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5:11 PM on 07.05.2012

Special Report: Tiny Wings Halves Prison Population

Governments the world over have always struggled with crime and the tactics for reducing it. Everything from water boarding to playing poorly tuned banjos for fourteen hours a day has being tried to dissuade reoffenders. Recent research from the University of Clackmannanshire however may have found the solution and it may be smaller than most would think.

Philip Peddelwhacker (head of phycology and needle work) stumbled across the solution when attempting to discipline his own fifteen year old son Franco. Franco had begun the dark decent into cockily swigging whisky on street corners and squawking at passers-by when Peddelwhacker senior made a break through.
“It all turned round when I bought Franco an iPhone and a ten pound iTunes card” states Dr Philip Peddelwhacker PHD “his behaviour changed overnight”.

On the recommendation of a friend Peddelwhacker junior bought Andreas Illiger’s IOS title Tiny Wings.
“Franco seemed calmer, docile, more pregnant cow than angry teen.” Philip explains. “His grades got marginally better and even stopped calling me a slut”.
Mystified the good Doctor (of phycology and needle work) set out to find an answer for his sons’ drastic change of character. It wasn’t long before he linked the finger tapping madness of Tiny Wings and Franco’s agreeable behaviour.

Instantly the professor knew that the world needed Tiny Wings to calm the most despicable personalities and set about using government funds to purchase and iPod touch for each and every prisoner in the UK.
Within the first six months reoffending has dropped by a staggering 50%. Exceeding Dr Peddelwhacker’s highest expectations. Johnny ‘Blood Gurgling’ Malone is an ex gangster and took part in the blanket pilot scheme.

“I used gurgle my victims’ blood” Highlights Johnny “Now I just play Tiny Wings”. Malone has enrolled in a cookery course and hopes one day to open a vegan bar and grill.

Although the science is incomprehendable to most the results truly speak for themselves. Playing Tiny Wings may be the most relaxing past time a human can do. The Government hopes to roll out this project across schools and nurseries nation-wide by 2013.

For more on this story follow our reporter @SubjectFletchy or leave your thoughts below.   read

4:54 PM on 07.03.2012

Free To Play (Free To Pay)

Own a smart phone? Like games? Have fingers? If you answered yes to all these questions then you’ll probably at some point downloaded an app that isn’t just for taking awful artistic photos and tagging it with cheesy captions (Instagram you monster).

Gaming on mobiles has being prevalent since the start of the 21st century. Personally I wasted more than a few hours on my Nokia 3310 playing snake II. Snake is kind of like World of Warcraft crossed with Call of Duty but you’re a line stuck in a box instead of a warrior slaying on a battlefield. Anyhow as our devices have got more powerful and the internet more accessible gaming has exploded in a big way on the mobile platform. This has led to a hugely diverse range of games. Anything from Infinity Blade to Hero Academy (both excellent); to old classics such as Chrono Trigger. In fact the list of games on IOS and android is mind bogglingly gigantic.

The sheer weight of numbers makes sorting the brilliant from the broken a bit of a bother. Fortunately there’s a rating system that usually (more so on IOS) helps bring the more worthwhile experiences to the fore.

The main difference between Snake II and more recent mobile apps is pricing. Now Snake in all its pixelated glory came pre-installed with the 3310. These days with the advent of broadband the consumer can actually choose from a whole host of ‘free’ games from the magical app store. The magical app store is like a procrastinator’s wet dream. Full of pointless time syncs, shiny colours and catchy sound effects.

There is however a reason why free was shackled with inverted commas. To download and play the title is free. To do anything relatively quickly you’ll have use in app purchases to buy coins, gems, gold, sticks, stones, bones or happy pills. These generic game speed ups mean that something you were building/breeding can be finished instantly rather than in twenty four hours. Some games push the freemiun pretty hard; making it almost unenjoyably not to spend cash at some point. Others take a different approach.

Triple Town developed by Spry Fox gave the player 200 turns (which regenerated) to play through the puzzle. If you enjoyed trying to advance through the cryptic trebling madness there was the option to buy unlimited turns. This soft approach to freemiun coupled with the fact Spry Fox had made a pretty damn polished title meant I had no problem dropping the two quid for endless bear trapping fun.
As before mentioned Hero Academy (created by Robot Entertainment) is not only a great game but also a clever gimmick for relieving the player of their app store dollars. Giving the player one team free and the option to invest in different ones means not only can you play against everyone no matter how much money they’ve invested but also a way to keep things fresh with new heroic teams use later.
This benefits both the consumer and the developer. Everyone wins. Apart from the poor Chinese people who made the device but that’s a story for a different blog.

Essentially free to play can work very well but only if the thing you’re buying is worth it. It may even in fact be better than the full retail version of paying for goods. If the player doesn’t get a kick out of what they’re doing there’s the option to stop and move on. Forty pounds has being saved and a crappy developer doesn’t get money for making a shoddy title. This of course applies to the non-hard core gamer. Those who don’t check review scores before purchasing.

If you enjoyed this blog follow me on twitter @SubjectFletchy

Because I judge my entire worth on my follower count.   read

3:55 PM on 07.02.2012

Naked Pictures Of My Ex-Girlfriend?

Oh no he didn’t. No I didn’t.

Sorry for disappointing but there be no naked pictures of my girlfriend here. With word trickery and wit sharper than cold nipples the title of this blog has seduced the viewer into reading. Or scrolling to the bottom of the piece and then clicking the back button.

I however am not the only person on the internet to use misleading headers. The first and most obvious connoisseurs of this persuasion are those pesky Ads which linger unwanted at the side of the screen. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying legally (hah cough hah) streaming a film only to be greeted with ‘I made a billion bucks picking my nose for 2 hours a day’ or ‘lose six stone in 4 weeks with no exercise or dieting’. This apart from developing an eating disorder is impossible. A majority of internet users will simply ignore the text. Some unfortunately will get click happy and end up with more viruses than a junkie who enjoys making love in sewers.

Sadly these deceptive captions also stalk more noble locations. Bloggers are notorious for sensationalism. Been fair it’s more the over crowed, shouty nature of the profession that forces the slightly skewed headings to be thought up rather than any malicious intent.

Where there is a little naughtiness is amongst journalists and other news outlets. Unless employed by a government or non-profit organisation every paid writer is under a little pressure to have their story well circulated. The internet has made it possible and very easy to gather data on how much legs an article has in it. Most good sites keep the hype to a good minimum. A clever title is better than one that claims there’s a bottle of free rum for reading (there is never rum). One trick that is used frequently some gaming sites is a caption that will divide opinion. Example ‘Does the Battlefield Series Wipe Poo All Over the Modern Warfare Franchise?’ or the classic ‘Between the Xbox 360 and the PS3 Who Would Win in A Fight: discuss’. The rest of the piece ends up being a news story about sales figures or gameplay development. This also means the comments turn into a game of who can say worse things about each other’s mothers.

Everyone wants clicks upon clicks on their content but it’s better to have an excellent body rather than just a really a nice hair cut.


3:43 PM on 07.02.2012

The Value Of Games

The price of a game has never reflected how much a consumer is going enjoy the title. Triple A games are almost exclusively priced at £39.99 ($60) at release. The amount of money handed over won't change depending on review scores or customer satisfaction. Duke Nukem was a shining example of this. There is also the question of length and re-playability. Burning forty pounds on a game that only lasts eight hours and is about as fun to play through again as resitting exams at the end high school. This is not the best way to spend a gaming budget. Again Mr Nukem is a prime example of this (hail to the king of wasted development time, baby).

There are however big budget games that do deliver on both fronts. Action RPG's such as the Elder Scrolls series and Mass Effect have both long story driven campaigns and decisive decision making that grant a new lease of life once the game has being beaten. Even titles that come under the FPS genre can give gamers hours (most of the time days) of extra time through competitive multiplayer and online co-op. MMO's that are not free to play are slightly different due to the fact a monthly subscription has to be paid. To get the most value from the package a gamer has to log more hours per month. Most of the time they do.

On the flip side of giant publishing firms and games with the same marketing budget as their development costs there is the cheerful world of indie and budget games. Taking time to find out about titles that have not been paraded across the television every ad break can have a very positive effect on the value of a gaming collection. A recent example is Terraria. 2d side scrolling may be old hat but Re-Logic's building/fighting/grinding sim ticked all the right boxes for good value. Firstly the game itself is incredibly cheap, around six pounds ($9.99). At this price the consumer may think that they wont be getting much game for their money. In fact once past the steep learning curve the amount of content is only limited by how big your imagination is. It's countless bangs for your buck.

If a gamer prefers the AAA to their indie then there's always patience. Games tend to depreciate faster than old wet grain. With titles becoming downloadable and a booming second hand market a premium package can sometimes be up to 60% cheaper half a year after release. If you can twiddle your thumbs that long saving cash becomes very easy.   read

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