Wednesday, September 6, 2017

When will AR or VR mash up e-sports with regular sports?

A week ago Next Games revealed that they will soon be releasing a location-based AR game based on the Walking Dead franchise. A promotional video for the game called Walking Dead: Our world can be seen here:

After seeing the video I started thinking how big a potential a game like this could have and tried to predict how well it will do once it's released. With the combination of mobile, AR and location-based technology the most obvious comparison is of course Pokémon GO, which has been a huge success and an unprecedented social phenomenon. 

Zombies of course can't really be a similar family experience as Pokémon GO has been, but it should have its own strengths. One of them is undoubtedly Apple's ARKit offering a more advanced AR experience compared to the floaty Pokémons. Another one is that it is more action oriented and may thus feel more like a game for most of the target audience.

Then again, being more action-oriented may also have its downside. An AR game requires more from the player than a traditional mobile game, and as such can't be that easily played eg. when travelling by bus. And when for example out in a park, compared to casually catching a single pokémon many will probably feel more awkward dodging zombies looking through the mobile phone given there are other people around who are not playing the game. But having a friend or a group of friends playing along would take at least most of the awkwardness away. Therefore for the game to truly succeed, it probably needs to be social not just through online communities, but locally too. Compared to Pokémons, this may be more difficult to achieve with zombies as the violence limits the audience. Then again, within its target audience it might stir up a deeper interest than collecting Pokémons.

So how will the game succeed? The question is a product of a plethora of factors ranging from the magnitude and longevity of its general appeal to ultimately also its monetization mechanic. How well it will do remains to be seen, but thinking about the social side of the game made me wonder when we will see the first serious mash-up of e-sports and regular sports. I mean even though participating in an e-sports event is truly intense and even somewhat physical for the competing players, the physical activity is ultimately pretty much limited to eye-hand coordination. But with VR and AR on the rise and also mobile games like Supercell's Clash Royale and Brawl Stars taking their steps into e-sports, I think it's only a matter of time when we will see the first significant e-sports games with big prizes, where the players have to get every bit (pun intended) as physical as one would in a traditional team sport like football. When that happens, it may very well also broaden the general interest in e-sports as a whole.

A VR-based game may be likely to pioneer into e-sports before an AR-based one, but in principle the pioneering could happen even with teams competing in fighting AR zombies. Now although definitely not easily achieved, a mechanic making that possible would offer a truly social experience!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spare time development?

Project TB revision history for the past two months
(don't mind the broken Finnish)
My game development projects can be characterized as a spare time endeavour. But what does that mean in practice when there are two small kids (0 and 2 years) and a regular job as regular responsibilities? Well, the revision history on the right says a lot (don't mind the broken Finnish, those words just stand for January, December and November). The dates and times show moments when I've done at least some changes to the project.

Not that I'm assuming this to be particularly interesting for a random reader here's a breakdown of the listing that contains the 50 revisions committed in 31 sessions divided into four categories according to the time of day in which they occurred:

Early MorningDay time napEveningOther

As the 0 year old came into the picture I took a new habit of going sleeping very early, and accordingly I've sometimes waken up very early. If I've then had the energy I've done something with my project. This is evident in the big number of early morning sessions, although as can be seen from the table too, the sessions have usually been a rather short ones with only one revision committed per session if even that.

The second most common session time is the day time nap. What better time to work on a project when it's weekend and the bigger kid is having a nap?

The third type are the evenings, which are slowly getting back and possibly replacing the mornings again.

The fourth time category is "other" times. There have been two occasions when I've had the possibility to do stuff with the project while the 2 year old has been in the kindergarten for a 2,5 hour visit, and two other special situations when I've had some free time to spend on the project.

So what was the point of this? I dunno, I guess I'm a geek who likes statistics. And the listing also goes to show what a hobbyist game programmer's time schedule may look like: even though I currently have quite a good flow and motivation for working on the project(*), the time that's possible to spend on it is still pretty limited.

(* Can't help but admit that a couple of weeks ago I also got yet another idea I'm starting to feel an urge to build a proto for. This in practice would mean a pause for this current project, which could be justifiable due to the simplicity and assumed ease of developing and finalizing the other project, but still the prospect of having multiple projects on-going is... uff... pretty daunting 😯)