If you’ve played many games on an iPhone or iPad, you’ve probably spent a little time in Game Center, Apple’s achievement and score tracking app. If you did, you may have noticed that the public leaderboards for most iOS games are almost entirely full of impossibly fake scores at the very top. I’d always hoped that there weren’t actually people with enough free time to make it to level 10,000 in Infinity Blade II, and this article at Edge confirms my suspicion. Apparently leaderboard hacking is incredibly common in iOS games, and it’s oftentimes perpetrated by teenagers playing around with programming.
If you think about it, it makes sense. A lot of iOS games were created by very small developers who don’t have much time to spend policing bogus scores on the global leaderboard. I’m occasionally interested in seeing where I stand on a big leaderboard, but most of the time I only really care how I’m doing in relation to people I actually know. In the big scheme of things, bogus scores on the global leaderboards don’t have much impact on my use of the app. They’re just an oddity I’ve always been curious about.
My favorite quote in the article comes from Terry Cavanaugh, developer of the punishingly difficult Super Hexagon:
“If it was really quite difficult to hack, then I could understand it,” says Cavanagh. “But it is so easy that a kid could do it. Maybe [the person] wants to pose as an elite hacker, saying, ‘Oh look what I was able to do,’ but even to hackers that must look pretty pathetic, because there is no protection in the game… If somebody wants to set a fake score on the leaderboard, it’s just kind of an embarrassing thing for them, really. It’s just so shameful; I feel like by deleting it I’m covering up just how awful they are.”
When it comes down to it, iOS games will probably never be a big deal in the world of eSports, where leaderboard scores actually matter, so for now the hackers seem to be doing it just for the hell of it. It’s fascinating the things you learn about people on the internet.
While I don’t think mobile gaming is certainly the end-all in terms of a handheld experience, I do have to say how much the right app can really take me back in terms of its creativity and design. To this point, some of my favorite experiences over the last couple of years haven’t come by way of a major console or the PC, but rather, my iPhone. Such is the case with Zombies, Run!, a new iPhone app that combines a running tool, audio adventure and town sim/zombie game all into one really smart package.
The gist of the app is simple: run away from zombies. And yes, I mean run in the literal sense. Zombies, Run! uses your GPS to track your pace/distance, interspersing an audio adventure of a zombie apocalypse in with your music library. The game puts you in the role of Runner 5, who’s trying to get supplies for Abel Township. The audio bits are meant to make you feel like you’re actually on these missions, which is a nice touch. On top of that, it uses your GPS to award you random supplies throughout your run such as bandages, ammo and more. Where this gets interesting is that the app will occasionally throw sudden zombie attacks at you, requiring you to move at a faster pace for one minute to outrun the horde. And once your run is finished, you use the supplies you gathered to level up your town and access new missions.
Even though the app is a bit expensive compared to other things in the iTunes app store (it comes in at $8 bucks), I’d definitely recommend it. The game is going to be organized into seasons, with season 1 coming in at 30 full audio sessions, each one taking about 20-30 minutes to complete. Which is a heck of a lot of entertainment, when you break it down. You can also play the game without listening to the sessions, continuing to collect supplies and such.
Anyway, I think if you love running, zombies, or both, you should check it out. It’s already helped my runs in the last week or so. What do you guys think of this idea? Are there other apps or games that have caught your attention with their creativity recently?
The video games industry is starting to remind me of the East Coast/West Coast hip hop wars of the 90s. First, Nintendo said that smartphone gaming was destroying the value of video games. Then they crapped all over “garage developers”. Now, the Angry Birds are firing back at the Big N for their arrogance.
“Of course, if I was trying to sell a $49 pieces of plastic to people then yes, I’d be worried too. But I think it’s a good sign that people are concerned – because from my point of view we’re doing something right.”
He goes on to say that the consoles aren’t the fastest growing market anymore and that “real” games can be made on smartphones, as well as consoles.
Now, I have no interest in smartphone gaming one iota and I personally think Angry Birds is an overrated game, back when I played something similar to it years ago, but I agree (to a point) with Vesterbacka. There is enough room for everyone in this industry, but it appears he is doing the same thing Nintendo is.
Nintendo is writing off smartphone gaming because they view it as a threat. Vesterbacka is doing the same thing with consoles because they aren’t the hot new thing out there anymore. Both can coexist in the same market, though. And Vesterbacka shouldn’t worry: Nintendo is pretty good at selling pieces of plastic.
What say you, GamerSushi nation? Is Nintendo right or are the Birds’ anger justified?
As we mentioned on our last podcast, Angry Birds is selling like hotcakes for the iPhone and now Android. I guess that wasn’t enough for Rovio Mobile though, because on their blog today they announced a special Halloween edition of Angry Birds. It will be a standalone game with 45 spooky new levels. Unfortunately for Android users it will only be available on the iTunes App Store. Rovio says it should show up at midnight on October 21st, and will run you $0.99 for the standard version and $1.99 for the HD iPad version.