ACD BLOG – Gaming

information about games of all kinds. Usually ones I really like

Fix Epic Games Launcher for UE4

I have no idea why this worked and what the problem was, but for anyone out there using UE4 (Unreal engine 4) who suddenly cant get it to connect to the internet add this in the target path area of the “Epic Games Launcher”
Found this in the internet and it worked a treat.

Gotta love UE4. Its Unreal! and so fun and easy for designers.

unreal_engine_4_apt_0cnxbs

 

So to fix the problem

Just add

-http=wininet

to the launcher alias

“C:\Program Files\Epic Games\Launcher\Engine\Binaries\Win64\EpicGamesLauncer.exe”

epic launcher

 

add  -http=wininet
“C:\Program Files\Epic Games\Launcher\Engine\Binaries\Win64\EpicGamesLauncer.exe -http=wininet”

sorry to everyone else to whom this means nothing but it was really bugging me and might help other people.

 

Will be back to normal after that. Download all the massive updates (and there seem to be a lot)

Hopefully the Zelda vbimeo video will link, if not check it out. I didnt make it but it shows of UE4 nicely

https://vimeo.com/93897087

Oculus Rift for OSX users

So last week my Oculus Rift DK2 arrived. I was exceptionally excited as I had to wait over 3 months for it to ship. I am going to explain the basics of VR, and how i got my setup to work, the websites you need to visit to get good demos and how to set it up on an OSX machine.

I have been a designer and music producer for many years, so I am a Mac Addict, so I have an iMac, iPad, Macbook, iPhone, and iPod… but was any of these going to be able to run the Oculus properly…? I also have a Leap Motion controller, and bought an Oculus Rift mount long before my HMD arrived. I have a pretty old Macbook (model 5,1) with only a 256MB nvidia graphics card, which works fine for most applications and even games, but the Oculus, with its 75Hz frame rate will certainly push it to its limits.

oculus-on-OSX_1

BASICS OF VR

Basically to make VR an immersive experience, you need to:

  • See in a VR environment with head tracking to simulate regular eye vision
  • A way to manipulate objects around you (touch, pick up, reposition)
  • A way to navigate (move around, otherwise you are just like a head in a jar)

Ideally you would get feedback from items (also know as haptic feedback), so object would create simulated weight in your hand, or in the case of Newtons 3rd law, exert as much pressure on you as you are on it. See Newtons laws of motion. The rest of his laws apply for realistic motion, and will need to be considered in the future to create realistic worlds. The next would be environmental feedback, for example radiated heat from the sun, wind on your face etc. Then other sensory devices like smell, or textural qualities, like water on your skin, or rough bitumen.

Haptic feedback items get super expensive, so for the first part, lets assume everyone gets the pieces to use VR in the same order as stated above

  • HMD (Head Mounted Display) aka Oculus Rift
  • Mouse ( which simulates your hands,often with left click (pick up) and right click (drop) functionality or some similar
  • Keyboard  the old forward, back ,strafe left ,strafe right)

There are much better ways to use your hands and move around in VR, but this is the starting point for everyone. If you are interested in researching more, please check out these links or just search on Google. Undoubtably it will be the biggest growing industry surrounding VR:
Hand tracking in VRLeap MotionSixenseControl VRNimble
Moving in VROmniinfinte treadmills

Basically the less you have to wear the better and more realistic the experience (and more convenient). You also don’t want to be afraid that you will hurt yourself , by falling off something,as that will also dampen your virtual experience by keeping your mind in the physical world. Of course, without hijacking your bodies nervous system, it would be very hard to give haptic feedback without something actually touching your body (for example you will probably need gloves to get sensations on your hand).

I looked online and really I found only very basic disjointed information about how to set it all up, so thought id share what I did and the sites I found to help you all along your OSX Oculus Rift journey in Virtual Reality paradise.

 

oculus-on-OSX_2

The above pic is my current mini studio, the two left screens run off my Macbook where i use the Oculus and the right is my iMac where I do audio. You will soon learn that if you have an external monitor you have to constantly unplug it and plug the Oculus in . I tried a splitter but it didn’t work. There might be some out there that do which will make life easier but for now i recommend these tips below.

 

HOW TO SETUP YOUR OCULUS RIFT

Download the Oculus Runtime and demos from developer.oculus.com/downloads (need an Oculus dev account which is free which you will setup the first time you make the site)

To get the Oculus to run, you only really need the Runtime to get the Oculus ready for action. If you are a developer, or plan to play around, get the SDK (software developer kit) and the Tuscany demo (this is generally the first demo people try and has been used millions of times. I also recommend at least trying it as it will be one of the easiest scenes for any computer to play. If you have time, download all 3 as they do link to each other and will provide a more robust set of tools in the future.

oculus-on-OSX3

You can skip the Tuscany Demo if you are feeling like you want to try something more adventurous and know you system can handle it. To initialize to Oculus, I always use the OculusConfigUtility before using any other program as it initializes the headset and generally makes it resize to the DK2 headset size more efficiently. Continue reading to work out how to do this effectively.

DISPLAY PREFERENCES & OCULUSCONFIGUTIL

Another very important thing to note is that you must setup your Display preferences.

1. Make the Oculus the “main” screen. You can do this in the “Display” section of “System Preferences” by dragging the tiny white bar to the Oculus display. I also recommend keeping it on the left. It will generally display quite large when running at 1080p. most likely larger than your other monitor (seen on the right). As it is on the left, you should keep your dock on the right. Down the bottom is ok too but i find right is more stable.

oculus-on-OSX5

One you do this all your open windows will disappear and migrate to the Oculus window.

2. So once you have connected the Oculus headset, you will need to open the OculusConfigUtil – Its has an ugly name and a no icon currently (which i’m sure will be fixed later) but is an extremely important tool, and will tell you that your device is ready for action. Now that you have activated the Oculus as the Main Screen (aka Display 1) you need to right click on it , go to “Options” and click “Desktop on Display 2” which will bring it back to your screen.

oculus-on-OSX9

You will see a blue light on the Oculus HMD (it is orange when inactive) and an image of the Oculus will appear at the top of the OculusConfigUtil as well as serial numbers of your devices. (This could also be handy if you ever have to repair it). Now you know it is active. You monitor mounted Oculus camera also has a blue light but will generally not turn on until you have opened some software to run it, so do not be alarmed.

oculus-on-OSX6

3. If you look at the image floating behind on the right, you will see what happens when you click “gather windows” in the bottom right. Its a very handy function to bring the setting windows for BOTH monitors onto the same screen so you can adjust the settings. This is an invaluable tool as be default they appear on their respective screens, making the Oculus settings a little hard to navigate.

You will need to make sure the Rift Headset (HMD) is running at 1080p and is also Rotated to 90degrees. You can choose 60Hertz or 75Hertz, the limit for the DK2 is 70Hz but a Macbook will generally not be able to keep up with the game frame rate so the refresh rate is not that important. The games will tell you if they only support 60Hz also. Keep overscan turned ON.

oculus-on-OSX4

Finally, start your Demo. If you are using steam it will default to the Oculus as it is defined as the main screen. In case the Steam opens on your computer monitor (Display 2), you can always make it open on the Oculus HMD but doing the same process as before, but choosing “Desktop on Display 1” for steam.

oculus-on-OSX8

 

You should open the game from the Oculus HMD, by shutting one eye and choosing “Play with Oculus Rift”. Of course some games do not have Oculus rift support,so be careful and do your research. I have included many links below to get you started. I also made this video of a game I recommend called “Qbeh 1 – the Atlas Cube” (available for $9.99) but you can choose nay game you want. It is an awesome way to learn how to navigate in a VR environment. I also bought a game which would be amazing called “World Of Diving” (available for $19.99) but my computer was way too slow to run it.

oculus-on-OSX13

Here is my video. Sorry its not very professional. Its my first attempt at videoing an Oculus session, and you can hear the fan on my old Macbook really spinning to run the software. That and the load times, but believe me its much faster when i dotn have all that excess software running. To get best results, restart your computer before you play a game if you can. The link to the game is below in the Recommended section.

 

OCULUS DEMOS and GAMES

Where Possible I will put the Mac link, but PC versions are of course available

FREE

Oculus Share – Official Oculusvr testbed area. Nice site for finding all osrts of demos, games and just weird experiments.
https://share.oculus.com/category/all?platform=mac

Rift Enabled (the Top 10 list)
http://www.riftenabled.com/page/top10/
and their full game demo list
http://www.riftenabled.com/admin/apps/

 

FREE DEMOS PLUS PAYED CONTENT

The Rift Arcade – So far my favorite site for finding content with its steam like store  (of which many games are free)
http://theriftarcade.com/market/downloads/tag/os-x/

VR Supported games from STEAM – OSX versions
http://store.steampowered.com/search/?category2=3#sort_by=_ASC&category2=31&os=mac&page=1

Rift List – You can narrow by OSX titles easily
http://theriftlist.com/

There are only about 10 title that have native support (including Google maps if – Extreme direction finding is your thing) plus OSX capability but this will expand soon. The site just has links to the original site, so not as comprehensive as the sites above in my eyes. Many would disagree as it was one of the first sites like this.

oculus-on-OSX10

RECOMMENDED TO TRY

darfield
Dark Field
(Space flying shooter. Looks awesome and made by 3 guys in Australia) – this is the direct link to the download.
https://mega.co.nz/#!LEdQCaSK!YVnab10NKcBrEsSMDM9cAHHxqLGCk3twA6S3Ikt9djk
runs extremely slowly on my machine but looks like it would be fun. You cannot support this game on Kickstarter anymore, but I contacted them and they said to play this for now. I will definitely  be trying it as soon as I get the chance.

qbeh-the-atlas-cube
Qbeh 1 – the Atlas Cube 
(as seen in my video above) Walking  around and moving blocks. Good for all ages, except those who have block phobias. Also heights. Fine for slower older Macs.
http://steamcommunity.com/games/252550/announcements/detail/234506502094830839

guided-meditation
Guided Meditation – This is truly amazing and run quite well on a slower machine. Also promotes one of my favorite parts of VR being relaxation. You will be blown away at how relaxing it is to sit on the beach, forest or other location and just “be”. Voice over is sometimes a bit cheesy but is also fine and does coax you into a relaxed state. Goes to show that you dont need too much interaction or movement to make an immersive experience.

Download here – http://guidedmeditationvr.com
More info about it here – http://cubicleninjas.com/guided-meditation-app-oculus-rift

Here is a video to check it out

Guided Meditation for Oculus Rift from cubicleninjas on Vimeo.

 

ADDING THE LEAP MOTION to Oculus Rift

oculus-on-OSX11

I was super excited to add the Leap Motion to the Oculus Rift, but actually as it turns out there were not as many things to use as I had imagined.Yet. of course everythign is in development. Im sure it will be good. But will it be better than some of the otehr technologies i linked to at the start of this article. Only time will tell

This is just some links for now, but I will write another blog post about the Options for Leap Motion once i have had more time to research them.

Info about it (https://www.leapmotion.com/product/vr)
attach your leap motion to your ocular HMD (head mounted display)
then go here and download the V2 tracking
https://developer.leapmotion.com/vr

Then follow these steps
https://developer.leapmotion.com/getting-started

Intro into VR with the leap
https://developer.leapmotion.com/gallery/leap-motion-vr-intro

Simple game with leap – very simple but will work on any system im sure.
http://theriftlist.com/Home/Game?name=Rift+Mounted+Leap+Motion

An interesting demo coupled with Shpongle music.

google maps with leap motion
http://theriftlist.com/Home/Game?name=Google%20Maps

VR collage (requires firefox nightly)
First get firefox nightly builds
http://vrhelloworld.com/builds/osx/
this is the page you visit once downloading the nightly browser
http://leapmotion.github.io/VRCollage/
recommend that you lock your Oculus display to 60Hz, as this is what Firefox currently supports

 

 

Also of course: Oculus Porn

oculus-on-OSX12
Yippee!!

http://www.oculusriftporn.com

(update – file was moved to here – http://www.vrsmash.com/view/16/Still_Girls_VR_in_Skirts)

There are loads of other demos there, but it though this was a fun place to start. You can continue the journey on your own.

Another chance for ANOTHER WORLD

Golden rules of game design.

What makes a game good?

Many things. Shutup.

What is a good way to increase game value?

a) make the game longer, b) make the graphics better, or more realistic (not necessarily the same thing), c) make the gameplay more engrossing, more believable within its own context. d) Intuitive controls

What is a bad way to increase game value?

Elongate the game by making it either a) too hard, or b) make it easy to make mistakes, or c) make the game controls slightly unpredictable so you can’t make correctly forumlated choices of what your next step will be.

In the past, games were generally pretty short by today’s standards. That’s because the game cartridges could hold so much less data. Remember when every tree in a game was the same sprite used over and over again (Zelda is a great example). There was a predictability in that and in many cases it did nothing to detract from the gameplay at all. Good games don’t necessarily need good graphics

Original graphics

New graphics. It’s exactly what they would have done before if they had the technology. looks like they had bloody chem-trails on this planet also. Damn government!

So here is a game I bought the other day. One of those. “Shit, I must be old.” moments when a game you used to love has its 20th anniversary. The game is “another world” aka “out of this world” (of which flashback was the sequel). They have given it a graphic overhaul, which is done very nicely, very frugally, band very tastefully, paying homage to the original graphics(which you can see at any time by swiping down with 2 fingers).

While this is a nice touch, it’s one of the few predictable finger movements of the game. The best websites, games or interactive devices don’t require instructions as they are designed based on human intuition. I think this game has tried to elevate itself to a higher level by assuming the controls are much easier than they are.

Let me just say. I love this game. I did before and I do now, so if I seem a bit harsh it’s only tough love and I want to use it as an example of what to do, and also of what not to do.

The gameplay

Although you are a gun wielding scientist is an extra-terrestrial world, it’s not a shooter. It’s a puzzle game. Logic is the general driving force of the game. Doing exactly the right thing, in the right order, at the right time is how this game works. If you dont, you die, and then respawn to try again, and again, and again, and again. Yes, some bits will drive you bonkers, but when you work it out, although you want to, it’s hard to say that the solution doesn’t make sense in the end.well, sort of(ignoring the pretty random tank level plus a few bits here and there that just have their own special rules)

Every page or two you will automatically update your respawn point, so when you die, you always hope you don’t have to go back too far.

The controls

Admittedly, going from a superNES to the ipad is a difficult task as it had 6 buttons and a d-pad, where the ipad has none. Undoubtably you will die many times due to the fact that you will miss the button or get confused what finger movement you need to do. It’s ok. Makes the game last and teaches you control, well finger control. Makes me fu#%king mad is what it does really. I can appreciate that too I guess. Generally the controls are completely invisible and you kind guess your way through the commands. In some places they are on screen but in one level (the Christian sacrifice tank level I like to call it) it took me about 20 goes to even see one of the buttons. That’s not great design really.

The verdict

While there are many things that drove me crazy about this game, some personal and some breaking the golden rules of game design as I see them, ultimately it’s still a great game which deserves to be played. It’s incredibly short, but most games were back then, and it’s simple but futuristic look still holds up. The way they have improved the graphics and allow you to compare between them without destroying any of the experience is impressive as it would have been easy to overwork it.in fact often I I thought I had accidentally switched the graphics, swiped again and realized how simple the original graphics were.

Besides cheapening the experience by elongating gameplay by unnecessarily confusing the player, if you put this game as a platform puzzler, somewhat similar to the gameplay of “Abe’s odyssey” you will realize its value. If only it was a little longer. I guarantee you will get stuck at least a couple of times and put it down for days at a time, coming back to it later after an idea hits you. I’m sure they will release “Flashback”, which was its sequel soon enough to continue the journey. I just wonder how that game will hold up. I’m willing to spend the $2 to find out.

In fact, when I was in Australia last year, I found a poster I used to have on my wall for flash back. Here it is.

Here a pretty hot scene with naked whatchamacallit’s sitting around nude

Compared to original

This is an interesting scene. You will find out why later.

Amazing Flying Action

This is such a beautiful flying game. I guess its been a while since i have researched flight simulators. i bet they will be absolutely amazing visually on the new PS4 and X-BoxOne, but the PCS still have the advantage for having awesomely realistic flight joysticks.

I have to get into the game a bit more before I can do a full review, but i have watched a couple of hours of gameplay and im very impressed at the realism of the gameplay as well as the pretty graphics… You decide. Its free to join up and start playing. its still in Beta version so your chance to try something before everyone does!

click here to join for free:

http://ahimsa-creative.com/games/war_thunder

MMOBOMB version and review

Sidestrafe review/mission walkthrough

if you start playing, please leave your comments below, so other people can decide whether it is the right game for them.

PS, if you like old school war style games, try World of tanks, which is just as realistic but viewed from the ground and loads of realistic tanks

http://ahimsa-creative.com/games/world_of_tanks

They have a forum:
This guy even made one of the planes
http://forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/27036-p47-d-thunderbolt-tribute/

Two recent iPad game favorites – Oct 2013

Ok, so the way I judge a good game is whether at one stage, i realise that i’ve devoted such a large amount of time to it, without ever planning to, not in one long session but cumulatively over a long time. Of course there are other factors, but like a TV series, it’s the ones that keep you coming back that you develop that warm fuzzy feeling for.

These two games are fairly commercially viable, and not as left field as some of the games I usually play, but they really stood out from the crowd for various reasons.

Too often these days games either make you “Share” on Facebook or pay to buy some kind of “internal currency” to make the game bareable. While these two games I’m going to introduce have these features built in (what iPad game doesn’t these days?) they make it still fantastically playable without using those options which impressed me.

While my next review will be a little more eclectic, these games are what you’d call traditional games in the sense that. You main goal is to either destroy or go faster than the other guy. They both excel in their field for almost opposite reasons, which make them good for me to rotate between.

So let’s get into it!

Battle Nations

This is an amazingly addictive RPG that I got about two months ago. What drew me to the game, was a promotion video I saw with a chess style grid, and its turn by turn attack system. I absolutely love these games, as they provide just the right level of adrenaline fighting but you can also take a break at any time, and so it’s good for travelling or playing at home. Another awesome factor in these games is that you can only do so much in one gameplay so it doesn’t take up your whole day (although you may be coming back a lot!).

Gameplay

Ok so I’ll make this easier to understand for you. You basically start with limited resources, and this is certainly a resource driven game. You are guided through they whole first part of the game. Characters keep popping up on your screen and telling you what to do and by doing so quite nicely teach you all the menus and concepts in the game. These characters are pretty hilarious and quite loveable and if nothing else their evolving story will keep you hooked.

As you progress, your tasks to complete get slowly harder and take longer. You must develop your characters and town to make sure you can continually keep up wth resource demands. Your enemies slowly get harder and harder as you also develop your skills. Like most of these games, eventually the game gets hard enough that you really, really wish you had more resources. Bing! It’s done, you can at any time in the game buy “nano pods” which either can be used to trade for resources (but it’s heavily overpriced if you do that) or speed the game up (which is the normal use of them and much more economical). These are actually in game purchases you can get, but you can also get them from watching a promotional video now and then. although this is a slow way to go. The good thing, is that, if you are patient, you can play this game totally for free.

Here you can see the battle field. The backgrounds change, but the grid is always the same. It’s quite handy as you really get to know each characters strengths and weaknesses. You do tend towards the same players each time and sometimes the battles are a tad monotonous if you have just done 3 or 4 with the same configuration but overall it’s very well designed.

The game is non-linear, up to a point. You can choose what you do but there is no point getting into battles you can’t win as that will just lose you time by having to send your characters to hospital all the time. Besides the storyline, you can battle other players in the game, which helps your players level up faster than in game battles. A great tactic to encourage real time battles between people. Interestingly, once you have battled someone, you can become their “friend” and they can visit your playing area and give you the gift of time by furthering your goals.

Downsides

One major downside to this game is you must be connected to the Internet at all times. That is such a pain in the arse if you don’t have mobile Internet. In Tokyo it is pretty rare to find Internet outside your house so it’s not a great game for cities like that. Another location based disadvantage is that outside of America and Canada you cannot watch movies to get free nano pods (which is another way you can play this game, by getting them advertising credits in place of actually paying them). This is true for many games, which means these games will lose popularity in some countries.

You may see a lot of spinning circles if your wifi connection is not too great.

.

Conclusion

This is a great game which has good gameplay, witty characters and very addictive gameplay. It also has elements of time management in there as you need to do things in the right order to avoid lots of waiting around. If you get seriously into it, you will at some point buy some nano pods, even a small purchase of 2 dollars will help you quite a bit, and you can also play the game successfully without the extra credits. That takes some great game design, and at the moment, this is my number one game. This company “z2″ makes a bunch if games, but I’m too scared to look as this one has been too addictively time consuming.

Real Racing 3

This game is completely different from the last in almost every way, but it many ways just as enjoyable. The first thing that will blow you away are the graphics. It’s one of the best looking games I’ve seen on the iPad. With real time shading and realistic reflections it will make you feel like you are controlling a TV car race just by holding it. The gameplay is awesome and has never skipped (on my iPad 3 at least) a frame as far as I can tell.

As with most games like this, you are given the lowest class vehicle and have to make your way to the top, upgrading your driving skills and car at the same time. I have no idea about this style of racing car but I believe the choices are extremely accurate also. This game is made by EA, who have the reputation of being the most realistic in any sports category and this certainly doesn’t disappoint.

As you can see the graphics are irresistible. The texture mapping and actually real word geometry has very few seams and moves fast enough to make you believe you are driving.

Gameplay

In a race, you actually don’t need to accelerate as it happens automatically. You can manually brake but that can be made automatic also. While this sounds a bit too easy it has a realistic feel and you can concentrate on steerig your car into the “racing line” where you will save valuable secods on a course. I really like this as you get to see the whole picture on screen rather than being obscured with your hands. The steering is done with the accelerometer and is very sensitive, but not in excess. You will certainly get sore arms playing this game excessively, but actually feels quite comfortable and works fine either in front of you or angled towards the ground.

Like “Battle Nations” this game can be played non-linearly, but has a fairly distinct direction, and you would be well advised not to jump ahead or you will just lose all the races. There are also quite a few class races and if you have not earned enough to buy the next car you cannot race on those races. There are a few modes, to keep you interested. Time trials, drag races, class races, or just plain old racing. Each has a different difficulty level which you are rewarded for proportionately.

While it looks completely realistic, you can quite easily push drivers off the road, which is basically my driving tactic in this game. You still have to do it fairly graceful as if you damage your car too much it’s expensive to keep repairing it. As you level up, you do see subtle but obvious improvements to your performance which makes you always want to do just one more race.

There are some classic courses in there too which may take you back to your childhood if you ever watched racing. As someone who grew up in Adelaide, Australia; I went to the formula one races every year and got to feel the excitement of car racing. While I rarely watch it now, I still love the electricity of a racing game. It’s very “here and now” and unlike the last game , you can’t take your eyes off the screen for a second while in the middle of a race, or other event.

As with many games, it now has a “Share” function, which gives you little gold coins, which can be used in place of cash as well as speed up the game. These are quite essential as sometimes you must wait 1 hour between races to upgrade your transmission or something similar , so you can skip that by spending coins. Of curse this also means that you must be online to do that. Truthfully I would never ever share something like this on Facebook as I’m very particular what I put on there so I just need to wait sometimes. It’s not every time so doesn’t negatively affect the game, at least in the beginning , as you also receive coins for completing levels, s0, like Battle Nations you can also play this game without having to conform to their in-game monetary system.

Conclusion

While I find any game that encourages you to share on Facebook to be annoying (and I hope and pray that we will get sick of this trend) this game does it in a fairly non-aggressive way which I can handle it on screen now and then. The feel of driving is truly fantastic and they made a good decision to make it the way they did. Of course if you don’t like to look a bit mental in public,or get sore arms easily, you can switch the controls to more traditional. In fact there are 7 variations to the controls. How’s that for customizeable.

All in all, if you are not a racing fan, it probably won’t convert you, but will more than satisfy all racing game fans on many levels. Everyone will be amazed by the graphics no doubt. While for me this game doesn’t create the (pardon the pun) “drive” to play it every day, I’m glad it’s in my iPad for when I need to get immersed in a different world and just tear around a famous circuit from around the world.

Sennheiser Headphone Upgrade Time Lapse

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iPad Apps : Restore your Sense of Wonder – for Free!

So you know whats better than a free app. Nothing.
Well maybe having sex while downloading a free app. (my girlfriend is going to kill me for saying that, but she doesn’t read my blog anyway). ahem…

So, Actually one thing i can think of thats better than a regular free app is a free app that allows you to learn something that expands your sense of wonder and leaves you smarter and loving how the universe is more amazing than you thought (or reminds you of that).

Here are 3 free iPad apps that really deserve all the praise and admiration that I can send them. They really expand your mind in simple and understandable ways that are fun for all ages.

The first two are form the “Exploratorium” and focus on two of my favorite areas on the world. Color and Sound.

Lets start with color

Exploratorium: COLOR Uncovered

col·or ( ˈkələr/)

noun

  1. the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.”the lights flickered and changed color”
  2. pigmentation of the skin, esp. as an indication of someone’s race.”discrimination on the basis of color”

This app I discovered by accident and was a happy day as I was instantly hooked. The type of app where you look at a page or two and decide to savor the rest by only looking at one more thing each day, kind of like the nerd eating the apple in “The Neverending Story”.

I am a graphic and web designer so I have studied color theory in depth ( and actually about 3 times for different courses) so I know it pretty well and this basically brought all the most sciencey and interesting things from color theory into this app. Simultaneous contrast, persistence of vision. Dischordant colors. It’s all there in iPad retina glory.

It has the kind of experiments that you instantly want to show someone when you do it to see if they can guess right. Go and get this app. It’s free and what have you got to lose.

and now for sound

Exploratorium: SOUND Uncovered

sound

noun
  1. vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear.
    “light travels faster than sound”
  2. sound produced by continuous and regular vibrations, as opposed to noise.

So after I finished the color:exploratorium, I went, gee I hope they make more of them. Seemed like it might be in a series. And I was right! And sound. Yippee. I think for most people sound is even harder to fathom as you can’t see it (I knew that before I got the app. That’s how smart I am).

So it’s just as good as the first one, and I won’t give it all away, but it starts out on the shepherds tone, which is an awesome sound phenomenon and has some other fantastic surprises in there too. I a, studying mixing and mastering right now (and working on an album) so understanding frequencies and their psychological and social effects are extremely interesting for me.

Once again can’t recommend these enough. And awesome for kids. They are so interestingly interactive that the kids of all ages will love playing with it. And you will definitely be surprised by some of it.

and as a bonus prize – the 4th dimension!

The 4th Dimension

disclaimer: i threw this one in a t the last minute as i love it so much, but unfortunately its not free , but it certainly fits int the sense of wonder category) I must also add that this one also works for the iPhone and iPod touch, but i strongly suggest you try in on an iPad

Do you know what a tesseract is?

(as a footnote after i wrote this, I saw “The Avengers” which represent it with a small blue cube, obviously to denote that its 4th dimensional properties can bend the boundaries of time and space – which may not be so far from the truth)
No its not one of those flying dinosaurs you used t love as a kid.
its what happens when you spin a cube in the 4th dimension. Most of use think the 4th dimension is time, but as modern science tells us, is that we live in a 11 dimensions universe, 12 if you believe in super gravity, making time the 12 or 13th dimension in that case, but we time and space are so intrinsically liked that they are impossible to separate.

Well this app is not about any of what i just said, well, except the first bit. The forst time i saw movement in the 4th dimension it really blew me away, as its basically a mathematical equation represented by a seemingly 3 dimensional diagram. but of course its just a representation on a 2 dimensional screen.

Confused. well you needn’t be anymore, as this awesome app will show you how it’s all possible. It’s very easy to understand and very hands on and you can get from one end to the other in about 10-15 minutes depending on how much you play with it. The app I mean. You shouldn’t get carried away when you play with the 4th dimension, and if you did it may be outside of our visual universe.

GAME – Puzzling adventure : Little Soldiers

Well I’ve done a blog post about my favorite puzzle games before, but there is a game I’ve been playing that is definitely worth a mention. The main reason this game really stands out is that it takes puzzling to a new level. This game is ridiculously hard, and usually i would pass over something of this difficulty, as i play games mainly for stress release, but if the difficulty is justified then i think it adds a maturity to the game that actually strengthens it, rather than some games that use difficulty as a cheap way of making the game last longer.

this game is called Little Soldiers. Its slow paced ( a train swap game as i like to call them, that doesn’t do anything if you have to suddenly do something (like changin trains or any other activity where you suddenly need to be active). This is a very important factor as you should play the type of game that suits your needs, notjust in-game but in the outside world.

GAME OVERVIEW

Basically you have to get your men to the exit using the resources available. Usually you will need every tool presented to you in each level. It Uses the “8-bit cross section” approach where you can see the whole playing field regardless of where you are in the level. Each level is roughly the same size, and can be viewed in full on your screen. It works just as well on iPhone as it does on the iPad, but the iPad certainly has an edge when you view the whole area.

So all i can say is that the gameplay is such that you will never finish a level on the first try. You can undo an unlimited amount of times, as you sometimes realize an earlier mistake and it would be annoying and time killing to go back and start again, but sometimes that is easier as you might want to try a completely new tactic.

This game is so challenging that you need to think about 5moves ahead at all times to get your goal, and have a complete understanding of how every single tile works to get to the end, as there is certainly only one way to finish each puzzle.

i had this game on my phone but got sick of it, as I found it too hard, but re-installed at a year later and played it through. I was very happy that I did, and replaying the stages i had played before solidified my understanding of the game and prepared me for the later stages.

Like “Trainyard”, which is still my favorite game for iPhone, its a game you may take weeks on a level and kick yourself when you finally work it out. The only gripe i have is that they should have doubled the amount of levels and introduced more advanced techniques at a slower rate.

Give it a go.

Awesome App – Game – Trainyard

Last updated 11 sept 2012

Puzzle games: (my definition) : a game that requires planning and thinking to achieve a goal rather than timing and reflexes. Puzzle games exercise problem solving ability and often require certain steps to be completed in order to get to a next stage, where the complexity of the puzzle increases.

Some games have puzzle sequences. A great example would be “The Legend of Zelda” where you fight enemies but also need to open locked areas by solving a puzzle sequence. The recent “Skyward Sword” game was an awesome example of this… But I’ll write later about great old to new game conversions.

Another important factor, in modern times is the fact that you are probably playing on the go. People use iPhones and iPads (or other “smart” devices) to play on the train or waiting to meet someone. Basically while part multitasking with another activity. The advantage of puzzle games is that you can completely detach from the game at any time without being eaten by a dragon or other such hilarity when you are not looking at the screen, do what you have to then get back to the game with no alterations to the gameplay in that time. Kind of like going to the toilet while playing Monopoly, except you sister and your “friends” stealing Mayfair from your real estate portfolio.

Y

So actually I really started this blog to showcase one game. It’s called “Trainyard”. It was designed by a guy called Matt Rix ( an obvious pseudonym) and is on the outset fairly simple in nature but is very powerful and really makes you think. I would even be as bold as to say its one of the most enjoyable puzzle games I have ever played. It starts easy to teach you the rules, expands at regular intervals so that you progress well with the game, and can take on more as your problem solving skills develop. Brilliant

I also must say that this game was the second thing I downloaded onto my new iphone 2 years ago (yes I was behind the game on that one, as Japanese phone contracts are hard to get out of without paying a crapload of cash). I’m yet to find a game as good as this in the past 2 years which is really saying something.

TRAINYARD

THE GAME

The GOAL

Your job is to get a colored train from is origin to its matching destination. Sometimes multiple trains. The board is empty besides those places, and sometimes a rock to stop you doing an obvious move that will make a level too easy, or to remove the symmetry of the playing area.

THE RULES

If two trains occupy the same square at the same time, they do not crash but mix colors. This game is good for artists as it uses the same subtractive color mixing as mixing paint. Red and blue is purple etc. Two primary colors make a secondary. Complementary color mixes produce brown ( of which there are no destinations, so you need to remix it, becoming the color of the train it contacts, the only unrealistic color blend in the game, but tha analogy works well enough as that is partly true)

LONGEVITY

Boom, this game just gets better and better. It has many levels, doesn’t get too hard too fast but will certainly get you thinking. I found myself even planning solutions on paper while at work or in my mind when I had some free time. In later stages, I took almost one month to get the solution right for one level. One great feature is that the levels in this game are non-linear, so you can skip a level and come back to it. You must complete, all the levels in one area to progress to a new area, where usually a new skill will be added to your repertoire.

All of these characteristics I have mentioned could fit into any great puzzle game. This game just works. Now I’ll show you some screen shots of it and if you like, get it and see. If you like fun puzzle games then I’m sure it will fascinate you. Even the sounds and simple animation of your train driving your track ( which you test repeatedly over the game ) are enjoyable.

I actualy found this while researching the game. It shows all the ideas that the maker had while making the game. whats good, whats bad… very insightful.

[button link="http://www.slideshare.net/lesleyphordtoy/trainyard-a-level-design-postmortem" target="blank" size="small"]Click to see game design[/button]

OTHER PUZZLE GAMES IPAD/IPHONE

HONORABLE MENTION

OSMOSIS HD

A puzzle game of a different nature, twisting the “level up/level down” paradigm into get bigger and not being consumed. In a nice addition, moving also reduces your size making the game take on a zen feeling where waiting is encouraged. This game is not turn by turn so changing trains will undoubtably get you consumed by other protazoaic globules.

ELEMENTS

A great little turn by turn puzzler that moves you from origin to goal, but requires no pre planning as such. You plan ahead as you move. Meet a dead end and start again, avoiding the mistakes of the past. One great feature is that you can rotate the game area on your device which uniformly changes the functions of certain items to complete your goal. I love when people use new technologies with calm and clear intent