Saturday, 26 December 2015

Communication Is the Big Focus for Nintendo's Miitomo App

Earlier in the year, fans and investors alike were taken by surprise when Nintendo announced it would be making mobile games in collaboration with DeNA.

Nintendo's president Tatsumi Kimishima said it needed more time to "boost the quality" of its first smartphone offering, called Miitomo, and would not launch it until March - after initially aiming for the end of this year. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, DeNA President Isao Moriyasu divulged more information on what to expect from the maiden collaborative attempt between the companies.

For starters, expect the focus to be clearly on communication over anything else.

"Communication will be central to the game, but I think various elements could be added on-- like mini-games users can play with their friends," said Mr. Moriyasu.

Like most mobile apps nowadays, there will be in-app purchases - something Moriyasu shed more light on.

"As for monetising, there are various possibilities, but at first we plan on selling clothes users can buy for their Miis," he said.

When asked how Miitomo would differ from other social networking or messaging services, he stressed on the entertainment users can derive.

"Miitomo places more emphasis on entertainment. The process of discovering new aspects of your friends via Miis can be quite fun. One distinct aspect of Miitomo is how you can configure your Mii to have it look very similar to yourself,"he said.

"Communicating with friends who actually look like your friends in real life is a distinctly different feeling from text-based communication. We're thinking of linking the game with users' Facebook friend lists. I think it could be fun connecting with friends people don't often communicate with," Moriyasu added.

It appears to be an interesting spin on the tried and tested messaging apps we've been accustomed or rather, conditioned to. However, since this is Nintendo's first stab at mobile and DeNA has a reputation for pushing in-app purchases, it would be wise to temper expectations when it hits in March.

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update for Xiaomi Mi 3, Mi 4, Mi Note in 'Final Testing Stage'

Various smartphone manufacturers have begun rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates to their devices in past few weeks, while many others have revealed the update roadmap for their devices. Xiaomi has now revealed Android 6.0 Marshmallow will reach its Mi 3, Mi 4, and Mi Note soon, with a new version of MIUI 7.

As per Xiaomi's MIUI operations manager, the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update is said to be in its final testing stages and will start rolling out soon, reports Gizmochina. This will also be a welcome change for those who were disappointed when Xiaomi released its MIUI 7 ROM based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. A user on Weibo has also posted a screenshot showing MIUI 5.12.24 update based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The images shows the update to weigh 518MB.

Earlier this month the same company manager confirmed that its Mi 4 flagship smartphone along with Mi Note would be the first smartphones in its lineup to receive the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow update.

To recall, Xiaomi's Mi 4 was launched back in 2014 running Android 4.4 KitKat initially while the Mi Note was unveiled this year and also came running Android 4.4 KitKat version. Notably, the company released Android Lollipop based MIUI 7 ROMs for its handsets in October this year.

For those unaware, the MIUI 7 comes with a number of features such as four built-in themes, a daily lock screen that changes its wallpaper everyday, and a new mode that gives a user the option to lock down apps they don't want their kids to access. As for improvements, the company claims that MIUI 7 offers up to 30 percent better response time than MIUI 6. Users should also find it light on battery as some tweaks on how the operating system handles the background apps have been introduced.

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10 Games Releasing in 2016 We Are Most Excited About

Precious few games have been announced for 2016 so far, but there's still a lot to look forward to in the year to come. From role-playing games to shooters that let you turn back time, 2016 is shaping up to be one of the better years for gaming. Here's what you should look out for.

1. Scalebound
An interesting setting, rich lore, and seemingly rock solid combat mechanics, make Xbox One exclusive Scalebound something to watch out for. It is the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) we never asked for but we're happy to get anyway. Helmed by PlatinumGames, the studio behind Bayonetta and Vanquish, it combines familiar role-playing features like character customisation and skill trees, with a sprawling open-world and deadly beasts to take down. While we're yet to get anything more than a 2016 release window, what we've seen at Gamescom 2015 is enough to keep us piqued.

2. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
A controversial pre-order program followed by a questionable six month delay does little to dampen our spirits when it comes to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's cyberpunk-fuelled dystopia. With a focus on player choice, themes such as transhumanism and apartheid, it just might be the most cerebral shooter you play in 2016. Look out for it on August 23 on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

3. Mirror's Edge Catalyst
The long awaited reboot of a cult classic, Mirror's Edge Catalyst promises to be a game with no guns, possesses an open-world, and most of all, sweet parkour and traversal mechanics that made its 2008 predecessor a dream to play. Developed by the company behind the Battlefield series and Star Wars Battlefront, it's out May 24 on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

4. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
The Uncharted series is getting a little long in the tooth, but there's no denying the appeal of another Indiana Jones-like adventure starring series protagonist Nathan Drake. With some new gameplay features such as dialogue branching along with heady action set-pieces and a surprisingly good multiplayer mode, March 18 can't come soon enough for this PS4 exclusive.

5. Mafia 3
Set in 1960s New Orleans, open-world crime game Mafia 3 oozes atmosphere and a surprising wealth of freedom in gameplay. Although developer Hanger 13 hasn't said more than a 2016 release window, its gameplay reveal at Gamescom 2015 left us wanting for more. Expect it on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime 2016.

6. Battleborn
Made by the fine minds that brought us Borderlands, Battleborn is a shooter with design sensibilities akin to Dota and League of Legends. It's an intriguing concept that worked well in our hands on preview of the game. Throw in art direction that would put Pixar to shame and gunplay reminiscent of Borderlands, with unique heroes to choose from, and you have one of the more original, inventive looking titles around. Out May 3 for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

7. Quantum Break
Developed by the studio behind the original Max Payne and Alan Wake, Remedy Entertainment, Quantum Break lets you gun down enemies in third person in addition to manipulate time and duck behind cover. We were surprised with how good this Xbox One exclusive looks, sporting slick effects and gorgeous visuals. Will the gunplay hold up though? We'll have to wait until April 5 to find out.

8. XCOM 2
This oft-delayed entry in the hallowed XCOM turn-based strategy series has looked better with each showing. Featuring a deeper narrative, new character classes, and the same addictive "just one more turn" style of gameplay, you can expect this PC-only exclusive on February 5.

9. No Man's Sky
This space-sim has you going where every sci-fi loving fan has gone before - space. This time however you're exploring its depths minus any heavy-handed direction, trying-too-hard-to-be witty sayings, or any of the other tropes we're tired of from slew of sci-fi movies we've been treated to. In their place is a gorgeous galaxy that has you exploring planets galore, each of which has its own unique environment and creatures. It's been often delayed but hopefully will see a release in 2016.

10. Firewatch
Taking place in 1989, this first-person adventure has you in the role of a fire lookout at the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming exploring a host of mysterious occurrences. Draped in a fantastic aesthetic and witty dialogues, it's being developed by Campo Santo - a studio formed by staffers who have worked on hits such as BioShock 2, Mark of the Ninja, and Walking Dead. It's out on February 9 for the PC and PS4.

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