This Made in India Game Is Easy to Pick Up, Really Hard to Master

This Made in India Game Is Easy to Pick Up, Really Hard to Master

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bluk is an isometric platformer
  • The developer is based in Kerala
  • It’s a premium game for iOS

Bluk is a puzzle game made by Kerala-based one-man studio Pixelape Games. The core of the game is simple. You play as a block in a world of towers. Your goal is to hop across from one tower to the next, until you clear the stage.

This sounds very easy, but the game is actually quite hard. This is because of the way jumping across works. To jump, you tap the screen and then drag in any direction, and you’ll see a dotted line that traces your trajectory. When you release your finger, the block jumps across. The dotted line only shows half of your trajectory, so you’ll take a long time to master the art of landing the block on a tower.

You can’t cheat the system by making the dotted line lead to the next tower, because when you lift your finger off the screen you’ll usually see the block falling into the abyss, as the jump had too much power. It took us over 600 leaps just to clear the first level, so you can imagine how hard the game is. You could put a part of this down to our lack of skills, but mostly it’s the game’s difficulty level.

On clearing the first level – after repeated trial and error – you might think that you have mastered the game, and can clear stages more quickly now. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s because the second stage introduces different types of towers – a white tower that’s slippery and a black tower which is sticky. The block tends to slide across the top of white towers and sticks to black towers. When you’re plotting the jump, you need to take that into account.

bluk_next_level_itunes.jpgWe don’t think every game needs to be easy and in Bluk’s case, the difficulty level is definitely a plus. We did feel that we were getting better at the game with each try. However we did find the lack of a story a bit disappointing. The developer mentions that “you can also follow the hidden storyline and make your mark in the special Hall of Fame.”

There is a story in the game, but it’s not obvious at all. The game’s description says that there’s some kind of a darkness growing among the pillars and your block needs to find out why and try and restore harmony. We don’t think hiding the story is a good idea. For a game with such a high difficulty level, the story could push people to keep playing. After about 800 leaps or so, we didn’t feel the urge to keep trying to clear levels. That is where a story could have helped.

That said, the game has some great visuals. Right from the nice design of the block, the towers, and the background, we were pleased with its art. The game’s controls are quite responsive too; the tap and drag is the only control option available, but it worked well for us.

The game lets you unlock certain abilities such as letting you see more towers. These abilities appear as glyphs over towers and when you land on the tower, you unlock the ability. The problem is that the game doesn’t explain how to use the ability. We only unlocked one such ability and we’d really have appreciated an explanatory note on what it does and how to use the ability.

The problem with Bluk lies in its lack of communication. We feel that the game could have been a lot better with a story that isn’t hidden and with special abilities that are a bit more obvious. The game looks great, has a pretty good soundtrack, and the gameplay mechanics are quite solid. We even like its high difficulty level. It’s a premium game for iOS and we think it’s well worth the asking price of Rs. 190.

Bluk is available on the App Store. You can pick it up for Rs. 10 for a limited time, after which it will cost Rs. 190.

Pros

  • Great art
  • Difficult
  • Responsive controls

Cons

  • ‘Hidden’ story
  • Abilities need explanation

Rating (out of 10): 7

Tags: App Store, Bluk, Pixelape Games, iOS, iPad, iPhone

 

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Is Technology Good or Bad for Student Learning? Conflicting Studies Make It Hard to Tell

Image and video hosting by TinyPicWe really, really want to know if all that technology we’re investing in for today’s schools is going to actually improve student learning, and we definitely want to know if it’s going to hinder it. Of course, it’s universally understood that technology cannot replace the very important role of a teacher as a guide and mentor throughout the learning process. But numerous conflicting studies over the years leave enough room for doubt if technology hurts student progress more than it helps. We’ve compiled some of the studies we’ve written about in the past few months for you to be the judge. Students Who Hand Write Notes Do Better Than Students Who Type Them Researchers: Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles Study: The researchers placed students from the group of 67 into different groups where one used pen and paper to take notes and the others used a laptop. Results: Students who used handwritten notes performed better on subsequent tests. The researchers speculated that typing notes got in the way of students absorbing and processing information as they hurried to take down verbatim notes. Students Who Use Technology Get Worse Grades Researchers: The United States Military Academy Study: One-third of the economics sections were permitted to use laptops during lecture while one-third was permitted to use tablets and the other was not allowed to use technology at all. Results: Both laptop and tablet users performed worse than students who did not use technology at all. The differences in scores was even more significant for the class’ best and brightest students, who researchers think overestimated their ability to multitask. Research Supports Benefits of One-to-One Initiative on Student Learning Researchers: Michigan State University Study: Researchers gave students his or her own laptop and then tested them in science, writing, math and English. Results: Students who used the laptops approved their learning achievement. Students used the laptops to do more than just note-take, however, and the researchers said there is significance in that. h Social Media Use Through Technology Helps Students Learn Better Researchers: Dr. Richard J. Light of Harvard School of Education Study: “Student research participants who studied in groups, even only once a week, were more engaged in their studies, were better prepared for class, and learned significantly more than students who worked on their own,” which Light says is facilitated by social media use. Results: Light’s report found that social media’s cool value attracts young learners as helps students engage thanks to “virtual study groups.” “Social media platforms enable many engaging classroom activities, including ‘communities of practice’ where learners can interact and share ideas. ‘This group learning format appeals to younger, socially conscious learners and is built around the notion that ‘many minds are better than one,’ the report stated.

Uber, Lyft Hitting Los Angeles’ Taxi Industry Hard

Uber, Lyft Hitting Los Angeles' Taxi Industry Hard

Uber and Lyft are eviscerating the taxi industry in Los Angeles three years after they began operating in the city, officials say.

Thanks to the ridesharing services, which enable independent drivers to offer rides via a smartphone application, “taxicab service demand indicators have dropped (total trips and dispatch trips) beginning in the second half of 2013 and increasing through 2015,” according to a report by Department of Transportation seen by AFP on Thursday.

The number of taxi trips arranged in advance has dropped 42 percent while the total number of taxi rides has plunged by a third in the country’s second-largest city, the report said.

“The trips now taken by Uber, Lyft and other types of transportation network company services would likely have the greatest impact on the dispatched taxicab services and other private client taxi orders,” it added.

(Also see:  Lyft Is Gaining on Uber in the US as It Spends Big for Growth)

Uber and Lyft are revolutionizing getting around in Los Angeles, a city famous for its highways where public transportation is widely criticized as inadequate.

Licenced taxi drivers – who must pay to rent their cars and dispatch services and face strict regulations – are struggling to compete with ride-sharing services that are easier and cheaper to use.

They accuse the ridesharing companies of routinely disregarding laws, failing to provide adequate security and being willing to undercut them on wages.

“With the trend of this ‘loss of trips’ the city may need to review some of its regulations,” Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Bruce Gillman said, adding that the industry is also adapting.

“Taxicab companies are embracing technology for example, developing apps, and have had on-line reservation/dispatching systems for a while,” he said.

Although taxi drivers are earning less, their number in Los Angles has remained constant at almost 2,400, Gillman said, adding that some taxis may not be used as much as before.

Their concerns have spread worldwide as Uber has expanded to hundreds of cities and more than 60 countries, drawing opposition from the taxi industry and regulators and sometimes violent protests.

A court in Buenos Aires on Wednesday ordered Uber to suspend service and launched an inquiry into whether the app poses unfair competition a day after the service began operating in the Argentine capital.

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Tags: Apps, Cabs, Lyft, Uber, Uber App
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WD PiDrive Is a 314GB Hard Drive Designed for Your Raspberry Pi

WD PiDrive Is a 314GB Hard Drive Designed for Your Raspberry Pi

WDLabs, a part of Western Digital (WD) Corporation, on Monday announced the availability of the WD PiDrive – a uniquely crafted storage solution design for Raspberry Pi devices – on the occasion of Pi Day. The drive is currently available in a capacity of 314GB (a play on the first few decimals in the mathematical constant and transcendental number Pi) and is on sale at an introductory price of $31.42 (approximately Rs. 2,100) and comes with a two-year warranty. All orders will start shipping by March 30.

The drive is based on WD’s high-volume 500GB with features certain design changes engineered for low-power USB operation. Further customisations have also been made to the drive’s magnetic recording and electrical system in order to align it with Raspberry Pi’s USB data and power design. This specialised drive is a boon for those looking to add additional storage to their projects.

“Adoption of Raspberry Pi computing devices is expanding at a tremendous rate, reaching eight million units in about four years1. However, the millions of Raspberry Pi users are finding limitations from data storage devices (SD card, USB hard drive or cloud storage) originally designed for other applications,” said Dave Chew, chief engineer, WDLabs. “The WD PiDrive 314GB HDD is designed to support Raspberry Pi growth by addressing barriers to hard drive adoption such as affordability, power loading and system set-up. In addition, we’ve maintained the key strengths of hard drive technology, including mass-storage value, high data integrity and reliability.”

Just last month, the Raspberry Pi foundation launched the third version of its low-power development platform. Priced at $35 (approximately Rs. 2,300), the Raspberry Pi 3 boasts of a quad-core processor which provides up to 50-60 percent increase in performance in 32-bit mode compared to the earlier model and you even get integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

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Tags: computer, DIY PC, Pi Day, PiDrive, Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi Foundation, WD, WD PiDrive,WD PiDrive price, WD PiDrive specifications, WDLabs, Western Digital
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