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Time wasters: Keep cool with the best summer games for the Mac

 Time wasters: Keep cool with the best summer games for the Mac

Summertime is great, but sometimes you want to stay in the air-conditioned cool away from the oppressive heat. If you’d rather play on your Mac than suffer in the sun, I’ve rounded up some fun time wasters for you that will keep you busy. I’ve run the gamut on prices here, so you should find something you can play regardless of your wallet’s thickness.

League of Legends

League of Legends is Riot Games’ ridiculously popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). It came out in 2009 and has been growing in popularity ever since then – now millions of gamers play League every day. But up until a few months ago, Mac gamers were left out of the loop unless they resorted to Boot Camp. The Mac version hasn’t emerged from beta yet, but that hasn’t stopped hordes of Mac players from getting on board with the game.

At its most basic, League of Legends is a real time strategy (RTS) game. Your goal is to control the map by destroying your opponent’s Nexus. You do that using one of dozens of different Champions – special characters that lead “minions” – computer-controlled characters that constantly spawn and attack the opposing team. Different play modes and so many other players make sure you’ll never get bored.

League is free to download and play – the developer makes money by encouraging players to purchase “Riot Points” which can then be used to customize the game. But you are also able to unlock content by playing well and scoring “Influence Points,” which you also use to buy new stuff. So if you’re short on funds but long on talent, you can go a long way without spending very much at all.

Don’t Starve

Wilson is a “Gentleman Scientist” who finds himself trapped in a wilderness world, the victim of a demonic attack. Wilson has to learn how to exploit the environment of this strange new place, as well as its inhabitants if he wants to get back home.

Your goal as Wilson is simply to survive. To do that, you have to collect items and resources, craft tools, and build structures to help you. You’re dropped in the middle of this world with no instructions for how to survive or to leave, so you’re on your own.

The game features characters and aren’t that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton movie or illustration (the soundtrack is suitably Danny Elfman-like to evoke more of the Burton feel, too). They’re all 2D characters, though the world is 3D, and each time you play the game it can be different, since maps are randomly generated. As the developers put it, “At any time you can generate a new living and breathing world that hates you and wants you to die.”

Cubemen 2

Riffing on the ever-popular Tower Defense game genre, Cubemen 2 is the followup to 3D Sprockets’ first Cubemen game. Use your cubemen to attack your enemies and defend your own territory. Five game modes including Capture the Flag, Territory and Rescue, single player and multiplayer support, and extensive customization thanks to a built-in level editor.

Each cubeman has his own specialized ability – some can block paths to keep the enemies away. Others can lay mines to blow the enemy up when they are in close proximity. Others are charged with lightning. And the levels themselves can sport teleporters, healing stations and other specialized areas.

Gamers not interested in taking on online players can play two different single-player game modes and defensive camapaigns, and those games will be ranked online so you can compare your scores to the best in the world. Also, ridiculously cheap!

Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine

This game is rendered in 2D and has a deliberate 8-bit look about it, but it’s not a throwback – this is a thoroughly modern game that can be played either single-player or in co-op mode with up to three other players.

Monaco emphasizes stealth over brute force; you must unlock doors and sneak through without making any sounds or alerting guards who will try to stop you. Eight different characters in your crew provide very unique primary and secondary abilities that will help you with each heist: a locksmith, a pickpocket, a “Cleaner” who can knock out enemies and more.

Monaco’s been lauded for years, even though the game only came out in April (the Mac version only came out this week): it was the recipient of the grand prize in the 2010 GDC Independent Games Festival awards.

Borderlands 2

I’ve written about Borderlands 2 before, so if I’m starting to sound repetitious, I’m sorry. But this shooter continues to rank very high on my list of must-have games. First of all, it’s a first-person shooter, and new ones aren’t released on the Mac every day. Secondly, it has these great RPG elements that enable you to level up and acquire one of the widest assortment of weapons ever seen in a game.

And once you get through the single-player campaign, there’s a slew of people playing online that will extend the fun for you indefinitely. Add to that that Gearbox (and Mac developer Aspyr) has been releasing a steady stream of Downloadable Content (DLC) to extend gameplay further, and it adds up to just awesome fun on your Mac.

Just be warned that the Mac and PC versions occasionally break compatibility with one another, typically when Gearbox offers a new patch. Aspyr’s diligent about updating its Mac release to keep the two synced, however.

Fields of War

Fields of War is a massively multiplayer third-person shooter in which you pilot a mech and try to wrest territorial control from other players. It’s team-focused and it divides players into two factions: North and South. It’s currently in beta development and it’s available through somewhat limited means (only Gamersgate.com and Macgamestore.com had it for sale as I wrote this), but it’s very promising and already very cool.

Up to 200 players compete for control, with computer-controlled bots stepping in when there aren’t enough players. Your goal is to capture the other team’s “Core.” Cores form a network that affects the player faction’s control of the land, and there are special Cores that, when captured, give your team a skill like revealing all enemy positions, hastening a fast retreat, replenish ammo, and more.

Five mech classes each provide different capabilities like artillery, demolition, field repairs, scouting, and defense. What’s more, a customization system lets you paint your mech any way you want, using a system that will definitely appeal to fans of tabletop gaming like Warhammer 40K. If you want to get in on the ground floor of a fun MMO that runs on Mac, Windows and Linux, check it out.

There are some fun games here, but I’ve bound to have forgotten or overlooked some titles that people will want to draw attention to. What games are you playing on your Mac right now, and how are you beating the heat? Let me know in the comments!

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Verizon HTC One launch remains a mystery as summer arrives

The Verizon HTC One is coming to store shelves “this summer” according to Verizon. Sadly as of Friday June 21st, it is officially summer and we’re still waiting for more news from Big Red regarding the device. It’s safe to say that by now many potential buyers have moved on to the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5, or even moved over to AT&T for their HTC One fix. So what’s the deal Verizon?

09e037736c112111.jpg Verizon HTC One launch remains a mystery as summer arrives

HTC announced their impressive new HTC One flagship smartphone back in February, and it eventually made its way to US shelves and launched on all major carriers in April, except for Verizon. AT&T got the stunning new smartphone back on April 19th, and the rumors around if and when Verizon would offer the top-tier device floated around for almost two months.

Nearly three weeks ago Verizon finally confirmed on Twitter that they’d be carrying the 4.7-inch 1080p HD display packing quad-core smartphone, and that’s basically all they had to say. That’s it. Stating the HTC One was coming “later this summer” and the entire device or launch date has remained a mystery. Summer is here, people are planning it out, getting ready for upgrades, so you better act fast Verizon.

3673e41a0255 AM1.png Verizon HTC One launch remains a mystery as summer arrives

What gives? With AT&T 4G LTE nearly catching up with Verizon, phones arriving sooner, updates not being a mess, is there a reason to wait and stay? Who knows. What we do know is competition is strong and only getting stronger. Announcing phones 2 months later than the competition, then leaving potential buyers wondering for weeks (or months) isn’t the best way to go about it. This is just my personal opinion, and many comments we’ve received over the past month feel the same way.

Summer is technically from June 21st to the end of September, so we could be waiting a while for a Verizon HTC One. They did say “later this summer” which means nothing. One of our sources states Thursday, July 18th could be the release date, but so far Verizon has nothing set in stone, and are taking their sweet time. They aren’t too concerned with bringing this phone to market, it would seem.

We’ve also been told the recent update from HTC to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean could be part of the problem, as we all know Verizon has a thorough testing phase for updates. If they were nearing a release and had to delay it for the update, that would make sense. 4.2.2 was rumored for the HTC One in mid June, and we’re expecting the Verizon flavor to have the latest OS out of the box.

Summer is finally here and we’re expecting more details or an actual release date soon from Verizon, but don’t hold your breath.

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It’s official! HTC One coming to Verizon this summer

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one one in hand aa

The HTC One isn’t just another flagship phone. It represents the last bastion of hope for a company that wishes to rebuild its lost empire. So far the HTC has certainly provided a much-needed boost to HTC’s reputation thanks to its sexy, well-built design. Unfortunately, it has also yet to launch on America’s biggest cellular network. All of that changes this summer, as Verizon Wireless has finally confirmed the HTC One is in fact coming.


So what exactly do we know about the Big Red’s version of the HTC One? Almost nothing other than it is coming “later this summer” (hopefully no later than July?). It seems that the HTC One will be spared from Verizon’s “Droid branding” treatment, but we really can’t say for sure what software changes, color choices, branding or design changes might be coming to the handset.

Pricing also remains a mystery, but if we had to take a stab at it, 9 with contract would sound about right – but keep in mind that’s just a guesstimate at best.

Now the big question is whether or not the Verizon HTC One is too late to the party to make any real difference for HTC or Verizon. After all, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is now available and rumors of an HTC Droid DNA 2 (possibly the HTC T6?) could detract interest from the Verizon HTC One.

Still, the HTC One is a sexy handset with great specs and a smaller screen size that might prove attractive to Verizon users looking for a powerful handset that doesn’t follow the 5-inch+ screen trend.

What do you think, are you interested in picking up Verizon’s HTC One when it arrives later this summer?


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Famed leaker: Android 4.2.2 coming to HTC One soon, “Senseless” edition later this summer?


A source known for providing insider information on HTC devices tweeted that the HTC One could get an update in “2-3 weeks”, while a “Senseless” edition might come in late summer.

One of the most popular devices of the moment, the HTC One, is behind the times (and the competition) when it comes to the Android version. The HTC One is running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean coupled with Sense 5, at a time when the newest version of Android, 4.2, has been out for almost six months.

Naturally, HTC One users have been clamoring for an update, but the good news is their wish may be granted in as little as two to three weeks.

The info comes from a noted purveyor of insider information on HTC that has a good reputation when it comes to leaks of the Taiwanese company’s handsets. @LlabTooFeR has correctly predicted the HTC First, also known as the “Facebook phone”, and the specifications of the HTC M4, which is said to hit the market as the HTC One Mini.

Now @LlabTooFeR is back at it with info on the Android 4.2.2 update for the HTC One:

The tweet refers to this earlier one:

Even more exciting is the reference to a Senseless HTC One, in other words, a One running stock Android, just like the Galaxy S4 “Google Edition” unveiled at I/O. As you can see, @LlabTooFeR is not committing to the info, so it’s hard to say if it’s his speculation or something he knows for a fact.

Though @LlabTooFeR has a successful track record when it comes to leaks, we wouldn’t recommend ingesting this information without the proverbial grain of salt. Even the best connected insiders get it wrong sometimes. We’ve asked @LlabTooFeR  for more info on the Senseless One via Twitter and we’ll update this post with his comments.

With that said, we’ve also heard about Sense 5 coming to the HTC J Butterfly by the end of the month, with Android 4.2.2 possibly in tow. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to believe that HTC is preparing a rollout for all its flagship devices, including the popular HTC One.

What will Android 4.2 bring to the HTC One? The most significant updates are the possibility to have widgets in the lock screen, a quick-settings panel in the notification dropdown and a swipe-based keyboard.

As for the HTC One Google Edition, an HTC employee did tease us during the I/O keynote, though an HTC PR boss was quick to shut down the speculation.


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Rumor: Sony prepping three new smartphones for the summer, including 6.4-inch “Togari”

Sony logo aa (1) - 600px

And the award for busiest bee in the Android hive this beginning of the year goes to Sony, whose alphabet soup of phones has been spiced up with four new ingredients in less than three months.

There’s the Xperia Z, ZL, SP and L, but if you thought Sony would be taking a breather after these four releases, you weren’t very familiar with how things go in the smartphone market.

According to newly emerged rumors in Sony’s homeland, Japan, the Xperia family might be welcoming three extra members sometime in the summer. The most intriguing is unfortunately also the one wrapped in the thickest cloak of secrecy – a 6.4-incher codenamed “Togari”.

I know what you’re thinking, a 6.4-inch phone would be sick. But hey, Huawei’s Ascend Mate is official and ready to take the world by storm with a slightly smaller 6.1-inch display. And how about the 7-inch Asus Fonepad, advertised as a supersized phone as well?

So it’s not completely crazy to think Sony has a monster like this in the works, but for now we’ll take it with a pinch of salt because the only other detail “known” about it aside from the display size is that it will boast a Full HD resolution.

Gaga telephone

As for the other two rumored Sony phones, they have a lot more details attached to their names, but they’re also less spectacular. There’s the 5-inch SOL22, also known as “Gaga” and thought to carry the Xperia UL market name, and a 4.6-incher with the model number SO-04E, the codename “Dogo” and the expected market name Xperia A.

The UL might be very similar to the ZL design-wise, while in the hardware department it will slightly step things up with a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage. The 5-inch screen should be Full HD, the body will be resistant to water and dust, but the battery will be a slightly meager 2,300 mAh unit (compared with the 2,370 inside the ZL).

Finally, the phone that will restart the alphabet for Sony, the Xperia A or Dogo, has been making the rumor rounds ever since last fall. The fellow is to pack a Snapdragon 600 CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of memory, a 2,300 mAh battery inside a water and dust resistant body and the display will be either 720 or 1,080p.

If we are to trust the rumors all the way, only the Xperia A will be released globally, while the UL and Togari could remain Japan-exclusives. We don’t really buy that, but then again we’re not sure if the three phones are real to start with. Do you think the trio exists? Do you want it to?

The post Rumor: Sony prepping three new smartphones for the summer, including 6.4-inch “Togari” appeared first on Android Authority.

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Wacom working on a tablet for creative professionals, out “this summer”

Wacom's Cintiq series requires an attached computer to work, but the company says it is working on a standalone mobile device for design pros.

Wacom’s Cintiq series (pictured above)  requires an attached computer to work, but the company says it is working on a standalone mobile device for design pros.

You probably know the brand Wacom, and you probably know them for tablet peripherals used as computer input interfaces. Wacom targets its tablets mostly at the creative industries, but the company also supplies the underlying technologies for portable devices that require pressure-sensitive input, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note series and the Microsoft Surface Pro.

Read also: Break It Down – How Does The S Pen Work?

It seems, though, that there is quite some demand from among Wacom users to build their own standalone tablets, noting that Wacom’s current devices require a host computer to operate. On Wacom’s Facebook page, they hint at developing their own portable tablet line, and the company is actually “working 24/7 on it.”

We’ve read your email and spoken to many about an on-the-go dream device. It will come. This summer. We’re working 24/7 on it. And yes, it has a real pressure-sensitive professional pen, smooth multi-touch, an HD display, and other valuable features that you haven’t seen in other tablets.

Wacom has shared no other information, although given the choices for operating systems we have today, the standalone tablet will likely run Android. Windows 8 might be an option for Wacom, given how the Surface Pro had been lauded as likewise effective for professional creative work. But there’s one question, of course: price. Wacom targets creative and design professionals, after all. And its latest Cintiq line, which comes with a built-in screen, sells for at least 9. And that’s for a tablet that requires an attached computer to work.

Will Wacom price its tablet competitively? Of course, we can consider that touch-based UIs and technology have gone a long way since Wacom introduced its Cintiq line about six years ago, so that’s bound to drive prices down. But if Wacom will be targeting its tablet toward pros and high-end users rather than consumers, then this should not be much of a concern.

Is anyone excited for a standalone tablet that will let design and creative professionals work while on the move?

The post Wacom working on a tablet for creative professionals, out “this summer” appeared first on Android Authority.

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