Wired reports that two iconic game designers of the classic gaming era have formed a new game publisher, AppStar Games. David Crane, co-founder of Activision and Garry Kitchen, co-founder of Absolute Entertainment plan to concentrate on small games for mobile devices such as the iPhone. AppStar has already released a reference application for the iPhone, 2600 Magic which provides an interactive tour of the unique game design challenges of the Atari 2600. The series continues with a second volume, Dragster Magic which focuses on the developers’ specific experiences in designing Activision’s Dragster for the Atari 2600 platform. Additional installments are planned in this series which will focus on tricks that Crane employed in the design of other Atari 2600 titles such as Pitfall! AppStar Games expects to release its first game titles later this year.
Tapulous, the developer of the popular Tap Tap Revenge series of games, has released a new beat-based game in which players use their device’s accelerometer rather than the touchscreen. In Riddim Ribbon, users tilt their device to the beat of the music as they race down a curving ribbon, picking up pebbles along the way to pass checkpoints. Players can make choices at forks in the road and jump up ramps to effects tiers to create their own unique mixes and sounds. Riddim Ribbon features beats of The Black Eyed Peas, Tiësto and Benny Benassi with more artists to come. Bundled tracks include eight remixes of Boom Boom Pow, I Gotta Feeling and Meet Me Halfway. Additional track levels can be downloaded for $1 each as In-App Purchases. Riddim Ribbon is available on the App Store for $3.
The American Museum of Natural History has released its first official application, Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections. Dinosaurs is an educational application that allows users to explore the Museum’s famous fossil halls in depth from their iPhone or iPod touch. The application includes hundreds of photos and renderings from the Museum’s massive collection of dinosaur fossils complete with descriptions and background information. A unique Dinosaurs Mosaic weaves together 800 individual images to create an image of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the user can double-tap or pinch to zoom into the mosaic to inspect any of the individual photos. Dinosaurs also provides a Comments section where users can post notes on photos and share their comments with other users. Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections is available from the App Store as a free download.
id Software has released Doom II RPG, the sequel to its popular 2005 Doom RPG mobile game. Doom II RPG allows the player to choose from three different characters and battle through 9 different maps spanning the Moon, Earth and Hell, providing over 8 hours of gameplay. Players upgrade and customize their skill attributes and can find and use over a dozen unique weapons throughout the game. In addition to traditional combat, players must also hack security systems and interact with NPCs throughout the game to get useful information. The game provides an auto-mapping feature and mission-tracking functions, customizable controls and three levels of difficulty. Doom II RPG is available on the App Store for $4.
Label Interactive has announced that it is developing a virtual board and card games app for the iPad. GameTable takes advantage of the iPad’s larger screen to provide a virtual game table on which users can play classic games such as Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, Poker, Solitaire and more. Rather than taking the traditional single-player game approach, GameTable is instead designed simply to provide a virtual board for players to compete against their friends using the iPad as the platform. “GameTable isn’t a typical video game,” explains Jeff Juliard, Label Interactive founder and president. “There is no ‘logic’ built in. GameTable simply provides gorgeous, photo-realistic tables, boards and game pieces along with an extremely intuitive and fun way for users to interact with them.” GameTable is expected to be available on the App Store for an introductory price of $1 shortly after the iPad is released in late March. More information can be found on the developer’s web site at http://www.gametableapp.com.
Gameloft has released GT Racing; Motor Academy for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed for fans of realistic racing simulation games, GT Racing: Motor Academy puts the player in the driver’s seat of authentic racing cars they compete to earn top honors in professional racing. The game allows the player to choose from over 100 fully licensed cars from 25 manufacturers ranging from the Nissan GT-R and Audi R8 to the top-end Ferrari models and race them on any one of 14 different tracks. An Arcade Mode is available for quick races, or players can choose to play in Career mode where they must progress through the racing world by passing challenges and upgrading and customizing their cars for optimum performance. Players can also compete in online competitions and post instant replays to YouTube to show off their driving skills. GT Racing: Motor Academy is available from the App Store for $7.
Apple has begun sending out a survey to iPhone developers asking for their thoughts on the iPhone Developer Program and App Store experience. TechCrunch reports that while the lengthy survey covers a wide range of topics, the majority of questions revolve around the application review process and the developers’ overall happiness with the program. According to the report, the survey asks developers to rate their level of satisfaction with various aspects of the App submission process, app review process, and the “length of time it takes to get updates available on the App Store,” with options ranging from “Very dissatisfied” to “Very satisfied.” Another open-ended question asks “What one thing could Apple do to make the iPhone Developer Program better?”
Amber Digital has released MrSun, a free app for iPhone and iPod touch users to determine the location of the sun at any given time, date or place. Using a slider control, users select the time of day and are shown the direction of the sun and angle over the horizon both numerically and visually. The application can also use the iPhone 3GS compass to display the direction of the sun relative to the user’s current position. Users can get information for their current location using the device’s location services or can choose any other place in the world by selecting it on a map. MrSun is available as a free download on the App Store.
GAMEVIL has announced the release of VANQUISH: The Oath of Brothers, a new action RPG presented with a unique ink and wash painted graphic style. Based on the historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” the game’s storyline follows the adventures of the hero Guan Yu as he journeys to reunite with his sworn brother, battling the generals of Cao Cao and their armies along the way. The game combines action and RPG elements, allowing the player to choose one of three characters to play as through three different scenarios. VANQUISH: The Oath of Brothers is available on the App Store for $3.
Loopt announced today that it has partnered with Mobile Spinach to integrate location-based advertising into its social networking service. The new feature provides Loopt users with access to offers, coupons and discounts from local neighbourhood retailers. Users are informed about nearby offers based on their current location and directions and contact details for the retailers. Offers can be redeemed directly from the phone or can be sent via SMS or e-mail. The service is initially being rolled out in the San Francisco area with plans to add additional major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York during the coming months. Loopt is available in the U.S. only as a free download from the App Store.
Eventual Innovations has released an application that aims to improve upon the limited AVRCP capabilities in the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple first introduced support for stereo A2DP Bluetooth accessories in iPhone OS 3.0, however AVRCP remote control capabilities over Bluetooth were limited to only starting and pausing playback. Bluetooth Helper is a third-party application that provides additional playback controls including next track, previous track and seeking within tracks. Users enable Bluetooth Helper by starting their music within the iPod application and then starting the Bluetooth Helper app to allow access to the additional playback commands. Bluetooth Helper is available on the App Store for $1.
AT&T has released the official NBC Olympics app, providing iPhone and iPod touch users with NBC’s coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games right on their devices. NBC Olympics on AT&T provides live, real-time updates on every event complete with video highlights, news stories, schedules, results and medal counts. Users can configure push notifications for their favorite events, view a TV schedule for NBC Olympics’ on-air coverage or search for more information on specific events and athletes. Social networking integration is also provided to enable users to follow their favorite athletes on Twitter or share content with their own friends via Facebook or Twitter postings. NBC Olympics on AT&T is available on the App Store as a free download.
iPhone Developer BossHouse has released a new application for movie fans to follow information and join in pools on the 2010 Academy Awards. OSCAR Pool 2010 provides access to information on all of the Academy Award nominees as well as links to web sites, pictures, and more. Users can create pools, secretly vote for their winning picks and then invite their friends and co-workers to join in and cast their own votes. Other users can download the application onto their own iPhone or iPod touch or can vote using a single, shared device. A simplified setting of only the ten main awards categories is provided for casual users, while serious movie fans can choose to vote in all 24 categories. Following the Academy Awards ceremonies, the application will display information about the winners and automatically tabulate votes and ranks within each of the user’s pools. OSCAR Pool 2010 is available on the App Store for $1.
CodeGoo, developer of the popular Camera Genius application, has released a new app for recording video on older-model iPhones. While not the first such application, Video Genius is unique in that it provides owners of older iPhone devices with a free option for video recording. Video Genius provides two basic video recording modes, the first of which records 40-60 seconds of video at 10fps and a second which records longer videos at a lower 4fps frame rate. Video Genius is available on the App Store free for a limited time.
Building on the success of its popular Soccer Manager game, Fizz Software has released Baseball Manager 2010 for the iPhone and iPod touch. Baseball Manager is a Fantasy Baseball simulation where players take control of their favorite baseball team and guide them from spring training to the World Series. To accomplish this the player deals with such things as player trades, contract negotiations and starting lineups. Reports and stats are available to guide the player and the game also presents challenges such as injuries, poaching by other teams, salary caps and meeting the team owner’s expectations. Baseball Manager 2010 is available on the App Store for $5. A video preview can be viewed on YouTube.
iPhone Developer Joel Epstein has released a Valentine’s Day themed version of his educational iPoetry 101 app. iWrite: Love Poems coaches users through the process of writing their own love poetry from brainstorming to actual step-by-step writing and final revisions. Eight different styles of poetry are provided as a base to educate users and develop skills such as identifying formulas for structured forms of poetry, prewriting and revision, figurative language and creating a sustained image. The application also provides the ability to generate its own unique poetry using the rules for each of the structured poems. iWrite: Love Poems is available on the App Store for $2.
The official Canadian broadcasters for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have released a news and information application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Indusblue, the CTVOlympics.ca app provides headlines and news on every sport at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games with comprehensive photo galleries, athlete profiles, venue information and a schedule of upcoming events. An updated “Games-time” release of the application is scheduled for the week of February 8th which will add a full TV schedule, a play-by-play feed of the Games, medal and result information and live blogging of the major events. Push Notifications will also be provided for breaking news and medal information. CTVOlympics.ca is available as a free download from the App Store.
Apple has demanded the removal of promotional text mentioning Google’s Android platform from an application’s App Store description. Mobile development house Flash of Genius has reprinted part of Apple’s email discussing the description text for the company’s Flash of Genius: SAT Vocab app, in which it requests removal of the text. The e-mail reads, “During our review of your application, we found that your application contains inappropriate or irrelevant platform information in the Application Description and/or Release Notes sections. Providing future platform compatibility plans or other general platform references are not relevant in the context of the iPhone App Store. While your application has not been rejected, it would be appropriate to remove ‘Finalist in Google’s Android Developer’s Challenge!’ from the Application Description.” In addition, the e-mail recommends the developer make the changes to the description “to avoid an interruption” in the app’s availability. For its part, Flash of Genius believes the text is relevant and helps to boost sales, and is considering e-mailing Apple to try and find an acceptable way to reincorporate the text.
Apple has posted an App Store Tip on its iPhone Dev Center warning app developers not to use location based services primarily for serving location-targeted ads. The tip states, “if you build your application with features based on a user’s location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.” While it is possible that Apple is issuing the warning in an effort to reduce unnecessary battery drain potentially caused by activating GPS and other location-based features, others, including Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry, have suggested that Apple is instead trying to prohibit other location-based advertising in favor of an Apple/Quattro Wireless-provided solution. Apple purchased Quattro Wireless for $275 million earlier this year, and former Quattro head Andy Miller is now employed by Apple as Vice President, Mobile Advertising.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games has released its official Mobile Spectator Guide for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Available as a free download from the App Store, the 2010 Guide app provides a location-aware schedule detailing the more than 2,000 sport and cultural events taking place during the Olympic Winter Games. The schedule will be updated throughout the Games and can be accessed offline and adjusted for the user’s current time zone. Users can mark their favourite events and see real-time results for every sport, and those attending the Games can easily find events close to their location and access maps and turn-by-turn directions to the venues.