Muschamp Rd

Personal News and iPhone Gaming

October 22nd, 2010
iPhone 3GS

I need to wait for all the I’s and T’s to be crossed, but I’m probably no longer unemployed. It all happened very quickly and I’ve been unemployed for too long so it wasn’t hard saying yes to a job offer. Even my actual duties are still being determined, it is a small company, which apparently has found a niche for its products and services. My job will basically be to make the founder’s life easier and to help the company grow at a manageable rate.

This news has lead to me not writing much PHP code in the last few days, though I still plan to make another mashup using my existing codebase. Last weekend I played all my five star songs in iTunes. I ‘loved’ them all in Last.fm and now I plan to make a favourite song mashup. The music business and the Internet is much more focused on tracks than albums. The barriers to creating a track and releasing it on the Internet are low. Creating a series of songs, going through the legal and distribution system, printing, pressing, etc. etc. Less albums are getting widely released now than in the 80s I imagine.

One thing I have been doing a lot of recently is gaming on my iPhone. My vote for best game on the iPhone is Reiner Knizia’s Samurai. I’d never played the board game, but I’d picked it up several times in Strategies and will be investing in it eventually. I need a better apartment so I can host games. It is a turn based strategy game with the best multi-player implementation. Other good turn based strategy games exist, but either it is tough to find opponents or tough to fit in a game. You play Samurai one turn at a time, so if you join a game with 1 day between turns there is no pressure to be online. It is a bit like playing Barren Realms Elite back in BBS days. You make your move per day and wait and see what others do.

It can of course be played faster and solo. The AI is pretty good I win and I lose. You can play a solo game of Samurai in 15 to maybe 25 minutes. Settlers of Catan takes longer, Neuroshima Hex probably does too. I’ve played Carcassonne online and solo and it has grown on me a bit. But sometimes when I want to play I can’t find an opponent. You also have to play the entire game in one sitting and some opponents seem to take the full 90 seconds they have to make their move, so it can go fairly long.

The other game I’ve spent a lot of time playing in the last 48 hours is Final Fantasy, the original from 1987. I never played the original. I never had a console at that time. I don’t think it is grand as Ultima or some of the old PC based RPGs. I’m not the only one with this idea. I do think there is a market for releasing or redoing classics on the iPhone and especially the iPad which with the bigger screen is a much better gaming platform.

The game I really wanted to play has not come out yet which is Final Fantasy Tactics. This I have played on a friend’s Play Station. It is fun and doesn’t require fast twitching or fine motor skills. I even tried a game inspired by FF:T as the hipsters call it, Rebirth of Fortune. I paid my money and gave the game a try but it didn’t remind me of Final Fantasy Tactics much. It is grid based, but you don’t really build your characters. You don’t equip them with gear, you don’t train them, or use a variety of spells and attacks. Basically there is a button you push that says “upgrade”. The game is also short on instructions and back story. I’m still not sure how to move members around in my formation, I think the game controls need a little fine tuning. Rebirth of Fortune has timed turns and since you have no instructions you get thrown into the game, it is a bit rough around the edges.

Rebirth of Fortune and Zenonia 2 are the only games I’ve bought that I have buyer’s remorse. The cost is so low though, my medium mocha I’m drinking costs more so I think others may enjoy them and you can try the free or lite version of the game in many cases.

I think a turn based RPG strategy game with a multi-player or even a scoreboard component would work on the iPhone. Part of the popularity of Bejeweled Blitz is showing off your score. The other secret of its success is it only takes a minute. I can make time to play Bejeweled Blitz and Samurai everyday. But Final Fantasy or some of the other strategy games, I need a solid half hour to get in a game.

I subscribed to a number of new RSS feeds and based on the fact I play games on my iPhone everyday or more truthfully every night while lying awake in bed. Yet I haven’t played a game on my MacBook Pro or Wii in months… I think I’ve become more of a casual gamer, but I still have hardcore gamer cred.

While looking at the strategy games available in the iTunes Store and reading reviews online the old game that I played on Chris Hooper’s computer that should be brought to the iPhone or cloned is Defender of the Crown. I’d also like to see Ultima or some of the old school TSR or TSR like (AD&D 2nd Edition) turned based RPGs. Again some sort of score board for best monk or best wizard so you can show off your character. Diablo II really brought that into the main stream though people had to do it in chat rooms or with screen shots… I think some games are approaching this, but the revenue stream for maintaining the servers is harder to justify at 2-5 dollars a game license.

After doing more reading I might give Undercroft a try.


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