Tag Archives: angry birds

Advisor-bar More platforms and devices for Android games

Mobile gaming has become a way of life, and the rapid growth of games in the Google Play Store is a testimony to this emerging industry’s success. It’s not at all uncommon to see smartphone users engulfed in a game of Draw Something or Angry Birds, contributing to a gaming industry that brought in nearly $17 billion in U.S. sales last year. And while video game sales overall actually fell in 2011, mobile game apps showed growth.

The boom is spawning marketing tactics and platform strategies across the board, mimicking the days of 25-cent arcade games. With downloads averaging 99-cents for some of the most popular mobile titles, it’s easy to attract new developers and traditional game houses alike. Dragonplay, a free-to-play social game developer currently on Android and Facebook, raised $14 million in Series A funding from Accel Partners, Founder Collective and Entree Capital to further its multi-platform game experiences. Known for its Android app Live Holdem Poker Pro, Dragonplay looks to virtual goods and in-app purchases for the majority of its monetization, which works well on Android’s platform, noted by the company’s founder Sharon Tal as having the most potential for growth.

New ways to play

Sony is also revamping its mobile strategy for today’s gaming trends, with a new CEO and President for its mobile division, Kunimasa Suzuki. With big plans for the PS Vita and an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade for the Xperia PLAY (expected this month), mobile gaming is a major focus for Sony moving forward. This is particularly important for their PS Network integration, which was an early supporter of Android integration and looks to the mobile sector for diversification in an evolving gaming industry.

The growing gaming sector is also encouraging a range of devices for new ways to play, including a controller operated with your tongue. Developed by The University of Electro-Communications in Japan, the new controller was created as a tool to help train people with oral motor function disorders. The prototype follows your tongue movement, similar to the Kinect, and has implications far beyond its use as a training device.

Another under-the-radar device still in development is the Drone, a Bluetooth controller that brings tactile button-mashing to mobile games. As an open source device, the Drone turned to the developer community to make this controller an integrated gadget, and it’s currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

Angry Birds creator Rovio acquires Futuremark Games Studio

Angry Birds publisher Rovio Entertainment has acquired its fellow Finnish game development house, Futuremark Games Studio, in order to get some new talent.

Rovio, which just launched its Angry Birds Space mobile game blockbuster, is buying the game-making division of benchmark software creator Futuremark.

“They are an incredibly talented and experienced team, and we are thrilled to have them on board,” said Mikael Hed, Rovio Entertainment’s chief executive, in a statement. “Rovio’s success is founded on the excellence of our team, and Futuremark Games Studio is going to be a superb addition.”

The deal will help Rovio make more games and allow Futuremark to focus on its professional benchmarking of 3D hardware and 3D games.

The deal is the second acquisition for Rovio in the past year, after it bought the Kombo Animation Studio last summer. Rovio is building entertainment, publishing, animation and retail arms and now has more than 300 people in Espoo and Tampere, Finland and Shanghai. The value of the deal wasn’t disclosed.

Pissed Off Penguins A Free and Open-Source Game

Kris Occhipinti is currently in the middle of creating a 2D game created using the Blender 3D game engine. The game, called Pissed Off Penguins, looks similar to the popular “Angry Birds” game most of you have likely heard about. I wanted to outline this open-source project and expose some of the unique techniques Kris is using to both fund this project and create the game itself.

The first thing I found interesting was that Kris is using the project funding platform Kickstarter.com to raise the funds for developing the game. The way I understand Kickstarter to work is a project idea is proposed, a donation goal is set, and if the goal is met within the time threshold, the project is successfully Kickstarted. People that donate to the project, known as “backers”, are given all types of incentives depending on the amount they donate. Check out the incentives for this project. Donations start at $1.

The second unique thing about the POP project is the entire process is being documented on Kris’ Youtube channel. Each video he puts out shows a different step or an update on the games’ progress. You can see how the game looks as it’s being created, each step that’s taken and each mistake that’s made. This type of documentation really provides a valuable training resource for users interested in a similar game startup and it’s a great incentive for people to donate and be apart of the project.

Be apart of this project by backing it at Kickstarter!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oa2DTq2xL4&w=480&h=274]

Why Hasn’t Google+ Opened The Game Dev Floodgates?

Having just started hosting games a couple months ago, Google+ still has a long way to go before it can even begin to measure up to what Facebook can offer as a games platform.

Google is taking a methodical approach to the ramp-up of games on its fledgling social network. With the launch of games on Google+ in August, the web giant has focused on the biggest games in social and casual, including Rovio’s Angry Birds, PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz, Electronic Arts’ Dragon Age Legends, and others.

But despite the strict “quality over quantity” approach that Google has initially adopted, the company assured Gamasutra that it certainly intends to open the floodgates and get more developers on the platform.

“The reason we started with a closed platform at the moment is simply because the system couldn’t handle a thousand games at once,” said Todd Kerpelman, game developer advocate for Google+. “You look at the fact that we’re still kind of at the beginning of creating a platform. We’ve made some changes. It’s easy to call just say, 10 developers, and tell them, ‘stuff has changed.’”

“Just in terms of where the UI is at, and where the platform is at, we wanted to make sure we’re working with a small number of developers before we start opening it up to everybody,” he said. “And that is our larger goal, to bring in more developers, and eventually open it up to anybody that wants to develop on Google+. Just right now the system is not ready to handle that.”

Wild West Or Curated?

To what degree Google will open its network is still up in the air, Kerpelman said. Currently, Google’s own mobile Android Market is a Wild West of app and game development. Where an Apple App Store developer must submit a game and wait a few days for Apple’s approval, Android developers need only to create an app, submit it, and it’s live on the Android Market in just a few minutes – the floodgates are truly open.

That Android approach may or may not be the direction that Google+ will take. “I’m not sure what our plans are – to be completely open versus something like an Apple-style, curated business – that’s still to be determined, and we’re still working it out,” Kerpelman said. “…The platform has only been out a couple of months, so we’ve got a way to go.”

If Google does decide to open Google+ to the same degree as the Android Market, it almost certainly means that the company will have to react against counterfeit games and apps. The issue is something that Kerpelman is well aware of.

“I can’t speak to much for the Android Marketplace or the Chrome Web Store, but that’s obviously a concern [for Google+],” he said. “Sometimes you have a fine line between a game that is awfully similar, then you get the direct rip-offs. We don’t want that to be common on our online marketplaces.”

“So, it is a balance of how you keep the platform as open as you can, while making sure bad stuff like that doesn’t happen. And we’re still working on finding the perfect solution,” he added.

Rise of HTML5

One trend that Google is certainly keeping an eye on is the rise of HTML5, the latest revision of the open format web standard that promises more flexibility in multimedia features. The specs are still technically in development and are scheduled for publishing in 2014.

“We’ve been working with Rovio on the version of Angry Birds that’s available on Chrome Webs Store and the version that’s on Google+,” said Kerpelman. “Both of those are done in HTML5.”

“They generally work pretty well. They’re fun games and we like HTML5. That said, a lot of our games are right now on Google+ are in Flash, and that’s fine with us too,” he added. “We’re really taking the attitude of ‘Let the best technology for the job [prevail].’”

“So we’re looking at HTML5, WebGL and also native client stuff that you probably see out there, as well as Flash, which is very common for social games out there right now,” Kerpelman said.

“I think there’s generally the feeling that HTML5 as a platform is growing and is becoming much more of a legitimate platform than it was even 36 months ago. So it’s good to see the rise of HTML5 as a gaming platform.”

Kerpelman also said he sees little reason why HTML5 can’t coexist with established technologies like Adobe’s Flash. But he said, “I think there’s probably a limit in terms of the number of plugins a user wants to have to install, and from a developer’s perspective, they don’t want to have to port a game to four different technologies, obviously.”

“That being said, I do think it’s possible for all these technologies to live together. I guess we don’t take the approach of ‘in order for one technology to succeed, others need to fail.’ It certainly is possible for several technologies to be viable and workable,” said Kerpelman. “If the players are happy, and the developers are happy, there’s no reason why they can’t all be successful.”

That Other Social Network

Of course, the biggest competition that Google has in social network gaming is Facebook, which introduced a number of new changes a few weeks ago during its f8 conference. Some of these changes included Facebook’s Open Graph, which has features that re-open some of the viral channels that are so important to a social network games’ success.

Facebook partnered with a number of high-profile game development partners who will be making games to leverage the impressive new features.

“We definitely have been looking at the changes [to Facebook],” Kerpelman said. “Personally, I think the Timeline is really cool. It’s been interesting to see what they’ve been doing with games. We’ll certainly see what our [game] developers are saying, if something works really well [on Google+]. Or if the development community asks for us to do something similar [to Facebook], we’d certainly consider it.”

Asked if developers have pointed out advantages that Google+ has over Facebook, Kerpelman laughed, “They’re definitely happier with our transaction fees.” (Google charges only a 5 percent transaction fee on in-app purchases, compared to Facebook’s — and for that matter Apple’s — 30 percent.)

But the fact is that currently, only a select few can take advantage of those rates, and other opportunities that Google+ will offer, until Google starts to let more game developers in.

“I know we’ve had a lot of interest in developing games on Google+,” said Kerpelman. “I know the developers that haven’t been able to get on yet are a little frustrated. So I ask just to please be patient. We’re trying to expand as fast as we can, and we want to make sure the developers that we have now are happy, and that the system can handle it. So thank you for your patience!”

Tech Goes to the Movies

We’ve been hearing buzz for quite some time now that Rovio will make an Angry Birds movie. We also recently learned that Zynga may also be making a film based on FarmVille, the somewhat-fizzling Facebook game. Perhaps the minds at Rovio and Zynga are hoping for the same box office success as 2010’s wildly successful The Social Network (you know, the Facebook movie).

As readers of PCMag, your taste in movies is probably pretty similar to ours. Though you may end up waiting for FarmVille to come out on video before you see it, we’re guessing most of you have seen the usual geek flicks: Star Wars (all of them), Star Trek (also all of them), Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tron, and even the newer ones like The Matrix, Iron Man, Avatar, and Minority Report. These great films truly appeal to our inner-nerds, but unfortunately, none of them are actually based on technology that we actually use in our daily lives.

However, there are plenty of movies based on real-life technology that should not go overlooked by Sci-Fi enthusiasts. If you have any inclination to learn about of the evolution of technology, specifically computers, tune in to these nine movies. They may answer some questions about how we graduated from using mammoth computers like the Altair 8800 to typing on today’s ultraportables. There are films about the start of major tech companies, such as Microsoft and Apple, and others about the venture capitalists that funded some of today’s tech behemoths. We found movies documenting the creation of Linux and the free software movement, movies crowdsourced by YouTube users, and we even threw the highest-grossing movie ever to be adapted from a video game into the mix.

Take a break from movies about aliens and teleportation and check out nine films based on real-world technology.

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