smartphones

Tablet ports, smaller screens, and the 7" Aaaaa! experience by Alec Kubas-Meyer

One of the most intense video games I have ever played is Dejobaan Games’s AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. It’s a skydiving simulator of sorts, and when things start to speed up and obstacles get packed closer and closer together, it becomes a uniquely exhilarating experience. And that exhilaration is something I really haven’t gotten elsewhere. It’s gotten a semi-sequel in the form of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome (which is easily my most anticipated VR game experience once I get my hands on an Oculus Rift), and as I learned recently, a port to mobile devices. I was looking around the Google Play store and saw that AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – Force = Mass X Acceleration was on sale for 99 cents. Generally, I don’t buy or play games on either my phone or tablet, but I figured I should make an exception here. So I booted up my first generation Nexus 7 and downloaded the game. 

It’s much like I remember, except instead of WASD+mouse it uses tilt controls, which is an interesting choice. Using an accelerometer as the primary method of control can definitely work, but unlike, say, Ridiculous FishingAaaaa! Requires a person to be static and also be hunched over. (The device has to be essentially flat horizontal for the tilts to be read correctly.) Ridiculous Fishing, because it’s only concerned with one axis of motion, can be held any which way, and while playing in a car is not ideal, it’s doable. Aaaaa! Is not. The extra axis being tracked means that any and all little bumps will register and the levels that require perfect precision are nigh unplayable. That being said, even though the tilt stuff is generally good and I’ve gotten into the flow of it a few times, it never feels quite as fluid as WASD. I have somewhat shaky hands, and I felt like a lot of deaths weren’t because I didn’t move in time but because the game didn’t accept my input in time. On the PC, I always felt like it was my own fault. Here, I could blame the device.

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A Review of the Moto X (2013) by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I’ve always thought of myself as a “power user,” whatever that was supposed to mean. I wanted bleeding edge tech and software, and was willing to put up with some instability to get it. For a long time, I thought that was as true of cell phones as it was of computers. I read numerous reviews of every phone/tablet/whatever released, especially ones. But I no longer salivate at the prospect of the strongest hardware, because I’ve realized that I don’t need the most powerful phone on the market. I need the most useful.

When the Moto X was announced, it seemed to fit that description. Top of the line then, and it’s definitely not top of the line now, but it still felt like the right phone for me. And that has a lot to do with how I use phones. So first, a little history:

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