Gamers Help Out receives an update

Gamers Help Out has received an update. Gamers Help Out is the page on the iGame Radio site that notifies you of members of the game industry that are helping out in times of disaster or emergency. The two updates for today involve PopCap Games and the new Gamers Heart Japan.

PopCap Games held a sale earlier in the month, portions of the proceeds of which went to the relief efforts in Japan. PopCap announced that they were able to send in excess of $200,000 to the International Red Cross to help.

Gamers Heart Japan is a new website that will feature a 60 minute special come April 3rd to help raise funds for the disaster in Japan. The special will include interviews from notables in the game industry about the importance of Japan in the game industry, from game development to hardware to culture.

To read more about both of these updates, or to participate in the ongoing efforts in the game industry to help out in Japan’s time of need, check out Gamers Help Out.

March 28, 2011 · Posted in General   
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WWDC 2011 promises future of iOS and Mac OS

ETA: Oh, and if you thought you might attend? Forget it. APPLE SOLD OUT IN LESS THAN A DAY!

Apple has unveiled the date of this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) as June 6 through June 10 at San Francisco’s Moscone West. This event will cover both iOS and Mac OSX development, and there is much speculation regarding what might and might not be revealed during the five day conference.

Apple’s press release claims that they will “unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS” at the WWDC 2011. Specifically mentioned is Mac OS Lion, but though no mention is made of iOS 5 we’ve no doubt that this is the conference that the new iOS version will be revealed. What is under speculation, though, is what will iOS 5 bring to the table.

A TechCrunch article has attempted to fill that speculation void, stating that their information is based on solid sources. TechCrunch’s Siegler says that iOS 5 will be a complete revamp of the OS “heavily built around the cloud…we could see several new services launch from Apple that take advantage of this.” These services apparently include a ‘music locker’ service that would allow users to store their music in a lockable storage space in a cloud server, and a friend/family location service.

You won’t see iOS 5 released at this conference though. TechCrunch pegs that date in the fall, and even the WWDC 2011 slogan bears that out: “Join us for a preview of the future of iOS and Mac OS X”.

Unfortunately for those looking for the latest hardware (iPhone 5, anyone?) this event seems to be software only. So you’ll have to wait for that hoped for hardware update for later.

March 28, 2011 · Posted in General, WWDC   
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Last week’s hiatus

You know that you’ve pissed off some ancient, evil, Cthuloid god when you get hit with three different medical conditions in the space of 49 days (two of which had you laid out for a week a piece). Last week was another such medical event, complete with all the signature TMI that I won’t go into here. Suffice to say if you are so sick that reading your news file or playing a video game for an hour tires you out enough to make you sleep for a couple of hours, you have no business trying to work.

I’m well and truly finished with these medical issues, but I don’t know whether these deities are. So if any of you know of the right sacrifices that I can perform to make certain that I don’t end up on hiatus again, I’d really like to know. Cause I’m no longer amused.

March 28, 2011 · Posted in General   
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[Podcast] Game Review Cast 27: Astroslugs, Back to the Future: The Game

What’s inside this episode:

  • A review of Astroslugs, by Bit Baron. Even without some extra features or any replayability, Astroslugs is a fun puzzler to puzzle out.
  • Also, a review of Back to the Future: The Game, Episode 1, by Telltale Games. The puzzles are a bit easy but the characters, story, and voice-acting make up for it all. And considering that this is the first of five episodes in the game series, we’ve much more to learn about going Back to the Future.
March 18, 2011 · Posted in Games, Podcasts   
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Gamers Help Out on iGame Radio

iGame Radio has published a new feature on the website, Gamers Help Out. This feature lists all game companies, organizations, and individuals who are providing a means to help out during times of crisis.

The current crisis that the Japanese have faced from an earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting devastation to their people and economy has been tragic. But gamers understand that when emergencies occur, the best way to handle them is to step up and lend a hand. “Gamers Help Out” is a list of all such people who have provided a means to do exactly that. The list has currently been populated with companies, groups, and individuals in the game industry who are providing a means to provide donations or other help to the Japanese people. The list will be updated as more information becomes available.

In the coming months and years, as new emergencies arise, this list will hopefully become a central resource for gamers to use to step up and lend that helping hand as quickly as possible in the way that they feel most comfortable.

So, c’mon everyone. Gamers help out, too.

March 18, 2011 · Posted in General   
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Rovio rewards players of Angry Birds HD with ads

How do you reward loyal customers who play your paid game all the time? Why, you drop some advertisements on them in an update!

Rovio, developer of the famed Angry Birds, has recently launched their latest update to Angry Birds for the iPad. Included within the fifteen new levels and a new golden egg is a “news section” every time you get to the pause screen. The advertisements are specific to Rovio, pitching their merchandise, but fans are having none of it. The response has been overwhelmingly negative.

One fan stated: “Common [sic] Rovio…haven’t you made enough money on selling the app – now you have to inject it with advertisements too? Completely ruined the experience from playing.”

Other fans have echoed the sentiment, stating that the ads are “tacky-looking” and “a total hack“. One fan asked why the merchandise ads couldn’t have their own menu, rather than be pushed from the main game.

But are these legitimate claims for gamers to make? Just how much of an intrusion do these advertisements make on the game experience? One poster on the Angry Birds HD iTunes page said:

“…this impacts the time to restart the level and continuous fade-in animation is very distracting. Now we’re forced to wait until the news loads EVERY SINGLE time the game is paused before restarting. Serious players will now have to wait an extra second or so each time a level restart is required.”

Really? A whole second? Is that really such an impact on the gameplay experience that “serious” players would stop playing the game? Or is this more of a complaint from people who “want their cake and want it now, dammit”?

Another more legitimate question to ask is whether a company that has already obtained payment for a game from a player should be putting advertisements within that game. Players are used to an economic environment within the game industry where paid games do not have advertisements, and freemium games either have advertisements or the player expects to pay for in-app purchases. Rarely are games ever free…there is almost always some price to pay…but there are also rules to purchases. Rovio seems to have broken those rules…at least according to most of their fans.

March 18, 2011 · Posted in Games   
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No St. Patrick’s Day Podcast

Omaha is back from the Writers UA conference, but having no time to prep for the podcast today, has decided to cancel it. She’ll be catching up from the week away today, and posting a review cast tomorrow, though. Next week we’ll be back to our regular schedule.

In the meantime, please enjoy some St. Patrick’s Day love. :-D

March 17, 2011 · Posted in Podcasts   
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Lights out for three days

We’re taking to alerting everyone to when we are taking breaks, and this is one of them. From Monday through Wednesday Omaha be in Long Beach, California attending WritersUA 2011 with her other hat on, podcast consulting. We’re not sure if we’ll be doing a podcast on this Thursday…that will really depend on many factors, but we’ll let you know. Have a great gaming week!

March 14, 2011 · Posted in General   
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iOS 4.3 intros new in-app purchase controls

Apple’s iOS 4.3 is in the wild, and with it comes some changes to the way in-app purchases are made on iOS devices. In the wake of increasing pressure by parents and the FTC, Apple has included a new feature that requires password entry each time an in-app purchase is made.

iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads already have extensive parental controls, including the ability to require a password to open certain apps, make any app purchases, and ratings for music and podcasts. However, this created a 15 minute window between when a purchase was made and the password would be required again for any future purchases. The result has been an increasing number of youngsters who racked up large in-app purchases between the time that mom or dad purchased their game and the 15 minute window was up.

iOS 4.3 includes a restriction that requires a password each and every time an in-app purchase is made. “With iOS 4.3,” said Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, “in addition to a password being required to purchase an app on the App Store, a reentry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase.”

But this may not quell the FTC concern. From the Washington Post article:

But some consumer protection experts say Apple’s move may not extinguish concerns by regulators and lawmakers. Linda Goldstein, chair of the advertising and marketing division at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips law firm, said the in-app purchases cut across many consumer protection issues: marketing to children and recurring charges to a “non-traditional billing device.”

Children of many different ages will use iOS devices to play games and other apps, and whereas older children have an opportunity for a teachable moment from their parents regarding the different between virtual and real currency within such a device (indeed, as more and more of our purchasing is performed online and much of it becomes virtual, this lesson is necessary), younger children will still not be able to understand. Restrictions such as have been introduced by Apple are necessary to protect them. As a matter of personal perspective, we feel it necessary to point out that we feel children of that age have no need to spend $99 on a barrel of smurfberries, either.

But stating that a consumer protection issue includes recurring charges to a “non-traditional billing device” has us confused. Why would billing to a new type of device be a matter of protection, we wonder, rather than a matter of education? What would the FTC be protecting consumers from? It would seem to us that consumer education, rather than protection, is called upon here, and that the role of education lies squarely in the laps of the hardware manufacturer and software developers who are utilizing the device, i.e. Apple and apps developers.

Our 2 pennies worth.

March 11, 2011 · Posted in General   
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The National croons a tune to Portal 2

Along with a slight change in the outfit of the character, Chell, for Portal 2, Valve is adding a new song. The National will be creating an original song for the sequel to the award-winning game due out the week of April 18.

The National can best be described as soul meets indie rock, and settles down in a nice home with 2.5 kids, then stares out the window wondering what it could have done. Their music focuses on the here and now of people you meet on the street, or maybe even you. The music for the first game, “Stay Alive” by Jonathan Coulton, was a crucial part of what made Portal so popular, according to Valve writer Chet Faliszek. “For Portal 2, we wanted to extend the use of music. When Bug Music mentioned to us that The National might be interested, we jumped at the opportunity to work with them.”

High Violet is The National’s most acclaimed and fastest-selling album to date. Released in May 2010, it debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200, and prompted the New York Times to claim “The National is in a league of its own.” The band has toured non-stop since the album’s release, with highlights that include sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and mainstage performances at Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and Lollapalooza.

March 11, 2011 · Posted in Games   
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