Unexpected Notifications

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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.

The Raging Tiny Tower Inferno of Doom!

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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?

Game Dev Story

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In the eleventh year, third month, third week, Super Zero Studios was on the verge of shutting its doors. After years of successfully developing romance and fantasy RPG’s, the studio found itself unable to purchase the latest development license. With current contract work causing longtime fans to walkaway, due to the lack of new games, studio management finds itself needing to make some decisions:

  • Continue with the current contract work
  • Produce budget PC games
  • Fire half the staff
  • Close the studio forever

Super Zero sound engineer, Callie Fornia, said this,”I’m just afraid of the terrible reference I will receive after all the half-hearted worked I’ve done.” So true Miss Fornia…so true.

Game Dev Story, a fantastic business simulator on the iDevice, has literally taken over my spare time. For instance, last night I played for at least two hours. TWO HOURS! I woke up this morning thinking how stupid that was…and then thought about firing up the game again. If you are looking for an engrossing game development company simulator, KarioSoft’s Game Dev Story is the answer to your call of the inner developer.

Plants vs. Zombies Released

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PopCap Game’s Plants vs. Zombies (link will open iTunes) was unleashed upon the iPhone/ iPod touch today. Priced at $2.99, this app is sure to change your outlook on the power of sunflowers.

The 2009 game of the year is now on iPhone and iPod touch!

Get ready to soil your plants in this Adventure mode version of the hit PopCap game! A mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home, and your only defense is an arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants. Use peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more to slow down, confuse, weaken and mulchify 26 types of zombies before they can reach your front door.

Each zombie has its own special skills, so you’ll need to think fast and plant faster to combat them all. But be careful how you use your limited supply of greens and seeds… as you battle the fun-dead, obstacles like a setting sun, creeping fog and a swimming pool add to the challenge. And no matter where you take this iPhone version of the hit game, the fun never dies!

Monday

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Good Monday afternoon everyone!

By now I am sure that most of you are settled into your places of employment and have commenced with the work day. Bosses have already yelled, deadlines have been pushed or postponed, and some random crazy person has disrupted your otherwise “normal” Monday.

Here in the JBG offices, which overlook the beautiful forests of Endor, Monday has proven to be uneventful. Valentines weekend has come and gone, and yours truly enjoyed relaxing with his wife. What did we do? I ended up BBQing and cooking for my woman. Plain and simple.

As a sidenote: Valentine’s Day always seems like the greatest setup for a man, a setup for failure. Expectations always run too high and consumerism is king. Lucky for me my wife realizes these things and decided to keep things simple.

What have I been playing?

Besides the occasional game of Cartoon Wars – Gunner, I haven’t been doing too much on the gaming front. Just haven’t had time. With the Olympics on TV, a son that is growing too quickly, and a life needing to be lived, gaming has certainly taken a backseat lately. Fret not though dear readers, much more is to come on the horizon. Such as?

Goals for JohnnyBGamer:

  • Come up with a working definition, based on the DSM IV, for gaming addiction.
  • Focus articles on gaming addiction and raise level of awareness.
  • Write more reviews!
  • Recruit other writers to write for the site (regardless of belief).
  • And in the far future…
  • Setup a gaming tournament hosted by JBG.

Hopefully Monday is treating everyone well. If it isn’t, there is always tomorrow. So, take a deep breath. The day is almost over.

World of Warcraft Auction House Going Mobile

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Original Post:

Since the launch of the World of Warcraft Armory, we’ve been regularly releasing updates and new features designed to help players stay connected to the game even when they’re not logged in. Today, we wanted to give you a heads-up about a new service now in development that will let players access the Auction House directly through the Armory website or Armory App for iPhone or iPod touch.

While there are still plenty of details to be worked out, we’re designing the service to offer auction functionality similar to what’s available in-game. Players have been requesting — and we’ve been hoping to implement — a feature like this for a long time, and we’re excited that the Armory and the game have evolved to a point that makes it possible.

This is a fairly complex service to develop, due in large part to its unprecedented integration with the game, so we don’t have an exact release date yet. It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based, which we’ll go into more detail on once the service functionality is finalized. As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services. You may be seeing bits and pieces of the Auction House service pop up in the test builds we use for the public test realms as we go through the process of internal testing. We’ll have more info to share with you here and at http://www.WorldofWarcraft.com as we get closer to release. – As originally posted by Blizzard Poster Bornakk.

Thoughts:

As exciting as this announcement is, many details still have yet to be hammered out like:

1. Cost

It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based…

Blizzard seems to be on the pathway towards requiring a monthly subscription fee + additional fees for what is deemed “premium content”. What does premium-based content look like?

  • Tier A – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House as well as in-game chat capability (premium-based monthly fee required).
  • Tier B – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House for a one time app fee.
  • Tier C – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House for one character (for free).

There are so many variables involved (access to multiple characters, number of auctions allowed per day, etc.) that speculation seems mute at this point.

2. Release Date

As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services.

Translation – The Auction House feature is still in the early stages of development. As with all Blizzard products, expect to see it released when we feel it meets our high standards.

Be sure to check back with JohnnyBGamer for the latest in video game news crumbs.

The Cold War is Over: Part 1

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Despite what you may have been taught in school, the Cold War did not end in 1991 but ended in 2009.

During the height of the Apple App Store Gold Rush, I worked on a side project entitled Cold War Fruit. The website/ blog was dedicated to iPhone/iTouch app news & reviews. While I enjoyed the six months I spent mixing Cold War history with Apple apps, I did not forsee the anger and frustration that was on the horizon.

Having bought a first generation iPod Touch, I was able to enjoy the same benefits that my friends with iPhones were enjoying. Checking mail, surfing the web, and playing the latest apps were suddenly intertwined in my daily life. I wondered how I had ever lived without an iPod (the Touch was my first iPod). This small wonder of a device went everywhere with me and still does.

When the second generation iPod Touch was announced, along with the iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade, I suddenly found myself segregated from the rest of the Apple populace.  One of the touted features of OS 3.0 was Bluetooth wireless gaming. Bluetooth = awesome! Right!?? No. The first generation iPod Touch did not have Bluetooth!. In a single hardware upgrade, Apple managed to kill my enthusiasm for everything Apple. So, I decided to quit focusing so much on the Apple App Store and instead go back to an older project of mine, JohnnyBGamer. I was finished with Cold War Fruit. The Cold War was over.

This is my first in a series of thoughts on iPhone/ iPod Touch gaming. Be sure to check back soon for more!

Hacked!

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The nightmare of waking up to find that all your virtual loot has been stolen is one scenario that I have yet to experience — note that I am not asking for this. I cannot imagine the feeling of characters/ items being ripped off; online possessions that cost a great deal of time to obtain suddenly gone. Account hacking via keyloggers and other nefarious schemes are seemingly quite common in World of Warcraft. We at JohnnyBGamer are all about empowering the people. So here are a few common sense ways to protect yourself:

  • Create a separate e-mail account for your World of Warcraft account. Never share this e-mail address nor associated password with anyone.
  • Make sure your browser/ PC is updated regularly (auto updates are good).
  • Empower your Internet browser to fight back by enabling security features.
  • Purchase an official Blizzard Authenticator at the Blizzard Store.
  • Download the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator (link will open iTunes) for your iPhone/ iPod Touch (free).

Dungeon Hunter: Journal II

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Dungeon Hunter Title ScreenWelcome to my second journal for iPhone/iPod Touch app Dungeon Hunter. Every once in a blue moon I’ll post an update on my progress through the game. Be sure to check back often!

Dungeon Hunter MapThe town of Thamos quickly gave way to the South Road, and soon I found myself engaging in blade-to-blade negotiations with the bandits that ruled over it. Turns out that the bandits had stolen some cargo belonging to one of the towns inhabitants. Being the awesome guy that I am (or that my character is), I stormed into the Bandit’s Lair and dispatched the villains immediately. After that, I killed creatures in the Thamos Well, explored the Windmill searching for a fairy*, and searched the Catacombs and Cathedral for relics.

Dungeon Hunter Cathedral

*I should note at this point that the fairy subplot was sprung on my quite unexpectedly. I had originally thought that the fairy which had awoken my character in the beginning of the game, Celest, would only serve to function in a Navi sort of role. I was wrong in my assumption. Instead, fairies serve as an Area of Effect (AoE) attack to damage multiple enemies at the same time. In my travels thus far, I have obtained three fairies: 1.) Celest, lightening bolts, 2.) Wetty, ice storm, 3.) Windy, hurricane.

Overall thoughts:

  1. The music is quite good! I actually want to play with headphones.
  2. Catacombs and Cathedral share common art assets (walls, lamps, etc.).
  3. Button control for selecting secondary attacks is not as responsive as it should be (ie attacks are hard to cycle between).
  4. I had to retread the opening level (Catacombs) to obtain an item. While this is a clever reuse of a completed area, I am hoping that this is not something that is repeated throughout the game.
  5. Loading is sometimes long. However, loading is not present once in-game

Join me next time.

Dungeon Hunter: Journal I

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Dungeon Hunter Title ScreenWelcome to my first journal for iPhone/iPod Touch app Dungeon Hunter. Every once in a blue moon I’ll post an update on my progress through the game. Be sure to check back often!

Dungeon Hunter #17

Charting in at #17 of the Top Paid Apps this week, Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter (link will open iTunes) seeks to fill the hack-and-slash hole in every gamers heart.

Now I have to admit that the $6.99 price tag left me a bit reluctant to try out this Diablo clone. So, I decided to check out a few reviews before jumping into the fray.

This better be good.

This better be good.

Selecting a new game, I quickly chose from the three available character classes (Warrior, Rogue, and Mage) and was introduced to the game’s storyline via cinematic.

Dungeon Hunter Intro Video 1

Fullmetal Alchemist taught me that resurrecting loved ones never ends well.

Death cannot stop what has be prophesized.

Death cannot stop what has be prophesized.

And thus our story begins...

And thus our story begins...

I then battled my way through the Catacombs only to find out that our hero had been dead for quite sometime. After laying waste to some undead, I ventured forth into the town of Thamos. That is a story for another day, however.

Perhaps Thamos holds the key...

Perhaps Thamos holds the key...

Thoughts so far:

  1. I like the game so far, but I question the longevity of it holding my attention (as with any app). We’ll see.
  2. The opening cinematics are quite impressive.
  3. I have to keep telling myself that this isn’t Hero of Sparta due to its graphics.
  4. The gameplay, controls, and music are all excellent thus far.
  5. I would love a button to constantly mash versus a flat touch screen. Gaming on the iDevice…

Join me next time.

The Creeps!

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The Creeps!

“I always feel like

Somebody’s watchin’ me…”

-Rockwell, Somebody’s Watching Me

Press Start:

As a child, bedtime always seemed to send a signal for my imagination to go into overdrive. With the lights turned off in my room, I remember the world suddenly becoming a very scary place.  Normal shadows and sounds quickly became monsters preying and lurking within the darkness. Super Squawk Software’s,  The Creeps, demonstrates that our imaginations did not lie. For indeed there were monsters trying to get to us; monsters even our parents could not help combat until now. The Creeps! is an imaginative tower defense app that allows players to protect an innocent child from the horrors of the night. Do you dare to combat the human imagination at its worst?

Ideology/ Worldview:

Monsters are real. No joke.

The Creeps! Gameplay Screenshot

Interaction/ Gameplay:

Boomerangs, glue, and laser turrets are but a few of the tower choices at your disposal against the creeps.  Strategic placement as well as tower choice determine the outcome of the battle.

In the End:

The Creeps! (link will open iTunes) is a fantastic addition to the App Store that revels in its unique art direction and imaginative game design. Priced at $2.99, The Creeps! deserves a spot on the iDevice in your life.

– DEFCON Score-DEFCON 5 Just buy it already

– Level of Impact –

Medium: Casual play. Does not require large chunks of time.