Game Day: Holedown

It’s not often that a game grabs me and won’t let go the way Holedown has. Once I started playing, I couldn’t stop. I have the iOS 12 Screen Time reports to prove it. Even when I’d burned through all of the game’s levels reaching the final endless one, I kept coming back for more. Holedown has very quickly earned a spot as one of my all-time favorite iOS games.

Like most great mobile games, Holedown is simple. The game is a little like Breakout turned upside-down with a dash of pinball added. Each level begins on the surface of a planet. The object is to bore a hole through to the planet’s core by launching balls that bounce off of obstacles that advance up the screen with each turn you take. If the obstacles reach the surface without being cleared, you have to start over and try again with

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Game On: A Decade of iOS Gaming

Nowhere has the App Store’s impact been more profound than the game industry. Roughly one-third of the 500 initial apps that debuted on the App Store were games. The percentage of games on the App Store has risen over the past 10 years, but not by much. By some estimates, between 35 and 40 percent of the App Store’s apps are games today. What has changed is the size of the Store. With over 2.1 million apps currently available for download, that means around 800,000 are games.

Mobile gaming has become the primary driver of growth in the game industry over the past several years. According to a recent report by Newzoo, the mobile game industry, in which iOS plays a central role, will be a $100 billion market in just three years time.

The success of games on iOS parallels the phenomenal success of the iPhone and App

The Nokia NGage and original iPhone.
Blackbox makes innovative use of the iPhone's many sensors.
Zach Gage's Flipflop Solitaire.

Continue reading “Game On: A Decade of iOS Gaming”

The Decade-Long Road to Trism 2

Variety has an in-depth profile of Steve Demeter, the former Wells Fargo software developer who created Trism, one of the App Store’s earliest hit games.

Demeter became the face of the App Store gold rush for many people. His game, Trism, was one of the 500 apps that debuted on the App Store 10 years ago next Tuesday. The game, which incorporated the iPhone’s accelerometer, earned $250,000 in its first two months. With 3 million lifetime downloads, many at $4.99 each, Demeter quit his job as a developer at Wells Fargo to work on a sequel, eventually pouring all of the original game’s earnings into the effort:

Lost in the shadow of his initial success and worrying about a sophomore slump, the development of “Trism 2” became a nightmare cycle of starting and restarting, creating and destroying.

Eventually, Trism’s earnings dried up and Demeter got a job at Continue reading “The Decade-Long Road to Trism 2”

Pokémon Quest Arrives a Day Early on iOS

Initially slated for release on June 28th, Pokémon Quest has arrived on iOS a day early. The game, which debuted on the Nintendo Switch, is free-to-play with In-App Purchases. The Pokémon and their entire environment adopt a unique, blocky style in Quest. You start with just one Pokémon collecting more and evolving them as you progress through the game’s levels set on Tumblecube Island. In all, the game features the first 151 Pokémon from the series’ Kanto region.

Attacks are automated, but special attacks are available, though timer-limited. To speed up the timers, which are tied to other elements of the game too, players can purchase tokens using In-App Purchases. The game is playable without tokens but slow going.

I haven’t spent much time with Pokémon Quest yet, but my first impression is that it makes a solid companion to the Switch version of the game. After years of pundits Continue reading “Pokémon Quest Arrives a Day Early on iOS”

The Numbers Behind Monument Valley 2’s First Year

Once an app has spent a while on the App Store, it’s difficult from a user perspective to know just how well or poorly the app has done. It’s unusual for developers to share detailed financial figures, though it does happen every now and then. One team that’s led the charge in this area is ustwo, creators of the Monument Valley series of games. For the first Monument Valley, ustwo shared comprehensive statistics for the game’s performance in its first and second years. Today, year one of Monument Valley 2 has received the same open treatment. Head of studio at ustwo games, Dan Gray, writes:

I’ve heard this kind of data has really helped some developers get a handle on what they might expect from a successful premium launch, and given that it’s bloody hard making premium mobile games nowadays, if there’s anything we can do to help other Continue reading “The Numbers Behind Monument Valley 2’s First Year”

Valve removes game purchases from Steam Link’s iOS beta

Apple and Valve have been at an impasse for weeks over the release of Steam Link for iOS, but it looks like they might be closer to an arrangement… if not necessarily the one you’d hope for. TouchArcade has discovered that the latest beta test for Steam Link’s iOS edition removes purchasing from within the app. If you visit a game’s product page, the usual buying options are replaced with a notice that the content is “available for purchase from your PC.” You can use any existing funds in your wallet when you’re in the Steam Marketplace, but you can’t add funds.

Via: MacRumors

Source: TouchArcade

Phil Schiller Explains Steam Link App Rejection

Valve announced on May 9th that it would release a video game streaming app called Steam Link. According to Valve, that announcement was made after the app was approved by Apple’s App Review team. As we reported Friday, Valve says that App Review reversed its decision the next day, rejecting the app for what Valve describe as ‘business conflicts with app guidelines.’

Steam Link is an app designed to allow users to stream Steam games from a Mac or PC to an iOS device or Apple TV over fast WiFi or Ethernet. Valve appealed the rejection on the basis that it was similar to other LAN-based remote desktop apps available on the App Store, but the appeal was denied. That led some people to question whether Apple’s rejection was motivated by a desire to protect gaming on iOS devices and the Apple TV.

We now have a better idea Continue reading “Phil Schiller Explains Steam Link App Rejection”

Steam Link Rejected by App Review

A couple of weeks ago we reported that Valve was preparing to release an app called Steam Link that would allow gamers to stream Steam games to an Apple TV or iOS device over a fast WiFi or Ethernet network. The app was set to debut this week, but it was rejected by Apple’s App Review team. According to a press release from Valve, Steam Link was approved by App Review on May 7th and then rejected on May 10th, one day after Valve announced the app was coming to iOS and tvOS.

According to a tweeted statement by the Steam Database account:

Apple revoked its approval citing business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team.

Valve’s statement also notes that other apps with similar functionality are currently available on the App Store. Valve appealed the rejection, which was denied.

Valve Continue reading “Steam Link Rejected by App Review”

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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