Temple Run 2 High Wire Glitch

Don’t you just love when you are having a great game in Temple Run 2, the millions are racking up, you’re dodging, weaving, jumping perfectly, collecting powerups, not stumbling, swinging high…. but maybe too high…. high and dry…. then just like that…. your game is…. over….  Since I make it a point to not use a Save Me after a lag death or glitch, I didn’t use one, but I wonder what would have happened if I did here…. Ever try it?  What happened for you?


Temple Run 2 Usain Bolt is the Most Powerful Character

I’ve you’ve purchased every character in Temple Run 2, you’ll know there is no “ability” differences between the characters (If Imangi is reading carefully, they will find a subtle hint for a wish list item there…….) until now.

With the introduction of the Usain Bolt brings the introduction of the new “Bolt” ability -which can only be used by the Usain Bolt character.  Thus the reason for many gamers, including me, to justify purchasing the Usain Bolt character.  Again, if Imangi is reading this, they should have several new ideas on how to increase the “in-app purchase conversion rate” by expanding on this feature release.

Once purchased, gamers will find Usain’s Bolt ability, when activated, allows the character to utilize two powerup capabilities at the same time – BOOST and COIN MAGNET.  Thus allowing the Usain Bolt character to collect more coins throughout the game than any other character.

Since I’ve been playing Temple Run 2 on an iPhone 4 with iOS7, I chronically experience lag death, so I have yet to beat my own high score – mainly based on the principle: I refuse to used a Save Me resulting from a Lag Death.  But once my iPhone 5s arrives, I’m sure I’ll crush my high score.

Here are the screenshots of Usain Bolt’s maxed out ability and Boost/Magnet action:



Let me know what you’ve found – and your high score w/ Usain Bolt!


Minecraft Server High I/O Will Cost You on the AWS Free Tier

So, you think you’ll get away without paying a dime to AWS on the Free Tier?  Think again, especially when hosting High I/O Intensive applications like Minecraft.  As a follow up to our post: Minecraft Deployment on Amazon Web Services Micro Instance, we found some very interesting billing activity you’ll find useful when budget planning an AWS free tier instance.

When the Minecraft project was launched in August of this year, and gamers began to log on, we racked up more than 13.5 Million Read/Write requests in less than two weeks.  There are several tweaks that we could have tried to better control the I/O during peak loads, like setting swappiness=10.  But, regardless, if your Minecraft server has more than just a couple of concurrent users running on it, plan on spending money monthly on I/O.  Here rests the decision between fixed and variable cost.  There should be much less variable I/O on a more powerful AWS Instance with more Ram, but an obvious increase in fixed monthly instance cost.  Either way, it was a great learning experience!

AWS Service Charges
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud $1.15
US West (Oregon) Region
Amazon EC2 running Linux/UNIX
$0.00 per Linux/RHEL Micro Instance (t1.micro) instance-hour (or partial hour) under monthly free tier 744 Hrs 0.00
Amazon EC2 EBS
$0.00 per GB-month of provisioned storage under monthly free tier 8.000 GB-Mo 0.00
$0.00 for the first 2 million I/O requests under monthly free tier 2,000,000 IOs 0.00
$0.10 per 1 million I/O requests 11,454,090 IOs 1.15


Temple Run 2 Challenges Complete List in Graphical Mode

In response to a recent comment, I screen captured all challenges and created a single graphical list of all 49 completed challenges for version 1.4.1 of Temple Run 2.  Notice the progress bar for Level 9 is only “half complete”.  I think this is a bug which occurs when you complete an unbalanced amount of challenges between levels.  I’ve been unable to confirm this, but an example would be if you completed challenges after the more time consuming challenges like: Minor Miner, 5 Million Club, Circumnavigator, Gold Miner, Midas Touch and Infinirunner.  This can routinely happen, and my guess is that the progress bar gets screwed up when interpreting the challenges in the order completed.  I highly doubt there is a “level 10” in this version of the game.  But, I would assume if you were able to complete all of the challenges in exact order, the progress bar would be 100% by the very last set of challenges.  I’m interested in knowing what you think.


Hearts Quickest Victory Ever

How many times have you played Hearts on Windows XP?  A bazzillion times?  Me too.  Have you ever run a complete shutout?  In six hands or less?  I just did.  I was so impressed, I had to let you guys see it for yourself.  No fakes here, just a quick print screen.  Think you can do better?  Prove it – reply with a screenshot!


Temple Run Level 9 Complete But Not Really

With the 1.4.1 version update of Temple Run 2, five new challenges became available.

  1. Daily Dose – Completed a Daily Challenge
  2. A Week’s Work – Completed all Weekly Challenges
  3. Daily Doses – 5 consecutive Daily Challenges
  4. Daily Dozen – 12 consecutive Daily Challenges
  5. Weakly Challenged – Completed a Weekly Challenge

So, like a good student… I diligently completed all of the new challenges (no sooner than the 12 days required by ‘Daily Dozen’ (thanks so much Imangi….).  To my surprise…. after finishing the last of the challenges, Temple Run 2 crashed (like normal), then the app made an incremental increase to the Level 9 progress bar, which had previously been completed based on the already complete Infinirunner challenge.

So, what are we left with?  That is a great question.  It appears there is no Level 10 yet, and the application continues to retain glitches around the challenges accomplished and levels of achievements.  Review the following screenshots and give me your feedback.

daily-weekly level9incomplete


BTD5 Random Missions – The End Game

Since I’ve beaten every normal game on every level of difficulty (including reverse) and every special mission in Bloons Tower Defense, I began to focus on the Random Missions.  I’ve since come to realize that the Random Missions in Bloons Tower Defense 5 are the only real challenge for advanced play.



I’ve beaten over 100 of the 250 Random Missions thus far, and many of them are pretty easy to beat, but there are several that have grown to be attempts resulting in Epic failures.  This post will detail some of the best challenges I’ve faced through the 250 mission siege.  Below is a great example of a Random Mission that requires the appropriate tower defense with well calculated timing to successfully complete.


I’d love to hear about some of your experiences with Random Missions.  How far have you gotten?  How many achievements have you earned as a result?  Post some screenshots!  Have a good one!

Minecraft Deployment on Amazon Web Services Micro Instance

A fun little group project we recently worked on was setting up a Minecraft server on the FREE tier of the Amazon Web Services EC2 service.  The creative components to this project are all held in the Minecraft world itself, called Fallen Skies.  This world was a labor of love created by a few young crack-shot crafters that dedicated weeks of time creating, configuring, testing and generally having fun sharing their environment with their brothers and sisters on a local neighborhood network.

That is where I got involved.  The team began investigating how to publish the world to the cloud for the crafting community to easily consume and create the possibility of ‘in-app’ purchases to make a little return on the time they invested.  The challenge was to take a cost conscious approach to the deployment while balancing environment performance and stability.

After researching cloud providers (detail to be added at a later time), and minimum virtual environment specifications, the decision was made to utilize the AWS Free Tier Micro Instance for the initial rollout.

The detail in this post will account for the step by step process taken to successfully create the correct AWS EC2 instance and properly deploy and monitor the Minecraft world.  For now, have a quick look at the Fallen Skies video advertisement created by the authors.

Cloud Instance Cost Analysis and Decision:
There are several cloud vendors with competitive instance cost and performance attributes, but Amazon Web Services is the only infrastructure cloud vendor I was able to find offering a Free Tier of service (for twelve (12) months).  After discovering this option, along with ensuring the environment specifications offered in the Free Tier would suffice for our project, the decision to move forward with AWS for the initial project launch was locked in.  We recognized the performance of the Micro instance was not going to be ideal, but we were willing to accept the risk as long as we could achieve a sustained, acceptable level of concurrent connections.

Below is the analysis of the Free vs the Entry level EC2 instance cost over time.

Micro Instance 613 MiB of memory, up to 2 ECUs (for short periodic bursts), EBS storage only, 32-bit or 64-bit platform

Instance Family: General purpose
Instance Type: m1.small
Processor Arch: 32-bit or 64-bit
vCPU: 1
ECU: 1
Memory (GiB): 1.7
Instance Storage (GB): 1 x 160
EBS-optimized Available: –
Network Performance: Low

Instance Family: General purpose
Instance Type: m1.medium
Processor Arch: 32-bit or 64-bit
vCPU: 1
ECU: 2
Memory (GiB): 3.75
Instance Storage (GB): 1 x 410
EBS-optimized Available: –
Network Performance: Moderate

Had we elected to utilize a pay-for instance, we would have elected to utilize the On-Demand EC2 instance, test market adoption, then migrate to a one year investment to lock in a lower hourly environment rate.  The following table breaks down the instances under consideration over time.


So, what has the AWS EC2 instance usage been like since the Minecraft world was launched and users began logging on?  Below is a summary table of the usage and any associated costs for the past two months (September 13, 2013).  As you can see, the usage is nowhere near the allowable usage limits of the AWS Free Tier.

AWS Service Charges
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
US West (Oregon) Region
Amazon EC2 running Linux/UNIX
$0.00 per Linux/RHEL Micro Instance (t1.micro) instance-hour (or partial hour) under monthly free tier 294 Hrs 0.00
Amazon EC2 EBS
$0.00 per GB-month of provisioned storage under monthly free tier 3.256 GB-Mo 0.00
$0.00 for the first 2 million I/O requests under monthly free tier 107,881 IOs 0.00
AWS Data Transfer (excluding Amazon CloudFront) $0.00
$0.000 per GB – data transfer out under the monthly global free tier 0.041 GB 0.00
$0.000 per GB – data transfer in per month 0.013 GB 0.00
$0.000 per GB – data transfer out under the monthly global free tier 0.000444 GB 0.00
$0.00 per GB – US West (Oregon) data transfer from US East (Northern Virginia) 0.000082 GB 0.00

 Setup and Configuration
Below is a list of commands and scripts created in the EC2 Micro environment.  The Micro Instance created was a 64 bit Linux environment.  Since we were managing the AWS EC2 environment from Windows, we need to download and install WinSCP (Windows Secure CoPy) for project file transfers.  The AWS java virtual console allowed our team to connect to the console of the Linux instance.

The following Linux command were utilized to configure the Minecraft environment on the AWS instance:
screen – attach/detach
mkdir [minecraft-root]
i #!/bin/bash
# Minecraft Server startup script
java -Xmx500M -Xms500M -jar minecraft_server.1.6.2.jar nogui
java -Xmx500M -Xms500M -jar “CraftBukkit 1.6.2-Dev.jar” nogui

:w start.sh
chmod +x start.sh
screen -DR
cd [minecraft-root]
screen -DR
cd [minecraft-root]/[server1]
tmux new-session -s [minecraft-session1] -n [minecraft-session1]
cd [minecraft-root]
<CTRL-b> d
end SSH, try:
tmux attach -t [minecraft-instance-name]
vi server.log
Setting Up Swap Space for the Minecraft Java Instance
The most critical technical component of this project was to setup enough temporary swap space on the AWS Micro Instance for Minecraft to properly run.  The following commands successfully applied the Swap Disk:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1M count=1024
sudo mkswap /swapfile
sudo swapon /swapfile

sudo vi /etc/fstab
/swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0

Minecraft Server Clustering for High Availability
Because we decided to run this project in a “Proof of Concept” mode, we did not investigate server clustering for high availability.  But, if we choose to relaunch at a later date, this requirement may come into scope.

The Advertising Campaign
Once the Minecraft server was launched and tested for stability, the crafting team took the step of advertising their server on the following site:
Once the server was published, within 24 hours, the server received over 80 connections from new Minecraft users.  The crafting team then discovered the server became unstable due to third party plugin incompatibilities.  The server’s instability may have resulted in many users becoming inpatient and not interested in returning, but over the days following, the crafting team made changes to improve server stability, and the environment has been stable since that time.  When the server is up and running, there are several users that have become regular customers of the world, which is a rewarding feeling, much deserving of koodos to the crafting team!

There are additional steps that could be taken to promote awareness for the new Minecraft server
1. Post the server to other popular Minecraft server sites, such as: http://www.planetminecraft.com/resources/servers/
2. Post a ‘Minecraft server launch event’ as a tweet and/or post on your social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
3. Author a highly descriptive video narration of the gameplay and post to a YouTube channel.


The next update to this post further detail for the AWS Linux setup, configuration, and Minecraft deployment.

Great job team!


Welcome to the blog dedicated to gaming experiences across generations!  You’ll find in depth documentation on classic 1980’s consoles games through instant classics of the modern age.  We hope you find the content interesting – and we’d love for you to share your experiences as well!





Bloon Tower Defense 5 – Death Valley Hard SOLVED

Yes, you knew Death Valley – the last of the expert maps in Bloon Tower Defense 5, on Hard was going to be tough…. How tough?  Let me frame it out for you…..

Before starting this map, I did the following:

  1. Built up my cash to over $2,500 (playing various Easy and Medium difficulty maps)
  2. Purchased the following upgrads in the Monkey Lab:
    1. Popping Power = Level 8/8
    2. Attack Speed = 6/8
    3. Starting Cash = 2/8
    4. Starting Lives = 4/8
    5. Sell Price = 2/8
    6. Big Bloon Sabotage = 7/8
    7. Ability Cooldown = 1/8
  3. Made the following Special Agent purchases:
    1. Radadactyl = 4
    2. Tribal Turtle = 6
    3. Meerkat Spy = 2
    4. Bloonberry Bush = 4

When I started the map, I laid out my Special Agents as seen below.  The first purchase I made was a Banana Farm, then a Monkey Village.  I then began placing towers tight to the Monkey Village.  I then purchased another Banana Farm and Monkey Village to continue balancing my defense.  I knew I had to stack the short side map heavily and as quickly as possible.

As it turned out, I had to use a $500 cash infusion FOUR TIMES before I could beat this map.

Lessons learned: I should have used several additional Special Agents to start the map.  Also, I should have setup a Monkey Village in the lower right corner of the map sooner. Because of the limited tower placement availability, there is no way to avoid building up the lower right corner of the map.





Great map, great challenge… what a pain in the rear!  Enjoy!