Saturday, 22 June 2013

Mobile Gaming

I am somewhat disappointed with mobile gaming. I know its very difficult
for software developers to survive in an iOS or Android pool of
hundreds of thousands of apps, many of which are so alike.

I personally like the "Tower Defence" games - there are many excellent
examples of these games across the platforms, but equally, there are many
that are questionable.

Firstly: pay or free? I rarely pay for games - simply there is little
bang for buck. I did pay for some iOS games in the early days, but there
are enough free ones that paying for something, which is worse than the
free ones tends to put you off.

Next: big or small? I primarily want my devices for myself. The
mobile devices are excellent fodder for people to garner a collection
of things - whether you are into apps, games, books, movies, etc. It
becomes a compulsion to fill your device with whatever you like - especially
the "freebies". When the App Store first came out - collecting apps on
my ipod was a great hobby. After a while, the "filling up" of the home
screen problem arose - with so many apps, finding the one you were
after became a problem. With folders, you could organise and reorganise
the apps, e.g. "Games 1", "Games 2", ...

But then you had the "where did I put it?" problem. And you also had
the "where was that app I recently downloaded" problem.

These problems became worse as you acquired more devices (iPad, Android, etc)
because now theres a danger of trying to ensure each device mirrors every
other one. Even that app (like a remote-PC app) which seems so useful
but you will never actually use.

Then you have those apps which are never upgraded, despite being
great, and not working on the latest OS. Or apps that are upgraded
which add no real usability, except to support the latest OS or device
or screen resolution - usually bloating the app.

Do I want to download a 1.7GB app to my device? (There was a game
I was interested in, but at 1.7GB I decided "no - never"). These
are not apps; they are *weapons*. If I decide to download such an
app, it will want to copy itself to the main machine, and thence to
the other devices, and every time the other devices need a reboot or
restore, then you are hit with the download, all over again (in this
scenario, a download from the PC to the device, not a download
over the internet).

Back to Tower defense games: so - there are large ones, where
large is 50-100MB+ and the small ones. (Remember the early days when
an app was measured in megabytes?!)

Now the latest thing to be annoying - more so on App Store: those games that
have in-app purchases. On principal, I will not download these, except
by accident. I dont want an app to be a live trojan, which can help itself
to my account. So I avoid these. Of course, most of the free apps fit
into this category.

But there are paid-apps which have in-app purchases too. Really - the
worst of all worlds. I understand developers need to make a living, and
its a great idea - but there are games out there where it is not really
clear if you are buying with real $$$ or in-game $$$, and so you
could be the victim of one of these things.

The nature of the app universe is that all apps can have in-app
purchases, along with adverts, such that your mobile or ipod
becomes more like one of those glossy magazines you used to see
at a Doctors surgery - and no longer a technical gadget.

The diversity of the app stores is great - there is a lot to learn
from the many apps out there - from aesthetics and graphics, to
trying to understand the skills and algorithms of what makes the
app or game run.

I am not a "gamer": I used to buy games for Nintendo or XBox or PS2,
but I found the "hoarding" mentality would kick in - buy a game
because of its cover or genre, and find that within minutes the
game was a "dud" - a total waste of money. With mobile gaming, you
are not putting down as much money, but there are many "dud"s out

And what makes all of this worse, is that there are zero good
reviews of games on the internet. The many sites doing "App of the Week"
seem to advertise shovelware. In pre-mobile days, the Gaming Websites
were attrociously bad guides to games (this is very subjective - many
sites may be good for specific genres of games and people).
And magazines are the worst. The problem with all reviews (and this applies
to games and non-gaming equipment) is how much reviewers lush over
the product.

Its only when the upgrade or version 2 comes out do they exult what
the problems are.

I will give a for-instance: the Microsoft Kinect. It was good for
one game. It was very poor as a technical item - I dont think I ever
saw a bad review of it. And certain gamers react negatively to it because
its useless for those games. Even the new XBoxOne with its new
version of the Kinect is enthused all over the place (ignoring the
XBox180 jokes), but it misses a "point". (I wont describe the "point"
because this is subjective - I am sure that it will get great
use from a certain class of gamers).

I really shouldnt write about games, being a non-gamer, but I have
and would spend money on games, if I could be sure of the enjoyment
and bang-for-buck aspect of games.

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