Right out of the gate, know that I am not a big fan of Apple. I’m not crazy about their computers, I think everything they sell costs two to three times what it should, I despise their immoral vendor lock-in approach to just about everything they do. A lot of people probably wouldn’t think so given that my first game, 100 Rogues, was on iOS only. The reason it was an iOS-only game, as opposed to an Android game, was because back in 2008, Android didn’t really exist, and there seemed to be a lot of demand for new iOS games. Which ties nicely into my main point here.
I got an iPad 2 a few weeks ago, with two major purposes. The primary purpose was for playing digital boardgames. If you weren’t aware, there’s been a wealth of great digital boardgames coming out over the last two years or so. Puerto Rico, Tigris & Euphrates, Le Havre, Caylus and a ton more (I’ll provide a full list later) have all appeared in digital versions on iOS. The secondary purpose was for testing our upcoming game, Auro.
I want to make super clear that the games I’m talking about are not the games that most people think of as iOS games. Shit like Angry Birds, Temple Run, Cut the Rope and Where’s my Water are all bullshit memorization/execution puzzles that are only marginally above “twiddling one’s thumbs” in terms of their level of interest for an adult mind.
Now, I of course already had an iOS device from my 100 Rogues-testing days: a 2nd generation iPod Touch. This device is actually still super solid, doesn’t have anything wrong with it, and should be fully capable of playing digital boardgames (which have the graphical intensity of a website). Unfortunately, Apple basically screwed me and everyone else who bought that generation, and locked us off from getting some OS updates. This means that fewer and fewer (now approaching zero) new games that are coming out can even be downloaded on this machine.
Now, I’m sure they have some technical justification for what that is, but I’d be extremely surprised if I found it convincing. The truth is that they simply said “okay, it’s time for people whose devices from 2008 still work are FORCED to buy a new device.” It’s an advanced form of planned obsolescence: forced obsolescence. They can basically just shut off updates for any device they want at any time, and then everyone with that category of devices is basically screwed. Great.
Back to the iPad
I realize that I’m not doing a great job of convincing anyone to buy any Apple products so far. Here’s the unfortunate truth, though: if you like games (and by games, I mean contests of ambiguous decisions), there is absolutely no better place to be than the iPad.
I hate touch screens. They’re OK in a turn-based game that doesn’t force you to click on small individual things (in Auro, you’re only ever asked to click on 6 huge direction-based areas or 7 large circular buttons below), but a tiny screen also puts a huge limitation on what kinds of games are possible. Any game with cards with text on them is rough, and any kind of “moving units around a map” type of game is also rough. The iPad solves these issues by having a big screen. It still sucks for real-time games, but in terms of turn based games it’s honestly as easy as using a mouse.
In case anyone wanted to accuse me of basically making a “sunk costs fallacy” – that I’m saying “hey everyone, go buy an iPad because I bought one and now I’m forced to think they’re great”, I hope I’ve quelled that fear. I paid just as much for my 2nd gen iTouch actually (I got my iPad used), and I never really said anything good about it to anyone (in fact, I remember saying that the iTouch is probably the worst product Apple sells, and I still stand by this).
I’m arguing that the iPad is right now sadly the best digital game console in existence (not counting PC). This is a combination of the other consoles being almost totally horrible, and a quickly increasing number of actually good, actually interesting games on the platform. So without further adieu… read more