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Quick review: Espgaluda II for the iPhone July 21, 2010

Posted by Cesar in gaming me.
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I have to be honest: I’m slightly biased when talking about Espgaluda II. First of all because I love vertical scrolling shooters. And second because Guwange and ESP Ra.De., two old school shooters also developed by Cave, are in my top 3 together with Treasure‘s Ikaruga (which tops the list).

But bias aside, if possible, Cave did a great job with Espgaluda II for the iPhone. In a world where wide screens dominate the market (in Brazil I even had a rotating wall mount just to play Ikaruga with my LCD sideways), the portrait layout of mobile devices provide a great alternative for shoot’em up games to emerge again. And Espgaluda II delivers.

To be perfectly honest, if you played Espgaluda or ESP Ra.De. you’ll feel some déjà vu. The games are very similar in nature. But that’s not a bad thing, because Espgaluda II is awesome. The graphics are great, the controls are very responsive and there are more bullets on the screen than you can imagine.

Among these factors, the controls are possibly the most interesting. Analog sticks on the iPhone are very awkward. So Espgaluda II follows suit with other successful touch based shooters, like Space Invaders Infinity Gene and rRootage, allowing you to drag your character with your finger. And it works very well. But look at the screenshots above. Notice the border around the game screen? In Espgaluda II you can set the game screen to 3 different sizes and none of them fill up the whole screen. I suspect the reason for that is a proportion difference between the original arcade version and the iPhone port. But it ends up working very well. You see, you might not have noticed, but our fingers are not transparent. And until they become at least translucid, our moving our fingers always hide something on the screen. In manic shooters, it can be very frustrating to die because your forefinger is hiding the killing bullet. You get used to avoiding that, of course, but in Espgaluda II you don’t have to, because you can place your fingers on the bottom border of the screen, which is not part of the play area.

The other great aspect of the game is that it is freaking hard, as you would expect from a Cave manic shooter. Of course you can keep tapping continue and get to the end fairly quickly. But that’s the cheap way to play, it is not how these games are supposed to be approached. The idea is to resist temptation and get as far as possible with your original 3 lives and nothing more. If you do that I assure you: it will be a very long road until you finish this one on the hard difficulty.

So to sum it all up: if you like manic scrolling shooters and you own an iPhone, Espgaluda II is definitely a must buy.

See you space cowboys…

Back to the roots: computer vision ftw July 9, 2010

Posted by Cesar in working me.
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crazy image montage that makes me think of computer vision

Here at Other Ocean, I recently shifted from an iPad/iPhone4 game to another project. While it was great to work with shaders, glsl and what not on the previous project, the interesting thing about this new one is that it will give me an opportunity to work with computer vision again, after a long time.

And I confess I missed it. A lot.

Without getting into details, I’ve been researching image processing and analysis like crazy again and the whole experience has been a lot of fun. Looking for algorithms, going through the IEEE Xplore digital library, searching the ACM Portal, it all brings me back memories from my time at Unicamp, working on my MSc.

The system I’m developing uses what I already know of computer vision, but also incorporates a bunch of new stuff, so there’s a lot of learning involved. I know it means I’m a super geek but right now I have a big pile of printed papers on my desk and I love it.

I’ll write more about it when the project is released.

See you space cowboys…

Sad but proud July 3, 2010

Posted by Cesar in sporting me.
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No, the picture is not from yesterday’s game. It is from Brazil vs. Chile, the game that made me truly believe Brazil could have won this World Cup. Specially after the second goal: long lobbed pass to Robinho, who passes the ball to Kaká, who in turn puts it straight for Luis Fabiano to dribble the goalie and score. Such a great play.

That’s what I want to remember, not yesterday’s defeat. We could have won, the match yesterday could easily have gone either way. But the strong Brazilian defense “chose” the wrong time to mess it up and we are out.

Everyone is complaining back in Brazil, the witch hunt has begun. But I don’t see it that way. This team didn’t have flare, it lacked creativity, that I cannot deny. But it had heart. In 2006, when Brazil lost to France, I was ashamed, angry. The team lost with amazing players on the pitch and a complete lack of interest. Now I’m just sad,  proud of knowing every player fought till the end.

You guys just wait. Wait and mark my words: in 2014 we’ll be back on our horses and the cup will be ours.

See you space cowboys…

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