10000000 for iOS (by EightyEight Games) is an awkwardly-named (iTunes link) “Dungeon Crawling RPG Matching Game”. Yep, it’s a match-three tile matching game built into an RPG. And despite the odd mashup of genre and strictly numeric title, it’s actually quite good.
Here’s how it works: you control a hero who’s forever running to the right. Occasionally your hero is stopped by an obstacle – a monster, a chest, or maybe a door – and you need to match key, sword, and magic stave tiles to help defeat said obstacle. When you’re not slaying monsters and running exclusively to the right, you can also use some other resources that you’ve gathered like wood and stone to upgrade your weapon, armor, and a variety of other perks.
With those basics out of the way, I’ve got four usability related topics to discuss:
There are many different tactics that video games use to introduce players to the game’s basic functions. Some are closely integrated into the story, others are clearly outside the “normal” experience of the game. Mass Effect 2’s tutorial is yelled to Commander Shepard over the intercom system as a high-pressure situation unfolds immediately upon opening the game – it’s very integrated into the gameplay. Final Fantasy XIII’s battle tutorial does take place during a real battle, but it breaks the normal flow of battle and there is a lot of reading involved (not to mention a big flashing “TUTORIAL” in the upper left corner). Ghost Trick for iOS has an even slower and more text-heavy tutorial that is actually quite irritating for a mobile title.
Forza Horizon for the XBox 360 is an open-world racing game, and it may have the best tutorial that I’ve ever seen in a game. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you might not even notice it’s a tutorial – and that’s a great compliment. Read on and I’ll break it down to show you the magic of a non-tutorial tutorial.
Finally, after years of discussions and dreams, Microsoft is starting to deliver on this Windows 8 and Surface-based dreamworld of dual screen viewing. The recently-released XBox SmartGlass application (iTunes link) makes your “entertainment more amazing” according to Microsoft. Like every new amazing technology, there are a lot of promises out there – from a better experience controlling your XBox to using your tablet as a map or playbook in-game.
Being the owner of both an XBox 360 and an iPad, I had a few minutes to try it out this afternoon, and I thought I’d report back with some quick thoughts on the usability of the whole experience. In a nutshell, so far I’ve found it a lot like you’re probably imagining – a really cool technology that isn’t quite fully baked yet. Read on to find out more.
In last week’s article, I talked about how the crazy amount of loot and the lack of a good, simple method to compare items can make an otherwise great Borderlands 2 a sluggish inventory-management fest. After a little bit more playtime, I’ve come up with a few more usability related thoughts on this game including:
Various methods of picking up loot
How much I love the world map in Borderlands 2
Scroll bars are your friend
The skill tree is more focused, but probably less useful
Some unnecessarily sexy visual effects in the menu screen
There are plenty of iOS apps that contain drink recipes, but there are very few games that have you actually making drinks on your phone. Bar Oasis is called a “bartender simulation” by Touch Arcade, which seems pretty accurate. It’s a very story-driven game that I guess would have to live in the simulation genre if I had to put it somewhere. You’re put in the shoes of a bartender, tending to your customers while listening to their problems, and of course, making their drinks.
In real life it’s definitely a skill that bartenders have to develop for making good drinks in a hurry, so how does that translate into an iOS game? As you might have guessed, it’s not ideal. There’s potential here, but there are a few quirks that really make it more irritating than it should be. Though at the end of the day, how much do perfectly precise controls really matter if the game is still fun? Let’s discuss…