Live Blog: GDC Mobile Keynote - Neil Young, CEO of ngmoco

The 2009 Game Developers Conference kicks off with the GDC Mobile keynote address that will be delivered by Neil Young, the CEO and founder of ngmoco (with image gallery here). Young left his job at Electronic Arts to form ngmoco which is an iPhone game studio responsible for titles like Rolando, Topple, and Dropship. He'll be discussing how the iPhone changed the industry on par with the introduction of the NES, GameBoy, PSX, Xbox Live, and Wii.

Sorry for the late start, the 3G is a bit spotty in this conference hall.
Neil Young, CEO and Founder of ngmoco, is on stage and we've just covered the history of mobile games up to the iPhone.
He believes that all of the mobile games before the iPhone were lame. They were mostly ports. Original games were rare.
Neil on the iPhone: "This was becoming the most important device that I ever owned."

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Kirk, Adama, Admiral Ackbar, Jean-Luc Picard and of Zapp Brannigan.

What makes a space captain, a truly great space captain? And most importantly, are you up to snuff? That's the direct challenge posed to you in this booming trailer for the space-faring expansion to EA Maxis' life sim Spore: Galactic Adventures for the PC (June 23) and Mac (Spring).

Spore: Galactic Adventures Space Captain Trailer

Spore: Galactic Adventures Space Captain Trailer »

Starcraft II Blizzard Mac PC RTS

While the latest images of Blizzard's highly-anticipated Starcraft II are nice enough to show off some of its replay user interface, I just can't help but feel like each trickle of new media is becoming more and more of the gaming equivalent of Chinese water torture.

Dear Blizzard, please do us all a solid and /blacksheepwall the shroud of mystery of when StarCraft II goes live. The sooner, the bloody better.

P.S. Please send beta key

Image Gallery

Apple and AT&T are being sued (again) for the latter's spotty 3G performance. Macworld has reported:

"Filed in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, Damone Dickerson claims that Apple misrepresented the speed, strength and performance of the 3G network. The lawsuit claims that he could only connect to the fast 3G network a fraction of the time, and that it did not provide full and continual service. In fact, Dickerson claims that most of the time he receives no 3G connectivity at all.

The lawsuit charges the companies with Negligence, Breach of Express Warranty, Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability, Unjust Enrichment, Negligent Misrepresentation, Violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and Other Similar State Statutes, and Breach of Contract."

Apple And AT&T Sued (Again) Over Allegedly Shoddy 3G Performance

Initially, I wondered why Dickerson didn't just return the phone and cancel his contract during his trial period, but then I remembered that I live in the United States of America, where litigation is king. Keep in mind that there have been multiple lawsuits similar to Dickerson's claim, so he might be a copycat wishing to cash in on AT&T's inconsistent 3G performance.

For you iPhone users in the house, how has AT&T's 3G performance worked for you? Whether it's good or bad, please let me know how it has been and what area you live in. Hopefully this post doesn't inspire anyone to contact their lawyer.


Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

Blizzard Launches New Battle.net Website With Merged Accounts

Blizzard Entertainment launched a newly redesigned Battle.net webpage and converted any Blizzard Store accounts to Battle.net accounts.

Additionally, World of WarCraft players can merge their Battle.net account and WoW account. This change is basically organizational, but will require you to use your registered email address as your WoW account name at login.

In games like WarCraft III, there are no changes. In fact, you cannot log in with the new Battle.net account. I have tested Diablo II or StarCraft, but I would assume they are the same as WarCraft III in this respect.

Then why should you do this? Beta opt-in! Within the account options on the new Battle.net is a opt-in checkbox for upcoming Blizzard beta tests... you know, StarCraft II and Diablo III. In fact, rumors point to the StarCraft II beta starting up soon so get on over to Battle.net and register. I'll be looking for people to play when the beta starts!

The new account will also let you manage CD-Keys and digital downloads for any Blizzard games that you own. Remember, you can register boxed copies to get a digital copy for PC and Mac!



T-Mobile G1, Apple iPhone, And BlackBerry Storm Lead The Way For Profit

According to IntoMobile, despite only being the eighth-best selling phone for T-Mobile, the Android-powered G1 is the company's most profitable handset. When you factor in its price and the required data plan, it's easy to understand why. That said, the article's author believes that consumers are fascinated with touchscreens, noting that Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry Storm are the profit leaders for AT&T and Verizon, respectively.

I'm not sure that touchscreen is the big factor here. Having a consumer-oriented product (yes, the Storm counts since it's more consumer friendly than other BlackBerry devices) that works well and requires a data plan is more meaningful than just having a touchscreen. People were fascinated by the Samsung Instinct for Sprint, but the phone didn't take off the way the company wanted it to; a mediocre phone with a touchscreen is still a mediocre phone.

What do you think? Are people just drawn to the sexiness of capacitive touchscreens? Or do people just flock to good phones?


Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

Apple iPhone OS 3.0

It looks like the new iPhone and iPod Touch models might be hitting around the time iPhone OS 3.0 is available. Digging through the iPhone 3.0SDK reveals designations for two new iPhone model and two new iPod Touch models. Engadget Mobile has reported:

"The beta 3.0 build provided to developers this week has uncovered the same product code 'iPhone2,1' found before in addition to an even newer,awesomer 'iPhone3,0.' For the record, the iPhone 3G is identified as 'iPhone1,2'. Turning our attention to the iPod touch, the current model carries the 'iPod2,1' designation, but models 'iPod2,2' and 'iPod3,1' have both been rooted out of the binary. June is widely speculated as the time that we'd be seeing new iPhone models -- right about the time that 3.0 is released to the general public -- so we don't have terribly long to wait to get this sorted out."

Some of the other staffers at G4 are pressuring me to join the iPhone bandwagon. Perhaps these new models can win me over, particularly if one of them had a physical keyboard. That said, all the hardware hotness in the world can't stop AT&T's network from sucking in the places I work and play. Maybe, I'll just go with a Palm Pre to be contrary...or a Nokia N97 to piss off Leahy.

Do you think the SDK reveals refreshes to the iPhone and iPod Touch lines? If so, what features would you like to see?


Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

Metal Gear Solid Touch is Kojima Productions’ first foray into the world of the iPhone, but it might not be what you’re expecting. First and foremost, this is a shooting gallery game. You certainly won’t be doing any sneaking… or much moving for that matter. This isn’t like any of Metal Gear’s predacessors. However, that’s not a bad thing.

Levels play out like shooting galleries taken directly from Metal Gear Solid 4. You’ll recognize the locations and enemies and the story plays out on the same path as the PS3 game. Enemies will pop-up and must be shot before they shoot you and retreat into cover. Enemies vary from regular soldiers to Haven Troopers and even Gekkos. You’ll also fight the bosses from MGS4, which translate well.

Metal Gear Solid Touch Gameplay

Metal Gear Solid Touch Gameplay »

There are also a few power-ups to be snagged during gameplay. A yellow GA-KO can be shot to gain some life back. A sitting Kerotan will give Snake a limited stealth buff that acts as invincibility and a standing Kerotan gives Snake a single-shot rocket launcher (great for taking to choppers and Gekko).

Keep reading for more on Metal Gear Solid Touch.

Read More »

Metal Gear Solid Touch

Metal Gear Solid Touch has been released early and is now available for purchase for the iPhone and iPod Touch through Apple's App Store. In addition to being two days early, the game is also priced less than what we were told. Instead of $9.99, you'll be dropping $7.99 on the title.

Contrary to our earlier report, we will not be reviewing the game at this time. According to Konami, this version of Metal Gear Solid Touch is just the beginning and additional levels will be released to buyers at a later time to be determined by Konami. We will be waiting until the game is complete to publish our review.

Also, be sure to read our exclusive interview on Metal Gear Solid Touch with Kojima Productions.

Let us know if you purchase the game and share your impressions in the comments section.

iPhone OS 3.0Apple has previewed the next major upgrade to the iPhone operating system and there are plenty of new features for developers and customers. I'll get into those particulars after some quick stats on the iPhone and the success of the App Store.

  • Apple has sold 17 million iPhones and 13 million iPod Touches for an installed base of 30 million running the iPhone OS.
  • 800,000 free SDK downloads.
  • 50,000 companies developing for the OS with 60% of them new to Apple development (!).
  • 96% of apps have been approved with 800 million downloads (free & paid).

Let's take a look at the new features that will be available to iPhone owners:

  • Cut, Copy & Paste! - The iPhone will finally support cut, copy & paste support. This is done by double-tapping on a block of text and adjusting the selection. A balloon will appear with options for cutting, copying, and pasting. Finally!
  • MMS Support - MMS will be supported on the iPhone, but not the original iPhone. This is for the iPhone 3G only. Sorry early adopters, time to upgrade!
  • Text Message Improvements - Text message forwarding. Also, multiple message forward & delete.
  • Search & Spotlight - Apple will add search to key apps like Mail and Spotlight (global device search) will get its own page on the dashboard. This will search everything on the device for a string of text from one screen. This is very similar to the Palm Pre's search functionality.
  • Landscape Keyboard - More key applications like Mail and SMS will support the Landscape keyboard.
  • Voice Memos - You will now be able to record voice memos.
  • Calender & Stock Improvements - The calendar app will add support for CalDAV and subscription based .ics calendars.
  • Stereo Bluetooth A2DP - Bring on the Bluetooth headphones. Note: for iPhone 3G and 2nd Gen iPod Touch only.

Hit the break for the new features being made available to developers.

Read More »

Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

Metal Gear Solid Touch

Metal Gear Solid Touch will mark the franchise's debut on the iPhone, but it might not be what you're expecting. It's a well known fact that Kojima and company are big Apple fans, but why the iPhone? How will the game actually work? How much control do you have with Snake? To get more details on the game, we talked to Yasuyo Watanabe, the game's producer and Ikuya Nakamura, the game's director.

G4: Who comprises the team on this game? How is Kojima-san involved in this game?

Yasuyo Watanabe, Producer: The Director of MGSTouch is Mr. Ikuya Nakamura who was actively involved in other projects such as "Boktai" and "Lunar Knights." I transferred in from my position as head of the Kojima Productions web team to become the Creative Producer on the project, and Mr. Kojima supervised the overall planning, production, and direction of the game.

G4: Why the iPhone? Is this because Kojima Productions are known Apple fans? What about the platform appeals to Kojima Productions?

Watanabe: The main reason that we chose the iPhone/iPod Touch as our next platform is because we wanted to reach beyond our traditional gaming audience and allow a wide range of people, including music fans, to enjoy the world of MGS4.  We think it would be wonderful if people could get a glimpse of the MGS world through MGSTouch, and then become interested in the MGS series.

Also, the iPhone/iPod Touch as a platform offers many cool features that we wanted to take advantage of, such as its unique input methods and large high resolution screen.  As game creators, we were very interested in the capabilities of the system and felt compelled to challenge ourselves by creating a game for the device.

Click through for the rest of the interview, which will discuss the game's control methods, as well as the underlying idea behind the game's development.

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Finally! The game that I played in my 3rd grade history class on an old Apple II/c is finally coming to the iPhone. The game is currently available in the iTunes App Store for $5.99.

Gameloft's The Oregon Trail game looks delightfully stylized, while retaining the classic disease-ridden gameplay of the original.

Oregon Trail iPhone Trailer »

iPhone OS 3.0Eager developers waiting to see what new features they will be able to incorporate into their best-selling 99 cent fart applications will get a preview of Apple iPhone OS 3.0 on March 17.

This will hopefully be the version that begins incorporating Apple's proposed unified push notification service that will allow applications to pass notices through the Internet to alert users even if the app isn't currently running.

It wouldn't be useful for every application, but it would allow things like an IM app that maintains a persistent connection to the service to let you know when you have a new IM without having to maintain an open data connection.

It might also include more features for regular users... let's go copy & paste and video record! We'll know more on the 17th.


Tags: Apple, iPhone, Tech

UPDATE: We've been informed by Konami that the actual release date of Metal Gear Solid Touch will be available worldwide on Thursday, March 19th. We'll have our full review of the game on that date. 

Konami sends word that Kojima Productions' Metal Gear Solid Touch, the iPhone & iPod Touch game that takes place around the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, will be released through Apple's App Store on Wednesday, March 18.

Furthermore, it will run you $9.99.

Metal Gear Solid Touch Trailer

Metal Gear Solid Touch Trailer »

Are you picking it up? I'm going to buy it as soon as they will let me!


F.B.T. Productions, the former production team of hip hop heavyweight Eminem, just lost their 2007 lawsuit against Universal over digital sales in online stores such as iTunes.
The brothers behind F.B.T. alleged that when Universal provided music to iTunes, the music conglomerate was actually "licensing" the tunes to another distributor rather than doing so themselves. F.B.T. argued that it deserved four times more dough per sale from digi stores than from CD sales. But the jury said that sales through digital downloads should be treated like CDs for the purposes of paying royalties, although it's the digital download stores that actually make the copies offered for sale.
Oh, snap!

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