Alto’s Odyssey Review

I place the first game, Alto’s Adventure, high in the echelons of great iOS games. Alto’s Odyssey builds on the simplicity of Adventure in just the right ways. While I still greatly recommend the first game, after playing all the way through Odyssey I’m starting to think you should skip it entirely.

The core difference between the games is the terrain, there are three new “zones” Dunes, Canyons, and Temples. Each have their own unique set pieces and corresponding tricks you can do in that zone. For some examples: Canyons has cliff faces you can do wall rides on, it’s really satisfying to chain these however if you’re not paying attention you can end up beginning a flip and soon crash. You can only wall ride when in the standing orientation not in the middle of a flip like the wing suit. In the Temple zone there are waterfalls who’s water runoff is similar to the ice flow feature in Adventure. Sometimes, at the end of these flows are pools which act as trampolines if you land in them with enough force. The Dunes are pretty plain but has many air balloons which have lines you can ride between them, being non-fixed points the lines oscillate, making them a little more challenging to land on. The variety of landscapes is simply a joy to endlessly ride through, where going over 20km in Adventure becomes quickly repetitive, 20k in Odyssey is a cool breeze on a hot day.

The next three paragraphs are for if you have played all the way through Adventure. There is a potential spoiler about an unlockable character’s abilities in the second paragraph.

If you have played all the way through Adventure, be prepared to do it all over again with the same characters and similar power-ups. For having completed Adventure you get nothing, I was hoping for maybe some extra currency, maybe half of the power-ups I’ve already grinded for or not having to go through roughly the first 10 levels of essentially the same challenges all over again. (Let’s face it, you won’t use anyone but Maya until you unlock the final character or a challenge requires someone else.)

In the theme with swapping old mechanics for new yet similar ones, instead of disturbing elders who then chase you, there are lemurs you startle. (I guess that cements the game’s setting in Madagascar?) The chases are shorter but more dangerous, the lemurs are a bit faster, can run on rope lines, and will jump at you even if you aren’t on the ground. However, the final character is immune to these leaping lemurs! A great addition to the game, Elder chases are the number one reason why my runs would end in Adventure and it’s a relief I don’t have to pull the same acrobatics to avoid late-game lemurs here.

There are no more llamas and I miss them. Birds of Paradise will fly with you for a minute or two and nearby collect coins, but it’s not the same as wrangling a herd after running over a horn in the first game. A radio beacon replaces the llama horn, running over the radio drops some vessels with coins and power-ups in them, if you level the beacon up twice it can be significantly lucrative.

Adventure is still a joy to play to this day, only until the final character was unlocked did Odyssey replace that for me. I expect I’ll be playing it as much in the coming years. The early drafts of this review were rough on Odyssey, perhaps it was that I could not get fully used to the new and sometimes unfair terrains, or maybe the grind of getting all my characters and power-ups back soured me, but once you get through it Odyssey becomes much more rewarding to play than Adventure. (It’s so tempting to end this review with “See you on the slopes!“ but then again I guess I just did, sorry.)

How to Run a Crowdfunding Scam

Despite only ever funding one crowdfunding campaign in my entire life, the targeted ad powers that be have determined that I really like crowdfunding. A specific category always gets advertised to me: technology that can do something truly amazing which no one else is pursuing. A year or so later I catch an article that these same projects either get removed from Kickstarter, move over to Indiegogo, or vanish indefinitely into development hell. I’ll absolutely give the benefit of the doubt to the majority these creators, unexpected snags can pop up when you’re trying to scale hardware products. Though sometimes I wonder if people are just cashing in on technolust. In this brief post I’ll layout some steps to running a crowdfunding scam around a technology product.

  1. Come up with a tech product that:
    1. Fills some niche. Good categories include smartphone accessories, drones, and VR gadgets. For the appearance of novelty you can also take regular day item which just has some bluetooth addon so you can call it “smart” some ideas for free:
      • Smart ring (addendum December 6, 2018: this)
      • Smart post-it note
      • Smart drawers
    2. Claims to do something way better than anything out there, especially since you can connect it to your phone!
    3. Technically impossible, but not so much as to make customers think that it is impossible. For example (real examples):
      • A hub that transcribes lectures which is also a portable battery and wireless speaker. (Titan Note)
      • A drone that follows you autonomously and takes selfies. (Lily drone)
      • A bracelet which projects a smartphone interface on your wrist. (Cicret)
  2. Hire a prop shop to make a mock of the product.
  3. Make an amazing marketing video featuring the prop-product. Using the magic of editing and special effects, make it look like it’s a functional product that just needs a couple thousand dollars to bring to market. You could skip step 2 and use a digital model and place it in the video too but you’ll want something physical for later steps.
  4. Post it to Kickstarter or Indiegogo, preference to the latter because if you don’t meet the goal you still get the money.
  5. While the campaign is on-going take the time to develop a crude actually functioning prototype to post as an update to the backers. You don’t want to deceive people too much. This step is optional.
  6. After the campaign is over, post updates every couple months about the challenges and the “progress” you’re making. Do this less frequently as time goes on, a sort of fade away to make people ever forget you still have their money.
  7. Finally, after several months–or years–make a post about how you’ve run out of funding. How there were too many problems with the manufacturers but that you’re proud of your team and the work that you accomplished.
  8. Disappear with all that money. You can do this as early as step 5 too.

Settler of Martan

Dear Settler,

Congratulations! Your application to be a citizen in a contest to see who can best develop a yet unnamed island has been accepted! You shall develop the towns and villages under the banner of myself, the Earl of Martan. Godspeed!

Dear Settler,

Welcome to the island! We have provided you the supplies for one town and one road. Settle anywhere you like, but not too close to the competing settlers.

Dear Settler,

Oh, oh no. You should not have settled there, you see you will harvest too much wool and not enough wood, we want your town to be efficiently contribute to the cause. Not to worry, we have provided you with supplies for a second village and road.

Dear Settler,

It has come to our attention that the northwest road you are building has no where to go and we insist you stop building it. This is just a formality, but you may find that building any further is impossible as neighboring societies have also built roads in the vicinity.

Dear Settler,

As you may well already know, a band of thieves is in your area. Cease producing any goods from the resources they are marauding and keep your villagers safe. Our army is abroad and we can do nothing about this for the time being. Stay safe!

Dear Settler,

After some reallocation of resources we are proud to announce that we have the largest army on the island! For some reason, the rules of the contest only state that we can use our armies keep the bandits away, not forcefully annex neighboring villages.

Dear Settler,

You are hear by notified that the village in which you formerly lived is now a vibrant city. Being a larger populace we now request twice the resources you were formerly producing.

Dear Settler,

In so many words, we have lost the contest. You and other towns like you were not as productive as other towns. My status of Earl is being dissolved and ownership of your settlements is to be assumed by the Duke of Catan. Thank you for your service.

Sincerely the Earl of Martan