Monday, August 22, 2011

Trade Nations 3.3 - Far East Additions

Trade Nations update 3.3 has been released for a few days now. This time round Trade Nations has introduced a touch of Far East by adding a number of new oriental theme shops / items. I am not sure where exactly to place these new additions - house, shops and decorative items, and maybe I should create a new oriental enclave for these far east 'immigrants'.

Trade Nations also changed the game mechanics a little by increasing the gold and experience cap to 300%. Well, the villagers will also be working harder when players enter the Trade Nations game - incentive to keep the players in the game longer each day.

For the new Far Eat items, the players need to build the 'Traveling Merchant' as a prerequisite.It cost 50,000 gold and other than a decorative item, I don't really see much use for this 'Traveling Merchant. Oh, it also unlock a new achievement when the Traveling Merchant is built. I was sort of hoping that this Traveling Merchant can actually sell exotic goods, i.e. as a new shop, rather than just decorative in nature.

The other additions that I have is the "Imperial House" and "Tai Chi". Imperial House cost 10,000 gold, 2,000 lumber, and 1,200 cut stones to build and it can house 4 new villagers. For this higher cost of built, the Imperial House rewards players with 20 experience and 25 gold (compared to 10 experience and 20 gold for Stone House) over a much shorter time frame. Quite worth it I must say. Tai Chi is just a new shop that helps to earn gold and experience, giving slightly higher rewards compared to the Firebreather and Juggler.

Other than the headache of where to place these additions such that they don't jar badly with my exiting layout (the themes are very different), overall the new additions are worth the effort for players to construct them.So update your Trade Nations to version 3.3 if you have not done so!

See also:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

iPhone: Hospital Havoc 2 by Bitwise

If you like those 'Diner Dash' type of game where time management is a key element of gameplay, you might want to try out the newly released Hospital Havoc 2 (by Bitwise Design). In Hospital Havoc 2, the player started out as a Doctor (what else) who will need to manage multiple patients, often times with crazy tight timeline (and funny comments from the patients). The game requires a fair bit of dextrous finger movements to score more points (and also levels) - good for finger exercise!

Gameplay is standard of such games, i.e. touching the screen to activate the doctor (i.e. you the player) and the nurse for various functions (e.g. admit the patient, diagnose the illness, use equipment, entertain the patient, clean up, discharge the patient and so on). Simultaneously activating like functions will earn the player bonuses, and the same for keeping the doctor clean (use the sink often, especially when the patients only need the attention of the nurse). Touch the garbage to clear them into the bin, and touch the bin so that the nurse can clear it.

There are many different scenarios to explore, i.e. the local clinic, research centre and so on, each with different tasks to maneuver. The different 'medical facility' can only be unlocked once the player reached certain levels. 
  1. Medical School (Level 1+) is where the tutorial session starts
  2. Doctor's Office (Level 5+)
  3. Graveyard (Level 10+) - more deaths = more muffins!
  4. Local Clinic (Level 20+)
  5. Metropolitan Hospital (Level 35+)
  6. Research Center (Level 70+)
The game player can also customise the layout of the clinic (i.e. add new beds, new chairs etc), and also utilise boosters to aid the game (e.g. muti-tasking will be useful). Boosters will be a must at the higher levels.

While the tutorial is helpful, one thing they didn't mention is that game players can go to the graveyard to 'rob' the deceased of muffins. Muffin is the main currency of the game, and of course Bitwise Design welcome players to get them with real world cash. If not, graveyard and bonuses will be the main pah for obtaining muffins. Once the graveyard is 'robbed' there will be a time counter to indicate when the graveyard is reset. Set the alert so that you would know when the graveyard is reset.

The features of the Hospital Havoc (as described in iTune store) are:

  • 100+ levels and 20+ different scenarios 
  • 35+ different patient types and thus more weird comments from these patients
  • Customisation of game character
  • More doctor skills hospital customisation and quirky machines, medicines, and tools 

 What I don't like about the game is the use of large amount of text (especially at the tutorial stage). Some words in white and set against a light background makes them quite hard to read. An iPhone is definitely a small device that is not suited for reading of text of that small font size. The other drawback of the Hospital Havoc 2 is the loading time. Each new scenario or switching between World view and particular locations, will take up a long time, especially when the iPhone is not latched onto the local wi-fi. Thus playing the game while on the go can be a challenge. Nonetheless the hilarious comments and quirky game functions made Hospital Havoc 2 a good game to try. It is currently ranking among the top ten free games on the iTune store.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tiny Tower - New Elevator, Costumes & Shop Upgrades

Tiny Tower update 1.3 is out! This update has more exciting features that impact the game play. A more obvious introduction is the new lift upgrade - Infini-Lift Lightspeed, that runs at 42ppm. Well, this Infini-Lift comes at a great cost - 499 Bux. Even though it is a chore down to send visiting Bitizens to the highest floor via lift, I don't think I'll be upgrading my lift anytime soon.

The next exciting feature is the introduction of new costumes. Yes, players can know clearly differentiate the Bitizens from each other by giving them very unique costumes. The Costumes option can be activated after the player selects 'Dress up' for the particular Bitizen. Imagine Bitizens dressing up in Doctor, Nurse and Surgeon costumes in a Doctors Office (Service) shop, or as Groom and Bride in Wedding Chapel, that would be fun. Even if costumes is now your thing (maybe because the Bux involved is not worth it), Tiny Tower now allows easier change of appearance (at the Dress Up option again) for each Bitizen, at no cost to gold.

Another feature that affects the gameplay is the shop upgrade. That's right, shops can now be upgraded (Bux will be charged of course - 3 Bux) to hold more stocks. Thus players who wish to balance out their shops re-stocking time can now do so.

Other features that were released with Tiny Tower 1.3 update are:
- Customising Bitizens via web tools (not sure how useful that is)
- Real Estate VIP now fills entire floor (instead of just 1 Bitizen, which is kind of lame previously)
- Dream jobs rewards 2 Bux now (I prefer the original 3 Bux but it is an improvement over current 1 Bux)...

Well, I am still looking forward to future Tiny Tower updates that allow for more players interactivity with each other's Tiny Towers. Playing Tiny Tower is fun, but playing it together with friends will be more fun. P.S. oh, with this new update, many players had complained that they experienced a drop in the coins earned per minute. I had the same experience too, with about 25% - 33% drop in coins earned per minute.

See related:
- Tiny Tower Update 1.2.1
- Tiny Tower Achievements
- iPhone Tiny Tower - Shops & Stocks
- Tiny Tower - Diary of a Bitizen

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tiny Tower - Diary of a Bitizen

Extracted from Bitizen Gregory Craig's diary*, whose dream job is to work in a Toy Store.

Day 1 morning
Just moved in, party at my place! Bring chips & dip. Moved into a new place called Teeny Towers or something like that. Wow, when they say Tiny Tower they aren't kidding.

Day 2 morning
Been here for a day and some stranger just walks through my apartment.
Someone keeps following me, or maybe they just live here.

Day 2 afternoon
I can't believe I get paid to work at the Toy Store. Awesome! Thats right, I work at the Toy Store :) Jealous? I am going to own this Toy Store in 10 years. Just watch!

Day 3
Jane Lambert my new roommate is really awesome. New friend!
Our new roommate Jane Lambert has a cat that can do math.

Going on a date to the new Shoe Store. Wish me luck!
I wish I had some new clothes :(
I'm thinking about changing my outfit, what do you think?

Day 4
These elevators are almost like a carnival ride :)
People can be so two dimensional sometimes.
I just ran into a bitizen that looked just like me! Maybe we are twins!

Day 5
Anybody up for a rooftop barbecue?
I did not just spit off the roof. Did not. I promise.

Sometimes I get the feeling that we are being watched.
Just saw a ghost! Tiny Tower is haunted by the spirits of evicted bitizens! don't Panic!

Day 6
Nice weather we've been having. It's always blue skies!
Just passed someone on their way to the roof with a parachute.
Parachute for sale. Only used once, never opened, small stain.

Day 7
So... is there actually any way to leave the building?
Been looking for like 20 mins, I can't find a way out of the building!
I know I'm paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?

*: Diary is a work of fiction about Tiny Tower. Any resemblance to persons fictional or real who are living, dead or undead is purely coincidental.

See related:
- Tiny Tower Update 1.2.1
- Tiny Tower Achievements
- iPhone Tiny Tower - Shops & Stocks

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Diablo III - Online Only & Cash Accepted!

News is spreading that Blizzard has made some very fundamental changes to Diablo III. I saw the news on both Slash Gear, as well as Daily Tech.

Online Only
The 1st impactful change will be that Diablo III can only be played online. This is a big departure from the previous Diablo games, where gamers could play their Diablo on a standalone, and the multi-player / online mode is optional. Thus Diablo III is the new 'World of Warcraft'? So is it going to be subscription based, or a one time payment much like Guild Wars? MMORPG wasn't how Diablo started but now Blizzard would make it so. Blizzard's Executive VP, Rob Pardo cited a number of reasons, including game piracy and character persist-ency benefits. 

I am not sure if this will appear to Diablo fans.  If I want to play MMORPG, I could stick with World of Warcraft, which I am already paying for, instead of a new Diablo III. The fun of tinkling with the characters, and different mods to see the super-duper items will no longer be possible. There will of course be the pressure of leveling up and competing for gears in a 'MMORPG' like environment for Diablo III.

A further search on Blizz Planet indicates that Diablo III is likely a one time off payment and no monthly subscription is needed. Of course, one will need to pay for further expansions, which were the case for previous Diablo games anyway.

Real-world Cash Accepted
The other impactful change is the introduction of real-money option to buy / sell loot in Diablo III's Auction House. If real money option is used, Blizzard will charge an actual listing fee, and a subsequent fixed transaction fee when item is sold.

Wow, that is like legalising 'gold farmers' in Diablo III. I am sure there will be plenty of gold farmers who hunt in areas where precious loot drops. Now the trade is actually legal when the loot is sold. Add a PVP element and I am sure the game play will not be as enjoyable. So I want to play Diablo III, I better play the game in group, where I have buddies who look after my back before I am being muscled out by gold farmers.

I understand the commercial reasons that persuaded Blizzard to adopt these changes, but as a gamer, I am not sure if I can appreciate the new Diablo III. O.k., I may have over-reacted to the news, and maybe Blizzard will introduce certain limitations and flexibility that continues to make Diablo III fun. We will see when we actually get to play the game - launch date remains unknown.

See related:
- The Weekend before Hell - Diablo III release