## Saturday, January 28, 2012

### The Magic of the Rubik's Cube

The Rubik's Cube (also written rubix cube) is a very popular mind game all over the world. This puzzle game was invented by a Hungarian man called Erno Rubik in 1974.Its initial name was the "magic cube", and only in 1980 got its more recognized name, after the name of its inventor, The Rubik's Cube. Rapidly this shiny toy became more and more popular, and by the 80's, when the big breakthrough occurred, it was brought to the western world, recorded more than 100 million sales and won the "German game of the year" award. Today the Rubik's Cube considered the best selling toy at all times!

The classical Rubik's Cube dimensions are 3x3x3. The Cube constructed from 26 pieces and has 6 faces, each colored with a different color. Every face can turn independently and has 9 stickers on it (with the same color- when solved). The sticker color at the middle actually determines the face color, and can't move around the cube (even when scrambling). Most of the cubes are arranged the same- yellow against white, orange against red and green against blue (The classical color scheme). Over the years, produced more sizes, other than the classical cube like the 4x4x4 and the 5x5x5.

The Rubik's Cube mechanism allows every face to turn backward and forward, and mix the pieces and the stickers on them. The main idea is to restore the Cube to its initial state, where all the pieces are correctly placed, and all the faces are completely colored, with one color each.

There are several ways of solving the Rubik's Cube, using different methods created over the years, basic and more advanced. Solving the cube is done gradually, couple of pieces at a time, while moving the faces carefully to prevent the mess of the already solved pieces. While the basic methods, for beginners, use fewer algorithms to learn, and are easier to acquire, the more advanced methods use many more algorithms but as a result much more efficient and shorter (solving time wise).

Despite the popularity of the Rubik's Cube, relatively few people know how to solve it. People consider solving this puzzle a very hard task, but that's actually wrong, meaning that solving this toy is definitely doable and even easy after learning a Solving method, for beginners, at start. Today, the challenge is more about the solving time rather than the solving itself. Competitions are made all over the world, and organized by the WCA (World Cube Association) which also keeps all the records and confirms new ones.

To conclude, The Rubik's Cube is a very challenging mind game which suitable for all ages. It increases the development of mind and thought, and returns a lot of satisfaction for those who enable to successfully solve it. Have Fun!

## Friday, January 20, 2012

### Video Game Physics: Suspension of Disbelief Not Included

So I've been playing a bit of Angry Birds on the smartphone recently. Very cute little game of course, but the physics engine is really what has me interested right now. I cleared a few levels last night and it got fascinating because so many of the levels are designed around this. I spent a week or two on and off trying to clear an earlier level where you have to knock down a pair of heavy "cages" the pigs are in and I finally discovered through trial and error that hitting them in just the right spot will set up enough vibration to rock the cage and make it tumble down on the pigs.

So it's definitely a question of finesse - brute forcing it doesn't work since the birds I had on that level are too small to break the cages easily otherwise and you don't have enough of them. That level and some of the others really impressed me - there's definitely a lot of thought put into the physics engine (I like how you can see the trajectory of the last bird you fired, too) that really makes the game tricky since you can sometimes rely on dumb luck and other times you just have to arc your shots just right to hit a sweet spot that sets off a chain reaction of things tumbling every which way. Surprising depth for a game you play on the smartphone.

At the same time, I've also been playing a bit of Just Cause 2 on XBox (basically Grand Theft Auto on a jungle island) and one of the entertaining aspects of the game is the movie-style stunt physics for vehicles. This gets amusing when you get chased by the police, lead them up a hill and end up flipping your car over the other side, roll it about 5 times then land upright and can still drive away. Absolutely ridiculous but at the same time, it's cool to see how much thought they put into it - much like Angry Birds, there's definitely a focus on making the physics work in that particular setting.

Of course, video game physics sometimes have unintended results - a famous example being "rocket jumping" in Quake. Quake was one of the first I remember really having a physics engine built-in (considering it came out in 1997) and players discovered that you could boost yourself in the air using the rocket launcher, allowing them to reach areas of the game that would either be inaccessible altogether like high ledges or not accessible until later. This was a completely unintentional effect of the physics engine and added another aspect to gameplay for the more skilled players who mastered it, especially in online play against other people where it allowed faster movement around a level.

## Friday, January 13, 2012

### How Come Video Games Are More Profitable Than Hollywood Movies?

Video games come with a distinctive appeal that draws legions of followings. Proving its dominant drawing power, global video game purchases reached a staggering 500 million in 2010. The industry continues to serve one of most lucrative markets with gamers collectively spending 3 billion hours each week playing the said platform.

Investigative findings by The Association of Psychological Science reveal that gaming in general is considered as the ideal platform for players to take on the characteristics of their "ideal self." Video games offer gamers the opportunity to play an ideal role or virtually adopt a new identity, bringing about feelings of enjoyment of the massively social and interactive gaming experience and satisfaction at each victory.

A Formidable Industry

In 2008, the video game industry - covering all video games in all video formats - made more money than all Blu-ray and DVD movie releases combined in terms of product sales. Video game sales were at \$32 billion, up by 20 per cent from 2007. Hollywood film sales dropped six per cent, fixed at only \$29 billion.

A case in point is Grand Theft Auto IV, which became a jaw-dropping success when it broke two entertainment industry records, hauling the biggest sales on a single-day and seven-day basis since its release on April 29, 2008. GTA IV sold 3.6 million copies or \$310 million in equivalent sales within the first 24 hours of its availability. On the first week, the sales figures subsequently skyrocketed to over six million units or an equivalent of \$500 million.

The GTA IV first-week earnings are comparable to giant movie releases. In a report by Reuters, the British-produced video game has outperformed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from Warner Bros., which raked in \$394 million during its opening week in 2009. GTA IV also beat blockbuster Spider-Man 3 from Sony and Buena Vista's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which earned \$382 million and \$344 million, respectively, when they opened in cinemas in 2007.

On December 12, 2011, Modern Warfare 3 officially de-throned the number one movie of all time - Avatar, as the fastest entertainment media to reach the \$1 billion mark. The former got its first billion dollar earnings 16 days after it was released while the latter for 17 days.

Exemplifying robust international business marketing techniques, video games have also amassed earnings from its European market, decisively pulling the limelight away from the movie industry. Regarded as "the most valuable purchased entertainment market," video game sales are four times more than cinema earnings, also trumping music and DVD sales combined.

Shedding light on the phenomenal video game following, UK paper The Guardian notes how video gaming pushes itself to the mainstream consciousness by stimulating the consumer's intelligence, appealing to their imagination and improving constancy in player involvement - something that Hollywood may not be very successful at.

## Wednesday, January 4, 2012

### Driver: San Francisco - Wii Review

Driver: San Francisco did pretty well on the PS3 and Xbox 360 but in general there's been very little coverage of the game on the Wii, although the game is quite different to Grand Theft Auto it's probably about the closest we'll ever get to seeing anything similar on the Wii.

In the game you play the role of the protagonist John Tanner and you'll also step into the roles of Tobias Jones and Solomon Caine, there's so much swapping and changing of the person that you're supposed to be that you'll probably forget who you are, aside from during the cut scenes you wont see any human characters while playing Driver on the Wii but it's still a decent game.

While GTA is well known for its adult themes it's fair to say that Driver SF on the Wii is a great deal milder and pretty family friendly, while driving through the city the characters in other cars may call you a dumb dufus depending on your actions but that's about as strong as the language gets.

John Tanner is the main character and an undercover detective who starts out in the car lot of the San Francisco Police Department, at the beginning of the game you'll take on a driving test that teaches you how to pull off specific driving manoeuvres and introduces you to the motion controls.

As you'd expect you can do all the basics such as accelerating and braking but the motion controls also allow you to pull off numerous swipes, by swinging the Wii remote left or right you can take swipes at other vehicles and this comes in very handy when you need to stop them in their tracks.

The driving test is very similar to the one introduced in the first game in the Driver series so it may bring back some memories, the initial manoeuvres you need to pull off are easy and involve accelerating and stopping after specific distances and pulling off handbrake turns.

After you've passed the basics you'll be tasked to drive another car off the road and after that the training wheels are taken off, once you've passed the tests you're released into the city and you'll take on a variety of missions that are similar to those found in GTA.

You can expect to be doing everything here from street racing to chasing criminals and the city of San Francisco is the perfect playground, you'll find everything here from back alleys to freeways and there are also numerous locations where you can pull off a variety of insane jumps.

Not every mission in the game involves standard driving as there are also a number of chase shooter sequences thrown into the mix, during the chase shooter sequences the Wii controls the vehicle you're occupying while you take shots at vehicles in pursuit with the Wii remote.

During one chase shooter sequence you'll even be flying in a helicopter but for the most part the game focuses on the driving, while the game has a main storyline it also includes numerous side missions so altogether it will take the average gamer more than 20 hours to complete.