Tag Archives: Niantic Labs

“No Hope” for a Franchise. Transformers: Heavy Metal AR

16 Jun

Pokémon Go creator Niantic announces Transformers: Heavy Metal AR game -  PolygonBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The battle for which faction will occupy Earth is not likely at the core of the upcoming mobile AR game, Transformers: Heavy Metal. The media’s abuzz about bringing this Hasbro property to the videogame world again, and honestly, I’m not excited. I’m more curious in when the reboot will be brought back to the screen again (recent Netflix program notwithstanding).

Niantic Inc is involved in the development cycle, and early images suggest this product may well be another Pokemon GO clone. Seattle-based software house, Very Very Spaceship (known for Truck Stars) is leading the development. This four-year-old business doesn’t have a lot of recognition to get some fans excited.

This company is a self-described, “motley crew of space faring designers, engineers, artists and storytellers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. For the past three years, under the leadership of BAFTA winning founder Sean Vesce (Never Alone, Tomb Raider Series, Mechwarrior Series), we have been solving the problems of the unknown for incredible partners like Google, Microsoft and others. We are a tight-knit group of makers thriving in our undiscovered future, making shared game experiences in AR, VR, Geolocation, Live Streaming and more. In addition to our client work, we develop and release original indie experiments like the recent Knife 2 Meat U, available at our itch.io page.”

Considering how huge Transformers fandom is, Hasbro’s quality control division ought to squash any bumblebees.

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Is the Pokémon GO’s Snap Celebration Event Broken? My Hopes for May Events…

29 Apr

pokemon-go-logoBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Taking part in these back-to-back Pokémon GO events can be exhausting. Not everyone has to participate, but they do anyways. Part of the reason is that most long-time players want mega candies for specific ‘mons as spawn rates are increased for a few days. I’m after more Magikarp candy myself. They help evolve the lil’ beasts beyond level 40.

The only aspect of the game which keeps me going are the weekly special event completion quests. The rewards are decent. This week’s celebration of the release of Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo Switch is okay at best, and the one-time special field research tasks are incredibly broken. It’s easy to photograph the same wild beast over and over to breeze through the tasks. There’s nothing unique to “photographing” your ‘mon with the real surroundings, other than to post on it twitter with the #gosnapshot hashtag that you’re is participating in this four-day event. The purpose is more about showing off your trophies and so far, all I got was a shiny Lotad. I’ve done a lot of photos of wild pokémon and only had one Smergle show up out of 60 or so snapshots. The rate seems better after random creatures are caught though. It’s hilarious that I can recursively photograph this artist and get another appearing on top over and over. 

In a world that is supposed to be in lockdown because of the third wave of covid-19 cases, we shouldn’t be encouraged to leave home and find these pocket monsters. Technically, it can all be avoided since parks and outdoor spaces allow for distancing. 

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PvP Changes in Pokemon GO & My Wish for What’s Next

30 Jan

Pokémon Go has finally become the game that it should have been when it first released. The latest update includes an improved player versus player experience where opponents can fight each other on the net in league play. It’s tennis at its core, where you send out your best Pokemon to trade blows until one is down (of the three matches). The combat interface is the same. The rewards are slightly better. Sadly, the experience is very buggy. Rewards don’t show up unless you restart this module of the game. To enter this mode, players must walk 5km per entry to play five rounds for a max of 15 per day. The official wording is ambiguous to say if distance gained through adventure sync will allow joining too.

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With Team Rocket Leaders, Pokémon GO is Worth Returning To

10 Nov

pokemon-go-logoBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Anyone waffling on whether returning to play Niantic Lab’s Pokémon GO will find the latest add-ons worthwhile. The latest updates finally give players a sense of dealing with threats as Ash did in the anime. Unlike the comedy antics of Jessie and James of Team Rocket, the brutes in the augmented reality game are not easy to defeat. If there’s ever a time to create a motivation to keep on playing, it’s to find and grind those weaker pocket monsters into candies to power up the better ones.

The previous add-on’s were window-dressing. They offered no substance. The player vs player option was very lacklustre because all that mattered was who had the fastest finger (and virtual creature with the best move set) to defeat opponents. The higher level raids simply depended on being on a local Discord group to coordinate just for the sake of candies and bragging. Even finding more of your favourite critter with the current radar can be tedious. I’m still waiting for an improved version to filter results than to see if rare Pokémon are nearby.
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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, 9¾ Weeks Later…

28 Aug

After more than a month of playing Niantic/Port Key Game’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the addiction is real. Searching for missing fragments of various foundables makes me feel like I’m going through the Deathly Hallows experience. I’m reminded of when Potter, Granger and Weasley were looking for the horcruxes containing parts of Voldemort’s soul. The only difference is these people and objects are not intentionally splitting themselves apart. Paywall problems aside, I want my fantastic beasts whole.

This game is essentially about collecting pieces to a jigsaw puzzle where players have little control of finding the final segment. Unless a radar is put into the game, finding that last deoxy will be difficult. Alternatively, players can use Discord to report where Ron Weasley’s right ear went. This game is all about exploring and hoping that final fragment is nearby–either in the wild or hidden in a fortress.

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