#SelfCare

#SelfCare is one of the most chill gaming experiences you’ll ever have. It’s one of those games that you turn to in order to turn your mind off. #SelfCare has you in bed all day, & you are just focusing on yourself. It brings comfort & meditative experiences. It may open your eyes to other […]

#SelfCare

Should You Care? Women – Critical Lit Games

CriticialLitGames is the brainchild of writer turned coder Susan Grey, her focus with CriticalLitGames is to blend her two loves of literature and gaming using Augmented Reality (AR).

CriticialLitGames is the brainchild of writer turned coder Susan Gray, her focus with CriticalLitGames is to blend her two loves of literature and gaming using Augmented Reality (AR).

Coming from an arts background, Susan has been writing fiction from a young age starting off with short fiction and novellas moving on later to writing and publishing plays and poems. Her love of writing didn’t end there but seeped into her gaming life. She told me during her chat that when she was younger, she used to write to gaming companies with her ideas for games that she wanted to see. From this love of gaming leant her to coding where she had picked up Q and Visual Basic realising she may not need the major gaming companies to achieve her dreams. She could make the games herself.

Upon completing her PhD in Creative Writing, she decided to try her hand at Unity. Her first foray

IMG_1639

into Unity was in the VR space, but during her testing, she stumbled upon AR. She was fascinated about what she describes as the “breach into physical reality” rather than the separatist nature of VR. She realised that anything could be a host for an extra layer of information over the items we see as commonplace in our daily lives. Her mindthen strayed back to her first love of books. How could she add this layer over a timeless medium without distracting the reader’s attention?

She then drew on the experiences she had as a child and tieing that in with her love of video gaming realised she could create the modern gamebook. Thanks to the technological advancements that have to lead to AR she felt this could add a level of novelty to the everyday.

You can find a demo of her previous work here, and you can follow her progress on Twitter at @CritLitGames, on Instagram @criticallitgames, her blog https://criticallitgames.co.uk, and her Patreon if you want to support what she is up to.

Animal Crossing : Pocket Camp Review

Animal Crossing has always had the same appeal to me as the Harvest Moon series. It’s like good comfort food; it’s regular, consistent and expected. There are no surprises and satisfies a need that I have of getting lost for a few hours doing meaningful tasks in a world that is not my own. This need for getting the comfort food I’m so used to is the reason why I’m so conflicted about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

camping experience 2

I started with the Animal Crossing series late, as I never had a Nintendo 64 or a GameCube growing up (my family was a Playstation household growing up – bar handhelds). So I missed the original Animal Crossing, and my first fling with the series was with Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo DS and it was love at first play. I loved the character style, the size of the map, how you interacted with the characters and the overall flow of the game. It has a Sims or Harvest Moon effect – where you tell yourself you’re only going to play an hour max of it and suddenly it’s 4 am.

So I was equal parts thrilled and concerned when Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a mobile version of Animal Crossing. The one thing that I didn’t want was it to be completely overrun with prompts to hand over my money to get apples from a tree. (You can find more about my thoughts on microtransactions over at Noobist.com http://noobist.com/gaming/microtransactions-questioning-noise/) It turns out that those fears are only half realised.

camp and chill

When you first start out in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you’re greeted by the regular faces. You’ll be first greeted by K.K. Slider, and then Isabelle, who’ll get you up and running in your campsite. From then on, everything goes mostly as expected; you’ll be befriending neighbourly animals, collecting fruit, hunting bugs, and customising your campsite & minivan. Most of these events are set up via timers, so you can only do a set amount of things in a certain amount of time. This means that there isn’t as much of a time commitment so its perfect for waiting for a bus or queuing for your shopping but it isn’t so suited for more extended play sessions.

There are things you can do to extend your time should you have extra time to kill. For instance, fishing can be completed in one of two ways. Firstly, is the traditional way where you go from area to area catching fish with a rod. Or you can skip the fishing for a net which catches multiple types of fish at once the catch is (ha!) that it costs leaf tickets. This is where the game begins to get a bit cash happy as this is the games premium currency.

So, for those who unwittingly spent their tickets early on in the game during setup – I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Leaf tickets are a strategy in themselves, a balance of what you want versus what you’re willing to wait for. You can acquire Leaf Tickets in-game at the beginning with relative ease given the stretch goal systems. They give you tickets readily and freely in the beginning just for getting simple tasks done. But the good times don’t last forever I’m afraid.

There become barriers to entry to specific areas like the ore mining camp without payment of some leaf tickets. Or having to pay for trees to regrow, fishing nets, upgrading your bays to purchase more than one piece of furniture at a time. The list gets long and endless, and as a result, loses its sweetness. It forgets that spark that made it go to comfort food, something that you can sit down and relax with to something that is more a convenience snack. Enough to keep you going, but not enough to fill the void.

That’s the best way of summing up what Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is something to play when you’re just casually waiting for a bus or a way to pass a little bit of time. However, trying to get the full-bodied experience of Animal Crossing game will not be found here, or at least not without serious investment.

Podcast: Pocketnow Weekly

Consider this an item ticked off my bucket list! I made it to the Pocketnow Weekly with my very good friends Juan & Jules. This is a bit of a rollercoaster of a podcast, so I hope you enjoy it!

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About us: Pocketnow has been a key source of mobile technology news and reviews since its establishment in 2000. With offices on three continents, Pocketnow offers round-the-clock coverage of the mobile technology landscape, from smartphones to tablets to wearables. We aim to be your number-one source for mobile tech news, reviews, comparisons, and commentary. If you love mobile as much as we do, be sure to subscribe!

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Smartwatches – 2017 Edition: What do you need to know?

Should you care about Smartwatches in 2017?

To buy or not to buy?

The world of smartwatches is a treacherous place right now, you only need to check the news to tell you that. Fitbit is buying everything or that projections for the future are grim. There is a lot of variety with smartwatches & even more confusion about what it will do to enhance your life.

It just happened that my very first watch The Sony Smartwatch. It was something that I loved, and while I was working as CEA for an Online company and being full time in college, it became an essential asset for me to keep on top of everything. It enabled me to be able to get away from my phone or laptop and gave me the ability to find time. However there were compromises with the unit, and now that many years have passed since its release and indeed, that particular watch is already on its third rendition – has the technology changed enough to get you into the game? 

 

What would you want it to do?

  • Give you some time back from a busy day – so notify you appropriately if there is like an emergency meeting on Skype. Or if an urgent phone call is coming through. 
  • Limited response features on the device itself – you may like the ability to be able to send an automated message to people calling me to tell them I’m in class or unable to take a call by a touch of a button and not have to stress about missing the call. 
  • Selection of apps – If you want to start using a Bluetooth headset you may want to be able to control the music and volume with it. 
  • You may want it to be both Andriod & IOS compatible – herein seems to lie the majority of the difficulty. 

Can anybody find me, somebody, to love?

Apple Watch

Easily the most expensive option out of all of them is the Apple Watch. Prices ranging from £299 – £15k  (€472) makes it a heavy hitter regarding finances. There was a lot of hype about the watch, and none of it enticed me about it except the built quality. It looks significantly more respectable and mature than some of its Andriod rivals. My biggest gripe about it except from the price point is that average usage is cited as being a day at best. While I have no issues with charging my gadgets nightly, I’d have to have a good enough reason to be sure that it is an “I can’t function properly without this device.” before spending that level of cash on something that I could put down and not bother with. Your mileage may vary of course, but if you don’t like to charge your phone nightly, then you may want to skip on this as an option. 

Pebble (RIP)

Pebble had been a company I’ve been taking an active interest in for a while. Their original Pebble was a fantastic success and something that I had initially dismissed as being a bit crappy with its plastic build and obnoxious buttons. It took me a long time to realise the pure ingenuity behind having something so simple. At a time when the device was €99, it was an enticing prospect for anyone looking to get into the smartwatch game, who didn’t mind the geek-chic that the watch had to offer. One of the biggest things that the Pebble time had to offer was the 7-day battery life. Which would be the main reason why a lot of consumers would be interested in it with the ability to swap between IOS and Andriod the formula is was set to be a winner. Right now, since its acquisition by Fitbit taking it up as a newer investment wouldn’t be wise. However, it’ll be fascinating to see the results of what will rise from the ashes. 

 

Razer Nabu & Nabu X

Yes, before you ask. Razer is in the smart watch movement – sorta. They presently have two devices. Only one is available as the Nabu, and it is something that maintains to be actually rather difficult to get a hold of. Razer says that they’re doing something about demand but time will tell whether or not the peripherals company will manage to pull anything else out of their hat. The Nabu has some unique features, like the ability to swap contact details when you shake hands with someone who also has a Nabu. I can imagine for Gaming conferences like PAX or DreamHack that this would be super useful. It’s also more discrete than traditional smartwatches, with the screen on the inner wrist side it makes for more subtle notification delivery. However, if the Nabu is unavailable, the only option available is the Nabu X, and that isn’t a bad thing. I personally prefer the design of the Nabu X and at the price point of €59 with free delivery makes it a no-brainer for those who are looking for something to keep them going. The three dot display isn’t for everyone, and apps are limited – could be a reason as to why the Nabu X isn’t selling as well as the first Nabu.  This does give someone an option who already is brand loyal a way of keeping connected. 

Traditional Watch Brands

While the future may be perceived to be bleak, there are a lot of traditional watch makers who are getting in on the action. Most of these watches are running Andriod Wear, for instance, Casio has their own range of smartwatches geared towards the more outdoor activities. With built-in GPS they are watches that are geared towards hiking rather than anything more suburban. Fossil has offerings that are far more traditional in style but has the added benefit of being run on Andriod also. So it just goes to show that in the Andriod Wear space, there is an enormous amount of variety, so it’s very easy to find something that suits your style.

 

What do you think?

Do you have any suggestion? Is there any major player who I’ve missed out on? If you know of any, please feel to drop a comment down below! Keep an eye on Should You Care? YouTube for the video version of this blog!

Fallen London

Fallen London

It’s been a very long time since I’ve played any sort of free point and click/narrative game. I’d say its been as long as my Newgrounds & I Am Bored days. It’s a game thats very hard to explain, but I’ll give it a good go. 
 
First thing to know about Fallen London, and the very first thing that happened to me was that I died. Immediately. My gut reaction to this was “F this then.” But a friend of mine kept encouraging to persist with it, and its a game I fall very much in and out of love with. I ended up coming back from the dead and running around a very beautifully created world. 
 
Which is high praise for a soley text driven narrative. The writing in any game can often dictate involvement and engagement within the game. A game like this has to strike a balance between engagement and not being too text heavy. Which is a balance that 90% of the time the game gets right. 
 
Its a game you play the way you want to, in the missions you get, you choose how you want to play it. Watchful, Shadowy, Dangerous, Persuasive; these are the main points that you gain from completing missions certain ways. There is always choice in Fallen London for how you want to play the game, and at the minute I haven’t gotten myself into too much of a box.  
 

 

Traveling around Fallen London is easy with its intuitive fast travel opens, you will get notified where you can or cannot go in a certain story line or if you just want to go off exploring. There are certain places you can’t go at the very start of the game, as there are certain quests you have to complete, or you need to become a person of note to gain access to these levels.
How you interact with the game is a minamilistic screen and the icons for each task and deck has been revamped lately which gives a needed breath of fresh air to the stylistic challenges games like these face.
 
The games mechanics are fairly simple to explain. You have 20 actions that get refreshed every 10 minutes. There are some micro transactions, but they aren’t essential to playing the game and more importantly they’re not pushed in your face. They’re something there as an option to unlock something called Fates. Fates unlock items or specific story quests or options within a specific story line. You do get some at the start (or at least I did when I first started playing) which I’d advise keeping until you feel you really need it. There is also options in game to earn Fate without the expense. In my playing of the game I have only come across these a rare few times but I guess that is by design.
 
Please keep in mind this isn’t something you’re going to be sitting down and spending hours straight playing, the narrative is engaging and interesting enough for you to play in 10 minute stints and be able to walk away from the game without feeling like you’re missing anything. Its a great compromise for gamers on the move who want a fully engaging RPG like adventure but don’t have the time to sit down. The experience on mobile devices (I can only talk about iPad and iPhone 6) translate very well, and with the new edition of the Fallen London app that is due out this year it will make a very welcome addition to my gaming family.
 
I fully recommend this game if someone wants a casual gaming experience while they’re meant to be doing other things!