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Programming IT Technology

SDK's for Wireless Games - Will They Succeed? 143

Memetic asks: "There is a software development kit for wireless games, downloadable from TTPCom, a wireless devices IP vendor. It's described as: 'an open API delivering access to all the mobile phone's features in order to develop a new generation of on-line and multi-user is possible to take advantage of the GSM, GPRS or 3GPP networks by downloading these games over the air, sending SMS messages between players, and creating multi-user content and games. Technologies such as Bluetooth or GPS are also made available' My question, does anyone see independent developers emerging for donloadable gaming or will this market be driven by the network operators / handset manufacturers?" While using this technology to build games on cell phones doesn't intrigue me, adapting this for our current and future crop of handheld computing devices does. What kind of future do you think there is for games development on such platforms like the Visor, the PalmPilot, and the next-generation-Gameboy that may come down the pipe in the next couple of years?
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SDK's for Wireless Games - Will They Succeed?

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  • Who needs them... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by svara ( 467664 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:21PM (#2851059)
    Who needs wireless games, when the actual wireless technologies, like cellulars stil suffer from extreemly limited bandwith, bad and small displays etc.
    Unless the breakthrough on the hardware part comes (theres some pretty cool stuff in japan already), games on such devices make only limited sense...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:21PM (#2851060)
    I think those OSes will need to undergo a large leap in evolution to allow for a truly interesting gaming experience. Currently, they are underpowered in both hardware and OS.

    Also, a color screen would be helpful, but not necessary.

    The main problem, Cliff, is that people who want to do this kind of thing with their handheld devices typically buy the PocketPC. Palm-freaks (a term of endearment, not a slight) are usually more interested in the smooth operation of their device and the ease of use stemming from its minimalist design.
    • There are color screens already. I can't recall the name of the phone, but my father's got one so I can assure you it's for real. And, believe me, it's damn cool too.
    • The main problem, Cliff, is that people who want to do this kind of thing with their handheld devices typically buy the PocketPC. Palm-freaks (a term of endearment, not a slight) are usually more interested in the smooth operation of their device and the ease of use stemming from its minimalist design.

      I'm not quite a Palm or Windows CE nut (I have devices running both OS' and I'm interested in an iPaq to get Linux running on it), but I will say that the majority of interesting and unique games are for the Palm OS. I'll admit this is strange, because most PocketPC style PDAs are definetly better in the hardware department.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It may be a result of the limitations of the hardware and OS. Most of the games that were truly imaginative and clever ran on hardware that we would consider very underpowered today. Without a lot of horsepower, graphics has to be subordinate to gameplay.

        I know this is going to sound like a grumpy, old man line, but games were just more fun before Doom.
        • You are very right. If this becomes successful I predict some very imaginative games that will take advantage of the wireless architecture for some interesting ideas, like worldwide Pokemon, but cooler.

          And yes, I'd say that, for example, Galaga had a high fun to calculation ratio and that Zorklike and Roguelike games were really fun. They still are fun.

    • Well, not necessary.

      Imagine a game like this:

      A strategy war simulation game, that can be played among a group of people. Each player starts with a set of territories, which form a country or a kingdom, or an empire, depending on what you want to call it. And the player is the leader of that country. The rest of the planet is occupied by a other countries (which may or may not have a player). The goal is to capture territories (for the aggressive), or protect yourself from being eaten up. Obviously, you want to make the game as realistic as possible, by taking into consideration your resources, your population, your military, etc. You are the chief, so you can issue orders to move your army/navy/air force, to attack, to defend, to do research on specific topics, etc. Your subordinates will send you reports, memos, etc.

      The interface you need for this game is very minimal, just text. But the game must be hosted on a server somewhere. You send orders and receive reports thru wireless messages on your handheld.

      This kind of game can be played on for months, even years.

      Actually, in the early 90's, we used to play it thru email. You signed up thru email, you send command thru email, you receive report thru email. The game was hosted on a .mil server (forgot the server name).

      It was very addicting. Now make the game go beyond planet Earth....
  • Spyware for phones, anyone?
    • Ack! Someone is port scanning my gameboy.

      Thats it, I need to download an NMAP rom!

      Bah, this will just turn in to another way for my girlfriend to find me won't it?

      I bet the lesbian movement is behind this :)
      • Bah, this will just turn in to another way for my girlfriend to find me won't it?

        Maybe, but what'd be way cooler is if it allowed geeks to find girlfriends.
  • by Reckless Visionary ( 323969 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:22PM (#2851068)
    Great, I can't wait the video game-like atmosphere our highways are going to have when people are no longer just talking on their cell phones, but playing GTA 3 on them also.
  • Theres no market for games. People actually use those PDA things productively... Of course I may have to get one now that the local light rail has kiosks at the stops where you can download the days newspaper...
    • Perhaps not.... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The lack of a market for games on wireless is less a result of people inherent "unwillingness" to play games on mobile devices as the impossibility of collective reasonable revenues through them in the American system.

      Wireless gaming is doing reasonably well on DoCoMo, probably because of centralized billing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmm ... do these APIs include wireless peer-to-peer? If so, I could easily imagine a "wireless Napster", where each participant keeps their MP3s on their portable player, and anyone can stream MP3s from anyone else within peering range. Sound fun?
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 )
    Aand helds are computers that are designed to be as small and cheap as possible while still useful for simple tasks like word processing, spreadsheets, etc ... nothing too numbercrunching or exciting.

    Gaming platforms are super-efficient customized hardware solutions with well thought out ergonomics and a psysical interface that is designed, from the ground up, for gaming.

    I think the engineering requirements of either platforms are so at odds with each other that gaming on handhelds will never really catch on. Or at least until such a time that handhelds are far closer in terms of performance/price as desktop systems; or, to put it another way, low-end desktop systems become the size of handhelds. ;) Only then do you have enough computing power left around accidentally by the engineering team that designed the hand held to accomdate enough gaming power for the platform to become a viable enough selling point to the average consumer.
    • by talonyx ( 125221 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:30PM (#2851143)
      I'm fairly sure one of those 200MHZ+ Pocket PC machines is able to do some pretty amazing graphics work. Keep in mind, DOOM ran on a 486 at 33Mhz with a smooth framerate. You underestimate the power in these units.

      Plus, with such small, low-res screens, there's more than enough power for anything you could want on those babies.
      • Point taken, but another difference:

        Pocket PCs gotta multitask. Gaming isn't so much about power but about the garauntee of being able to stay relatively real-time. DOOM ran on a 486 where NOTHING ELSE was going on at the time.

        But I do see your point. I still maintain that 80% of the suitability of a gaming platform must also be game-friendly controls .. even with the power, if you can't interact with a game comfortably and painlessly, you probably wont play it much.
    • Gaming platforms are super-efficient customized hardware solutions with well thought out ergonomics and a psysical interface that is designed, from the ground up, for gaming.

      I think that's kind of a poor attitude. Despite what we gamers like to think, gaming isn't "elite". It doesn't take the most powerful machine in the world to enjoy the majority of PC games out there and a lot of "barely better than retail" computers are up to the task. The average game player isn't too interested in having graphics options maxed out, even though the average "gamer" might be. This translates to the PDA market as well...

      A lot of people would be interested in just playing a game of space invaders on their Palm. Palm gaming has already moved beyond that point, though, with a port of the original Simcity available along with fairly complex RPGs and strategy games.
      • Weeeellll, let me hedge my comment .. I should have said handheld. I just meant that the price to sell a product on gaming suitability is way below that of the handheld market. I didn't mean to imply that gaming platforms must be leading edge, but simply that the focus on heldhelds is how to achieve more without splurging on super-powered solutions, where as something like the GameBoy advance is designed with gaming suitability in mind, and thus will always enjoy a much better cost/performance ratio with respect to its gaming capabilities.

        I understand that the mass market doesn't require cutting edge performance, but that doesn't mean that raw floating point performance is a big priority in handhelds; rather their price, size, power consumption and storage capacity are ... I just kinda meant to say that if games become popular on handhelds, I think it will be more by coincidence or accident (or killer apps by developers) rather than by design. :) But I see and appreciate your points ...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Note that cell phones capable of gaming are already out and very popular in Japan, Korea, etc. The US/European market is lagging, but the hardware is already there (the chips typically come from US manufacturers.) For example, the current generation of phones out this year in Japan use color screens and the same processor as the Game Boy Advance (17mhz ARM7), or faster (some have 50mhz). Devices from Nokia, Docomo, etc. coming out in the 1-year-plus horizon will have processors more powerful than the 206mhz SA110s in iPAQs. The Japanese market has already established that gaming can be very popular on phones & personal communication devices. It remains to be seen how well this translates to US & European markets.

      Sam Trychin
      • >It remains to be seen how well this translates to US & European markets.

        Indeed! But good point .. a guy who I worked with had an docomo phone from japan. Color screen, etc, I can see the attraction. It was a very cool thing, and frusterating, because there is no docomo service here of course, so I couldn't check it in action.
  • Games for Palms (Score:2, Informative)

    by krugdm ( 322700 )

    What kind of future do you think there is for games development on such platforms like the Visor, the PalmPilot, and the next-generation-Gameboy that may come down the pipe in the next couple of years?

    Head on over to PalmGearHQ [] and see how many games are available. Some good, some bad, many identical. Many are good enough that they have resided on my Palm, almost since day 1.

    Palm has done a good job of avoiding creating a handheld PC and instead creating an advanced organizer. They've left it to other developers to do that work instead. Tools like this make that job just that much easier.

  • If not simply from the standpoint of the wireless industry being in "explode mode". Everything under the sun will most likely have some sort of wireless network capability in the next decade. I'm still waiting for kids with Gameboy type devices walking around playing head to head with kids from Tokyo in real time.

    The question is not one of "if", but a question of "when".
  • by the_quark ( 101253 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:25PM (#2851099) Homepage
    I think what we've seen again and again is that, unless you're a huge juggernaut (like Microsoft), your proprietary "open" standards never win. Even Microsoft can only pull it off, sometimes.

    What gets independent game developers going is truly open standards, like TCP/IP. When is my handspring going to be able to play a game with your Gameboy, wirelessly? When both of them have wireless IP adresses. Until then, these things will remain insular, only allowing my brand to play with my brand.
    • proprietary "open" standards never win

      I dunno.... PDF and PalmOS seem to do ok.

      There are lots of things to remember before you rail against the machine about open standards. Remember, that TCP/IP fills its nitche, but it doesn't adapt fully to everything, especially the types of connections we are discussing here. Who needs to route around trouble when you are transmitting directly to a device?

      It is unrealistic to think that the major players in a multi-million dollar communciations industry are going to all want to use an open standard that they have no control over. First, they want the most efficent scheme for *their* platform, and second they want to fight it out in the market place, and see who can gain the upper hand. This isn't anything new - of course, the same thing has been happening for generation of electronic gizmos.

      We are fortunate that these kind of standards are being opened up at all, so at least we have a fighting chance of getting a reasonable standard that everybody can decide on. Unfortunately, instead of a fight on a whiteboard, the winner of these standards battles will be decided in the market place.
    • I think what we've seen again and again is that, unless you're a huge juggernaut (like Microsoft), your proprietary "open" standards never win. Even Microsoft can only pull it off, sometimes.

      err.. Java? PDF? PostScript? RSA (until recently)? MP3?

  • Games? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:26PM (#2851110) Journal
    Wireless spam, that's the wave of the future.
  • No... Community (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:27PM (#2851116) Homepage Journal
    You know, I hate to give him credit for anything, but Xenos over at made a rather interesting point about Anarchy Online. The graphics were amazing, but he said "Because you couldn't see player names or know who was standing around you, there was no community."

    Even if you COULD see little pixel figures of people, the games would ultimately fail because the community would be nil - and this is what matters in the online gaming world. As people what they play MMORPGs for, most people say Friends or Other Players.

    It's harsh to admit, but really, there isn't much chance in anyone playing a game where a) the graphics are terrible, b) the connection is slow, and c) the community doesn't exist, simply because you can't talk/type fast enough on those things, and you can't see the words/phrases/playernames anyway.
    • d) it takes too long to key out "suck on my rocket bitch, yeahhh you like that!" on your cellphone
    • Sure, but I could definitely see playing, say, chess, and other things with simple interfaces that don't take a large time commitment (the opposite of MMORPGs). Especially if I could easily find a human opponent of equal skill any time, anywhere. You don't need graphics, fast connections, or community for games like that to be a succcess. You just need a few million people with cell-phones who occasionally have a few minutes to kill.

      People say they play MMORPGs for friends or other players, because so far they haven't been much fun in and of themselves for more than a short while. But a lot of people think chess is fun, and much more fun against a person than a computer.

      In other words, small games for small devices!
    • Pirates! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by osolemirnix ( 107029 )
      Check out Pirates [], a game where a key factor is the people in your physical (meatspace) vicinity.

      I remember playing "community" strategy games on BBSs about 15 years ago (remember Trade Wars?), where a) the graphics were terrible (ascii), b) connection was slow (1200 bps modem), c) there wasn't much in terms of messaging or community either (although you could send messages). Lot's of fun.
      Why? Because the concept was different, new and exiting, that's why. You'd play against other humans, not a dumb computer opponent.

      So while I agree that the community part is important, there are definitely interesting ways to achieve that (e.g. Pirates). Technically you'd just use Bluetooth, GPS, or telco triangulation techniques for it.
      So if at least some of these people are innovative we should see some pretty neat apps. And I mean neat apps, I couldn't care less if downloadable primitive shoot-em-ups fail to be successful on mobiles.

  • Where the hell are you going to be where you aren't 3' away from a computer and you are just sitting there doing nothing? Aside from an airplane where you can't use your phone anyways.
    • Try going to a major city and living the commuter life. Taking 1 (or more) hr train rides to work every day. eg. Tokyo. Thats why the wireless market in Tokyo is so huge. Everyone's got "down" time while they're riding on or waiting for their train.

      Now that I've returned back into the fold of Americanism and the NOW NOW NOW mentality, flying down the freeway, I don't get to use my cell phone or PDA as much... but I can still imagine where this would be quite useful.
  • Although there are some types of games that are worthwhile developing for a phone or P the underlying technology isn't there in the near term.
    J2ME, which is likely the best hope, is not robust enough to handle gameboy-style games. It lacks necessary API's such image bliting, transparency (although SOME providers include it), and ABYSMAL sound support (4 sounds with blocking while the sound plays).

    Things will get better with the next version I hope, but for now multi-media is not do-able.

  • From my perspective as a support technician in wireless communications, it will be a while before we see head-to-head and massive multiplayer games being played on wireless networks. As mentioned previously, the hardware that exists is still in its early stages of development. I would say that it would take around 10 years in order to have bandwidth available that can support networked play without massive latency issues.

    I'm not saying that this isn't a bad idea. I feel that when the time comes, this will be big. I may just invest the extra cash in learning the protocols used in wireless networking from a developer's standpoint and begin writing some simple games that can be ported over to wireless devices.
  • On my honeymoon... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chagatai ( 524580 )
    While I was in Japan, you couldn't go through a subway or crowded intersection without seeing two or three people playing games on their cellphones (even a mini version of Space Channel 5 for the Dreamcast). Some of these cellphones even interacted with others, with people playing games against each other. In America, we have taken small strides like this with such toys as Hasbro's Pox, a handheld game that autonomously detects and "battles" other consoles in its broadcast radius. But with the popularity of cellphones and such, I don't see cute little portable games like this so much as an "if" than a "when". I can see old NES and SNES games being the first ported.


    • Probably the hardest thing for us in America
      to get over is that every culture doesn't play
      the same way ours does.

      Every so often something new comes out of
      japan, tamagotchi, pokemon etc that simply
      blasts onto our gaming scene seemingly out
      of nowhere and leaves our heads spinning.

      We can't adapt our current headspace easily into
      the phone game headspace. I am sure though that
      Japan can and wil in time once more startle us.
  • I think this will definitevely open the field for independent developers to start build for the new emergent market of hadheld gadgets. It could be a good starting point for the future generation of phones and how knows will show the nesxt few months.
  • For me, as a software-producing entity, the big question is how delivery of the product would be handled. For a PC it's no big deal, there are dozens of was to distribute - Shrink-Wrap, Shareware, Downloadable Payware, Bundles, Freeware, etc. I'm confident enough in my ability to reach the consumer when I'm producing desktop software that I'm willing to invest development time toward producing an profitable product.

    In this market, though, I wouldn't be willing to get out of bed and take a step towards my dev machine without some serious answers about how this stuff gets distributed. Can you download it directly from a WAP site into the phone? Am I going to have to write a website and fifty different installation apps to go with the myriad ways a phone might hook up to a PC? Can I get the phone manufacturer to bundle my game with the phone?

    These are the questions I'd be rushing to answer if I was someone putting out phones or development tools for them. They're going to make a huge impact in whether developers give the hardware manufacturers the support they need
  • by simpl3x ( 238301 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:36PM (#2851187)
    the november issue had several articles on just these issues ( a very good resource, btw.
  • Around 1981, there was a game, and probably before that was played by two people. They each had a deck of cards that was cross referenced. You would each call out a move, cross reference it and change your card to see the view you now had of the other person. It was a WWI fighter pilot game.

    Just got the 2-D game for my PDA so I think there is a lot of room for improvement and a good path to follow. Infrared would need to be replaced, but off to a good start.
    • That was Ace of Aces, and it was a terrific game. I got through whole semesters of study hall passing moves back and forth/

      By PDA I hope you're talking about a Palm unit, 'cause I must have a link to that right now.

  • There are some viruses for european phones already.

    If you have an API for controling more of the phone's features, you can bet that viruses will pop up. And it is much more dificult to reformat a phone than a PC's hard drive :-)
  • by MaverickUW ( 177871 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:39PM (#2851208)
    Okay, here's one way to look at things. Multiplay has become what gaming is about noew days. Most computer games can't get away anymore without having some form of multiplay as part of it.

    Now imagine a world where we have these handhelds that could allow us to play mutliplayer games. And I don't mean games like Quake, I mean games more along the line of Majestic. But think of a great spy game that you could be playing with millions around the world, over a Palm Pilot or something. The person standing next to you on the bus could be playing too, and even could be the one working against you. If nothing else, it'd create an excuse of all the paranoid people out there to really be paranoid. Now if you could get games like that over wireless PDA's, you'd see them take off quickly.

    Okay, so who's gonna build that awesome wireless PDA and Phone spygame for me?
  • Not right now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nzhavok ( 254960 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:40PM (#2851217) Homepage
    Personally I'd be pretty worried about running software on my phone unless it came from someone who I trust. I wonder how long it'll be before we see the first wireless worms with systems like this, I notice on their game engine page [] they mention WGE System allowing access to system resources. I wanted to find out exactly what this was but I couldn't find a link to their "open API" docs (mabye I'm blind) and I'm not really prepared to download their SDK for the priviledge.

    I don't see much of a market for these kind of applications right now and I'm pretty content only playing games on my PC, but I suppose once the technology gets better I might give it a try. Having said that I had a flatmate who would spend hours sitting in a corner playing "snake" with his phone (yes haha very original, now get your mind out of the gutter) so perhaps theres more of a market than I think. The closest I came to playing wireless games would have to be wap elite [] which is a wap version of the classic game Elite. Oh and if you don't know Elite you are not a true nerd ;-)
  • SMS Sdk & Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by metlin ( 258108 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:42PM (#2851230) Journal
    For those of you interested in messing around with SMS from Linux (and Windows), check out this project. []
    Damn cool, but generally getting it running is a pain (although the site does not state any dependencies, there are a few).

    In fact, me and my friends were trying to get SMS working so that a centralised Linux box could be used to play simple games. This way, we got about 5 people on SMS at the same time :-) playing simple word games. But again, for all these thingys to be working, your provider must support messaging from the net (which most do).

    Although we did not go any further, it was fun doing it. If someone is interested, I'd be happy to help them start some SMS based centralised gaming (yes, OSS). Nothing great, but even simple ones could be great fun!
  • Based on what I've read, it seems like WinCE will be the default of for handhelds five years hence. The interesting thing will be the battle of cell-phones (see DoCoMo) vs. PDAs. When I can get a 240x160 16-bit color display on my cell phone to play Quake 3 I'm in!
  • One Word (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:45PM (#2851241)

    There are (reportedly) over 20 million of these devices in Japan alone. The handheld/cellphone/PDA game market will be great for small and independent developers, and the economics are favorable as well (market size vs. cost of entry).

    Now, what kinds of games to play on small devices is the next question...
    • It'll be great when the providers here in the US get around to upgrading their service.. In Japan, they already have relatively cheap cell phones with nice, big hi-res color LCD displays and Internet access. I have a tiny and grainy black and white LCD display on my phone that barely does e-mail (and the UI sucks, at that). Cell phone games will be huge in the US in maybe 5 years or so. They won't take off until hi-res color becomes the standard for the cheap commodity free-but-sign-your-soul-over-to-Verizon promotional giveaway phones..

  • It will be fun to see the commuters play quake on the way home.
  • by Xerithane ( 13482 ) <xerithane@nerd[ ] ['far' in gap]> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @06:46PM (#2851253) Homepage Journal
    I would rather see a suite of applications that tie in not only to other cell phones but central computers so you can have an Exchange-style system setup delivering that information. I think that for a lot of people who are out of the office a lot and on the go this would really come in handy.

    Instead of logging into a terminal somewhere, you can just update your status via cell phones through the system.. I ended up writing something similar that operated via email, but you basically were stuck with whatever email client the phone had and had to deal with that.
  • I think they will.. but I think that because I'm wireless app developer myself.

    One of the most intreguing things about games on WML is that it forces creativity over flashyness, in the same vein that Zork relied on content rather then FMV. It's a chance to really use skill that isn't used much in todays world of huge pipes and fast CPUs.

    Most people think the issue here is screen size, but I disagree -- I still think the primary issuse is speed and overhead. Zork would be playable on a handset if it didn't take 30 seconds to move from place to place as it does on some Mobile providers networks (Qwest being the worst offender here).

  • This isn't completely on topic, but the thought it was kind of interesting. I wonder how long it will be before the Internet can/will be broadcast wirelessly on a large scale. Sort of in the same fashion that cell phone towers are popping up now. That could definitely make wireless anything much more accessible and possible. It would be pretty neat to be able to have a net connection while going down the street or riding in a car and not have to worry about losing the connection or horrendous fees.
    • I wonder how long it will be before the Internet can/will be broadcast wirelessly on a large scale. Sort of in the same fashion that cell phone towers are popping up now.

      Ummm... if you're in cell tower range, you're already in internet range. It's not fast (yet), and it's not fun (yet), and WAP definitely won't be the final word. But that's what we said about the HTML desktop web experience six or seven years ago. Start surfing now so you'll have wireless retro-grouch stories to tell your kids!
  • For anyone worried that no handheld device could possibly play games, don't worry. The current generation (and I mean ones selling for over 12 months now) of Pocket PC's have had 200mhz processors, 16-32 meg of ram, sound and 320x240 color screens.

    I have seen gameboy emulators, full speed Apple II emulators and Commodor 64 emulators.. right there you have tons of playable games.

    Sim City 2000 is a best seller on the Pocket PC. My company is porting one of our best sellers to it as well. Not as powerfull as a desktop by far.. but better than the computer on your desk 5 years ago!

    The problem with wireless games that makes them suck is content. It's HARD to come up with a game that people want to play while at the corner store buying a newspaper. Regardless of how good handhelds get, the public just doesn't *see* handhelds as the next gaming platform.

    Wait for some bright person to write "The Killer Wireless Game" and in a month the market will explode.
  • Whether or not independent development of games for wireless devices/platforms will succeed is a very good that I have actually pondered in the past. However, I believe that SDK's and development tools of this sort are putting the 'cart before the horse' in many respects...

    Anyone who has ever attempted to engage in an interactive game via their GSM-enabled cell phone, for example, can attest to the many deficiencies beyond simply a lack of game titles. Poor ergonomics, slow response/performance, and intolerable graphics are but a few of the physical/hardware issues that will require much further attention prior to us concerning ourselves with the lack of a Quake port!!!

    Even in the burgeoning marketplace of the slightly larger integrated devices that marry gadgets such as PDA's, cell phones, and GPS's into single units, these same issues remain valid. You can only do so much with so little before the device's size becomes to large and cumbersome for it to be practical to carry around on your belt!!!

    IMHO, this may be a hot topic in a couple of years, but for the time being is before its time and will fail as a result!!!

  • Write text games, like Zork...

    An lvsh swrd f grt ntqty s hr.
    > g swrd

    It glws bl!


  • Games on portables with 3.5"x5" screens just don't seem that appealing to me. I mean sure, tetris rocks, but I don't need a 600$ platform to play tetris.

    The idea of wireless games for the PDA seems interesting, but you could already do that. MUD's are still out there, and playable by text interface (of course), but quite frankly, they don't catch my attention any more (no offense intended to loyal devotees).

    Also, in most of the situations where a PDA is carried, gaming is not really the focus. In any case, the PDA doesn't allow for an immersive enough expierince for my gaming desires. I suppose online chess or something would be cool, but I want to be able to KILL ..

    so I guess I'll wait untill a (relatively)cheap wearable comes out for truly portable connected gaming.
    • Maybe a Head Mounted Display is in order.

      Not the a large, bulky one, but embeded in glasses or 'implanted'
      • Heartily agreed.

        Except for what is needed is a price break as these things already exist, and are pretty capable.. for example : re /index.html

        svga input, plus full 3rd gen low light/infrared capabilites (heheh... 'damn it it.. don't beam me that crap with your palm! That light is blinding me!')..

        Only problem is that it's 2500$. Which is not that bad considering that either of the products it replaces could easily be first on my wish list.

        Unfortunately, it is available only to the military. There are several other products that function as a HMD, but I still haven't seen a small one with a good price.
  • Here is what I envision the games to be like: First stage games (mostly turn based)
    • rock/paper/scissors
    • hangman
    • board games
    • card games
    Second stage games (low data requirement, twitch games)
    • streetfighter-style
    Third stage games (high data requirement, twitch games)
    • first person shooters
    • vehicle simulations
    Fourth stage games (what PCs can barely do now)
    • Massive Multi-player online role playing game

    The first stage might happen within the wireless hardware companies. Next stages will probably be developed externally, but paid for by the hardware company. Later stages will spawn from independents, but only after hardware becomes prevalent and powerful.
  • Boing ball anyone? (Score:2, Informative)

    by KILNA ( 536949 )

    Last I checked, Amiga [] was working on a multimedia API for small devices, with a focus on games. The Amiga environment is present on the new Sharp Zaurus []. The SDK [] looks interesting, in spite of it being java-based. :)

  • by ( 513464 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @07:04PM (#2851350)
    Let's face it. A cell phone is not a gaming console. At the moment most cell phones have a very limited screen - low resolution, small size, limited amount of colors (usually monochromatic). And no sounds, or very primitive ones *bleep*. And the controls suck. Why? Because it's a phone device, not a gaming device.

    Entertainment techies should reconsider their model of wireless gaming. Perhaps a cell phone should be a phone, not a Nintendo Gameboy. Make games that use the phone just as it is, a phone. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

    I know a Finnish company [] that develops a geographical GSM phone location service by triangulating the phones in networks. Using this kind of technology it could be possible to switch the game from the phone's screen into a real life experience, placing the player physically in the game, where his movements could be tracked on a predefined "game area". I'm sure countless of gaming applications are inbound after this technology spreads around..
    • You can already play Doom [] on the Nokia 9210 []. Full-colour, full-screen, and faster than I remember it originally playing on a 486. And if that doesn't turn your phone into a games console, I don't know what does.
    • Yes fast games can be seen on high end phones like the Nokia 9210. The advantage of the WGE from TTPCom is that it makes it run also on very low end platforms which are ARM7 enabled. The game quality is then dependant on the display. It already works and is available today.
  • i don't think so...
  • sigh, I'm sure this is "offtopic" or something so go ahead...

    I'm 21 so I've seen the portable/wirelss/cellphone game industry in action more or less from the beginning. I have to say, I'm not very impressed and never have been. Maybe I just never saw it before but the portable game industry seems to be in the market of creating gadgets to pass the time instead of creating real games.

    Since when is playing "Snake" on your Nokia actually fun? Would reading not be both more productive and entertaining? Do you know anyone who would sit at a desk in their home and play a game on a cell phone?

    Don't get me wrong. I love games. I think the problem is more that people feel they need to "get connected" and play them "anytime, anywhere" etc...
  • Now that I think about it, several issues must be dealt with before wireless appliances, namely cellphones (I know there are many others, but these interest me the most) are to be considered a "serious" gaming platform:

    • Screen. We need a bigger screen, a better resolution. It doesn't have to be much bigger than say, 4 cm x 7 cm. If you could flip the phone sideways, it would be great for games like Mario etc.. This screen would need colors. 32 colors is a good start. 256 would be brilliant, but the given state of technology doesn't really permit that (cost-effectively speaking), so.. And ofcourse the screen needs a decent refresh rate, so that moving picture isn't a problem. And I'm not talking about > 25 Hz here. Less will do, just fine.

    • Sounds. We need a real sound circuit. Perhaps a redesign of the famous C64 sound chip (can't remember it's name here). Ofcourse, this chip's output would need a 3.5 mm minijack for earphones. If the phone just played it out loud, it would create a total aural chaos in busses and subways, for instance..

    • Multiplay. Cellphones are great in connectivity. Why not use those powers and have "online" hiscore boards and play against other people online, or with a local link (Bluetooth, IR).

    • Controls. A phone keypad isn't really the best controller out there, is it? Few extra "gaming buttons" would do good. But keeping the design still simple and usability rates high would be a tough task for even the experts..

    • Memory. You have to store the games somewhere. Obviously, transfers could be with wireless data transfers, through the normal cellphone network. Now there's a niche you can make money with.

    That's my two cents..
    • by zurab ( 188064 )
      My thought is it's easier to put a cell phone on a game boy rather than game boy on a cell phone.

      The problem before the masses adopt such a gaming system, as I see it, will stay as long as the architectures and protocols used remain proprietary.

      On top of that the (gaming) network should be open between all providers. Imagine if you couldn't play a multiplayer game with your friend because you have a Verizon DSL and he has Cox cable.
  • X-Forge (Score:2, Insightful)

    Someone already mentioned Amiga's take on the mobile gaming platform. But I predict it won't succeed. This, however, I think will: Fathammer Ltd.'s X-Forge [] gaming engine. Take a look at those iPaq screen shots on their page.

    I heard, that when Fathammer's boys went over to Intel and demonstrated what their engine can do with a "simple" 206 MHz processor, the Intel guys' jaws dropped on the table! They just couldn't believe that this was possible! After the initial shock, I believe dollar signs were seen rolling by these guys' eyes.. :)

    Always told you, ex-democoders are good when it comes to optimizing and cheating in graphical routines..
    • The chief architect at FatHammer is RJ Mical, a man with an impressive record in the games industry. He was one of the original developers of the Amiga. The X-Forge 3D engine is very impressive, and FatHammer already have it running on the upcoming Nokia 7650. The problem I see though, is the sort of games one can create with it are very 'hard core'. We're talking FPS, driving sims, 3D shmups, basically Playstation quality stuff. When people play a game on a mobile phone, it's something to kill a few minutes here or there, something they can pick up and play instantly, then put down immediatly to carry on with what they are doing. Very few people will play Quake on their phone, but everyone plays Snake and Tetris!
  • I use the [] simulator to develope WML on WINblows. Does anyone out there have a good WAP simulator for developing WAP games with Linux?
  • Can someone explain to me why wireless mobile gaming is not just WAP mark2?
  • Just what I needed. The jackass at the next table not only bellowing into his cell phone, but his damned wireless game beeping and booping as well. Good thing my state prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons.
  • GPRS won't realistically give you more than 30kbps download speeds. The two CDMA carriers in the US are releasing 1XRTT in the immediate future and will give you 2-3 times the speed of GPRS.

    You will be able to download games and other apps on any JAVA or BREW enabled phone. Check out for more info on BREW. I think everyone here knows what JAVA is.
  • while they're not the complex, graphics-intensive programs that we think of when we say online or multiplayer games, the Japanese market has shown that game-playing on cell phones, at least, *can* be very very popular...but maybe this is just experience of Tokyo, with the average commute around an hour sitting (or more likely, standing) crammed in a train with little room for a newspaper or book.

    But there's also the consideration that the cell phones over there are smaller, lighter, have considerably longer battery life, and are in the hands of most everyone...multiple phones in one family are the norm, and almost every high school student has one.

    I wonder if gaming on cell phones is something that's popular only after having a critical mass of users and satisfying some constraints (size, mass, battery life, etc), or if the capability for games would draw anyone into the market...I'd bank on the former, though...
    • Ag! and color, I forgot color!

      This one, for example: _6 33s.html
      93mm×49mm×26mm, 99g, 2.5 - 7.5 hrs battery life, and 65k color
  • I saw a show on Nokia not too long ago, and one of the developers was talking about how gread 3g is and all that jazz. He mentioned games that he'd been working on and then proceeded to start a game of seek 'n' destroy. You can play with many people in a real area and it looked pretty fun. Your phone screen shows a radar screen with your target's general direction then proceeds to tell you how close you're getting to them as you move. When you get close enough you can hit a key on the phone to 'shoot' them. You can keep a running score, etc. Fun stuff to get fat Americans back in the sunlight again :)
  • Think Different (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peterdaly ( 123554 ) <petedaly&ix,netcom,com> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:25PM (#2851953)
    When most slashdotter's think of games, they think first person shoot'em up, etc. Those will be a huge utter failure on handheld devices, like cellphones. Remember back when online multi-player games had A) limited bandwidth, and B) limited display (text based)? This is what we have to back to.

    Remember the old BBS games? I am sure many people here were addicted to games like L.O.R.D. in the old BBS days. Remember MUDS? That is the niche I see these games flurishing in. People have said there is no community. No community? You just have to think differently about what a community is.

    Remember the old card board and plastic pieces type games? Chess, Risk, etc. Someone could play 5 chess games on an ongoing bases with people they know in REAL LIFE! Now that's community! Make your moves back and forth every now and then during the day. People probably won't be playing non-stop for 3 hours, but 5 minutes here, two minutes there. Just have to consider games which work in such a time schedule.

    Multi-player games worked well in the BBS days, and in many ways, today's cellphones has better display ability than 80x24 ANSI.

    • TEQ []!

      It's got strategy, it's text bases, web based, there's alot of in your head number crunching, the community's a decent size, and the team I play with on the team server are all r/l friends. Try it =)

      Hm, that's got me thinking... Web based games should publish their interfaces as xml files, that would make special handheld wireless clients really easy to use...
  • It won't be successful because of the technology it's based on. SMS, IMHO, is a hack to send messages over technologies that were designed for voice. 3rd generation wireless technology (including high-speed IP over the air, people) will be available in a few years which will completely wipe out SMS and these types of specialized APIs.
  • I think this is more hype than anything else - these days there apis and sdks for everything that you don't need. Who's going to use these wireless games with our current technology - those who think WAP is in for good?
  • My question, does anyone see independent developers emerging for donloadable gaming or will this market be driven by the network operators / handset manufacturers?

    My friend's company, :)Smilie [], are an already existing independant developer for whom this kind of this is just their cup of tea. They are the kind of people who probably would download such an SDK. Their browser-based games site [] (warning: this site has Flash on nearly every page, and the games are Java - it's not meant to work in Lynx! ;o) is full of the kind of simple games that people still like playing - and it's games of this kind that can easily be ported to devices with a small keypad and a tiny (monochrome) display.

    There are many companies like Smilie, with a track record for games development on a variety of different platforms - wireless gaming is simply another development platform, with a different set of specs.

    Gaming isn't about fancy hardware and good graphics (although they can help! ;). Those who say 'people who want games will buy a PocketPC' (or similar) do make a valid point - but on the other hand, who here has played 'Snake' on a Nokia? Who's played Tetris on a Gameboy? -- neither of these games require powerful hardware, and both can be considered fun and (somewhat) addictive.

    Regarding communities: A gaming community can still develop without immersive multiplayer games (in the sense of Q3A for example), it'd simply be a community of people who play the same game(s), and 'hang-out' together - whether in virtual space (eg: in a chat-room, via SMS, on mailing-list, in a forum) or in 'meat space'. SmilieGames for example has a large community - and not a first-person-shoot'er in sight!

    Multiplayer gaming (of a few kinds) is still possible on low-bandwidth devices - don't think RocketArena Tournament: think Snake Tournament (or Tetris Tournament) - eg: two players are picked off of a queue, they start their game at the same time (synced by the server), and the final scores are then sent back to the server to decide who wins, (and to enter the global highscore table, etc) - I'm sure you get the idea....

    All that said, it might not matter how good or bad the product is if it's marketed well, and backed by the right brand name (or a brand's character - such as that Pikachu thing), a lot of people will probably buy it anyway.

    All IMHO anyway - I did develop games myself for a good few years.. :o0 (don't anymore though)

  • Well, it's my business to know... (or actually predict ;-)
    I work on wireless games (I'm managing the games group at a wireless VLSI company []). We already have a (proof-of-concept) DOOM port on a wireless device. It's already here.
    Additionally, in Germany games by In-Fusio [] are a huge success; In-Fusio even signed a deal [] with Motorola to provide a (J2ME-based) game engine on all Motorola devices.
    Wireless carriers see games as one of the driving forces for the adoption of next-generation (2.5G and 3G) devices.
    So, wireless games (and SDKs) have great momentum. Which ones will succeed -- this is another question; I'd certainly bet on the Java-based ones, and ExEn (In-Fusio's offering) is already succeeding.
  • Did anyone wlse think "Wireless Intellectual Property? What does that mean?
  • Hi, Just to answer some of the questions as I work on the WGE program. All ARM7/ARM9 enabled handsets which represent a majority of the market (Nokia, SonyEricsson, Motorola...) could run WGE games with no problem. The thin client to be integrated in their SW is 40kB. Yes WGE can work on Brew, Epoc, PocketPC, PalmOs... Yes colour LCDs are coming and TTPCom will demo games on a colour handset with 132*176 display in 16bit for the GSM World Congress in Cannes. No WGE is only using SMS but also TCP-IP socket for multiplayer games. Network Operators are very positive about this technology as it allows true mobile gaming. Yes phones already have nice polyphonic sound. Yes it runs like a GameBoy would run it and the games are mega small. Hurricane Space Fighter downloadable from for PC is 30kB in 4 greyscale and 75kB in colour on a mobile phone. The games can already be seen on
  • My question, does anyone see independent developers emerging for donloadable gaming or will this market be driven by the network operators / handset manufacturers?
    I work for a UK based Independent mobile games developer. We do mobile exclusively, and there must be over 30 games developers in the UK alone doing mobile work. You all know the various technologies available, squeezing playable, fun games into tiny phones takes skill, but is also a lot of fun.
    As far as users are concerned, they deal with the operators and the wireless portals like Vizavi. The operators need us to develop the games for them though.
  • The hardware is slow....the display is crappy...we want colors....theres no community....
    Lots of good points but not true!!!
    Remember the Commodore 64 ? I do and I still love it. Todays phones are much faster and have much more RAM than this lovely speed monster and with the color displays (some even pretty large) I know this will be cool.
    As TTPCom [] writes on their site a clone of Super Mario and 1942 have already been developed. Don't tell me you're not thinking about setting up your old dusty C64 and play them right now!!
    So basically take the C64 and add networking (I know that some had networking back then). Thats what's just around the corner.

    I don't know about you but I cannot wait to play those games.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein