Gaming with cubes

[intro] No we are not talking about MineCraft here, nor about any old type of gaming with wooden blocks in a children play area. When I was looking for indie stuff for yesterday’s article, I came across a new type of gaming: gaming with gaming cubes. The name of the first of these things on … Continue reading “Gaming with cubes”

[intro]

No we are not talking about MineCraft here, nor about any old type of gaming with wooden blocks in a children play area. When I was looking for indie stuff for yesterday’s article, I came across a new type of gaming: gaming with gaming cubes. The name of the first of these things on the market is Sifteo Cubes, but I am sure that more will follow with similar technology.

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What are these special cubes? Sifteo Cubes are cubes with a bit of hardware in them.. some logic, a screen to display things and a main base station where the software is installed on and the sound comes from. This main base is like a console, just a bit smaller. It comes with an USB connection to be able to install new games on it. Otherwise they need some triple-A batteries to be able to run.

Oh and software ofcourse. Some of this software has already been developed and will be delivered with the cubes when you buy a set somewhere in the world. But as the developers stated in their video: they are not the creative type, they are asking the game developer community to build games for it. Currently they are selecting and accepting a certain type of bigger game developers via their website, but they are also building tools for the more indie developer to allow publishing via their network.

So if you are a developer (and most of you here are gamers and not game developers I believe) than you can download the free Sifteo SDK from their website and try to create games for them. The SDK comes with an emulator to be able to check your creations out.

But enough about that aspect. Let’s talk about how these cubes function and what you can do with them!

The magical cubes run software, as I talked about before. They respond to motion (holding them in your hands, I suppose they have some sort of Nintendo-like gravitational sensors in them), they respond to touch with a touch screen and they respond to each other. Whether that last is a sensor, or more of an NFC read technology I am not quite sure, but they know exactly which side of the cube is touching the other (eachother) and then the software of both will interact with each other.

So for example you could build a game where you have to let a character walk a path and this path is created by putting the right type of cubes on the right sides of the path to make the path continue, or a game where a fluid has to fall down (stack the blocks on top of each other). Now were these examples from their own video on youtube, but I am sure there will be much more creative ideas coming from this concept and technology.

The cool thing of this is that you can play games on the table or in your tent on a holiday, or in the car while driving to your holiday destination. You won’t need a TV, you don’t need a console, you just need these blocks. It is also expandable, it starts with three blocks, but more blocks can be bought seperately. Or you can have your friends join you with their blocks.

Does this mean that you can play with an endless amount of cubes?
Sofar the support forums showed that the main base supports up to 12 connected cubes. Next to that game developers can make games limit the amount of cubes to use. For example a Twist inspired game is going to be launched somewhere this year and will have a maximum of 12(!) cubes, while a lot of the smaller puzzle games allow a maximum of six cubes. It’s just a matter of time and creativity on the game developers side to create awesome gameplay with a big amount of cubes.

New games are launched via their games store which you can download via your PC or Mac and then new games can be synchronised with your Cube main adapter via an USB cable. These new games will most likely come for a price. Games are for sale against credits and credits can be bought via the website of Sifteo.

I hope they will also come with different cube types with different ways of play. Perhaps add a microphone to the mix or a mini camera?

I am not trying to commercialise this company or its products, but I surely feel interested in this type of alternative interactive gameplay. Even if it was just to relax for once and not use the PC for a bit of time, and holidays are exactly those moments we usually don’t have our favourite console around us or that powerful PC to play on.

The cubes cannot be switched on or off by a button. The cubes will turn themselves off after a certain amount of minutes while not being in use. You can “wake them up” by shaking them (they will turn on again). The main base can be switched on and off by pressing and holding a button on the top. Turning off the main base (5-second rule anyone?!) will also shutdown the paired cubes and this will show a 5-second countdown on one of the cubes. Connecting (pairing like in bluetooth, perhaps it is bluetooth they use) is done by holding the ‘to connect cube’ directly to the left side of the main base.

This is actually the second generation of cubes. The first version came one-and-a-half year ago and had less functionality. The Sifteo cubes are for sale as a beginners set of three cubes, a main station, five batteries and four pre-installed games for a price around 130 USD. For International buyers you get forwarded to Amazon.com. Note that ordering from the US might add some taxes from the Customs for importing the product into the country you are living.

Hmm I think I have to save up some money for this and get it. I really want to play around with it. Perhaps I even want to develop for it!

Game on!

Steven

Indie Game: On a rainy day

[intro] For this article I had to create a new category on our website. I believe I have written about several indie games and I am sure there is lots of it coming in the future, so a missing category was born: Indie. Today I take a look at an oldy, basicly it’s a retro … Continue reading “Indie Game: On a rainy day”

[intro]

For this article I had to create a new category on our website. I believe I have written about several indie games and I am sure there is lots of it coming in the future, so a missing category was born: Indie. Today I take a look at an oldy, basicly it’s a retro by now. “On a rainy day” was made during a school project by Shalin Shodnan in 2005 together with a team of 3 others. It’s a typical experimental (art) gameplay game.

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In “on a rainy day” the player has to protect paper boats crossing over water from the left of the screen to the right of the screen by protecting them from the rain. In the middle of the screen is the beginning of a tree growing. This tree exists of branches in the form of arms with hands. Each hand can hold on to another arm with hand or an umbrella.

Making the branches longer, you can protect more of the total area where the boats have to float past. Each hand holding another hand will split in two directions, making it more directional. Also the more branches added, the heavier the branch becomes and will hang more over to the other side.

An already equipped umbrella can be made undone by right clicking the umbrella. Then you can grab another arm with hand or a new umbrella.
When a certain amount of white boats have reached the other side, a new set of hands and umbrella’s is being released from the sky and dropped into the water ready for the taking.

There are red boats among the white ones that can either go really slow or really fast. These boats are bonus boats and reward you with a lot of arms with hands and umbrella’s at once as a thank you for a safe journey.

To add to the experience, a catchy jazzy tune plays in the background and the rain ofcourse makes its own noise, there’s even a different between the noise of rain on the water or rain on the umbrella. So it’s amazing how even on a simple game like this one, these details have been included as well.

For a game so simple, yet so much fun and created in just 10 days in OpenGL and C++ it is simply amazing!

What I didn’t figure out (but for that I am Steven and not The Game Mistress) was the actual goal of the game, apart from bringing boats to the other side. The actual goal is to reach the top of the screen. I didn’t figure that out until I read the postmortem document on Shalin Shodnan’s own website. And now that I was uploading screenshots after writing my article I figured I had also not read this instruction as the first line of the instructions screen. Ahem!

If you feel like you want to relax a bit and also play this funny game, you can take a look at the Experimental Gameplay Project Community and download it from there.
http://experimentalgameplay.com/blog/games/ under Original EGP 1.0 Games (bottom of the page)

There are 49 other games from that same 2005 project. Perhaps I will review one of those aswell.

Game on!

Steven

Review: Little Inferno (WiiU)

[intro] Little Inferno is one of the strangest games I have ever played. Why? It’s because of the unusual atmosphere the game has to offer. It is a simple game with a very deep meaning behind it. what I love about this game is all the references to other movies and games. [/intro] Console: WiiU … Continue reading “Review: Little Inferno (WiiU)”

[intro]

Little Inferno is one of the strangest games I have ever played. Why? It’s because of the unusual atmosphere the game has to offer. It is a simple game with a very deep meaning behind it. what I love about this game is all the references to other movies and games.

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Console: WiiU
Release date: 2012
Developers: Tomorrow Corporation (3 indie developers)

Story
This game is all about love, friendship, and finding yourself. You just bought the little inferno fireplace to keep yourself warm, as it is only getting colder and colder outside. It has been snowing for an unknown amount of time. The question is, is there more than what meets the eye? The story in this game did leave me thinking “What in the world did I just play?”

Gameplay
The gameplay is very simple, although also challenging. You have the Little Inferno entertainment fireplace and your objective is to grab your toys and burn them. The more you burn, the more money you get. With the money you obtain from burning toys you can buy more toys from the post order catalogue. After burning all toys from that catalogue a new catalogue is unlocked (that you can order).
You burn things with the cursor that turns into a flame and then you put things in the fireplace on fire with it by pressing the cursor (PC, WiiU, Tablet). You can try to find combos by burning various items together. Combos will award you with stamps, which you can use to get express deliveries (speed up your deliveries to be instant with you). Sometimes you will get presents from various people and sometimes they will ask you to send them a gift. If you are a sadist, you are in luck. Some of the toys you burn up do really scream giving you a weird feeling of satisfaction. I really got freaked out and felt sorry at times, even though they were just toys. Some items will give you a different effect when burning them, or act different when combined. There is a lot of variation in this game that keeps it interesting.

Sound
The music in this game is very dramatic so to say. While you are shopping for new items it reminds me those typical old cartoons or when they used to sell wares back in the 50’s; a cheerful old styled background music. The sound in this game is brilliant. All the items have their own unique sound, whether they are being put down in the fire or while they are burning to ashes. The screams will leave you feel guilty for burning the toys. The music is spot on, when it comes to the atmosphere. You really don’t know what to expect next of the game and the music implies this well.

Graphics
I like the graphics in this game. It has a very dark cartoonish feeling to it. The animation on each toy is well done! Especially when it gets burned to ashes! The character design reminds me of the World of Goo and the cartoons seem to be from Nickelodeon. Well, that is no surprise, some of the developers have worked on these previous projects!

The good and the bad

Good points:
– The game has a very sinister vibe to it, leaving the player clueless
– It’s fun to see the toys burn
– Excellent music and atmosphere
– Wonderful story that will leave you pondering

Bad points:
– The game can occasionally slow down when too much effects are on the screen

Conclusion
Little Inferno isn’t your everyday game. You have no idea what to expect, which is a good thing as I hate it when I can guess the plot in the game. Burning things is a real blast, the mysterious characters will make you get attached to them, no matter what. The game comes with impressive sounds and hilarious visuals. This game will surely entertain you. If you are a person who loves a game out of the ordinary, Little Inferno is the game for you!

Here is a Little Inferno Trailer:

Little Inferno has so far come out on PC, WiiU and by Thursday the 31st of January 2013 the game will also launch on iPad.

Game on!

The Game Mistress

Guild Wars 2 – Flame and Frost

[intro] The sky falls and the ground shakes in the lands of the north. Charr and norn refugees crawl from the wreckage of their homes in the Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau, struggling to find shelter in the south. The call goes out for volunteers to assist the victims in this time of need, when … Continue reading “Guild Wars 2 – Flame and Frost”

[intro]

The sky falls and the ground shakes in the lands of the north. Charr and norn refugees crawl from the wreckage of their homes in the Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau, struggling to find shelter in the south. The call goes out for volunteers to assist the victims in this time of need, when earth and sky seem to have become the enemy…

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This is how the story will continue by tomorrow for the players of Guild Wars 2. A story with, what seems like another permanent world changing event. The game is getting its first update for this year with the “Guesting” system which allows players to play with friends on other realms for a 24 hour timespan and the introduction a cost for moving from one realm to another. Also a whole new story is introduced along with a few new features added to the game.

They will add new PvP Tournament maps (first for paid only, later for both free and paid) and an improved achievement system which comes with a special UI for it to track your achievement progress. Also several new daily achievements are added to a daily rotation. The new achievement system will be in place to encourage open world exploration and revisiting of previous area’s (lower level area’s). Combined with the achievement improvements, also achievement ‘Laurels’ will be added as a currency to redeem rewards like the new Ascended gear and Infusions.

Five new utility infusions will be added to the game, as well as 30 new Ascended Amulets.

A good amount of new items will be added to the Diamond Store for those who prefer to have a bit of extra fun or look extra good in roleplay.

Apart from these special features, a lot of bugs will be squashed once again and some other UI improvements will be made. They also announce to make improvements to the WvW performance and the dynamic level adjustment system.

A lot of goodies to look forward to and a great start for a year of even more improvements and new features.

The patch will be live on Monday the 28th of January 2013. We are not really sure whether that means that this patch comes live by 00:00 USA time, or instead by noon or some time later. I won’t be around until the evening, so I won’t see anything before 7pm GMT+1 anyway.

Game on and have fun!

Steven

Preview: Ni No Kuni (PS3)

[intro] Ni No Kuni is a beautiful new game for the Playstation 3, made by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. [/intro] While most Japanese RPG games don’t become a hit on the European market, this Japanese game studio got the attention because of it’s cooperation with Studio Ghibli, the studio famous of its anime movies Spirited … Continue reading “Preview: Ni No Kuni (PS3)”

[intro]

Ni No Kuni is a beautiful new game for the Playstation 3, made by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli.

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While most Japanese RPG games don’t become a hit on the European market, this Japanese game studio got the attention because of it’s cooperation with Studio Ghibli, the studio famous of its anime movies Spirited Away and The Cat Returns.

The first thing that comes to mind when you see this game is the astonishing graphics. Not in the way that everything looks realistic or fantastic 3D, no its graphically looking like you are stepping into one of Studio Ghibli’s anime movies. Beautiful surroundings, fantastic music and sound. And as for the game itself, it has an enormous amount of depth to the story and the games’ features.

While I read some annoyances by others about the repetive elements in this game, I think this is the type of thing you can expect from a Japanese game. Japanese players’ taste is simply different from that of European players.

The story of Ni no Kuni revolves around thirteen-year-old Oliver, a resident of Motorville, whose mother, Allie, suddenly dies after rescuing him from drowning. A doll, given to Oliver by his mother, is brought to life from his tears and reveals itself to be a male fairy named Drippy, who gives Oliver a book that allows him to use the power of magic and enter the world of “Ni no Kuni,” a reality parallel to his own. In Ni no Kuni, Oliver may be able to find his mother. Using the newfound power of magic, Oliver and Drippy venture into Ni no Kuni. There, he befriends Esther, Swaine, and other alternative versions of people (and animals) he knows.

Oliver battles using the magic book given to him by Drippy. The magic book contains various spells to be used during the battles. You can arrange your characters to optimize your strategy in a battle, for example to place characters as a shield before ranged characters.

The Western PS3 version was recently released on the 22nd of January 2013, while the original Japanese PS3 version was already published in November 2011. There has also been a Nintendo DS version of the game, but that was Japanese only (December 2010).

I wouldn’t mind to play this game, but I don’t have a Playstation 3, so I will have to play it at a friends’ place. This game looks simply amazing in graphics, has an interesting storyline and I simply love RPG’s.

Game on

Steven