It’s been quite a while since my last post and i apologize for that. The main reason is that I started a new job and it’s pretty stressfull and i do long hours so it’s taking a bit of my free time away and i’m also really tired when i get home.
I hope it gets easier with time leaving enough space for me to write on the blog too.
So you want to know what i’ve been playing during these few months on my iOS devices? Here we go. And remember to add me on your gamecenter if you want to play something.
Fruit Ninja €0.79 (iPhone and iPad)
I know i’ve already spoken about this game but thanks to Gloria i found out an amazing part of the game that’s pretty much unknown to everyone… or maybe just me. For me multiplayer on iOS never really took off…but now… oh wow… Me and Gloria are in the top 15% tier in the online versus multiplayer on Fruit Ninja… and oh my god is it fun. You practically go up against another human being and what you have to do is cut your fruit (blue colored) and not hit your opponent’s fruit (red). White fruit is free for all and gives you +3 points (+1 for each fruit you cut). Combos of course count more points and if you cut your opponents’ fruit you get -3 points. Most points at the end of the round wins.
You are put into the world ladder and they tell you into what % you fit into with your rating (e.g. top 15%).
If you haven’t bought this yet you’re missing out. If you have, I CHALLENGE YOU!
A mention also goes to offline multiplayer where the ipad divides into 2 screens and you fight against someone next to you. It’s actually really exciting and is good for a few laughs. I don’t think this is available for the iphone as i think the screen real estate is way too small. Please confirm me if any of this isn’t available on the iphone as i played it on my iPad
Death Rally €Free at the moment (iPhone and iPad)
Death Rally reminds me of a game on the PS1 called Circuit Breakers and that in turn reminded me of earlier games called Micro Machines on various consoles. It’s the modern incarnation of all those games. Aside from making your thumb so sore it bleeds, this game has no negative sides. It’s a real load of fun and will surely make your legs numb on the toilet.
You have different cars, different weapons, different circuits, beautiful graphics, everything is upgradable and is great for small bursts of gameplay.
A must download!
Tiny Tower €Free at the moment (iPhone and iPad)
Matthew probably remembers Sim Towers and so does Diego. Well this is a minimized version of Sim Towers. If you liked Game Dev Story you’ll love Tiny Tower and Matthew knows all about loving Game Dev Story. You start off with a 1 storey building and you grow from there dividing your different levels with residential areas, services, food areas, offices etc creating the biggest tower you can and earn as much money as you are willing to invest. It’s a fun little game and is GREAT in small doses but definetly a long title that will drain your iPhone battery like mad.
Monkey Island Episode 1 and Back to the Future Episode 1 €Free at the moment (iPhone and iPad)
Everyone knows about these 2 point and click adventures. I personally like them and they’re a fun distraction while on the crapper. They’re free and pretty awesome games so it’s a win win situation. Download them!
I think that’s about it for today and let me know if you want to try and beat me at fruit ninja! I’d be glad to get Gloria to win in my place eheh.
This weekend I decided to go to the antique market here in Aviano for the first time this year. I found this Raketa Zero model. It’s a model i’ve been wanting for quite a while in my soviet watch collection and finding it with its original case and original wrist band was pretty lucky. Anyway here it is:
Here’s something I wanted to share for a while. I watched this documentary recently called “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward”. You can find it here and it’s free. It talks about how all our attempts at politics have failed or are failing. It proposes a new “Resource Based Economy” with the Venus Project. I ended up agreeing that the world needs to change completely… a complete overhaul of what we believe to be a democratic economic and political system.
So here’s an interesting essay by the founder of the Venus Project, Jaques Fresco. Be sure to check out the documentary if you’re interested.
THE FUTURE AND BEYOND
By Jacque Fresco
With the advent of future developments in science and technology, we will assign more and more decision making to machines. At present this is evident in military systems in which electronic sensors maintain the ideal flight characteristics in advanced aircraft. The capacities of computers today exceed five hundred trillion bits of information per second. The complexity of today’s civilization is far too complex for human systems to manage without the assistance of electronic computers. Computers of today are relatively primitive compared to those that will evolve in the future. Eventually the management of social systems will call for require electronic sensors interconnected with all phases of the social sequences thus eliminating the need for politics.
Today modern industrial plants have built in automatic inventory systems, which order materials such as bearings and other mechanical replacements well in advance.
We believe it is now possible to achieve a society where people would be able to live longer, healthier, and more meaningful productive lives. In such a society, the measure of success would be based upon the fulfillment of one’s individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property, and power. Although many of the concepts presented here may appear as unattainable goals, all of the ideas are based upon known scientific principles. It is not my purpose to write an article that would be acceptable to people this is not the concern of science.
The social direction being proposed here has no parallel in history with any other previous political ideology or economic strategy. Establishing the parameters of this new civilization will require transcending many of the traditions, values, and methods of the past. The future will evolve its own new paradigms, appropriate to each successive phase of human and technological development.
Throughout the history of civilization few national leaders or politicians have ever proposed a comprehensive plan to improve the lives of all people under their jurisdiction. Although such individuals as Plato, Edward Bellamy, H.G. Wells, Karl Marx, and Howard Scott all made some attempts to present a new civilization, the established social order considered them impractical dreamers with Utopian designs that ran contrary to the innate elements of human nature. Arrayed against these social pioneers was a formidable status quo composed of vested interests that were comfortable with the way things were, and a populace at large that, out of years of indoctrination and conditioning, wanted no radical changes. These were the millions of unappointed guardians of the status quo. The outlook and philosophy of the leaders were consistent with their positions of differential advantage.
In 1898, Edward Bellamy wrote the book Looking Backward. He conceived of an ideal egalitarian social system with many advanced ideas for its time. This bestseller generated a great deal of interest, and many people inquired as to how this type of cooperative Utopian society could be brought about. But Bellamy replied that he was just a writer and did not know how to create such a society.
The proposals he presented, and those of Plato’s Republic, the writings of Karl Marx, H. G. Wells in his book The Shape of Things to Come, and many others all represent attempts to find workable solutions to the many problems that earlier civilizations were unable to resolve. There is little doubt that at the time of Bellamy’s books the social conditions were abominable, which made the Utopian ideal extremely appealing. What appears to be lacking in most of these concepts, however, has been an overall plan and the necessary methods for a transitional system to enable the idea to become a reality. Most of the early visions of a better world did not allow for changes in either technology or human values, tending to arrest innovative efforts. Additionally, all have lacked a comprehensive set of blueprints, models, and a methodology for implementation. Finally, they lacked competent individuals to bring about such a transition.
The answers do not lie in debate or philosophical discussion of values, but rather in methodology. Thus what is needed is an operational definition of a better world, which is as follows: To constantly maximize existing and future technologies with the sole purpose of enhancing all human life and protecting the environment.
Today we have developed the necessary technology to surpass the fondest hopes and dreams of any social innovators of the past. The fact that previous attempts at social change have failed is no justification for us to stop trying. The real danger lies in complacence. The only limitations to the future of humankind are those that we impose upon ourselves. It is now possible to relieve humanity of many of its unresolved problems through the humane application of technology.
Many years ago an attempt was made in the U. S. to understand a social and economic system different from our own. A film called "The March of Time" had this to say about Soviet Communism: "We believe that the American free-enterprise system will function better than the collective system. However, we wish you the best of luck on your new and unusual social experiment." The failure of communism to provide for human needs and to enrich the lives of its citizens is not unlike our own failures. Both failure and success are inherent in the on-going experiment that is social evolution. In all established social systems it is necessary to devise different approaches to improve the workings of the system.
Science is replete with examples of experiments that have failed, as well as those that have been successful. In the development of the airplane, for example, there were thousands of failures before the first workable model was produced. In the field of medicine, Dr. Erlich attempted over 600 different approaches to controlling syphilis before one was finally proven successful. All of the technology we use today, such as computers, cellular phones, the Internet, aircraft, and automobiles, are in a constant state of improvement and modification. Yet our social system and values remain largely static. An inscription on one of our government buildings reads as follows: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Attaining visions requires change. The major reason for resisting change is that it tends to threaten the established interests. Actually, the fear of social change is somewhat unfounded when we consider that the entire history of civilization has been, in a sense, an experiment. Even the American free-enterprise system, during its earliest stages, faced a multitude of problems much more severe than they are today. These included long work hours, exploitation of child labor, inadequate ventilation in industrial plants, lack of rights for women and minorities, hazardous conditions in mines, and racial prejudice. Despite its many problems, it was the greatest social experiment in history in terms of diversity of lifestyles and individual freedoms, innovations in architecture and technology, and overall progress in general. It is imperative that we continue the process of social experimentation in order to transcend our present limitations and enhance the lives of everyone.
The future does not depend on our present-day beliefs or social customs, but will continue to evolve a set of values unique to its own time. There are no "Utopias." The very notion of "Utopia" is static. However, the survival of any social system ultimately depends upon its ability to allow for appropriate change to improve society as a whole. The paths that we choose will ultimately determine whether or not there is intelligent life on earth.
As most of you know already I went to the UK in March for a week on holiday with my girlfriend Gloria. I decided to book a lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s first restaurant, the “Ramsay” in South Kensington. It’s a 3 Michelin star restaurant and neither me nor Gloria have ever been to any kind of upper class restaurant like this one.
This will be a precise tale of what went on that day and I hope to remember everything that happened.
We arrived 20 minutes early so we decided to have a walk near the Thames. We were both well dressed for the occasion. Maybe too much even. We saw people at the restaurant that looked like pimps with open shirts and chest hair poking out but that was an exception.
As the booking comes closer and closer my stomach starts to clench up with tension… I know it’s weird right… but having never been to anything so “upper class” you start asking yourself some questions like, which fork do I use first, how should I sit or how do I ask where the toilet is.
We enter the restaurant. It’s pretty small, probably 8-9 tables. A woman greets us and asks us our reservation name. I hear “reservation number” so I fumble for an answer and tell her I didn’t have a number only to realize a second later that she asked for my name. Well that started out well.
She takes my coat and my bag. She takes Gloria’s coat but not the bag. Never take a woman’s bag 😀 !
She walks us to the table. It’s a pretty small round table and I make Gloria sit and the waitress makes me sit. I was now in a psychedelic trance of stress mixed with what the f. and revising in my head what I would say to the sommelier (I didn’t want to buy wine because it would’ve raped my pockets).
So in walks the sommelier. You can tell they’re sommeliers because they have a golden brooch depicting grapes on their jackets. He asks us if we would like to see the wine list. I decline saying we won’t have any wine. He asks us if it’s a problem with alcohol used in the menu but I confirm that it’s not a problem and that we just didn’t want wine today. He then asks us if we would like a special kind of non-alcoholic grape juice to give us that “wine aftertaste” without the alcohol. I ask Gloria and she says no. He then proceeds to explain (everything off by heart) about 50 different fruit juices they had. There were juices that ranged from exotic to home made. We ordered 2 home-made orange juices to start off with and a bottle of fizzy water. The orange juice he brings is actually really tasty and you can really taste the freshness.
Another waiter arrives and asks us “Who is hosting the table?”. I answer “I am”. He jokes about who is in command between me and Gloria so I joke back that usually she is but today she’s letting me be in control. I receive the menu with the prices and she gets a clean menu with no prices. There’s a Prestige Menu (£120 minimum per person), the A la Carte Menu (£90 minimum per head) and the Lunch Menu (£45 per head). He starts explaining all the three menus completely, what the specials are and some dish that has been on the menu since day 1.
We already know what menu we’ll be ordering from.
Here is what I ordered:
Starter: Salad of Szechuan pork, tiger prawn, chargrilled, pickled and marinated vegetables, Asian herbs, daikon dressing
Main Course: Shin of Angus beef braised in red wine served ‘en croûte’ with confit potatoes and mushrooms à la crème, parmesan emulsion
Dessert: Pear tarte Tatin with walnut ice cream and shaved Colston Bassett
And Gloria ordered:
Starter: Quail and wild mushroom Pithivier with endive, celeriac and toasted walnuts salad
Main Course: Roasted fillet of halibut sustainably farmed in the Shetland islands with pommes boulangère and bourguignon garnish
Dessert: Banana parfait, peanut butter mousse and bitter chocolate sandwich with caramelized bananas
The sommelier brings us the bottle of fizzy water and I notice that while he serves it to Gloria he turns the bottle so that she can see the label. He then serves me and turns the label again towards me. It’s obviously something that he would do with the wine but it was a nice touch.
I decide I need the loo. I sit up and a waiter shows me the way without me even asking. There were about 20 little properly rolled hand towels all lined up on top of the sink with soap and moisturizer. The toilet was very clean and the toilet paper had its last square sticking out and folded into an arrow shape. I soon realized every time someone went into the toilet and used the toilet paper someone came in and had to re-fold the toilet paper into an arrow shape. Made me chuckle.
I wash my hands and then dry them with the towel. I had to throw it into a bin. Something quite unnatural but I would’ve hoped they would come in and put it somewhere else later and so they did… I checked.
I go back to the table and the waitress sits me down. I found it pretty ridiculous that a woman waitress would help me sit down but that’s how it is.
I tell Gloria I’d show her the way to the toilet but a waiter interrupts me and shows her the way.
While Gloria was in the toilet the waiter brings in a pre-starter. It is a normal plate with a minute battered ball of something in the middle… NOTHING else on it. He then proceeds to fill the rest of the plate with some kind of soup from a gravy bowl. I’m sorry if I don’t know what it was but he explained everything off by heart and I truly can’t remember all the stuff he said to me. He then put one of those “chef-plate-covers” you know the ones they use to keep the food warm, on Gloria’s battered mini-ball and told me he’d keep the soup in the kitchen to keep it warm why we waited for the “Madame”.
I patiently waited for Gloria and as soon as she came out of the toilet I could hear the waiters whispering “LA MADAME, LA MADAME” and running off to get the soup. She sat down and served her soup with the mini-ball. It was obviously quite divine.
This is when we realize the waiter might actually be Italian. We noticed because while he was explaining the mini-ball dish he said RICOTTA in a very Italian accent. We didn’t say anything.
Another waiter comes to the table with a silver tray of different types of bread for us to choose. There was potato bread, sesame bread, wholemeal bread and many other types. We heard the table next to us ask if they made the bread at the restaurant. They said they have a bakery that bakes it for the restaurant with a specific recipe. Every time our bread plate was empty he would run up to the table to see if we wanted more. The same happened when our glass was nearly empty. The sommelier would run to our table to fill the glasses full again.
In the end, the only thing we touched was our cutlery and our glass. Everything else was taken care of.
After each course the waiter would clean the table from breadcrumbs with a special kind of knife. He’d scrape them off onto his little cleaning plate.
It was interesting to see how the food would come up to the table. Me and Gloria ordered different things but they always came at the same exact time. A waiter would come out of the kitchen with the plates on a silver tray. He would wait at the entrance of the dining hall for the table waiter. He would then proceed to finish the plates with the last touches and say “Let’s go!”. They would both then proceed to the table and serve us the food.
The Schuezan pork with the prawns was really good. It was a cold salad kind of plate where you could mix and match pork and prawns with some vegetable to give you a different type of taste each time. Gloria’s Quail was excellent too. Presentation was amazing. There was a small quail leg on a potato puré all really well decorated. Mine was simple enough.
The main course was excellent too. My angus shin came and I didn’t know what to do with it. It was a plate with a cylindrical column made of french pastry with a wafer sitting on top. The wafer had the Ramsay restaurant logo on it. I realized that the only way to eat this would be to destroy it. I broke into it. It was laid out in layers all topped with daikon dressing (not that I know what that is). There was a layer with potato, then minced angus shin then potato, then angus shin and then spinach. It was really something amazing. Never had anything so well designed and tasty at the same time.
Gloria had the halibut. I had a taste of it and it was really nice. It was topped with a wonderful sauce made with tomatoes and bacon too which sounds weird but she says the combination was really good.
Time for desserts. I had the pear tarte tatin. I’ve always been a fan of Apple tarte tatins so I knew what I was getting. It was very good. It was served warm with some vanilla ice-cream. Gloria had the banana dessert but she said it was nothing exceptional.
We then met the Maitre D Jean-Claude Breton. I knew him already from his appearances on various Gordon Ramsay’s TV shows so it was pretty nice to see that he’s really down to earth. He chatted with us to see how everything was going, where we were from, what we’d be visiting. He also complimented us for having beaten the French rugby team in the six nations the week before. Here’s Jean-Claude:
After our desserts he brought us some chocolate balls stuck on a metal frame that looked like a small tree. The chocolate was pinned to the tree branches. We ordered 2 Espresso’s to end our lunch.
While drinking the coffee (excellent, which is rare in England), we see a waiter coming towards us with a fuming container. It was sending out smoke like it was on fire. It reminded me of those incense diffusers used in churches. He set it on the table and the Maitre D’ explained to us that it had balls of strawberry ice-cream inside with liquid ice that made the smoke come out but that it was totally safe to pick up with our fingers.
The lunch ended with the cheque and with €155 less in my pocket. N.B. The coffee came to £5 each. The orange juice came to £5 each.
All in all we loved it. We came out of the restaurant happy and full. We thought we would get out of the restaurant and go to McDonalds or something to fill our stomachs but it was really surprising how much we ate (not to mention how WELL we ate).
Definetly something I would recommend doing if you want to experience something different.
This month I lined up 5 gaming apps that I’ve been playing non-stop. Some more than others…so here they are… My top 5 gaming apps this month.
5. Glass Tower 2 – €Free (prequel costs €0.79)
Glass Tower is a game similar to Tower Blox. You have a variety of different levels in which you need to touch the blue shapes to “break them” so that the red shapes fall onto the platform without falling outside the limited space you have at your disposal. You practically have to land the shapes instead of making them fall outside your “landing area”. It’s a pretty fun physics game!
4. Entanglement – €1,59
This is something original. This game is similar to a board game I remember playing when I was a kid, Haunted Maze or something like that. You start at the center of this “board” and you are given the option of where you want to place your next hexagon. Depending on where you place your first hexagon you will draw a line that goes through it. The direction of this line is determined by how you turn and place the actual hexagon. The aim of the game is to get the longest line you can through as many hexagons as you can without crashing it against the center block or the outer blocks. It’s actually really fun and there’s a free version available for your PC on the Chrome (the browser) app market.
3. Super Soviet Missile Mastar – €Free
I had a laugh playing this one. The graphics remind me of old Atari games and that gives it an artsy kind of look. It’s all monochrome (red) and you play as a missile shot from Soviet Russia that has to end in America. You use the touchscreen to direct the missile as it goes towards the U.S. and you have to dodge airplanes other missiles and debris in general so that the mission is successful. It’s good fun for quick toilet stops.
2. New Puzzle Bobble – €3,99
I’ve always been a Puzzle Bobble fan since I was a kid. I used to play it in the arcade in my town’s bar. This is not a port. It’s a complete new chapter created just for the iPhone. It has new abilities and powerups, a ton of levels and the awesomeness of being Puzzle Bobble. It’s worth more than €3,99 so you HAVE to buy it if you’ve ever loved any Puzzle Bobble game.
1. Tiny Wings – €0.79
This is probably the cutest game I’ve ever played on the iPhone. It’s simple, it’s addictive, it’s super cute… what else do you need? You play as a blue chick-bird that hasn’t developed full wings and therefore can’t fly properly. He can only glide if he gets enough speed. You gain speed thanks to the hills throughout the world.
By pressing on the touchscreen he will retract his small wings to become more streamlined while going down hills. You have to stop touching the screen once the bird reaches the trough of the hill so that he uses the speed gained to run up the other hill and start gliding. The more you do this the higher and further the bird goes leaving you to press the screen again at the right moment to time a perfect slingshot effect on the next upcoming hills.
You have to go as far as you can before the sun catches up to you and it becomes night. This one’s going to become a classic!
I went back home this weekend and was greeted by my dad and my dog. We decided to take the dog for a stroll and my father told me he’d show me this goat he saw in the countryside… I was in for quite a surprise!
Upon popular request… Here’s an up-to-date list of what games I love most on my iPhone.
Words With Friends – Free
This game summarizes what multiplayer should be on the iPhone. It’s a turn based multiplayer scrabble game. All you do is add your friend’s nickname (or choose random matchups) and you can play a versus match of Scrabble on the go. Push notifications will alert you when it’s your turn. You can also send messages in the in-game chat. Best part about it is that it’s completely free. You can pay for the full version with no adverts. Send me your nicknames so we can play a match together!
Chess With Friends – Free
This game is exactly the same as above but it’s Chess. Well worth the download.
Mirror’s Edge – €3,99
I rarely trust big name retail games ported to the iPhone but obviously there are exceptions. Mirror’s Edge is one of those. If you’ve played the console counterpart you’ll know what this game is about. You’re a free runner (expect a lot of parqeur) and you have to run in 2.5 dimensional levels. You can run left or right, jump, wall-run, wall-jump etc all with extremely well programmed touch gestures. I feel it really captured the essence of the console game while also making it feel like a completely new and exciting experience.
Fruit Ninja – €0,79
If you have an iPhone, you HAVE to have Fruit Ninja. The simplicity of this game only adds to its addictiveness. You practically have to slice up fruit that pops up and try not to hit any bombs that fly around. It’s great for those “waiting at the post office” gaming sessions. An absolute must. You really have to try it even if I don’t make it sound that exciting.
Train Conductor 1 & 2– €0,79 each
These two are pretty obscure games. I don’t think they received the glory they could have with more publicity. Friends now about my strange addiction to train simulators… yeah let’s glide over that. This game isn’t a train simulator. It’s a train CONDUCTOR simulator. Meaning you have a few rows of train tracks and trains coming from left to right. You have to direct the numbered trains to the corresponding numbered tunnel. It’s quite addictive especially at the higher levels.
There is practically no difference from train conductor 1 to the sequel. It’s just more levels… which is always good!
Tilt to Live – €2,39
Tilt to live is a great little game that takes advantage of the accelerometers in your iPhone. You are a little mouse pointer-shaped ship that has to destroy an army of dots by using different kind of powerups. As soon as they touch you, your ship explodes in little specs of dust. You control the speed and direction of your ship by tilting your device accordingly. Very addictive and very much worth the expense. There’s a LITE version for free if you want to try it out.
Cut The Rope – €0,79
Another recent “blockbuster”. You probably own this already, but if you don’t you’re absolutely missing out. The objective of the game is to feed your little green alien his ball of candy. The candy however is usually dangling from a few strings or floating inside a bubble being pushed by some fans. It’s a great puzzle game that will keep you entertained for hours. The amount of levels you get for €0,79 is amazing, although it does get sweatingly difficult towards the end levels. This one has a free LITE version too.
Hook Champ – €2,39
Hook champ is not as popular as Cut the Rope or Fruit Ninja but I’m sure it will surprise you once you try the LITE version. You’re a little guy that looks like Indiana Jones, that uses his hook to roam around the many levels on offer. You touch the screen and your little guy sends his hook flying making you swing like Tarzan.
The point of the game is to reach the end of the level as fast as possible without dying and picking up any powerups on the way.
Game Dev Story – €0,79
I can’t stress the fact that this game is so awesome it should be worth much more than €0,79 enough. This is definetly my favourite iPhone game EVER and I even put it in my top 10 games of 2010 list a month ago! I’ll start by saying it has a free LITE version so you have no excuse for not trying it.
The game is an old-school “Tycoon” management kind of game. You’re the manager of a startup game developer company and you have to do all it takes to gain fame and money in order to expand your game dev abilities and increase your fan base. You have to create games that the public wants, promote your name in fairs and expos, hire and fire people, teach them new skills, send them on holiday to relax… There’s so much stuff to do, but it’s never overwhelming. You can ask my girlfriend.. this game kept me hypnotized for a whole weekend reducing my speech functions to one word…
League of Evil – €0,79
I’ve obviously kept the best for last with Game Dev story and League of Evil. This game is pretty new. It’s a platformer and it takes a lot of inspiration from Super Meatboy if you’ve ever played it (again n°1 game of 2010 in my list). You have to run through smallish levels collecting a suitcase and killing the scientist at the end. You can double jump, wall-jump and punch/kick. It’s the first game with a virtual joypad that I actually enjoyed. You absolutely need to try it… and again there is a LITE free version so you have no excuses.
Hope you enjoyed the list. I’ll be running a few of these as time goes by.