You’re familiar with Yelp and its seemingly endless reviews of restaurants by so-called “food critics.” While in general most complaints about a bad restaurant experience have more to do with service than with food, on occasion it’s the food that takes the lion’s share of the blame. But for French restaurant critic Caroline Doudet, she found out the hard way what happens when a restaurant you patronize fights back because of a negative review you posted in Google.
BBC News reported that the owner of II Giardino restaurant took Doudet to court because her negative review of his restaurant and its prominent position on Google was “unfairly hurting their business.” Ms. Doudet’s wrote a blog post (which has since been taken down) with the title “the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino.”
The review appeared fourth in Google search rankings when searching for the restaurant. The judge ruled that the title of the post needed to be changed so its title wouldn’t rank as high in Google’s search engine. The judge also decided that the damage done by Doudet’s post was exacerbated by Doudet’s fashion and literature blog, “Cultur’elle” and indicated that the size of her fan-base (in this case about 3K followers) was enough to consider her opinion influential.
As part of the ruling, Doudet was ordered to amend her post title and pay damages in the amount of €1,500 ($2,000; £1,200) as well as an extra €1,000 to cover Il Giardino’s costs.
This action suggests a number of important questions.
What about free speech? And what was so terrible about Doudet’s review?
Most of us who eat out from time to time have experienced poor service or poor fare. But how many of us blog about it or better yet, has a significant number of fans that might be influenced by your review? In this case, the judge felt the blogger was influential and their negative review was going to have a deleterious impact upon the business of the restaurant.
What did the owners of Il Giardino have to say?
The restaurateur admitted that there were “some errors in the service, that happens sometimes in the middle of August.” But what mattered was the way someone can criticize and doing so with respect. In this case, the article continued to place high in Google search results and was causing harm to the restaurant’s reputation, especially given the restaurant’s 15 years in business.
When BBC asked Doudet about the case she said, “This decision creates a new crime of ‘being too highly ranked [on a search engine]’, or of having too great an influence. We look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people.”
L’esprit de France – so much for the revolution!
Alors que pensez vous? Is this European censorship related to search engine results gone haywire? If you have influence, are you not allowed to freely express yourself without fear of retribution? What might have been a better course of action? Did the restaurant owner bother to contact Doudet first before taking her to court?
“I was thinking about a mobile game where you might bounce objects off of the skyline, like when you watch a sunset, or the horizon, and find a way to turn that little action into part of a story where people are having fun and are learning to see the world in a different way.” – Tom Meyer, founder and CEO, oMobio
Tapping into mobile CPU for a greater GPU experience
When it comes to mobile, games are essential. A good or even great game can alone sell tablets or smartphones. Mobile game developers salivate at the thought of hitting it out of the ballpark, earning their team millions, and contributing to the ongoing evolution of mobile gameplay. So when Tom Meyer, founder and CEO of oMobio decided to go for broke and follow through on his fixation with edge detection, coupled with photography, and marrying it to the power of today’s GPU, it was only a matter of time before the mobile gaming world would begin to take notice. Selected as one of seven finalists to present at the Who’s Got Game Innovation Showdown at this year’s GamesBeat 2013, Meyers presented A Vision Quest, a game where you use your phone’s camera to snap photos to help you solve puzzles, and prompting you to look a little harder at the lines and edges of what’s around you in the physical world.
Meyer is no stranger to app development. One of the earliest employees at Dropbox, he created their Android app. Meyer was also the architect and lead developer of Smule’s Magic Piano app, also for Android. A software architect, Meyer kept puzzling over the years on how to tap the power and speed of today’s mobile processors with their numerous device sensors and convert them into GPU driven applications. Spending time with researchers at the University of California, Berkeley Meyers decided to push the envelope of CPU bound algorithms and create his own mobile app game.
I pressed Meyer further on this idea of edge detection. “I was looking for edge detection because it constitutes a fundamental tool in image processing and is a core component to these algorithms. Our eyes perceive edges very strongly. In order to teach computers how to see, it’s instrumental that they understand edges and see the world the way humans do.”
What is a Vision Quest?
A Vision Quest tells the story of two armadillos, Ardee, a courageous test pilot and his ace mechanic girlfriend, Arnette. While both in love, a coyote named Istaqa, out of jealousy, uses his umbrella ray gun to blast both Ardee and Arnette into separate universes. It’s up to the user to play various levels and work on getting Ardee and Arnette back together again.
When I first observed Meyer showing me his game, I thought “easy enough,” just snap a photo and voila, you’ve integrated it into your gameplay. But then when I tried playing the game, I quickly latched on to exactly what I believe is Meyer’s true calling card. With a game that forces you to interact with your surroundings, it’s necessary you spend time reviewing its geometry. In this case, the lines and angles that you rarely spend time observing in your daily life, which now become integral players in the quality of your gameplay. Being lazy in how you photograph can cost you if you expect to easily try and finish each level. I asked Brian Blau, Research Director in Consumer Technology at Gartner about the significance of the mobile camera as a core feature of A Vision Quest’s gameplay.
“It’s refreshing to see a game make different use of the device sensors, especially the camera as smartphone users love their on board cameras for imagery and video on the go. Incorporating the camera into a game is a bold move but one that really brings the player into a deeper relationship with the game content.”
Mobile games that tap into feelings and inspire discovery
I echo Blau’s sentiments and more to the point, I believe that any game, which dives deeper into real-world constructs, can make it feel more personal and contribute to a sense of discovery. At this past week’s GamesBeat 2013, Robin Hunicke, Co-founder, Funomena, spoke about how games that inspire feelings and foment a desire to share tend to play second fiddle to game mechanics. Hunicke’s team built the phenomenally successful game,Journey,a game that relied less on “shoot’em-up bang bang” and instead emphasizes criteria like atmosphere, an original storyline, and is a multi-player game focused on cooperation rather than just killing. Hunicke said her company cares about injecting curiosity into her games, something that will reward both parents and their kids.
A Vision Quest advances the concept of unique and personal
What is the most addictive emotion possible that a game can bring out in any player? For Hunice, it’s a sense of achievement. Rewarding achievement is how you keep your fans coming back for more. In the case of A Vision Quest, Meyer is gambling on a gamers’ attraction to the real world and integrating it into the gameplay for a more personalized experience. I have to admit, when I first tried playing, I didn’t quite get edge detection. Using Meyer’s tablet, I took a photo but soon realized it wasn’t the appropriate angle that would help me finish the level. It took a few attempts to get comfortable, snap the right shot, and finally get Ardee into the next dimension, pushing me on to the next level of play. Over time, I grew to understand and appreciate how examining those lines and angles in real-world constructions naturally enables a unique gaming experience each and every time. Using the camera for each level of play is pure genius. The game remains consistently fresh and forces your eyes to spend more time appreciating those angles around you. You’re not going to be playing this game as fast as you can. Adults, teenagers, and kids who maintain their child-like appreciation of the world will be most attracted to A Vision Quest.
To my knowledge, no other mobile game is currently exploiting the camera as part of its gameplay experience. According to Meyer, A Vision Quest will be released for Android by Christmas time as free-to-play, with power-ups for sale. iOS users will have to wait until Q1, 2014. Plans are also in the mix to make available extra photo packs that consist of stock or licensed photos where you would have to hunt and find the way to solve the levels with only those pictures.
The game will launch with two worlds, one tied to a holiday-theme and the other a jungle. Myer says both worlds will start-off with a minimum of 20 levels to complete. Users can share the results of their playing on Facebook and also import photos from their friends to feature as part of their own unique gameplay.
What about the Armadillo?
When you’re busy brainstorming the types of characters for your next mobile game app, what comes to mind? Animals? Superheroes? What about two star-crossed studded Armadillos in love? According to Meyer, there’s more to an Armadillo than you might think. “Armadillos can role into a ball; they are not fast or adventurous creatures per say, but when are threatened, they can jump 3 to 4 feet into the air. Armadillos can also swim by inflating themselves.” A Vision Quest’s title refers to the native American ritual. Carlos Castenada, wrote a collection of books based on his experience with a Shaman named Don Juan. Meyer told me he was inspired by Castenada’s writings, in particular, his mention of identifying lines of force to help one cross a waterfall.
Will A Vision Quest become the next Candy Crush? Will the novelty of a camera – assisted mobile game eventually wear off? At the end of the day, is it just another puzzle game? I won’t answer these questions but will say that at a minimum, integrating real-life constructs into your gameplay is an immediate attention grabber. Photo-assisted mobile gaming is in its infancy. One good kick in the pants will certainly do wonders at pushing this novelty into the mainstream. As a blueprint, A Vision Quest sparks the imagination. I hope game players take notice.
Captain Phillips starts out terrific, mainly because the director immediately brings you into the world of piracy and you feel the tension mount, as Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) must quickly rally his crew to avoid capture from Somali pirates. But this is only the first attempt.
The real-life story of Captain Richard Phillips was widely reported back in 2009. I vaguely remember it myself but frankly wasn’t that interested in the story at the time. Matter of fact, the story of Somali pirates capturing a freighter filled with food and clothing just didn’t grab me. Yes, it does make for effective drama on the high seas but I wasn’t captivated by it.
The film follows the plight of Captain Phillips as he desperately fights to protect his crew from invading Somali pirates. Now in the first twenty minutes alone we get a taste of just how precarious a situation Phillips is in because he reads a warning sent over email about the presence of pirates in his vicinity. Captain Phillips insists the crew practice security drills in the vein hope that if indeed his freighter is boarded the crew will successfully defend itself. The first sequence is surprisingly riveting. The Somali pirates are first spotted on radar and Philips orders the ship to increase its speed to avoid capture. The freighter does successfully outrun the pirates. But pirates don’t give up easily. And on the second attempt, the pirates are successful at boarding the freighter.
Somali actors make for excellent pirates
The acting by the Somali pirates is all around excellent. Led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the pirates are a ragtag of poor but fearless Somali natives who care nothing but to capture their next freighter and come away with a huge haul. When the pirates first board, they are disorganized. The crew remains hidden down in the engine room and have turned off the ship’s power. Phillips offers the pirates money, a lifeboat to get away, and even suggests first aid for one of the pirates who has injured himself. But Muse and his men get greedy. And instead of accepting what cash exists on board, they demand millions and expect to get it.
The pirates soon realize they are ill prepared to take control of the freighter and through a series of mishaps end up nearly losing their leader, Muse. The pirates are successful, however, at capturing Captain Phillips and taking him hostage. They leave the freighter on a specially designed boat. Throughout, Phillips does his best to distract the pirates, offering first aid, and then turning the pirates against one another. The Navy gets word of Captain Phillips capture and proceeds to rescue him. Once the pirates learn of the Navy’s involvement, they are quick to use Phillips to extract millions in ransom money. The Navy has other ideas and next thing you know Navy SEALs parade out of the sky and we know that this story has only one ending.
Swimming in salt water with your eyes open
The film attempts to build on the tension of the SEALs negotiation with the pirates for Captain Phillips’ life. What I didn’t like was the surprise attempt by Captain Phillips to escape the lifeboat by actually pushing one of the pirates into the ocean and he himself jumping into the water hoping to be rescued. How many times have we seen movies where the actors jump into salt water and open their eyes to see where they are going? Why you don’t try it sometime and let me know how well you see in saltwater and how comfortable it is on your eyes? I never believed for a second that Captain Phillips would have done something as stupid as trying to escape the lifeboat, especially when Navy ships had surrounded the lifeboat and there was no way out for the pirates. All Captain Phillips had to do was just sit tight.
The final ending scene we see Captain Phillips being taken to get medical treatment. He’s in a state of shock. This is probably the best acting of Hanks throughout the film. He’s listening to the nurse as she tersely asks him if he’s OK and where he might be hurting. The camera stays close on Hanks. Captain Phillips asks if his family was of his situation. Yes, responds the nurse. Hanks lies down on a table and our film fades out.
Drama doesn’t escalate like it should
Overall, a good film but there was more suspense in the first 20 minutes when the pirates made their first attempt at boarding the freighter then during the last 20 minutes when we know that there is no way out for them and they will most certainly die or be captured by the Navy. Was Tom Hanks a hero? The movie sure paints him out to be. But this CNN interview with the real-life Captain Phillips describes a different story entirely. Just goes to show you Hollywood loves to spin a story any way they can to sell it to the public.
If you’re planning on seeing Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, you might want to read this review first. As most of you cinema fans know, the American movie industry is based largely on hype. In order to generate that hype, you have sites like Rotten Tomatoes, which amalgamates a bunch of national movie critic reviews to provide a percentage of what critics overall think of the movie. It also includes fan reviews. But the emphasis is first placed on what the national movie critics think. Critics definitely influence the fate of movies and how well or poorly they will do at the box office. Movies that tank are often the butt of jokes and movie critics themselves get their share of the blame by producers who feel their film was never given a chance.
But back to Gravity. The visuals are, for the most part, spectacular on the big screen. I felt like I was floating in outer space and nauseous at the same time. Director Alfonso Cuaron certainly does his best to use technology as a means of capturing the story of our two beloved astronauts at the center of the picture, George Clooney (Lt. Kowalski) and Sandra Bullock (mission specialist Stone). George plays a cowboy’esque astronaut; he’s quick to raddle off tails of his escapades back on Earth to alleviate the boredom of his spacewalk. I can’t recall the last time an astronaut was ever bored in outer space. He comes across as a smart-ass. If I were an astronaut, I’d be insulted by Clooney’s performance.
Now I’m not sure what astronauts are like in outer space and I’d be very curious to hear recorded conversations between NASA headquarters and the astronauts in space to get an idea of just how chummy the communications are. But by any stretch of the imagination, Lt. Kowalski’s personality is a real turn-off. He’s the “know it all” so when the proverbial sh-t hits the fan, he’s the one that will lead the rescue of himself and Bullock. Well that’s not exactly how it goes and I won’t go into greater detail about how Bullock saves herself but the repartee between both characters had a false ring to it.
When astronauts travel to outer space together don’t they know a little bit about the background of each other? I’ve got to believe they do and yet we have Clooney peppering Bullock with questions about her family life back in Illinois when her oxygen levels are dropping precipitously. Why would Lt. Kowalski knowingly endanger Stone’s life by asking her more questions when she should be slowing down her breathing and not be talking at all?
Stone, as played by Bullock, is more realistic. She’s doing her best to not vomit while performing her duties nearly 400 miles above the Earth’s atmosphere. There’s nothing to dislike about Stone but then you keep asking yourself is there anything special about her? Not sure there is. Bullock displays adequate relief and drama as things progressively worsen for her. But by the film’s conclusion, I was sort of like, thanks Hollywood, I know how this one is going to end.
In space no one can you hear vomit
At 372 miles above the Earth
There is nothing to carry sound
No air pressure
My expectations for Gravity had me thinking that I was going to be overwhelmed by the gigantic universe. And in a way I was but at the same time director Alfonso Cuaron performs the cardinal sin. In outer space, there is no sound. No oxygen. There is silence. But throughout the entire movie, Cuaron actually plays sound. As if it was necessary? If any one of you reading this now ever watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will remember that the scenes taking place in outer space were DEVOID of any sound! It was creepy!
But in Gravity, we’ve got sound; we also have synthesizer music that tries to heighten the level of tension. It’s absolutely ruinous to the film’s drama. I’m not sure what prompted Cuaron to provide a soundtrack but this film would have been so much more memorable if there had been NONE. Imagine, you’re watching mission specialist Stone fighting to survive in outer space and all you can do is watch and you can’t hear a pin drop!
Much of Gravity is based upon a series of calamities. Things just get worse and worse for our astronauts once they have been notified by Mission control that a shower of debris is heading their way. We see in slow motion just how powerful the collisions are and I can’t imagine why visuals alone wouldn’t be sufficient to keep your attention. But Cuaron insists upon a soundtrack and suddenly we are taken away from outer space and brought back down to some studio somewhere on planet earth where a composer is fiddling around on some MacBook Pro figuring out what sounds can be made to fit the disaster on screen.
The casting of movie stars did little to enhance Gravity
Movie critics like Mick Lasalle of the San Francisco Chronicle couldn’t rave enough about the casting in Gravity. I’m not sure why they fell in love with the acting in this film. As previously mentioned, Clooney’s macho bit was obnoxious. Bullock did surprise me. I’ve never liked her voice or her acting. But she does an adequate job here. Not that the dialogue she’s given was believable in the slightest. Talk about family and children just seems trite even in outer space. Screenwriter Jonas Cuaron had to come up with something for our astronauts to say but I think he misses the boat. Bullock, when alone in her capsule, adequately expresses her fear of dying. In a funny moment, Clooney appears out of nowhere and we expect him to “save the day.” Alas, it’s only a dream. The thing is, did I really care if Bullock was going to make it or not? When you watch the ending of the film, you might actually have a good laugh instead of the catharsis you were hoping for.
I don’t think the casting of Clooney or Bullock was in anyway inspired.
Time to revisit 2001: A Space Odyssey
Back in 1968, no one was prepared for the “Space Odyssey” that Stanly Kubrick brought to the screen. In particular, the battle between HAL and astronaut Dave Bowman was scary and watching HAL kill off one of the astronauts was positively frightening. And guess what? There is NO SOUND IN OUTER SPACE. Watch this clip to remind yourself of just how powerful a scene this was not only then but to this day. I can tell you that Gravity doesn’t even come close to matching the drama of this one scene alone.
Let’s do away with the Hollywood soundtrack and SOUND IN SPACE
When I read all of the ridiculous reviews praising this film’s grandeur and inspired casting, I’m reminded why it’s so beneficial to be a student of history. You can research and identify what films have come before that tackled similar subject matter. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a more honest attempt at capturing drama in outer space. Director Alfonso Cuaron missed the opportunity to create a dramatic film without the Hollywood varnish. He blew it. We not only get an artificial soundtrack but we know that Sandra Bullock will survive.
If you’re like me, you don’t go see movies to make you feel good. You go see films to be riveted, captivated, and drawn into something that makes you forget it’s only a movie. It’s a movie that doesn’t come rapped with a bow tie. I can’t say Hollywood makes too many of those. Films that make you forget they are films are an endangered species.
For those who go to the movies to simply turn off your brains than by all means go see Gravity and be enthralled by the large scale visuals of floating in outer space above planet Earth. But for those who see films to be both entertained AND engaged than you require just a bit more truth, profundity, and less Hollywood contrivance. In particular, let’s do away with the Hollywood soundtrack. Let’s do away with the artificiality of soundtracks, meaning synthesizer-oriented sounds that are clearly added to height the drama, which a film, if it’s a great story to begin with, doesn’t need. The human drama provides plenty of soundtrack until itself without the need for an artificial one.
Update – 4/21/2016 This review was written more than a year ago and Glipho has since gone the way of the dodo….
To blog or not to blog is no longer the question. Choosing the right blogging platform that’s going to effectively share your voice and passion is now front and center. Blogging has jettisoned way past its infancy and is now settling into middle age. While social networks like Facebook continue to play a pivotal role in feeding your relationships and growing your fan-base, blogging remains the piece de resistance, allowing you to spend more time crafting your opinions and concentrating on the mot juste while funneling that content through your social networks driving more traffic to your blog.
Today there are a multitude of blogging and publishing platforms. Blogger, Tumblr, SETT, Ghost, Squarespace, Typepad, PostHaven, Medium, LiveJournal, and Weebly, to name but a few dotting the Web landscape. Some are not yet fully open to the public at large. The grand poobah of them all, WordPress, is zeroing in on 50 million downloads to date and powering just shy of 19% of the Web today. But blogging platforms like WordPress force users to spend much more time on design, templates, and plugins, before you even begin to blog. WordPress is no longer used exclusively for blogging. It’s become an expansive CMS for companies large and small.
With an estimated 200 million + bloggers and nearly 2 billion users of social networking sites, why not expect an even greater volume of blogs? Is it because blogging and developing an audience around your blog remains too daunting? This was the starting point for the emerging free blogging dynamo, Glipho, which opened their public beta back in March of this year. Glipho defines itself as a social network with a blogging platform.
Social blogging made easy
Glipho is the brainchild of Roger Planes, a former consultant and social media strategist to the UK media industry. Roger was busy creating news websites and tools for journalists when the seeds for Glipho were planted. Roger wanted to combine social networking with blogging and tap into the increasing larger pool of those who use social networking channels but don’t actively blog. 20% of Glipho’s bloggers never previously blogged, according to Roger.
Logging into Glipho is easy enough and you can do so by connecting your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn profiles. Then it’s time to create your Glipho profile, which means adding your profile picture, actual blog name, a description of yourself, and your username. You can connect your profile to a host of social networking accounts, including Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr, and LinkedIn. This is important because, as with any blogging platform, what counts is getting the word out about your content through your specific social media channels.
At the top are two tabs, Desk (your text editor) and Invite friends. The latter is obviously Glipho’s attempt to encourage you to invite others to try out its platform. But if you quickly want to get blogging, then click on the Desk tab. The text editor interface is split down the middle making it very easy to drag and drop your content. Editing is a snap and you can import or upload images from your computer, in addition to embedding outbound links.
What I really like is the ability to syndicate your content by importing it from Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress, all from within your profile page. This is what can help you grow your blog presence, gain more traffic, and generate more interactions among your readers. It’s not automated, but you manually connect your Glipho account to these other blogging platforms. Right now Glipho restricts you to 150 word minimum posts and you can’t import photo-only posts from Tumblr.
Roger told me that there are plans to add to the Desk page a quick “import latest post” that will automatically put into the Desk text editor your latest post or “gliph” from your original blog. It was clear from my exchanges with Roger that things are moving at warp speed and suggestions from users on how to continually improve Glipho’s social and blogging platform are constantly being worked on.
Blogging connectivity – Glipho’s stickiness
When a gliph is published it is connected to other content on the platform, either by Gliph’s relation algorithm or by virtue of sharing the same topic. Glipho’s goal is to consistently remind you of your connectivity with other bloggers and that you are part of a growing community. The “trending writers” column reflects this communal approach. Roger says his team built the “trending writers” algorithm to showcase the most popular bloggers on the platform at any given time. It takes into account all the interactions that can take place on a post (i.e. views, comments, likes, replies, shares on other social networks) for all the posts a blogger has published on the platform. You can rank as a trending writer at any time if your gliph achieves moderate success based on the amount of interactions it receives.
One of the tastier ingredients behind Glipho is enabling you to quickly identify other writers who share your passions and ideas and connect with them. Click on the Glipho brand logo and you can review a blend of content posted by trending writers. You also can browse from 18 different categories including Fashion & Beauty, Hobbies & Interest, Science, Politics, and Food & Drink.
A very nifty feature is how bloggers can respond and/or reply to other blogger’s posts. At the bottom of each Gliph is the opportunity to “reply.” When you click on reply, you are put back into the Desk text editor allowing you to create your own version of the article with an automatic back link to the original. It easily enables you to add your thoughts on the blog post itself. According to Roger, Glipho is the only blogging platform with this specific reply feature.
I followed Glipho writer/blogger, Holly Jahangiri. I reached out to Holly and asked her what she liked most about Glipho.
“I love its simplicity. As much as I enjoy tinkering with templates, HTML, and CSS – as fun as it is to add and position sidebar widgets and fiddly bits – all of that is also a really good way to procrastinate and avoid writing. The look and feel of Glipho is clean, functional, – and I’m enjoying the freedom not to tinker.”
Glipho requires any post to be a minimum of 150 words. For SEO purposes, this is a good thing. We know Google rewards quality content so it is to your advantage to feature substantive, quality posts. For Roger, Glipho’s platform is designed specifically with Google search top of mind. “Users writing original content are taking advantage of our platform’s SEO, enabling their posts to rank on the first two pages of Google Search Results, which helps them to gain more views for their content than they had on their original blogs.”
To help users understand the effectiveness of their posts, Glipho features basic analytics. Called Insights, it is a feature you can click on and will provide you with the number of views, likes, and discussions or comments that have taken place for each of your gliphs.
Content curation and Glipho’s future
Content curation plays a vital role in helping any blogger grow and develop their audience. It’s not just about tooting your own horn. You have to show that other opinions matter, not just your own. Glipho recently passed the 200K mark for gliphs posted within the platform. Roger says 80% of the visits on Glipho come from non-users and approximately 1000 posts a week are being generated. Glipho has by no means reached critical mass. Only about a year old, it remains in beta with its focus upon ease of use and responding to users with constant improvements.
Glipho recently introduced its mobile app for both Android and iOS. According to Roger, you can use the mobile app to read, comment, and like posts, follow writers and topics, and discover more gliphs. Glipho’s next goal is to expand the app’s functionality, allowing bloggers to write and publish their gliphs directly from it. For the foreseeable future, Roger says Glipho will continue its mission of providing tools for writers and readers that are simple and effective, enabling users to focus their time on writing, reading, and engaging with the content and fellow users of the platform. 35% of users come from the U.S., same as from the U.K. and the rest of users are scattered among more than 120 countries. Glipho has already received $750,000 from angel investors with plans to raise a new financial round this final quarter, 2013.
If you’re married to WordPress, Glipho is one more opportunity to spread your wings and associate with a relatively new and upcoming social blogging platform. Glipho has a little bit of something for everyone, from the novice to the veteran blogger. As a free platform you won’t be spending time crafting intricate themes, selecting plugins, or developing new templates for your blog. The goal is to blog, get to know other bloggers, and expand your social network. Plans are afoot, however, for Glipho to launch its API and Roger told me that he’d very much like to see what other developers could come up with to improve upon the “Glipho experience.”
I asked Roger what he’s most proud of.
“I believe we have created an accessible platform with a good user interface for both creating and consuming content. All the features are a click away and we have worked hard to provide social media integration with other networks that is completely hassle-free.” And hassle-free Glipho is. Give it a shot.
Midcore gamers will revel in real-time tank MMO simulator gameplay
Strap yourself in because tank warfare just got a little more explosive. Because tank battles are such the rage, yes, Wargaming.net’s Word of Tanks certainly comes to mind, Game Insight felt it was time to up the ante with its entry into the midcore market, Tank Domination. The free-to-play game publisher recently previewed Tank Domination at its San Francisco office and I was lucky enough to be invited for the ride. Now Game Insight is no stranger to hit game making having published free-to-play mobile hits like Mystery Manner(20 million users to date, according to Game Insight’s Brand Manager, Andrew Park) and Paradise Island for Android (achieved #1 mobile game status on GooglePlay for six months) so expectations ran high upon trying out Tank Domination for the first time. Does it deliver?
It’s 2023, and all out war between nations means the planet is ripe for destruction. Corporate armies rule and supply armies of mercenaries with the latest in tank weaponry. Once logged in, you spend time in the hanger deck. You can select from up to 30 different types of battle vehicles, including artillery. More than a hundred tank customizations and upgrades are possible leaving you with the urge to spend more time prepping for battle than actually doing battle itself. Heavy tanks, medium tanks, light tanks, each criteria selected provides your tank with different pros and cons, impacting such variables as speed and power. It took me the second game to recognize that choosing a lighter tank gets you moving that much quicker.
Once settled upon your tank preferences, you load up with ammo, and settle on the country of choice where your battle will take place. A variety of countries and landscapes are available and our test group spent most of its time doing battle in Korea and Iraq. The rich, 3D graphics, built with the Unity engine did not disappoint. Not fully comfortable using an iPad for PvP battle game play, it took me some time to comfortably navigate my tank through the terrain. I couldn’t rest for long, though, because my enemies constantly targeted me. “We think it adds a lot of strategic depth to have a match set-up where you think you have cover behind a building until suddenly the building is blown up and you’re ripe for target and need to move on, “ said Park.
A little map in the upper right hand corner of your screen details your team’s location (highlighted in Green) and your enemy (highlighted in Red). Our team in San Francisco played the GameInsight office in Moscow. We were nearly 20 online playing Tank Domination in real-time and by all accounts it worked just fine, with the exception of a few bugs.
I found myself getting routinely stuck on the sides of mountains and hills. I was unable to move my tank. Tank Domination is still in beta so I suspect this will be corrected soon enough before the game’s Fall release. Getting comfortable using your thumb as the principal means of moving your tank also proved slightly frustrating for me. Console gamers take note. Playing PvP tank battles on an iPad requires sharper thumb coordination than I anticipated.
The future of midcore gaming
Developing Tank Domination took about a year’s time, according to Park. I asked him what he felt GameInsight was most proud of. “Real-time synchronous multi-player gaming for up to 20 people is not something you see everyday on a mobile device. Getting 20 players, head to head, on an iPad is cool stuff!”
And while I remain a peacenik at heart, I must concur with Park. Fitting in that five to 20 minute midcore range, I found myself surprisingly energized by Tank Domination. Maybe it helped that I was in a room with fellow gamers who were hooping and hollering as they piloted their tanks with abandon searching to bomb their enemy targets. Wargaming.net will soon be announcing their own mobile tank game, World of Tanks: Blitz, but for Park, it’s not about who is first to market. Engaging gamers with the highest quality of game experience possible is top of mind for Game Insight.
Hardcore game players who typically play more PC games, like World of Warcraft or Call of Duty, are now migrating towards mobile and tablets. Game Insight wants to take full advantage of this shift and Tank Domination’s 3D environments with destructible terrain and cover fits the bill.