Google+ Split into Google Photos and Google Streams

Via The Verge:

Horowitz says that he’s now running Google’s Photos and Streams products — two new names for existing elements of Google+ that conspicuously don’t reference the social network. The name changes could possibly suggest that Google is planning to kill or significantly alter the brand, but the company has yet to make an announcement to confirm or deny this.

The photos part of Google+ has been fantastic for a number of years – and worth much, much, much more to me then the “social” side. At one point my entire photo library was in Google Photos, but having to use Google+ as part of that made it less than ideal.

Hopefully they’ll let you deactivate the “Streams” product if you don’t use it, so I can stop getting spam invites to events and groups.

Community is The Best Thing

I’m so disappointed I only recently found out about Community. It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve watched in ages! Caley (who’s already watched some of it) and I have been binge watching it on Netflix when we get a chance; we’re part way through season 2 right now.

Season 6 comes out in mid-March1, so I’m hoping to catch up to the end of season 5 by then!

WWE Fastlane 2015

Just a few thoughts on last night’s PPV:

  • Bit of a sleeper during the opening 6-man tag match; can’t say I found it particularly entertaining. Of the participants, the only guy I’m a fan of is Seth Rollins, and it feels like they’re sticking him in this angle because they can’t think of anything better right now.
  • Golddust vs Stardust was a much better match, with some great in-ring story-telling. I’m looking forward to the inevitable rematch at Wrestlemania.
  • Tag championship match – meh.
  • Sting/Triple-H went exactly as expected.
  • Divas championship match – so much more could’ve been done. A Paige win could’ve set-up a Wrestlemania match with a returning AJ Lee, or Brie turning against Nikki setting up a proper conclusion to the Bella feud which followed SummerSlam.
  • The Intercontinental match was the match I was most looking forward to. It wasn’t exactly a classic, but a solid enough effort which sets up the Wrestlemania clash nicely.
  • Bray Wyatt’s segment I have to give credit to for not pulling a swerve where it was revealed he was challenging Kane or something else.
  • Rusev/Cena was easily one of the best matches of the show. Rusev comes out of it looking great, and it sets up a big fight rematch for Wrestlemania
  • Main event – the result was what I expected, so there was no surprise (right down to the handshake afterwards). This match was designed to win over those who doubt Reigns is ready for the ‘Mania main event. Was I convinced? Not entirely, but there was enough to see he’s improving fast. No doubt he’ll be “the man” in the future, but I don’t think he’s the right guy to face Lesnar in 5 weeks. [Sidenote: was it me, or was the crowd pretty much totally flat during long, long stretches of this match?]

AdVenture Capitalist!

Another day, another mobile game catching my attention… this time it’s AdVenture Capitalist!, where the goal is simply to make as much money as possible (because, capitalism!)


It’s simple, and quick fun, with you spending your profits to buy more ways to make money faster. Definitely worth the £0 to use as a distraction while waiting for a Tapped Out or BuildIt timer…

Impudent Mortal’s Warehouse District Kickstarter

An already funded kickstarter for some great looking laser-cut MDF terrain. They’re making it to work with 2 different scales – 28mm and 35mm, the latter of which makes it absolutely perfect for Batman: The Miniatures Game. Check out the concept table below!

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

I’m not going to lie: it can be really addictive. It’s also really frustrating. You spend several minutes hours doing “quests” of some sort to gain money and XP to unlock more items to craft – which unlock more quests and earn you more money and XP over time.

Then you run into the timers.

Whether it’s the crafting timer, or the questing timer, sooner or later you’re going to run out of things you can do in the current session. You can speed a timer along using donuts (well, it is The Simpsons…) but donuts are a rare commodity. You earn them slowly by levelling up, or you can buy them in bundles as an IAP1. I can see how many people have ended up spending hundreds on these games, as the temptation to hurry things along is always there. I did buy some donuts in-game, to figure out how worth it it would be to speed through the early levels2 and get to the more varied and interesting stuff.

Short answer: it’s not. You will unlock more content faster, but the amount of donuts you need to keep pushing through ramps up spectacularly.

While I liked Tapped Out, I wanted another game. One I could play while the timers in TO were counting down. I figured that I’d got TO for its SimCity-esque play, so why not just get the iOS SimCity game? So I did.

And while I do like Tapped Out, it is a little too restricted by the timers. Particularly in the early levels you find yourself locked out of doing anything for hours on end while you complete a mandatory task which unlocks the next building you have to add to unlock the next mandatory task. It sounds terrible and repetitive, feeling like designed to extract as many IAPs from you as it can — and sometimes it can be — but often it’s a simple, light-hearted, casual game which keeps you coming back for more, particularly with the many “special events” which seem to run frequently; the Valentines event just finished, and a comic-inspired superhero event has just started, complete with campy, vintage, creeping villains sneaking around Springfield.

Overall, it’s not my favourite iOS game out there, but I like it and keep returning to it. The timers are a source of frustration, but they also help draw you back in: setting the characters onto tasks to complete in the time in between dipping in and out of the game. You might only play for a few minutes at a time, but you play often.

  1. In-App Purchase 
  2. Any seasoned World of Warcraft player can tell you how the “End Game” unlocked by getting to “Max-Level” is much more interesting and fun than the grinding/questing to get there. 

SimCity BuildIt

SimCity BuildIt is the mobile version of the much-maligned, relaunched version of SimCity from 2013. It’s probably a lot simpler than the PC version (which I avoided due to the bad reviews) – and put simply, it works great as a casual, mobile game.

BuildIt combines the classic SimCity with the same timer-led resource management gameplay found in other mobile games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Here though, it fits in nicely rather than be a source of frustration. Classic SimCity was about balancing the mix of residential zones with commercial and industrial; in BuildIt, you don’t need to worry about this as much, just on making sure you have the resources needed to grow your city. Resources take time to craft, but in the original games this is the same time you would have spent waiting for zones to become occupied/grow and generate tax revenue to buy other zones.

What’s interesting is that you can’t “start over” at any point – you get one city, and it’s your job to manage it until the End Times. There are no real resource constraints, and no penalties for demolishing everything if you feel like a change, beyond the loss of time. In-game cash is the only non-time-limited resource, but is only used for purchasing certain speciality buildings and upgrades (and is constantly topped-up by growing your population). Everything else happens through crafting and/or combining materials. If you want, you can spend a second type of cash to speed things along (which of course can be topped up via IAP or earning achievements).

SimCity BuildIt upgrade fireworks

Combining this resource system with the ability to easily move buildings around if you want works very well for the game — players are free to explore various strategies to find the optimal way to layout and run their cities, limited only by how much time they want to put into it. This reduces a lot of the stress found in the original SimCity games, where you were constantly fighting against resources and the needs of the population, trying to stop everything from falling apart as poor choices in the early game came back to bite you, with no “do-over” other than starting a new city. With BuildIt, these elements do exist, but to a much lesser degree. Citizens want certain utilities in your city, and there is a juggle of the “area of effect” of certain buildings1 – but in the course of several hours days, I’ve never reached a point where I wanted to drop a nuke on my city.

I mentioned in a previous post that BuildIt is probably my favourite game on iOS at the moment. Even though the timers do get in the way a little, they’re less restrictive than in Tapped Out or similar, and the endless nature of the game gives it a very high replayability factor. You can while away an hour at a time in BuildIt; you can’t do that in Tapped Out.

  1. Both good — happiness from parks, protection by emergency services, and bad — pollution from factories, power plants, or sewage works, for example.