The Olympic Gamers and E-sports

The Olympic Gamers

2016_summer_olympics

The Olympics games for gamers is near at hand my friends. Not a separate Olympic Games but the actual one. Remember you heard it first here at FierceFun.Com. While Game developers like us at Fierce Fun have tried to emulate the excitement of live sports with our ground breaking animations and technology, check out our Rugby Rampage game, by the way. We never thought that the games themselves could become a sporting competition. But then when one thinks of it. Why not? Many seemingly strange pursuits have become Olympics sports over the years of its existence. I was surprised to see the following being regarded as feats of herculean effort.

Walking, I mean come on almost everyone, fortunate enough to have full use of their legs can walk, how is that a sport? Trampoline jumping, that’s just fun, so very dubious in my eyes. Synchronised swimming, hard yes, but a sport? I don’t think so. Roller Hockey, like ice hockey, but on wheels. Sounds a bit contrived. Live Pigeon Shooting, now that’s just wrong, at least us gamers only shoot at pixels. And what about this extended list which I will try not to pick apart as their combined silliness speaks for itself, Obstacle swimming, Tug of War, Le Canne (cane fencing), Club swinging, and Beach Volleyball. Oh sorry my mistake Beach Volleyball is actually very acceptable in my eyes.

Ok so anything can potentially become an Olympic sport with the right amount of money and pressure, I imagine. So next thing we need to do is explore the concept of the Gamer as an Athlete. Athletes are normally ultra-healthy. They need perseverance, fitness, stamina, single mindedness and determination. In fact athletes seem to be the complete opposite of gamers. Are not gamers anaemic, obese, house bound nerds that cannot even get up to make food, hence the need for copious amounts of take outs, which compounds the problem with regard to fitness. Well not necessarily. Gamers come in all shapes and sizes these days. The demographic has changed. “People of all ages play video games. There is no longer a ‘stereotype game player,’ but instead a game player could be your grandparent, your boss, or even your professor.” —Jason Allaire, Ph.D., Psychology, North Carolina State University and co-director of the Gains through Gaming Lab. In fact research has shown there is nearly an equal split in gender terms with today’s gamers. Yes guys the fairer sex likes gaming just like you do.

Okay, after discounting the stereotype view of gamers, let us look at the facts – Gamers do possess stamina as anyone who has done a 24 hour marathon session of gaming would know. In my case it was, GTA followed by HALO 4 then a few hours of Assassin's Creed. Gamers are dedicated for the same reason as athletes. They have determination to win at all odds, they are definitely single minded and with regard to fitness they may possess a unique dexterity and hand to eye coordination that is unique to their game playing. In other words they are very fit for performing in the gamer’s world or fit for purpose.

E-sports – As far back as 2015 E-sport has been sowing the seeds for its inclusion at some level in the Olympics games of the future. Initially a South Korean idea, this was an initiative brought about by their highly evolved E-sports network, the South Korean International e-Sports Federation (IeSF). But the critical event that points to E-sports becoming more mainstream is that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has agreed to look at the idea of competitive e gaming as a sporting activity. This is monumental, we all know how EA and other developers use the world of sports as a template for their games, but now the games themselves will be the sport.

So this is the playing field at the moment, excuse the pun, there is some interest by some reputable sporting bodies in providing a competitive sporting platform for E-sports. But the IOC , International Olympic Committee, are still some way away from allowing us gamers into those hallowed halls of Olympic respectability. But favourably, the gaming community has shown, they can host massive events and run them in a fair and professional manner such as the World Cyber Games (WCG) an international E-sport event in South Korea which attracted pro gamers from across the planet. Soon pro gamers will become the new elite sports men and women of this E-sports world. And just as pro athletes inspire amateurs in their chosen field. Pro gamers, will inspire ordinary gamers to go pro.

Tempting us with an Apple – One way Apple are targeting the Android user.

smartphones

Is the Apple attempt to coax Android users to the iphone/pad a bit cheeky? Using their Move to iOS for Android app, makes this now possible. The reasonable man would say Apple are just giving new or potential Apple customers an easier way to change from Android to Apple? The unreasonable man would say encroachment on the competition smacks of desperation.

Whatever the answer, it is not the only Apple made App that will be accessing their main competitors operating system as next year they plan to launch Apple music on Android. But rest assured mobile games fans Fierce Fun will provide the best range in mobile entertainment on the widest range of OSes.

Move to iOS9

The Move to iOS9 is a free download available on the Google Play store, and it makes it easier for people who want to change device to bring their data with them. You will need both an Android and iOS device to complete the switch process.

The Move to iOS App will allow the existing Android user move all their precious files to the iOS ecosystem. This will include files containing your photos, your calendar, your message files, your contacts and even your email accounts. So how does it work in practice? Your new Iphone or Ipad device will need to set up a secure Wi-Fi network when prompted by the App you can then go on to download all that precious, never to be found again data that for some reason you have been carting around on your phone for years. Yes I do that too.

So all this begs the question, why would one want to switch to Apple? Or why Apple feel they must smooth out the switching process with this new App. Just to let you know, here at Fierce Fun we ensure our mobile games run beautifully on both OSes. But in reality, the smartphone market has been regenerating itself frantically with upgrade after upgrade all through 2014 and 2015. Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, HTC One M9 and LG G4 are state of the art hardware and represent each of the named company’s flagship smartphone. Apple in response have given us the its new iPhone 6S and S6 Plus and a new ecosystem i0S9.

Statistics for worldwide sales on smartphones first quarter 2015 –

Table 1

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 1Q15 (Thousands of Units)

Company 1Q15Units 1Q15 Market Share (%) 1Q14Units 1Q14 Market Share (%)
Samsung 81,123 24.2 85,507 30.4
Apple 60,177 17.9 43,062 15.3
Lenovo* 18,888 5.6 16,721 5.9
Huawei 18,102 5.4 13,450 4.8
LG Electronics 15,428 4.6 11,200 4.0
Others 142,335.6 42.4 111,697.8 39.7
Total 336,054.4 100.0 281,636.8 100.0

Source: Gartner (May 2015)

All do what they say on the tin, all perform little miracles for us every day that would have seemed like science fiction to us 20 or even 10 years ago. So apart from sales figures the question seems to be what smartphone pushes your buttons and not as I had previously thought, who makes the better smartphone?

What Smartphone pushes your buttons?

I have my own sentimental preference for Nokia, a Scandinavian toilet and kitchen roll maker turned tech world leader, just that alone, will always get my vote. I heard on the Grapevine that Nokia were flirting with Android systems some time ago and liked it, but since the Microsoft corporation got wind of this treachery, that little dalliance became history. Which is a pity because as I said Nokia will always have a special place in my top pocket. Blackberry also should be given our respect for holding out in the face of insurmountable odds, that is, the obvious popularity of touchscreen technology, almost the the brink of bankruptcy. A friend in Capetown informed me,  they were still moving Blackberrys in healthy numbers in South Africa until 2013, but even there, now in 2015, the touch screen has all but leveled that field. They had it all once, however they gave away their advantage, but I am glad to hear that they may have embraced Android in tandem with developing some new technology for themselves,  as to go it alone can becoming very lonely.

 

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Okay the above title is an unfortunate and bloody saying but proof of the pudding, another awful phrase is that two great tech companies fire at the same target, you and me, the customer, but come up with completely different creatures essentially doing the same thing. I speak of course of Samsung and Apple. What Apple Iphone and Samsung Android phones have shown us is that “there is more than one way to skin a cat”.Both have flagship phones that are exceptional and I could not favour one above the other. My only buying decision would be price and here Samsung win over Apple nine times out of ten.

I use a Samsung Galaxy, my partner uses an Apple Iphone, I like both, and would not care if I changed, she only likes her Iphone, she is in love with her Iphone, and would never change, even if she received a free Android. This is cultism which is an intrinsic part of the Apple brand and is to be commended but also ridiculed at every turn. I would not find it hard to switch from one to the other and have done so in the past, dumping an early Apple PC for a far better and cheaper Dell version. It is easy if you do not buy into the cult of Apple, after all they are not the Kardashians.

Summary

The devil seems to be in the detail, the small differences of functionality that may appear on the OS of your phone and not the other. But both OSes have phenomenal capability and this is a indication of how far technologically the smartphone has evolved. Our personal preferences may impact on the phone we choose, maybe because of the interplay with the phone, how it feels in the hand and where certain buttons are positioned. But also our personal preference for which company we would like to entrust our information. This will increasingly play a part in our choice.

Apple and Google seem to be two heads of the one beast but they do have different agendas and see the world through different lenses. This is something to consider when choosing your hardware and software products in phones PC or cloud services. You must ask yourself with whom do I trust with my digital existence?

Games Development & Production – Process and Documentation

gamesdevelopment

To help game development students and other devs, we have provided some of the games development documentation, templates and processes we used when making Java mobile games. Most of the documentation is general and could be applied to any project. Though some are a number of years old, the same game design principles should apply.

Game Development Project Management

Hope some of them provide useful – if so, please share them.

Fierce Fun’ers

 

Ireland’s Fastest ISP (Internet Service Provider)

internet

So here we have it. A list of the top performing Internet Service Provider (ISPs) in Ireland. This list was taken from Steam, the global online gaming portal developed by Valve. It has close to 100 million users and as it hosts online games, it gives a good indication of the performance of ISPs as regards heavy download usage.

The table was compiled in September 2015 and shows the average download rates for Steam clients on the most popular Internet Service Providers, sorted by the number of bytes delivered to each network.

As it is just for gaming, obviously it is not a true measure of overall performance. However it is a useful indicator of those providers that have some serious download pipes!

 

Network Average Download Rate – Mbps
Liberty Global 39.2
HEANET HEAnet Limited,IE 24.4
MAGNET-AS Magnet Networks,IE 16.8
EIRCOM Eircom Limited,IE 11.2
VODAFONE-IRELAND-ASN Vodafone Ireland,IE 10.5
DIGIWEB-AS Digiweb Ltd.,IE 9.9
AS-BTIRE BT Communications Ireland Limited,IE 7.5
IBIS-AS Imagine Group Ltd.,IE 4.5
H3GIE Hutchison 3G Ireland Limited,IE 4.3

WebGL: The Future of Interactive Web Animation

webgl-html5
WebGL (Web Graphics Library) is a cross-platform, royalty-free web standard for a low-level 2D/3D graphics API based on OpenGL ES 2.0, exposed through the HTML5 Canvas element as Document Object Model interfaces.

Ok, in plain English!. WebGL is a JavaScript library for displaying interactive 3D and 2D graphics within any compatible web browser without the use of plug-ins. As it uses a computer’s GPU (graphics chip) directly, it is very fast and allows for smooth animated 2D and 3D graphics.

It is supported by all the major browser vendors such as Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox), Opera (Opera) and Microsoft (IE).

As animation plug-ins such as Flash, Unity and Silverlight are not supported by default in many browsers, WebGL offers a cross platform solution for online and mobile animated graphics.

Fierce Fun can produce WebGL animations optimised for all the major browsers. For more details, please contact us.

 

Games Development & Publishing: Links We Like

Resource for Indie Game Developers
http://www.pixelprospector.com/

HTML5 Game Development – JavaScript Libraries
http://www.createjs.com/

Free Online Games
http://www.kongregate.com/

VC/Game Industry News and Information
http://venturebeat.com/category/games/

Make Games with Google
https://developers.google.com/games/

Facebook Games Developer Center
https://developers.facebook.com/docs/games

Irish Game Development - Gamedevelopers.ie
http://gamedevelopers.ie/home/

Adobe Gaming
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/games/gaming.html

Flash Game License
https://www.fgl.com/developer_home.php

Tech Blog: RunTheProgram
http://runtheprogram.com

Gamasutra – The Art and Business of Making Games
http://www.gamasutra.com/

Starling: Cross Platform Game Engine
http://gamua.com/starling

Casual Games Association
http://www.casualgamesassociation.org

Games Development Jobs
http://www.gamesrecruit.co.uk/Index.aspx

Mobile Games Monetisation and User Acquisition
https://www.chartboost.com/

Windows 10 Game Develop
https://dev.windows.com/en-us/games

Amazon AWS: Game Hosting Services
http://aws.amazon.com/game-hosting

Programming Guide For Video-Gamers
http://ithare.com/programming-guide-for-video-gamers/

 

The Future of Computer Gaming

Modern technology has taken amazing strides forward over the past few years, and this is just as true when it come to gaming technology. With 2015 fully upon us and a number of Gaming and Technology events having taken place throughout January, we here at Fierce Fun thought it would be a good idea to run through a couple of the major developments we can expect to see in 2015.

Virtual Reality:

Virtual reality has been with us since the 90’s when Sega released Sega VR in the arcades (although it never made it to the consoles), but with the creation of devices such as the Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality has made a comeback.  Now that Virtual Reality has once again hit the mainstream, it has become a realistic goal for video game creators to make VR games.This has also led to a rise of devices like the Rift, or other devices which make you feel like you are really in the game.

Games Everywhere:

With the widespread release of wearable technology, primarily the rise of the smart watch, and with the further & further reach of smart phones, and the inevitable rise of the smart TVs, like AndroidTV, technology is everywhere.  Which means that in 2015 we will be able to play games everywhere. With the new challenges and opportunities presented, we can look forward to some new games which take advantage of these opportunities, and perhaps taking augmented reality along for the ride.

Indie Games:

A trend that will increase across 2015 is the large part of video games industry that Independent studios will play.  The mainstream studios are sticking to the tried & tested channels and games. However, with the wide availability of channels, open source software and variety of funding options have made game creation available for independent studios, and they are creating games that are creative, unique and very enjoyable.  We here at Fierce Fun are ourselves independent and are currently creating a variety of mobile app games with Big Bad Quiz for Android & iOs being our first title to launch in Q1 2015.

Social:

Social Media has taken up a large part of our lives over the past decade or so, and it’s reach will only increase in 2015.  However, game developers must capitalise on the this trend in order to maintain their success. Consumers are no longer private about their gaming, and want to publish across their various social channels. Sony and Microsoft have both made a leap toward this with the PS4 and Xbox ONE respectively. For companies to be successful in 2015, they not only have to post quality, relevant content on their social media channels regularly. This goes double for smaller creators, who don’t have the brand recognition, and must strive to make a name for themselves.

Respected Gamers:

Before the 2000’s, video gamers were seen as a subset of kids and immature men. This changed with the emergence of consoles and the creation of motion sensing technology, like the Wii. Recently, the number of gamers has grown exponentially, and has broken down all gender and age barriers. So in 2015, we will see gaming becoming a more socially respected hobby, as there will be more gamers across all platforms than non-gamers. Also, thanks to the jobs being created making games, and the growing professional gamer sector, the gamers of 2015 will be the most respected gamers yet.

 

Fierce Fun at the New Frontiers Showcase

DIT, in association with Enterprise Ireland and IADT run the New Frontiers programme, which is designed to help incubate and grow new Irish businesses. Several companies have come through the programme and gone on to bigger and better things. As a way of sharing these success stories, passing down advice, and arranging some good old fashioned business networking, they organise an annual showcase event.

Last Friday, on the 5th of December, Fierce Fun was able to take part in this event, demonstrate some of our products, and speak with other businesses in the “Hothouse” programme. Peter Lynch and Jackie Jeter attended the showcase and were both very impressed with what they saw and heard.

img_4559-e1418215781169

There were five alumni of the programme, including Alison Stroh, from Dr. Coy’s Healthfoods, and Adrian Walsh of Checkventory in attendance. Both businesses have been quite successful in recent years, and fostered partnerships with more established firms. Dr. Coy’s products, for example, are available in stores like Brown Thomas or Avoca. Sean Mitchell, the CEO of Movidius gave a fantastic keynote address on adjusting to meet market needs and cracking into potential markets. Movidius, after graduating from the programme went on to achieve great success in the US markets over the last few years. For a digital company like Fierce Fun, which offers a product which is instantly available in all markets around the world, Movidius provides a great example for adapting our marketing plans and how to break into international markets.

The event gave us a great opportunity to showcase our company to potential investors, as well as getting some cheeky free beta testing done. Peter brought along his phone and demonstrated the Big Bad Quiz to a number of people. All of the reactions to the game were positive, and of course, since the game is designed to be a challenge, not many of the testers got past the first few rounds. For us, who have spent the last few months designing, writing and creating the game, this was a great thing to see.

Fierce Fun: HTML5 Cross Platform Capability

What is a cross-platform app? It is one application that your customers can use, regardless of their phone, tablet or PC type. Most consumers now have at least one of each. Even for large companies, it is difficult to continually update your applications to work on all possible platforms. Think of a cross platform app as being like a central point, with different platforms and devices connecting to IT, rather than having individual apps to suit each platform.

Building separate games and mobile applications for each device (iPhone, iPad Android, Windows Mobile) can be time consuming and expensive. It requires different frameworks, languages and developments skills.

The HTML5 standard is now complete and ratified by the World Wide Web Consortium (the guys who set all key standards for the Web). Using browser technologies, it allows companies to support all consumer platforms with one production process. More importantly, as it is now standardised, it will ensure future compatibility for your HTML5 applications

Fierce Fun uses HTML5 to create media rich highly interactive games and mobile applications.

html5_crossplatform

If you like more information on our HTML5 cross platform development technology, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

What makes a good trivia game?

Making a good trivia game can be a tricky thing to do. First, you have to actually create a lot of interesting trivia questions, then you have to present them in an interesting way. We have seen many simple trivia games come and go without creating much of a following, while game-shows like Jeopardy and Family Feud are still going strong after decades. Why? well, the answer is two-fold.

First of all, they have a host. The host is a vital part of a game, whether they are making friends, sharing jokes, grilling contestants with tough questions, or just declaring them the “weakest link”, the host brings something unique and fun to the show. Second, each game-show has a theme, and just like the host, they can vary from unforgiving questions, to light-hearted fun. When it came to creating the Big Bad Quiz, we here at Fierce Fun took that information on-board.

 bigbadquiz_triviaquestions

Thus, the Bag Man was born. He is our answer to hosts like Bob Barker or Anne Robinson, and his style of hosting is reminiscent of the “You Don’t Know Jack” series of quiz games. The Bag Man is sarcastic, insulting, but always encourages you to try a bit harder, to get the extra bonus points, or just to wipe the smile off his bag.

When making a game, especially  mobile game, you need to consider the time constraint that people will be under. Consumers can’t devote an entire hour to a single session on a game. You need to be able to make a game that is engaging enough that it can be played during a quick-five minute break, or while commuting to or from the office. At the same time however, there needs to be a facility in place to keep people’s attention span over longer periods of time. Again, we looked at game-shows for the answer.

Rapid fire rounds were the best solution we found. You could quickly fly through a round or two while waiting for the bus, save your progress, answer a few texts, then come back to the game a little while later and pick up where you left off. Each round takes about ninety seconds to complete, which makes it perfect for “burst players”. In a survey of gamers in the United States, 44% of respondents said that they played on their phones for less than 30 minutes a day. Since the rounds are paced so well, and there is no limit on the number of rounds you can complete, the game can last however long or short you want it to. The biggest games these days, like Candy Crush, or Flappy Bird, also subscribe to this idea of rapid-fire gameplay.

 Finally, we added some really tricky questions to the mix to liven things up, especially as you get further and further into the game. The rounds might go by quickly, but they won’t all be easy to finish. Adding that to the fact that there are almost two thousand questions, and they all appear in a random order each time you play, means that the game will be fresh, and tough every time you open it up.

So that’s our opinion, a good trivia game needs to have a unique host, the ability to be played for short or long periods and above all, needs to be fresh every time you play it, in order to keep players interested.