iPad All-in-One For Dummies, 7th Edition (2015)
Book II. Just for Fun
Chapter 8. Playing Games
In This Chapter
Appreciating iPad’s gaming strengths
Getting a grip on the accelerometer
Finding games and accessories of all kinds
Challenging friends in Game Center
iPad is, after all, a close relative of the iPhone, and no matter who tells you that he uses his iPhone to get work done, he’s probably spending most of his time gaming. iPad outstrips iPhone as the ultimate portable gaming machine because of its beautiful screen (especially if you have a third-generation or later iPad with Retina display) and the ability to rotate the larger screen as you play and track your motions. You can download game apps from the App Store and play them on your device. You can also use the preinstalled Game Center app to help you find and buy games, add friends to play against, and track and share scores.
In this chapter, you discover why iPad is such a great mobile gaming device, what kinds of games are out there, how to create a Game Center account and purchase and download games, how to play games against yourself and others, and what cool accessories you must get to be a completely awesome iPad gamer.
Let the games begin!
Appreciating iPad’s Gaming Strengths
The iPhone is a fun gaming device, but the screen is too small. Your computer is a good gaming device, but it may lack some of the tactile input of a touchscreen. iPad may be just right as the ultimate gaming device for many reasons, including these:
· iPad’s fantastic screen: If you have an iPad Air 2 you have a few things going for you here. First, the high-resolution, 9.7" screen has a backlit LED display. As Apple describes it, it’s “remarkably crisp and vivid.” They’re not lying. The In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology means you can hold it at almost any angle (it has a 178-degree viewing angle) and still get good color and contrast. If you own a third-generation iPad (or later), things get even better. These versions of iPad with their Retina displays give you four times as many pixels as earlier iPad models (3.1 million, to be exact). You get 2048 x 1536 resolution, greater color saturation, and a crisp image that rivals many HDTVs.
· Faster processor: The dual-core A8 chip in your iPad Air 2 is a super-fast processor that can run rings around your iPhone, making it a great device for gaming. The A8 chip is very speedy and drives the Retina display without sacrificing the ten-hour battery life iPads are known for. With iPad Air 2, the A8X chip offers 2.5x faster graphics than other models.
· A built-in accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope: Gamers will find these elements useful to shift around in a more versatile manner as they virtually move through games that involve motion. The built-in accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope let you grab your iPad and use it as a steering wheel or other game feature, so you really feel as though you’re in the action. (With iPad 2, the gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass were added to help apps like Maps pinpoint your location and movements as you stroll around town.)
· M8 coprocessor: This feature provides the ability to sense your movements. This ability is likely to result in some interesting new gaming and exercise apps.
· Playing games in full screen: Rather than play on a small iPhone screen, you can play most games designed for the iPad in full-screen mode on your iPad. Having a full screen brings the gaming experience to you in a more engaging way than a small screen ever could.
· Dragging elements around the screen: The Multi-Touch iPad screen is responsive — and if you’re about to be zapped by aliens in a fight-to-the-death computer game, that responsiveness counts.
· The ten-hour battery life of an iPad: This long battery life on every version of iPad means you can suck energy out of it playing games into the wee hours of the night.
· Specialized game-playing features: Some games are coming out with features that take advantage of iPad’s capabilities. For example, Gameloft came out with a version of its N.O.V.A. game that includes a feature called multiple-target acquisition, which lets you target multiple bad guys in a single move to blow them out of the water with one shot. The Need for Speed racing games allow you to look in your rearview mirror to see what’s coming up behind you, a feature made possible by iPad’s large screen, compared to an iPhone.
· Great sound: The built-in stereo speakers in the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 2 are powerful little things, but if you want things even more up-close and personal, you can plug in a headphone, some speaker systems, or a microphone using the built-in jack.
Understanding the accelerometer
The iPad has a built-in motion sensor called an accelerometer, as well as a three-axis gyroscope. These allow designers developing apps for iPad to have lots of fun as they use the automatically rotating screen to become part of the gaming experience. For example, they can build in a compass device that reorients itself automatically if you switch your iPad from landscape to portrait mode. Some racing games allow you to grab the iPad as if it were a steering wheel and rotate the device to simulate the driving experience.
Finding Some Very Cool Games
Now it’s time to tell you about some of my favorite iPad games (the part of the book where you wonder why I get paid for what I do,’cause reviewing games is so much fun).
Looking at what’s out there
First, take a look at the gaming landscape. Several types of games are available (some ported over from iPhone and some customized for iPad; price noted if not free):
· Arcade games include apps such as Arcade Bowling (free with in-app purchases), Pinball Arcade ($0.99), and Foosball HD ($2.99).
· Kids’ games are sometimes educational, but almost always entertaining. These include Ace Kids Math Games (free), Addition UnderSea Adventures (free), and Monkey Word School Adventure ($1.99).
· Card and board games, such as Astraware Solitaire – 12 Games in 1 by Handmark, Inc. ($0.99); Mahjong Deluxe ($0.99); and Payday Roulette 2 HD ($1.99).
· Adventure games like Animal vs. Zombies (free), Everest: Hidden Expedition (free), AirAttack HD ($0.99), Amazon: Hidden Expedition (free with in-app purchases), and Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter ($2,99).
· Sports games, such as 2XL’s SnoCross ($1.99), Stick Golf HD ($2.99), and Pool Bar – Online Hustle ($2.99).
Exploring a half-dozen games
Narrowing down choices to just a few must-have games is hard because everyone likes different kinds of fun. To add to the choices, there are both iPhone- and iPad-engineered games that you can use on your iPad, and more are coming out all the time. If you have a third-generation (or later) iPad, you might want to look for games that are optimized for the new Retina display.
Still, the following list is a sampling of six recommended games for you to try that won’t break the bank:
· Scrabble for iPad ($9.99): You remember Scrabble, that favorite old board game that can let you shine or put you to shame for your spelling and vocabulary skills? Scrabble is available on iPad, and it’s hot (see Figure 8-1). Shake your iPad to shuffle tiles. Use the drag-and-drop motion to play your letters. Want to share the fun? Reach out to your Facebook friends to take the game to the multiplayer level.
· Broken Sword – The Smoking Mirror ($0.99): This classic adventure game lets you virtually become the main character to experience all the game has to offer. Great art and animation distinguish this game, and the iPad version (see its description in the Game Center Store and see Figure 8-2) has a handy hint system that you’ll appreciate.
· Civilization Revolution for iPad ($6.99): If you like a world-building type of game, you’ll find Civilization Revolution right up your alley. It has been fine-tuned for iPad to be even better than the iPhone version. The game also offers a feature called Scenario Creator, which lets you create your own unique challenges, essentially allowing for unlimited variety in the game.
Figure 8-1: Scrabble is awesome on the iPad.
· Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge for iPad ($4.99): A point-and-click adventure game classic on iPhone, in its iPad incarnation, Monkey Island has great graphics and sound, and an engaging story at its heart. If you like adventure games, don’t miss this one.
· Minecraft Pocket Edition ($6.99): Minecraft is a wildly popular game that involves a virtual reality in which you build things with blocks (see Figure 8-3). But these aren’t Tinkertoys — with Minecraft, people are building entire cities, engineering feats, and alternative realities.
· t Chess Pro ($7.99): You can play against the computer or another player. You can modify the appearance of the chess pieces. It even sports features that help chess beginners learn the game painlessly, but more advanced players will enjoy it as well.
Figure 8-2: Broken Sword is a classic game updated from its iPhone version for iPad.
As well as costing money, games take up a lot of memory, so choose the games you buy wisely. If you no longer want to play a game, delete it from your iPad to save space.
Special mention: ComicBookLover (free) isn’t a game, but it’s a blast of an app that most gamers can appreciate. The iPad screen is perfect for those bright, crisp graphics, and iPad’s navigation tools let you swipe your way through the panes in several interesting ways. This app uses CBR and CBZ files, which are available from various online sources. You can even scan your own comic books and graphic novels and use them with this app.
Figure 8-3: Minecraft is a very creative world to explore and build.
Getting Gaming Accessories
Some interesting accessories are coming out for iPad. No doubt more will appear over time, and Apple itself may add features or gaming accessories in a next-edition device. For example, for a future iPad, Apple or somebody else might offer an external control accessory so that you don’t have to cover up your onscreen game to use onscreen control mechanisms, and Apple might add a feature to simulate gaming sounds.
For now, here are a couple of iPad gaming accessories that caught my attention:
· Incipio iPad Hive Honeycomb dermaShot Silicone Case ($39.99) is a rugged case for serious gamers. The back sports molded grips that help you keep a good hold on your iPad while playing those action-packed games.
· JoyStick-It (around $5) from ThinkGeek is an arcade-style stick you attach to your iPad screen. The joystick, available on Amazon.com, won’t harm your screen, and you can move it around at any time. It gives you that real arcade-game feel for controlling games. It won’t work with every game but does claim to work with thousands of them.
Playing through the Game Center
The Game Center is an app that comes preinstalled with iPad. If you’re into gaming, you may enjoy the features it offers that allow you to challenge friends to beat your scores; buy games; and keep track of your games, friends, and achievements.
Of course, you can also download games from the App Store or play online games and play them on your iPad without having to use Game Center. What Game Center provides is a place where you can create a gaming profile, add a list of gaming friends, keep track of and share your scores and perks, and shop for games (and only games) in the App Store, along with listings of top-rated games and game categories to choose from.
Think of the Game Center as a kind of social networking site for gamers, where you can compare your scores and find players to challenge. The Achievements listing shows you your score history for all the games you play. Finally, Leaderboards allows you to compare your performance with your gaming friends.
Figure 8-4 shows you the Game Center interface with the following five choices along the bottom:
· Me: Contains your profile and summary of number of friends, games, and achievements.
Figure 8-4: Game Center’s opening screen shows an overview of your friends, games, and achievements.
· Friends: Tap to invite friends to play.
· Games: Takes you to iTunes to shop for games.
· Challenges: Friends can challenge their friends to do better than they did. Tap a friend’s score in the Friends area of Game Center to challenge her.
· Turns: Shows you any requests from your friends for a game.
Opening an account in Game Center
Using the Game Center app, you can search for and buy games, add friends with whom you can play those games, and keep records of your scores for posterity. In order to do this, however, you must first open a Game Center account by following these steps:
1. From the Home screen, tap the Game Center icon.
If you’ve never used Game Center, you’re asked whether to allow push notifications: If you want to receive these notices alerting you that your friends want to play a game with you, tap OK. You should, however, be aware that push notifications can drain your iPad’s battery more quickly.
2. On the Game Center opening screen (see Figure 8-5), sign in.
If you want to use Game Center with another Apple ID, tap Create New Apple ID and follow the onscreen instructions, which ask you to enter your birth date, agree to terms, choose a security question, and so forth; or enter your current account information and tap Go.
The screen that appears after you’ve signed in shows games you’ve downloaded, requests from other players, friends, and so on (see Figure 8-6).
Figure 8-5: Sign in to Game Center here.
3. Tap any of the floating balloons to get to these categories or tap a button along the bottom of the screen.
When you first register for Game Center, if you use an email address other than the one associated with your Apple ID, you may have to create a new Apple ID and verify it by responding to an email message that’s sent to your email address.
Figure 8-6: Tap a balloon to get to a category.
Creating a Game Center profile
When you have an account with which you can sign into Game Center, you’re ready to specify some account settings. To create your Game Center profile, follow these steps:
1. On the Home screen, tap Settings.
2. Tap Game Center, and in the settings that appear (see Figure 8-7), if you don’t want other players to be able to invite you to play games when Game Center is open, tap the Allow Invites Off/On switch to turn off this feature.
If you want your friends to be able to send you requests for playing games via email, check to see whether the primary email address listed here is the one you want them to use. If the primary email address is the one you want to use, skip to Step 5.
3. If you want to change the email address listed, tap the current Apple ID and, in the settings that appear, tap Sign Out.
4. On the screen that next appears, tap in the Apple ID field and enter another account.
Or tap Create a New Apple ID.
5. Tap to Allow Invites or to allow Nearby Players to find you and invite you to games. (see Figure 8-7.)
6. If you want others to see your profile, including your real name, scroll down and tap the current profile and then tap the Public Profile On/Off switch to turn on the public profile.
7. Tap Done; then press the Home button when you’re finished with settings and tap Game Center.
You return to the Game Center Home screen, already signed in to your account with information displayed about friends, games, and gaming achievements (all at zero, initially).
Figure 8-7: When you’re playing games with others, your handle identifies you.
After you create an account and a profile, whenever you go to the Game Center, you log in by entering your email address and password and then tapping Sign In.
If you want to play Game Center games with others who have an Apple ID and an iPhone, iPod touch, Mac with Mountain Lion or later, or iPad, follow these steps to add them as friends so that you can invite them to play:
1. From the Game Center Home screen, tap the Friends button at the bottom of the screen.
2. On the Friends page, tap the Add Friends button in the top (shaped like a plus sign).
3. Enter an email address in the To field and edit the invitation, if you like.
4. Tap the Send button.
After your friend accepts your invitation, her name is listed on the Friends screen.
Game Center includes the Friend Recommendations feature. Go to the Friends tab and then tap the A–Z button in the top-left corner. A Recommendations section appears above the list of your current friends. These are people who play the same or similar games, so if you like, try adding one or two as friends. You can go to the Points tab to view the points these folks have accumulated so that you can stay in your league.
You will probably also receive requests from friends who know you’re on Game Center. When you get these email invitations, be sure that you know the person sending it before you accept it — especially if you’ve allowed email access in your account settings. If you don’t double-check, you could be allowing a potentially abusive stranger into your gaming world.
Purchasing and downloading games
Time to get some games to play! Remember that you can buy any game app from the App Store and simply play it by tapping to open it on your iPad. But if you want to use Game Center to buy games, here are the steps involved:
1. Open Game Center and sign in to your account.
2. Tap the Games button at the bottom of the screen and, under the Recommended category, tap Show More.
3. In the list of games that appears, scroll through the list of featured games and tap one that appeals to you.
4. Tap the Price/Free App button to display details about the game.
Note that you can tap the Store button from here to go to the iTunes store to view more games.
Accessing apps from the Game Center displays only game apps, as opposed to accessing apps from the App Store, which shows you all categories of apps.
5. To buy a game, tap the button labeled with either the words Free App or the price, such as $1.99.
6. In the detailed app page that appears (see Figure 8-8), tap the button again and then tap the Buy or Install button.
Figure 8-8: Tap to buy a game.
7. Enter your Apple ID and password in the dialog that appears and then tap OK.
Another verification dialog appears, asking you to sign in.
8. Follow the instructions on the next couple of screens to enter your password and verify your payment information if this is the first time you’ve signed in to your account from this device.
9. When the verification dialog appears, tap Buy or Install (for a free game).
The game downloads.
If you’ve added friends to your account (see the preceding section), you can go to the Friends page and view games that your friends have downloaded. To purchase one of these games, just tap it in your friend’s list.
Playing against yourself
Many games allow you to play all on your own. Each game has different rules and goals, so you have to study a game’s instructions and learn how to play it, but here’s some general information about these types of games:
· Often a game can be played in two modes: with others or in a solitaire version, where you play yourself or the computer.
· Many games that you may be familiar with in the offline world, such as Carcassonne or Scrabble, have online versions. For these, you already know the rules of play, so you simply need to figure out the execution. For example, in the online Carcassonne game, you tap to place a tile on the board, tap the placed tile to rotate it, and tap the check mark to complete your turn and reveal another tile.
· All the games you play on your own record your scores in Game Center so that you can track your progress.
Challenging friends in Game Center
After you’ve added a friend and both of you have downloaded the same game, you can challenge her to beat your scores:
1. Tap the Game Center app icon on the Home screen and sign in, if necessary.
2. Tap Me; and then tap the Games bubble.
3. Tap one of your scores.
4. In the dialog that appears, tap the Challenge bubble (see Figure 8-9).
Figure 8-9: Keep challenging friends to widen your gaming universe.
5. Tap a friend in the dialog that appears and then tap Next.
6. In the form that appears, enter a message, if you like, and then tap Send.
Game Center tracks your achievements, including points and perks that you’ve earned along the way. You can also compare your gaming achievements to those of top-ranking players across the Internet — and check your friends’ scores by displaying the Friends page with the Points portion showing.
If your friends aren’t available, you can play a game by tapping its title on the Games page and then tapping Play. You can then compare your scores with others around the world who have also played the game recently.