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The future of mobile gaming

Michael Yuan
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Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Hi,
I guess most people in the J2ME community are somewhat interested in developing mobile games. Mobile game is an important theme in the recent Austin Game Conference. If you are interested in the new trends I learned from this conference, check out my blog entries:
The future of mobile Java games (thoughts from the game conference)
Austin Game Conference Day 1


Seam Framework: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0137129394/mobileenterpr-20/
Ringful: http://www.ringful.com/
Fernando Sanz
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Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 101
Thanks for the link and your blog. I just wrote a comment, so I'll paste it here as well:
About the "Hardcore action games", don't you think that having such a high development cost, only the biggest companies will be able to play in the field?
The "Multi-player games", would you say they're more close to the Hardcore ones, or to the Simple ones?
And one more question: I'd assume that phone games could be developed with CLDC, and I'd guess that PDA could make a better use of CDC. What's your opinion?
Fernando
Michael Yuan
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Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427

Hardcore action games", don't you think that having such a high development cost, only the biggest companies will be able to play in the field?

Yes, I am afraid so. The price tag for a mobile 3D game (either in C++ or in J2ME--JSR184) is more than $200k in labor cost alone. The setup cost (tools etc.) can run into millions. As the industry matures, big shops will have advantages. Just like any other industry! But hey, that means more employment opportunities for developers.

The "Multi-player games", would you say they're more close to the Hardcore ones, or to the Simple ones?

They are simple 2D ones. But maintaining a community requires a good social design and skillful execution. It is hard for an individual to pull this off.
Of course, the nature of the game market is that there are tons of innovation. Even in mature markets like the PC-game industry, a good idea can still get you noticed by big players. So, there is always room for individual developers and designers.
[QB]
And one more question: I'd assume that phone games could be developed with CLDC, and I'd guess that PDA could make a better use of CDC. What's your opinion?
[QB]
I think the CDC does not have nearly as much momentum as the MIDP in the game space. The CDC might be a fine enterprise platform (IBM is behind it after all). But for consumer games, the trend is for MIDP even for sophisticated PDA-like devices. The Symbian v7.0 roadmap specifically says that it will support the MIDP and optionla packages rather than the CDC. (Symbian used to support PersonalJava on Nokia 91xx PDA phones).
Fernando Sanz
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Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 101
Originally posted by Michael Yuan:

Yes, I am afraid so. The price tag for a mobile 3D game (either in C++ or in J2ME--JSR184) is more than $200k in labor cost alone. The setup cost (tools etc.) can run into millions. As the industry matures, big shops will have advantages. Just like any other industry! But hey, that means more employment opportunities for developers.

OK, then as an employee that'd be the market to target. Since I'd be more likely to get employed by a big company, I guess

They are simple 2D ones. But maintaining a community requires a good social design and skillful execution. It is hard for an individual to pull this off.

Maybe that'd be for a small-medium enterprise. I assume that'd be difficult for someone like me trying to get into the industry.

I think the CDC does not have nearly as much momentum as the MIDP in the game space. The CDC might be a fine enterprise platform (IBM is behind it after all). But for consumer games, the trend is for MIDP even for sophisticated PDA-like devices. The Symbian v7.0 roadmap specifically says that it will support the MIDP and optionla packages rather than the CDC. (Symbian used to support PersonalJava on Nokia 91xx PDA phones).

Well, that means I'll have to work on both, not just Personal Java but also MIDP. That's something I don't really understand, and maybe you can explain me why. For what I've seen, not too much I know, I find easier to program with something close to J2SE (Personal Java/Profile) than building MIDlets. So, why, if the hardware is powerfull enough, a developer would choose CLDC over CDC? Is it just because that's what the market says, so obviously a developer can't code just for himself, but for selling a product?
alex han
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Joined: Dec 13, 2002
Posts: 46
i think
the "Multi-player games" that not require more time to play like street fighter,russian square will be popular.
because mobile phone not a pure game platform,at least in now.
3d game and big Multi-player games will popular when color screen mobile phone tech is very popular.
Ben Hui
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Posts: 28
I think the true power of mobile game is the characteristic that it is "mobile". game developers need to take advantage of this important attribute. if people like to see amazing 3D effect, they have a very high performance PC at home to do so. but PC is not mobile! I think the trend for killer games will be those that can take advantage of mobility. games that leverage phone camera, push-based messaging, multi-player, location etc. in the other words, games that cannot be done in tranditional console otherwise.
just my 2 cents
ben


<a href="http://www.benhui.net" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.benhui.net</a> - mobile dev resources - j2me - bluetooth - midp 2.0 - review - links<p>Get Share Bill Buddy - Bill splitting (FAST!), Share trip expenses, Who Owe Me 3-in-1<br />Free trial on <a href="http://www.sklogicsoftware.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.sklogicsoftware.com</a><p>Get Travel Buddy - Itinerary, Tracker, Global Clock, Concurrency Convertor 4-in-1<br />Free version available at <a href="http://www.sklogicsoftware.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.sklogicsoftware.com</a>
Fernando Sanz
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Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 101
so what game do you think that would take advantage of such qualities?
Michael Yuan
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Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Originally posted by Ben Hui:
I think the true power of mobile game is the characteristic that it is "mobile". game developers need to take advantage of this important attribute. if people like to see amazing 3D effect, they have a very high performance PC at home to do so. but PC is not mobile!

Yes, but if the same game is available in 3D and 2D, people will buy the 3D one at an extra cost. That is why color phones outsell BW phones. Style matters in this world.
Also, one thing I learned from the conference is that more than 70% mobile gamers play their phone games *at home*; 82% of those people have game consoles at home! Many people play mobile games continously for more than an hour at their home.
That begs the question: why do they play on the phone while they have access to the console? Some experts have suggested that mobile games have lower "commitment level" and can be played in the bedroom.
I think a lot of research needs to be done here!
Fernando Sanz
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 101
Michael: maybe they play at home because they have the mobile with them all the time, but they might have to go to the room where their PlayStation is installed, and stay there. With the phone is a matter of seconds, and they could play just anywhere within the house. Still, I think that's too high percentage to be playing at home.
Though, better for us!
Ashik Uzzaman
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Joined: Jul 05, 2001
Posts: 2370

Thank you Mike for sharing.


Ashik Uzzaman
Senior Member of Technical Staff, Salesforce.com, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Fred Grott
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Joined: Oct 05, 2002
Posts: 346
I would also add that 3d games on mobile devices is lower than 200k in dev costs as there are several 3d opensource frameworks for J2me being brought out to devlopers..
that is on reason why you as developer shoudl support opensource proejcts in the J2me realm ..it keep sdev costs low and you employed..
the same in J2mE GUI toolkits ..soem run in excess of $25,000 fro a dev license where as there are few opnesourc eones and thus lowering yoru own dev costs..


MobileBytes blog - Sharing Technology - My Programming Knols
urarom sogard
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 10, 2002
Posts: 21
Hi Michael, I have the same question as Fernando:
if there are already on the market mobile phones with PDA hardware, why they are using CLDC/MIDP instead of CDC/PJ/PP?
Paul Kelcey
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Joined: Jan 26, 2003
Posts: 45
I agree with Ben. I think that mobile technology should leverage what it is good at (i.e. being mobile). I think simple games are the best for this medium. I don't think that the large companies have all of the advantages. I don't think flashy 3D graphics are all that important.
Since I think simple games are going to be the most popular, I think this brings the entry barrier down considerably. I've hacked out a couple of simple MIDP games in a couple of weekends. I actually play them on the way to work. One is a block game like tetris and another is a game like the C64 thrust (you just have to land). These are not compelling enough to sell but I think it highlights that it is going to be the ideas and gameplay that are more important than great graphics and big storylines. So I think small companies are going to be able to do well if they come up with good ideas.
Regarding 3D graphics, the Nokia N-gage is a classic example of a dud in my opinion. It targets 3D graphics and it just doesn't work. I love Nokia (I used to work for them) but they've got this wrong. You can't see what's going on in such a small display. Everything is too hard to control.
So what does work? I think simple games that are easy to play work. Games that you can play in 3 minute blocks whilst waiting for your bus or whatever. You've got to remember that mobile phones have far greater penetration into the market than PCs etc. This means you've got a whole group of people that have no clue about games that you can target. Simple games that are easy to play will appeal to the new as well as existing market.
Why would you play on a phone when you can play far better games on a game boy? A couple of reasons I guess. Firstly, you need a phone but you don't need a game boy. If the phone can satisfy your gaming needs then maybe that'll will do for you (I need both). Secondly, because it offers mobile technology that can allow for multi-player games. Soon gba will have this too so the mobile device's advantage will be declining.
Phones could also take advantage of location when networks support this feature. At a hardware level, you can triangulate the rough position of a phone using ping times to towers. When this gets exposed to an API you'll be able to do a scavenger hunt or play spy like games in the street. You'd also have apps where you can go "where's the nearest McDonalds to me".
The problem with connection however is the cost. I think this is a barrier to real-time multi-player games. Turn based games and community features such as chat, high-scores, tournaments, events, news etc. don't suffer from this as much. GPRS is pay per volume so this is going to be much better for consumers.
Another problem is that it is expensive to develop the server side for a multiplayer platform. Again, a smallish company could do this if they were smart about it however.
Just my 43cents.
Cheers,
PK
 
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subject: The future of mobile gaming