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Cellphones Portables (Apple) Entertainment Games Hardware

Defining an Interactive Physical MMO For the iPhone 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the enhanced-reality dept.
already-living-in-a-virtual-world writes "On his blog, mispeled writes about a new type of game he'd like to see for the iPhone. It's interesting stuff: '... the integration of a true gaming platform with the capabilities of a phone is unique, at least for the quality of the gaming experience offered. For all intents and purposes, the iPhone is a new system. And new systems demand that new gameplay mechanics be explored. For a long time I've been a fan of the MMORPG genre, and the iPhone offers several MMO-type games, especially those in the facebook, social-networking style. However, what I've yet to see is a game that takes advantage of the iPhone's location services, the GPS-like capability of the phone. Tons of applications use it, but no games, as far as I've seen. Why not? Motion sensing is all the rage on the consoles — the Wii popularized it, but now Microsoft and Sony are jumping on the bandwagon. But the iPhone, because it's portable, offers something more. And I want those offerings taken advantage of. I want to play an MMO that knows where I am and links my physical location to a virtual location. I want to create a game that gives the planet Earth a virtual overlay, interactable via a mobile (read: the iPhone) interface.'"
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Defining an Interactive Physical MMO For the iPhone

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  • God no! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:39AM (#28344683)

    I find this the most obscene idea you could imagine. Play a game based on where my phone tells you I'm located? Hell no. I do not want that kind of invasion of privacy at all. In fact, given the potential fo abuse, I'd prefer it to be legally banned.

    There are enough crazy people doing criminal things with the games we have. Do I want a physical location to be intrinsic to the game? Nope. Same reason I don't post any details of where I live in the games I do play, or on the message boards. Is that paranoid of me? Perhaps, but as long as the number of people who get injured and killed from conflicts with others remains non-zero, I'm going to stay that way.

    And yes, that's why I'm an anonymous coward too. Sure, I suppose somebody at Slashdot's HQ could track me down, but that risk is minimal compared to me shouting it out.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Mod parent up.

      Really, what could Possibly go wrong with advertising one's position down to the nearest 5 yards to hundreds of unknown individuals?

      • Re:God no! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by shird (566377) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:56AM (#28344761) Homepage Journal

        Maybe lots of things. But who is suggesting your position be advertised to anyone?

        e.g it could be done geo hashing style. You download a bunch of checkpoints for your local area then play capture the flag with the help of google maps and bots running on your phone. Or you could perhaps drop some "gold" at a position but perhaps it doesn't have to be published immediately, or you may not have to actually go to that location to do it. Then these "treasure" locations could be downloaded by others without publishing your exact location. Or you could just have a 'friends' list and work with that.

        It doesn't necessarily have to involve accessing strangers current locations.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zerth (26112)

          That'll work until the first time somebody tries to take a shortcut across private/government property and gets shot.

          Oh, but they had disclaimers "stay on public roads". Nope, that won't fly. First time some teenager gets run over trying to make the Kessel run in 15 blocks by running across 4th street against the lights, the news will be all over it: Game encourages our children to run over ordnance field when GPS is off by 15 meters.

          See XKCD's geo-hashing game for the pitfalls they've already found witho

          • by tsm_sf (545316)
            Yeah yeah... This has already been hashed out by a brighter mind.

            Go read Rainbows End [amazon.com] by Vernor VInge. He does the heavy thinking for you.

            If you want to see the current state of the art go check out ARToolworks [artoolworks.com] and maybe pull down the open version of their toolkit.
          • by Xsydon (1099321)
            How many times has Apple been sued because Joe Moron drove through the lobby of a public library due to his GPS being on the fritz? It could happen, but that's not a good reason to prevent development.
            • by Zerth (26112)

              Nah, I think it is awesome, personally.

              I don't think Apple has been sued, but there have already been several instances of people following GPS directions in spite of all common sense and trying to blame Tom-Tom or whomever for the result. People turning on to train tracks, villages in the UK getting their roads taken off to keep lorry drivers from taking narrow alleys and running into houses, etc.

              Apple being well-known, somebody would go for them over the game maker for just the press value. That, and Ap

      • > Really, what could Possibly go wrong with advertising one's position down to the
        > nearest 5 yards to hundreds of unknown individuals?

        "Lessee, there's a 'gnome' about 300 yards over thataway. STR is 10, DEX 8, CON 5, INT 11, WIS 9, and CHA 3."

        Ya, could be a problem, getting too real. Moreover, this guy with INT 11 expects the bad guys to stand there and continue dying in his Wall of Fire.

    • Re:God no! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by religious freak (1005821) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:17AM (#28344851)

      I'd prefer it to be legally banned

      Whoa there cowboy, while you and I prefer to not be involved in these things, that certainly doesn't give us the right to prevent anyone else from doing what they want to do, let alone allow government to get involved which games people play.

      • by Gabrill (556503)
        Hear Hear.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      See "Serial Experiment Lain" for an example of a horror scenario where GPS hide and seek gets mixed up with Doom/Quake/etc.
      I'll publish my real name all over the net before I publish my real location (the clueless facebook generation is already doing both).
      • A bit off topic, but Serial Experiments Lain, while entertaining, was the most convoluted, overcomplicated show I've ever watched in my life.
        • by dbIII (701233)
          True, it looked as if the writers were trying to shove every oblique net reference they could find at the time into it - just as well it was made before "lolcats" and other memes emerged. If the story developed as slowly as ".hack" they could probably have got twenty years out of all that stuff :)
          Even now the major references to things like BeOS and Copeland would go over just about everyone's head let alone the minor stuff that is also fading with age. I'm sure there's a lot that went over my head becaus
      • by b1t r0t (216468)
        Or even better yet, Dennou Coil [wikipedia.org], where all the cool kids (and most of the uncool ones) have glasses which overlay a virtual world onto the real one, and can also be used as cell phones. The kiddies go around trying to find various places where there are bugs in the virtual world that they can exploit.
    • Play a game based on where my phone tells you I'm located? Hell no. I do not want that kind of invasion of privacy at all.

      It's not an "invasion of privacy" if you are running the game for that explicit purpose!!

      After all, you have to be running the game up to keep updating your location - if you tire of playing you shut it down.

      I'm not sure where privacy enters into the equation since you personally chose in this instance to make your location known to a specific set of people.

      • by Tripledub (951046)
        I'm in the middle of developing an Android location based services game. I have cut it down to the course location (read cell tower triangulation) and only am using to data to do two things. The first is to determine your startup location and radius of play. The second is to allow interaction between users based on if you fire up the game in their location. You have certain options not available to you when you are in someone elses territory. In no case do I keep any of data except your startup l
    • What about if the gps coordanates were used to determine what you see, Kind of like monster rancher, or one of the upc code scanner games. rather than where you are in the VR world?
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        What about if the gps coordanates were used to determine what you see, Kind of like monster rancher, or one of the upc code scanner games. rather than where you are in the VR world?

        If your location is only revealed to you, it isn't MMO, is it?

        Still, I'd like to be able to use an iPhone or iPod touch as if it were The Polaroid from The Lost Room.

    • Re:God no! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:43AM (#28345893)

      There are already games like this. I got one for my Nokia N95 a couple of years back. The problem with the game really though was you were expected to say travel 5 miles to progress the adventure in the game.

      It is a bit like that Vampire game on Nintendo DS that required to have sunlight to play. Great in theory until you actually try to play the game. In Ireland the game was virtually unplayable for 90% of the year.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        The problem with the game really though was you were expected to say travel 5 miles to progress the adventure in the game.

        Some call that exercise, not a "problem". I'm just saying your happiness is based on your preconceived expectations... I have a semi-long distance runner friend whom gets bored on long runs... Your "problem" would be his "solution".

        • "Some call that exercise,"

          Pretty you didn't mean to infer I didn't exercise. :P :) Actually the game wasn't a "go get some exercise" type game. I tried it initially but after wandering around housing estates I don't live just so I could progress the issue and then it is expecting me to travel 5 miles to get something only to travel a similar distance in some other random direction.

          Also it had no concept of geography where I lived. So 5 miles doesn't mean "go for a run", it can mean "Spend the next couple of

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        Indeed - I love how the submitter actually thinks that there's never been a phone that can play games before the Iphone came along...

    • YOU may not be able to envision a game that is able to sidestep these privacy concerns while being enjoyable, but that doesn't mean the idea does not exist.

      I for one would love to play a game that combines the real-world aspects of, say, geocaching, with some sort of video game aspect. Maybe some sort of collaborative treasure hunt where you play a game but have to actually get out of your house to do it.

      I'm sure something like this exists but I haven't looked too hard for it. The main problem with
      • by vlm (69642)

        I'm sure something like this exists but I haven't looked too hard for it. The main problem with a concept like this is that it's hard to make it globally playable, keep privacy concerns in mind, and enjoyable as a game.

        How hard can it be to port the GTA series to the iphone? Take out the car chases (seriously, how could that possibly work?) and add some sort of GTA:CTW dealing minigame that you can trade with other real world players that are reasonably physically near? Place minigames and missions around town that are triggered by approaching their location? If you are in the top X% of "points" you get to place those minigames / missions / treasures / dealers / virtual (?) weapons in your local area, subject to meta m

    • by vlm (69642)

      I do not want that kind of invasion of privacy at all.

      Given your concerns about privacy, I bet you would love a portable GPS game based on the GTA:CTW subtask of blowing up public CCTV cameras.

      Download a periodically updated list of real world public CCTV camera locations in your city. Then in the real world you drive/walk/whatever to "close enough" to the CCTV (10 feet? 200 feet?) and click the button on the NDS / iPhone / some other portable which stores and/or uploads your virtual hit. The 1st of the month all the cameras respawn. Or maybe exactly one m

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Great idea instead of just not playing the game, stop other people who want to from doing so.

    • by Xsydon (1099321)
      There are a set of multi-player games that currently use this capability on the iPhone in a fairly non-intrusive way. iMob, iKnight, iVampire, etc. They are all the exact same game, with the graphics and terminology changed. Anyways, they use the location feature to connect you with other players in your general area. You can invite them to your 'guild' and that's pretty much the end of it. The game doesn't give away your location, only that your within a few (probably hundred) miles of X player.
    • I've been working on building this kind of game for years and it's actually pretty cool. It allows you to interact with your environment based on location and special objects and nearby players. Instead of going 3D the game is based on a communicator concept similar to Carmen San Diego and you're given clues to complete quests before other players can. Sometimes you work with other players and sometimes against and sometimes in teams.

      Who cares if someone knows where you're at? When you walk through the supe

    • by shpoffo (114124)

      You think that's bad? Imagine when camera pics are all meta-labeled with GPS data AND compass bearing, allowing for GigaPan and others to build semi-seamless, time-segmented, 3D maps of the world. MMOs will be someplace called 'civic infrastructure.'

      I think few people today get what social media really is.......

  • by Raystonn (1463901) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:43AM (#28344705)
    *knock knock* Excuse me sir. Please don't mind the 29 other people behind me. They're in my raiding party. It would seem that our MMORPG has placed a boss mob in what I can only assume might be your living room. Would you mind terribly if we played through? Also, we're going to be farming this boss mob until our entire guild is outfitted properly. Can we put you down for the same time every Thursday?
    • by crossmr (957846)

      This is the major problem with it. For anyone who doesn't travel a lot this is actually a pretty stupid idea for a game. At least in a traditional MMORPG if you want to go somewhere you just go there. If you wanted to visit various places in this game you'd have to ROAM in hundreds of countries.

  • Don't blab about it here. Build it and make millions. Before I do.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:02AM (#28344793)

    Sure, maybe the idea sounds fun in theory - but a MMORPG full of virtualized parents' basements would get pretty repetitive after a short while, I'd think.

    • And who want's to try to explain the dead kid in the basement as a "wandering adventurer" who "invaded my dungeon".

    • by munsk (1571483)
      Yeah, I don't know how much content you could access between your house, work, wal-mart and EB
    • Well it would be up to people like you, who want to leave the house, to go to the local coffee shop and set up an instance/dungeon there.
    • Well, with phone based mmo and gps mapping, you are pretty much forced to go to outside instead of cooping up in the basement... I've figured out their grand plan, I tell ya, it is the most insidious idea cooked up by those opposing the basement dewellers!

      On a side note, there is already an anime out that explains what exactly it will be like:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denn%C5%8D_Coil [wikipedia.org]

  • by Hillview (1113491) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:14AM (#28344837)
    Make it use Google Earth somehow.. I can see it now. Johnny's walking down the street staring blankly at his iphone.. *wham!* "OMG.. WTF!! That signpost wasn't in the game a second ago!"
    • by anarche (1525323)

      Make it use Google Earth somehow.. I can see it now. Johnny's walking down the street staring blankly at his iphone.. *wham!* "OMG.. WTF!! That signpost wasn't in the game a second ago!"

      Mod parent up (even though he's not be serious)

      This is the kind of thinking that will get these kinds of games developed quicker and cheaper. Methinks this kind of game is inevitable and will be big

  • Too Real? (Score:5, Funny)

    by qpawn (1507885) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:16AM (#28344849)

    They could incorporate the phone feature into the game and make it so you have to talk to other people and build relationships. As you advance further along in the game, you must choose a career path. You will randomly get calls from your boss asking you to come in early or on your day off. If you choose not to follow the path, you end up 30 years old living in your mom's basement and have to put up with her constant nagging about how you never help out around the house or pay for your share of the phone bill.
     
    That's crazy. I totally help out around the house. Who do you think set up the home network?

  • Parallel Kingdom (Score:5, Informative)

    by jimmcq (88033) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:23AM (#28344875) Journal
    Sounds like you're describing Parallel Kingdom [parallelkingdom.com]. It is an MMORPG that uses the iPhone's GPS/location services to place the virtual world on top of the real world. There is an version Android too.
    • by goofy183 (451746)

      Exactly what I was going to say. It sounds exactly like what the poster is asking for.

    • by godrik (1287354)
      I heard of the ayle project ( http://ayle.fr/en/index.html [ayle.fr] ) which is not limited to the iphone (I do not even know if it works on it). It is kind of an hack n Slash where you have to physically move to move in the game. It is "advertised" as an hiking game.
    • Seriously. It's not as though Parallel Kingdom is completely obscure - it got a bit of coverage. Spend some time researching if your random 'idea' has been already done nearly exactly as you describe before putting it out there as novel.

      That said, wasn't very impressed with Parallel Kingdom.

    • by Kepesk (1093871)
      I've been having fun with Parallel Kingdom for months! Highly recommended.
      • I've been having fun with Parallel Kingdom for months! Highly recommended.

        I'm a bit late, but nonetheless I'm curious how you feel about the original AC's freak out about the dangers of iPhone+GPS+VirtualRealityGame?

        I'm assuming that it would be just a geekier version of any honest-to-god real world amateur team-sport/outdoor-recreation.

      • by crossmr (957846)

        please explain how? I played for 10 minutes killed everything in the area..can't do anything else until I get a chance to move and hook up to wireless (I have a touch not an iphone) and no one in the chat responds to me. In addition the creator seems to be using a crappy version of google maps which doesn't show streets for Korea (if you go to maps.google.com you can see them, and in fact the included maps app for the touch includes street level maps) so basically I'm staring at a grey circle with no way to

        • by Kepesk (1093871)
          Parallel Kingdom does take a certain amount of patience. The first few days you play, there isn't a lot you can do except kill the stuff in your area (unless you physically move around, which speeds up the process a bit). The fun begins one you have the three leather and three wood it takes to build your first flag. Once you have a few flags put up, you can move around in a larger and larger territory till it's easy to find stuff to do.
  • Go play nethack at midnight. Or during a full moon. Or on Friday the 13th.
  • Awesome (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @03:16AM (#28345095)

    It sounds like it could be the best version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego ever

  • For those who prefer something a little... faster than an MMO

  • I'm still waiting for my meatspace deathmatches: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNuRQmvykwk [youtube.com]
  • I was thinking along the same lines a few weeks back after seeing a Samsung Omnia HD mobile phone. You could have a virtual world overlapping the real one and your mobile phone becomes a window that allows one to see this virtual overlapping world. You could have virtual treasure hunts with cute virtual avatars based around a city that you can search out and ask questions and find virtual treasure like mobile phone credits etc. Everything needed is now in a mobile phone ie camera (to assist in virtual/real
    • by psyced (1116901)
      You could make a hi-res replica of the entire planet!! And to simplify the process of digitizing the game landscape, you could let the player take pictures and video clips of whereever they are!11!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Didn't anyone play TAG (The Assassination Game) as a kid? The iPhone knows where you are and which direction the phone is pointing, so you could theoretically use it as a "gun". Or to drop off a "bomb" on a timer. Another player could detect the bomb if they're in the area and run a scan with their phone.

    No more peanut butter on the underside of a car handle to indicate you just got blown up.

    I think this could be awesome.

    • Didn't anyone play TAG (The Assassination Game) as a kid? The iPhone knows where you are and which direction the phone is pointing, so you could theoretically use it as a "gun". Or to drop off a "bomb" on a timer. Another player could detect the bomb if they're in the area and run a scan with their phone.

      No more peanut butter on the underside of a car handle to indicate you just got blown up.

      I think this could be awesome.

      Yea, there's nothing that could go wrong with that. In some public building, scanning with your iPhone, muttering "I just know there's a bomb in here somewhere..." Cue security guard/police/bomb squad...

  • Go to the app store, and check for Sweet Deals.. You go around buying and selling candy via gps.. Im jailbroken and there is a skin that turns it into Drug Lords, and I go around buying and selling drugs.
  • There's an iPhone game for every major TV/Movie/etc release nowadays- including one for the Sarah Conner Cronicles, in which players from PCs and web browers (the machines) place traps and ambushes for the iPhone players (the resistance).

    It seemed like a cool idea, except for the broadcasting my location all the time. That's kinda stalker-rific.

    http://terminatorambush.com/ [terminatorambush.com]

    • by psyced (1116901)
      It's just a way for THEM to figure out who exactly did the xvid recording that appeared on piratebay 37 minutes after the movie ended.
  • There is plenty of potential for games based on GPS. Personally, my dream game has been along a little different tack. Given that most of the world's land mass is mapped out and available in fairly high definition bird eye view/satellite imagery, especially populated ones, I'd like to see games based on real-life imagery like this. IE. A Need For Speed where you can drive in any major city in the world - just have an AI system that determines what parts of a city from multiple photograph are drivable. An e
    • by Gabrill (556503)
      I'm not an expert on sat feeds or anything, so exactly how "live" are current available feeds?
  • And new systems demand new gameplay mechanics are explored.

    Which did you mean:

    1. And new systems demand new gameplay mechanics be explored.
    2. And new systems demanding new gameplay mechanics are explored.

    I.e. are you exploring the mechanics or the systems?

  • Going outside.... check

    Playing with other humans... check

    Why do you need a phone for this? Why not just LARP [wikipedia.org] or play K.A.O.S. [wikipedia.org]?

    Ok, a phone could be part of the game, sure, even have helper applications on it. But once you add, "location based," and "play with other humans" there really isn't much reason for the RPG part to be electronics based...

    • by changedx (1338273)
      Well, electronics help (or at least alter) regular games by adding effects and game mechanics, and automating scoring. I would imagine they'd do the same for location-based games.

      In a video game, I like to input keyboard and mouse commands and get an output of explosions and big numbers. Location-based games can give me another means of input.
    • by Gabrill (556503)
      Let see, centralized opponent tracking, smaller fees, non-physical based combat, virtual costumes, round the month activity, iPhone image instead of costumed wierdo image, and possible diversity of themes are a few I can think of.
  • i just imagine.. should i end up on the microsoft campus, would that put me in the hell level of the game on the iPhone?
  • I actually very recently discussed this idea with a friend of mine, and the same concerns came up. Privacy is definitely an issue, but I don't think it's very difficult to protect. The game could allow you to interact with other people that are nearby without telling you their location, or even how far away from you they are, similar to the way that on-line matchmaking works (but with a much smaller range). None of that information needs to be available to the players. There's still privacy and security
  • So the blogger is suggesting Dennou Coil [wikipedia.org] or Real. [wikipedia.org]

    I know the OP originally was talking about slightly different technologies, but given what AR has done for the common figurine [youtube.com], imagine the applications it could serve on your iPhone. Touch screen + Accelerometer + Camera + Augmented reality system.... It could easily pull off the kinds of things Dennou Coil had suggested. Personally, I think that's the best approach.

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