Ushering in Spring Break 2014 with Reflector (iOS screen recording app)

*Note:  the featured image depicts actual gameplay of Block Fortress War, (C) 2014 Foursaken Media, available in the iTunes Store.

As I had explained in previous posts, I usually post new content on Thursdays, mainly because it’s the one day that I grant myself free from academic studies. The preceding Thursday had been an orgy of studying and cramming for a Financial Accounting midterm, the result of which means a low “B” or a low “A” going into the final. Despite studying for nearly half the day, I stumbled into an app which will temporarily allow me to bypass my aging Mac’s lack of Airdrop or high-resolution recording capabilities when making gameplay recordings, and the above non-HD video is my result.

Reflector app

Reflector is a Mac OS X and Windows app ($12.99 USD from AirSquirrel) that allows iOS hardware users to record their device’s screen using Airplay onto desktops via wifi.  Once the user decides on an appropriate frame and resolution, they could then begin recording gameplay, step-by-step how-tos, or anything they please. Once finished, the app then converts and saves the resulting .mov file on the desktop for editing and publishing.

The trick is in the type of internet connection available, as the developers recommend an 802.11n connection for seamless recording. Unfortunately all I have at the moment is a 768kbps DSL line with frequent drops used by three people (two of them needing always-on access), but some bandwidth was freed long enough for me to attempt the experiment.

To begin the recording, Reflector must be launched and all desired settings (iPad/iPod/iPhone frame around the recording as well as the desired resolution). After setting the desired changes, Reflector then has to be relaunched.

On your iDevice, swipe up from the very bottom of your screen to access the Control Center. Make sure that your wifi is on and Bluetooth is off, then select AirPlay (the monitor-shaped icon with a small arrow pointing into it):

AirPlay enabled
The iPad mini R’s AirPlay option enabled, and mirroring toggle on. Both are found in the Control Center by a single-finger swipe from the bottom of the screen.

On slower connections, it’ll take time for a representation of the iDevice’s screen to appear on the desktop, but on a faster network it should appear instantly.

The iPad Mini's screen in real-time
The iPad mini R’s screen displayed on the desktop in real-time (hopefully). Lag may or may not appear based on the strength of your wireless signal.

 Once the image appears on the desktop, change screens or select icons on the iDevice to test for lag issues. On a good wifi connection there should be near-instantaneous responses showing on the desktop (if not, I recommend disabling a home wifi appliance like a wireless printer or another such unnecessary device to improve signal strength). Once you’re satisfied then choose Start Recording on Reflector’s Devices menu on the desktop.

 Recording option

The recording I made above is short, but I did it as a spur-of-the-moment thing between arriving home from taking a midterm and rushing to the laundromat. Still, I was able to record and convert a five-minute video via a weak wifi signal in about fifteen minutes.

Block Fortress War (Foursaken Media) Overall, it’s a decent app and well worth the thirteen dollars. The quality of the experience has more to do with your wifi signal strength and the level of patience you have when your signal is weak. In my case my signal was so weak that I gave up after more than hour and downloaded the first title in Capcom’s Phoenix Wright trilogy for my iPad. Your case will (hopefully) differ.

About the game: Foursaken Media, a development team consisting of four brothers, released a spinoff to one of their first and most addictive tower-defense titles (Block Fortress) with the hard-as-heck but equally addictive Block Fortress War, a tower defense/real-time strategy game. The gameplay shown above is live gameplay of the first level of the first campaign, which I replayed for the sake expediency. Enjoy, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to post gameplay regarding the prequel Block Fortress.



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