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Tiny Towers Review (iOS)

iTunes Link

The new hot sim game on the iOS platform is a mix between Game Dev Story and The Sims with it’s retro art style and addictive gameplay. From iOS developer NimbleBit who people might know as the developer of Pocket Frogs or Dizzypad, have finally hit it big with a perfect mobile game in the simulation genre. They have nailed the delicate balance for a freemium game, providing the option for a quick build out with the purchase of the valuable in game currency of ‘bux’ but also dolling it out in a non frustrating fashion over time.

The aim of the game is to build up your tower with a variety of residential, commercial and retail levels. The great thing about this concept is there is a lot of variety with the different types of stores you can build. You can build either a retail, food, service, recreation or creative level and it will randomly pop up a shop once the construction period is over. For example the retail stores I have are a game, bike and record store and for food stores I have a vegan and froyo store. Now to staff these stores you have to build residential levels, when people move in you can assign them jobs but each person has different strengths in each type of field. Each person also has a dream job and when you match a person to their dream job you get 3 extra bux, which you can spend to speed up processes in the game. The micro management comes in the optimisation of putting the best employees for the job which gives you discounts on the inventory costs.

Bux can be spent to quickly construct a level, instantly fill up an apartment space or restock a shop’s inventory. The only thing I didn’t think was reasonable was the cost of 1 bux to move a level but it’s not that much of a problem. The other currency, coins, are used to purchase inventory and levels. Coins are received from selling items at the stores or by trading in bux, i.e. 50 bux for 100,000 coins. If you want efficiency tips for getting the most bux and coins out of the game read Maurice Tan’s article at Destructoid.com.

Unlike some other sim games, there is a limit to how much of the currency you can accumulate when you are not playing the game. Because the inventory at the shops will deplete this neatly brings about the need constantly check the game to see if an item is out of stock (there is a notification option to help you with this that is not on by default). The other smart aspect of the game is limiting the boredom factor by alway giving you something to do. There is one elevator which you control by moving it to a visitor’s desired level and usually you just get some coins for doing this. But every so often there is a VIP that arrives which do things like knock off some construction time or a celeb who makes everything sell faster on the floor you drop them off at. There are also missions that pop up to find a certain person in your tower in exchange for an extra bux. The elevator is also the way you populate your residential apartments but it can get frustrating in later levels because the drop off level is random.


The pleasant music and sound effects mixed with the vibrant retro graphics make this game such a joy to play. Tiny Towers by NimbleBit is the next best sim game to come out for the iOS platform since Game Dev Story. It makes the developer a prime acquisition target for casual mobile developer hungry companies such as Zynga or EA but I hope they stay independent and churn out more sim games in the same way Kairosoft has with the their games.

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E3 2011 Sony Press Conference – PS Vita, Bioshock Infinite Move Support and PS Branded TV

Here is a list PS3 games and features announced today at Sony’s Press Conference for E3 2011. After a montage of games and Playstation properties, the event started with Jack Trenton CEO of SCEA first apologizing about the recent PSN outage. 3D, Playstation Move and the PS Vita are all heavily showcased with the big news that the PS Vita will be USD$249/299 for Wi-Fi/3G model.

  • Already announced games featured – Uncharted 3 (release date 1st November 2011), Resistance 3, NBA 2K12 (Move Support), Infamous 2, Starhawk, Bioshock Infinite and Star Trek.
  • 3D Game Remasterings – God of War Origins Collections and Ico and Shadow of Colossus Collection.
  • Playstation Branded 3D Monitor announced – 24 Inch screen with unique feature of allowing split screen co-op games to display a full screen for each player. USD $499 for monitor, 3D glasses, HDMI cable and Resistance 3.
  • Bioshock Infinite – Move support and Bioshock 1 pack-in. Also a Bioshock on NGP teased.
  • More Core Games Move Support – Bioshock Infinite, Saint’s Row The Third, Star Trek and better move support for LBP 2.
  • EA’s PS3 Exclusive Game Content – SSX (Mount Fuji exclusive level), Need for Speed on the Run exclusive cars and Battlefield 3 comes with Battlefield 1943 pack-in.
  • New Games Announced – Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, Medieval Moves: Deadman’s Quest from the developer of Sports Champions and  Dust 514 (Playstation exclusive MMO FPS from Eve Online developer CCP Games).
  • NGP Name Announced Playstation Vita – Rumours are true the official name of the NGP is the Playstation Vita. AT&T announced as exclusive 3G partner in the US. More than 80 titles in development. Out this year, wifi model $249 and 3G model for $299.
  • PS Vita Games Shown – Uncharted Golden Abyss, Ruin (action RPG, loot based, social features, PS3 compatibility and cloud saving), ModNation Racers (easy track creation, access to user generated content), Little Big Planet (game changer, easy to create levels or game types utilising all the features of the PS Vita), and Street Fighter X Tekken (Cole from infamous is a playable character).

E3 2011 Microsoft Announcements Round-Up – Halo 4, Ryse and Lots of Kinect Supported Games

Here is a list of notable announcements and details of Xbox 360 games and features announced today at Microsoft’s Press Conference for E3 2011 (plus a couple features revealed later on Major Nelson’s Blog).

  • Already announced games featured Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect 3 (Kinect voice support, dialogue and squad commands), Ghost Recon Future Soldier (Kinect support for all future Tom Clancy games), Gears of War 3, Forza 4, Star Wars Kinect
  • EA sports games to get Kinect Support – Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Madden, Fifa and one other.
  • New Game AnnouncementRyse for Crytek, a Kinect game set during the Roman Empire era.
  • New Halo games announcedHalo 1 remake 10 year anniversary and Halo 4.
  • New Game Announcement – Fable: The Journey, on rail magic shooter just for Kinect.
  • Other New Games Announced – Kinect Sports Season 2, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, Disneyland Adventures, and Dance Central 2.
  • New Dashboard with graphical and functional improvements. Search support with universal Bing search capability, youtube, live TV (i.e. UFC) capabilities, more Kinect support, Beacon feature (more streamlined game invite system) and the big one cloud support for game saves and profiles.

Cost of PSN Attack to Sony: 14 Billion Yen

Ahead of Sony’s 2011 FY financial results due to be released on the 26th May 2011, revisions have been announced to take into account a number of events have had a significant effect on Sony’s profits. One of the events that Sony details is the cost of the PSN breach that is estimated at 14 billion yen or 170 million USD to consolidated operating income. This is a hefty cost for Sony as 14 billion yen is 7% of their current 200 billion estimate for the operating income for the 2011FY.

The key variables that will affect the estimate are the severity and number of credit card misuses or identify theft cases. Sony points out that to date there have been no confirmed cases but if this changes the estimated amount will have to be revised. Other that the cost of the protection program for affected users, included in this estimate is the cost of the Welcome Back Program, customer support, security enhancements and legal. They also mention a possible revenue decrease which will affect profits as a result of this breach. Lost revenue can be attributable to the PSN store being down for almost a month as well as the effect on the sale of PS3’s and PS3 games.

This is a major blow for Sony’s gaming division which was on track for a strong year with the PS3 Slim selling well along with many high profile PS3 software releases.

Warner Bros. Excels Where Disney Fails in Their Foray into Video Games

With the release of Disney’s third quarter 2011 fiscal year results last week we have further insight into Disney Interactive’s failure in the console video games space as they now transition to focus on mobile and casual games. In contrast we have Warner Bros. who like Disney (both starting the strategy around the same time in 2005) have made acquisitions of independent video games developers to build up their presence in the industry but have been doing much better job at it. The difference is with their approach to developing games and how they work with their acquired studios as well as the quality of the studios they are acquiring and building up.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment with the acquisitions of studios such as Monolith Productions, NetherRealmStudios (formerly Midway Chicago), Traveller’s Tales, and a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios have got it almost perfect in identifying the right studios to boost their video game strategy. With subsidiaries like DC Comics Warner Bros. have the properties and the talent to develop high quality games as well as coming up with original properties. Or like with NetherRealm Studios and the Mortal Kombat series they have successfully rejuvenated popular game properties for critical and commercial success.

Disney on the other hand have laid off a large percentage of staff at their Black Rock Studios and shut down Propaganda Games along with it’s projects. Recent acquisitions of Playdom and Tapulous are aiming to capture the casual and mobile markets but they still have Junction Point Studios who made the game Epic Mickey to mixed reviews. Junction Point is headed by industry veteran Warren Spector and they are still hiring and working on unannounced projects but they look to also be developing more social and mobile games.

Disney’s gaming division incurred a 115m operating income loss last quarter with investors questioning their approach to the video game market. With their focus on the Facebook and iOS gaming markets they are looking for the quick buck which may or may not be sustainable in the long run but at least they are acquiring the right sort of talent for the strategy.

As for Warner Bros. the future looks strong with Mortal Kombat selling well, Rocksteady Studios building a lot of buzz with their next Batman Game, Batman: Arkham City, and whatever MMO project Turbine is doing next. Also Monolith Studios just announced today that they are developing a downloadable XBLA/PSN/PC game in the Batman universe that will be a competitive multiplayer shooter, the next project by the creators of the F.E.A.R. games.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is a subsidiary of Time Warner (TWX).

Disney Interactive is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company (DIS).

Recommendations: List of ipad apps you should probably get

    Apps

  • ibooks
  • kindle
  • pages
  • sketchpad HD
  • numbers
  • remote
  • pcalclite
  • calculator
  • evernote
  • dropbox
  • goodreader
  • xe currency
  • bloomberg
  • new york times
  • time
  • wired
  • bbc
  • skype
  • imdb
  • epicurious
  • urbanspoon
  • airvideo
  • newsrack
  • comic reader mobi
  • comics

Games

  • Tilt to live
  • Real racing
  • geometry wars
  • Plants vs zombies
  • godfinger
  • dizzypad hd
  • mirror’s edge
  • n.o.v.a.
  • angry birds hd
  • zenbound 2
  • pinball hd
  • sam and max

Who are Criware?

Criware is a set of middleware software for video game development created by former Japanese developer CRI Middleware. They stopped developing games themselves since the end of the Dreamcast in 2001 but they are now a middleware tools company who are now used by most of the big Japanese video game companies (i.e. Capcom, Sega, SquareEnix, Nintendo, Konami). Whenever you boot up a Japanese game you will probably see the Criware logo, meaning Criware middle was used in its development.

Middleware connects different software components or applications; Criware’s range of middleware products focus on video, audio playback and encoding, lipsyncing, audio design and file management. The benefits are:

  • Decrease in development time.
  • Decrease in development costs.
  • Focus on content creation, not the technology.
  • Integration/interoperability between different software components.

So there if you have ever wondered what Criware was, now you know.

Tech Recommendations – Western Digital My Passport Essential

Previously I had been using a larger 500GB external hard drive which needed to be powered separately. This much smaller HD is usb powered and is a lot less of a hassle to use. If you are looking for a portable HD you will most likely end up with one of these since it seems to be the most marketed one out there. The features it has are the preloaded software to manage CD images, encryption and backup. There very little you can do to differentiate in terms of features so it all comes down to design, price and perception of quality. I got the 500GB WD My Passport Essential for AUD 165 which is mid range with prices for 500GB portable HD ranging from 150 to $200. You can go for the cheaper brands but there is always a risk of HD failure. I feel safer with a Western Digital HD but in reality there probably isn’t much of a difference.

Tech recommendations – Logitech LS1


I was looking around for a new mouse and had 3 requirements. It had to be cheap, corded (Sick of having to plug in a USB receiver and replacing batteries) and have at least 2 function buttons. I ended up picking up one of Logitech’s most basic mice, the LS1. It is a simple corded mouse which only other features are the tilting scrollwheel and rubberised grip. It was AUD 30 and I think it is a better choice than the standard Microsoft corded optical mouse since it is more compact for using with a notebook.

Paris Sightseeing Guide Part 2

Part 2 of my quick plan of possible sights to visit in Paris. This time less focus on the main attractions and more on specialised areas.

Books and Comics

Jeux Descartes – 52, rue des Ecoles (Métro – St-Michel)

Gibert Jeune – Metro Stop St. Michel

Gaming

Oeuf cube (Board gaming, cards, figurines) – 24 rue Linné 75015 (métro Jussieu)

Technology

FNAC (Large electronics retailer)- Ternes, La Défense, Place Italie

Rue Montgallet (Street with a bunch of technology shops) – 6, RUE MONTGALLET 75012 12ÈME ARRONDISSEMENT PARIS, PARIS, FRANCE

Milk (Web Cafe) – 20, RUE DU FAUBOURG DE PARIS 59500 DOUAI, FRANCE

Museums

Le Musee du quai Brnaly – Metro stop Alma-Marceau

Musee d’Orsay – Metro stop Solferino

Musée des Arts et Métiers – Metro stop Arts et Metiers

Musee Carnavalet-Historie de Paris – Metro stop St-Paul

Musee d’Art et Historire du Judaisme – Metro stop Rambuteau

Musee Jacquemart-Andre – Metro stop Miromesnil

Musee Marmottan-Claude Monet – Metro stop La Muette

Musee National de Ceramique de Sevres – Metro stop Pont de Sevres

Musee National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet – Metro stop Iena

Musee National du Moyen age – Metro stop Miromesnil

Musee Picasso – Metro stop St-Paul

Musee Rodin – Metro stop Varenne

Other impressive buildings and architecture

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur – Metro stop Abbesses

Basilque St-Denis – Metro stop St Denis

St-Etienne-du-Mont – Metro stop Luxembourg

St-Eustache – Metro stop Les Halles

St-German I’Auxerrois – Metro stop Louvre-Rivoli

St-Germain-des-Pres – Metro stop St-Germain-des-Pres

St-Sulpice – Metro stop St Sulpice