Game

Review: Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition

Posted on August 9, 2009. Filed under: Game | Tags: |

By Gagan Biyani, Tech crunch

The first few times I picked up Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition (iTunes link), I wanted to throw my iPhone out the window and watch it slowly sail 8 stories below into the Potomac river. Now, after five days of playing through the game’s 12 levels, I am ready to take my iPhone into bed with me and make sweet love to it. The controls take a lifetime to get used to, but once you’ve got them down, the game is extremely addictive. It took me a full three levels to get used to the game mechanic, but it was well worth it. The much-anticipated iPhone port of the console classic, Resident Evil 4, is only for those who are willing to put in the time I did. So be warned, short attention-span iPhone gamers: RE4 is not for you. For those who have come to appreciate the iPhone as a full-fledged portable gaming device, proceed, but please be patient.  

For those of you experiencing your first few days in civilization, Resident Evil is a first/third-person zombie shooter franchise from Capcom that has infiltrated every form of media on the planet. It started as a kick-ass video game, back in 1996. Since then, Resident Evil has appeared in 20 games on 12 platforms (including “PC” and “Mobile Phone”). It has also spawned a variety of movies, comic books, and, yes, someone took the time to write novels about Resident Evil. The story has varied and evolved over time, but there is one running theme: humans killing zombies. OK, history class over. Now onto the review:

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Risque German Game Phenomenon Tries To Repeat Success In English

Posted on March 11, 2009. Filed under: Game | Tags: , , , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Techcrunch.com

dossergamelogoMost of our readers have probably never heard of Pennergame, a controversial German game that asks players to rise from virtual homelessness to great wealth, by any means necessary. The text-based game has proven immensely popular in Germany, where it sees 1.8 million unique visitors a month and 1.5 billion page impressions, and is the third fastest growing website according to Comscore (falling just behind Facebook). With subject matter like animal-fights, tramps, and a “blood alcohol level management system”, the game has also raised the ire of a number of activist groups and politicans for its deragotory portrail of the homeless.

Today the two young men behind the game are launching an English version called Dossergame, which retains the same gameplay as the original with a London-themed slant (the creators may released localized US versions in the future). Once again gamers are asked to “beg, collect junk and to form gangs with other players” in the quest to rise from tramp to “castle owner”. So will Dossergame be able to capture the huge success of the original?

trampshot

As far as I can tell there isn’t anything particularly unique about Pennergame or its English sibling. Both games are primarily text-based, allowing gamers to rise in power and reputation by boosting their stats and interacting with other players. If that sounds familiar, it’s because games like Mob Wars and iMob are very similar, just with a different set of art and characters. And other text-based games have existed for many years, long before Mob Wars and its ilk.

Pennergame has succeed not because of its technology, but because it became a social phenomenon, allowing kids and co-workers who know each other in real life to band together in virtual gang wars. Dossergame may be able to ride the coattails of its German counterpart to popularity, but it will have to rely primarily on word-of-mouth, which is hard to force.

The small team who built Dossergame and Pennergame are also behind Verwandt.de, a German clone of Geni.

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Fantasy Sports Game Developer RotoHog Secures $2 million In Funding

Posted on March 11, 2009. Filed under: Game | Tags: , , , |

By Leena Rao

rotohogFantasy sports site RotoHog secured $2 million in Series B funding from by VC funds Mission Ventures and DFJ Dragon. In 2007, the company received $7.8 million in Series A funding from DFJ Dragon, Mission Ventures, and others. Founded in 2006, RotoHog operates and develops custom branded fantasy sports games for clients such the NBA.com, LG Electronics, GoDaddy.com, Pro Football Weekly, and Turner Digital, among others. RotoHog previously received $1.8 million in seed and angel funding from Allen & Company, SCP Worldwide and StubHub founder and CEO Jeff Fluhr in 2006.

Rotohog is planning to use the funds to develop new technologies and products for partners and expand its client base, including looking to international markets. Rotohog’s product platform includes custom sports games, fantasy games developed for social networks, fantasy leagues and a branded sports market ticker.

Rotohog is doing similar things to social game developer VoxPop.tv, except in the sports genre. There is definite potential in engaging consumers on the web through branded contests and games, especially with sports.

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TicTacTi Employs Image Recognition for In-Game Widget Ads

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Game | Tags: , , , |

By Roi Carthy, Techcrunch.com

tictacti_logoCasual games may see a vast amount of traffic, but monetizing them can be more than a little tricky due to issues relating to Flash-based game files and the needs of various publishers. Israeli startup TicTacTi is looking to make monetizing casual games more efficient, by using image recognition to insert ads into casual gaming widgets.

The biggest obstacle in providing In-Game Advertising (IGA) typically involves getting the actual ad into the game. Games, which are typically in Flash SWF format, require distribution by a publisher, which can be anything from an Oberon, to a HeyZap, to an online edition of a newspaper. Each publisher has its own quirks and demands when it comes to monetization—one wants to advertise pre-game, the other post, and the third between levels. And this is where the crux of the problem lies—all of these quirks require alternate versions of the game source for the various publishers and advertisers.

TicTacTi realizes that requiring developers to integrate with multiple SDK’s to facilitate the embedding of ads is not scalable, so it developed a semi-manual method that at least takes the SDK integration out of the equation.

Each game has to be set up by TicTacTi, a process the company estimates at about one to two hours per game. The actual game source code is not required which means that games can by encrypted—an important point for game developers. It’s here that TicTacTi “marks” events in games where ads could be placed. For example, a game could be marked in such a way that when the “Loading” prompt is visible, it would initiate a pre-roll ad marker, and when the “Game Over” prompt is visible, it would initiate a post-roll marker.

TicTacTi’s image recognition engine seeks these visual events in order to trigger the ad insertion. If the game source already includes TicTacTi’s IGA logo marker (see right), the game preparation stage can be skipped altogether because the image recognition engine will identify it automatically.

The image recognition is performed entirely client-side with ActionScript. The patent-pending technology involves a mechanism that combines image recognition throttling and emulation. This means that it is activated for small segments of time so as not to impose a cost on the user’s CPU. TicTacTi’s own testing revealed CPU usage remains the same for the entire game duration.

In order to embed the game, the publisher would call TicTacTi’s wrapper, which would in return load the game, along with additional elements. These include the ones that drive the image recognition, the ad insertion component and the reporting to the backend.

Standard ad units and tags are supported so ads inserted into the Flash games can originate from ad exchanges such as Right Media, Double Click, or the publisher’s own ad server. TicTacTi will charge a varied commission for the service.

Embedded below are a widget utilizing TicTacTi’s technology and a video demo of the service.

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Y Combinator’s Voxli Targets Gamers With Browser-Based Group Voice Chat

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Game, Tech News | Tags: , , , , , |

By Jason Kincaid

voxliVoxli, a new Y Combinator startup launching today, is looking to make group voice chat as simple as possible. The service allows gamers and team members to visit a static persistent URL to join a group chat session, and features push-to-talk using a browser plugin. Voxli is available on Internet Explorer and Firefox (both Mac and Windows) with support for more browsers on the way.

At launch, Voxli is focusing on making its service appealing to gamers, who often like to speak with each other as they play team based games. In-game voice chat isn’t a new concept – I remember using a program called Roger Wilco to play Counter Strike nearly a decade ago. Since then games like World of Warcraft have made voice chat a necessity, as they revolve around large-scale group activities (called raids) where communication is essential. voxlishot

Now there are a variety of chat clients available, including Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, and Mumble. But most of these require manual entry of port numbers and server addresses, which can be confusing. Voxli gets around these issues by offering users a static URL that they can then send around to their team members, which is far more convenient. Voxli is also a browser plugin, not a native client, which the team believes will make it more appealing.

To use Voxli, users assign a hotkey to their chat room which they press whenever they want to speak in-game (the hot key works regardless of which application is open). The system supports up to 200 simultaneous users per room, and gamers can open new tabs if they’d like to participate in multiple chats at once (they can assign a different hot key to each room).

For the duration of its public beta period, which will last 1-2 months, Voxli will be free for everyone, with no registration required to get started. This lack of restrictions comes with one major caveat – there’s currently no way to restrict access to your chat room, so a rival guild member could potentially infiltrate your group (the Voxli team says introducing restricted rooms is a top priority). Eventually Voxli will begin charging users a modest amount, but the team says that its reduced infrastructure costs (they use services like EC2) will allow it charge around half of what its competitors cost.

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Zivix Headliner Digital Guitar Is Rock Band & Guitar Hero Friendly

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Game, Music | Tags: , , , , |

By Andrew Liszewski, Ohgizmo.com

headliner-real-digital-guitar

A Minneapolis-based company called Zivix has developed a real guitar with special fingertip sensors allowing it to be used with games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The idea is that players who’ve spent countless hours mastering the games might actually be able to learn to play a real guitar at the same time, since the Headliner features strings and is the same size as a standard electric guitar.

There’s no official release date for the Headliner just yet, but according to an anonymous submission on Slashdot, Zivix has managed raise about $800,000 and hopes to have the guitar on store shelves sometime this year. But convincing gamers they should shell out $249 for the ‘real’ experience provided by the Headliner, as opposed to the not-so-real experience of a $40 Guitar Hero ax will probably be the company’s biggest hurdle.

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Gateway P-7808u FX 17″ Notebook PC

Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: Game, Notebook | Tags: , , , , |

By Sze, itechnews.net

gateway-p-7808u-fx-notebook-pc

Gateway launches the new P-7808u FX notebook PC, which is now available from J&R. Powered by an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 2GHz processor and a NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS with 1GB RAM, the P-7808u FX is perfect for gaming.

This new laptop has 4GB RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a DVDSuperMulti DL burner, a 17-inch 1440×900 LCD display and a 1.3 Megapixel webcam. P-7808u FX supports Ethernet, Bluetooth and WiFi 802.11a/g/n connecitivity. It has a 5-in-1 card reader and an ExpressCard slot.

The Gateway P-7808u FX is priced at $1,699.99.

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Microsoft drops Xbox Live Gold membership price

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Game, Microsoft | Tags: , |

By Jose Vilches, TechSpot.com

Microsoft is hoping to entice Xbox Live Silver members to upgrade their accounts by offering a $10 discount. The promotion is for a limited time only, though the company has yet to confirm how long the offer will stay open for, and brings the price of a Gold subscription down to $39.99 – or something like $3.30 a month. This is still more than what many are willing to pay, especially when PC and PlayStation 3 owners get full access to online gaming for free, but at the very least the new price will be a tad more tempting to some.

nxe-screen

With some 17 million paying subscribers, and a wealth of additional content up for sale or rent on Xbox Live, there really is no incentive for Microsoft to stop charging. However, could this be a sign that the company is considering a permanent price cut? Earlier this year they also began offering discounts through Amazon and other online outlets, though the price quickly jumped back up after a few hours in that occasion. Anyway, if you’ve been putting off upgrading for a while, now may be the time to hop on the Gold bandwagon.

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Fallout 3’s The Pitt DLC dated for March 24

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Game | Tags: , , , |

By Jose Vilches, TechSpot.com

Bethesda has announced that the next bit of downloadable content for its Fallout 3 title will arrive on March 24. The new content, dubbed The Pitt, takes place in an industrial raider town located in the remains of Pittsburgh and will introduce new weapons while focusing on the conflict between slaves and slavers. It is intended to feature 4-5 hours of additional gameplay and should run for 800 Microsoft Points ($10) on both Xbox 360 and PC’s Games for Windows Live.

thepitt

You can read more about Fallout 3: The Pitt in this interview with DLC producer Jeff Gardiner and in a hands-on preview over at Eurogamer. A third piece of Fallout 3 downloadable content, Broken Steel, will be released in April continuing the story past the original ending and raising the game’s level cap from 20 to 30.

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Amazon launches game trade-in program

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Game, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

By Jose Vilches, TechSpot.com

amazon1In a move sure to irk some game developers, Amazon.com has just introduced a new used game trade-in program that lets consumers send in their old video games in exchange for store credit. The process is fairly simple: Find the game on Amazon’s trade-in beta site to see how much it is worth, print out a free shipping label to send your game, and once received (assuming all is well with your copy of the game) you’ll get an Amazon gift card credited to your account.

Other companies such as GameStop make a good percentage of their revenues from buying and selling used games. However, according to data gathered by CNET, Amazon is for the most part offering higher trade-in prices than them and you can use that credit to buy not just games but pretty much anything off their vast catalog of products.

Retailer Toys“R”Us also stepped into the used games market recently and, of course, you could always avoid the middleman by selling directly through eBay and even Amazon’s own Marketplace to keep the extra profit. In the end, increased competition for used games seems like nothing but good news for gamers.

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Two Twitter Games That Help Make Your Day Less Boring: @TwitBrain And @BeatMyTweet

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Game, Tech News, Twitter News | Tags: , , , , |

By Robin Wauters – Techcrunch.com

If you’re procrastinating on Twitter anyway, might as well train your mind while you’re at it. Here are two simple games that make use of the microsharing service’s functionalities and keep your brains busy while tweeting:

TwitBrain

Follow @TwitBrain and get served calculations on a regular basis (like 3 per hour). If you’re the first person to reply with the correct answer, you’ll earn one point and hopefully make your way to Internet fame (well, not really) by getting on the top 10 lists.

twitbrain

BeatMyTweet

Follow @BeatMyTweet and do the exact same thing, but this time with word scrambles. Warning: it’s ridiculously easy so be fast if you want to be one of the first 10 to reply with the correct answer. Leaderboards here.

beatmytweet

Update: check out Twoof and @Twitoku too!

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RCTiger.com: Real-time web-based tank warfare

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Game, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By John Biggs

thumb-tanksliveWe received an email today telling us about RCTiger.com, a German website that lets you move little remote control tanks around a simulated battlefield. While I was quite skeptical at first, once I started the game I was taken aback at the fun I had running little Tiger tanks over miniature trees.

The system isn’t quite foolproof. The game runs from 10pm until midnight Munich time and there is apparently someone in a room watching these things so they don’t tip over or crash. You use the standard keyboard controls – ASDF – and press K to fire at the other tank. When you’re hit the tank shakes around a little and lights up. We received a beta account to try it out and we even recorded a video of our adventure!

tigerplay

Here is a link to the full-sized video of my game.

RCTiger is entirely web-based and the cameras are quite quick and refresh instantly. Best of all you can run into other tanks and walls without suffering much damage and if you get off course a giant hand will pick you up and drag you back to the playing field.I especially liked the weird little room where the tanks start out where the giant – actually a guy named Tony – lives.

Given enough work, I could see this as a very niche gaming experience. I think the limited screen space is holding this game back for now but it was quite a novel experience and loads of fun once you got the hang of it. Sadly, jerks like me will probably spend most of their time trying to push down trees instead of playing the game, but that’s to be expected.

Source: crunchgear

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GamersGate, an alternative direct-download games service

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Game | Tags: , , |

By Devin Coldewey

gamersgate

When people think of games on demand, Steam is usually the first thing that comes to mind, since so many of us have it by default, after having bought Half-Life 2 and whatnot. But there are services that have been around for just as long and which offer the same huge variety of games, like GamersGate, which we’re highlighting because of CrunchGear’s ongoing war with allowing the tech status quo to go unchallenged (viz. Zune). They’ve been around for a while but have been making some changes and expanding their stable.

Online game distribution is becoming as standard as ordering books and electronics online — so why should you tether yourself to a single store? It’s no different than checking prices on both Newegg and TigerDirect — just open an extra tab. You may find GamersGate’s clientless format more or less convenient, or maybe the game you’re looking for is on sale at one but not the other. There’s no reason you shouldn’t put your search into more than one box if it means a chance to save a couple bucks.

The selection is similar but not identical to Steam and Direct2Drive, likewise pricing. I found Chrome for $5 (Direct2Drive and Steam don’t have it), which is awesome, and X3: Reunion and Civ 4 for $10 less than D2D and Steam. On the other hand, they’re missing (for example) the first Serious Sam. Point being that shopping multiple shops is a good idea, and GamersGate has some solid deals and things you’ll only find there — like its competitors. They have a ton of indie and small developers, although for really old school stuff you’re better off with Good Old Games.

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How does the service itself work? Well, they’ve been proud to move to a clientless service and keep everything except the actual game downloads web-based. The web interface is a bit cramped, but it’s informative and thankfully keeps most of the info on one page. There’s a tab for video but I never saw any. When you buy a game, it appears in your account and you download a little tiny downloader file, which you can launch and close at your leisure. Once you install a game, you can throw away the files or keep them around and reinstall whenever you like. If you own a boxed copy of a game, you can put in your serial number and keep a digital copy on their server for download any time. Sounds great so far, right?

gate

Now the bad news. Download speeds. Under each game is a little “estimated download speed” box. I have a >24Mbit connection, so it guessed the 5.6GB Fallout 3 download would take about half an hour. Unfortunately, the downloads I’ve tried have ranged between 100KB/s and 300KB/s, which means it would take ages to get it. Convenience is the key here and waiting 5 hours to play a game you’ve paid for isn’t convenient. To make sure it wasn’t me, I tried installing a game from Steam: 2.2MB/s. So yeah, your mileage may vary quite a bit.

So while I can’t recommend that GamersGate be your only digital download service, you should definitely make a custom search for it, or at least bookmark it for when you’re looking to get your Thief on. Also, its clientless setup may appeal to those of you who can’t stand waiting for a separate client program to start up every time you launch a game (looking at you, Steam). I happen to know they’ve got a few surprises up their sleeves for the coming months as well, and we’ll keep you informed of them.

Dave Freeman adds:
I tried this service too, and had much the same experience as Devin. I’m really glad to see stuff from the smaller studios too, I’m always happy when someone that maybe hasn’t been bought out by EA has a forum to sell their games from and maybe get some attention. And no, the download speeds are not just a fluke. I’ve been downloading Fallout 3 for almost 24 hours, and I’m currently getting a 72 kb/s speed. This is really crippling to the functionality of the service. I hope that one of those surprises coming in the future is a little better speed.

Source: crunchgear

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Aqua Moto Race For Your iPhone

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Game, iPhone | Tags: , , , |

By Jason Kincaid

It’s no secret that the iPhone is one of gaming’s hottest new platforms, and while many of the games on the App Store leave something to be desired, every once in awhile we stumble across a game sporting very high production values that rival dedicated videogame systems. This weekend, Resolution Interactive unveiled a new game called Aqua Moto that is strongly reminiscent of Nintendo’s classic game Wave Race 64, allowing gamers to race Jet Skis through a variety of 3D environments. You can grab a free ‘Lite’ version of the game here, but at only $3 the full version (which includes far more tracks) is a bargain.
jetskishot1Beyond its impressive graphics, Aqua Moto shines because its controls are perfectly suited for the iPhone. As gamers tilt their iPhone from side to side their character swerves left or right, and tilting the phone forward or backward controls the acceleration. This isn’t the first game to employ this kind of control scheme – dozens of similar racing games have been released on the App Store since its launch last July. But most of those games are car-based, which means that the controls are often much more ‘twitchy’ and tough to control. Aqua Moto favors broader motions as the vehicles are water-based, which makes the gameplay feel much more natural (and is also a bit more forgiving).

My biggest gripe is that the game fails to tap into the iPhone’s network effect – it would be great if the game supported multiplayer, even if only across a Wi-Fi network. That said, its championship mode seems to be long enough to satisfy most gamers, and is certainly worth the $3 price of admission.

Source: techcrunch

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