Just added the ability for the player character to sprint for a limited time using a stamina resource that recharges over time. The stamina bar updates in realtime on the HUD.
New screens from Urban Assault Team, an action RPG game I’m developing in HTML5 for desktop and mobile. Players will be able to gather intel on suspects during missions and use lethal force to complete their objectives.
I’ve been developing a top down RPG for the past 4 months called Urban Assault Team (working title) using Impact JS. Here’s some work in progress screen shots from the demo. I’m showcasing it at GameCityNights in Leeds and hoping to release it as a mobile game later this year.
Tom Cruise dons cow boy hat and furs, rocking out as Stacee Jaxx in this nostalgic homage to 80s Power Ballad Rock.
‘Only I know what it’s like to be me, because I live here.’
Cruise plays the lead role as rock god Stacee Jaxx (doing his best Axel Rose impression) trying to resurrect a flagging music career. When Cruise gets out of a stretch limo with some kind of feral monkey sidekick in toe, (some kind of pet bartender) you can see he’s playing it for plenty of cheap gags.
Fast forward to Stacee Jaxx interviewed backstage by a Blonde reporter from Rolling Stone he resorts to lame philosophical patter that wouldn’t sound out of place in that scene from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (two teenagers go on a journey of discovery to meet their rock idol) where they find themselves attempting to make friends with ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.
“We’ll set this place on fire tonight then burn it to the ground!”
“So the Phoenix can (find it’s way) and rise again.”
If you’ve see that movie you’ll know exactly what to expect and unfortunately that’s exactly what you get. Cruise does a decent job of belting out the power ballad greatest hits, all the while aiming plenty of horned salutes and swagger as you’d expect. Apart from Russel Brand’s comedy turn in what I can only describe as a bizarre, Americanised–version of a Brummy accent there’s not much to keep you entertained beyond guffawing at Cruise’s ridiculous dragon headed codpiece, and the pantomime rock agent bagging his 50% from Alec Baldwin’s character after the gig. This is a shame because Alec Baldwin does a decent turn as the slightly desperate, washed up nightclub owner.
Released: 15 June 2012
Cert (UK): 12A
Running time: 123 mins
Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo
Starring: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russel Brand
I took the first 3 of these shots on my Nikon D3100 and the last one on my smartphone. Later in post I cropped them with some additional colour corrections to reduce orange tones in the background to add visual interest to the foreground.
Few racial groups or religious stereotypes are left unturned for sometimes cruel but often hilarious comedy sketches.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest outrageous comedy shamelessly lampoons attitudes towards the Middle East, partially by the UN but mostly by America’s War on Terror. It’s fish out of water, Coming to America style satire.
Few racial groups or religious stereotypes are left unturned for sometimes cruel but often hilarious comedy sketches. Cohen often manages to squeeze as much toilet humour, bad taste tags with obvious signposting and a sprinkling of more subtle political satire. I loved how Kingsley plays it straight as reserved older brother Tazmir to Cohen’s completely OTT antics as General Aladeen. Following the opening scene when he addresses the people on his grand plans to begin nuclear weapons development, Cohen wastes no time in playing up his character’s ineptitude and appetite for ordering executions of his senior scientists and advisers by way of the hand slice across the throat. These unfortunate individuals are frogmarched off to meet their unfortunate demise (or are they?)
After a spot of nookie with his latest in a long line of hired hookers, a photo wall is revealed showing his favourite bed fellow celebrities, and a certain well known Hollywood star turned Californian governor. A state visit to America swiftly follows but doesn’t exactly go as planned; leading to an abduction, burned facial hair and a screwed up romantic subplot between Aladeen and full time store manager/part time activist Anna Faris.
If you’ve seen the trailer already you’ll have seen the chuckle inducing helicopter scene involving a middle aged American couple seated opposite Aladeen and his co conspirator desperately trying to appear all American but failing miserably as they switch to Arabic in a hilarious exchange with subtitles ramming home the lost in translation puns between the latest 911 Porsche and their fellow passengers worst fears.
Cohen seemingly manages to get away with his sniping at America’s foreign policy and trade relations, because he pulls no punches in satirising Israel, China and mocking African Warlords selling children as soldiers to repressive regimes.
It’s subtle as a brick, but well worth the cinema ticket price on a dull Thursday night.
Released: 16 May 2012
Cert (UK): 15
Runtime: 83 mins
Genre: Comedy Satire
Director: Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Anna Faris
Your mission should you choose to accept it…
Answering critics saying previous Mission Impossible films had taken themselves too seriously it’s refreshing to see Brad Bird melding the light hearted with full blown action sequences while staying true to the spirit of the original 70s TV series fans will know and love. Simon Pegg adds a touch of light hearted comedy as a counterpoint to Tom Cruise’s driven Ethan Hunt. Gadgets glitch and fail adding a touch of jeopardy to the action while at the same time providing some easy laughs. Brad Brad even manages to poke fun at action movie cliche, when Russian characters suddenly ask why they are speaking English when the subtitles disappear. Unmissable.
Director: Brad Bird
Writers: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg
Format tested: iPad3
Like the spin-offs accompanying previous instalments in the Mass Effect series, Infiltrator lets the player step into the boots of an an augmented space marine where like Shephard you start with a basic weapons loadout and familiar biotic abilities like pull which you can upgrade using credits (see money shot). Graphics look sharply defined, while colours are rich and vibrant as you would expect from the retina display on the new iPad.
Assuming Direct Control
Controls are simple, tap and drag to select powers or change weapons then tap enemies to target them. Aiming is assigned to the the right virtual stick while movement is handled by the left virtual stick. The cover mechanic carries over well from the console version bringing up movement prompts while in cover. It seems somewhat flawed though – engaging an enemy target often leaves you exposed to weapons fire while you frantically try to get out of aiming mode to get back into cover.
Strafing seems almost impossible to pull off though because of the seemingly exclusive control either virtual stick gives during combat. A recent patch by the developers promises to refine the control of the aiming reticule by the right stick. After applying the update a closer examination shows the reticule does appear to stick closer to the target at first but annoyingly when attempting to drag the right stick to keep it locked on it zigzags between normal and zoomed in camera modes. I really hope the developers can rectify these control issues because the HUD and menus are first class with rich sound design accompanying every menu selection. Overally a great game for the iPad which with a few more tweaks to the controls has the potential to be an outstanding example of the multi touch action RPG.
As a side note I’m not a big fan of the current trend of monetising in game upgrades to fund development of further levels and patches. It sends the message that the game designers have decided on a set rate of level progression for the player, as free to play business models (as seen in Korean MMOs) become popular with games publishers, getting your wallet out becomes the norm and an easy way out towards boosting your character stats, thus speeding your progress through the game.
There’s that defining geek moment when a new gadget promises to deliver on those dreams of sci-fi and action cinema but for one reason or another could never quite make it to market. The online services infrastructure had to be invented, coupled with a device powerful enough running on batteries to utilise it, so the iPad unshackles us from desktop computing like never before.
Next Gen Touch
The new iPad has been around for a couple weeks, likely to be renamed for easy reference as iPad 3rd gen in later months. As I sit back on the sofa tapping away on the multi touch keyboard I can’t help thinking this is the Captain Picard (Star Trek TNG) moment we’d all been waiting for. As I think about how the user experience has shifted from laptop to netbook, then to mobile apps I realise how much it changes how we think about the ways in which we interact with those mediums. It’s striking just how adroitly Apple have handled cases of user friction in their products. In other words the gap between users’ intentions and how the software lets them go about it.
Apps as Dev Environments
As consumers we’re all sold on the usefulness of apps for every day use but as developers can we perceive a point in time when mobile devices could become a viable development platform for mobile devices? Apps like Mag+ promise to let designers to take their designs and export them into a format tailored for the iPad experience. ‘Like a print button for mobile devices’ goes the slogan for the plugin.
In fairness though the app works more like a plugin for Adobe Creative Suite exporting the code into HTML 5 and images that can be swiped and zoomed in the finished product. The app is free to use locally until you’re ready to publish, at which point you have to pay a licence fee to deploy it to your web server.
I wonder though just how effective this approach is without the performance tuning that an application often needs from an experienced software developer. My experience tells me that a certain amount of code optimization is necessary to cleanup the results for such export utilities. Not to mention the ability to run several browsers simultaneously to compare the results of any code changes.
For my money, an exciting new contender for responsive development workflows would be Adobe Edge Inspect. It’s like Firebug for IoS and mobile devices letting you use remote inspection tools to preview and debug your website/mobile app as you build it. Edge Inspect used to be called Adobe Shadow in Beta before they changed its name to bringing into line with its themed product line.