Square Enix: Song Summoner on the iPod

I’ve been playing the new Final Fantasy Tactics A2 on the DS quite a bit lately. I’ve logged over 24 hours in the last week, that’s a lot for me on a video game. @hikikomori posted a heads up tonight that Square Enix has released their first iPod game, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes [press release].

The premise is pretty cool, you use songs in your iPod’s music library to create stats for your units in the game. Then you play through it with the Tactics mechanics, each unit having unique range and attacks. My favorite dynamic to the game is that you can level up your units outside of the gameplay by listening to your music. Each playcount added for the songs used to create the units will contribute to leveling up their stats. It really adds a new element to playing your music on shuffle, knowing that when certain songs come up, you’re progressing in a game. Check out a video of game play below.

The idea of  using your media library to generate the stats of units is not new, from what I know, Monster Rancher was doing it back in 1997. It IS a mechanic that I haven’t seen used in a while, and it lends itself perfectly to the iPod (or any digital media device) environment.

@hikikomori reports that it runs rather slow on the iPod 5G, but I hope that we’ll see a more robust port hit the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch soon. This game is BEGGING for WiFi battling against friends. I’m also extremely excited to see Square Enix publishing games on Apple devices, I think it bodes well for the future of MobileOSX in the casual gaming market.

iTunes Link: Song Summoner

Press Release

Chris Bangle Talks about BMW’s GINA

BMW recently unveiled their new GINA concept car. They’ve taken the body panels of the car, typically sheet metal, plastic, or fiberglass, and replaced them with a stretchable cloth. Beneath the cloth there are a series of structural supports that can be moved around, changing the form of the car. These days, the rigidness, safety, and ride quality of a car is mostly affected by the structure of the vehicle, while the skin is mostly aesthetic. In this video, Chris Bangle (Director of Design at BMW) talks through some of the philosophies behind the study, and explains the implications it may have for BMW as a company moving forward. We won’t see it on the road any time soon, but GINA may represent a shift in focus at BMW toward non-traditional solutions to very traditional problems.

Via: Parel Design Blog

Edward Tufte on the iPhone Interface

Edward Tufte has posted a video critique of the iPhone’s interface. Please take a moment to watch it before reading my reactions, I don’t want to bias your own reaction.

[Full Disclosure: I own an iPhone, and I really enjoy it. I am generally a proponent of Apple’s approach to product design, but I do not consider myself a “fanboy”. I’ll be the first to criticize something I don’t like, and I really try to approach everything without a bias.]

Tufte makes some really great points. I was constantly nodding my head as he spoke about the content becoming the interface. Just last week I was commenting to another designer on how the interface in software should get out of the way when it’s not needed. Tufte’s definition of “computer administrative debris” is spot on, and I’m great full to have a term for something I’ve been having trouble defining in words.

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Bookmarklet: Youtube in “HD”

Youtube HD Bookmarklet

Drag that up to your bookmarks bar, and you should be able to click it when you’re at a Youtube video page to access the high-resolution H.264 stream. It’s a bookmarklet I put together after reading about the existence of the streams at the Weapons of Mass Destruction Blog.

Here you can compare the standard/HD streams of the Halo 3 trailer.

Halo 3 Trailer | Halo 3 Trailer HD

Thanks for the heads up Henry.

March Madness on Joost

Joost March Madness

Joost is using March Madness 2008 to do a large-scale test of live P2P video streaming. I just loaded it up, and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. I put the feed next to the same game on CableTV, and Joost was only about 5 seconds behind. The resolution wasn’t much compared to even analog cable, but it was certainly good enough to follow the game. You can see a screenshot of the two to the right, Joost is on the left and CableTV is on the right.

Here’s the Joost information page on the March Madness test.