Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

17 Jul 2015

In any puzzle-like game the hints or helpful bonuses must doled out on a timer or players are likely to abuse the system. In mobile games, the hints are usually placed behind 30 second advertisements, using our natural hatred of advertising as a safeguard against abuse. It’s a natural fit.

Even a natural fit like this can be ruined by overzealousness, though. Too many ads punish a player who’s already stuck and frustrated. Yet as with everything in life, there’s a way to do it wrong and a way to do it right. It all comes down to presentation and pacing.

by Nick Dinicola

10 Jul 2015

I like mobile games. There, I said it.

I play a lot of games on my iPhone, some of which I’ve paid for and some of which are free because they feature ads. I actually don’t mind the ads, and this seems to put me in a very small minority. At least, it seems like what feels like a very small minority based on the vitriol that I see and that I hear online whenever “ads” of any kind are mentioned. I don’t get the general hate (I can stand to look up from my phone for 30 seconds and acknowledge the world around me before going back to ignoring it). Though, as with all things, there are both pleasant experiences online along with nuisances. Skiing Yeti Mountain is one of the former, a free iOS game supported by ads that actually made me smile when it tried to sell me stuff.

by Nick Dinicola

26 Jun 2015

During Bethesda’s press conference at the beginning of E3, the company announced a free mobile game that would be available later that very day: Fallout Shelter. Set in the Fallout universe, you oversee one of the vaults meant to save the remnants of humanity from nuclear winter.

It’s a “builder” mobile game. Collect resources, collect people, collect money, and use them all in the right way to create a bigger and more complex shelter. I don’t have too much experience with these kinds of mobile games, but I did get very into Tiny Tower for several months. Both games have a similar structure, but they’re driven by very different design philosophies. Philosophies that, I think, highlight the difference between a “casual” and a “hardcore” game. Or to use less loaded terms, the difference between a typical mobile and a typical console or PC game. It all comes down to fear.

by Nick Dinicola

19 Jun 2015

Dark Echo (RAC7 Games, 2015)

A good menu can set the tone for the rest of the game to come. I’ve
written five times before, and thankfully I have reason to write about them again. Hopefully (and doubtfully), this won’t be the last time.

by Nick Dinicola

12 Jun 2015

It’s hard to talk about “controls” in games. At its most reductive, the word is meant to be a description of movement and the ease with which you can “control” your character. But describing “controls” is about more than describing movement. It’s actually a word that describes a myriad of interacting systems and aesthetics. Controls are affected by art style, animation, sound effects, enemy AI, level design—things that change our physical movement and our perception of that physical movement.

It’s such a vast concept that it’s no wonder that we’ve settled into certain standards. It’s easy to say a game has bad or good controls when you’re just comparing those controls to a predefined standard. I’ve played a lot of games that the act of playing them has become second nature, and many of them have become so standardized in their style of play that I can’t actually remember the last time that I had to learn how to control a game. I don’t just mean learning what button does what or learning the timing of new attack animations, but learning an entirely new scheme of movement.

Until David.

//Mixed media

Indie Horror Month 2015: 'Dark Echo'

// Moving Pixels

"Dark Echo drops you into a pitch back maze and then renders your core tools of navigation into something quite life threatening.

READ the article