Since it’s been something of a non-stop Real Racing 3 party here at 148Apps we wanted to draw things to a close with a bit of style. Which is why we’re going to capitalize on all the spirit of Time Shifted competition and challenge you, our readers, to a race. Specifically the Pure Stock Challenge, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Nissan Silvia (S15) Showcase Cup race pictured above. I think I’ve typed that out correctly. Why this event? Because it requires one of the first cars new players will have access to and doesn’t allow for any other; providing as even and easily accessible a playing field as we could find.
All you have to do is drive your heart out. Snap a screen shot (hit the Power and Home buttons on your iOS device at the same time) of your best time and post it in the comments below along with your Game Center username. We’ll pick random winners from all of the entries and post the results here on Monday (3/4) afternoon.
The prizes? We’ll give away three $10 iTunes gift cards to spend how you see fit. Although in the spirit of the contest we’d suggest something like, oh, maybe the Race Car Booster Pack that includes 65 gold and a 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X?
Update: We’ll contact our three winners via email. Thanks for playing and look for more Real Racing 3 contests coming up soon.
Now that Real Racing 3 is out, we are going to give you some tips to get the best times and have the most fun with Real Racing 3. All of that with an eye toward how you can minimize any real money investment in the game.
Real Racing is the most beautiful racer on any mobile platform, and it’s free, so there is no reason not to try it. I’ve played Real Racing 3 for around 30 hours total now, let me give some tips on how to get the farthest possible in the shortest amount of time and without paying a thing.
Manual brakes = faster times. The main tip I can give is one that I still haven’t mastered completely myself, turn the braking assist to low or even better off. Of the three assists in the game it makes the most difference in your racing times/speed. When the computer does all of the braking for you, it does so very conservatively. If you can at least turn braking to low, it will greatly decrease your times. One thing to remember, you can change this in-race, at any time. Hit the pause button and you can then get to the settings in the lower left of the screen. (See more dirty tricks below)
Get inside, quickly! You start in last place in every single race. Seems unfair, but get used to it. You can usually jump up at least half way up the standings in the first couple turns with smart maneuvering. The key here is to not follow the car in front of you. If you do that you can only go as fast as they are going, and the car in front of them, etc. Pick your own path, preferably on the inside of the turn, and zoom past the other cars as they all line up and then slow down when the car in front of them does. It’s best to not follow another car at any other time if at all possible, you get no advantage from drafting and will be more likely that you will need to slow down to avoid hitting the car you are following.
Build your stable of cars, smartly. You will need a single car that is one of the 3-4 for each circuit to race in that circuit. But you will need all of the cars in the circuit to complete it 100% as there will be races that require each car in the circuit. You should also note that most cars you purchase will be able to race in more than one circuit — just check out the list on the main page to see the circuits you have access to.
I feel lucky that I got a lot of time to play Real Racing 3. With well over an hour of playtime with Firemonkeys community manager Sam Mayo walking me through the game, I think I got a fairly good feel for Real Racing 3. That time with the game has just made my anticipation for the release greater.
I also got the opportunity to record a ton of video. Of the cars, some of the tracks and race types, the repair system, and more.
Wonder what the 46 cars are in Real Racing and wanted to see them? This video is for you. Here’s a parade of all 46 cars where you can see their specs at the bottom of the screen.
A special note here. Some of the cars don’t look perfect. The reason for that is the damage system in the game. If you damage the car while racing, that damage is persistent, much like it would be in real life. Your car will be represented as damaged anywhere in the game you see it. You can still race it, upgrade it, paint it, etc. But it will remain damaged, with it’s performance reduced, until you spend the in game currency to repair it and wait the time it takes.
Now, back to that video.
Customize and Upgrades in Real Racing 3
Like most racing games, Real Racing 3 has upgrade and customization options. For Real Racing 3 you can make a variety of tiered upgrades to the Engine, Drivetrain, Suspension, Brakes, and the Wheels. Under each section there are from two to four tiered upgrades you can do. Meaning that you need tier 1 to apply tier 2, and so on. Each of these upgrades applied to a single car and has the possibility to increase the top speed, acceleration, braking, or traction of the vehicle. Each one should decrease your lap times by some amount.
Mount Panorama Track – Time Trial in Real Racing 3
Mount Panorama is aptly named. You race up this steep track on a mountain that never seems to end, crest the top to a beautiful panorama, and plunge right back down the other side. Awesomely rendered vistas, but better keep your eye on the road. I did make more than a few mistakes on this time trial / Autocross race while looking around the beautifully rendered track.
Head to Head – Circuit de Spa-Francordchamps in Real Racing 3
We also did a head to head race on the long and very fast Circuit de Spa, or just Spa. It’s a great track and racer “drollted” provided a worthy challenge, until he made a mistake near the end of the first lap. It was bye bye from then on out as he had to take second place and I got the win!
Full 22 Car Race on Southbank, Melbourne in Real Racing 3
Real Racing 2 was amazing with up to 16 cars in a single race. Real Racing 3 has bumped that up to 22 cars. In this Southbank race you’ll see all 22 cars squeeze through a very narrow course. Southbank is the course through the streets of Melbourne. It’s a track that doesn’t exist and was just a fun experiment by the Firemonkeys team to add a brand new course. And a challenging one at that! This race gets a little dirty with lots of bumping and wall grinding in the narrow turns. I couldn’t pull out a win on this one. It was my first drive on the track and I made too many mistakes. Those walls just jump right out at you! The best I could do was to climb from 22nd to a disappointing 6th. Even dirty driving can’t win every time.
That’s all we have right now. You can tell from all of the coverage we’ve been giving Real Racing 3 that we are anxiously awaiting it. Real Racing 3 comes out as a Universal build on iOS on February 28th. It also realeases for Android at the same time.
Note that this is a preview of Real Racing 3, not a review. We can never review an app when it’s presented by people related to the app. The reason is that we have no idea how the game is tuned for that demo. We need to reserve judgement for the final release of the game, downloaded from the App Store, and set up just like it is for everyone else.
Lots of fresh new content this week at 148Apps.com, including a three part series tracking the history and development of Firemint’s Real Racing series. Rob Rich writes, “The soon to be released Real Racing 3 is on a lot of iOS gamers’ minds these days, especially many of us here at 148Apps. Because of this we thought it would be a good idea to recap the series. In fact, we might have gone a bit beyond that and created a trilogy. First we’ll be taking a look at the series’ history and the history of Firemint, the Melbourne based studio that created the series. After that we’ll be taking a look at the design factors and what when into creating the first two Real Racing titles as well as a little of the third. And in the third part of this series, we’ll take a look at the new Time Shifted Multiplayer found in Real Racing 3.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-14 :: Category: Education
And we close out our weekly tour of sites by checking in on the latest KickStarter spotlight on AndroidRundown.com. Joseph Bertolini writes, “It is amazing how many times I leave my phone in the car or forget to bring my keys out with me. Consolidating these two would be a dream and there are a few solutions available but their effectiveness is very questionable. One of the more complete and involved KickStarter projects that we have spotlit here, Intellacase is a smartphone case that incorportes within it a key fab for any modern car with keyless entry. While this does nothing for most car owners who still reside in the land of metallic gateways, a growing number of affordable cars are adopting the keyless ignition as a viable offering. Certainly for anyone who has a car that utilizes keyless technology this is an incredibly attractive opportunity. Image going out on the town, with the increasing prevalence of NFC payments, and being able to bring just a phone which has access to both wallet and car access.”
Another week down, but oh so much more to report in the coming days and weeks! Keep track of the latest happenings by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You’ll be glad you did. See you next week kiddies!
Most iOS gamers are familiar with the idea of asynchronous multiplayer at this point; one person takes a turn and submits it, then next person takes their turn whenever they’re able, and so on. Many iOS multiplayer games use this mechanic to great effect these days; Robot Entertainment’s stellar Hero Academy, OMGPOP’s Draw Something, and Playdek’s Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil are just a few examples.
It’s great for playing anything turn-based on the go because it enables players to jump in and make their move whenever it’s convenient for them. Taking a break to get lunch, turning off the phone for a few hours during a long trip, or even taking a break partway through a match are all possible thanks to this particular form of multiplayer.
Real-time multiplayer games are a bit more difficult to execute on iOS devices. Not so much because the technology isn’t there, but because the very nature of mobile platforms creates a different sort of “flow” for users who aren’t tied down to a particular location. And Game Center is still in its relative infancy, so setting up a match among friends typically requires a decent amount of prep work. Especially given the sheer number of titles available for most Apple products these days. Capcom’s Street Fighter IV Volt and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 are both examples of this particular multiplayer type, and both fun games, but setting up a match takes more work than it does on many gaming platforms.
The fast paced nature of the gameplay and the speed with which most bouts are completed fit the real-time online play well, but it still requires players to find a good spot to stop for a moment if they want to get a match or two in. Or they could also always play to their heart’s content while relaxing at home or any other location with proper seating and wireless internet.
Real Racing 3’s Time Shifted Multiplayer is a sort of amalgamation of both asynchronous and simultaneous play, and could very well lead to some significant changes in how we play mobile games with other people in the near future.
“What could we do if we had no limitations?” is the mantra that was used throughout Real Racing 3’s development according to the game’s Development Director, Kynan Woodman. “The answer to that question for many of us,” he said, “is that we would be able to play against our friends and other real people anytime and anywhere.” It might not seem like a big deal but not everyone has the same daily schedule.
Anyone who’s ever tried to play games online with a friends who lives in another state, even one that’s in the same time zone, knows just how problematic it can be at times to try and coordinate. Being able to play with friends without needing to adhere to a specific schedule means everyone can play when they have a moment rather than having to set aside a specific time or possibly turn down an open invitation.
And thus Time Shifted Multiplayer was conceptualized. Without worrying about whether it was “possible” or not, they got to work figuring out a way to combine the accessibility of asynchronous play with the pulse-pounding action of simultaneous play. In essence, it’s meant to be the best of both worlds.
Blazing a Trail
Firemonkeys hasn’t revealed the exact details of Time Shifted Multiplayer just yet, but it has explained the basics of how everything comes together in practice. When a Real Racing 3 player begins a race against someone else it’s not actually a direct competition.
Rather than racing against their opponent directly they’re in fact racing against “… their fully interactive time-shifted double,” Woodman said, “which emulates their performance and skill.” In other words it’s like racing against their ghost, only this particular ghost is tangible. This “non-ghost” can be driven off the track, react to other racers jostling for position, and all the other stuff a real player would do automatically.
Imagine racing against a snapshot of another person; a sort of virtual player that’s compiled from data based around their particular skill level and performance. If left to its own devices it’ll achieve a time similar (if not equivalent to) the player’s original run, but that’s only if it’s left alone. This is, in essence, what Time Shifted Multiplayer is.
It’s never a good idea to get too far ahead of things when it comes to speculation, but it’s also incredibly difficult not to get swept up in all the Time Shifted Multiplayer madness. It’s a technology that combines the two primary forms of online play iOS users have come to rely on for all of their games, and as such stands to create quite a stir once more and more titles begin to adapt similar techniques. Fusing the play anywhere/anytime convenience typical of most mobile multiplayer games with the more directly interactive (and often more competitive) nature of real time multiplayer certainly seems like a brilliant idea on paper.
Firemint (and now Firemonkeys) has been on an interesting road trip up to now; full of all kinds of unexpected detours, the occasional paint job, maybe a trade-in here and there, picking up a few new passengers along the way, and bittersweet goodbyes to those who’ve been dropped off. Of course it’s not over yet. There’s still a lot of road to travel. We’ll have to wait until next month to see how well everything Firemonkeys has experienced and created comes together for the newest pit stop, but the potential is definitely there.
Last time we took a look at the history behind Firemint and its popular Real Racing series. In this post we are going to go into a bit more detail on just how these games came about: design troubles, device compatibility considerations, gameplay mechanics, and ideas that help to define a developer and its products. Enjoy!
Everything To Everyone
A whole lot of iOS gamers are familiar with the Real Racing series. It’s well known (and rightly so) both as an example of the ever-increasing visual prowess of mobile gaming platforms and because it’s just plain fun. But creating something with so much quality and depth takes plenty of effort, especially considering that there are several possible generations of hardware to play it on. It’s quite the list, really, ranging from the original iPhone through the 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and now the 5. And let’s not forget the iPad, iPad 2, 3rd Generation, 4th Gen, and the adorable iPad mini. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the iPod Touch 1-5, either. So that’s, what, like 16 different iOS devices total, right? Each of them with their own limit on supported operating systems. Even ignoring the hardware side of things, that’s still at least five different OS platforms to check for compatibility.
The original Real Racing was developed in 2009: the middle of the iPhone 3G’s life cycle. Since the 3G was built around the earlier generations of iPhone, compatibility wasn’t too much of an issue. Real Racing 2, however, pushed things quite a bit further and gave the team a little difficulty when making it compatible with older devices. The game hit the App Store when the 3GS was still going strong and the iPhone 4 had only recently become available. According to Real Racing 3’s Development Director, Kynan Woodman, “Real Racing 2 was the first game where challenges with legacy hardware arose, but we managed to support everything back to the first iPhone on Real Racing 2.”
Even with a still comparably small list of devices and iOS software to worry about, things were starting to get more complicated. Firemint even went so far as to develop two separate base sets of code for its follow-up racing game: one designed to take full advantage of the iPhone 4 and fourth generation iPod touch’s specs, and one for everything that came before it. The different codes were then tailored to make the best use of their intended devices as possible by way of including different art assets, using higher framerates, etc.
Real Racing 3, on the other hand, will most likely break with that tradition of near-universal iOS compatibility. A number of older devices are incompatible with iOS 6, and many of them also lack the processing power to manage more demanding games. Compatible devices haven’t been officially announced yet but Real Racing 3 is “… using Open GL ES 2.0 and relies on this for the advanced lighting,” said Woodman. “Everything prior to the iPhone 3GS only supported OpenGL 1.0.” Given the specificity of that statement, it’s looking like support for anything predating the 3GS is off the table. It’s amazing to think that the lighting is what’s primarily responsible for the game’s hardware compatibility. Of course, iOS hardware upgrades are always an option and with each new release, prior versions become even more affordable.
What’s really interesting and even downright commendable about Firemonkey’s approach to Real Racing 3’s development, which began mid-2011, is the way it didn’t let hardware limitations dictate the design. “When we started developing Real Racing 3,” Woodman said, “we started out with a core question: ‘What could we achieve, if we imagine, even just for a moment, that we have no limitations whatsoever.’” It was a question meant to steer (no pun intended) people away from worrying about whether or not their ideas would be feasible on any particular iOS device and get them thinking much more freely.
In other words, they tossed all preconceived limits out the window and let their imaginations run wild. So they got to work creating the racing game they wanted to create, with no consideration as to whether or not the hardware could handle any of it. “We went into this project anticipating hardware as powerful as the iPhone 5,” Woodman said, “so when the iPhone 5 did come along, we were ready.”
The idea was to design the game first, then worry about hardware specs later. It gave the team at Firemonkeys more of a chance to explore their ideas, and to play around with any concepts they could dream up and give them a real shot before deciding if they would work in Real Racing 3 or not.
So they worked backwards; developing Real Racing 3 as they saw fit, then hoping they could find a way to put it on Apple’s current and at the time future hardware. Ideas were given time to be fleshed-out rather than getting the axe early on thanks to the “no limits” approach. This led to the inclusion of an honest-to-goodness rearview mirror to help keep an eye on everyone currently eating your dust, a larger number of racers on the track (22 instead of the previous 16), new events that have never been used in a Real Racing game before that also sadly haven’t been specifically named, and real world racetracks like Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Silverstone.
Incorporating these tracks into Real Racing 3 is something that Firemonkeys is understandably excited about, especially considering all the work that went into the process. Each raceway needed to be thoroughly documented and multiple reference photos had to be taken. Once that step was finished it was time to research each track’s elevation data and use it to create a close digital approximation. It’s not a simple process, but the results are well worth it.
Of course, there’s also the Time Shifted Multiplayer everybody’s been talking about that allows players to race against friends and foes anytime, anywhere. “We didn’t start out with Time Shifted Multiplayer,” Woodman said, “we started out by putting real names on the cars and pretending that we had the ultimate multiplayer mode. It felt great and we worked our way back from there to Time Shifted Multiplayer.” It’s a method that’s resulted in some impressive new software technology that’s garnered a fair amount of attention since its announcement. It may not have ever come into being without such an open approach to design.
We’re still a ways off from Real Racing 3’s February release date, but that hasn’t kept people from talking about it. Not just the pretty graphics or the smooth controls, but also the unexpected surprises such as the Time Shifted Multiplayer which we’ll be taking a look at in the next post in this series. Even so, Firemonkeys is still holding a few of its cards close to its vest. It’s exciting to take a moment to consider just what it is we haven’t been told yet.
The soon to be released Real Racing 3 is on a lot of iOS gamers’ minds these days, especially many of us here at 148Apps. Because of this we thought it would be a good idea to recap the series. In fact, we might have gone a bit beyond that and created a trilogy. First we’ll be taking a look at the series’ history and the history of Firemint, the Melbourne based studio that created the series. After that we’ll be taking a look at the design factors and what when into creating the first two Real Racing titles as well as a little of the third. And in the third part of this series, we’ll take a look at the new Time Shifted Multiplayer found in Real Racing 3.
One of the best-known examples of how far developers can push Apple’s new iPhone 5 hardware is looming just over the horizon. However, it wasn’t always so. Sure the Real Racing series has steadily become pretty much synonymous with near console-quality visuals on mobile platforms, even going so far as to have a permanent spot on the App Store’s Big-Name Games and Racing Games lists, but there was once a time when no one knew the name Firemint. This was around four years ago, when most mobile games were still easily distinguished from virtually every other platform. You know, when Solitaire and box-pushing puzzles came preloaded on everything and acquiring new games wasn’t anywhere near as convenient as it is now. Oddly enough, the developer’s first major innovation wasn’t even based around graphics.
According to Kynan Woodman, Real Racing 3’s Development Director, the original Real Racing was actually more of an experiment than a real game. Specifically they were trying to figure out how to rig up accelerometer steering for a Nokia handset in a way that wasn’t awkward or unnatural. Keep in mind this was back in 2008, and up to that point attempts at such a control scheme would tilt the view along with everything else which wasn’t exactly conducive to a driving game. “To solve this problem we tilted the horizon dynamically to counter your steering of the device,” he said, “so that regardless of where you moved the horizon in the game would match the real world. It seems obvious now, but no one had done it at the time.” Firemint didn’t just find a work-around for a common problem, the team developed a solution that set a new design standard for accelerometer controls.
Building A Unique Race
Once it had the horizon tilting figured out, Firemint began to construct the game that would eventually become Real Racing around it. “There was a lot more to the Real Racing franchise than great controls,” said Woodman, “but it started with that as a key innovation.” As it turns out, innovation ended up being Firemint’s calling card of sorts.
The developer’s second major task was to construct an interior view that the series has come to be known for, “… so players could actually see the steering wheel move as they steered,” Woodman said. It’s a feature that isn’t uncommon in console racing games these days (Codemasters’ Race Driver: Grid is a prime example), but it’s not prevalent in many – if any – iOS racers. The added level of detail, and by extension immersion, goes a long way to enhancing the “simulation” experience.
The decision to create a racing game built around closed tracks was made fairly early on in the cycle, however, but the rest of the design evolved as the game was developed. No one at Firement (now Firemonkeys) expected their project to become such a juggernaut on the App Store or to be the target of much speculation when early gameplay footage (above) was first revealed on PocketGamer in August of 2008. “We particularly enjoyed all the comments from consumers about how it was ‘clearly fake,’” said Woodman. Encouraged by these reactions, Firemint continued its work on through 2009, listening to fan and potential consumer feedback all the while. “We had a good idea of what people would like from the game,” he said, “because we could read comments and talk to press and consumers about it. Although we couldn’t do everything that players would like, we did use their feedback to help us focus the game design.”
Not Just A Racing Game Studio
Amidst all the hullabaloo surrounding console-quality visuals and innovations up the wazoo it can be easy to forget that Firemint doesn’t only make racing games. In fact, before Real Racing came out, it was already flying high (*rimshot*) thanks to the success of Flight Control. This casual mobile rendition of a day in the life on an air traffic controller began as a simple experiment concocted by Firemint CEO Robert Murray. It was meant to be a simple design exercise created over the winter break when the studio was shut down for the holidays, but garnered so much attention around the studio that fellow Firemint designers, Alexandra Peters and Jesse West, hopped on board to help turn it into a full-blown game–a good call considering that it’s sold over half-a-million copies in its first month and well over three million to date.
The original Real Racing went on to receive plenty of accolades, including 2010’s Apple Design and IMGA’s Excellence in Connectivity Awards, as well as a Best App Ever Award for Best Racing Game, Best Graphics, and Best Simulation Game in 2009. It’s also sold a whole bunch–and that’s just the first game. Not surprisingly, after Real Racing was launched in June of 2009, work on Real Racing 2 began roughly 6 months later.
The sequel to Firemint’s critical darling turned its fair share of heads as well when it was released in December of 2010. In addition to carrying over all the new concepts and special features that made the original Real Racing so noteworthy, Real Racing 2 added plenty of new items to its pedigree. The career mode was greatly expanded upon by allowing players to earn cash to purchase new cars and even upgrade their current ones. More camera options were added along with a special TV broadcast-style instant replay system. Vehicles were given damage models so that particularly rough races would leave telltale signs all over the racer’s cars. Online save options were added to allow players a chance to carry over their racing career when they installed the game to a new device. It was one of the first games to incorporate Apple’s Airplay technology which allowed players to view their games on their TV, using their iOS device as a stand-in for a controller. Actually, it allowed up to four players to view their games on the bigger screen all at once by way of the special Party Mode.
Last but not least, and in keeping with the whole “innovation” thing, Firemint also managed to include 16 player races (against AI in single player or 15 other people online), which was a first for iOS games at the time and no small feat in and of itself. All of these various features reportedly pushed Real Racing 2’s development costs to over $2 million. So it wasn’t just a first for iOS multiplayer, it was also a first for iOS development costs. Real Racing 2 has received a fair share of success with a combined (critic) Metacritic score of 94 to date along with taking the Best App Ever Awards for Racing and Graphics in 2010. With so many hits on Firemint’s hands, it’s no wonder large publishers like EA took notice.
The following year, Firemint was absorbed into the collective that is Electronic Arts. Some were understandably concerned about the acquisition, as it’s not uncommon for smaller studios to lose most of what makes them special (or get dismantled entirely) once they become a part of a much larger whole. However, Firemint CEO Rob Murray, as well as EA Interactive’s Executive VP, Barry Cottle, were quick to put those fears to rest by recalling the developer’s history. Many of Firemint’s pre-Flight Control and pre-iOS releases (Need for Speed Most Wanted, Madden, etc) were created while under contract for EA Mobile. One could even argue that EA helped to shape the folks at Firemint into the dream team they are today. Getting bought by one of the largest video game publishers in the business while being able to maintain their creative freedom made for an exciting opportunity for the already quite successful developer. But it didn’t end there. In July of 2012, Firemint joined forces with IronMonkey Studios (Dead Space, Need for Speed Undercover) to create Firemonkeys. I hope they braced for all the inevitable Infernape jokes beforehand. Since then, EA’s involvement has most likely influenced Firemint’s/Firemonkey’s pricing structures, but overall it seems like they’ve left the developer to do their own thing, which is to make fantastic games.
A more recent and potentially troubling development was the announcement that Rob Murray–former CEO of Firemint, mastermind behind Flight Control, and Executive Producer at Firemonkeys–would be leaving to spend time as a full-time dad. It’s a perfectly good reason to step down and Tony Lay, EA’s Melbourne Studio GM, has more than enough experience to see Real Racing 3 to its release as the new Executive Producer, but it’s difficult not to have a little concern over what this means for Firemonkeys. Development heads come and go from time to time, as is the nature of the industry, but sometimes major shakeups can be difficult to shake off. There have also been rumblings of another kind of shakeup for Real Racing 3. The App Store is still a tough market to predict when it comes to pricing structure, and it’s rumored that Firemonkeys might do away with the premium price tag for their new racer. In fact, if the rumors are to be believed Real Racing 3 just might be free-to-play. It’s not definite by any stretch of the imagination at this point, but it is possible.
It’s impressive to think that Firemint accomplished all of this–several multi-award winning games, millions upon millions in cumulative sales, and a significant acquisition by a major publisher–in about three years’ time. Where they go from here is anybody’s guess, but with Real Racing 3 looming on the horizon, the future definitely looks exciting, and pretty shiny.
Tomorrow, we’ll delve into the design decisions and what it took to make the premier iOS racing game series, so stay tuned.
Console gamers tend to dismiss mobile games as dumbed down, casual, kids stuff. Whenever I write a column about how mobile games can be as “good” as console games, the outcry is often loud and fervent.
With the power of current-generation iOS devices, it’s not a stretch to consider that many games that we see on consoles could be ported to mobile devices almost as is with the full game intact. And yet, it does indeed seem that when titles have a console and a mobile version of the same game, the mobile version suffers in terms of content.
Why is that? Even if we assume for the moment that an iOS device can’t push the same high quality graphic power as a dedicated gaming console, why must games on mobile be so much less in-depth than their console brethren?
Console Vs Mobile/iOS
Should gamers expect the same experience on mobile devices as on console? Probably not–but that may be changing. Michael de Graaf, the producer for the mobile version of Need for Speed Most Wanted, feels that the difference between console and mobile is narrowing. “At the moment, consoles still have an edge when it comes to raw power but that gap is narrowing,” he told us, “and we’ve seen possibilities continue to expand on mobile. The current quality of screens we are seeing and new form factors are increasing the quality and diversity of experiences that gamers can now have on a mobile device.”
Nick Rish, vice president of mobile publishing for EA, believes that comparing the two is futile. “There is something very immersive about holding a device 10 inches from your face,” he said, “putting on headphones and enjoying a game like Need for Speed Most Wanted while on your lunch break … It’s tough to say one platform provides a better consumer experience than the other; gaming is in the eye of the beholder.”
“Mobile gaming grew from very basic flash games we all’ve been playing on web browsers,” said Przemek Marszal, art director at 11 bit studios, the developer behind the Anomaly Warzone series. But that’s changing, he said, noting that even a hard-core indie developer like John Carmac sees the potential of iOS gaming.
Is it fair to expect console-level graphics and performance on an iOS device? De Graaf thinks not, and helps his team tailor the gaming experience based on what mobile players want, versus simply what the hardware can do. “For instance, when we approached creating the control scheme for Need for Speed Most Wanted on mobile,” he said, “we wanted to provide consumers with the option to play in a way that was natural for a mobile experience. We listened to our mobile gamers and as a first for the franchise we gave fans the ability to control their vehicle via touch or tilt steering options.”
“I think hardcore gamers should expect the “same level” of experience and immersion but not the exact same experience,” said Marszal. “iOS is about touch, mobile, close-to-your-eyes feel, immediate experience. For a console, you almost need to “plan” your time with it.” He noted that the gap between console and iOS is narrowing, however, saying that the iPad 4 and iPad 5 is about as powerful as the original XBox.
Handheld? Or Mobile?
It’s hard not to compare the current state of iOS mobile gaming to other handheld gaming devices like Sony’s PlayStation Vita or Nintendo’s 3DS. It seems that for every story about the successes of mobile gaming, there’s a story about disappointing sales in the handheld gaming realm. “The DS and PSP are primarily gaming machines, but taking a look at the gameplay in Real Racing 3, Need for Speed Most Wanted or ShadowGun DeadZone it’s mind boggling just how stunning graphics and engaging gameplay can be on iOS devices as well,” said Rish.
So why don’t we see more console-like experiences on iOS and other mobile devices? Could it be the business model? Rish referenced the fact that with consoles and dedicated handheld gaming devices, consumers pay for their games up front, often spending twenty, thirty, sixty dollars or more for the entire experience. “We are seeing that when a developer gives a mobile game away for free,” said Rish, “there is more of a focus on replay-ability and the continual development of the experience through content updates, which prolong the experience, as opposed to creating an in-depth story from the beginning with a definite end.”
Could it also be that developers and publishers who do business in both worlds want to avoid cannibalizing their sales numbers? Our focus has always been on building an incredible experience on mobile that can sit alongside, rather than replicate, the console title,” said de Graaf. With gamers clamoring for high-quality realistic gaming experiences on living room consoles, a company would be hard pressed to give that up and move all its gaming resources to the iOS world, right?
Mobile titles, then, are like extra DLC, available to gamers who own both an iOS device as well as a console. They also function as advertisements for their console versions, driving even more sales to the publisher and developer than anything else.
While games on iOS can offer near-console quality and depth, then, perhaps consumers are, in fact, driving the types of games that show up on mobile devices. Rish pointed out that mobile gamers tend to prefer shorter play sessions when on the go, as well as the ability to immerse themselves into a deeper game as they have the time for.
Depth And Scope
Industrial Toys CEO and industry veteran Alex Seropian thinks we can have both kinds of games on mobile devices, but that developers are rightly concerned about just how to do so. “There seems to be some built up developer fear of bringing console games to mobile,” he told 148Apps, “because most of the ports and games that are structured like console games have been commercial failures on mobile.”
Seropian makes a distinction between the scope of a game and it’s depth. A deep game, he says, “is one you can play over and over again, the same bits, and get better at it and continue to enjoy it. A game with scope is a longer game with more things to look at and lots of single use content.” He points out that creating a console-type game with scope isn’t the best strategy for success, as people use their devices differently than they game on consoles. “The real trick,” he said, “is marrying those depth elements – compelling story, fantastic artistry and deep game mechanics with that accessible and quicker structure.”
The benefit of mobile gaming, then, may in fact be ability to serve many types of people by providing many different types of gaming experiences. It’s much easier to have some shorter, more casual experiences available on the same iOS device as the more console-like games with depth and immersive gameplay.
It’s Just Different
Perhaps it’s best to stop trying to compare consoles and iOS games altogether, and note that there is room in the market for all sorts of games. The mobile gaming world has proven to be a disruptive force in traditional gaming, but that doesn’t mean it will replace it, completely. Both executives seem to say that replicating a game like Need For Speed on iOS or mobile would be counter-productive, as they already HAVE a console-quality version of the title: on consoles. Creating a second, mobile-friendly counterpart to a console game just might expand the title’s audience, as well as provide new customers who might purchase the higher-initial dollar title at some point, based on the mobile experience alone.
It’s the publisher’s job, then, to differentiate the mobile titles even more, if that’s the case. It also doesn’t quite explain why there aren’t at least SOME games with the kind of depth and immersiveness we expect from console games made by the larger gaming companies like EA.
In addition, maybe the games we’re looking for, the ones with depth, significant gameplay,storytelling, and amazing graphics, won’t be found fromt he larger publishers. Perhaps we’ll only see them from smaller, less risk-averse companies who don’t need to worry about a console vs. mobile version.
If companies want to make games to meet their customer’s needs, then there should certainly be a market for deeper, console-style type games on iOS. Here’s hoping that the increasing power and ability of mobile devices continues to allow game publishers to create a few more deep, long-form video games for our favorite mobile platforms.
Each title offers some excellent simulation based racing and are all equally worth players’ attentions. It’s particularly fun to see just how far iOS gaming has come just in the time that Firemint has been developing the Real Racing series. Real Racing 2 HD is particularly revolutionary with the likes of TV-out functionality and cloud based saving synchronization.
Don’t forget though, these offers end August 22. So be quick to snap up a bargain!
EA is trying to set themselves up as the dominant player in the mobile and iOS markets, and months after acquiring publisher Chillingo, EA has acquired developer Firemint. Based in Australia, Firemint are known for Flight Control and the Real Racing series, which are responsible for over 4.5 million and 2 million downloads respectively. No details have been released on the terms of the transaction, or if Firemint’s operations will change in any way. While Chillingo is largely just a publisher of apps, any changes on their end have been largely in the background, as they have continued to operate normally on the surface, continuing to regularly publish independently-developed games. Firemint being an actual developer themselves, they may be subject to more changes, although any changes are largely speculative at this point. EA reports that Firemint will be maintained as a studio under the EAi group which includes their mobile, social, and online game offerings.
What this move does for EA is that it brings a pair of successful yet disparate franchises into their tent, and that may have been what made Firemint such an appealing acquisition target. Flight Control is a popular casual game that at one point was possibly the most popular game on iOS around when it was released, and is a progenitor of path management games to this day. Meanwhile, Real Racing is a graphics-intensive game, showcasing some of the best graphics and racing gameplay on iOS. As such, it has always sold at a premium price point, but this hasn’t kept the franchise from gaining popularity of its own, based on the number of downloads it too has gotten.
This move could be based on bringing Flight Control and Real Racing, along with any other future Firemint projects, to other platforms. Firemint has partnered with Namco to publish Flight Control on Android and Windows Phone 7, along with a PC version available on Intel AppUp, but we have yet to see Real Racing leave iOS yet. EA has also recently acquired Mobile Post Production, who have largely worked on cross-platform mobile projects, including the porting of games across various smartphone OSes. This could mean that Real Racing might be popping up on non-iOS platforms at some point, but this is all speculation at this point. While it’s unknown what will come of this move by EA, it’s another example of them making a big splash in the mobile gaming market.
Firemint have done it again. Real Racing 2 HD hits on the eve of the iPad 2 launch.
One of our highest rated games of all time, Real Racing 2 has been given the HD treatment just in time for the iPad 2 launch.
Firemint have released Real Racing 2 HD to really show off what the iPad 2 can do. This version includes full screen anti-aliasing for an ultra sharp look. In addition, seven new career events are exclusive to Real Racing 2 HD.
The feature that really stood out to me is one that more games need – your progress is synced between the iPhone and the iPad versions, ensuring that you can pick up just where you left off when you switch from one device to the next.
A big announcement kicking off the day today, as Firemint announced that they have acquired fellow Aussie developer Infinite Interactive. The agreement means that Firemint will now be the exclusive publisher of all Infinite Interactive games, which means they’ll need more kangaroo pouches in which to stuff all the money they’re about to make.
“I’m incredibly pleased to welcome Steve (Fawkner, founder of Infinite Interactive) and his team to Firemint,” said Firemint founder Rob Murray. “Steve is an outstanding game designer and our two studios evolved very similar philosophies of developing addictive, fun and polished original games. By bringing our studios’ talents together, we will be able to create even more awesome games – and more of them.”
Fawkner added, “Firemint has had huge success designing, developing and publishing great original games. By joining forces, we now have a way to further develop some of the exciting new concepts we’ve been working on. This new position really frees me up to focus on game design and I can’t wait to get stuck into it!”
Infinite Interactive is the studio behind the extremely popular Puzzle Quest franchise, while Firemint is best known for games like Flight Control and Real Racing 2. With the two studios set to work together it likely means that none of us will ever get anything done ever again, so we may as well just all quit our jobs now and wait for the companies’ first joint-venture game. Will their combined power be enough to knock the traditional powerhouses from their perch atop the App Store? It’s impossible to know right now but we wouldn’t be surprised if whatever they come up with makes some major waves in the realm of iOS and beyond. This is truly a powerhouse pairing, and one with a whole lot of promise.
As the year winds down and we look ahead to the next decade it’s time for all those wonderful end-of-year lists we all get so excited about. Today we have some exciting news, as Apple has detailed all the top paid and free apps for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the top grossing apps on each platform. Here’s the full rundown, for your edification.
11/19/10 – UPDATE: New Trailer. Feast your eyes on this:
Firemint today announced that the upcoming sequel to Real Racing will include licensed cars instead of the nameless cars of the original. We’ve seen Firemint release a special version of Real Racing for Volkswagon (Real Racing GTI), but this will be the first time that licensed cars will be including in the main game.
While this isn’t a big deal to many, in the world of video games this feature sets the high end racers apart from the pack by adding a certain prestige. Not to mention people love to drive cars that they could never afford to own, even if it is in a video game. I think this announcement just sets the stage for what we can expect from Real Racing 2. I think we can expect some amazing features in Real Racing 2. But what the wizards at Firemint have up their sleeves, we don’t yet know.
What new features would you like to see in Real Racing 2? What other cars would you like to see in Real Racing 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and we’ll let you know more details on Real Racing 2 as soon as we are allowed to!
We don’t yet know the full list of what cars will be included in Real Racing 2, but in the above image you can see the 2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe on the left and the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R on the right. Seems like a good start, but I’m sure we’ll see more.
The pending release of iOS 4.2 will include multiplayer support, and Firemint stands at the ready by announcing that Real Racing HD for the iPad will feature online multiplayer once the update goes live. The free feature will be handled via Game Center, allowing players to log in and vie for the checkered flag in races featuring up to 4 human competitors.
This is a nice addition, as the game already supports 6 player local races via Wi-Fi as well as head-to-head races over Bluetooth: now the multiplayer suite of options is fully fleshed-out. While we don’t yet know when iOS 4.2 is coming out (should be any day now), the Real Racing HD update should be available to launch right alongside it.
The inclusion of simultaneous online multiplayer in the latest iOS update shows just how seriously Apple is competing in the handheld gaming space these days. While people largely wrote off mobile gaming back when the iPhone originally launched, Apple’s devices have become a major player in the handheld space and have sent traditional gaming companies like Sony and Nintendo into a minor panic. After all, when you can play games on your phone that are just as good or better than what you find on a traditional handheld, and you end up paying far less per game, what’s the point in buying anything else?
As for the matter at hand, congrats to all those Real Racing HD owners out there who will soon be able to take on other human competitors in the hopes of being crowned king (or queen) of the raceway. We’d throw in a “Gentlemen, start your engines” joke at this point but it just feels forced, so instead we’ll simply say have fun with this new mode.
The App Hall of Fame (the original App Hall of Fame, not the Apple knock off) is an independent initiative launched by 148Apps that includes selection committee members from over 40 web and print publications.
Our goal is to archive the very best mobile apps by honoring only 12 applications per month. To be eligible, applications must be available for download from the App Store for at least 6 months. Applications are nominated and voted on monthly by the selection committee with the applications that get the most votes being inducted into the hall of fame.
We want you to join in on the celebration. We’ll be giving away copies of the newly inducted applications to subscribers of our mailing list later this week. Subscribe now for a chance to win.
Editor’s Choice and 5-star rated Real Racing is finding itself on a week long sale beginning September 30. The 40% off sale will bring Real Racing down to the low price of $2.99 for a limited time. For those of you unaware of the racing powerhouse, you can find our glowing review here.
Those of you well versed in the beauty that is Real Racing understand what it means to get such a great app for such a low price. Even if you own it, don’t forget about the 6-person local multi-player mode. Snatch it up for a friend through the gift-an-app program and introduce someone else to this racing giant.
Firemint is celebrating this sale by offering their Twitter and Facebook communities a chance to win promo codes for free copies of Real Racing. Send a tweet or like them on Facebook and your set. (Full Contest Details).
In case you need additional convincing, Real Racing took, among other things, Best Game Graphics, Best Racing Game, and an honorable mention as the best app of 2009 in the Best App Ever Awards last year.
Eighteen months ago, the then-little-known developer company Firemint published Flight Control – a game where you land increasing quantities of planes on runways with a limited amount of space both on the ground and in air. It was awarded five stars across the board by 148Apps, as well as the Editor’s Choice badge.
Today, Firemint has announced that sales of Flight Control have passed the three million mark – on average, a little over 5500 copies a day are bought by new users for their iPhone or iPod Touch. At $0.99 a piece, with developers earning 70% of revenue, that totals just under $2.1 million for Firemint’s work – or, to put it another way, $3814.67 a day. In other statistics, some two billion planes have been landed according to Flight Control’s online leaderboards, equating to 2548 planes a minute or a little over 42 every second.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced on September 1st that the iPod Touch alone has more than 50% of market share for portable gaming, outselling Nintendo and Sony combined. The App store has already enjoyed over a quarter of a billion downloads to date, reflecting the ever-growing importance of third party application developers and their software.
Firemint, creators of Flight Control and Real Racing, have announced that a number of in-game achievements and leaderboards for their popular games will integrate with Apple’s soon-to-be-released Game Center application, built to bring iPhone and iPod Touch gamers together both socially and competitively.
For Flight Control there are currently three known achievements: Safety Card (read the game tutorial); First Flights (land an aircraft on every level) and Jet Power (land 20 jets in a game). Leaderboards will also exist, presumably for each level, to see exactly who the best flight controller in the world really is, and how you stack up against your friends.
Real Racing will see at least five achievements, including: Real Racer (complete a race using methods B or E); Between the Lines (win the race without going off track); Clean Sweep (get all gold in a championship); Perfectionist (beat the gold qualifying time for all classes) and Cream of the Crop (rank in the top 100 for any track).
What makes Firemint’s integration with Game Center so unique is that the developers won’t be scrapping their established CloudCell platform, which already provides features that Game Center offers, like leaderboards. Instead, where possible, achievements and leaderboards will exist to offer those with older devices a chance to get in on the action. “Originally launched in April 2009, Cloudcell enables extensive connected features and is currently being streamlined to make it even easier to use and even more unobtrusive” writes Firemint. “As well as extensive online leaderboards, both Real Racing and Flight Control integrate with Twitter and Facebook, making it easy to share new personal bests.”
Game Center is supported on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and third/fourth generation iPod Touches, and will roll out next week with the public release of iOS 4.1. If you haven’t yet bought Flight Control or Real Racing, you can read our reviews at the links below. Real Racing was awarded the 148Apps Editor’s Choice badge.
The increased resolution of the iPhone 4 has been the point of a lot of conversation from the moment it was first announced. Most of the conversation focusing on if it really is a “retina display,” one with such a high pixel density that the human eye can’t see the individual pixels. And around that, most of the conversation had to do how great text will look on the display. But what about games? How will the increased resolution impact games? Can they actually approach photographic quality? Wow, that would be staggering — and I can’t wait to see it!
In what I believe are the first games to be approved to take advantage of the Retina Display on the iPhone 4, Real Racing and Flight Control updates are now live. They include increased resolution graphics to fit the new display — rather than rely on pixel doubled graphics. In addition, Real Racing control has been updated to take advantage of the gyroscope in the iPhone 4. It should provide for even better control of the steering in the game.
I make no bones about it. Real Racing is my favorite iPhone game ever. I’ve always been a fan of racing games. Real Racing just hits a chord with my by making the game fun, very well made, and not crazy complex (and boring) with car customization options.
While I haven’t seen it yet, this is a preview you know, Real Racing HD looks to be everything that I love about Real Racing, but on a much bigger screen.
“We’re all very excited about the launch of iPad, and Real Racing HD really shows off the new possibilities that come with this breakthrough device,” said Firemint CEO Robert Murray. “Real Racing is all about authentic pack racing action. iPad is incredibly immersive and personal so playing the Real Racing HD App will be an adrenaline-fuelled rush.”
One of my biggest concerns with Real Racing HD, and any racing games on the iPad is how you will control it. When a racing game was shown at the iPad launch I was initially excited. Then I started to think — who wants to hold a 1.5 pound $500 device as a steering wheel controller? Not me for sure. Not only is it heavy, but seems like the risk of dropping it is increased greatly with rapid gameplay. Luckily it looks like Firemint have put some thought into this problem and implemented some iPad specific control schemes.
In addition, Real Racing HD adds some ghost racing options, and the ability to customize your car skin by importing an image from your camera roll. Real Racing HD is available now in the App Store — even if you don’t have an iPad to play it on!
Firemint have developed a special version of their racing game, Real Racing, to help promote the 2010 VW GTI. You could even win a GTI by playing the game. Details on the contest will be posted soon.
VW tapped Firemint to create a special version of their Real Racing, sort of a lite version, with tie-ins to the marketing campaign promoting the 2010 GTI. The app was released late last night at the conclusion of a special premier event in New York hosted by G4′s Olivia Munn. Sorry to say, I couldn’t be there.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-22 :: Category: Games
The game itself is a slimmed down one based on the engine of the five star racing game we love so much. The main focus of the game, of course, is to push the new 2010 GTI. So, that’s the only car you have to drive in the game and you only have 1 course to drive. What this will give you is a good sense of the realism and amazing console-level quality of the full game, Real Racing.
Try out the 2010 GTI version of the game and if you like it, I highly recommend that you pick up the full version, Real Racing. I really can’t say enough good things about it.
Apple announced recently that over 2 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store. Notable is the timing; this announcement comes only six months after the download of the billionth app, which occurred 9 months after the App Store was launched. This indicated exponential growth of the store. Obviously these numbers are a bit inflated from a developer’s perspective because they seem to include free downloads, but the numbers also indicate that among the user base of 50 million, the average number of apps downloaded is 40, a surprisingly high number. In contrast, the average number of times one of 85,000 apps has been downloaded is only about 2350, hardly a safe bet for business prospects when you consider that most apps are $.99 and that Apple takes 30% of sales. In addition, these numbers are disproportionately eschewed by the top 100 apps; my guess is the median would be much lower. Despite all of your various incompetencies in managing the App Store, Apple, I have to congratulate you on a truly unprecedented event.
No matter how experienced we are here at 148apps, no two reviewers agree about every game. That’s why I thought it would be nice to offer some separate best app lists, just so you’ll know what we think is worth buying right now.
Will’s Top 3 Current Apps (games):
1. iBlast Moki
2. Meteor Blitz
Will’s Top 3 Apps of All Time:
1. Rolando 2
2. Real Racing
3. Space Invaders Infinity Gene
Chris’s Top 3 Current Apps (games):
1. geoDefense Swarm
Chris’s Top 3 Apps of All Time:
3. Need For Speed: Undercover
A special mention has to go out to geoDefense Swarm, as it may enter the top 3 after a bit more time spent on my iPhone.
This week’s sign of the apocalypse of the world being fair and just. By Chris Hall
This space is usually reserved for calamity, but this week we have one instance of people being quite rational. Family Guy: Uncensored appeared in the app store this week for an insanely high app price of $4.99. I’m not against spending $5 on an app, as I do quite often, but this one is just bad. How can you have a Family Guy game with absolutely no voices, only text bubbles? Even a simple “giggidy” would’ve been appreciated given the premium app price, but I suppose that Glu Mobile just figured that the Family Guy license alone would bring customers. Apparently the people aren’t biting though, as Family Guy: Uncensored is nowhere to be found in the top 100 apps.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-23 :: Category: Games
Apps of the Week
Robocalypse: Mobile Mayhem
The strongest App Store Real Time Strategy game yet comes loaded with an extensive single player campaign, online multiplayer, and a humorous and engaging story. The game covers all of the proverbial RTS bases while forging a unique identity. My main complaint about the game is the lack of the ability to minutely control your troops, you must place “action flags” that attract your troops but don’t allow for the same degree of precision. Besides this quirk, however, the game is highly recommended.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-09-18 :: Category: Games
geoDefense Swarm, by guest writer Chris Hall
I usually don’t work myself into MMAHQ, but I have found a new love. geoDefense Swarm (gDS) may be the best tower defense app in the app store, and with a crowded field of apps that include Fieldrunners, The Creeps!, and Sentinel, that is saying something. Unlike so many apps in the tower defense genre, including some of the iPhone greats, gDS is genuinely challenging from the start. The graphics are great in a Tron sort of way, and the sound effects are surprisingly effective. This game is not only my new favorite tower defense game, but it may be my favorite iPhone game… period.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted July 17th, 2009 by Jeff Scott Our Rating: :: Best Racer Ever
Real Racing has taken a little longer than anticipated to reach our anxious little hands. The extra time was used to fine tune and perfect the game. It appears from the time I've spent with the game that it was well worth it.
Firemint gotten their hands on an iPhone 3GS and decided to take it for a little test drive. With it’s increased processor speed, better graphics processor, and extra memory, it’s built for killer games. The best way they came up with to test drive the 3GS was to make a special version of their fantastic racing game, Real Racing to stress it. The normal version of Real Racing has 6 cars on the track at once. Their iPhone 3GS test version has not 12, not 20, but 40 cars on the track at the same time! Take a look at the demo video below for the amazing proof — the real fun starts around 30 seconds in.
Amazing, just amazing. Looks like they might have even been able to put even more cars on the track! If you haven’t picked up Real Racing yet, what are you waiting for? It’s the best arcade game we’ve seen yet for the iPhone.
I got a pleasant surprise in my inbox today, and I hardly slept last night for playing it so much.
Hot on the heals of their great update to Flight Control, Firemint have submitted to the app store a completely different game, Real Racing. Possibly the best racing game we’ve ever see on the iPhone, it’s coming really soon and I’ve got a final build ad-hoc copy. I’ve commented before about how great of a game this is. The final version is even better. It has amazing fit and finish and looks even better than the previous versions I’ve seen. Well done Firemint!
The racing game features 12 tracks, 26 cars, and five different game modes. The most interesting feature, to me, is the asynchronous multiplayer mode. Very well done, and a ton of fun to play.
If you’re on Twitter, you can follow the game specific Twitter account, or become a fan of the Facebook page.
No word yet on price, we’ll see that when the app goes live. And we’ll have a full review ready for when the app goes live. That is if I can stop playing it. For now, check after the jump for the official trailer video, more screen shots, and the official app description.
If it’s one thing that GDC taught me it’s that the iPhone has a long way to go as a game console. It’s still a tiny little player in the whole gigantic video games world. But in the nine months since the app store launch, it has made some great strides.
For one thing, the iPhone totally dominated the Independent Games Festival Mobile awards. Not only did they will all the categories, they had most of the nominations as well. The iPhone is now, as far as most are concerned, the best mobile phone platform to develop on. As one developer put it, finally a mobile platform that doesn’t suck.
This past week we did get many clues about what 2009 will bring for iPhone games. First, this will be the year the big boys go full force after the iPhone market. EA, Chillingo, Glu, and others have announced some huge portfolios of games coming out this year.
We will also see an explosion in backend community systems, think XBox Live for your iPhone, and probably some consolidation of those services as well. Consumers aren’t best served by having multiple community systems, everyone knows that, but who will win out as the best? With GameSpy announcing they are bringing over their backend that already powers many console and desktop titles, they will likely start out in the lead. Then ngmoco announced they were opening up their platform to third party developers, another strong contender, but no release date announced. Then you have the underdogs such as OpenFeint, ByteClub, and a new contender, Agon. Then there’s also the Facebook Connect for iPhone that many systems are using. It’s not purely a gaming system, but many have adapted it. A force for sure, with Facebook having over 160 million users.
We also were fortunate to meet with some really cool developers and get a sneak peak at some of the great games coming out in the not too distant future.
Real Racing from Firemint Release Date: Late April, 2009 at an unknown price
Without a doubt, the best we saw was Real Racing from Firemint. Real Racing is a racing game just short of a racing sim. It’s ultra-realistic and features some amazing community and asynchronous multiplayer modes. You even have the ability to publish hot laps to YouTube, automatically. The controls by default work great and are very responsive. This is one to watch for. Firemint are being close to the chest with the price on this one, but it will be released late April.
Touch Pets from ngmoco Release Date: unknown
I’ll have to admit I was originally nonplussed on Touch Pets. But after spending some time with it I can see what the excitement it about it. For one this, this game is deep. There’s lots to do, lots of things to collect, there are missions to go on, there are achievements, tons of stuff. But above all, this game has a social aspect that could set it apart from all of the other virtual pet type games. This all ads up to a game that will be very enormously engrossing to many people, maybe even me.
Star Defense from ngmoco Release Date: pretty soon at an unknown price
Tower Defense games are filling up the app store quickly. And many are really good. Star Defense takes a slightly different direction and adds 3D to the standard game. So instead of playing tower defense on a flat landscape, you play it on a 3D world. One of the more interesting parts of this is that, in one level, you are playing on a cube instead of a sphere. This basically divides up each level into 6 parts as you have to place defense on each of the sides since the weapons don’t seem to work around the corners of the cube. The game itself seems really well done and stable, and should be released soon. We’ll give it more playtime when it comes out and get a full review.
Star Trader: Moon Madness from HermitWorks Release Date: very soon at $0.99
This game is an expanded version of the DopeWars genre that I’m sure everyone is familiar with. But it’s set in outerspace and uses the Quake engine to provide a 3D world where you can walk around and barter. The controls are a modified 2 location virtual touch pad as we’ve seen on other games and works well for movement and changing the angle you are viewing the world. The developers are releasing this at $0.99 and will be raising the price as they add features such as multiplayer in the future.
All in all a fantastic GDC. Had to great opportunity to speak with some amazing people. We’ll try to get full reviews of these games up as soon as they are available.
A new visual redesign has made its way to Rhapsody, putting artists front and center on the new home screen. It’s always nice to have easier access to the music you listen to as it provides a simpler way to browse new releases, popular artists, and featured albums. You can also check out enhanced album [...]