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  • Writer's pictureGruff

Spiffy New Version of Dynamo Defender: Exercise Game (Early Access)

Still carrying some Pandemic Podge or Christmas Indulgence you want to work off? Need some extra motivation? We just released a new Android build of our heart rate monitor exercise shoot-em-up, Dynamo Defender, on Google Play in Early Access/beta.

If you're anything like me and detest doing cardio at the gym, give it a go! It's fun and workouts fly by because our fitness games give you an immediate reason to be working out, putting your exercise effort to immediate, tangible use.

It's similar to a bicycle dynamo (hence the name) lighting up a bulb as you pedal. In our games, we use AI to turn your heart rate into a measure of your exercise effort to create a "virtual dynamo" that powers game elements in different, fun ways. In Defender, you have to pedal to keep killing baddies and save the planet from destruction.

This game was originally designed to motivate indoor cycling where your hands are free to hold your smart phone and interact with the screen to control the ship, but, in fact, you can do any exercise that gets your heart rate up. If you want to do exercise that requires your hands, like rowing or HiiT, you can check "auto pilot" for hands-free play. In this mode, the ship will auto aim itself at the enemy (instead of having to touch sceen left or right to move) so you can focus on exercising to power the ships weapons. It's surprisingly fun. I use this mode all the time even when cycling.

If you don't have a bluetooth heart rate monitor yet, but want to see how the game works, check "demo" mode and when you're in the game you'll see two buttons "HR+" and "HR-" which you can click to simulate your heart rate changing during exercise.

The game is still in beta testing phase, so expect the odd bug here and there and please let us know if you find any, or just want to give feedback of any kind. We love hearing from you!

What's in this new release (1.4.149):

  • Fresh New Visual Style (lovely job by Niru!)

  • Completely re-engineered bluetooth connection code (chapeaux á Clément).

  • Spoken connection and disconnection events

  • Improved exercise effort level inference from heart rate (less lag)

  • New User Onboarding Design (portrait mode)

  • Exercise Session Data Saving

New Game Style

Niru did an awesome job bringing the game visuals up-to-date with very sleek and cool look, dark animated starfield background, and creepy insectoid looking aliens.

Bluetooth HR monitor connections, voiced events

Bluetooth connections are now faster, more reliable, and more stable, especially over app pause and lose focus events which used to disconnect each time which was very annoying.

If your heart rate monitor is on and transmitting then the game will also try to reconnect automatically if you've connected it in the past. Since this can happen invisibly when you're still on the "How Are You Feeling" screen, the game now speaks aloud "connected!" and "disconnected!" whenever these events happen to let you know.

Faster Effort Inference

While we were rewriting the bluetooth code, we also made improvements to the core AI algorithms that infer your exercise effort from your heart rate timeline. The new AI is quicker at picking up small changes and figuring out whether you are working out harder, or taking a break. There will always be a some lag, since your heart rate can take a second or two to change but it's now much more responsive than previous versions which makes the game more fun to play, especially when you suddenly need more firepower! The fitter you get, the faster your heart will respond to exercise and the less lag you'll experience.

New User Onboarding Design (portrait mode)

Our AI needs some basic information (age and gender) to set up your default heart rate profile and correctly figure out your effort levels. Younger people have much faster heart rates during exercise, for example, so it's important to set this information accurately. The new version captures Date of Birth, and recalculates age automatically.

The new portrait mode makes typing things in much less crowded and clear, and as we've added the ability to create a "recoverable account" with email and password, or if you prefer, you can register using Google Sign up to do this in a single click with no password needed. Just make sure to click "Create new profile" first.

How Are You Feeling?

If you haven't granted app permissions yet, you'll be prompted to do that here. On Android, bluetooth actually requires the location permission to be granted in order to talk to nearby devices (this is changing in future versions of Android). If you don't grant this, you won't be able to connect your bluetooth heart rate monitor.

Any time you load the game after this, the first screen you'll see is the "How Are You Feeling?" screen. Slide the slider to the left if you want an easier workout, and to the right if you feel like a challenge. The gameplay will be the same, but you'll have to work out less or more for the same amount of firepower depending what you choose.

Click the heart to change settings

You can change this and other settings at any time during play by clicking the heart top right. This is especially handy if you're finding the workout too hard and want to change the slider setting. Just click "edit profile" and you can adjust the slider there. If you know your resting heart rate and/or maximum, you can also manually override the default values here (not recommended unless you really know these for sure).

Once you're all set up, you should be good to go and kill some aliens.

There are currently 4 playable planets (or "tracks"), one lasting 5 minutes which is free to play, and 15 minutes, 20 and 21 minutes tracks respectively, which you can unlock permanently with a small In-App Purchase (or give us feedback and we'll unlock them for free by way of thanks!).

We'll be making more tracks to play and enjoy soon.

(There's also a 1 minute tutorial track to learn how to control the ship if you aren't playing with autopilot on but the game is simple enough to figure out without this).

Exercise Session Data Saving

This isn't a visible feature you can use just yet, but we've also implemented cloud data storage of player exercise session data in this build. This is part of a bigger project that will eventually be able to show you all your exercise stats over time, with nice graphs of heart rate and effort, plus a bunch of other features to help motivate you to exercise.

Cloud data storage will likely be part of an inexpensive subscription-based feature since it costs us to store and serve your data.

Known Issues in this build

The data syncing mechanism can cause the app exit button to be unresponsive for a few seconds until the data has saved. We'll be fixing this in a new build soon, with visual feedback on the sync process, as well as improved local and cloud data syncing mechanisms, and offline play options (currently you need a data connection to start to play).

Send Us Feedback

We'd love to hear how you get on with this build. Any feedback is helpful, whether it's bug reporting, asking for help, requesting features or just general feedback, we're all ears. And in return, anyone giving us feedback will get free access to paid tracks by way of thanks!

You can use this feedback form. Alternatively, if you click "Send Feedback" from the game's main menu, it'll open this form and prefill the user ID.

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