamer chicks out there) of jumping. Jump until your real legs actually start to ache in some kind of crazy psychosomatic trauma. For the love of all that’s good in this world, jump! Continue reading

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, iPhone/iPod Touch, review | , , , , | 2 Comments