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Entries in gaming (6)

More Friday Fun: Missing Vinyl Records? Try this on your iPad!

The problem with digital music is that there is nothing physical to connect with, apart from the device you are playing it on.

If you go back as far as tapes or even Vinyl records you will no doubt remember reading the liner notes and staring at the artwork held in your hands, whilst listening to your new album and making the neural connections between them.

That is the philosopy behind ReVinyl a new app for the iPad (and iPhone) from DJ and vinyl collector Christian Faber.  It sounds like rather a grandiose premise for a music quiz, but here is what Christian says about his reasons for developing ReVinyl:

...I sometimes miss the meditative ritual of putting on some wax, studying the cover and diving into the music. Taking the time out to just listen when your vinyl hunt is over and the prey is brought back to the collection.

The convenience of buying digital music makes it almost too easy. Trawling through thousands and thousands of records in innumerable record stores taught me the magic of discovering new and old music in a random and chaotic way. The record cover visuals seduce and have a symbiotic relationship with the sound of the music, and vice versa. Revinyl aims to reconnect this bond between the album cover and the music inside. Discovering new music should be fun and what better way to have fun than using and expanding your music knowledge.

Playing the Game

The game itself is quite fun to play in single player mode, this is where you see the albums represented by the cover art, thrown on top of each other on a desk, and you can pick them up, move them around and select the one you are hearing.  

This is the 're-discovery' mode of the game and relies on you knowing the song and the cover art for that album (sometimes you get more than one album from the same artist). You hear a few seconds snippet of the song at a random point in the track and the faster you answer the more points you get with the bonus question adding to your score.

The game is best when played as a multiplayer, which on the iPhone is a bit fiddly, but the larger iPad screen should allow four players comfortably.

In 'PartyMode' each player has a different coloured section of the screen and you hit your section as soon as you know the song. First one to hit their button gets a stab at answering the question. You get to choose how many questions and which level (1-5) you want to play at.

You can turn off certain Categories in the settings before a PartyMode game, so your audio books and Children's music doesn't appear in the game, but our iTunes libraries are not that organised so it didn't work for some tracks. Mary Poppins still made an appearance next to Guns N' Roses in our quizzes.

We think it would be better if you could base the quiz on certain playlists as well, which are easier to set up in iTunes to exclude albums or artists as well as genres.

We liked the graphical elements, which are minimalistic, clean and modern looking, making the game easily accessible.

Shows Potential

It is the future developments which are most interesting about this app though.  Here is what is planned for future versions:

  • Connect with other players via WiFi/Bluetooth
  • Share music to create quizzes
  • Access the iTunes music store (presumably previews) to create quizzes
  • Share customised quizzes with others
  • Discover music and purchase it immediately 

We are not sure Apple will allow some of this, especially access to the iTunes previews, but if he can deliver on that promise Christian will definitely have a winner on his hands. We just hope it doesn't take too long to update the app with these features as they will greatly enhance the value of this app.

If you are curious, there is a video of the iPhone version of the game running at the site if you want to check it out first. ReVinyl is available now for just $0.99 (59p) in the app store and it is definitely worth that price for multiplayer fun on the iPad.

Time Geeks game. Get LOST on your iPad!

This will brighten up your Monday morning, and cripple your productivity today! TimeGeeks is the new 'treasure hunt' type of game that is massive amounts of fun at a great price, just $0.99 (59p) in the app store.

The game uses a zany aliens and time travel scenario (geek joy!) combined with cute Pixel Art graphics, funky electronic game music and clever references to TV shows like LOST and the IT Crowd (two of our favourite shows) to completely distract you from the main aim of the game, which is to find the items in the quickest time.

There are also different game modes, seven minigames to unlock, integration with Apple's Game Center and you can even create your own Pixel Art scenario in the game and share it with others on Facebook.

We like this game a lot, watch the trailer then go and get it at the app store now!

Could This Be The iPad's Future?

Over the weekend there have been quite a few posts around the web about Griffin's 'not actually announced but confirmed by the FCC' product PartyDock, so we won't tell you about it again, but check out thisthis and Griffin's confirmation/product page for a start. 

What we will say though is how stupidly excited the potential of this device has made us, even if it is not officially Apple sanctioned and in production yet.

Why has this device announcement got our creative cogs turning?...

The Obvious

Just being able to take the fairly small PartyDock around to someone's house or on holiday to set up and entertain the kids between pool-time and dinnertime (and the adults when the kids have gone to bed) is a huge advantage.

We have been known to take a Playstation, Wii and separate DVD player on holiday with us. Imagine if the games are such that the iPad (or even iPhone) and PartyDock is all you need to take with you to connect up to the hotel, chalet, caravan TV when you get there.

You would be bringing your iPad anyway right? Just make sure it is loaded up with all the movies, games and blogging apps you need before leaving and everything is right there in a 1.5 pound device.

Developers Wanted

With the launch titles being mini-games and one full game, all developed by Griffin, we know the PartyDock will not have Sony and Nintendo quaking in their boots, or even noticing that it exists to be honest.

Checking the RSVP (sign up) page though, you will notice that it asks if you are just a normal interested punter, or you can select, "I'm a developer and I'd like to learn about developing for PartyDock".

This is what got us excited!  There are many creative and innovative Developers out there. Who knows what kind of application they cam think up for this software/hardware? 

If Apple approve this device and if the right Developers get involved and if Griffin make it worth their while, there is massive potential here for a whole new eco-system developed around seeing your content on the big screen.

A lot of Ifs, yes, the biggest being if Apple want to let Griffin open up additional functionality.

Sony have had a big hit with the social, family and friends quiz game series Buzz, that uses a similar four player interface, wired on Playstation 2 but wireless on Playstation 3.

This is the obvious application for the PartyDock with the PR shots showing a 'Battle of the Sexes' game being played on a large-screen TV.

Multi Media and Potential Uses

As well as the games aspect, the PartyDock will allow the docked device to show photos, videos and slideshows, as well as play your music/audio collection from the iPad/iPhone. This can already be done via the Apple sold Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but it could easily replace this Apple add-on in a lot of homes and useage scenarios.

Imagine how easy it will be to sling your iPad into the waiting dock and get going, rather than trying to find the connector cable and then having it hanging off your iPad whilst trying to prop it up somehow.

But what if this dock could be used for web browsing, typing up a blog post or editing Pages documents? We have no idea if it is possible but what if Developers could make the PartyDock work with eight or even sixteen or more controllers and it was permanently connected to a projector in a classroom as a 'quiz master' device?

Educators could design a custom set of questions for the quizzes making revision and learning a lot more fun and interactive, using fastest finger type of quizzes but also poll and multiple choice questions with onscreen charts showing the summary results.  

Now that some schools are issuing iPads to new students on enrolment this September, or setting up iPad labs (recommended reading), this is a definite real-life scenario that could be developed.

Pie-in-the-sky scenario 

What about editing a video on the iPad with an external keyboard and Magic Trackpad type of device (not currently compatible - no mouse pointer) and your 40" TV acting as the external display?

The iPad, especially future more powerful versions, suddenly becomes a computer replacement!

Ok, we may have just wandered off into fantasy land for a second there, but even if it is not the PartyDock's purpose to enable a 'computer replacement' scenario, if Apple approve this device the potential is there for some sort of dock for the iPad (and even future versions of the iPhone) that can provide this kind of functionality.

We have already said that the Mac's days are numbered, read more about that here. Maybe one day we will look back at these kind of dock interfaces and say "that's where it all started"?

Over to you

What do you think? Have we lost it? Can you think of any other uses or potential developments for these dock devices? Would you even use the PartyDock if it is approved?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Gorillaz in your iPad

Gorillaz.jpg

We like creative use of technology, especially when it involves the iPad, and so we were intrigued to see the rather 'animated' band Gorillaz produce an iPad (and iPhone) app that ties in to the promotional ecosphere around their third album, Plastic Beach, released in March this year.

There is a lot of content on the Gorillaz site to draw people in to their slightly bonkers universe including games, music and video. Now they have managed to extend their reach to iOS device users with Escape to Plastic Beach for iPad.

It uses the glider vehicle concept to transport the band member Murdoch around Plastic Beach with a chase theme, hazards to avoid, a little bit of shoot-em-up and some puzzle solving too throughout the eight '3D' levels of the game.

What is clever about this though, besides the obvious band members featured in the game, is the soundtrack to the game which of course is Gorillaz' own music. Hearing it in the background can either bring in new fans or encourage current fans to listen again, keeping the Gorillaz brand fresh in their minds.  A nice way to keep people involved in the band's universe.

As far as the iPad visuals go, they look great and the game makes good use of the iPad's control system. For just £1.19 ($1.99) it is a fun and entertaining distraction, especially if you already like the band and their music.

There have been a few game tie-ins from other bands but none have come up with anything so original as a complete, animated environment to host their fans in, so hats off to Gorillaz for their inventive creativity on this one.

The video below from YouTube user stuartdredge gives us a look at the first few minutes of gameplay from first launch.  Take a look:

Want to dock your iPad in style? (Creative iPad Docks)

Recently there seem to have been a number of unique, home-made iPad docks springing up, some of them re-purposing old Macs. Three of the most creative ones that have caught our attention in the last few days are below:

Gamer Arcade Cabinet

We want! Based on ThinkGeek's April Fool's iPad joke dock, this cardboard but fully functioning mock-up has us very excited (we really wanted one of the ThinkGeek ones and tried to find out how to order it, hoping that it was real, but were very disappointed). Read more about how they did it at TUAW's site.

iPad Arcade Accessory from hm0429 on Vimeo.

Classic iBook Clamshell Dock

ipad_ibook7.jpg

Ingenious and very creative, our next DIY iPad dock is built into a clamshell iBook. Although called 'Fisher Price' and otherwise mocked when it came out, we have a soft spot for this little iBook, having owned several versions, the latest one being very similar to the iBook used for this case mod.

The original post (in Japanese) does have a lot of photos showing how the iBook case mod was done, but we heard about it over at the MacStories site, where they have a description and links to the original, as well as a translated (not at all well) site.

Suffice to say, we love this.

Mac Classic dock

This one has been around for a little while on several big blogs, so forgive us if you have seen this one before, but it is creative simply for nothing other than recognising that the screen size is perfect and attacking a Mac Classic with a dremel. Although there is no access to the Home button or other buttons, or a dock connector at the moment, we think that is easy to remedy given the iBook solution above.

Check out Wired's article for more details and see the video below for what it looks like in practice, and the project creators Site Hirac even have another video on YouTube of the iPad working with a USB keyboard.

Friday Fun: Get Creative and Draw Your Own Game

If you are one of those people that used to sketch spaceships and aliens in the corner of your text books at school, you will love this app from Engineous Games.

Sketch Nation Shooter has been developed for the iPhone primarily, but it is a game/engine that will run on the iPad too.  It allows you to literally draw your own characters and then play with them in the game.

You have the choice of drawing something then capturing it with the iPhone camera, or using something from your image library (for those with just an iPad and scanner/digital camera).  You sketch your main character, enemies and big boss (even the game background and layout if you want), adjust a few parameters, and off you go.

As an added feature, you can submit your design to the Facebook group from within the app, and download other users' designs to play on your device for free.

If you are stuck for something to do this weekend, or you're trying to entertain irritable children, get creative and then blow up your designs with Sketch Nation Shooter.  We think it is a great device for integrating creativity in drawing and digital content creation for all ages.

For an idea of what can be done with this game, check out the videos below.  At just 59p in the App Store you can't go wrong.