All that talk of Diablo III earlier in the week has made us reminisce about the good old days of the dungeon crawler RPG, before fancy graphics and big budgets. This has brought us to an indie game that should be firmly in the heart of anyone who has a soft spot for collecting treasure and levelling up. Legends of Yore is a top-down RPG, with the graphical styling and controls of a game made for the original NES console.
Choosing one of three character types (archer, warrior or wizard), players make their way in the world, interacting with NPCs and completing quests for gold coins and experience points. With enough experience points you get to level up and gain new skills, as well as buy new weapons and armour when you get enough gold. The quests generally consist of exploring dungeons and killing enough of a certain monster, rescuing someone, or defeating a boss.
While this may sound fairly run of the mill, the game is very addictive, and there are a number of things to keep you coming back to it. The developer has split the game world up into continents, which you can only cross when you have enough money and experience. Players can also get their hands on a number of different pets, starting out with a chicken or monkey, which can help out by attacking enemies, and which can also be levelled up. It’s these little touches which make the game something you’ll want to come back to.
To make things even more addictive, the game can literally be played anywhere. As well as a standalone PC download, it is available through a browser and for the iPhone and Android platforms. All your progress is stored on a central server, so you can play at home, and then carry on playing during your daily commute. Just don’t blame us if you wonder where your day has gone!
It’s been a long time coming, in hindsight. For years Google have said that the next big thing for Google would be, whatever the next big thing in search is, because that what Google do and that is by and large, their main source of revenue.
All the while, Apple steadily became the most valuable company in the world, with more cash than the US Government. Don’t get me wrong, Google do well, but it must sting a little when one of your main rivals’ profits is bigger than your revenue.
Google had already soured the relationship with Apple by turning Android into the iOS competitor that it is now. What sticks in the throat of the Cupertino crew the most is the feeling that one of their own, Andy Rubin, defected to Google and took with him ideas that became the blueprint to what Android is now.
Now, again with more than an admiring glance at what Apple have, Google intend to get knee deep in hardware and home entertainment. The Motorola deal has pretty much been given the go ahead, and so now they have a whole bunch of patents along with a team of hardware specialists.
Many in the techsphere have already doomed Google to failure in this venture but I’m not so sure this will be consigned to the scrap heap along with Google Wave and Google Buzz. I say, let’s take a closer look at what Google have going for them.
Google have made large strides to improve YouTube, recently giving it a complete redesign to help promote the various types of video categories as well as highlight that YouTube is now a destination for Film, Shows, Live videos, Education and News. With all that covered, you may wonder why you need a TV licence at all. Indeed, Google will be hoping that’s exactly what you are thinking, as they have already stated that they want to increase the time spent on YouTube and have made the number one online video service more visible through Google+ and more accessible through the updated Google TV app and mobile app. With 4 billion video views per day already in the bag, how long before you’re sat round the big screen with your family, flicking through YouTube channels?
Google Music has got off to a bit of a stuttering start, this is very keenly felt over here in the UK as we have yet to receive it. Nonetheless, in the US where it is up and running, it’s a formidable service, were it not for its late start it may have proven to be a rival for iTunes. Having the ability to hold and stream 20,000 tracks in your library or download tracks directly to your phone is a great feature. There’s little needed to add this to a feature of a home stereo or some sort of music hub. We’ve seen Apple do something similar and the Sonos system works very well. This is a competitive space and will like become an even more fierce battle ground, but no doubt Google have planned this for a long time and recent revelations show that their employees are testing equipment in their own homes, dog-fooding as it is called. I’m optimistic, competition in this industry is great for the consumer, guys like you and me. And Google are pretty good and making their wares compatible most everything else, so if everything runs smoothly, you won’t have to throw out your existing goods, unless you really want to.
The biggest thing Google have going for them is, who they already are, by that I mean that they are one of few brands that have become a verb. When you search online, you Google, that means you’re always going to come into contact with Google, which gives them an opportunity to sell their services to you. And Google have shown that they have no hesitancy leveraging their existing properties to promote their new products. And while Google+ has yet to take off in a massive way, there is deep integration into everything that Google produces at the moment, with more tie-ins growing the partners may soon be on par with what Facebook have in their own network. Google already have a huge portfolio of non Home Entertainment products, but that won’t stop them from making sure that their products work together, making them distinct for a lot of what’s already out there in terms of audio and visual. We seen the iOS update to the Google+ app mean that you have instant uploads to an online album, why wouldn’t you be able to view those photos through your Google TV? Or what about when you have a video of your child’s performance in a school play and you want to be able to watch it with the sound playing through your home set-up, I mean, my nephew was awesome in the school performance of West Side story. How about all the high res images in your picasa album, wouldn’t that be nice to scroll through on a 30” screen at the end of the year?
Admittedly I’m not the most creative guy, I’m just squashing together stuff that I’m aware already exists but there’s a lot of potential. The Android@home music system will no doubt be the first of many Android@home products, after all with a name like ‘Project Tungsten’ it’ll be underwhelming if it produced any less than a myriad of products. Google isn’t particularly good at hardware but it is good at a lot of other things, and the Motorola acquisition will go some way to address those weaknesses. This should make for interesting times for all us technophiles, if your appetite isn’t whetted by this, then what on Earth will?
Mobile World Congress starts in Barcelona on February 27th and it provides a great event for manufacturers to showcase not only their mobile phones but also the latest tablet devices. There are several tablets that fans of this form factor are hotly anticipating but let’s take a look at three high on tech fans ‘most wanted’ list.
Samsung did a solid job last time around, bringing to market one of the most popular Android tablets around, in the shape of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Having already stated that they won’t being displaying the follow-up to the Samsung Galaxy S II, despite leaks and much conjecture among Android fans, they’ll have to produce something to placate those who were holding out for the Galaxy S III. A couple device names have been discovered already, specifically the GT-P5100 and the GT-P3100, which have appeared as part of the process of applying for interoperability Wi-Fi certificates.
Hard details on the specifications of these two models are still thin on the ground, but there have been rumours of a Samsung tablet with a 2560 x 1600 (WXQGA) resolution screen (which is huge) and a 2GHz Exynos 5250 chip, with the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. As with any rumour, you have to take these things with a pinch of salt, but in my personal opinion, I’d say that what is actually revealed at MWC won’t be far off from these details. While there has been a few eyebrows raised at the supposed screen resolution and pixel density, this would be the sort of spec sheet to distract from the absence of a new top tier mobile phone and would make a bunch of Samsung tablet fans rather happy.
ASUS have already scored a winner by being the first manufacturer to bring to market a quad core tablet. The Transformer Prime has been very well received and demand for the tablet is still so high that ASUS are finding it difficult to fulfil orders. This is perhaps one of the good problems to have, the sort of thing that you hear football managers talking about when they have four inform strikers vying for two positions on the pitch, and given that ASUS already have a formidable strike force, you may wonder why they are pushing a new tablet. Well to be fair, this isn’t strictly speaking a tablet. The ASUS Padfone, is a smartphone that can be converted into a tablet PC. It has been on the horizon for quite some time, as it was first introduced in the summer of 2011, so it’s just about right to see its full release.
To mix things about a bit, it is thought that the Padfone will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 as opposed to the Nvidia Tegra 3 which powers their current crowd pleaser. This model will also have a docking station giving it the added form of a netbook. It is designed to truly be a multi-purpose jack of all trades and if executed properly, may very well appeal to those who’d rather make one purchase and hit three birds with one stone.
HTC have been one of the manufacturers that have ridden the Android wave into hearts of many mobile phone users, but their attempt at a tablet, somewhat surprisingly, wasn’t as big a success. Unlike Samsung, who have been prolific in their production of tablets of varying dimensions (10.1, 8.9, 7.0, and so on), HTC just had the Flyer and that was it. It would seem the plan was to patiently wait until they had everything sorted out and were absolutely certain of what they wanted to produce. That they only have one tablet but seemingly hundreds of mobile phones suggests that their focus is not on the tablet market, but with the tablet market still in a growth stage and the mobile phone market pretty well saturated, there may well be a shift in focus.
To be perfectly honest, noise out of the HTC camp has been pretty quiet of late, last year there was some suggestion that a HTC Edge would be a tablet but this turned out to be a 4.7 inch, Tegra 3 flagship phone. Add an inch or two to the screen size and you have a pretty neat tablet, especially if you’re a fan of the Sense UI. Fingers crossed that a HTC tablet is announced and it lives up to expectations.