Islands in the Formless Void changes the Dynamic of World Sandbox Games

In what is a unique take on the open-world sandbox genre of video games, Islands in the Formless Void opens up islands filled with tiny artificial intelligences.

Comprised of people and various creatures, players will witness these tiny creatures learn to manipulate the world around them, eventually learning to build and explore, but what they learn and discover will be entirely up to the player.

Decisions and player interaction is an integral part of Islands in the Formless Void.

“The idea for this game has evolved over the course of many years,” said Jon Galindo, developer of Islands of the Formless Void. “Part of it is just my personal style, and part of it is based on my often-unsuccessful attempts to unravel the philosophy of games and art.”

Players can be a disembodied witness to the world below, or choose to shape the terrain, or jump into a body and pretend to be one of the creatures living on the island.

When jumping onto one of the islands, all the options available to the AI’s is available to the player. Build fires, chop down trees, and build anything.

Of course, when feeling lazy, players can create an assortment of different lifeforms to do the work for them.

Each island has a different assortment of creatures available to them, pick one and see the creatures explore, transform the world around them, and learn new abilities and building projects.

The player can walk among them in hopes to teach them new things, but the tiny creatures will never be under full control, they are their own beings.

The game will take place in a shared universe, comprised of islands. Players can claim exclusive ownership of an entire island, or leave a portion of it open to other players.

These aren’t just empty islands though, these lands are open and available to change to the players hearts content. Want to change the way the hill looks on that side of the island, the option is available to do so.

Of course, just like the real world, anything created on the island will eventually decay over time. Players are warned though, this will create complications for the little island citizens if too many resources decays over time.

Of course, all of these features take place in a gorgeously unique pixel-based universe.

“Shining Force, by Sega, was the first video game I completed, that’s what inspired the graphics of Islands in the Formless Void,” Galindo said. “Minecraft and and Age of Empires are what inspired the building and resource collection mechanics.”

The game will be an HTML5 app, which means it will be playable on practically anything with an internet browser.

The creator of Islands in the Formless Void, Jon Galindo, got started in video games in middle school, where he says his father bought him a $25 PC from a second-hand store.

“On that computer I found a little game called Chip’s Challenge, which I played endlessly,” Galindo said. “I later acquired a CD containing a collection of Sega classics containing the original Sonic games, and Shining Force, the first game I played to completion.”

Later on in life, Galindo said he discovered Pokémon, Minecraft, and Age of Empires, but never found satisfaction with the games, he wanted to change them, improve their mechanics.

Eventually, he got into code and is now developing his own video game.

“There are challenges, but they are like puzzle-solving,” Galindo said. “Trying to understand what games are, understand what fun is, answering these has been an obsession which led me to where I am now.”

With development of Islands of the Formless Void underway, Galindo hopes to one day run a small business, and hopes the development of this game will open the avenue to create more games.

The game is touted for a December 2018 release.

The Kickstarter campaign for Islands of the Formless Void is a little under a month until completion and funds from the campaign are going directly to the game and other related costs of development.

As Jon Galindo states in his Kickstarter campaign, the fate of the game depends on donors decisions.

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New Game The Onus Helm Brings Classic Dungeon Crawling Gameplay to Steam

With a classic gameboy-like appearance and smooth and satisfying gameplay, The Onus Helm, a game by developer B-Cubed Labs is on its way for release in 2018.

The Onus Helm is a randomly-generated action adventure game with Rogue-like elements, combining the best elements of several genres and making them into a unique and interesting gaming experience.

“The Onus Helm started off with a much bigger scope,” said the developer behind the game. “I knew that I wanted to replicate my favorite experiences from the 2D Legend of Zelda games, but with the gameplay of a fast-paced dungeon crawler, and the general look and feel of the game developed into what I think is best for the scope of the project.”

It begins with the protagonist awakening to find the cursed helm upon his head. The player must then wander the rooms in the game to discover the truth behind the helm and overcome its burden.

Throughout the game players will find weapons, discover secret areas, and gain new abilities that will allow them to fight off the mysterious creatures making up the world of The Onus Helm.

The developer behind the game noted that his most influential inspiration was The Legend of Zelda, and those inspirations can be clearly seen.

Paying homage to the titular series from Nintendo, the menu, graphics, and gameplay style are all reminiscent of Nintendo’s famous game.

The game will come with a built-in speed run clock, perfect for live streamers and will support both keyboard and game pads.

Like most Rogue-like games, permadeath will be an important feature, making each playthrough an important affair. It will be important to stay alive, especially when encountering one of the many bosses scattered throughout the rooms.

Luckily, there are countless amounts of items and weapons at the players disposal as they explore the randomly generated dungeons of The Onus Helm.

“I am really hoping to make something fun and challenging that can get players coming back for more,” said the developer. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into the character art and atmosphere too.”

The Onus Helm is touted for a 2018 release and is currently a little less than a month away from the end of its kickstarter.

Leave the Wallet at Home with the Fuze Card

An innovative addition to the market of electronic debit cards, Fuze mixes up the formula by allowing users the ability to store up to 30 debit and credit cards and delete their data at the touch of a button.

Starting at just $129, consumers can nearly replace their wallet with one card.

The Fuze Card is not only safe, it is innovative in the way it allows up to 30 cards to be stored and switched on the fly with the small e-ink screen in the bottom right corner.

At just 0.03 inches, it’s no bigger than a regular debit card but packs a punch with a rechargeable battery lasting up to 30 days , an NFC chip, and more.

Fuze values safety, allowing users the ability to clear all information on the car using their smartphone if ever lost or stolen.

It also allows users to track its location using the cards smartphone app, and notifies the user if its left behind or stolen.

Beyond the ease of the card, purchasers is the Fuze Card will have access to the app which allows users finance management, card management and other important features.

Despite its innovation and advanced features, the card is still accessible at banks, and nearly any ATM and register.

The Fuze Card comes with a portable battery that allows a quick charge for another 30 days of use.

1 Million Redwoods Project Takes Root

With a whopping 106 percent of its goal funded on Kickstarter, The 1 Million Redwoods Project is now ready and able to begin.

This project was started in 2014 and has been in the works since. The project revolves around a 500-acre nursery/research forest in Northern California.

It is at this nursery, the team behind 1 Million Redwoods Project, well, aims to grow 1 Million Redwoods, and more.

After three years of research and observation of the wildlife, streams, weather, and habits of the local plants, Ayana and March Young, founding members of the project finalized the design for the nursery.

The nursery already contains three large catchment ponds for irrigation, linked to a swale that recharges groundwater.

Together with a special potting soil made from composted sawdust from local lumber mills and primary forest soil and biochar, it will provide nutrients and immunity to the first 1 million redwoods.

The team hopes to extend their work out of their bioregion, as they work to popularize techniques and discoveries from their project through podcasts and radio shows, research papers, webinars, and more.

The Kickstarter will help fund basic materials for the nursery.

The 1 Million Redwoods Project is the product of For The Wild, an environmentally-beneficial organization dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of temperate rainforests of Cascadia, from Northern California to Southern Alaska.

New Pokémon GO Feature Makes the Game More Realistic

In what was an unexpected update, Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go, revealed the newest game update will bring more realistic augmented reality to the game, thanks to Apple’s ARkit development software.

That’s right, android users are getting left behind for now as Niantic works to develop a feature exclusive to Apple devices.

This new feature will begin to implement ARkit, apples new flagship development kit for developers to utilize AR more fluently.

For example, according to Niantic, Pokémon GO will use the new technology to make Pokémon occupy a fixed point in space, allowing players to walk up close to The Pokémon and observe it from all angles instead of The Pokémon just floating around in the air.

Beyond cosmetics, players will now be able to essentially sneak up on Pokémon and gain a greater amount of experience and chance to catch The Pokémon depending on their awareness level.

Awareness level is a new feature inside battles. It is represented by a bar at the bottom that raises if the player gets too close to The Pokémon during the battle, or makes too many quick moves.

Niantic said players will have to be careful trying to sneak up on Pokémon like Charizard but will find it easier to sneak up on Pokémon like Snorlax.

After testing the new update, I can personally say it is somewhat buggy. Pokémon appeared on top of objects as an overlay and didn’t quite look like they were sitting on the ground like I imagined.

“This is our first step toward making AR capabilities in Pokémon GO even more awesome, opening up the framework for greater AR experiences in the future.”

Overall, the new feature adds a layer of depth to the game, even if it is just cosmetic in nature.

Animal Crossing Provides A Relaxing Environment During A Stressful Time

Christmas is my favorite time of year, but it tends to be one of the most stressful times of year for me.

Between financial struggles, finals at University, and the long ride between college and home, there are various things that all ball together and create a chain reaction of stressful events.

Of course, relationships and friendships all help to lessen the stress, but I remember one game that used to tune me in and calm me down during pressured times.

Animal Crossing is a relaxing game. Either of its iterations will be able to provide a relaxing and interesting world to players.

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It offers a small, homey town with a house and friendly animals to talk to. The music, the characters and the environment are all cheery and uplifting.

Maybe it is just that, Animal Crossing provides a happy and cheerful environment to play through. No enemies or stressful events (except for the bees) to be found anywhere on the island.

It provides a second home experience.

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Though someone may abandon the game for years, the town that players spend so much time in, is still there. Albeit, villagers may leave or relocate, and weeds will certainly destroy the grass but that familiar house, the stores, the animals, they will be there.

Animal Crossing provides a familiarity, a consistence that allows players a place to return when life becomes unfamiliar or inconsistent.

I think that is what makes it so relaxing.

I always have my town to go back to. I can check in on villagers whenever I want, I don’t have to play everyday but I have that choice.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is another experience to enjoy now, and on mobile. Now I am not confined to my 3DS to play, but I have my town with me wherever I go.

I can always quickly open up the app and pop-in to check on how the animals in the game are doing.

I can always shake a few trees or catch a fish.

With the Christmas event underway in the game, I am finding myself more and more relaxed as Nintendo promises snow to come to the game.

Pocket Camp, though a mobile app, has carved a special place in my heart and I will keep it as long as it is available for me to return to.

It’s Raining Pokemon

Pokemon Go players will soon see their local weather conditions reflected in-game as they are playing.

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This addition to the game comes in an update that also brings Generation 3 Pokemon to the game, adding to the limited selection of Gen 3 Pokemon that were added to the game during its Halloween event.

Niantic has not yet revealed a definitive list of the Pokemon that will be available from the start, but have confirmed Swablu, Wailord, Salamence, and Feebas, among others.

The game will reflect the current weather conditions, as well as the season. Different weather will have various effects on gameplay, such as certain Pokemon appearing more with a particular weather pattern.

The weather system will have other effects, such as “increasing Combat Power and earning more Stardust after catching a Pokemon.”

These new updates follow the release of Ho-Oh as a legendary, added at the end of November.

Niantic currently has one other project in development, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a game using familiar elements of Pokemon Go but within the world of Harry Potter.

The developer has confirmed, however, that this new project does not mean it will stop supporting its other games.

New Smart Umbrella Prepares Users For Rain

Ever wish your umbrella could send you reminders to take it with you if it’s going to rain that day?

That’s the idea behind the oombrella, a internet connected smart umbrella that alerts users with notifications when its going to rain and when they’ve forgotten it at home.

Created by Paris resident Clément Guillot and his team, the oombrella raised over 81,000 dollars on Indiegogo to fund the product which utilizes a number of features to make its users lives easier, but also provides live weather sharing with the companies app, Wezzoo, a commented-based weather app for iPhone and Android.

According to the products website, the oombrella has three main features beside its main use as a rain umbrella: weather alerts, the Forget Me Not Alert, and weather sharing.

The smart umbrella has several sensors embedded in the base of its handle allowing it to communicate with Bluetooth on smartphones, alerting its user if its ever left behind, like at a restaurant or on the bus.

The sensors also track light, humidity, pressure and temperature all from the base of the umbrellas handle.

These sensors then send information to the Wezzoo app, a social and real-time weather service aimed at giving a voice to users to describe the weather they are experiencing, something Wezzoo says the oombrella will do seamlessly with the use of its Bluetooth chip and weather sensors.

“The oombrella collected real time data such as temperature, pressure, humidity, and light,” a Wezzoo spokesman said. “Data is processed and shared with all of the oombrella community, allowing everyone to receive hyper-local alerts.”

In other words, a social umbrella.

“We wanted to make this umbrella unforgettable in terms of design,” Alexandre of Escabo Design Studio said. “We developed an exclusive material that makes you feel like you are holding the aurora borealis in your hands, it has effects that are amazing in the light and always changing.”

The umbrella itself comes in three colors, its rainbow-like shiny color, white, and black and features two distinct styles, classic, which features a curved handle, or the fold-able which features a straight handle.

The product is still in development but its Indiegogo campaign was successful. When the product releases, both versions of the smart umbrella will cost $79.

Replacing a laptop with an iPad, is it possible?

To begin, I’ve always had nasty luck with laptops. I’ve had everything from HP to Acer, and everyone of them was either slow or sluggish with even menial tasks or would crash, such as my most recent laptop.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy an iPad with hope it could completely replace my laptop while I finish off my degree at school. I currently now have been using the iPad 2017 edition, the other option beyond the iPad iPad Pro which I just couldn’t justify for its price.

It has now been two weeks since I replaced my laptop with the iPad and I have had a wonderful time. I do not miss my laptop in the slightest but there are still flaws I have encountered while living with my iPad. There are some things that you just need a laptop for, but only slightly. Luckily my school has a fairly nice computer lab where I can complete those assignments that are incompatible with the iPad.

I am a journalism major. For what I am tasked to do on a daily basis, the iPad works for me 90% of the time. Simple screenshots, downloading stock images, writing articles, it all works flawlessly on the iPad and I can write from anywhere and continue on the computer if I need to.

One flaw I have found is photo editing. Of course, I can take pictures from my phone and transfer them over to use in Lightroom, but when it comes to photos from my DSLR, there is really no way for me to transfer my photos unless I get to a computer and have Lightroom sync to my iPad.

Another flaw, some websites required for classes or otherwise just don’t work correctly on the mobile format. I have found workarounds, but sometimes the inconvenience is enough to make me look for the nearest computer to complete what I’m doing.

The only other inconvenience I have found while working with the iPad is the screen size. I often have to look closely at the screen or zoom in when reading things online or writing depending on the text size, but that may just me needing glasses.

In short, it is quite possible and even feasible to replace your laptop with an iPad, especially the iPad Pro if you can afford it.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Review

Outside the village players are used to playing in in Animal Crossing, mobile gamer’s are now going to get a taste of the camping life with the recent release of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

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Pocket Camp has been out for two weeks now and having played for this long, this gamer can say that it is a true Animal Crossing title worthy of the series.

Despite its blatantly obvious in-app purchase model, the game can be enjoyed and experienced by everyone, regardless of premium currencies. As far as I can tell, all items in the game except for speed boosts are available with in-game currency.

Luckily, even the premium currency (leaf tickets) are easily obtained by completing quests.

The current holiday event gives out over 100 leaf tickets alone.

Gameplay

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp plays identically to previous titles in the series, with a few changes.

Players familiar with the world will feel at home while running around the new world shaking trees for fruit, fishing, or catching bugs, but old and new players will also love the new camp aspect.

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Whereas AC: New Leaf introduced the ability to customize the town with things like swings and lampposts, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is what probably inspired Pocket Camp the most.

The main idea is the game is to build an appealing campsite for visiting villagers to stay in while they’re on vacation at the various islands surrounding the camp.

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Players have the ability to craft furniture and amenities, new large-scale building projects that level-up villagers of that type (ex. Cute, Cool, Sporty, Natural). Furniture can be placed in the campsite, some of which is required to invite specific villagers to stay in the camp.

Players are also given an RV to customize and decorate. The inside can be decorated the same was as the camp, whereas the RV can be customized with paints and designs on the outside.

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Upgrades to the amount of space or adding rooms to the RV works the same way as previous iterations, with loans being taken out for the work. Players will then have to pay off the loans with the in-game currency, bells.

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One of the main features of the game is the requests system. When talking to villagers, whether they are visiting or permanently living in the campsite, they will present requests, which essentially are fetch quests for items around the various areas in the game.

Unfortunately, new players will likely run out of storage fairly fast as there are more items on the map then pocket space to put them in. Requests become a little mundane after a while when you realize you’re missing one Tiger Butterfly and there are none on the map.

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Luckily, the game still has familiar features such as the clothing shop and a very small version of Nook’s Cranny among other new features.

The game is sadly plagued with timers, some taking upwards of 48 hours to complete, but with several other activities to do, it never feels like you run out of things to do.

Graphics

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a good looking game, or at least as good looking as an Animal Crossing game can look on mobile devices. The graphics are on-par or even better than Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Pocket Camp’s predecessor.

All the assets are nearly identical to past renditions of the titular series, the fish look fishy, the tree’s look tree-y, the villagers retain their cuteness, and for some, weirdness.

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The game perfectly retains the cute art style that Animal Crossing is known for, and some items are probably straight out of previous iterations of the series.

Sound

Music in Animal Crossing is chill and relaxing, like a mini-zen garden but with sound.

Pocket Camp manages to maintain that relaxing musical quality with songs changing across the various areas of the game, as well as the time of day. (yes, there are day and night cycles).

Summary

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was thought to be just a town-builder with Animal Crossing slapped on the label but it turned out to be much more.

Pocket Camp is a full-fledged Animal Crossing title, worth of bearing the name of the series, and not just as a mobile game.

With frequent updates being promised by Nintendo and DeNA, players will likely enjoy the game for years to come with more features likely to appear over time.

Overall, the game gets a perfect score from Consumer Friendly. Though it has flaws it is a genuinely enjoyable Animal Crossing title with a lot of fun packed into a small package.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is available for download on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

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