Unexpected Notifications

Standard

Before pulling out of the driveway, I paired my phone with the car. No need to drive to church in silence. Plus, the boy likes the new Toby Mac album.

As I went to put my phone down, a notification popped up at the bottom of the screen:

“17 Minutes to Macedonia Baptist Church”

My map program knew where I was going.

Apple Maps

I am new to the world of the iPhone. I had no clue that it’s map program has been tracking me for weeks, perhaps even months? But there was something unsettling about the phone knowing where I was going on a Sunday morning. Also makes me wonder what else it knows and has learned about me.

Have you ever had your phone creep you out? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Counterfeited Simulation

Standard

Christmas, 1989. 

I was 8 years old.  I remember opening a bulky rectangular package that contained something called a Game Boy. My aunts and uncles seemed more excited about it than I was. What was this grey brick-like device? What were Super Mario Land and Tetris? More importantly, why would I want to play these games on the go versus on the TV? I was a kid. I had no clue that I was holding the portable future of video games in my hands.

Today my iPod is a constant companion. When I’m not listening to music in the car, I find myself browsing the net or playing the latest iOS game on the Apple-made device.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good simulation game. I grew up with Theme Park, Sim City 2000, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. I love spending hours micro-managing and designing environments for my virtual denizens. Because of my love for this genre, I have been suckered into what can only be called mere imitations.

Simulations are not all created equal on the iOS. Some, most, are built around artificial time constraints and real life money transactions. Want to increase your build time? Buy a 1000 Tower Bucks for $5.99. These “games” are usually fun for the first few hours and then they slowly reveal their true selves. A digital gaming relationship of sorts gone down the drain. Like a spurned lover, the following is a list of such games that have suckered me  in only to drop kick me later on:

The above games–and there are many many more like them–boil down to a simple equation:

time constraints + breeding monsters/building cities/routing planes + virtual money = supporting video game heresy

Disguised as simulations, these games prey upon your time and offer what is ultimately a counterfeit experience versus something real such as Game Dev Story.

As a follower of Christ, I find myself constantly sifting, weighing, and comparing what I am being told daily versus what the Bible says. I don’t want to settle for the counterfeit and end up cheated out of my time and money. I want the truth. I want the real deal. Don’t settle. No matter how flashy the gameplay may be; no matter how deceptive the lie is that you’ll never find anyone to marry. Don’t settle. God always has a better way. There is always a better alternative than embracing and engaging the counterfeit.

The Raging Tiny Tower Inferno of Doom!

Standard

Woke up this morning to find it gloomy and cold outside. A perfect day for coffee laced with a bit of caramel. Apparently, we had a cold front move through last night. Today is supposed to be windy with a high of 68 degrees. Such a welcome relief from the record summer heat we experienced in East Texas. Good riddance!

Had a friend email me this morning about the iPhone app Tiny Tower. He specifically asked: “Does this game ever end?” I am guessing the answer is no. For the uninitiated, Tiny Tower is a tower building simulation for the iDevice. The game allows you to build different business types (retail, food, recreation, etc.) and then rack up the cash as consumers consume your tower’s products in droves. There is also another “gameplay” component that allows you to act as a slum lord/ hire and fire employees. For those that have a fashion bent, you can dress up your Bitizens to your hearts content. Keep in mind that this app is free with a catch, Tower Bux. Tower Bux are Tiny Tower’s currency that speeds up construction time and increases other in-game options. Think of Tower Bux as liquid patience. One of the beautiful things about this game is that you don’t necessarily  have to purchase the in-game currency. Every once in awhile, the game will automatically award you Tower Bux for random events such as taking a Bitizen to a specific floor via elevator. Again, think of this slow feed Tower Bux concept as a drug dealer methodically bringing potential users in with a “taste” of his product.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time playing Tiny Tower. My most favorite part of the game has been naming the individual stores. Where else can I have a coffee shop called Hipster Brew? I have to question though the longevity of playing this app. There do not seem to be any goals other than to build a massive profit-making tower. This will get old at some point. Like the donkey with the carrot on a stick, eventually I will just kick my rider off and eat the darned carrot. In the mean time though, I’m going to mindlessly distract myself by building another floor to my tower. Maybe I’ll expand the “Hipster” line of stores?

iTunes Preview Times

Standard

The increased music preview times, that iTunes has added recently, are a real hit with me. I love how you can really get a feel for the music and the song being previewed. Kudos to Apple and iTunes for only making the listening experience better. 🙂

*Please note that this is not a paid endorsement by Apple. This is simply a note from a user who appreciates the little things in life.

The Cold War is Over: Part 2

Standard

Despite the Cold War ending in 2009, I still use my iPod Touch on a daily basis. I have also learned that Bluetooth for gaming wasn’t that big of a deal. However, I am still leery of Apple and its hardware upgrades. Primarily a console gamer, I am used to the 5-8 year life cycles the consoles go through. With the exception of the PSP, every major video game console has stayed relatively the same (minus a few minor hardware upgrades that do not alienate the user base). $250-$300, a one-time purchase, buys the user 5-8 years of gaming. Comparing that to Apple and their hardware upgrades every few years, I’m not sure those that have adopted the iPhone/ iTouch hardware are getting the biggest bang for their buck.

I have read that iDevice gaming is the wave of the future. In this wave, the likes of the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP are washed to the side as cheap gaming reigns supreme on the iDevice. As much as I love my iTouch, I cannot imagine a world without Nintendo and Sony handhelds. I believe that each has its place in the vast expanse of gaming; each has its own strengths and weaknesses. While gaming on the iDevice may be the in thing at the moment, I can assure you that this will not always be. How do I know this? Alienation by hardware upgrade is not how Nintendo has become the dominate competitor in handheld gaming. No parent, and certainly no gamer, is willing to pay for upgrades in hardware every few years. At least I hope not. My pockets aren’t deep enough.

This is my second in a series of thoughts on iPhone/ iPod Touch gaming. For Part 1, click here.