Valve Announces Game and Video Streaming Apps for iOS and Android

Valve has announced that during the week of May 21st, it will release Steam Link, an iOS app that allows gamers to stream Steam games over wired Ethernet or 5GHz wireless networks to an Apple TV or iOS device. The app will support the Steam Controller and MFi controllers like the Steelseries Nimbus. Although the bandwidth necessary to stream games will preclude users from streaming on mobile networks, Steam Link provides greater flexibility to gamers who would otherwise be limited to playing on Macs and Windows PCs. The app will also be available on Android devices.

Valve also announced that it will release Steam Video on iOS later this summer. Valve sells TV shows and movies, but this is the company’s first mobile solution for viewing that content. Valve says users will be able to stream videos over WiFi and LTE networks or download them to iOS devices for viewing. Continue reading “Valve Announces Game and Video Streaming Apps for iOS and Android”

Chrome’s autoplay video blocker is accidentally killing Web-based games

Enlarge / Developer Bennett Foddy had to update cult classic QWOP to work with Chrome’s new update. Many other Web-based games may not be so lucky. (credit: Bennett Foddy)

An update Google rolled out for its popular Chrome browser this weekend helps prevent those annoying auto-playing video ads on many websites from disturbing your day with unwanted sound as well. But that update is causing consternation for many Web-based game developers who are finding the change completely breaks the audio in their online work.

The technical details behind the problem involve the way Chrome handles WebAudio objects which are now automatically paused when a webpage starts up, stymying auto-playing ads. To get around this, Web-based games now have to actively restart that audio object when the player makes an action to start the game. “The standard doesn’t require you to do this, so no one would have thought to

Continue reading “Chrome’s autoplay video blocker is accidentally killing Web-based games”

Game Day: Trick Shot 2

Trick Shot 2 is a physics puzzle game from Jonathan Topf, the lead designer of Monument Valley 2. This isn’t a game that breaks new ground, but it’s one that is executed wonderfully on all levels and has some great extras, instantly endearing itself as a fun diversion.

The goal is simple: shoot a ball into a box. You launch the ball by sliding your finger back inside an outlined launch area and releasing. The action is similar to the slingshot mechanic used in Angry Birds. The trick is to get the perfect angle, velocity, and timing to land the ball in the box. The process is complicated by the fact that the ball is incredibly bouncy and there is often a maze of household and other objects between you and the ball’s destination.

Trick Shot 2 is one of those casual games that works extremely well on a

Continue reading “Game Day: Trick Shot 2”

Tomorrow’s best video games may be private, offline experiences

At Ars Technica Live #20, Ars editors Samuel Axon and Annalee Newitz talked to award-winning game designer Tracy Fullerton. (video link)

Last week was the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, so we hosted a special episode of Ars Technica Live about the future of game design. Ars Reviews Editor Samuel Axon joined me to ask Tracy Fullerton about where games are headed in the future. An award-winning game developer, Tracy heads the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. She gave us her perspective as a creator and as a teacher of the next generation of game creators.

We began by talking about two of Tracy’s best-known games, Walden and The Night Journey, both of which push the definition of what counts as a game. In Walden, the player takes on the identity of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during the mid-19th century when he

Continue reading “Tomorrow’s best video games may be private, offline experiences”

iOS Plays a Big Role at the Game Developers Conference without Apple’s Direct Participation

Just before the annual Game Developers Conference began in San Francisco, Epic Games released its hit game Fortnite on iOS. In the first four days as an invitation-only game, it made over $1.5 million. As the conference got into full swing this week, PUBG was released. Both games are full versions of their PC and console counterparts and support cross-platform play, which is an impressive accomplishment.

Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch interviewed Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak about the ramifications for mobile gaming:

“They’re bringing the current generation of console games to iOS,” Joswiak says, of launches like Fortnite and PUBG and notes that he believes we’re at a tipping point when it comes to mobile gaming, because mobile platforms like the iPhone and iOS offer completely unique combinations of hardware and software features that are iterated on quickly.

“Every year we are able to amp up the tech that Continue reading “iOS Plays a Big Role at the Game Developers Conference without Apple’s Direct Participation”

Bay Area: Join us 3/21 to explore the future of video game design

Enlarge / Tracy Fullerton is the director of USC’s Game Innovation Lab and has created a number of indie games that experiment with game design and storytelling. (credit: Tracy Fullerton)

After nearly 50 years of innovation, where are video games headed next? Ars Technica Live returns with guest Tracy Fullerton, an award-winning, experimental game designer and director of USC’s Game Innovation Lab. Tracy has spent her entire career developing games as an entrepreneur, teacher, and designer. The Night Journey is her latest indie game and is a collaboration with artist Bill Viola.

Tracy’s work at USC gives her a broad perspective on what’s coming next for games, both technologically and artistically. Join Ars Technica editors Samuel Axon and Annalee Newitz in conversation with Tracy at the next Ars Technica Live on March 21 at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland.

Tracy is the designer and director of Walden, a

Continue reading “Bay Area: Join us 3/21 to explore the future of video game design”

New Google Maps APIs Empowering Game Developers to Create Premium AR Experiences

Andrew Webster, writing for The Verge:

There’s been a wave of location-based mobile games announced recently, based on everything from The Walking Dead to Jurassic World. It turns out these games have more in common than just timing: they’re all powered by Google Maps. Today Google is announcing that it’s opening up its ubiquitous mapping platform to allow game developers to more easily create real-world games. The next Pokémon Go might finally be on the way.

Gaining access to a real-time mapping source like Google Maps is huge for developers, but the additional tools that go along with Google’s newly announced game platform take that a step further. Google is also launching a Unity SDK to tie into its mapping data, and enabling gameplay experiences to be built around specific locations or location types.

Developers can do things like choose particular kinds of buildings or locations — say, all Continue reading “New Google Maps APIs Empowering Game Developers to Create Premium AR Experiences”

Game Day: Bring You Home

Earlier this month Alike Studio released Bring You Home, a charming puzzle game about a blue alien on a quest to save its pet from thieves. It’s a delightful game that showed up one day with little fanfare. The game, from the creators of Love You to Bits, was teased almost a year ago, but its sudden appearance on the App Store means it hasn’t gotten the coverage it deserves. That’s a shame because this is a low-key but captivating game that should appeal to a wide audience.

Exploration is at the core of Bring You Home. As soon as the alien’s pet is whisked away, it leaps out the window after the thieves landing face-first on the ground. Time rewinds, and you’re shown how to swipe panels up and down until there’s a cart of hay under the window to break the alien’s fall. It’s a simple

Continue reading “Game Day: Bring You Home”

The Evolution of Alto’s Odyssey

iMore’s Serenity Caldwell and Luke Filipowicz put together a great Q&A with Team Alto to discuss the making of Alto’s Odyssey.

Here’s my favorite bit, which only adds to my love for this game:

One of the big breaks in the new game’s theming came from the lives of Team Alto’s members themselves. “Things really clicked when we reflected as a group on how much our lives had changed since the release of Alto’s Adventure,” wrote Cymet. “The team had grown, some of us had moved away from the homes we knew to live in other places, and we had all experienced big personal upheaval in different ways.

“What we arrived at was a desire to capture the feeling of going outside your comfort zone, exploring the unfamiliar, and accepting that the concept of ‘home’ is related to the people close to you, not any one place. In many Continue reading “The Evolution of Alto’s Odyssey”

Alto’s Odyssey Review: Desert Tranquility

The sky above the desert has chosen a peculiar, almost plum-like shade of purple tonight as I’m nimbly moving past tall silhouettes of cacti and palm trees, when I see the black contours of a rock. My experience tells me that, in most cases, rocks have to be avoided, so I jump. While airborne, I glance at the dune ahead of me, and decide to attempt a backflip. The sky in the distance is a sight to behold – a full moon, barely visible among the clouds, faintly illuminates a panorama of ancient ruins left to age and crumble. In fact, the horizon is so beautiful, I don’t see another rock waiting just ahead of me as soon as I stick the landing. I hit the rock and fall face down in the sand. It’s game over.

I try again.

An angry lemur is chasing me, probably because I, once

Wall riding lets you jump higher and chain more tricks together.

Continue reading “Alto’s Odyssey Review: Desert Tranquility”

Watch ‘A New Hope’, Play Tetris Directly from a Mac’s Terminal

With an impending snowstorm beginning to bear down across the country, cabin fever will be reaching fever pitch this weekend.

To help temporarily stave off boredom, we have a couple of simple Mac Terminal tricks to check out.

Watch ‘Star Wars Episode IV’
Want to watch “A New Hope” from Terminal? It’s quite easy.

1) Open Terminal

2) Type the following command (without quotes) “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” and watch Terminal go to work! Note, there is no sound but there are subtitles.

Play Tetris and Other Games
Playing games like Tetris or Snake from Terminal takes a bit more work than watching Star Wars but is simple nonetheless.

1) Open Terminal

2) Type the following command (without quotes) “emacs” and then hit enter. Then you will need to type fn and F10 simultaneously, and then follow with “t” and then “g”. From there you will be able to choose a game

Continue reading “Watch ‘A New Hope’, Play Tetris Directly from a Mac’s Terminal”

Hello Neighbor is among the worst games of 2017

Enlarge / There isn’t much obvious rhyme or reason to the game’s puzzles, which turn a 10-minute level into an hour-long affair.

Hello Neighbor won’t be the very last game I review this year. I can only pray that it will be the worst. As of now, the first-person stealth puzzler is the worst game I can remember covering in a long time.

That’s a shame, because the premise is promising enough. It’s like a suburban take on Rear Window set in the world of Psychonauts’ Milkman Conspiracy. Empty, twisted cookie-cutter houses embody a cartoonish paranoia. The player character, a young boy presumably native to the breezy street where the game takes place, sees something he shouldn’t. His titular neighbor has shoved a shrieking somebody (or something) into his basement. It’s your job to learn who or what.

All of this is implied through imagery. It has to be, since

Continue reading “Hello Neighbor is among the worst games of 2017”

My Favorite iOS Games of 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve seen what may prove to be a shift in iOS gaming. With the recent introduction of app pre-orders, iOS may attract more paid-up-front indie games and ports of console and PC titles than in the past. Pre-orders aren’t limited to games, but it’s no coincidence that the first batch of pre-orders released on the App Store were all successful indie titles.

It’s too early to tell if recent developments are the beginning of a trend towards a more diverse and interesting iOS game market or a one-off anomaly that will fizzle, but I hope it takes hold. The prospect of the App Store attracting new sorts of games could broaden the appeal of iOS as a gaming platform, which in turn, could change the dynamic of iOS gaming in 2018.

We’ll have to wait to see what 2018 has in store, but in

Continue reading “My Favorite iOS Games of 2017”

Apple now requires that games disclose odds of ‘loot box’ rewards

Apple has always operated its app business with an eye to protecting its customers from potentially shady business practices. From early guidelines around app content to more recent bans on misleading apps, Apple has a heavier hand in what shows up in the App Store. Now Apple has added a new requirement for games that offer loot boxes with randomized rewards for purchase. If your game offers them, you have to now disclose the odds of receiving the rewards promised.

Via: Polygon

Source: Apple

Rainbrow, a Game Controlled by the iPhone X’s TrueDepth Camera

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors about Rainbrow, a free arcade game for the iPhone X that requires you to raise your eyebrows or frown to move the character on screen:

Simply raise your eyebrows to move the emoji up, frown to move the emoji down, or make a neutral expression and the emoji stays still. Note that if you raise your eyebrows, and keep them raised, the emoji will continue to move in an upwards direction, and vice verse when maintaining a frowning expression.

While there are no levels, the game gets increasingly difficult as more obstacles appear. The goal is simply to get the highest score possible, but players can only compete against themselves right now. Gitter told us that he plans to integrate Apple’s Game Center for multiplayer competition in a future update.

Here’s a video of the game in action:

I played this for 20 minutes Continue reading “Rainbrow, a Game Controlled by the iPhone X’s TrueDepth Camera”

The State of Nintendo’s Smartphone Games

Great overview by Bryan Finch, writing for Nintendo Wire, on the state of Nintendo’s high-profile mobile titles:

With the recent release of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Nintendo has now delivered all of its previously announced smartphone games. The shocking change in company policy that lead to the development of these titles was one of the final projects that Nintendo’s former president, Satoru Iwata, managed before his untimely passing.

These games have been a mixed bag of success for Nintendo, both in terms of quality and profits, and since all of the known games are now out in the wild, it’s a good time to check in and see where each Nintendo mobile game stands at the end of 2017.

My goal here is to examine what the games set out to achieve, how successful they were with those goals on launch, where they are today and where they can Continue reading “The State of Nintendo’s Smartphone Games”

Animal Crossing Debuts on iOS a Day Earlier Than Expected

This past Friday, Nintendo America announced via Twitter that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp would be available on iOS worldwide on November 22nd.

Instead, the game showed up unexpectedly early on November 21st. This isn’t the first time Nintendo has surprised fans with an early release. In September, after announcing a release date for a major update to Super Mario Run on the App Store, Nintendo released that game a day early too.

In a move that may be in response to complaints that some levels of Super Mario Run required an in-app purchase, Animal Crossing is up front about its pricing, imposing a popup during the setup process that explains that Leaf Tickets, which are an in-game currency, can be Continue reading “Animal Crossing Debuts on iOS a Day Earlier Than Expected”