[Infographic] Everything You Need to Know About HDR Gaming

This presentation was originally posted on Slideshare

Anthony Beyer_HDR Gaming.jpg

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Checkout my Portfolios on ArtStation

I recently created a profile on ArtStation. Check out my portfolios. These images come from a game that we produced with Beyer Productions. What are your thoughts?

Anthony Beyer Art Station Photos

Anthony Beyer Art Station Photos

Anthony Beyer Art Station Photos

Anthony Beyer Art Station Photos

Learning From The Success of Pokemon Go

When Pokemon Go launched in July of this year, no one expected it to become the smash hit that it is. Yet, nearly a month later, with more daily users than Twitter and one of the fastest selling apps to date, the latest game from Silicon Valley-based Niantic, Inc. (who also brought us Ingress) is an undeniable phenomenon. But how and why?

Pokemon Go, Pokeball

Afterall, the Pokemon franchise from Nintendo is 20 years old. While iconic, many might guess it would have peaked and reached niche status by now. And in a way it has, but that’s  a part of the lure of the game. The game has been the biggest hit with those who grew up with Pokemon rather than those who know nothing about it (though they’ve gotten involved as well), and the decision to make it that way is most clear in the choice of platform for the game: mobile phone versus Nintendo DS or another device targeted to children.

Over half of all adults in the U.S. own smartphones, 64% to be exact. In 2016, people use their phones to do pretty much everything, from paying bills to trading stocks and interacting with people on social media. Gaming on mobile devices is also up, and the creators of the game understood that concept well enough to follow suit, going to where their audience is rather than requiring them to adopt a new device altogether. By doing so, Pokemon Go becomes an instant reminder anytime one’s phone is in hand, which is pretty much all the time, and the addictive qualities therein are enhanced.

Pikachu character from the Pokemon game
Pikachu

Additionally, the creators of the game understood what people most enjoy about it–the idea of catching, training and battling cute, cuddly creatures. Yet, they took it a step further by integrating the virtual world of the game into our real one. The result: an augmented reality version of a game from one’s childhood, which incorporates GPS and the mobile devices people use daily. It’s almost too good to be true for those who enjoy adventure and competition, and that’s just the beginning.

 

The game sealed the deal by adding a social component to the entire process. Unlike the seclusion for which video games and mobile usage are known, people actually left their homes, joined others in parks, stores and other public places, all because of the game. It’s rather impressive.

Pokemon Go

Of course, the game has not gone without criticism. Some have played carelessly, including trying to catch Pokemon while driving. The game has also been blamed for drawing unwanted tourists into certain spaces. Despite its hiccups, there is no denying the success of Pokemon Go as the biggest game in mobile history. It is certainly something every creative can learn from.

 

Using Mobile Games to Educate Kids

Kids love mobile devices. More specifically, tablets, such as Apple’s iPad or the Kindle by Amazon. For children, tablets offer a chance to watch shows, play games and, sometimes, speak with relatives outside of the home. Furthermore, these gadgets are attractive because they are interactive, require the use of finger movement, and are one of the few things children can control themselves. So, kids love them and parents adore them because it keeps kids occupied and quiet. Hence, it’s no surprise that 30 percent of children in the U.S. engage with some of form of mobile device while still in diapers.

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Young boy playing with a tablet device

Yet, as a part of our culture, some of these tools, or the constant access to them, have become problematic. As a result, professionals have called on parents to limit the time with which their children spend on devices, citing reasons from impaired vision to lack of imagination and, quite literally, addiction. Initially health communities responded by encouraging parents to cut out use altogether, or to drastically limit time by only a few hours a day. Understanding the complications such places on adults, who are themselves always attached to some tech device, organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics now suggest that parents do more monitor their child’s activity and to establish “digital-free zones.”

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Young boy with an iPhone

Their suggestions are great and most certainly will help parents guide their children through proper use of such devices. I would add that during the time children use these devices, over half should be used for educational purposes. It’s likely that a child would want to play a game, why not make sure the game is a teaching opportunity rather than a time waster? Writing for the Huffington Post, this is what Catriona Wallis had to say about this very concept:

 

“If playing digital games is now an integral part of our young learners lives, then it makes sense for teachers and parents to use this to motivate children to learn.”

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A child reading
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mobile chess board

The benefit is simple. Children will get their time to use the phone or iPad, they will be occupied and quiet, and they will also learn something in the process. In a very comprehensive list, Parents.com shares 30 educational apps/games for your child to play when she or he has access to a mobile device. In addition to books and schooling, this is a great way to reinforce the importance of learning and maximize those very integral stages of development in childhood.

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Baby using a computer

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think these gadgets should be used for entertainment or for learning? Let me know!

 

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Game Development: A Sum of Parts

More money is spent on gaming today than any time in history. In 2015, the industry saw revenue upwards of $90 billion. This is not only due to more people playing games, but the amount of options in today’s landscape, thanks to a growing number of creators. Still, while many enjoy playing games, not everyone is familiar with the process or the people behind the magic. When most people think of game creators, they think of developers. They’re not wrong of course, game developers play a vital role in bringing a game to life, but so do many others.

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video game controller

For video games, there are over a dozen job roles which are integral to creating a game. Yet, the most basic parts can broken down into the following categories:

Design

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team in the design process

This member of the team decides the rules of the game, how to play it, and its overall objective. Not to be confused with graphic designer, this team member develops a storyline, characters, etc., and provides the final plan to the rest of the team. Obviously, this is a very crucial member of the team.

 

Visuals

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graphics


Once the foundation has been set by the designer, the visual or game artist is responsible for bringing the idea to life, including all characters, background elements, and other visual objects of the game. Sometimes, this can be broken into multiple roles, but the function is clear: construct a visual that is representative of the design.

 

Audio

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audio engineering

For games with soundtracks, voice dialogue, or effects, an audio engineer is responsible for creating and placing these elements within the game. Sound is very important facet of the game, as it determines the feel and sets the environment for the player. Without audio, it is oftentimes difficult to experience the full effect of a given game.

 

Programming

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programming

This is the development part of the team. Programmers create code that tells the game how to act in response to certain keys and/or commands. These individuals will create systems that will enable users to play the game using normal functions as, creating a simple user experience using sometimes complex computer language. Programming part of the team brings everything together.

 

Business

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ready to take on business

After the game has been designed, created, edited, and ready to go, unless it’s for personal use, getting your product in front of consumers requires a business arm of the team. This includes everything from marketing to sponsorships and funding. The business part of the team, like the others, is very strategic and should have an in-depth understanding of the game itself and the market you’re most likely to reach.

 

To be sure, it’s is certainly possible for one person to manage all of these responsibilities, and many do. On the other hand, however, it’s important to know what you’re good at, and be open to collaborating with others to maximize your talents and skills effectively, creating something worthwhile.

 

a creative team working on developing a brand

Best Ways To Promote Your App With Little Money

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iPhone Apps

You’ve spent months creating an app, now you’ll need to spend some time getting people to use it. While you could just “put it out there” and hope that people find it, your app will literally be one in a million, and someone coming across it will be almost solely by accident. That’s not what you want.

I acknowledge that promotion can be expensive in the traditional sense. However, using all of the tools available to you, you could get a lot of movement and foundational success for little to no money. Here’s how:

a creative team working on developing a brand
Getting Creative
  1. Brand It
    While the app has been designed, either by yourself or a graphic specialist with whom you’ve worked, it is not the brand entirely. For promotional purposes, you will need to decide the best way to communicate what the app is and whom you’re trying to reach, using minimal imagery that’s easily transferable across various forms of media. That includes: a logo, color scheme, a possible tagline and proper messaging to accompany said content. This part of the process can be costly if you’re outsourcing the work; however, you would do best to work directly with the designer of your app to include brand deliverables in the overall package at the start of the project.

    two gentlemen in conversation
    Spread the News
  2. Talk To Me
    Without giving too much away, share your progress and anticipated release details with friends and fans. In fact, you should be speaking with everyone you meet and have a conversation with about this “thing” they can expect soon. Reality is, you never know with whom you’ll come in contact, and networking opportunities are all around. Take advantage of the benefit of word of mouth–the most successful form of promotion, even in the age of technology.

    While many forego this step because they’d rather surprise everyone, or perhaps, for fear that someone will capitalize off the idea, neither is really a problem. One, you will need to set expectations of your fans so they’ll be able to associate the product with your name once it’s released and get others to anticipate. Regarding someone coming up with a similar idea as your own, aside from a possible patent or copyright, there’s nothing preventing them from doing the same even after you’ve introduced your app. Don’t be afraid to speak up. The odds are more in your favor.

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    Managing Social Media
  3. Get Social
    Just because word of mouth is effective, doesn’t mean you should neglect the wonderful world of tech we have available. You will need a website with your brand materials and some information about the app, such as: release date, capabilities, and platform availability. Additionally, you’ll need a social media presence. Create a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and build an audience through those channels to receive news and information about your product. Using hashtags and following like-minded individuals can attract the right audience to your pages and drum up interest in the best way possible.

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    Videos Can Be Helpful
  4. Show And Tell
    Even with information on your website and things said in conversation, some messages can get lost in translation. The best way to counter that is to show people how they can use the app, and all of its functionality, with a tutorial like this one. Keep in mind that some people learn visually, and that video platforms further expand the reach of your audience with people you may not have reached otherwise. Make sure the app is already available so that there can be a call to action like, “download now,” immediately following the video. Make sure it’s comprehensive, easily understandable, and good quality.

    reading the newspaper
    Tell The Story
  5. Meet The Press
    Now, one of the most important things you should be doing once you’ve exhausted yourself and your friends getting the word out there, is to get other people to talk about what you’ve done. Pitching stories to publications which have access to people who use a product you’re hoping to sell is a no-brainer. Spend some time learning about press releases and various channels, and be sure to submit something that is worth publishing. You may have to tweak the stories to fit a tone or news of certain publication–some may be more technical, others may be more interested in graphics. Know what you’re getting into and focus on the ones that are most sensible for your product.

What To Expect From Apple in 2016

Apple has over 1 billion devices in-use throughout the world. It’s no secret that the company and the brand has been a hit with users for well over a decade. In fact, releases of their game-changing products are considered events, sparking engagement from fans and non-fans alike. Thus, in the world of tech where things change very quickly and result in a practically annual release of new products or updates, this year will be no different.

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Macbook, iPad, iPhone 6

But what can consumers expect from Apple in 2016? A new iPhone? New laptops or more focus on the declining iPad? Perhaps all of that and some. According to Macrumors and 9to5Mac–fan blogs dedicated to news and updates centered around the company–here are some of the things likely in the works over in Cupertino.

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iPhone 6 and Mac

iPhone 7

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iPhone 6 in Silver and Space Gray

Last year’s iPhone 6s saw Apple introducing new colors and an array of new features like 3D touch and live photos. The company also hit a new sales record, selling 13 million devices in just 3 days. Sales have pretty much stalled, however. Maybe because consumers are waiting for an official number upgrade (i.e. iPhone 6 to iPhone 7). Details expected in the potential fall release include doing away with the headphone jack and a thinner, sleeker phone altogether. It will be interesting to see.

Apple Watch 2

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Wearing an Apple Watch

As expected, Apple’s entry into the smartwatch industry last year changed the game. Despite a hefty price tag and not many features, the watch became the most popular of the year, with over half of all shipments of any smartwatch device, coming from the company. Apple will no doubt want to capitalize off that with new features and a highly publicized release. Experts suggest such may be coming as early as March.

Apple Streaming

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Image of a Smart TV

Apple currently has its Apple TV device, with which users can connect to their TVs and access iTunes, ESPN, and Netflix, among other things; but the company is said to be moving in the direction of the aforementioned Netflix and Amazon, with a streaming service of its own. It’s expected that the company will partner with a single or multiple cable companies to provide bundles and a monthly subscription price tag of about $40–more expensive than other streaming services, but cheaper than cable. Reports of such first surfaced last year, but it could come to fruition later in 2016.

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Holding up an iPad

These new developments will certainly boost the company’s popularity with consumers and investors, which seem to be bearish about the future of the company because of “dying” interest. Hopefully the updates will be as significant and groundbreaking as the company’s earlier releases. We’re all expecting something amazing; let’s see if Tim Cook and team will rise to the challenge.

Anthony Beyer's photo of a Star Wars Trooper

The Force Gets A Mobile Game Update

Anthony Beyer's photo of a Star Wars Trooper

Star Wars isn’t new. In the late 1970s, the world was introduced to the fantastical galaxy of the future created George Lucas, in which humans, robots and other forms of life coexist, sometimes in harmony but most times not, as the title suggests. Still, with its most recent release, The Force Awakens, the famous franchise is gaining even greater popularity with old and new fans. Undeniably the biggest film of the last year, The Force Awakens continues to break records, having already made 2015 the highest ever box office to date, and tracking to shatter a previous record established by the film Avatar as the highest grossing film in American and Canadian history.

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Because of its popularity, everyone from Subway to Covergirl has joined the force, bolstering the film and certainly benefiting from its acclaim in the process. The gaming world is on board, too. Celebrating the release of the Force Awakens, Star Wars game developers have updated content to reflect new characters and plot lines.

Anthony Beyer's screenshot of Star Wars' commander game
Disney Interactive Studios

All of the games are available on iOS with some available for download on Android, Amazon and Windows phone as well. Those which have been updated include:

Star Wars: Commander

Star Wars: Force Collection

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes

Anthony Beyer's photo of movie like plane

 

Also, the following games are offering deep discounts* on in-app purchases:

Disney Infinity: Toy Box 3.0

LEGO Star Wars

Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions

Star Wars: Uprising

* The discounts coincided with the launch of the movie on Dec. 18. No details on whether or not or how long they will continue.

Star Wars looking space area

 

Nevertheless, all of the games mentioned are free to download, and there are dozens of others across all platforms. Do a simple search for “Star Wars” in your device’s application store if you want to compare options and find the most engaging game. Enjoy and “May the force be with you!”

Star Wars mountain space

Why Game Developers Prefer iOS

Black iPhone showcasing native apps, held by Anthony Beyer
Anthony Beyer – iPhone home screen

Less than a decade ago, the iPhone launched and changed the worlds of tech and telecommunications forever. One of many brainchildren of the late Steve Jobs, the iPhone’s popularity with consumers quickly dominated all conversation about smartphones, upon its release, from apps to the relevance of a keyboard, its appearance (at the time, it was available only in black with silver), and, of course, its unique operating system. Since that time, however, it has experienced stiff competition in the mobile devices/software sector, most notably from Google-powered Android systems.

In 2014, nearly 7 years after its initial release, the iPhone had amassed over 470 million sales of its product; the incredible growth has been lauded by companies and investors the world over. Still, the number pales in comparison to the amount of devices which operate on the Android system: a whopping 1 billion users, which is more than half of iPhone/iOS users, overall. With such a large difference, it would seem that game/app developers would be looking to get their creations into as many hands as possible. Think about it, 1 billion people with access to a game you created would be cool, to say the least. However, for many developers, it’s not at all that simple.

A black iPhone 6 with purple home screen on AMOLED display, pictured in Anthony Beyer's car.
Anthony Beyer – iPhone 6

In fact, simplicity is just one of the reasons developers are choosing to launch on iOS as opposed to Android. Considering that iOS only runs on Apple devices, developers only have to test a few models, about 10, according game developer Barry Meade. On the other hand, Android runs on a number of different devices from various companies, with multifarious hardware, interfaces, etc. As a result, developers may have to test up hundreds–yes, hundreds–of different devices to ensure that the game works properly across all platforms.

Subsequently, most developers go with an iOS first strategy, resulting in a slow rollout of games on the Android side. Ben Kuchera, writing for Polygon, further explained the reason behind this, saying: “…with an iOS-first strategy you can release the game to many users with only a small chance of bugs arising due to differences in hardware, which means that when a bug does arise on iOS it’s likely unconnected to the hardware and by fixing it, you are also fixing that bug for any future Android build.”

A picture of a phone running android software, taken by Anthony Beyer.
Anthony Beyer – Phone running Android Software

But that isn’t the only reason developers prefer iOS to Android. According to multiple studies, like this one by App Annie Index, Apple’s iOS users buy more apps than Android users. Furthermore, they spend nearly four times as much on apps, despite the large differences in the number of users worldwide. Also, Android development typically costs 30% more than iOS development. Therefore, by choosing to place games on iOS, developers are getting more bang for their buck in multiple ways.

Nevertheless, Kuchera did make clear that the preference for Apple has nothing to do with Android users, themselves. In the previously-linked article, he expressed that Android users were great and that the experience with the software was pleasant. However, he clarified, “as a dev you’ve also got to take the platform’s particularities into account. One thing I knew going into it was that the ‘unpaid install’ rate would likely be around 95 percent and this is exactly what I’ve observed. In a lot of cases the smart thing to do is to convert your premium game to be free-to-play on Android, but that just didn’t make sense for Prune, nor was it something that I was personally interested in.”