Trucker: Parking Simulator (for iOS)

After many many months of hard work, I’m delighted to announce the launch of my new game – Trucker: Parking Simulator.

FREE download on iTunes for iOS here: https://itunes.apple.com/app/trucker-parking-simulator/id617470040

Trucker: Parking Simulator

Description:

Take control of your truck and prove your driving skills in Trucker: Parking Simulator for iOS.

Start your new career as a Truck driver today for FREE! Jump into the cab and start your engine for the ultimate driving challenge! Your instructor awaits…

Game Features:

  • FREE download – tons of content free-to-play
  • Huge 72 level career mode, with 2 awesome vehicles!
  • Free-drive ‘sandbox’ mode
  • Realistic physics, accurate handling and finely tuned controls for exiting driving!
  • Full 3D world to explore
  • Universal app. Optimised for anything from iPad 1 and iPod Touch 4th Gen, with full iPhone 5 widescreen support.
  • 3 alternate objectives on each map (speed, precision, clean driving), or go for perfection on every level to get maximum points, and compete on the world leader boards or against your GameCentre friends for top scores!
  • Leader boards for each vehicle! Compete to be the best!
  • 56 Achievements! Get 660 GameCenter points!
  • Customisable controls (wheel, buttons or tilt)
  • Adjustable cameras give the perfect view, including first-person with rear view mirrors!
  • Unlock extras within the game to extend your Trucker experience!

Some screens:

Trucker - European Oil Tanker Truck Trucker Monster Truck

Gameplay trailer video: http://youtu.be/a7BYQ9KKyW8

GamePlan: Strategy planning App for FPS, RTS and MMO multiplayer gamers

I just launched my new app, GamePlan, to the Apple App Store and Android Market!

It’s designed for gamers to collaboratively discuss strategy and tactics with their team in real-time whilst playing their favourite FPS, RTS and MMO games (PC and Console, but users can add their own maps so it’s suitable for any multiplayer game).

GamePlan for iOS and Android

See more info on my website: www.gameplanlive.com 

Buy on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/app/gameplan/id503395878?mt=8

or Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DesignerApps.GamePlan

Assassins Creed: Recollection (iPad)

A unique and fresh take on the Collectable Card Game (CCG) format.

Assassins Creed Recollection

A blend of a card game and Real Time Strategy, with masses of strategic depth and more play options than you can shake a hidden extendable wrist blade at.

Unique to iPad (currently anyway, there are rumoured plans for ports to iPhone and other platforms), Assassins Creed Recollection has been the only game I’ve played seriously since it launched… it is that good!

The general idea is to build a deck of cards (called a ‘sequence’ in this game) from a pool of 288 options split into 6 different factions (see end of this post for a link to a full listing gallery). You then face off against AI opponents in the 20 level story mode, or for the real challenge play PvP online via game centre matchmaking (or inviting friends).

Each card signifies a ‘memory’ from the assassins creed universe, which you can draw from your sequence to place on the board. Your objective is to score 10 points in 2 of the 3 regions before your opponent does.

AC:R - the game board

You can fill your sequence with a combination of agents, sites and actions, each with different strengths, weaknesses and abilities that can influence how you play your cards and how you can damage your opponents chances. The twist compared to other similar ‘card battle’ games is that instead of players taking turns, this all happens in real-time, with the cards you and your opponent plays taking set amounts of time to activate. This gives time to react but actually puts a lot of the success of playing down to timing as well as playing the right thing, at the right time.

The strategies involved are varied, fun and intriguing. Some really clever combinations can be devised, but nothing is invincible and there is always something else to learn and try.

AC:R Memories

See the full collection and descriptions of cards here: http://www.hatenintendo.co.uk/acr

The interface is absolutely amazing, using the touch screen very cleverly and it’s a joy to play and navigate. The artwork is gorgeous and the overall feel of the game is wonderful.

I love the fact that the sites, agents and abilities are rooted in reality. It makes a nice change from the normal ‘high fantasy’ theme of these types of games that personally I cannot get in to. There’s no magic here apart from the interface🙂

The downside is that it can be pretty expensive if you want to be able to build any sequence you might want to try, because you can only gain cards through fairly slow progress with free credits for winning games, or buying IAP to buy packs. Chances are you will not get all the cards you want in enough quantities to build a reliable and consistent sequence unless you’re prepared to pour a significant amount of cash into booster packs. However, it’s a really slick and polished game that in my opinion, for the amount of fun that can be had from it and the depth of gameplay compared to most iPad games, is verging on worth it.

Overall I highly recommend this game if you want something to get your teeth into, but be prepared to spend at least a little over the entry price to get access to some different cards and get the most out of the experience.

There is a knowledgable and friendly community already building around the game, so for much more info please visit these!
Unofficial forum: http://acreedrecollection.proboards.com
Facebook fan page: http://bit.ly/acrboard
See the full collection and descriptions of cards here: http://www.hatenintendo.co.uk/acr

Knight Defense HD for iPad

Knight Defense HD for iPad is one of the hardest games I have ever had to review and summarise, but rest assured that it’s for all the right reasons!

It’s just that it’s so unique in the gaming landscape and not like ANYTHING I’ve ever played before.

Knight Defense

It’s got an extremely unique, refreshing and fun feel to the gameplay mechanics, with elements of strategy, action, tower defence and quick thinking tactics. It is very stable and polished to play on touch screen, in fact, I think with a mouse it would be uber-stressful to play!

As you probably know, the game is based on the rules of chess; at least in terms of how your own pieces can move and attack. However, the enemy spawns from fixed spots on the board and move in straight lines towards your King, whom you have to protect through several waves of increasing enemy numbers to complete a level.

Quite honestly, the concept of the game is so pure and comfortable from the off that I’m massively surprised nothing like this has been seen before (at least not by me!). Basing a game on the best real-world game ever devised is pure genius game design really!

The most captivating thing about it is that you can immediately sense there are dozens of ways you can approach your game, from a strategic and tactical point of view.

At the start of a game, you’re allowed to arrange your pieces on the board before activating the enemy waves, so this is your first decision! What arrangement will give you the strongest defence placement and coverage, bearing in mind how pieces can ‘attack’ (for example castles in vertical or horizontal lines, bishops in diagonal lines, pawns 1 square forward and to the side etc).

Secondly, you can use your points to upgrade pieces (8 tiers each, with each upgrade costing incrementally more) but by doing this you take points away from your final score, so you have to balance what strength you think you need versus getting a bigger score for the Gamecentre or OpenFeint integrated leaderboards, if you are so inclined.

Possibly, most intriguingly, your pieces positions are not fixed once the game starts! You can slide pieces around according to the rules of chess and you may have to move other pieces out of the way if you want to get some ‘troops’ forward if their moving path is blocked. This makes for some frantic repositioning mid-game as your defences get broken down.

Some very balanced subtleties come into play such as realising that you can guide the direction of the enemies charges by moving your King around, thus leading groups of enemies into ambushes or even riskier moves such as getting them to go back up the board into the line of fire for a second time (to start with, the human player is at the bottom of the screen, with enemies coming down at you from their spawn points).

Also, when you use some of your points to upgrade a unit, it also replenishes any damage they have taken, so by timing your upgrades when damage has been done you get the added bonus of restoring their health “for free”.

Each unit has a cool-down timer, which regularly unlocks a special ability (each piece having it’s own) which can really swing the situation in your favour if used wisely.

All of this combines to make one of the most interesting, varied, compelling, fresh and skilful strategy games I’ve played. It’s the sort of thing you could get really ‘pro’ at!

Visually, it’s stylish, smooth and colourful, but has a mature feel to it. Sound effects and music complement the action well, rounding off the experience. It is a very stable program with some well implemented features.

I’d love to see how the game progresses with updates. Hopefully it will be successful enough to allow the developer to add some sort of real-time multiplayer mode. This could be the competitive equivalent to StarCraft for the iPad!!

All in all if you like games that require some thought but are easy to learn and to conceptually understand, but with a lot of room for developing your own strategies and ways to play, I can recommend Knight Defense HD very highly indeed!

City of Secrets (HD for iPad)

City of Secrets (and HD) is an iPhone and iPad classical point and click adventure game presented with beautiful hand drawn art, layered 2D backgrounds and a 3D character cast, fully spoken throughout.

City of Secrets HD

The main characters you control are Rex (a little dog) and Mr Moles. Originally cartoon characters in Polish media, they have been in existence for nearly 100 years, so there’s a big back-story there for those keen enough to research it!

Various other games with the characters have been launhed on various platforms, selling over a million copies in Eastern Europe, but this is their first appearance on the iOS platform!

It’s a charming game, with a personality all of it’s own. The balance between intricacy of puzzles and accessibility is pitched about right, with the puzzles giving up a good challenge, but never getting too frustrating.

There are several methods to point players in the right direction such as a notebook containing a list of completed and ‘to-do’ tasks – and a hint system giving a written clue for the next most important task if you really get stuck!

City of Secrets HDFor more seasoned players there are numerous more subtle clues in the voice-overs and art itself, but it’s easy to miss the relevance of the spoken clues the first time around, and there’s no way to go back and read any spoken dialogue, so you will have to have your best detective head on and pay attention to really grasp it all! A notepad would be handy because it’s pretty obvious when a clue is told, but hard to remember it when it comes to the realisation of how to use it!

Most puzzles involve searching for items, sometimes combining them in the inventory, exploring the scenes and talking to the inhabitants, then using the right items to progress the plot.

The animated story is split into 5 chapters, and follows the adventures of Mr Moles, trying to save Poco Pane (the moles underground world) from being taken over by the sneaky rats!
City of Secrets HDChapters are introduced by a narrator, commenting on the action and giving context to the next scene. In some chapters control is passed to Rex the dog which gives a nice change of pace and feeds off the relationship between the main characters. In ways, it reminded me a lot of Wallace & Gromit or Sam & Max in the way the characters work together in the story, and has a lot of the quirky charm of those games, although the puzzles are more object and action led rather than talking to the right people with the correct responses so City of Secrets still has it’s own feel, with the much better option of smooth and attractive backdrops rather than slightly under-resolution 3D!

The game is crafted to work very well with touch controls, although there is usually only one context for each interaction which simplifies it, rather than in Lucasarts games where you can choose between actions for an object.

The whole game is very atmospheric and highly polished, with the artwork pulling it all together.

City of Secrets HDI understand there are going to be other episodes of the series, but there is an entire cohesive story arc contained within City of Secrets.

The stability of the game is also to be commended – never even thought about crashing. It’s also got a rock-solid load/save system, as well as automatic quick saves each time something significant happens so you won’t ever lose any progress.

I love adventure games on iPad – in my opinion they are the perfect genre for the device… It’s such a chilled way of playing that it feels like an interactive book with a life of its own! You can just pick it up and carry on with your story at your pace, in a very tactile way.


You can see the full details on their website: www.AidemMedia.com
Or download the official Press Release here: Aidem Press Release – City Of Secrets

 

www.AidemMedia.com.

ROBOT 99

I’ve been playing this fun little ‘universal’ iPhone and ipad game by Fu Design for a few days now and have to say it’s one of the most attractive looking game graphics I have seen for a long time! Hand-drawn art is a sorely missed thing in this 3D age, and this has a charm all of it’s own… beautiful!

Just check it out… and try not to fall in love!!!

ROBOT 99

More ROBOTS 99

The game itself is a pretty bizzare and fast paced effort to rescue the falling robots by tapping them to open their parachutes before they hit bottom. If you hit them in the top strip you get a speed bonus clearing the path for more falling metal souls. If they colide they have to be tapped again to keep them safe. You can also slide them left and right on their journy, but it’s hard to tell where the next are going to fall from, so I haven’t really find a good tactic for that yet!

There’s also various powerups (healthpacks and such) that fall from time to time to help you out.

All in all it’s a blast for a quick pick up and play.

It’s such a strong visual that I can see (and REALLY hope to see) other games being branched from these robot characters. It really is a nice style and I would love to see them in other adventures!

ROBOT 99 available now – give it a try!

Real Racing HD vs Need for Speed Shift

A comparison between the 2 main iPad racing games at launch has left me a little surprised. I only recently bought NFS Shift to see what it was like, seeing as it was getting lots of 5 star reviews, and must say I’m impressed by it!

They are both fundamentally ports of their iPhone compatriarts enhanced for the bigger screen and more processing power.

Both are excellent games in their own way so there’s definitely room for both in your collection depending on what you’re looking for.

Read on for a full and detailed comparison between Real Racing by Firemint and Need For Speed Shift by EA.

The presentation, menus & interface

Real Racing’s menus are a lot more attractive in most ways. They use the screen space better and the text is much neater with a much more ‘tech’ design to them. NFS is pure arcade console style menus but still easy to navigate, although there are a lot more steps to get to the action.

Both games have similar control options and view options. You can have driver asssists such as steering help, braking help, auto braking, auto accelerate and automatic gearbox – or turn any of those off for a more hardcore experience. Personally I drive with auto gearbox on but everything else off so that you can lift off the throttle without necessarily braking to help get around certain bends as smoothly as possible and losing minimal momentum.

You can drive the cars with external chase cams, bonnet cam or an in-cockpit view. I always like to drive in-car so can’t really comment on the other views. I find it much easier to gauge speed and position on the road from a cockpit view purely because it’s more realistic and I can put myself in the game more naturally. Both games have excellent views with this camera mode I’m pleased to say – they work really well.

One BIG gripe with Real Racing is that there is no rear view mirror on screen where NFS has both rear view and door mirrors with the in-car view. This is compounded by the fact that you have to press at the top middle of the screen to look behind which is pretty much impossible when you are holding the screen like a steering wheel! This seems like its just a direct port of the iPhone controls where it’s only a thumb distance away but this really doesn’t work on the iPad! Surely there is enough processing oomph to have an on-screen rear view mirror!?!

The cars, tracks & game structure

Both games have a quick race option and a career mode. Real Racing also has online leagues whereby you compete on time limited events to set your best result which is compared to other drivers registered for that league at the end of the timer, and championship results worked out from there. You can repeat each event as many times as you want within the timeframe until you are happy with your performance, then submit your times and move to the next event when the timer progresses. All this synchs up to their Cloudcell website where you can view stats, replays and league tables. This is a quality bit of depth that NFS lacks.

Real Racing is all circuit based venues, with racing kerbs, barriers, grandstands and gravel run-off areas. There is a good selection of fictional tracks which all look really nice. NFS on the other hand is all city based tracks. It has 4 famous cities with 7 variations of the same circuit in each. They all feel pretty similar to drive on so overall I prefer the RR tracks… But then I am a technical circuit racing fan over street racing! Having said that the tracks in NFS are well designed and fairly challenging so far.

Real Racing consists mainly of made up cars, with the only real-world car being a VW Golf GTi. There are 4 classes of car: hot hatches, saloons, muscle cars and GT sports cars – getting faster/harder to drive as you move up the ranks. Each class has a fair amount of cars within but they are basically all the same in each class, with different skins.

NFS has a good range of real cars with varying performance and drivability. You can also upgrade them with nitro, more power, better tyres and suspension. It would be a shame for this fact alone to be a decision maker for players but I can understand why it would be… It’s nice to pretend to drive your favourite make of car rather than some anonymous clones. However what it’s really about is the driving so lets move on!!

The driving & racing

Now the meat of any driving game is of course the driving!
This is where the games differ from each other the most, and where the root of my initial surprise stems from. When I first got my iPad, Real Racing was the 2nd app I downloaded (after Civ!) and I avoided NFS assuming it would be very arcadey on rails driving, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong!

Both games rely on picking your braking points and choosing a good racing line. Real Racing is more technical and strict on this in order to stay competitive once you get up to the higher levels of opponents, but that is largely because you are going so much faster around the laps that it’s so critical to get every turn in right and minimize the angles of the corners as much as possible.

Need for Speed feels much more under control with what I would say are more realistic travelling speeds, so it’s easier to pick your line and smoothly go around corners in a nice controlled arc. Even with steering help turned off there is some sort of influence there but I think its better for it… the driving is more FUN and less reliant on twitch reactions.

The AI give a good fight in both games. Again NFS is more under control… Cars stick to their lines more consistently so it’s easier to plan a pass on them. In Real Racing they drive a bit wild and seem to get pretty confused if you aren’t where they would expect you to be and doing simmilar speeds to them. It all moves too fast for you to really feel confident about placing your car next to them or outbraking them. It’s more a case of diving for the apex and hoping you can get on the power before them without running wide on the exit.

In terms of driving feel, RR is kind of seat of the pants driving, but very satisfying when you get a clean and fast lap in. It really does fly, especially with the faster cars. The downside is that it’s nigh on impossible to detect understeer or oversteer. In Need for Speed there is a nice transition into understeer, where you can almost FEEL the front end bouncing and scrabbling for grip. There’s a technique to recover the situation without clobbering the barriers, but you definitely lose momentum, so it is still satisfying when you get the slow-in fast-out approach right!

The BIG thing I don’t like in NFS is the fake way you force the car into a drift by turing the iPad quickly in the direction of the corner. It’s well overdone and very very arcadey. I don’t normally drive like that anyway but some events in the career are actual “drift” events, so you HAVE to do it to get enough points to pass. It just feels wrong. The drift angles are unnaturally severe and there is no skill in keeping it drifting, giving far too much leeway and pretty much sticking to the curvature of the bend on it’s own like Ridge Racer.

They are both aiming at different goals here but both are interesting to master.

The graphics & sounds

Graphically, they both look stunning in play. Real Racing has THE MOST AMAZING frame rate… seriously smooth (which is why I think they could easily implement an on-screen rear view mirror without impacting the performance at all) and really nice clear graphics. The bouncing effect when you jump over kerbs is very convincing and the pace really feels like playing on a current-gen console.

Need for Speed is a bit more jerky, which is distinctly noticeable coming straight from an RR session, but absolutely fine when playing. It would be nice if they could double the smoothness of frame rate but I think there is a bit more real-time shading going on here, so this probably will never happen, at least not in this version of the game, but I’m keen to see what future games can eek out of the iPad!

The audio in both games isn’t great compared to PC or current console games, but I think the sampled sounds in NFS are slightly more engrossing and appropriate to the vehicles than the analogue-digital-computer-generated-dynamic-on-the-fly technique used in Real Racing, where they sound a bit weak in comparison.

The verdict

I’m shocked to be saying this, because I’m a sim fan at heart and totally loved Real Racing on the iPhone, but Need for Speed is actually a better race experience in the most important ways for a driving game – namely the actual driving and battling with other cars!

I wish it had online leagues or even better, proper online racing. I wish it had more variety of tracks. I wish it ran smoother. I wish it had a longer career. But at the end of the day I’m having more fun with NFS Shift than Real Racing… sorry Firemint!!