Meditation In Motion With Alto's Odyssey

Meditation In Motion With Alto's Odyssey

How the newest game in the Alto series makes the most of its broadened horizons.
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After a brief reflection on the newest Monument Valley installment, I was recently introduced to another mesmerizing mobile phone game: Alto's Odyssey. It's actually a follow-up to another Team Alto release, Alto's Adventure -- a collaboration between Canadian studio Snowman and lead artist/programmer Harry Nesbitt -- but my entrance to the series starts here. I'm discovering that I might have a certain taste for cerebral games; both are minimalist in character design but striking in their color palette and sense of environment (a picture says a thousand words is a pretty apt metaphor here), but that is where the similarities end.

The game opens on raspy, meditative chords, not dissimilar to the opening notes of Trevor Morris's theme for Bioware's Dragon Age: Inquisition. The association alone had my breath catching in my throat and tugging at my heartstrings. The title screen is set against a horizon awash in dawn and speckled with hot air balloons as the sun slowly rises to scorch the hills upon hills of sand. If I wait long enough even the text fades away, and I am alone in the middle of a vast desert. But, with a tap, a blur enters from the left side of the screen and Alto is there, sandboard slamming onto the slopes.

My choices are limited -- jump or not jump, flip or don't flip -- but that doesn't mean the experience has to be as well. I guide Alto through countless biomes in a never-ending cycle of day and night, of wind and rain and dusk. There are sets of three goals at a time -- such as "Discover The Canyons", "Break a pot using a lotus flower", or the easy-breezy "Backflip off of a hot air balloon" -- that string me along and give me a concrete reason to play. I collect glowing coins along the slopes, which I can trade in at the Workshop for stronger helmets, extra lives, and special items. The scarf trailing behind Alto grows longer the farther I'm able to go or the more combos I'm able to land in one run, and after a certain amount of time I can even spot brightly-colored Birds of Paradise hovering over Alto's shoulder, curious at my progress. I quickly sink into the rhythm of the game, calculating the time and distance of my jumps, distinguishing between rocks and plant life, and cringing when I overestimate the number of flips I can accomplish in one go. But the game doesn't seem to mind my many failures: it promptly tells me to dust off and try again. "Don't worry, crashes happen!"

The more goals I accomplish the more levels I ascend, which gradually allows my boarder to progress further into entirely new zones, with new platforms and abilities and characters to spice it up a little. When I find myself getting too incensed (usually because I can't shake a pesky lemur off my tail) I can return to the title screen and swipe to the left, activating what I'm calling Zen Mode and leaving me with only the horizon and a simplistic, rotating drawing of the sun. I focus on the sun and the swaying cacti as my breathing levels off, and I'm ready to try again or go about my day.

I know Alto's Odyssey has so much more to offer me -- hours of smooth gliding, new areas, contemplative tunes, and more characters to test out on the slopes -- but the game makes it clear that I must work for such simple pleasures. I have to fail many times before I can accomplish menial goals, each one taking me further down the slopes than the last. It knows exactly what kind of game it is, and excels in all quadrants: it has gorgeous graphics, runs smoothly, doesn't overload me with objectives or abilities, and is overall one of the most meditative games I've played just to pass the time. Perhaps the best way to wake up is with Alto in your cup!

Alto's Odyssey is now available for download on iOS devices in the App Store.

Cover Image Credit: Team Alto

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25 Responses To Your Friend Who Doesn't Text Back

Omg thanks for responding so quickly...oh, wait.
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We all have that friend. That friend we love to death, but if we are sure of anything in this world, it’s that they will not respond to your text because they suck at texting. That moment when you see “Read 1:04 p.m.” and you’re like “and???? Helloooooooo!”

These are 25 responses for that dear friend.

1. Lol thanks for tagging me in that FB post, now text me tf back.


2. OMG, wait you met Chris Hemsworth and he’s professing his love to you??!! No? Okay, then you can def text me back.

3. Hey I’m coming to help you since you obviously broke your thumbs and can’t respond.

4. Lolol thanks for responding. I’ll just continue the conversation with myself. That’s cool.

5. Good chat.

6. Yeah I wouldn’t know how to respond either, pizza topping selection is a thought-provoking process. Take your time. Meditate on it.

7. The classic: ^^^^^^^^^


8. I hope you’re writing me the 8th Harry Potter novel.

9. That was a yes or no question. This isn’t difficult. You wouldn’t do well with ‘Sophie’s Choice.’

10. Omg, did you pass out from the excitement of getting a text from me? Totally understandable. Text me when you regain consciousness, love.

11. Omg what a witty and clever response. Nothing. So philosophical.

12. The only excuse I’ll accept is if you’re eating guac and don’t want to get it on your phone. Because avocados are life.

13. I love it when you do that adorable thing when you don’t text me back for hours. So cute.


14. Okay I’ll answer for you. Yes, you’re going out tonight. Glad we had this convo.

15. In the time it has taken you to respond, dinosaurs could have retaken the earth.

16. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

17. The dramatic but also very valid response: That’s what happens when you don’t respond for 30 minutes. People die.


18. I apologize for asking if you were coming to watch Bachelor, clearly the decision has caused you serious reflection on your priorities. I’m sorry to have caused you this existential crisis.

19. Sorry I annoyed you with my friendship. But like plz respond…

20. Your response time is longer than Ross and Rachel’s entire relationship. 10 seasons. You couldn’t text me back for 10 seasons?!!

21. Wait. You’re responding too fast. I can’t keep up. Hang on. Don’t respond so quickly. Jeez.

22. A subtle but perfectly placed gif. What will you go with? The classic eye roll perhaps or maybe a “you suck.”


23. Did you fall off a cliff? Wait, you don’t exercise. Pause your Netflix and respond b*tch.

24. Omg I WON THE LOTTERY. *responds* Lol now you respond…

25. And my personal favorite and go to, Did you text me and then decide to THROW YOUR PHONE ACROSS THE OCEAN?! Lol swim fast, I need an answer.

Cover Image Credit: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8289/7759302068_fac2dfd31d_b.jpg

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This Phone Kidnapping Scam Could Cost You Thousands And My Situation Should Be A Warning

This article is to tell you my story and provide tips on how to understand what is a scam/how to prevent them.

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A few weeks ago, my family was caught in the middle of a kidnapping phone scandal that costs us a couple hundred dollars. Many times you hear these stories on the news and think it couldn't happen to you or your loved ones. Then, when it happens, you haven't taken any cautionary measures. This article is to tell you my story and provide tips on how to understand what is a scam/how to prevent them.

This scam took place between my sister and father at first. All the scammers needed was the two phone numbers and some computer software to trick us. They began by calling both my sister and father at the same time. The call to my sister's phone looked like it was coming from my father because they use software that made the call come from my father's phone number. Caller ID showed my father's name and made it seem like they had his phone. The same concept happened to my father with my sister's number.

After they get you to pick up, they told both my father and sister they had kidnapped the other. They told my father they kidnapped her off the streets. They told my sister that my father had a debt to pay and they're holding him hostage until they get the amount. At this point, both my sister and dad think the other is being held hostage (when neither was). They tell you not to hang up the phone or they will hurt the loved one.

They then ask for money in the form of VISA gift cards or such. They will tell you to buy/max out multiple cards to the highest it will allow (usually $500) and then tell you to read the numbers of the card to them. This makes them untraceable. The number varies between each scammer so that might now always indicate a scam.

The reason you don't immediately hang up is that they are smarter than just telling you they have someone you love. For example, they used personal information they made my sister tell them against my father (and vise-versa). They make you say your location (ex. my sister's college) and what is around you to make it believable.

Also, people tend to begin these times and they will use all of the info you share against the other person they called to make it seem real. On top of the info, they record parts of the conversation when someone is talking and play it back for the other. In our case, they told my sister to say, "Don't worry dad, I'll take care of us. We'll be okay". Then, they played this clip back for my father to make it seem like they actually had her there.

Now, most people just think it's so easy to just hang up and call bullshit but they make it very clear not to mess with their rules. They told my father not to tell anyone about this, stay on the line at all times, and do what they say. If he was to not listen, they threatened to rape and/or kill my sister. This obviously is a brutal image to even imagine, so it's not worth risking it. So, he stayed on the line.

My mother then came up to my father and figured out what was happening and the real game began. She took the phone and used her skills at lying to delay buying the cards. My sister didn't have anyone with her at college so she ended up giving them a few gift cards. She then was stranded at a Kroger just waiting. They kept her on the line to keep recording her voice for my mom. Now that my father wasn't on the phone, he called the police and began investigating. He called her roommate and asked if he had seen my sister.

The roommate hadn't seen her; however, he had her location turned on. He tracked her to Kroger and ran there (he lives in the city). The roommate and my father worked with the police and SWAT team to get my sister. Meanwhile, my mom is just acting like an idiot and asking many questions because she wanted them to think she was confused. Any lie she could think of, she was using.

When the SWAT team saw my sister, they didn't grab her immediately. They made sure nobody was with her. After confirming she was alone, they radioed that they had the victim. This caused my sister confusion because she didn't think she was the victim. She still thought they had our mom and dad. So she's yelling at SWAT to find my parents. They then bring her to the station and explain what was actually happening. After my parents got confirmation my sister was safe, they called the scammers out and they hung up immediately. All were safe and the police were now trying to track the scammers.

Overall, it took hours to get the full story from all 4 people (and what you just read was the abridged version). They then took my sister's phone and made my parents come to pick her and her phone up.

HOW TO PREVENT SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

- Turn on your location with at least 3 trusted people and tell your family who has it

-Make a code word in case this situation happens so you know it's real

-Never actually buy the cards they ask for

-Always have a pad and paper so you can write notes to people if they are around

-DO NOT tell them how much money you have

-Never trust the scammer, even if they tell you some true information

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