Tag Archives: Garage

The Parking Garage of the Future

Entrepreneurs envision a “mobility hub” that can save you a spot, help with dinner reservations and offer a place to plug in an E.V. Yes, apps are involved.

Consider all the uses that most drivers usually associate with a parking garage:

1. Parking.

That’s about it.

Consider also, however, if one could deploy a smartphone or another device not only to find the garage on a maps app but also to ensure that on this rainy night a space is vacant and can be reserved. This is a good thing, because next to the blocklong parking facility is a concert hall, where Billie Eilish will be performing in an hour. Need a ticket for the show? The garage’s app can help with that, too. A dinner reservation? Sure.

Just a parking garage? Inventive entrepreneurs conceive of it as a “mobility hub” or “silo,” fashioned with whole lot of advanced software and hardware technology around a mantra that goes something like this: “Seamless, frictionless, touchless.” It’s a concept that has evolved in the past year because of the pandemic, and it’s likely to keep evolving.

The owners of FlashParking, a company in Austin, Texas, that provides software and hardware for garages, see the future of driving — and, not coincidentally, parking — as a digitally centered platform that, in a very broad (and rather utopian) sense, could relieve congestion, pollution, anxiety and a few other things. Among their ideas is to move vehicles that do a lot of cruising around or idling — like those on Uber shifts and Amazon, FedEx and UPS trucks — into a restful parking spot in a “silo” equipped with a restroom and a food truck.

“You only got to run in and deliver two packages?” asked Flash’s marketing executive, Neil Golson. “I got a spot for 15 minutes, and here’s a special price. That’s the evolution we’re enabling: Get people off the street and into the lot.”

Flash’s chief executive, Dan Sharplin, called parking today “an accidental experience.”

“You’re driving in town to do something, and then looking for parking,” he said. “But our view is there will be very few accidental drivers in the future. And that these parking assets” — garages — “can be converted into a dynamic hub of a broad network and connected in a digital fashion through consumer-facing apps. It only works if you reach the consumer where he lives today: on his phone.”

Mr. Sharplin’s organization, which he describes as SaaS — software as a service — needs partners. In fact, Flash doesn’t own the garages or the thousands of other parking locations across the country that it supplies, he said.

“But,” Mr. Golson added, “we do own the infrastructure: the hardware that makes the gates go up and down, the scooters, the E.V. charging stations.”

Andy Zalkin for The New York Times
Andy Zalkin for The New York Times

And there are other partners in the mix: the automakers. Flash is working with more than a dozen of them to integrate parking apps, Mr. Golson said. “But they’re not necessarily the ones creating the tech,” he added. “We want to be at the table as the parking adviser, alongside Google and Amazon and Uber.”

Many garages that SP Plus, a Chicago-based company, manages across the country employ hands-free systems at the gates and mobile payments “to create a touchless experience,” said Jeff Eckerling, the company’s chief growth officer. Overall, the company oversees “upwards of two million” parking spaces in several thousand locations, including more than 70 airports, he said.

Despite the touchless technology, stay-at-home restrictions that were mandated more than a year ago because of the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the parking garage business. An empty parking spot is like a subway car without riders, a baseball stadium without fans.

“Our whole industry was hit very hard, from hotels to airports to event venues,” Mr. Eckerling said.

Not surprisingly, he said, New York City was among the first cities where parking recovered. “If you go back four months, we were almost at pre-Covid levels,” he added. “So many workers had been taking mass transit, but it takes only a small number going back to the office and driving that creates a real win for our business.”

The history of the parking garage in the United States isn’t particularly romantic. Most reports date the earliest public garages to the early 1930s, around the time that car ownership began to expand. Car “jockeys” handled the affair, and cars were often placed on platforms and shuttled to available spaces.

By the ’50s, a building boom had filled downtowns with garages, giving people more convenient access to shopping and businesses. The mid-20th century also brought the introduction of multistory garages with ramps and “do-it-yourself” parking.

Some pieces of the Flash vision were in effect recently in Hoboken, N.J., where the company has teamed up with LAZ Parking at one of its garages. High-tech cameras at the two entrances are programmed to read license plates to identify cars whose drivers may have prepaid online, or have a monthly residential contract, or want only an hourly ticket. (No need to pull one from a machine; just wave at a screen and the ticket is dispensed.)

If the plate is obscured, the camera can recognize the car by a “signature”: a mark or a dent or a sticker.

The collaboration between LAZ Parking and FlashParking allows for digital management of the garage’s 1,440 spaces.
Andy Zalkin for The New York Times

Part of the lower floor held some rental vehicles, since Avis maintains an operation in the garage. (Many garages work with the car-sharing company Zipcar and similar services to store vehicles and electric scooters.) And a fairly large open space on the ground floor was “parked” with a few dozen stationary bikes, part of a Soul Cycle franchise assembled like a pop-up inside the garage.

One of the keys to a garage’s economic success is turnover. “Managing inventory is critical here,” said Omar Perera, the general manager of the eight-story Hoboken garage and its 1,440 spots. “And because the data is in the cloud, I can manage it from my iPhone in my house.”

Mr. Perera periodically adjusts pricing, depending on supply and demand, he said.

There were no scooters or food trucks. And there weren’t charging stations for electric vehicles yet, although Mr. Perera assured me that they were coming. After one apparently desperate E.V. owner tried to charge his car by plugging into a conventional AC outlet on an upstairs floor, the outlets in the building were blocked. The garage of the future is still a work in progress.

Author: Stephen Williams
Read more here >>> NYT > Technology > Personal Tech

Random: This Game Builder Garage Version Of VVVVVV Looks Almost Identical To The Real Thing

Game Builder Garage players have already been sharing plenty of impressive creations, but this latest project is perhaps the closest any has come to truly matching its original source material.

Over on Twitter, @CarsonKompon has shared a look at their recreation of VVVVVV, a 2D platformer developed by Terry Cavanagh that launched on Switch back in 2017. Amazingly, the project looks almost identical to the original game; the layout is instantly familiar if you’ve played VVVVVV yourself, and the custom sprites and music put the cherry on the cake. Check it out:

If you haven’t played VVVVVV, let us show you what we’re on about. Here’s the opening of the real game – you’ll spot that pretty much everything other than the text boxes is complete and present.

Oh, and don’t just take our word for it – even the original game’s creator seems impressed:

Consider this one well and truly added to our list of favourite creation so far, which already includes an F-Zero recreation, Masahiro Sakurai’s shooter game, a cool version of Super Mario Kart, and a recreation of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s 1996 prototype. People are too talented.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Japanese Charts: Game Builder Garage Beats Final Fantasy VII And Ratchet & Clank To Number One

Game builder Garage

Famitsu’s Japanese chart figures are now in for the week ending 13th June, revealing that Game Builder Garage has gone straight in at number one in its debut week.

The game – which was treated to a physical edition in both Japan and North America, don’t forget – managed to sell an estimated 71,241 copies at retail to keep Square Enix’s updated Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade release off top spot. It leads a top ten with a healthy number of new entries, mostly for PlayStation systems.

On the Nintendo front, Miitopia remains Switch’s second-best effort at present, with Ring Fit Adventure also maintaining its incredibly strong performance.

Here are the top ten (first numbers are this week’s estimated sales, followed by total sales):


  1. [NSW] Game Builder Garage (Nintendo, 06/11/21) – 71,241 (New)
  2. [PS5] Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade (Square Enix, 06/10/21) – 20,889 (New)
  3. [PS5] Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (06/11/21) – 14,663 (New)
  4. [NSW] Miitopia (Nintendo, 05/21/21) – 14,579 (147,402)
  5. [NSW] Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo, 10/18/19) – 13,507 (2,627,908)
  6. [PS4] Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection (Koei Tecmo, 06/10/21) – 12,210 (New)
  7. [NSW] Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom, 03/26/21) – 11,951 (2,257,335)
  8. [PS4] Guilty Gear: Strive (Arc System Works, 06/11/21) – 11,722 (New)
  9. [NSW] Minecraft (Microsoft, 06/21/18) – 11,661 (1,995,228)
  10. [NSW] Momotaro Dentetsu: Showa, Heisei, Reiwa mo Teiban! (Konami, 11/19/20) – 9,802 (2,223,507)

In the hardware charts, Switch is still leading the way. Here are this week’s figures, followed by lifetime sales in brackets:

  1. Switch – 61,766 (16,304,390)
  2. Switch Lite – 16,551 (3,889,413)
  3. PlayStation 5 – 15,648 (684,515)
  4. PlayStation 5 Digital Edition – 3,771 (135,284)
  5. Xbox Series X – 2,182 (36,185)
  6. PlayStation 4 – 1,185 (7,792,135)
  7. Xbox Series S – 512 (12,642)
  8. New 2DS LL (including 2DS) – 395 (1,165,619)

< Last week’s charts (actually two weeks ago)

Any surprises this week? Let us know in the comments.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

A Day-One Update For Game Builder Garage Is Now Live

Game Builder Garage

This week’s big Nintendo release is Game Builder Garage – its origins, as you might already know, stem from Nintendo Labo.

In short, you make games and you can even connect a USB mouse to enhance your experience. If you are one of the many who picked the game up on release, you might have noticed there’s a day one update for it.

So, what’s it do? According to Nintendo, it’ll make your overall experience with this new software just a little more comfortable. Here are the full patch notes, courtesy of Nintendo’s official support page:

Ver. 1.0.1 (Released June 10, 2021)

Addressed various issues to create a more comfortable game experience.

If you’re still on the fence about this one, why not watch or read our full review. We awarded the game seven out of ten stars and said it was a toolbox of terrifying potential.

Have you downloaded this update yet? Would you like to see Nintendo support this game with some more exciting content updates in the future? Leave your thoughts down below.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Review: Game Builder Garage – A Toolbox Of Terrifying Potential

Game Builder Garage is a game where you make games yourself rather than letting trained developers do it for you. If that sounds like a lot of hard work then Game Builder Garage probably isn’t going to be your flavour of choice. But if that sounds like a lot of hard work that you’d actually like to have a pop at, the question is does it deliver enough to actually make it a worthwhile purchase?

The whole thing is split into two convenient parts, Interactive Lessons and Free Programming. The former takes you through the basics of how the game works through seven appropriately interactive lessons, hosted by Bob, the indeterminate speck. Now let’s not beat around the bush, game development deals with an incredible number of abstract concepts, including but not limited to the bane of every schoolchild: maths. For some these ideas will click almost instantly, but for others it’s a right old nuisance to wrap one’s head around, and so a game like this can easily live or die by its tutorials.

Thankfully we’re pleased to say that on the whole Game Builder Garage’s lessons are a triumph; you’ll be making pre-planned games from scratch, suitably blending visual and kinaesthetic learning theories in a way that initially holds your hand the first time you do something, but then upon repeat instances stops directly highlighting the buttons you need to navigate to and simply gives you a brief and clear command, such as ‘let’s set this object’s colour to yellow’. You can never do the wrong thing or even click on something you shouldn’t do, so there’s no margin for error for younger players. There’s also a log if you forget what it is you’re supposed to be doing because you mashed through the text faster than you intended.

Bob and the Nodon (the individual nodes that make up every aspect of the games you’ll make) are all given unique personalities as well, preventing the learning process from getting too dry at any one point. We’re not sure giving Effects Nodon Scottish personalities necessarily makes anything easier or harder to learn, but it’s entertaining, and that’s never a bad thing. Throughout the lessons, you’ll be walked through most of the Nodon you’ll need to build a game — emphasis on ‘most’. Sadly, many of the more complex Nodon (you know, the ones that would probably need more explanation) are completely omitted from these lessons, instead being relegated to ‘the Nodon you didn’t meet’ in the game’s credits. Yikes.

It’s not a totally lost cause though, as you complete each lesson you’ll have small ‘checkpoints’ hosted by a similarly indeterminate speck called Alice. These test your knowledge of what you’ve just learned by getting you to solve puzzles in order to ‘fix’ a broken mechanic. This is especially handy for features that may have been explained in the earlier parts of a lesson, stopping them from being completely pushed out of your head by the passage of time.

Many of the Nodon that aren’t featured in the lessons can be found in several of these bonus puzzles in a separate selection that appears once all the lessons are completed, but most of them lack any explanation, meaning a lot of fumbling is sure to ensue. Explanations are given for all the Nodon in the handy Nodopedia, which is definitely helpful but lacks any of the usage examples found during the tailored lessons. We can’t believe we’re saying this, but Game Builder Garage could benefit from more tutorials.

The other side of the game is Free Programming. You know, actually making games. Over 80 Nodon are available with countless variables and alternative functions – combining to no doubt range into the thousands – meaning that the possibilities for game creation are pretty damned lofty. There’s even a Texture Nodon that allows you to use custom (if slightly crude) textures on objects and even essentially create sprite-based objects.

It’s not all peaches and rainbows, though. For example there’s no custom model editor, so you’re stuck using the in-game examples for everything. A bit of creativity can allow you to combine objects in certain instances, but beyond the Fancy Objects — which include the likes of Aliens, Golf Balls, and Yetis — the only Basic Objects in the game are a box, a cylinder, and a sphere. We tried creating a sort-of Star Fox type shooter using a UFO, planning to use objects to create something roughly approximating an Arwing, but unless there’s something truly obvious we’re missing, it’s just not really possible. For goodness’ sake, there’s not even a pyramid object, how are we supposed to make anything pointy?

There’s a notable lack of theming as well. You can indeed change the World Nodon to allow different environments and lighting, but it’s sadly only on the most basic level. There are likely ways around this using the Texture Nodon but considering its canvas can only boast a resolution of 64×64, texturing entire rooms looks very repetitive, or very pixelated. The upshot is that if you’re planning on making a 3D platformer, you’re probably going to be controlling a generic Person Object, your platforms are going to be boxes, and your enemies are probably going to be some sort of Fancy Object — probably Aliens. Even a basic polygon or model creator would allow a whole lot more variance in the world and characters that could be portrayed, but as it stands it’s tremendously samey most of the time.

Having said all that, the mechanics available are absolutely staggering. One of the best new features in our humble opinion is the Swap Game Nodon. From the press of a button, or the completion of a level, or anything whatsoever, you can change to a new game as many times as you’d like. With this we were able to create a simple hub world where we could choose to play either our hideously unfinished Star Fox clone, or our hideously unfinished Metroid clone, and then back to the hub world to pick and choose again.

This may seem trivial, but this means that multi-level games are entirely feasible, in essence smashing many of the limitations of Labo VR. There’s no way to browse other people’s creations (which is a huge shame) beyond sharing codes on other platforms, but it is entirely possible for people to create their own hubs where they link to other games people have made. Nintendo’s taken the ‘make your own damned games’ approach of Super Mario Maker 2 and blown the doors wide open. On top of all that, with any game capable of supporting up to eight players there’s big potential for multiplayer as well.

The user interface, like the Swedish flag, is another big plus. Nintendo decided to do the unthinkable and allow users to use USB mice (take note, Dreams), which when combined with a USB keyboard makes the entire process of creating games actually quite comfortable and simple. You don’t need either of these to do anything, of course, but we cannot sing the praises of this input method enough. One thing is does lack, sadly, is the ability to edit or manipulate objects in 3D. Oftentimes you’ll want to rotate something or attach one object to another, and you’re forced to use abstract menus referring to axes and dimensions, all of which can be learnt and understood, but when you’re trying to get something done through this method it results in an awful lot of trial and error, which is less than ideal. Thankfully almost every other area is simple and easy to control.

Conclusion

Game Builder Garage is a frighteningly powerful game creation tool dragged down by a few limiting factors. The lack of an object creation tool (and pyramids) means that most games are going to look like they were made in a game creation suite, but the sheer scope of what’s possible helps to take the sting out of the tail. This will actually teach you how to make games, the tutorials that lead you through are by-and-large excellent, and the inclusion of USB mouse support is a godsend. We’re probably unable to even conceive of half of what Switch owners will be able to create using this software, but we’re certain this is going to help propagate the next generation of game developers.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

It Seems Game Builder Garage Will Only Be Available On The eShop In Europe

Earlier this week, Nintendo announced Game Builder Garage for Switch. It gives players the chance to create their own games.

Alongside the reveal, we got an early look at the North American box art – confirming a physical release was on the way. Unfortunately, it seems not every region will be receiving a hard copy of the game. In Europe, Game Builder Garage will be “available in downloadable format only”, according to Nintendo’s latest release schedule.

Nintendo works in mysterious ways, so who knows what the reasoning behind this decision might be. What this does mean, though – is that if you’re located somewhere in Europe and were planning on picking up a physical version of this game, you’ll now probably have to import a copy from another region.

A Nintendo representative also confirmed to Nintendo Life this week that the digital file size of Game Builder Garage would take up 995 MB of space on the Switch. Will you be picking up a physical or digital copy of this upcoming release? Does this news impact your own plans? Leave a comment down below.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Feature: Game Builder Garage Could Help Make The Next Generation Of Game Devs

Anyone can be a game programmer!

Most of the game developers you know today, and even the ones you don’t, grew up making games with some extremely arcane tools. Nintendo’s newest game, Game Builder Garage, might look like it’s aimed at kids — but it’s part of a new era of game development that’s more accessible than ever.

Back in the day, a lot of developers learned the ropes with BASIC — a precursor to modern programming languages, which you probably know as the one that you can use to “PRINT “Hello, World!”“. Developers that are a little older may have used Assembly language, which is pretty much the language that computers themselves speak.

A small snippet of Super Mario Bros' Assembly code
A small snippet of Super Mario Bros‘ Assembly code (Image: doppelganger)

Assembly is what’s known as a “low-level” programming language, which means it has fewer of the abstraction layers that make higher-level languages easier for human people to use. It’s like speaking fluent French to a French person, rather than having to check a guide to ask where the toilets are, or asking Google Translate to turn “my leg has fallen off” into French for you. As a result, it’s fast, because no “translation” is needed, but it’s also extremely hard to make complex things with it, unless you’re basically a programming wizard.

Imagine trying to write a novel in Latin with your eyes closed, and that’s pretty much what it’s like to make games in Assembly. Almost all NES, SNES, and Mega Drive games were made in Assembly, as well as the original Pokémon games, and Rollercoaster Tycoon, which is insane.

All of this is just a computer reading numbers to itself
All of this is just a computer reading numbers to itself

Fast forward to a little later on, and a surprisingly high number of modern-day video game developers got their start in FPS modding. Dear Esther, the game that kicked off the “walking simulator” genre, began life as a Half-Life 2 mod, and so did The Stanley Parable.

Others, like Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen, found success in Flash (RIP), publishing their games on sites like Newgrounds and eventually gathering enough support to publish them for real. Some people even learned to code on Neopets. Seriously.

Hopefully, this extremely brief history lesson of early-ish game dev has helped you realise how it’s honestly a miracle that anyone ever pushed past these obtuse game tools to create the video games you know and love.

Luckily, these days, we not only have accessible, “high-level” programming languages like C#, Python, and Javascript, but we also have high-level tools like Unity, GameMaker, and RPG Maker that can help us make games without having to figure out how to talk to a computer. The sacrifice is that these languages require extra processing power to “translate” them back to computer-speak, but with powerful computers, that’s no longer a problem! Yay!

Right, we’re quite a few paragraphs in, and I haven’t really mentioned the title of this piece yet. Game Builder Garage is Nintendo’s new game, announced out of nowhere, that promises that “anyone can be a game programmer”. It’s actually not new at all, but a revamped, expanded version of the software included with the Labo VR kit, which sadly didn’t sell particularly well.

Game Builder Garage is the latest in a crop of tools that make game development even more accessible, in the hopes that children of all ages will be able to understand what’s going on behind the scenes of games like Minecraft, Super Mario, and Fortnite.

There’s the PlayStation-exclusive Dreams, which lets players create… pretty much whatever they want; Roblox includes game creation tools that are so popular that some fan-made games, like “Adopt Me!“, have made millions of dollars. Minecraft’s Command Blocks, which allow players to mess with commands in the game, was introduced in 2012, and has since inspired players to create some extremely complex things.

There are even games about programming. If you’ve played Tomorrow Corporation’s Human Resource Machine, then congratulations — you’ve experienced Assembly. If you’ve given puzzle game Opus Magnum a go, then you’ve basically started learning multithreaded programming. If you’ve put any number of hours into legendarily complex game, TIS-100, then… you might be beyond help.

Human Resource Machine will trick you into learning programming
Human Resource Machine will trick you into learning programming

So, how does Game Builder Garage fit into these accessible tools? It doesn’t look quite as complex as Command Blocks, but it’s definitely a few levels above Super Mario Maker. Nintendo’s developers have done a lot of the fiddly work for you, like creating the art assets that you can use, from characters to objects. That leaves you, the player, free to play around with these tools to make something new — whether that’s a simple platforming level, a top-down shooter, or a much more complex idea, like a recreation of your favourite Zelda game.

What Game Builder Garage does (at least, in the trailer) is turn all that programming gunk into friendly faces. Variables, logic gates, commands, and inputs alike are now chatty, tutorialised monsters, and it’s hard to get annoyed at a colourful little monster. What’s more, the visual interface — what you’re interacting with on screen — is a simplified version of node-based programming, which is commonly used in game development software, like Unreal Engine’s blueprint system.

Unreal's node-based programming
Unreal’s node-based programming
Game Builder Garage's node-based programming
Game Builder Garage’s node-based programming

So, not only will kids (and adults) be able to learn the basics of programming through bright, accessible, charming methods, but they’re actually learning real programming methods that are in use in actual game studios. Game Builder Garage is a gateway to more complex systems, just like nursery rhymes are a gateway to music, lyric writing, and poetry, and learning the alphabet is a gateway to writing novels.

What this means for game development has yet to be seen — but, if the game developers of today got their start in Flash, Half-Life 2 modding, and making crappy BASIC games on their Commodore 64, imagine what the class of 2030 will be doing after getting their start with much more friendly tools. Greater accessibility also means a wider range of people will be able to learn game development with fewer obstacles (like cost, availability, and support), and that hopefully means a more diverse generation of game developers in the future, which can only be a good thing.

Are you a programmer, and will you be getting Game Builder Garage?


The game developers who earned their stripes back in the ’00s, ’90s, ’80s, and ’70s are old enough to have children of their own, now, in an age where video games are pretty mainstream. The idea that they could learn programming from Nintendo — a company which employs some of the greatest game designers in the world — would have probably blown their minds back when they were painstakingly trying to emulate Super Mario’s mechanics, copying code chunks out of a programming book the size of their head.

Look at all these games you can make!
Look at all these games you can make!

Game Builder Garage may seem like a strange, weird Nintendo project that no one really asked for — but it’s part of a game development revolution that could change the future of gaming. Here’s to the next generation of creators!

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News