Posts Tagged ‘ Games ’

the Android Market and Compatibility

by Dave Loft

I’ve been mulling this over for the past week and wanted to share my thoughts on it. Ultimately what it comes down to is that there is no guarantee that the games your buying for your Android phone today are going to work on your next Android device. More apps and games are being targeted at specific devices. At Google IO in the market session it was mentioned that developers would now have even more control over which which device can access the game by not only chipset, screen size and android version but also the specific model.

So now a developer can build a compatible list or a not compatible list. An example of each that recently hit the market is the Netflix app which is limited to work on only five devices and Battleheart which currently blocks many Samsung and HTC devices. The worst part of this is that as the hacking community has shown running a rooted android with the hacked Netflix app can work on just about any device.

Blocking a specific model can result in blocking devices that may have been updated or are running custom software that actually fixes the issue that the device was blocked for. To take it even further a device may be blocked due just to performance issues. Something that a rooted device with a stock ROM running an overclocked CPU can often fix.

Ultimately these updates are great for the average Android user as it will reduce the number of times they will come across apps and games that do not work on their device. But it’s the power users that will ultimately have run into challenges from these changes.

Jump ahead one or two years after your first Android and you may find yourself in a situation where many of the games you have wont work on your brand new device. This will be especially true for anyone who owns a Tegra 2 based device or the Xperia Play. With so many games being made specifically just for those devices if your next device is not a Tegra device or the Xperia Play 2 it won’t work.

This also extends to any 3D game that specifically lists what devices it works on. Next year if you go and buy the latest and greatest phone that should easily be able to handle the game but the developer hasn’t added it to the list of compatible devices. As a result it won’t even show up in the market for you.

So going forward the argument that because it’s an Android device and you bought it from the Market doesn’t give you any guarantee. It kind of puts some perspective on the many arguments against buying from Gameloft because it won’t work on your next device. As it is, no matter where you buy it, there really is no guarantee it will work.

Google also introduced another update to the market, but this one could help alleviate many issues. They will allow a developer to have one listing for their game and it can hold multiple APK’s. This would be helpful for example if you currently own a Tegra 2 device, you would be given the Tegra 2 version. Then for example next year you buy the Xperia Play 2 and then when you hit the market to download your apps you would be given the appropriate version.

Unfortunately by the looks of things in the market this may be more of a dream than a reality. Many Tegra 2 games won’t work on any other platform and the one’s that do like Fruit Ninja and Guerrilla Bob have a higher price for the Tegra 2 version.

Thankfully most developers seem to have the right idea by just adding support to the Xperia Play in the regular version of the game. But I have to give a thumbs down to any developer choosing to build a separate version  for the Xperia Play.

Now before you get too worried about all this just bear in mind this is really only going to affect more advanced 3D games. Most apps and games should work just fine. This issue could also be helped if Google takes a stronger stance and more aggressively enforces the Android Market. The biggest thing Android needs is an all encompassing graphic layer akin to DirectX. This would alleviate the need for developers to write for specific chipsets and would greatly help eliminate compatibility issues. Going forward hopefully developers and Google don’t let things get too far out of hand.


Steam ‘big picture’ mode announced

by Dave Loft

So it looks like Valve will be making Steam a little more couch an controller friendly. As someone who connect’s their PC to their HDTV I have to say it’s about time. I currently sit on the couch with my gamepad to play the kind of games most people say ‘require a console to play’. I always wanted a way to interact with steam using the gamepad. A more intuitive way to use steam will make it more accessible. But I think there is more to this story than just that.

I always thought Valve should release a Steam console. But they haven’t made all the improvements and additions required to be successful in the console domain. You can’t sell a box that connects to an HDTV today without offering a comprehensive multimedia component. Their are also other competitors currently in the market that just do multimedia like Google TV, Apple TV, Roku and more. Just as consoles grew started to offer multimedia, the media boxes will need to start offering applications and games to compete for space beside your TV.

Going a few years down the road Google TV and Apple TV will most likely be established boxes beside the Xbox 360 and PS3 and it will be due to opening their platform’s up and offering an app market. Surprisingly application may be the key to Google and Apple taking the living room over from Microsoft and Sony. For hardcore gamers the choice will be easy but for everyone else a smaller, a quieter and less expensive device with a user experience similar to a smartphone will be very compelling.

For Valve to truly compete with a standalone box they will need to sell more than just games. They will need to sell or partner with someone who can provide them with music, television, movies, games, apps and a web browser. It wouldn’t be worthwhile running a full windows OS on the box, so they would most likely have to build on top of Linux. It would also be fairly unlikely that all games currently available on Steam would work on their standalone box. The work required to make this happen is truly daunting, but do they have a choice?

OnLive is increasingly becoming a strong alternative in the market to not just Steam on the PC but also dedicated home consoles. OnLive is poised to become the Netflix of gaming. At CES it was announced that OnLive would be available on Vizio televisions in addition to Mac, PC and the OnLive micro consoles. At MWC, HTC announced an investment of 40 million dollars into OnLive. They also showed off OnLive gaming on their upcoming Flyer 7″ tablet.

Looking at the field of competition it is clear that Valve has work to do. They will need to step up and increase the rate at which they add new features and capabilities to Steam. Their dominance of PC digital distribution sales has left them with little need to innovate. Let’s hope their push into the living room will provide the competition to do better and bring Steam fans, new and old an even better service.

Favorite PC Games of 2010

by Dave Loft

12. Mafia II
(2k Czech)
Direct2Drive / GamesGate / Impulse / Steam

11. Darksiders
(Vigil Games)
Direct2Drive / GamesGate / Impulse / Steam

10. Super Meat Boy
(Team Meat)
Direct2Drive / GamersGate / Impulse / Steam

9. Minecraft
(Markus Persson)

8. Blur
(Bizarre Creations)
Direct2DriveGamersGate / Impulse / Steam

7. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
(Crystal Dynamics Inc.)
Direct2Drive / GamersGate / Impulse / Steam

6. Civilization V
(Firaxis Games)
Direct2Drive / GamersGate / Impulse / Steam

5. Starcraft II
(Blizzard Entertainment)

4. Mass Effect 2
Direct2DriveGamersGate / ImpulseSteam

3. Metro 2033
(4A Games)
Direct2DriveGamersGate / Impulse / Steam

2. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
(Criterion Games)

1. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 / Vietnam
Direct2Drive / GamersGate / ImpulseSteam

Favorite PC games of 2009

Favorite Android Games of 2010

by Dave Loft

16. Drop 7 (Area/Code Games)
Drop7 is a very unique game that’s fairly hard to describe. The best way I can try to explain it is to say it’s like Sudoku meats Tetris.  Each turn you get to drop a circle with a number ranging from 1 – 7. Your goal is to remove as many of these circles as you can by making a row or column with the same number of circles as the number on the circle. Once mastered you will have a hard time putting it down.
Android Market link

15. Fruit Ninja (Halfbrick)
Fruit Ninja is one of the best selling games on Android and iOS games. It has style, buttery smooth animation and simple entertaining game-play that anyone can get into. To make things more fun your best scores will be compared with your friends using the Open Feint social gaming network. This will keep you coming back long after the clones fade away. At $0.99 this game is hard to not slice into.
Android Market link

14. EVAC HD (Hexage)
EVAC at it’s surface may look like a simple game of Pac-Man but instead requires a serious amount of strategy to master. It takes the simple pellet eating game-play and gives you the ability to hide, trap and block your enemies. The games difficulty serious ramps up in the later levels and will require quite a few attempts to master the given level.
Android Market link

13. Wordfeud (hbwares)
Wordfeud is the best scrabble game on Android and it’s available for free. What makes this game great is the ability to play with friends. But unlike most multi-player games you don’t have to play at the same time. After each turn a notification is sent and the player has three days to play. Some games can take hours and some can last weeks. This set your pace game-play is perfect for the smartphone.
Android Market link

12. Flight Director (Camel Games)
There are plenty of games available with this exact game-play but I think  Flight Director got the formula just right. While the satellite shots of air bases are somewhat cheesy to use as your backdrop. It’s far superior than the cartoon graphics from the competition. This game provides a very fun, intuitive and challenging game-play that will keep you coming back to improve your high score.
Android Market link

11. Flick Kick Football (PikPok)
Flick Kick Football is by design the simplest game on Android. You simple flick your finger over the ball towards the net to score a goal.  The precision of the controls is what makes the game brilliant and lacks other games frustration. The comic book style graphics are simple yet beautifully designed. The brilliance in Flick Kick Football is it’s devilishly addicting game-play.
Android Market link

10. Asphalt 5 HD (Gameloft)
Asphalt 5 is the closest thing Android currently has to Hot Pursuit. Collecting and using nitrous is the name of the game mastering that and using the shortcuts is the key to winning. The game goes beyond most arcade racers by offering various car performance enhancements. This game will keep you coming back for just one more car unlock. Needless to say this game is addictive and fun.
Official website

9. Everlands HD (Hexage)
Everlands cute visuals hide a very deep and satisfying turn based strategy game. The game starts simple but ramps up the difficulty in later levels. The fit and finish of the games user interface is only equaled by Rovio’s Angry Birds. This game begs for multi-player and the lack of it has kept me from rating the game higher. But even without it, it’s still the best strategy game available.
Android Market link

8. Real Football (Soccer) 2011 HD (Gameloft)
Unlike Flick Kick Football, Real Football is a full fledge console quality game for Android. Every aspect of the game has been improved over the 2010 version from visuals to game-play. The controls couldn’t be simpler, with three action buttons for shoot, pass and run and an analog stick for movement. This has to be on any football fans must have list.
Official website

7. Modern Combat: Sandstorm HD (Gameloft)
Modern Combat is a great fps that provides Android gamers a Call of Duty like experience. Not surprisingly Modern Combat offers the best multi-player fps combat available. The game excels in many areas with sharp graphics, smooth animation, quality audio and intense gun play. The game provides a challenge and an arsenal of weapons to accomplish them.
Official website

6. Homerun Battle 3D (Com2uS)
Homerun Battle 3D is at it’s surface a simple game, but truthfully it’s just a streamlined experience tailor made for mobile devices. What really makes it a great game is the fantastic control, beautiful visuals and competitive online play. Another key to it’s success is the level of character customization. This is simply the best baseball game on Android.
Android Market link

5. Need For Speed Shift (EA Mobile)
Need for Speed Shift is hands down the best looking racing game on Android. Combine the tightest controls of any racer, deep game-play, the best sound production and you have a near perfect racer. The only thing keeping this game from a higher spot on the list is lack of multi-player. Yet even without it, EA has crafted the best simulation racing game available.
Android Market link

4. N.O.V.A. HD (Gameloft)
This ain’t no rail shooter, it’s the real deal and it provides some of the best visuals of any game on Android. The games pulls many influences from Halo so fans of the series will want to check it out. Controls are intuitive and the combat is intense. A great soundtrack, superb visual effects and challenging multi-player truly makes this the best FPS on Android.
Official website

3. Angry Birds (Rovio)
Angry Birds will most likely make everyone’s list, there isn’t a person who doesn’t like this game. Wither your a hardcore or casual gamer the simple concept with a surprising deep will keep you busy for months. For a free game it provides a surprising large amount of game-play. The fit and finish from user interface to game-play is well beyond most of the competition.
Android Market link

2. Let’s Golf 2 HD (Gameloft)
Let’s Golf 2 is an improvement over the first with more courses, characters and better graphics to boot. This game provides many hours of enjoyment especially for those who enjoy unlocking everything. The addition of online multi-player extends the games life infinitely. It all comes together making this, the best sports game on Android.
Official website

1. Ultimate Spiderman: Total Mayhem HD (Gameloft)
Spiderman provides a surprisingly steller gaming experience. With fast frantic combat reminiscent of Batman Arkhan Asylum and smooth control that makes you forget your playing on a touch screen. It provides a near console like experience with it’s smooth animation, fast frame-rate, fantastic visuals and stellar sound production. This isn’t just the best Action game on Android, it’s the best game.
Official website

Favorite Android Games Part IV

Abduction! 2 Psym Mobile ($3.08)
The cow is back in the sequel to the best jumping game ever, now with 120 levels in 15 worlds with dozens of characters to keep you busy for hours.
Developer website, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Angry Birds Rovio Mobile (free with ads)
The survival of the Angry Birds is at stake! Dish out revenge on the greedy pigs who stole their eggs with the number 1 iPhone game now on Android.
Developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Flick Kick Field Goal PikPok Games ($0.99)
The best of the flick games bar none with Open Feint integration and a fantastic visual presentation that’s also available in a Rugby version.
Developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Fruit Ninja Halfbrick ($0.99)
This is a smash hit for a reason. It may look simple yet it offers a tremendous amount of fun. Very few games poses this level of polish and quality.
Developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Guns’n’Glory HandyGames ($4.10 or free with ads)
Play the best award winning Wild West tower defense game on Android. Take up a smart, strategic position to ambush your opponents.
Developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

MiniSquadron! Gray Fin Studios ($2.99, lite version available)
MiniSquadron is a frantic arcade shooter with a fantastic visual style and filled with more planes than a aircraft carrier.
Developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Shark or Die Handy Games ($4.10, lite version available)
A unique style bottom up view of life as a shark where you must eat to survive. Turn into an ocean predator and bite anything that gets in your way.
developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Spaghetti and Marshmallows Fruxotic Games ($2.24, lite version available)
Pin marshmallows with uncooked spaghetti and build your way to the next level. If you like World of Goo, you will like this game.
developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Speedx 3D Hyperbees Ltd. ($1.56)
Speedx delivers a stunning accelerometer-controlled tunnel experience. Test your reflex in an ultimate speed challenge with smooth 3D graphic.
developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Tetris EA Mobile ($2.99)
There may be many versions of Tetris available but EA was able to produce the best Tetris on the market.
developer website, YouTube clip, AppBrain link, Android Market QR code

Favorite Android Games Part I
Favorite Android Games Part II
Favorite Android Games Part III

Dave Loft

Favorite Android Games Part III

Baseball Superstars 2010
The most complete baseball game on the market.
– download free from AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code
– download paid from AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code for $4.99

The cute graphics hide the deep gameplay reminscent of Magic the Gathering.
– download free version with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code
– download paid version with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code for $2.37

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X HD
Modern flight combat at it’s best with a large array of planes and weaponry with beautiful 3D environments to enjoy them in .
– download from Gameloft for $4.99

Galcon is an awesome high-paced multi-player galactic action-strategy game. It’s like RISK in space but with real time battles that last only a few minutes.
– download with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code for $2.99

Hyper Jump
Hyper Jump takes Doodle Jump to a whole new wacky level.
– download free with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code
– download paid with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code for $1.99

Modern Combat: Sandstorm HD
An action packed FPS providing the best Modern Warfare like experience on a mobile device.
– download from Gameloft for $4.99

N.O.V.A. Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD
One of the best looking games on Android and should be on any FPS fan’s phone especially if they like Halo.
– download from Gameloft for $4.99

A retro styled space shooter reminiscent of Galaga.
– download free version with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code
– download paid version with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code for $2.37

Skies of Glory
One of the best flight sims on Android. It takes place in WWII and includes excellent cross platform multi-player action.
– download with AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code for $4.99

A free multiplayer word game for Android devices. Challenge your friends and play at your own pace. Participate in up to 20 games simultaneously.
– download free from AppBrain or Marketplace QR Code

Favorite Android Games Part I
Favorite Android Games Part II
Favorite Android Games Part IV

Dave Loft

Team Fortress 2 – The Art of Heavy

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