If you use an iOS apple device and have kids (or know kids) who use these devices such as an iPhone or iPad this post may be of interest to you.
THE TRUTH ABOUT IN-APP PURCHASES
A quick browse of the Apple App Store presents us with hundreds of so-called “free” apps and games for download but many allow in-app purchases. Commonly these apps/games are referred to as Pay2Play games. Essentially this means if you want more features or to unlock features you have to pay for it.
What about the In-App Purchases? An in-app purchase is any purchase you can make using real money (from your bank account or credit card). These purchase links are commonly found within the app menu or even hidden within other areas of the game. Once the user touches the button or link a purchase is made allowing full access or more access to the game or app you have downloaded to your device. Often times touching on one of these links inside the game allows the removal of ads (supposing the game or app was free). Sometimes the in-app purchase will allow the user to purchase coins or the unlocking of various features of the game or app faster than in “free” mode.
FAKE MONEY OR REAL?
One big complaint I have found with In-App Purchases is that they can be hidden within the free content. Sometimes a “free” game will use coins or fake money within the game but real money can be used to “buy” or purchase more fake money. This is where it can be tricky to see the difference and it’s by design of course. For example, you may find your child (or yourself) playing a game and see areas to level up or unlock a character or feature of the game which looks to be part of the free game. But it’s not! All it takes is one accidental touch on the button link and you have made a purchase of $1.99, $5, $50 or more! Depending on the age of your kids they could have difficulty knowing when a real money purchase is being made or if pretend/fake money is being used as part of the game or app. As a parent I have even done this myself and thankfully In-App Purchases was disabled.
DISABLE IN-APP PURCHASES – 4 EASY STEPS TO AVOID THE ACCIDENTAL PURCHASE
This how you can disable in-app purchases for your portable iOS device if you haven’t already.
Touch SETTINGS on your iPhone or iPad.
Scroll down to RESTRICTIONS. You will need to type your pin number to enter the restrictions menu (or you will be prompted to enter a pin if you haven’t accessed it before.)
Once inside RESTRICTIONS scroll down to In-App Purchases. Make sure the “switch” to the right is switched to off (not showing green).
That’s all there is to it! You should now be able to touch anywhere within a game or app containing In-App Purchasing options and will not accidentally pay for something you are not intending to. (Note: Should you accidently touched one these purchasing links a pop-up note about in-app purchases being disabled will be displayed)
If this post has helped you or know someone it might help, please share!
Remember these? Want to play the games? You first need to download DosBox here. (documentation on DosBox is here) Dos Box is a MS-Dos Emulator which allows older DOS games like these to be played with your modern computer.
Currently third-personopen-world (GTA style) games made specifically for the console (Xbox 360, PS4 Xbox One) are ruined by unnecessary content. Two words come to mind when I think of games made by Rockstar and others: Unnecessary Vulgarity. Many of these games such as Red Dead Redemption, Saints Row, GTA may feature great looking graphics and capabilities but that is about where they end in the “great” department. They all had the potential of becoming quality, high standard games but with so many unavoidable directed narrative missions, unnecessary profanity and vulgarities wrapped in sickening lewdness makes these games simply not worth buying (or playing).
Now I know many people disagree but I believe it’s because there exists no alternatives to the vulgarity that permeates these types of games. In the end the millions of us who want a competitive alternative lose.
Now I have written previously about my displeasure at gaming companies that will not make a decent, exciting, action filled third-person open-world game geared toward adults like me (and teens). For example, where’s the sandbox style third person game that does not revolve around profanity, lewd sex acts, nudity, blaspheming God’s name and murder at ever turn? Of course people (including the developers) probably hate God and have no problem with the list I just mentioned because that is precisely who the developers target. But what about us who actually care about what God thinks? What about us who enjoying gaming and challenges but actually care about true justice and doing the right thing?
Let me be clear, I believe gaming should be fun, exciting and action filled. The bad guys should lose and the good guys should win. The innocent should be protected and the police praised. (There is too much of the bad guys winning in real life I don’t need more.) It’s time for a game company to make a truly quality, visually stunning third-person, action-filled sandbox game that is actually open to explore. My kind of game would be truly open-world as the name implies. The map would be huge and there would be no mandatory missions with endless cut-scenes wrapped in a story just to “complete” the game. A true game of exploration would mean the replayability would be a first. It’s time for such a visually stunning game to be made that features explosions, driving, trains, planes, cars, helicopters, horse riding, killing the bad guys, stunts, free exploration and action, without unnecessary vulgarities or nudity. If I was a game company this is what I would do and it would not only be popular but a big seller too.
I have owned an Xbox 360 for a few years now but haven’t ever played an open-world game on it. Now if you aren’t familiar, an open-world game allows the player (or players) to explore at will a large mapped out area within the game. Missions and Challenges are usually spread throughout the map area for the player to discover. It’s true, open world games look fun to me from a limited time playing GTA 4 with a police mod called LCPDFR but most of my knowledge about open-world games come from others—other people playing them on YouTube. Now you may be wondering, why haven’t actually played much with these type of games if am so interested. I mean really, it’s 2016 and many open-world games have already been released.
I don’t play much with this style of game is because well, I am a person with a higher standard. I am an adult who enjoys third person action games probably in the style of GTA (Grand Theft Auto) 4 and 5 or even Red Dead Redemption but in today’s world it is impossible to find this type of open-world sandbox style game that truly rises to my standard for gaming.
What is my standard you ask? It’s what would make a game decent to play. Such a game would be one that doesn’t surround itself with gratuitous sex, unrelenting cursing and profanity all bathed in extreme violence. However the game I am talking about doesn’t exist despite it being the type of game that should be made.
Now it’s true most hard-core gamers mock people like me who want to remove cussing, sex and extreme violence from a game. They say it’s made that way for adults not kids. Well, I am an adult person who likes games that are fun but doesn’t enjoy hearing cursing and words or lyrics of a song that blaspheme God’s name pumped into my head simply while I drive a car or boat fast, jump into and out of planes (or helicopters) and do other cool stunts. Is this really to hard to ask? Apparently for the gaming industry it just might be.
Why not a game so graphically rich as GTA 5 without profanity at nearly every turn? Why can’t a game company make an exciting stunt filled open world game similar to Just Cause or GTA that involves driving cars, planes, boats and trains as the good guy without sex scenes and only blowing people up?
This brings me to modding. There are mods for these types of games which do exactly what I have just mentioned such as removing or toning down the excessive violence, profanity, and will sometimes allow the player to play as a police officer (think LSPDFR). However, these Mods will only work for the computer version of a game and must be added in before you start the game. This presents a problem if the mod crashes because you will then be back to playing the original game with cursing and all. So my big question is, if a mod can be made to “fix” a game that meets or exceeds my high standard why can’t game companies make a game that already accomplishes this?
High Standard Sales
Grand Theft Auto 5 is a game from a criminal’s perspective and it did very well, sales-wise. And yet I believe a game of similar style could sell even more copies if it was raised to meet my incredibly high standard for what a good quality game could look like. And while I’m at it, where are the graphically rich games that allow a player to take on the role of cop and do things like pulling over speeding vehicles without always ramming them?
So let me ask you? If you like playing games, would you play a console or computer game that gave you the option to do fun stunts, drive cars, boats, planes, and trains within as graphically stunning open and real world environment as GTA 5 but you could play a good guy?
Something I suspected a few years ago is that the Dodgers FO is in the game for the money and they don’t really care if the team is mediocre. After all, they have traded away great players like Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, Zack Greinke while continuing a bullpen staff that needs an overhaul. The abrupt trade loss of AJ Ellis to the Phillies has only stood to strengthened my view on exactly what the motivations of the Dodger’s FO are.
I think that the Dodgers upper management really doesn’t care if the team wins or loses as long they pad their wallets. I believe this because the Dodgers are not in any desperate need of better hitters but this appears to be the only reason (if its not money) for why they traded away Ellis. AJ Ellis has been a solid defensive force behind the plate, and above all, a huge morale booster for the team. And yet the upper management chose to play Grandal more often than Ellis even when Grandal struggled. However, the Dodgers ARE in desperate need of solid pitchers who pitch well especially in the bullpen. But do we see a great trade for better pitchers? No, instead they keep and rotate virtually the same set of guys they’ve had for the last 3-4 years. It’s true that many of the team’s starters have gotten hurt even if they were already not very good but the management continues to put their faith in they players. You know, the ones who lose a lot, are old, get hurt over and over, or came from the A’s, Tampa Bay, or the Phillies.
With the most recent Ellis trade, I believe we will see a downward losing trend for the Dodger team this year. I truly hope I am wrong about this but having high morale, and a positive winning atmosphere in the clubhouse is something AJ gave the team (much like Tommy Lasorda and Mickey Hatcher did in the 80’s) and it’s pretty important to have for a winning team. If the Dodgers can’t get that back and resentment builds within the team toward the FO as many fans already have, they team as a whole may not recover this year. And a day after the trade it hasn’t started well. They we’re nearly no-hit by the Giants after a recent two month long winning streak. I hope the Dodgers prove me wrong and they bounce back better than ever and still figure out how to win even the management tries to slow them down.
Although the mass of dust of displeasure over the forced multiplayer online only use in order to play SimCity 5 has mostly settled, Electronic Arts finally added single-player mode (offline mode) a year later. And now that it’s been nearly three years since the initial release of SimCity 5, there has been a significant price drop on the complete edition of SimCity, so I have decided to jump in to see how the latest SimCity stacks up with Cities Skylines. Cities Skylines it should be noted has received rave reviews by many and even has been proclaimed by some the city builder SimCity should have been (Read my experience here).
Keep in mind that at the time I reviewed/experienced Cities Skylines, I did not own SimCity 5 so my comments related only to my experience with CS. Now that I own a copy of SimCity 5 let me cut to the chase and tell you what I do like about SimCity and what I don’t like so much. Along the way I also hope to note a few similarities and differences as it relates to Cities Skylines.
First it is important to note that I have been playing the complete edition of SimCity with included expansion pack Cities of Tomorrow along with some others (see the complete list here). With the complete edition of SimCity in single player or offline mode, I have found the game pleasantly fun to play, slightly challenging (especially as one gets use to the various specializations available) but the game does not involve too much micro management to still have fun and for me the graphics and sounds have been a treat for the eyes and ears alike.
Graphics and Sound
I think graphically speaking, SimCity looks better as a whole and the models are rendered cleaner than they are in Cities Skylines. Out of the box the colors are certainly rich, vibrant and more appealing in SimCity and the buildings and city models are fun to watch and hear. To me it’s as if the player is watching a quality Disney/Pixar movie animation unfold that you get to be a part of! The sounds in SimCity are also well done. They are light and fun as if I was a kid playing in a toy store with bells, whistles and thematic music to top it off. And for me the game is not filled with over-the-top repetitive or annoying sounds at least that I have discovered yet. And with the expansion packs, a player is allowed to direct and form the kind of city he/she would like to build, whether it be amusement oriented, a gambling touristic mecca, trading hub, futuristic style, etc it’s up to him or her. These are all reasons I love what I see so far in SimCity 5.
My Lower End Machine Experience
Another thing I like about SimCity is how well it seems to run on my lower end machine with a not-so-great graphics card (gts 250). Even with lower in-game graphics settings the game still renders a fantastic looking game. In Cities Skylines with mods, it takes a toll on my lower end computer and gpu. In CS on my computer the edges of buildings for example cannot be rendered smooth as in SimCity even with a mod to do it.
A final reason I like playing SimCity is….get ready for it…….drum roll please……….well, it’s American based! I didn’t think this would be such a big deal but after playing Cities Skylines for many days and hours I noticed I was beginning to feel a little culture shock. Weird? yeah I think so too. With SimCity being American made, it shows. For me, it just looks, feels and plays like a Pixar movie complete with a fantasy style rendering of a classic American city. And out of the box without the use of mods, default American style buildings, vehicles and train tracks makes SimCity feel like something I might find in my backyard. Cities Skylines even with mods, still feels European with an old-style glaze to it (I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say this is probably due to the fact Cities Skylines was made over seas and not in America).
There are at least a few things I have discovered about SimCity that I do not like. For starters, SimCity comes with small map sizes available to build on. This can be frustrating when one just wishes to build a larger sprawling city rather than a small city that can only go up. The map size department is where Cities Skylines got it right. These types of large expandable maps are what SimCity needs to make it even better than it already is. However, I will note that SimCity allows for the creation of multiple cities that connect to each other within a region. This is a neat feature of the game because you can simply move around a region to create different cities each with its own style and specialization or you can simply create various (although small land wise) cities to try out new features. Cities Skylines on the other hand allows the creation of one mega city in a region which can get overwhelming with the micro-management necessary to keep the city healthy. This one reason as it sits right now, that if you want the best of both worlds you have to play both games.
Although SimCity now has a Single-player/offline mode which definitely should have been part of the game from the start, I do wonder why EA decided keep us linked so closely to an Origin account. In fact in order to play the game you must log in to an Origin account (where the game was purchased) and keep the same Origin ID as your mayor name for every city you build. This seems silly especially if you wanted to build multiple cities in a region under a different mayor name as was the case in past SimCity games.
One other thing that SimCity lacks is great modification abilities by users (such as is the case with CS) for mods in-game such as regions, expanded maps or more roads and buildings. I also wish the game speed was a bit slower or at least a mod was available to slow it down as is in Cities Skylines. The mod complaints I have are only minor because if SimCity was built with larger maps or with the included option to create larger maps in the first place the game would be nearly perfect without mods.
(UPDATE: I implied that mods were not much a part of SimCity 5 but after getting more involved with SimCity have since discovered I am wrong about that. There ARE actually quite a few decent game changing mods that make SimCity 5 even better than the vanilla game. Some notable mods I have found are Larger Map Sizes aka Project Orion (although a bit glitchy it still works), RCI plop mod (project Avalon) which allows all buildings available and ploppable, project Akar (more roads and new user interface), and many other game enhancements. If you are interested about modding SimCity 5, a great modding location is Simtropolis or SkyeStorme’s site.)
So how does SimCity 5 compare to Cities Skylines? I think it probably depends mostly on you, the game player. Since each person is different, we like and dislike different (or similar) things about a game. But as it stands right now, I think it’s great to be able to play and enjoy both games. Therefore the simple fact remains, both SimCity (2013) and Cities Skylines are very different games (aside from being city builders) and are far from being the same!
Cities Skylines is a city builder game similar in-game play to the popular SimCity building series. After having time to play Cities Skylines I wanted to share some aspects of the game that I have found disappointing and discuss some issues I have yet to find discussed elsewhere online. Of course there are great things to like about the game and I do.
A note about outside reviews and opinions of the game
Even though Cities Skylines is over a year old now it seems like a great game to play based on YouTube videos and online reviews. And all the reviews and opinions I have found online about Cities Skylines paint the game in a purely positive light while many criticize SimCity 2013 (aka SimCity 5) mostly for its once needed persistent online connection. It is important to note up front I have do not have much experience playing the latest SimCity 5 (aside from a free 2 hour trial) but have purchased Cities Skylines and have played it many hours. (Read my updated SimCity 5 experience here) My comments will be made mostly about the gameplay of Cities Skylines based on personal experience and opinion.
First, I will start by saying I have quite enjoyed Cities Skylines and believe it to be well worth what it costs (around $30) for the base or vanilla version of the game. However, it is also important to note I am using a graphics card below the game’s recommended specs so my comments will be strictly content related in nature rather than performance based. (Additional note: despite using a gpu and older computer below the recommended game specs I have gotten surprisingly decent game playing experiences along with a few crashes due to modding.)
Now as I have already mentioned, the game is worth buying for its price but user-created content and mods make it even better. My problems with Cities Skylines come from the fact it is a European based game and it shows. Being an American and living in the United States there are game oddities in the vanilla version of the game that have been somewhat hard to overcome without a mod. In fact, the Cities Skylines I play today includes quite a bit of user-created content such as Mods and Assets that vastly improve the game where it is lacking mechanically or visually or both.
American User Created Content and Mods
However, if one is looking for the game to be American in style without mods it can be lacking. Even when searching for user-created content to Americanize the game, I have found styles and content to be overwhelming foreign or European based. Don’t get me wrong I have found some American style created content such as American Roads or American sirens for emergency vehicles and even American style buildings, trains, planes, and other vehicles–but just a few. Although the European based styles are ok as options I would love to see more American variety besides New York City. What about rural Humboldt California, USA?
As already mentioned, the vanilla game in my opinion is not very visually American (besides the default option of having vehicles driving on the right-side of streets) but the default building styles are no different. The included European looking buildings appear old and outdated lacking color and I didn’t much American style included without adding some user-created content found on Steam.
I don’t believe overhead electric cables are the norm for many American rail systems across this great country unless we’re talking about a tram, cable or light rail system. The rail system in the heartland is open track (without overhead electrical lines) with diesel-powered locomotives rolling on them such as BNSF, Southern Pacific or Amtrak.
Before you jump on me for mentioning the games lack of American style train tracks without an overhead electrical line, I use a Mod that removes the overhead cable on train tracks and it works great. However, I have yet to find an American style passenger station asset without the overhead electrical cables!
The include trucks, buses and other included vehicles overall also have a distinct European look many of us in the United States will find foreign looking. However, this foreign “look” can be somewhat remedied (like the overhead cabled train tracks) by adding some user-created American style vehicle assets which have been a welcome addition to my game experience. But keep an eye open for me as I am still looking for an American semi-truck trailer without 3 wheels on the back axle!
If you are seeking realism in a city builder Cities Skylines has some. I say some because it’s a game. Now I don’t expect the game to be real to life in every possible way imaginable because after all it’s a simulation and it’s suppose to be fun. Yet, I do think some mechanics tweaks could be achieved to make it a little more fun. For me, one in particular is the simulation speed when the game is running at its lowest setting.
To clarify, by speed I am not referring to performance or frame-rate but the simulation game-play speed. The vanilla game includes three simulation speed modes, slow, medium and fast. This is the rate at which the cars and people move on the street and buildings are erected within the simulation. Having a high-speed is a great option when you want buildings to grow fast or simulation time increased to build the city’s income. However, in my opinion the slowest speed is still too fast. Cars and people buzz around as if they have been put on fast forward and are little bees buzzing about on speed juice. At times, it can be almost hard to watch when I just want things to slow down to a more realistic pace. Yes, once again there is a mod for this. Introducing a slow game mod to the vanilla game does wonders for more realism. My question is, why didn’t the game creators include a slower mode with the base (vanilla) game?
Final Assessment of Cities Skylines
Even with my minor frustrations for Cities Skylines vanilla not being more American looking by default, or an overly speedy simulation even on slow, I do think Cities Skylines is an excellent city building game worth purchasing–even if you live in the United States. The game is fun to play and challenging especially with mods and other user-created content. In fact, I think finding great user-created buildings, models and mods is all part of the fun. So if you are still on the fence about whether to purchase Cities Skylines and you have a computer with at least 8 gigs of ram and 1 gig included on the graphics card (GPU) (recommended 16 gigs ram and 2 gigs graphics) then I think Cities Skylines is a great buy. See full specs on this game here
First, the team has lost their second best starting pitcher Zach Greinke and have not added any replacements worth mentioning. The bullpen has not been fixed, which has been leaking for a few years now. Adding two or three great pitchers to the bullpen would go a long way to helping the team stop those leaks when the game is on the line. If they expect to have a chance at the World Series they must at least add two more strong starting pitchers and trade Alex Wood. Brett Anderson should only be used in an emergency or a 10 plus inning game.
The offense hasn’t changed in terms of adding great hitters. In my opinion re-signing Chase Utley was a wasted resigning which will only return similar mediocre results seen from the 2015 season. Without great pitching, both starting and from the bullpen, and without great hitters throughout the lineup, the Dodgers can only expect the same sorry outcome we have seen from the last three years.
Come spring training and the start of the 2016 season, I do hope the front office cares about truly fixing the team to better than championship caliber. The holes are real and the holes are big. Time will tell if they fill the holes and build a better team or if their fat paychecks hinder them from caring about the fans.
I am a big fan of the X-plane 10 flight simulator. However, there are many simple and complex features both visually and technically (such as ATC) that could be added to enhance X-plane 10. Excellent airport addons and plugins are already available such as Real Terra Haze which can greatly enhance ones playing experience in X-plane 10. In this post I want to focus on 5 visual features that would enhance and do enhance its basic realism for the casual user.
Depth perception in X-plane 10 appears to be lacking especially in and around clouds. In real life, when viewing an aircraft from the ground or from any exterior view, as it enters a cloud (s) the aircraft will disappear and emerge out the other side. In X-plane 10 this does not occur but instead the aircraft is always kept in view despite it passing through clouds. Not very realistic.
Contrails or vapor trails in X-plane 10 are not as visible and as bold as seen in real life. In X-plane when viewing an aircraft from the ground in many cases vapor trails are not visible at all despite the aircraft altitude. Contrails in X-plane 10 should be enhanced, brightened and even lengthened depending on the humidity and air temperature as occurs in real life.
Sun reflection on water doesn’t appear realistic but instead appears to be much too defined. Many times it appears large and washed out.
Types of Clouds and their height. Cloud types in X-plane 10.41 have been improved since X-plane 10 was first released. However, the height of clouds and various types of storm clouds such as Cumulonimbus clouds need to be improved and/or added to the sim. In my opinion most clouds in X-plane 10 are still without great definition and appear as heavy fog or stratus layers even during a storm and in the distance.
Realistic atmospheric haze is not part of X-plane 10 by default but adding it creates yet another layer of visual realism. Real Terra Haze (RTH) in conjunction with the plugin FlyWithLuia creates realistic looking atmospheric blue haze when flying over mountains and varied terrain. These plugins can be added to X-plane 10 to give that necessary bluish realism (among other enhancements) we wanna-be pilots so enjoy seeing.
What visual enhancements would you like to see in a default copy of X-plane 10?