Posts Categorised: Hardware & OS

It’s iOS 7 time

Groovy.

If you’re looking for Game Center, it’s the one that looks like a tie-dyed squid.

Just a public service announcement to remind you that iOS 7 is now available pretty much everywhere. If this is your first rodeo, just go into the settings app on your iOS device and choose General, then Software Update.

If you find that iOS 7 breaks any older games (I’m personally afraid for what’s going to happen to Defense of the Oasis), post a comment in here and we’ll see about tracking down the devs.

UPDATE: Here’s a nice run-down of iOS 7′s new features in Forbes, and PT reader Matt Peckham asks if you’re really sure you want to update today.

Game devs are skeptical of Nvidia’s Project Shield

Looks a little top-heavy.

The screen on the Shield is a 5″ LCD.

Nvidia made a big splash yesterday with Project Shield – a handheld games console. Like the in-development Kickstarter darling Ouya, Nvidia’s Project Shield is Android-based – but it’s quite different from Julie Ehrman’s indie project.

First off, Shield sports some of the strangest console ergonomics since the Virtual Boy – it looks like an LCD screen mated to an original Xbox controller. Secondly, it will do more than just play Android games – it also wirelessly connects your PC to your TV, allowing you to stream your Steam games onto the bigger screen and then play them with Shield’s built-in controller.

The tech punditry universe had their say about Shield yesterday (have a look at Mike Rose’s critical take and Tom Dawson’s swooning love letter for some contrasting opinions), but I wanted to know what game developers would have to say about the console. My Wired feature from October still holds true I think – Android doesn’t sport any exclusive titles that will get the gaming public excited about a console running Google’s OS. Is Project Shield exciting enough to get prominent iOS devs to start producing titles for it?

Simogo‘s Simon Flesser (creator of iOS hit Beat Sneak Bandit) seems perplexed by Shield. “I really don’t know what to make of any of the new devices popping up everywhere. To me they seem more like something for the enthusiast/techie/homebrew-crowd.”

It certainly looks like the Shield is a device aimed primarily at hardcore gamers, an audience that Android games (and frankly, mobile games in general) have a hard time catering to. Ryan Wiemeyer, from Organ Trail makers Men Who Wear Many Hats, doesn’t think that hardcore gaming will be dislodged from PC and consoles anytime soon. “I find myself using the iPad/Android for a few minutes and if I want a long gaming session I use the PC or a TV where I can get more comfortable. I don’t think I’m excited to get [the Shield] right now.”

Or on your Ouya?

Ravenmark on your Nvidia Shield? It isn’t out of the question.

Many of the devs I talk to about Android highlight the difficulty of getting noticed on the enormous and poorly-curated Google Play Store. Thomas Hentschel Lund, developer of the forthcoming Space Hulk remake for iOS, wants to know more about what Nvidia plans to do about that discoverability problem. “Will the device simply hook into existing Android game channels? If so, then we would drown out and never make back our expenses. If its a Nvidia store, its down to what kind of sales they can guarantee us.”

Lund also points out the single biggest problem that worries devs about Android: hardware fragmentation. “I am rather sceptical that yet another Android device is the answer to our prayers about less QA cost and a better monetization on Android.”

Simogo’s Flesser is also wary of yet another device to have to test his games for. “I can’t see this getting us more interested in Android than we were before. Actually, it’s growing the fragmentation of the platform even further, so it’s rather the opposite for us.”

It’s not all bad – some developers I spoke to about Shield are excited about the prospect of a high-quality integrated controller. As Ryan Wiemeyer says succinctly: “I can understand the desire for good controls in an open handheld platform though. I personally hate touch controls in 90% of mobile games.”

Ian Gregory, creative director at Ravenmark devs Witching Hour Studios is cautiously optimistic. “We have actually put in a little legwork into developing for OUYA. So if the Shield can do a good job of attracting new users from the core gamer crowd, I think we’d be happy to support Shield development.” But even that optimism is tinged with concern over fragmentation.

What happens in Vegas.

The Shield is demoed at CES.

“If more hardware makers join the Android console bandwagon, it’s gonna be fragmentation city all over again,” Gregory told me. “The install base of each Android console is going to determine whether we end up spending time supporting that console, and by extension, the price of that console is going to make or break the Shield or any of these other consoles.”

Reports coming out this morning suggest that Project Shield won’t be cheap. Games are part of the value proposition of any console – if Nvidia wants consumers to open their wallets for the Shield, they’re going to have to generate some new motivation for devs to create for Android.

Microsoft Surface’s killer gaming feature might be 20 years old

A strafing machine.

A strafing machine.

I said on Twitter that I wasn’t going to write about Microsoft Surface when so much had already been said elsewhere. But here’s one thought – a thought very peculiar to our particular hobby.

Playing shooters on the iPad is a finger-crampingly terrible experience. If you have a mouse (or a convincing mouse successor device) for your Surface, you’ve already got the sacred tetrad of W, A, S, and D under your fingertips with Surface’s integrated keyboard.

WWDC 2012: It’s a schooner

One more thing?

One more thing?

We’re about an hour away from the kick-off of Apple’s annual developer pilgrimage. The event’s logo seems to be a magic eye but I’ve been staring at it for 10 minutes and I’ll be damned if I can see the sailboat.

We know that iOS 6 will be unveiled today, which will include a new Maps app that divorces iOS devices from Google Maps once and for all. Be will there be any news for gamers? New GameCenter features? Kinect-style voice-controlled gaming via a Siri API? That last isn’t based in anything I’ve read but it sure sounds good, no?

After the event kicks off at 6pm UK time/1pm Eastern time, I’ll be watching it through the textual filter of these websites:

  • Fancy electro-hipsters The Verge will updating their futuristic, serif-free blog – good place to go for a general nerd’s-eye view of things.
  • For a more video games-centric point-of-view, Pocket Gamer are live-blogging and Slide to Play has a live-streaming chat box-type thing going, where you can presumably chat back to the StP lads. My requests to have them put their shoes on their heads have so far yielded no results.
  • The Guardian (who typically live-blog everything from new episodes of Masterchef to Charles Arthur’s dentist appointments) are surprisingly not running any live coverage – but if you must have some old media than you can do much worse than Wired, who will be posting updates to their front page.

I’ll be hanging on in the comments of this post so if you want to chat with me, put on your smoking jacket and come on in.

UPDATE: Vanilla, who powers the Pocket Tactics forums and comments, has fallen over pretty hard. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that WWDC just kicked off. Sorry about that, guys – hopefully it gets better soon.

 

Keep Kairosoft Games From Draining Battery And Generating Excess Heat

I know that feel, bro

Ice floes disappearing, polar bears going hungry, droughts leading to watering bans in England: all because of Kairosoft’s hugely popular Android games. It’s time something was done.

On some high-end Android smartphones, Kairosoft games (like the just-released Cafe Nipponica) seem to unnecessarily over-utilize your processor, which causes rapid battery drain and heat by-production.

If your Android phone is rooted, try lowering your phone’s clock speed. Popular custom ROMs like CyanogenMod include CPU clock options right in your settings app. If you’re running a stock Android ROM or a custom ROM that doesn’t include options for CPU settings, try SetCPU (available from this XDA thread or the Android market).

Set your Android device to a lower max CPU frequency to keep Kairosoft games from overheating your phone

What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold.

I’ve found that setting my Galaxy S II to 500 MHz maximum CPU frequency runs Kairosoft games perfectly but keeps the phone from getting hot enough to take wrinkles out of your trousers, and also massively extends my battery life.