Angry Birds 2 hits 30 million downloads

Angry Birds 2 logoAngry Birds 2 is now on the market and, like any Rovio game, it’s proving popular. The latest in a long series of hit titles from the Finnish company, the game is quickly becoming another success.

The company has announced numbers for the game since its launch, and they are a bit staggering. 30 million of us worldwide have grabbed a copy and begun slinging birds at those little green pigs.

“What a great start to the Angry Birds 2 journey! But keep those slingshots well waxed and in good working order. The adventure on Piggy Island is just getting started, and exciting surprises await around the corner”, Rovio states in its announcement.

The statement alludes to more levels on the way, though it seems a bit soon to update this version. More likely we’ll see and update to one of the other versions first. Autumn is coming, like it or not, and Seasons seems a strong candidate for this.

 

Angry Birds 2 is Now Available!

Angry Birds 2 logoAngry Birds 2 is now available for both Android and iOS. It is the sequel to the original Angry Birds game. The app can be downloaded for free. The game is still made by Rovio.

As you might expect, there have been some changes made to the game since the original version. That’s not unusual for any mobile game that has a 2 in it’s name. For example, there were huge visual differences between Zynga’s Farmville and Farmville 2.

Ubergizmo reports that much of the gameplay in Angry Birds 2 is similar to the original Angry Birds. The new version includes animations, new effects, and dynamic lighting that Rovio was unable to put into the original version (which was released in December of 2009).

The game now includes cards, which players can earn by destroying things. The more things a player destroys, the more cards he or she receives. Every fifth level is a boss level. Players can use feathers to level up the birds, and can choose which order they want to play the birds in. There appears to be more strategy involved in Angry Birds 2 than there was in the original Angry Birds.

Angry Birds 2 includes in-app purchases Players start the game with 3 lives. When players run out of cards, they have to stop playing. The player can either wait 30 minutes for the lives to regenerate, or can spend real world money on gems. It takes 60 gems to recharge one life.

Obviously, Angry Birds 2 is not the only mobile game that includes in-app purchases. Many of them do. It is up to the player to determine if it is worth it to them to spend real world money to continue playing Angry Birds 2 right now, or if it is a better idea to do something else for 30 minutes while the lives recharge.

Ingress comes to Android Wear

Ingress LogoI started playing Ingress earlier this year. I’m still pretty new to the game and I can’t say I’ve made an awful lot of progress. Ingress is an augmented reality game where players choose factions and then battle for control of portals that exist in the real world. Once a new portal becomes available, players from the two factions (either Enlightened or Resistance) can hack the portal and try to ultimately take control of it. As factions continue to claim more portals, they can then link those portals to eventually take control of larger areas.

Traditionally, Ingress could only be played using either Android or iOS apps running on smartphones or tablets. But now, Ingress is available on Android Wear devices. Now it’ll be easier than ever for players to locate portals and interact with them, as the Ingress interface will be readily available on devices like wristwatches, sparing the need to remove a pocketed phone or having to pull a tablet out of a backpack or bag.

The Android Wear version of Ingress is available for download thru the Google Play Store. So get out there and get to hacking those portals! No matter which faction you’re on, Ingress can be a lot of fun and it’s a good way to get some exercise, too.

Final Girls is a Game About Coping With Trauma

Final Girls Intro ScreenVideo games often involve leveling up characters, completing quests, and finding awesome “loot”. Then, there are some video games that break away from that definition in order to make a point, tell a story, or provide the player with real life skills. Final Girls is this type of video game.

Final Girls was created by Kanane Jones. The game is set in a support group meeting that includes a small group of women who have experienced a traumatic event. Players sit in on this meeting sort of like a “fly on a wall”.

The women take turns discussing their week, sharing both the good and bad things that happened. Support is given by the other women and the therapist who is running the meeting. At the end, the therapist directs the women to discuss what they are doing as self-care strategies.

This video game could help women who are struggling with their own, real life, trauma. The game provides some examples of real situations that could cause a woman to become anxious due to the trauma they experienced. It gives some specific examples that are a healthy form of self-care, and makes it clear that things will get better.

The unique thing about Final Girls is that it doesn’t focus on the horrible thing that happened to each woman. It briefly mentions a generalization of what happened to each woman in order to provide context. The true focus of the game on how the women were able to talk about what happened to them, learn coping skills for dealing with the aftermath of the trauma, and have a good life.

Kanane Jones is an abuse survivor who noticed that stories about trauma tend to focus on the traumatic event, but not how people continue on and live their lives. She wanted to tell that story, and decided that a therapy session was the perfect location.

self care strategies Final Girls game

The name of the game, Final Girls, refers to a trope in slasher films where a woman is the last one alive to confront the killer. The game includes some familiar faces. The therapist, Ellen, looks a lot like Ellen Ripley. Carrie is recovering from being bullied in high school. Kanane Jones is a fan of horror movies, and describes her characters as “inspired by” the movies (but not based directly on them).

Final Girls is free to play and is a browser based game. It includes graphics, lettering, and music that reminds me of the older console games. Some parts of the game come with a warning about upcoming content, and players are allowed to skip those parts without penalty.

Leading Ladies 2 is the Current Humble Weekly Bundle

Leading Ladies 2 Humble BundleThe Humble Bundle provides people who love to play video games with an excellent offer. Pay what you want. Decide how much of the money you spend goes to the game developers and how much goes to a charity. The current Humble Weekly Bundle is called Leading Ladies 2. It features games that have prominent female characters in them. At the time I am writing this blog, this Humble Bundle has 4 days left.

Pay what you want to get the first three games in the Bundle. Triune 2: Complete Story is a game of action, puzzles, and platforming. One of the playable characters is Zoya the Thief.

Lumino City is sequel to Lume. It begins where the first game left off. Lumi needs to explore the city in order to find out more about her Grandad. The game involves exploring, and players must figure out puzzling mechanisms.

Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game that is about “hacking” (reprograming object properties, global variables, and creature behaviors in the game). The game is currently in early access.

Pay more than the average of $4.27 and you unlock two more games. A City Sleeps is an action game driven by an experimental hip hop / electronic soundtrack. The main character is a woman named Poe who uses ghost familiars to interact with the world.

The Marvellous Miss Take features Miss Sophia Take. Players must reclaim sculptures and paintings. The game involves stealth and distraction and combines a puzzle game with an action game.

Pay $12.00 or more, and you get two additional games. Gravity Ghost is a gravity hopper where players run, jump and orbit their way through a galaxy. There’s no killing, no dying, and no way to fail.

Sunset features the character Angela Burnes, and players discover her thoughts as they play the game. She is a US citizen at the end of the 1960’s who was inspired by the Black Power and civil rights movements. It is an adventure game.

As always, you get to choose how much of what you spend goes towards the developers and how much goes to a charity. This time, the charity is Girls Make Games. It is an educational company based in San Jose, California. They provide girls with access to knowledge thorough their games and programs, including their Girls Make Games summer camps and workshops.

3 Queens Launched Mobile Game at E3

Creeping With the CrudashiansThere’s been a ton of news that came out of E3, especially from the bigger, well known, companies. So, you might have missed hearing about a fun mobile game that was created by a small company called 3 Queens. It is an all-woman owned gaming development and publishing company that is based in South Carolina.

The first mobile game from 3 Queens is called Creeping with the Crudashians. It is intended to be a parody of “America’s reality TV royal family” – the Kardashians (and their show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. ) The game is also a critique of celebrity vanity in general.

Creeping with the Crudashians is a Match 3 game that is available for both iOS and Android users. Give 3 Queens your email, and get on their list, if you want to know exactly when the game launches. I’ve subscribed, in part because I like to support women who are in the gaming industry, and also because I’m so very tired of all the “news” about whatever the Kardashians are doing. I think I’m really going to enjoy this game!

The game includes characters that resemble the Kardashians. There’s Cym, Crusty, Crassy, Crawly, Crewelina, and more. The concept of the game is to poke fun at the major milestones and events of the Crudashians based on their career timeline. To win a level, players must match tiles to increase their fame, break sex tapes, etc., with an overall goal to gain the ever elusive talent.

The in-game currencies are Fame, and Talent. The game does allow for micro-transactions. You can purchase Fame, but you can’t buy Talent. Fame, however, is abundant in the game and the default reward for anything a player does. The official public launch of Creeping with the Crudashians is this July. It will be available on both the iTunes and Play! stores.

Previous to creating this game, the 3 Queens (Cara Florence, Nicole Young, and Maureen Coffey-Edri) created an app called WeConsent2 It is an affirmative consent application “designed to protect you and your partner before passion”.

YouTube Gaming will Launch this Summer

YouTube Gaming logoYouTube Gaming is set to launch in the summer of 2015. It is an obvious attempt to compete with Twitch and Steam.

YouTube Gaming will have more than 25,000 games, and each of them will have their own page. There will also be channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators. Some of this functions similarly to Twitch. People will be able to subscribe to YouTube creator’s channel and get a notification when that person starts a live stream.

In addition, YouTube Gaming will make it easier for people to find videos about their favorite game. The Official YouTube Blog says: And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe”.

In other words, your search for videos about a specific game will give you a much better result from the YouTube Gaming homepage than if you did that search from the main page of YouTube. It also shows that YouTube is going to incorporate its existing gaming content into the new YouTube Gaming.

As far as streaming goes, the official YouTube blog says:

Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-center on the YouTube Gaming homepage. And, in the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream to a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our system so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time. We’re also creating a single link you can share for all your streams.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. Some of the people who left comments on the Official YouTube blog are questioning how YouTube’s ContentID will affect things. Will ContentID continue to flag the videos in which the music in the background of the game is audible? If so, that could be problematic for streamers. Others are interested in finding out more about how revenue will work for YouTube Gaming streamers.

Kingston HyperX Cloud II Headset

Kingston LogoKingston Tech followed up their popular HyperX Cloud gaming headset earlier this year with the Cloud II, which brought a newly designed USB sound card audio control box with 7.1 virtual surround sound to the already impressive feature set of the original HyperX Cloud headset. GNC favourably reviewed the first HyperX Cloud back in December.

Kingston HyperX Cloud II Control UnitThe new control box has independent audio and microphone volume control plus a central toggle for the surround sound 7.1. The Cloud II headset generates virtual 7.1 surround sound with distance and depth to enhance the gaming, movie or music experience. Shoot them before they shoot you!

At launch, the Cloud II headset offered choice of two colour finishes, red and gun metal (grey). There’s now a third option, pink, which is presumably intended to appeal to female gamers.

Kingston HyperX Cloud II headsetWhatever your opinion of “pinking”, it’s good to see that Kingston is looking outside of the stereotypical gaming audience.

In other good news, the Cloud II has taken up the price point of the original and is priced at a little under GB£80. The original Cloud still available too but it’s now priced below £50, making the latter a real bargain.

World Video Game Hall of Fame Includes 6 Games

The Strong National Museum of Play logoThe Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes individual video games of all types. They have selected 6 video games as the first class of inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. These games are on permanent view in the National Museum of Play’s eGameRevolution exhibit.

The video games that were selected had to fit the selection criteria.
Icon-Status: The game is widely recognized and remembered.
Longevity: The game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time.
Geographical Reach: The game meets the first two criteria across international boundaries.
Influence: The game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games or on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general.

The last criteria seems to be the most important one. A game can be inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame on the basis of that criteria alone (even if it has not met the other three criteria).

The official list of the first class of inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame are: Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, Tetris, Doom, and World of Warcraft. They are the 2015 class of inductees. Nominations for the 2016 class of inductees are being considered now. You can nominate a video game by filling out a form on the website of The Strong at the National Museum of Play.

LEGO Worlds Now Available on Steam

LEGO Worlds logoIt has been said that Minecraft is similar to LEGO. People use small bricks (either physical or the pixilated kind) to build structures and landscapes. That comparison just got a bit more apt with the release of LEGO Worlds. It’s now available on Steam as an Early Access Game.

Steam is offering Early Access right now to the LEGO Worlds game. In some ways, this feels like a beta test. Players can access some of the game now, but it is not complete. The developers plan to add more features as time goes on. They will evaluate a “release candidate” sometime in early 2016 and are seeking feedback from the community about different aspects of the game.

The current Early Access version of the game includes the following features: procedurally generated worlds, terraforming and building tools, discoveries and unlocks, ridable creatures and vehicles, and a day/night cycle.

Players will be able to freely manipulate and dynamically populate LEGO models. There is a brick-by-brick editor tool that players can use as well as some prefabricated LEGO structures. Players can modify the terrain by using a multi-tool. It will be possible to get into the game and play with virtual LEGO sets that match the real-life versions. These sets will be taken from both Classic and current LEGO themes.

The LEGO website has some further information. They note that LEGO Worlds is safe for children to play, but that some of the other content on Steam might not be. As such, they encourage parents to view the parental controls on Steam before granting their children Early Access to LEGO Worlds.