Google I/O 2013 | Google unveils new gaming service

Google has just wrapped up its annual developer conference Google I/O, where it announced to the direction it’s heading for the forthcoming year, including the launch of the new Google Game Services.

The event saw some big announcements, such as the launch of a new Nexus handset and the Samsung’s Galaxy S4, as well as a big refresh for Google Maps and Google Earth. Buried among the plethora of announcements during the four hour – yes, four hour! – conference were some interesting developments in regards to Google’s plans for the world of gaming.

google io 2013
Achievements, among other features, are coming to Google.

Google announced the launch of its Google Game Services. But what exactly is it? Well, think of iOS’s Game Center, and you’re not far off the mark. Google Game Services sees the launch of achievements, cloud saves, real-time matchmaking and leaderboards; sound like Game Center? That’s because it pretty much is. But there is, however, one key difference to Apple’s Game Center suite: Google Game Services will be cross-platform. This means that Google Game Services can be implemented across Android, iOS and multiple web-based platforms.

How will this work in practice?

Google have announced that Google Game Services will be linked to your Google Plus account; in a similar way in which mobile games ask you to sign into various gaming services, such as Game Center, EA’s Origin, or even Facebook. To take advantage of the service, you’ll need to sign into your Google Plus account, which will access your friends and power its leaderboards via your friends and their game-related activity. Perhaps, by becoming the underpinnings of Google Game Services, Google Plus will properly take off; conversely, by tying its Game Services to Plus, Google risks gaining as much traction with Google Game Services as it has with Google Plus.

[quote] Google aims to make the service available to as many Android users as possible. [/quote]

However, the matchmaking feature will not be cross-platform at launch, and will only be initially available to Android users. And, speaking of Android users, Google aims to make the service available to as many Android users as possible. This includes those running Froyo (Android 2.2), right up until its current iteration, Jellybean (4.2). This is crucial for Google, as its Android mobile OS has been plagued by fragmentation, where hardware manufacturers such as Samsung or HTC offer skinned and modified versions of Android’s OS, making developing for the platform difficult at best.

A wider audience

By opening Google Game Services to users using devices as old as Froyo, which launched in May 2010, Google will overcome the problem of having users using different iterations of their OS.A recent report revealed only 1.8 per cent of Android users are still using an older version of Android than Froyo, so Google Game Services will aim to reach as wide an audience as possible. Greg Hartrell recently spoke to Polygon regarding Google Game Services and commented: “at Google, we want to make our services available to as many folks as possible.”

google io 2013
Can Google learn from past mistakes when it comes to offering a successful gaming service?

The Google Game Services SDK is already available to developers, and we’ve already seen its implementation to popular mobile games such as Super Stickman Golf 2 or a few of Gameloft’s popular titles, such as Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour or Dungeon Hunter 4.

Out with the old, in with the new

Further to its announcement of Google Game Services, Google announced that it was to close the games section on Google Plus on June 30th. The ill-fated service allowed you to play games such as Angry Birds or Zynga’s CityVille in your browser, and allowed you to share high scores with your Google Plus friends. Google has also advised users of the soon-to-be-closed service to contact developers to see if any in-game credits can be migrated to the game’s new home.

google io 2013
Google showcasing the multi-handset-controlled neon racing app.

Aside from Google Game Services, Google also demonstrated a cool Chrome Experiment at I/O. A scalextric-like game was demoed on-stage, where any mobile device running the Chrome browser could be linked together to create a top-down racetrack. Your device needs to be put in-line with the other devices, as your screen will only display a portion of the neon track. The controls seem simple, where touching the screen accelerates, and letting go brakes; attempting to go around corners too fast will cause cars to fly off the track. It’s available to try now on your mobile device: just visit g.co/racer on Chrome to try it with your friends.

Chis Foote

Which Windows Phone 8 should I Buy?

Microsoft has been busy this winter. We’ve had the release of Windows 8, arguably Microsoft’s biggest change in its portfolio of software since Windows 95. They’ve taken a note out of Apple’s book and entered the hardware market with the recently released Microsoft Surface. Now, to top off what I’m calling the ‘Winter of Windows’, comes the biggest and possibly last push to get the carriers, manufacturers, developers and most importantly, customers on board to it’s shiny new range of phones.

From the line up we have below, Microsoft has been doing its homework and has given itself every chance in catching up to the behemoths that are Apple and Android.  We’ve now got the latest hardware with big HD screens, dual-core processors, NFC and LTE. Along with a beautifully iconic OS, surely the sky’s the limit. So what Windows Phone should you buy?

Samsung ATIV S

ATIV S  ATIV S

Samsung’s first foray into the world of Windows Phone and a big coup for Microsoft seeing as Samsung are now the biggest smart phone seller in the world and boy do they start with a bang.

The ATIV S brings much of the successes of the S3 to the Windows world and shows a lot of the manufacturers how a phone should be made. We have a Super AMOLED HD display wrapped in a sleek metallic body and although we don’t have LTE, we have HSDPA+ which has comparable speeds to LTE but at a fraction of the price.

The ATIV S has the biggest screen size of all three at 4.8-inch, removable storage and a bigger battery but we can’t help but feel we’re seeing the Galaxy S3-2.

HTC 8X

HTC 8XHTC 8X

Both owners of this here site still have their HTC HD7s, it’s done us proud and although showing signs of age, we feel we made the right choice when we dove into Mr Ballmer’s arms for the first time. The folks over at, One & Co who designed the 8X and 8S have said that HTC and other manufacturers haven’t done the Windows Phone justice by slapping Microsoft’s metro OS into an Android phone and even comparing the Lumia 920 as an N9.

So they’ve come up with arguably the best looking Windows Phone 8 out there. The body is a polycarbonate unibody that wraps around to a curved 4.3-inch Gorilla Glass display. The 8X has the best pixel density of the three but that comes at a price with the smallest screen of only 4.3-inchs. We’ve got Beats audio, NFC and an 8MP camera with a BSI sensor which helps shooting in low light.

HTC’s built in applications aren’t worth the amount of data they chew through and with a bad track record of customer support the company has, some customers may have already been burned with their cheap Android devices this company has been known for.

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

The big daddy, The Nokia Lumia 920 was the phone with the biggest buzz in the industry and rightly so. Nokia has seemingly thrown every bit of technology it has into this phone which helps it win the versus battles spec wise, but we end up with a slightly larger and  heavier product (were talking about grams here).

The 920 has a host of exclusives trying to tempt you to it’s phones, the wireless charging is definitely a crowd pleaser. We also have Nokia’s PureView camera technology which means you’ll have the best camera on a Windows Phone device. Nokia is also working hard on the application front, giving you offline maps and exclusives in the marketplace such as Mirror’s Edge for free.

Enough, what am I buying?

We love that Samsung has joined our corner of the world and we hope to see more of them in the future. They’ve brought a perfectly acceptable phone, but we’ve seen it all before with the S3 and Microsoft needs a phone to differentiate itself. As One & Co said, the Windows OS doesn’t deserve to be slapped into an Android handset.

So that leaves us with the HTC 8X and the Nokia Lumia 920. The easy option would be to suggest both handsets as there really isn’t much different statistically, you can get an array of colours and all it really boils down to is personal opinion and how it feels in your hand. We’ll try and provide a quick go to guide for all you to long, didn’t reads out there:

Photographer: Lumia 920

Browser: Lumia 920

Watcher: 8X

Listener: 8X

Applications: Lumia 920

 

Infinite Robots choice: HTC 8X no, Lumia 920… urm wait 8X.. oh we don’t know either.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City comes to mobile

The date was October 29th 2002 and building on the huge success of Grand Theft Auto 3, Rockstar release Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Pushing the ground breaking sandbox world into the vibrant and much loved 80’s. It was a match made in heaven and it was the closet you could come to being Tony Montana.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary, Rockstar will be releasing the game on a wide range of  iOS and Android devices on December 6th. (Complete list below) It will set you back £2.99 on iOS and £3.72 on Android and in my opinion that is a steal for a very underrated version of the franchise.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Love Fist

This 10th Anniversary Edition brings the full experience of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to mobile devices, with native high-resolution graphics and several enhancements unique to the iOS and Android platforms including updated character models and lighting effects, new and more precise firing and targeting options, a fully customizable control layout and native support for Retina display devices.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Sonny

Apple iOS Devices: iPad, iPhone 4, 4S & 5, iPod touch 4th & 5th Generation

Android Phones: Motorola Razr, Razr Maxx, Razr Maxx HD, Motorola Atrix, Motorola Photon, Motorola Droid Bionic, HTC Rezound, HTC One X, HTC One S, HTC Evo 3D, HTC Sensation, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Note 1 & 2, Samsung S2, Samsung Galaxy R, Sony Xperia Play, Sony Xperia S, P, T & TL, Sony Walkman Z Series Media Player, Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Nexus 4

Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, LG Optimus Pad, Medion Lifetab, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 / 10.1, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Sony Tablet S, Sony Tablet P, Toshiba Thrive, HTC Flyer, Google Nexus 7, Google Nexus 10

Easy Windows Phone Achievements

Easy Windows Phone Achievements

As you may know, we love our Windows Phones at Infinite robots and we wont stop until everybody owns one.  We also love our Xbox live achievements. So naturally we’ve put the two together and compiled a nice list of easy, achievable 200G to boost your gamer score.

Roll in the Hole

0.79p/$0.99

We’re promised, “Super-addictive, family-fun adventure!” but what we get is a fat panda rolling all over the place trying to retrieve his stolen lollipops. They wonder why child obesity is such a problem. Don’t worry kids, just roll around and you’ll get your treats. For 79p this is the cheapest and easiest 200g possible. Can just about keep you entertained for the couple of hours needed to complete.

Roll in the Hole

Doodle God

0.79p/$0.99

A truly brilliant and unique concept where you start with the 4 basic elements and mould them as if you were, well, God.

Without the Achievement guide, this could take a long time to complete which isn’t such a bad thing as this was a pleasure to play, but if your looking for a quick fix then check out the guide below.

Achievement guide

Doodle God

Monopoly

£3.99/$4.99

The Monopoly you know and love at a nice expensive price (Welcome to Windows Phone). Relive them Christmas mornings of family feuds on your Windows phone. I suggest looking out for this on deal of the week, 200g easily unlocked if you change the settings.

Monopoly Windows Phone

Collapse

£2.29/$2.99

You’ve seen it all before with Bejeweled and Hex. Just don’t waste £2.29 on this, another one to watch out for on deal of the week.

Very easy 200g.

Collapse! Windows Phone

Implode!

£2.29/$2.99

An instant classic of the mobile generation with it’s easy to learn but hard to master gameplay.

Not the easiest of 200g on this list, but trying to master this game is enjoyable and well worth the full price. Guide below if your boring.

Achievement Guide

Implode! Windows Phone

ilomilo

£3.99/$4.99

ilo and milo have some serious geographical issues, consistently loosing each other. It’s like their using Google maps or something. Help them find each-other with this brilliantly made, quirky but cute game with a worthwhile soundtrack.

Achievement Guide

ilomilo Windows Phone

Fruit Ninja

0.79p/$0.99

The best way to get your 5-a-day. Release your inner ninja on the unsuspecting fruit for maximum gamer score.

Some tricky Achievements here but nothing to taxing.

Fruit Ninja

So there we have it, for now. A nice 1400 gamer score for a small price and little effort.

Let us know if there’s any games you think should be on this list

First multiplayer game to hit Windows Phone

Namco Bandai today released the first mobile Xbox Live, real-time online multiplayer for Windows Phone. It’s taken almost two years for this to happen and there has been very little fanfare for such a major development in the Windows Phone ecosystem.

Pool Pro Online 3 offers a realistic simulation of 8-ball, 9-ball and snooker. The game is your standard drag and aim pool game. You get tutorials for the newbies and offline single player sees you earn money to spend on new equipment and pool halls.

Pool Pro Online 3 Pool Pro Online 3

The bread and butter of this game is the real-time multiplayer which has so far been lacking on the Windows phone. Each game type has its own public lobby from which you can invite other players to a game. Before the game you place a bet with in game money on the outcome and then take it in turns to take your shot within the specified time.

We hope this is the first of whole host of real-time multiplayer games coming to the Windows Phone market place and now Namco Bandai has the tools and the know how, this will hopefully filter through to the big players in the mobile market.

Pool Pro Online 3 Pool Pro Online 3

With the release of Windows Phone 8 just round the corner which will bring a more intuitive development experience and improved hardware access the future for the Market place is looking good.

Download it from the marketplace here or with the qr code below.

$2.99/£2.29

Pool Pro Online 3 QR Code

Windows Phone 8

Updated: What Windows Phone to buy

Microsoft recently announced their next version of its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 8. We at Infinite Robots love our Windows Phones, apart from me as I’m currently suffering the pain and anguish of an Android handset, but that’s a story for another day.

Continue reading Windows Phone 8