Excellent article today on Roughly Drafted about how the release of the iPhone SDK has suddenly catapulted Apple into a very strong position in the mobile gaming market. I heartily agree, having happily participated in the stampede that brought down Apple’s servers subsequent to the SDK’s release.
The fact that Apple is taking one of the hottest pieces of hardware around and making it so accessible is incredibly significant. In fact, when the SDK was released I had been planning to post a lengthy diatribe about the relative inaccessibility of Wii Ware to amateur developers. Nintendo’s insistence that Wii Ware developers be established companies (no home offices allowed) was a bit of a let-down, but the iPhone SDK more than made up for the disappointment—so far it seems to be everything I hoped for from Wii Ware and more.
Even though the SDK is still in a limited beta (and I’m one of the thousands who got my very own “we’ll be expanding the beta later, hang on for a while” email from Apple), it’s abundantly clear that they’ve gotten a lot right with the release, including the revenue sharing model. The ground is so fertile here that it’s convinced me to start hastily learning Objective-C (happily, C seems much easier to me now than it did eleven years ago, the last time I tried to pick it up...)
Such an exciting time right now. Man!
An article based on a section of my recent Flash Platform Workshop went live on Adobe.com last week. Titled “Adobe Flash and Flex—Which Makes the Most Sense for Your Project?” it’s a short piece that presents a generalized heuristic for developers trying to decide whether they should use Flash or Flex. I hope it’s helpful—feel free to post any feedback!
IGN Wii Editor Matt Casamassina recently posted video on his blog of 3DV Systems’ Z-Camera technology, which was showing at GDC. It looks pretty impressive--enabling body motion sensing in 3D without the need for an input device. As the comments on Matt’s blog indicate, there’s obviously going to be many applications for which you want to be holding something anyway, but the idea that that something could be a cheap plastic toy instead of an electronic device is an intriguing one. Matt hopes Nintendo is considering the tech for Wii 2--what should Nintendo do for Wii 2, anyway?
Raph Koster, president of Areae and designer of Ultima Online and Star Wars: Galaxies, made this and other interesting statements at a private GDC lunch as reported on gamesindustry.biz. Koster argues that Flash’s ubiquity and device-independence puts it in a leadership position among next-gen gaming platforms, and notes that as devices proliferate, “a lot of games… are not going to know what devices they are landing on”.
As it becomes increasingly common for a given experience to be run on multiple devices, some fundamental design issues come into play, as I’m discovering trying to develop works that will accommodate both the mouse and the Wii remote. While in this case I’m talking about multiple control schemes on a single hardware platform (a PC running WiiFlash), the problem is essentially the same as if I was designing a PC experience that could also run on the Wii.
It’s one thing to design a casual game in which the vocabulary of user actions is defined relatively independently from the control scheme, and then figure out how to make that game work with various input devices. It’s something else, however, to design an experience that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of the Wii remote, while still making the interface functional and rewarding for a mouse user. Of course, the fallback position is always to design for the mouse user and then use the IR pointer capability of the remote to emulate the mouse, and this might be perfectly appropriate for especially complex interfaces. A more customized bit between experience and controller, however, will always be desirable.
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