Creeping Changes

Updating my 3Gs iPhone to iOS4 was like getting a new phone. So I’ll probably wait to get iPhone 4, since the next version will probably be better.

Talking to some others, today I realized how much I use my phone now (and how little I use it *as* a phone).

Off the top of my head, this is my 3Gs iPhone usage, not in order:

Texting (SMS)
Weekly grocery list
Directions/maps (I’m directionally impaired)
Reading (fiction)
Reading (non-fiction)
Reading (daily news)
Reading (political sites)
Reading (graphic novels)
Reading (blogs)
Wikipedia checks (ie, looking up words, history, etc)
Recipes (while cooking)
Listening to music (with headphones)
Locating nearby places (food, coffee, movies, etc)
Buying media
Watching movies
Buying/canceling Amazon products (not just books…dishes recently)
Photography (for amusement)
Photography (to share)
Photography (to remember something, like the way someone else has decorated their house)
Home/car maintenance (while working on something)
Stock values
Tracking calories/exercise
Recording audio snippets (for odd work tasks)
Checking local events (live music, festivals, etc)
Updating Netflix
IM (when on the road)
Approve blog comments
Identifying music (playing around me)
Phone calls

KarmaStar (iPhone Casual Strategy Game)


As a side project, I’ve been working with a small team on a card/board-style iPhone game called KarmaStar. The game is done and should be up on the App Store in a couple of weeks. (This is not my primary project with Arkane Studios…it’s something that I wrote up and we tested locally using marked up Uno cards and dice. I love the iPhone.)

I have a couple of things to say about this project:

First, it was completely rejuvenating to work with a tiny team on a small-budget project. I envy casual game developers in many ways. I had a really good time working with the people involved (directly or in support roles). I got to do a bit of everything, which reminded me of my skills (and deficiencies) and helped me sharpen up some.

Second, my respect for people who design strategy games just went through the roof. I mean, through the roof. Most of the time, we all just iterate on existing game rules. For KarmaStar, I didn’t start off using the (excellent, smart) design method of “taking an existing game and modifying it.” The structure was worked out without modeling it on something else exactly, mostly as a challenge. It was hard, even though this is a simple game.

I hope to post more on the project later…process, what-went-right/wrong, development quirks, details, etc.

Zen Bound

Zen Bound is an almost unbelievably innovative and interesting game.

Basically, you wrap a cord around a wooden object, which paints the object. Sessions feel half like a game and half like some kind of soothing knot-to-untie.

This game has vision; all the elements feel unified in a monastic, gothic way. But the game is not just cohesive aesthetically…the entire thing feels polished in a way that you rarely encounter. That alone adds some pleasurable quality to interacting with the game.

Part game, part toy, part puzzle, part relaxation fetish. I love this Zen Bound.

(Note: Jordan, this game is for you.)


Subway Shuffle (iPhone)


I have a love/hate relationship with puzzle games. (I’d rather engage with something that allows me to play expressively.) But I love strategy games and a few puzzle games.

Subway gameplay involves moving pieces around to open a path to the goal. Each level (01-91) gets increasingly difficult.

The part I find fascinating is my approach to solving the puzzles. There’s an interesting mental shift, where I “let go” of trying to solve the puzzle overall, focus on which moves I *can* currently make, take into account what has to happen (in the final move) to solve the puzzle, and *try to solve faster*. I find that I’m far more successful when I make this series of mental shifts than when I try to approach the puzzle as a whole, or in a systemic way. Hard to articulate.

Subway also has a super clean art style and implementation that I love.

This game has made it onto my list of iPhone favorites, along with Galcon and Drop7.