Tech Talk #7: Making Money Making Apps, Tablet Toy Wars & Project Eternity Update

An 11-year old scoops $20K for a road-safety app, Tablet Toy Wars as ToysRUs goes to court, and Kickstarter’s Project Eternity beats all expectations.

11-Year-Old (!) Victoria Walker, Wins $20,000 on AT&T’s Hackathon with ‘Rode Dog’ App

I think I need to work my children harder: an 11-year-old girl beat seasoned apps developers at an AT&T sponsored competition to create an app to increase road safety by reducing driver distraction. In doing so, she won $20,000 to develop a finished app ready for marketing.

Victoria Walker, a sixth grade student at Dodson Middle School, showed a video and a slideshow presentation of her app “Rode Dog” to a panel of judges, that enables users to create micro social networks of their friends & family to protect them. A GPS tracks the location of each person at all times and alerts the others whenever someone using their phone and driving at the same time.

This win comes hard on the heels of another teenager, who earlier this year wrote an app for more refined data-mining from news feeds, prompting £thousands investments from many third parties including Samsung. Uncluttered by all the barriers that experience throws up in an adult’s mind, children can really come up with the most simple solutions to real-world problems… maybe we should let the govern the UK for a while?


Toys R Us sued over Tabeo tablet computer by Fuhu

The US’s Toys R Us chain is being sued over allegations it stole one of its former partners’ trade secrets to develop its own tablet computer.

Fuhu (part-owned by the Taiwanese computer-maker Acer, the gadget manufacturer Foxconn and the memory chip producer Kingston), the creator of the ‘Nabi’ tablet, claims the toy reseller chain copied the design, user-experience and online services of its device.

Toys R Us had exclusive rights to sell Fuhu’s machine in the US, but this deal has since lapsed. The machine came pre-installed with popular games including Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja as well as an educational maths-learning program and a painting app, and it also received positive reviews from the press. But Fuhu alleges the toy-store chain did “virtually no promotion” and only sold about 20,000 units over the Christmas 2011 period because it had not ordered more. Child-targeted tablets proved to be one of the season’s hot categories with rival devices – including the LeapPad Explorer Tablet and the VTech Innotab – selling out in the run up to the holiday.

Eight months after the agreement ended, ToysRUs announced it would sell its own Android-powered hand-held – the Tabeo – in the US from this October, following in the footsteps of another retailer, Amazon, which had seen its own-branded device become a best-seller.

Fuhu claims the Tabeo copied the butterfly-shaped bumper used to protect the Nabi, the device’s software eco-system and the firm’s “business blueprint” in order to release a product ahead of Christmas this year. It has also launched a successor to its original product with improved specifications, which is sold via other retailers.

Proof that it’s not just Apple and Samsung who can “throw their toys out of the pram” about tablets… (sorry!)


Kickstarter ‘Project Eternity’ Nears $2m: Update on its ‘Souls’, Technology, Non-Combat Abilities & a Unity Engine

Obsidian’s RPG Project Eternity is on its way to becoming one of Kickstarter’s greatest fund-raisers, with $1.9 million raised and still @ 20 days to go, against a target of $1.1 million. Historically, Wasteland 2 raised $2.93 million via Kickstarter, and Double Fine’s new adventure game raised $3.34 million. Project Eternity is earmarked to be released in spring 2014.

Project Eternity is a role-playing game in the mold of Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale. Stretch goals reached so far are: Mac version, Linux version, DRM-Free, a bigger story, two more classes, two more races and two more companions. After that, the target is to reach $2M and add player housing – this will also include quests, NPCs, a companion hangout, more dialogue, and a new store with new unique weapons, clothing and armour.

Souls – at the heart of Project Eternity, both thematically and mechanically, are souls. These power your abilities, differentiate factions etc.

Technology – most civilisations of Project Eternity are in Earth’s equivalent of the high or late Middle Ages. But some of the most powerful civilisations are beginning to uncover early modern technologies like ships and black powder firearms. Ship exploration is being halted by seemingly insurmountable sea monsters, and black powder firearms fire once and take ages to reload. They’re unreliable but very useful against wizards protected by the arcane veil, whose barriers don’t stop bullets travelling at such high velocities.

Non-Combat Abilities – in RPGs, non-combat abilities can be some of the most rewarding, helping you tap deeper into dialogue trees and discover things that other less patient, more brawny players tend to miss. Obsidian doesn’t want non-combat abilities to hamper your combat abilities. You’ll gain them separately, they won’t use the same resources, you’ll be able to use them frequently and experience rewards for peaceful solutions will be just as great as for killing everybody. Non-combat skills/abilities fall into four categories:

  • Learning new things: locations of towns, materials (e.g. herbs), hidden doors. Uncovering secrets like potion recipes or true names of demons
  • Travelling around the world: better sneaking, faster/safer map travel (use of mountain routes, ship routes) and teleportation! Also, removing locks, traps.
  • Getting new items: buying, stealing, making items and helping merchants make items.
  • Interacting with companions: ways to recruit them, improve their usefulness, keep them from dying.

Unity Engine – Project Eternity will be powered by Unity: Unity makes Linux support simpler, so it’s been included as default.

Source: Euro-GamerHuffington PostBBC News
Reporter: SilverFox

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