Hungry Expat

Content creation. Travel, Gaming, Entertainment, Technology

Articles

Loadout gets juiced – launch server overload

loadout4Edge of Reality score a headshot in their ass spanking new third person shooter that offers fast and frantic action and a barrel load of fun. After being in Early Access stage on Steam for several months, Loadout officially launched on January 31st as a free to play game, but their massive success came at a price.

As February rolled around, thousands hammered the server hoping to get a piece of the amazingly fun and annoyingly addictive gameplay. Within hours of going live, the servers overloaded amid huge demand and interest in the game and left many frustrated when they simply couldn’t log in or join a game. Edge of Reality was taken by surprise at the sheer demand and couldn’t have predicted the massive popularity of the game. Problems began as close to ten thousand logged in, causing the matchmaking service to lag and fail to create game sessions. As more piled on to the server, matchmaking fell even further behind and resulted in several game modes and features being taken offline.

 

Party creation and friends list features were taken down to try and accommodate eager gamers. The development team were swift to respond though and worked endlessly to upgrade the server and slowly bring the game back online. One thing worth noting for many other game developers is the admirable way they handled the whole situation by constantly keeping fans in the loop and providing great progress updates at regular intervals to appease those affected.

Loadout is intensive action and you need to be quick to react to the chaos around you. What is great about the game is the hilarious gore and there’s plenty of it. Legs fall off, heads will explode and enemies will burn to death in front of you while your team-mates are shocked into oblivion behind you.

Versatile weapon crafting offers a good choice of weapon design featuring various scopes, ammo types, coolants and firing methods all to cater for different styles of play. The idea behind the game is customising your weapon loadout to suit the way you want to play, with the focus on weapons, not game mode.

blitz2Speaking of game modes though, some such as Annihilation were removed after the launch caused huge problems, but I expect these will be re-introduced gradually.

Death Snatch

The main game mode is a team based 5v5 co-op death match with a twist. You don’t win simply by killing the most enemies, but by collecting the most blutonium dropped by enemy kills. The twist is that you can deny the enemy team’s kill by rescuing your fallen team member’s blutonium before the opposing team captures it.

Jackhammer

Capping flags has been done to death before. Loadout mixes it up, and what’s better than a big ass hammer to capture. Running back to your base has never been more fun when you can smack the opposing team with the hammer you’re carrying and devastate them in one hit. Don’t be a hero though, you still need your team to roast your enemy or heal your friendly support.

Blitz

Blitz is insanely fast capture point and control game. Each team races to a control point and tries to hold it long enough to score and fight off the enemy team to win. The most captures means a win for the team.

Extraction

Tired of capping hammers? Take a break and collect some blutonium instead while your teammates do all the work. This game mode requires heavy co-operative gameplay as both teams race to extract and collect the most blutonium ores. You’ll either be left alone to collect blutonium while your team hunts the enemy collector, or you’ll need your team to defend you when the enemy comes looking for you.

 

Annihilation

This is one of the most fun modes because it combines all of the game modes for sheer chaos in the game. Annihilation mode pits you against the other team to kill enemies and collect their blutonium as in Death Snatch mode, while also capturing the hammer and stopping the other team from capturing your hammer.

 

Edge of Reality claim that Loadout is free to play but that doesn’t mean pay to win. This remains to be seen as some players quickly became sceptical after a few days of gameplay. It quickly becomes obvious something is fatally wrong with the game mechanics. Weapons can be upgraded for blutes, which are earned by playing matches against others, and currency transactions are for cosmetic gear purchases only. So it would seem, but is the gear affecting number crunching on defense and damage statistics?

 

The matchmaking service is the other culprit, and this is what hurts the game the most. Upon joining a few games it is obvious the matchmaking service does not work efficiently or offer any sort of balanced game. It fails to match you with similar opponents and instead randomly pits you against far more experienced players who have already bought gear and upgraded items heavily. This needs a lot of work.

 

Loadout also suffers from potential automated bot users and exploit hackers, play a few games and you’re sure to meet one. Having said that, the development team are quick to notice this and have already begun banning several players guilty of exploits and cheating, so they are doing a good job of addressing the issue and truly have zero tolerance.

 

Loadout, while annoying at times, is still hugely addictive and fun. Bring your friends and create a party to kick some ass and perfect your dream loadout with all those blutes you score. This is one game to keep playing and shows a lot of potential, it needs more maps added. What’s your favourite game mode? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

Why Google schemer is no threat to Foursquare

The general buzz around newly announced Schemer from a team of Google engineers is that of a direct attack on Foursquare. Does it really threaten the success of foursquare? Think again.

Location based services are nothing new, they’ve been around a while. When Google+ first launched, annoyed Facebook users tired of the privacy scandal threatened to switch to using Google+. While few actually did, Google+ still gained a large share of the social media crowd. Nothing major has changed, most continued to use Facebook in addition to Google+. They use them in different ways for varying reasons such as Circles and filtering contacts, but still like the functionality of their existing facebook aps.

Foursquare has much to offer, and while Google’s Schemer offers many similar tools, Foursquare users are fiercely loyal and are unlikely to abandon such a beloved website. Here, the platform accessibility comes into play. Google undoubtedly favours the Android but Foursquare caters to both iPhone and Android users, as well as integrating directly with facebook.

The very few details announced on Schemer leave much to the imagination. It is not clear on facts other than branding itself as a social to do list sharing tool. Far from impressive when you consider the check in capability of foursquare and the ability to tweet your twitter page instantly.

What exactly will Schemer do?

  • Create lists
  • Share activities with friends
  • Recommend

Compare this to the existing features built up on Foursquare.

  • Location check in
  • Badge awards
  • Mayorship
  • Tips
  • Nearby friend search
  • Invite to location
  • Recommend activity
  • Discover/recommend location
  • Money saving deals with locations

It’s easy to see the clear winner, with very little details announced there is little interest in a basic to do list shareable with your friends. There is text messaging and the good old telephone call for that, remember when we used to call people?

Schemer is currently in beta stage and invite only. This isn’t the only time we’ve seen this tactic from Google. When Gmail first began as invite only, it cleverly built upon a huge interest and demand while limiting access to invites only. Later removing the need for invite. We can only guess Schemer will do the same, but it will fail to impress this time around.

What is Augmented Reality?

The arrival of Augmented Reality was a fascinating leap forward in technological capabilities but somewhat poorly received. The apple iPhone for example was far reaching in its product awareness, compared to a virtual service to be utilised as AR, the awareness is discouraging. It’s potential however could far outstretch the success of the iPhone, in such a way the world wide web was adopted my millions in the late 90’s.

Just how many know of us know about augmented reality, or are aware how much we’re already using it on a daily basis. What exactly is augmented reality?

In 2009, the advent of smart phones began mass consumption, Google search rank for “augmented reality” rose sharply, steadily gaining momentum until a huge spike in interest in 2011 again sent the term ranking soaring higher than ever.

Earlier this year Toyota announced its intent to include augmented reality in the passenger windows of its models. This shows a growing interest and awareness in Augmented reality, but still signifies a long way to go before it hits mainstream awareness in our daily lives. Figuratively speaking, only a small percentage of daily internet users would know what Augmented Reality is in conversation. Even less, it would be safe to assume, know how it is already fast becoming a part of daily life around us. For example, advertising boards in public metropolitan areas already utilise AR to overlay graphics onto information boards.

Think of Time Square in New York, TV screens, public kiosks, airport departure lounges. The list could become quite long.

AR used to be a thing of science fiction movies, like virtual reality introduced to us by hopeful futuristic predictions. Long forgotten about until its recent re-submergence into the smart phone era. Augmentation is defined as increasing or adding to improve upon. In this case it is information that is added to reality.

This information is delivered to us in reality by virtual means, adding information to our current environment to further our knowledge of what we are hearing or seeing in real time. In essence it is overlaying information into the real world. What this means, opens up a multitude of exciting possibilities for its inception and future use.

To cite Toyota’s direction toward AR, the possibilities are exciting. For example, a passenger looking out of the window of a Toyota car could effectively use the window as a touch screen interface, much like any smart phone owner uses their mobile

phone. With AR the passengers could interact with the world outside the car, zooming in to any object or area, accessing information about the local surroundings, such as accident rates on the current stretch of road, or map directions to their destination, even locating the nearest gas station or Starbucks.

Imagine ordering your meal or drink before you even arrive, from the comfort of the back seat of your car. AR thus can transform almost any surface into an interface for us to use. AR is also currently being used in many retail sectors. Clothing stores are beginning to embrace the technology by transforming the traditional fitting rooms into virtual screens showing us instantly how the items will look on us when worn. This already suggests the very way we shop or purchase any item is starting to change.

Augmented reality begins to capture the imagination of many as we start to visualize new ways we can interact with the world around us. The future potential for AR is immense. Currently AR is already being used by many with the new Layar technology in smart phones. This enables us to locate people or places nearby, providing real time information about a vast number of interesting facts. For example, being able to see which of our facebook friends last checked into this particular cafe, or accessing reviews of nearby hotels to make the best decision of where to stay. Letting your imagination run wild is where the fun begins, the potential of its vast possibilities quickly becomes apparent.

As technology begins to embrace AR in the near future, I myself welcome it into my life. The future of AR lies in the hands of its consumers and it’s developers. To elaborate on such a future suggests AR could be used in so many areas of our lives. One particular fascinating concept is the gaming industry. With current existing virtual worlds such as Second Life, laying the game onto screens around us, interacting with the artificial intelligence could become possible in a way that the game happens around us, putting us inside the game. Augmented Reality will play a huge part in our lives, and the future is already here.

sources
http://www.google.com/trends?q=augmented+reality
http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20081402-48/toyota-demos-augmented-reality-enhanced-car-windows/

Why your brand needs tumblr now

So you’re set to tweet, you have your blog updated daily, and your website is optimized. You’re good to go right? Wrong! You should be marketing and selling your brand on Tumblr now, and here’s why.

Tumblr grew exponentially in 2011 and is set to continue rapid growth into 2012. More and more people are using tumblr for social blogging than WordPress, blogger and Joomla. Tumblr now has over 36 million users, in just a few short years.

From June 2010 to June 2011 tumblr marked a growth of 218% in the U.S alone. In the same time period Facebook grew only 14%, with Linked In at 63% growth. On a global scale this equates to 90 million unique visits per month in the past year. Its easy to see how popular tumblr is becoming.

According to mashable, the core demographic in the U.S is made up of 51% males, 36% of those are aged 18 to 34. Students, graduates and fresh professionals are eagerly joining in with image sharing and blogging across the globe. If your advertising strategy could use a boost, you should be creating your brand on tumblr already and reaching millions more to improve clicks through to your website.

Quantcast reported 7 million daily visits to tumblr.com in June this year. In December it reached 11 million.

An easy, quick interface lets users quickly blog and share. Marketing your brand here encourages your visitors to interact with you and your website far more, creating more recognition and increasing loyalty. This drives traffic through your blog, gains you adoring followers, and takes more visitors to your website.

Blogging your brand on tumblr will excite your imagination at the thousands of users that will share your post with others. A community like this actively encourages open sharing, one blog post shared suddenly tumbles along like a snowball gathering more snow.

Like twitter, you can follow others and be followed. Its a quick way to reach your target people and get the message across loud and clear. Comparing it to other blogs and sharing tools, it does have its disadvantages. Its not ideal for long concise blogs on in depth topics. It also limited to type of media. While there are downsides, you shouldn’t abandon your existing efforts to reach people with other social media. Tumblr doesn’t aim to replace your blog, or beat your impressive following on facebook, but it does make an excellent tool to use for your social marketing campaign.

It is common knowledge that Facebook is in decline, fraught with privacy concerns and mistrust, though users may have been loyal for many years, they have grown tired and interest has waned. It seems that emerging trends are again causing a shift in social media, as history has shown us before.

You can still reach many millions of users with Facebook, but consider shifting your advertising focus to fresh, emerging and more popular internet trends like tumblr.

Do you tumble?

http://www.quantcast.com/tumblr.com
http://mashable.com/2011/11/14/tumblr-infographic/
http://w3techs.com/technologies/details/cm-tumblr/all/all

Free open source tools for graphic design

Graphic design can be both time consuming and costly. Web design needn’t be so complex or cost hundreds of dollars. Many of the top software suites used by professionals have alternative open source projects freely available. These complete solutions will cover all the graphic design tools for web development that you could ever need.

inkscape1Inkscape is an advanced graphic editing suite that uses the SVG format, Scalable Vector Graphics. It has an intuitive interface that’s friendly and easy to use. Inkscape is very similar to CorelDraw and Illustrator, so it can perform practically all the rescaling, node tracing and alpha blending you need. If you dig deeper among the features you’ll find clone brushes and blur effects in addition to the standard crop and resizing image capabilities.

gimp1Gimp is a neat little image manipulation suite is quite advanced and available cross platform for Mac OS X, GNU, Sun and Windows. The interface can seem overloaded but is fully customizable to each users’ preference. It performs the much needed cloning and colour retouching for all your photos and even allows you to modify brushes and bind scripted actions to keys.

phoenx1Phoenix is a free online image editor with advanced image manipulation features such as layer filtering and image blending filters. Phoenix allows you to create an image from scratch or edit an existing one. There are many tutorials and tips on offer to help you get to grips with the tool and improve your design skills. The interface is a little basic and while easy enough to use, it lacks advanced editing features like blending or gauss blur. It does offer brush filters and dithers but this is aimed at the intermediate photo editor and is good enough for some basic photo manipulation in a quick squeeze.

 

Logo image by Lora Rajah under creative commons license.

%d bloggers like this: