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Handhelds Games

Company Turns Your Android Smartphone Into a Game Console 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the talk-and-play dept.
MojoKid writes "The time we spend making calls on smartphones pales in comparison to the other activities we use it for, like surfing the web, logging into Facebook, streaming music and video, and of course playing games. It's that latter functionality that a startup called Green Throttle wants to tap into, and given the horsepower of today's smartphones, it makes a lot of sense. The company envisions harnessing the power of today's well-equipped Android smartphones and tablets in order to play console-like games on your HDTV. Right now the concept is limited to select devices — Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S II and S III, HTC One X, Kindle Fire HD, and Asus Transformer — though the company says it's adding to the list quickly. The system is fairly simple. You load Green Throttle's Arena app on your compatible device and start gaming using the company's Bluetooth-enabled Atlas controller, which looks a lot like an Xbox 360 controller, then push your phone's HDMI output to an HDTV."
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Company Turns Your Android Smartphone Into a Game Console

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  • What is the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @04:11AM (#42213345)

    I can already connect my phone to a TV with HDMI and pair a bluetooth game controller with it. How is this special?

    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      slashvertisement?
      Seriously this system brings ZERO advantages to the Android gaming environment. It's not a Steam/PSN/XboxLive like service that brings online features and shopping interfaces tunned up for gamers. Bluetooth controllers are already usable with Android. There are even bluetooth controllers that can emulate touch screen gestures for button incompatible games. And every single decent phone/tablet already has HDMI outputs.
      • by CodeheadUK (2717911) on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:05AM (#42213517) Homepage

        Plus, with OUYA just around the corner, there will be no need to fry your phone's GPU and wring out the battery in an hour. There's a cheap box designed for the purpose.

        • by randomErr (172078)
          Or go on eBay [ebay.com] and get one of these Chinese Android devices and get an XBox game controller for the cost of one or two of their controllers. With one of these or the Ouya you don't have to tie up your cell phone or tablet.
          • An Xbox controller likely won't work. (They're not Bluetooth. Has anyone written a driver to use the USB ones?)

            A Playstation 3 controller, however, will work just fine. In fact some Android games (like Grand Theft Auto III) natively support the PS3 controller, even handling the pairing for you.

            • by AvitarX (172628)

              Interesting, I thought they required the USB connection to pair.

            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              A PS3 controller is $40, which is more than half the price of buying those Android dongles you hook up to the TV. So while it would work, it gets quite expensive. For an android dongle and a PS3 controller, you could pay $120. Or you could just spend the extra $30 and get an xBox 360 for $150 [walmart.com]
              • What 'android dongle to hook up to the TV'?

                I spent like $4 on a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable.

                And GameStop has third-party PS3 controllers for under $30.

                Though really, a lot of people interested in using a PS3 controller with an Android device probably already have a PS3 controller.

                • Galaxy S3 is a bit more complicated and expensive due to its 11-pin semi(?)-proprietary MHL connectors ("SaMHL"). The cheapest 11-pin SaMHL cable I'm aware of is ~$15, and the word at XDA is that it's totally luck of the draw... about half work fine, and half fall somewhere between "occasionally-flaky" and "just plain doesn't work". The cheapest cables known to work at least as reliably as Samsung's official ones start at around $25-30.

                  Yes, you can spend a few bucks on an 11-pin to 5-pin MHL adapter and use

            • Xbox 360 wired controllers appear to work out of the box through a USB OTG adapter on my Nexus 7 tablet. But the directional pad on an Xbox 360 controller is far from the best, which makes it harder to play NES games like Streemerz on it compared to, say, an N64 controller through an Adaptoid.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Well, I can see your point but by making it a product with visibility and all that, people are more inclined to standardize on a particular way of doing things.

      I would like it if EVERY game would recognize bluetooth controller inputs and all that. They don't. That needs to change.

      Now for something completely off topic.

      Yesterday I learned an embarassing and unhappy thing about iPhone, iPod and probably iPad too. Where bluetooth is concerned, they only want to connect to audio devices and other iPods. I w

      • by EdZ (755139)

        Well, I can see your point but by making it a product with visibility and all that, people are more inclined to standardize on a particular way of doing things.

        There already is a standard way of doing things, and it's built into Android! Introducing an additional way to connect a bluetooth controller to an Android phone only means a game now has to support two bluetooth controller APIs, rather than one. A total waste of time and effort.

    • by kurkosdr (2378710)
      "I can already connect my phone to a TV with HDMI and pair a bluetooth game controller with it. How is this special?" Maybe if they promote it right, it will bring games that will be able to actually use the bluetooth controller. As of now, I haven't found any controller that is supported by most Android games.
    • How is this special?

      As I understand it, Bluetooth game controllers are like USB game controllers [pineight.com] in that each has a different button layout. If developers standardize on one button layout, it'll make it easier to start to play each game because the user can just install an app, start it, and play. Otherwise, the user has to go through a setup phase for each game: this button is jump, this button is fire, do you want movement on the primary analog stick or the primary POV hat, etc.

    • Agreed, I play games with a PS3 controller on my Transformer Prime regularly ... this isn't new.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And this is different from connecting PS3 or Xbox Bluetooth controller to your phone HOW ?
     

    • by kav2k (1545689)

      Using an original Xbox / PS3 controller requires rooted device, last time I heard.
      However, there are already controllers that can be used with Android without rooting, so this is not new.

      • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171&gmail,com> on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:22AM (#42214341) Homepage

        Using an original Xbox / PS3 controller requires rooted device, last time I heard.

        I dunno about Xbox controllers, but my Transformer Prime supports PS3 controllers out of the box, stock, no rooting. Just plug in via USB cable once, turn on Bluetooth, and you're set.

        That's why this "Arena" thing seems so pointless. I've already done this. Hooked my Transformer up to the TV, and played Max Payne and Shadowgun with a PS3 controller. I don't see the value-add.

  • How many games support it? Unless it has wide support it's just not worth it.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      This is one thing android badly needs. A standardized joystick/controller API.

      The game does not need to know what kind of controller I have just that I pressed stick one forward and depressed button seven.

      • The game does not need to know what kind of controller I have just that I pressed stick one forward and depressed button seven.

        Is button seven jump, or fire, or lean left, or pause? If Bluetooth controllers are anything like USB controllers, each one will have a different layout of the button numbers [pineight.com]. Among my sample set, button seven is either the Select button or one of the left shoulder buttons, depending on what brand of controller is plugged in.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          The game can have a simple config at start. Like PC games often handle it.

          • PC games are configured out of the box to use a mouse and keyboard, and mobile games are configured out of the app store to use a flat sheet of glass. I've considered popping up a window to perform "a simple config at start" if the number of axes, buttons, and hats on controller 1 differs from what was present the last time the game was run, but other Slashdot users have told me that PC and Android users lack the patience to do this, especially non-geeks outside Slashdot's core demographic. (Remember "calib
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday December 07, 2012 @04:15AM (#42213363) Homepage

    *BOOM* AAAAH!
    "Sorry mom, can't talk I --"
    HEADSHOT
    "-- got to finish this level I'll call you back"
    ULTRAKILL!

  • OUYA (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkain (749283) on Friday December 07, 2012 @04:50AM (#42213461) Homepage

    $45 for this "Single Controller Pack", or $99 for a dedicated OUYA game console with controller, also runs android, doesn't have to worry about the game being interrupted by a phone call, no worries about frame rate drops due to various background services running, and already has dedicated third party developers (rather than a "developer program"). Yeah, sorry guys, the other team already has my money!

    http://www.ouya.tv/ [www.ouya.tv]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From the OUYA site:

      "Plus, every game is free — well, free-to-play. We borrowed the free-to-play model from popular games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Triple Town and many others. Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe. We don’t want you to buy a game unless you love it."

      So... every game will be a demo that's misleadingly called free, and will proceed to nickel-and-dime me to death once I'm hooked on playing it be

      • Every game must have a playable demo, at least; it doesn't have to follow the in-game payment model. And it's no slouch in graphics - see a Tegra 3 showcase [youtube.com]. That's not bad for a system set to cost half as much as the X360. But a major difference is that the Ouya will be hackable, legally and without fear of bricking.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        This is my exact problem with the Android App ecosystem. Too much free stuff that tries to pry money out of you in other ways. Games that are impossibly difficult unless you pay to unlock special powers. Games that give you bonus items for giving them a 5 star rating. Games that spend more time displaying ads then letting you play. You can get an XBox 360 for $150. Why would I want to spend $99 on an Android based console? Plus the XBox 360 has been out for a while, and there are a ton of games you c
        • Games that are impossibly difficult unless you pay to unlock special powers.

          Impossibly? In the NES era, you had to pay for Contra and Battletoads, and then you had to pay extra for Game Genie. There's a reason that above-average difficulty is called Nintendo hard [tvtropes.org].

          • by Fwipp (1473271)

            Battletoads, sure, but I beat Super C (about as hard as Contra, which I didn't play) without dying when I was around eight years old. No game genie or Konami code required. :b

            • When you were eight, I'd bet your parents provided your lodging and food. Games published in this decade tend to have an easy mode designed for grown-ups who have to work for a living and thus have less time to practice a game toward perfection.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            Most the the games classified as "Nintendo Hard" actually originated in the arcade. The reason they were hard was to get you to put more quarters in the machine. Granted some original Nintendo games were hard like "Zelda, second quest, without maps" because of rediculous things like, "walk towards some random wall for 3 seconds" and you just walk though. Even figuring out where to put the bombs was all guess work. Now you can basically walk through the Zelda games and almost never get lost. And all the b
    • Or €150 for an Archos Gamepad, a pretty high-end 7" Android 4.1 tablet with game buttons - easily mappable for the tons of older games that lack button support. I couldn't really justify getting either a new handheld console or a tablet, but this is both, and it's cheaper than a Vita, so it's quite enticing. I'll keep an eye on this.

      http://www.archos.com/ [archos.com]

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:04AM (#42213501) Homepage
    Phones are computers now?
  • by bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:04AM (#42213507) Homepage

    Many Android games have native Bluetooth game-pad support, for though that don't you can use something like: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fishstix.gameboard [google.com]

    You can already get hundreds of far cheaper Bluetooth game-pads, many designed to also mount your phone.

  • Seems stupid, but I decided to read it.

    Adding [the Atlas] controllers to the mobile version of ChronoBlade allows users to experience the game the way it was meant to be played; bringing a true console-like proposition," said Taehoon Kim, co-found and CEO at nWay.

    So methinks that this is a way of connecting a game controller to a phone and play the phone's mobile versions of games: Angry Birds would be a good game for it, that sort of thing. The HDMI thing is a bonus.

    (Ahhhh... The pain!)

    • Re:I went and RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:23AM (#42213571)

      The "way of connecting a game control to a phone" is called Bluetooth. Your phone has is.

      The HDMI thing isn't a "bonus" -- it's a feature of your phone. And if it's not a feature of your phone, this device isn't going to magically give you it.

      This is "stone soup" sales tactics. Sell you something "magic" that lets you do wonderful things... because you don't know you can already do them....

      • by Whiteox (919863)

        As I'm not a phone game player, I never saw the need for a game control to move a little mario on a phone. I think you think I meant bluetooth, but no. I mean connecting a game controller and have the requisite i/o from the game itself.
        You don't need HDMI, - that's just a bonus ~ you can control the game with a proper controller instead of mashing your firngers on the phone's screen.

      • by phorm (591458)

        Right now the concept is limited to select devices -- Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S II and S III, HTC One X, Kindle Fire HD, and Asus Transformer

        Indeed, and unless the latest model is different, the Nexus 7 does *not* have an HDMI out. So the above statement doesn't even apply to the whole Nexus lineup.

  • The only real improvement I can think of is allowing ad-hoc LAN/console party style gaming, and I am struggling to think of how narrow a niche people using their phones (as opposed to more established LAN/console party equipment) would be for that application. Frankly I'm more excited for the futer of augmented reality games on phones, especially multiplayer ones. I also echo most of the above, this exists already even on Android and dedicated Android consoles are coming. - HEX
    • I am struggling to think of how narrow a niche people using their phones (as opposed to more established LAN/console party equipment) would be for that application.

      For one thing, it's a lot easier for a startup developer to get into Google's developer program than into Sony's or Nintendo's. Sony and Nintendo want experience and financial stability first, which pretty much rules out releasing your company's first few products on their platforms. (See Bob's Game for example.)

  • I've had this sort of idea quite a few times. A few simple multiplayer games and a batch of cheap zero-fuss compatible controllers. The Android devices are open and widespread enough to make this sort of thing commercially viable. And these guys have on litte edge over the Ouya: They're focusing on their own set of launch games built around console multiplayer. Wouldn't if be cool if you could play their games on the Ouya using their controllers? Their controllers look more complex and seem to cater more to

  • According to a reliable source that games market is take over the main stream in near future!! watches online [slashdot.org]
    • by ledow (319597)

      Even spam made to be relevant can't publish a URL that works for it.

      Seriously, programming is going really downhill lately. It reminds me of the spammers who keep emailing made-up-hex-code addresses at my domain, and addresses that literally existed for minutes decades ago and have been 554'd by SMTP ever since.

      Just what exactly do they think they've gained?

  • So, it's like AirPlay then?
    • by Swampash (1131503)

      No, it's not like Airplay. Airplay just works. This is Android based, so you'll probably have to buy a Nexus Q, then wait for your carrier to allow you to update to a compatible version of Android, then flash your handset and install a custom ROM. But you'll be able to ssh into your game console and run top and kill -9 when a runaway ad-serving process drags your battery life down to 30 minutes, so, like, open.

      • No, it's not like Airplay. Airplay just works.

        For one thing, Airplay costs $428: $329 for the iPad mini and $99 for the Apple TV. Even assuming someone already owns a smartphone or tablet, an HDMI cable from Monoprice is far cheaper than an Apple TV. For another, what Bluetooth controllers work with Airplay for more than one player?

        • by smash (1351)
          So, airplay costs about 500 bucks, but you get a free tablet and movie rental device?
          • Rearrange it how you want. It's like some Slashdot users rearrange the requirement of a Mac to develop iOS apps into a $650 Xcode license that comes with a free computer. My point is that some people just want the set-top gaming and movie rental device, not the Apple tablet. They might already have another brand of tablet, or they might prefer a netbook over a tablet.
  • I have a HTC One X and the MHL cable to connect to a HDTV and there is a slight problem with this idea. You have to look at the phone to see where the controls are and when you look at the phone you aren't looking at the big screen. I imagine there are solutions out there and I'd love to hear about them if anyone knows any.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Use a controller?

      This is really for games that benefit from a controller not ones that benefit from touch.

      • People like drinkypoo [slashdot.org] appear to think no games benefit from a controller, and thumb gestures on a flat sheet of glass are more flexible than physical buttons. I have my own counterarguments [pineight.com], but I'd like to hear others.
        • I've quit playing plenty of games fairly quickly because thumb-on-glass is terrible compared to real buttons for shooters and driving games, for example. Exploring games, even basic arcade games are okay, but I'd honestly rather have the tactile feel of a button when I'm button mashing.

          • by tepples (727027)

            thumb-on-glass is terrible compared to real buttons for shooters

            By "shooters", do you mean shoot-em-ups like Gradius or Ikaruga, or do you mean first- or third-person shooters? For first- or third-person shooters, I've been told that the left thumb controls movement (speed proportional to displacement from initial point of contact) and the right thumb controls aiming and turning (which feels like a mouse or trackpad).

            and driving games, for example.

            Driving games are best controlled with the accelerometer, I'm told. Rotating the tablet turns the steering wheel, like on Mario Kart Wii, and the display r

            • Platformers don't bother me on a phone/tablet. In fact, Temple Run is a good example of using swipe actions.

              I meant first-person shooters, and no, the thumb-on-screen system is nowhere near being a mouse and keyboard, because my fingers can't find the exact placements to use at a moment's notice ... no physical keyboard after all, have to look periodically to make sure your thumb is centered ...

              As to accelerometers, they're not perfect. I prefer buttons for steering ... mostly because of the lack of auto-

              • If it sounds like I'm trolling, forgive me; I'm just taking the other side to try to help both sides' arguments become more precise [wikipedia.org].

                In fact, Temple Run is a good example of using swipe actions.

                If you would consider this game to show best practices for a tablet platformer, I'll try it on my Nexus 7. Is there anything more like Mario or Mega Man that you'd recommend?

                I meant first-person shooters

                Has there been a good nonviolent first-person shooter since FaceBall in the early 1990s?

                and no, the thumb-on-screen system is nowhere near being a mouse and keyboard, because my fingers can't find the exact placements to use at a moment's notice

                That's what I wrote in my own essay about mobile game controls [pineight.com], yet mobile fanboys keep reminding me that workarounds

                • Recommended platformers? None.

                  Side-scrollers, yes -- JetPack Joyride ... because it only has one control (press screen or don't press screen).

        • Actually the only games I play on the phone are Deadly Dungeons (an Underworld homage) and Mystique 3 (wake up with no memory in an abandoned Russian Mental Hospital and try to escape, a Slashdot with less people scenario). Both of those are fine with touch screen controls. My problem is the look up, look down, look up, look down etc. The constant change from big screen to little screen and back again because there is no cursor and the TV isn't touch sensitive renders the whole scenario useless to me except
          • So you're playing a game that actually uses touch. I guess to play those on a TV, you'd use a mouse. I own devices that run Android 2.2 and Android 4.2, and both support a mouse plugged in through a USB OTG adapter. You'll run into problems with games that rely on multitouch however.
            • Mostly I run a hobby business from the phone, the games just fill moments of leisure. Anything that expands what the phone can do is interesting and potentially worth money to me. The mouse knowledge is both new and very interesting to me and I'll follow up on it tonight.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      ...well, you could buy the controller from these guys. or use any ps3 controller or other bt controller.

      because with your scenario, you're really just hooking it to your hdmi and not reading the article blurb even.

  • by Dunge (922521)
    Why would I want to use my phone as a console when I already have a PC and a console with much more processing power and tenfold better games?
    • Why would I want to use my phone as a console when I already have a PC and a console with much more processing power and tenfold better games?

      For one thing, there are games you can't get on a console because they're made by startups, not established companies. Nor, I'm told, are most people willing to buy a second PC to put in the living room in order to play games on the big screen. That leaves mobile.

  • by kenh (9056)

    Now I can play games on my smartphone!? That'sd freaking AWESOME!

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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