Thursday, 3 May 2012

iOS Gaming

Considering some of the current topics in gaming, I originally set out to explore one of the more recent and exciting platforms. 'iOS' is the name of the operating system created by apple which is found on the ipod, iphone and ipad. There seems to be an emerging focus on gaming with the system, and one of its latest platforms is the new ipad 3.

From a technical standpoint, the new ipad 3 appears to boast impressive processing capabilities and graphics. The device is able run high quality graphics with a smooth frame rate. Also, the retina display (screen) seems to enable an even sharper resolution. Although I am no technical buff when it comes to graphics cards and processors etc, it appears that the ipad 3 offers almost PC quality graphics on a small streamline device. 

From this aspect, no real sacrifice is made by offering the player a more compact and protable gaming system. Though, perhaps new interesting challenges are offered. It is interesting to see the interface all accessible onscreen, replacing the conventional controller. One would imagine the whole experience is more hands on and interactive, knocking down this barrier we get through the hardware we are usually given. This is isn't too far from true, although I recently played an android phone adaptation of 'Grand Theft Auto.' Although we are talking about iOS gaming, the concept was very similar. The interface was all present onscreen. Using your left and right thumb determined how the player rotated and moved. There were also simple command buttons such as attack, jump, sprint and steal a car. It was clear the developers had to find a way to keep everything as simple as possible in order to avoid cluttering the screen with commands. Although a fair effort had been made in keeping the interface clear and easy to follow, there was still something quite awkward about navigating the character around. Perhaps we have become so accustomed to the conventional control pad that any other interface seems momentarily confusing. Maybe if I had had more chance to play the game I would have  grown more familiar with the sensitivity and response of each action and been able to move my character around smoother. In the video above however, when reviewing the 'Mass Effect' ipad game, the reviewer does comment on the poor controls. This raises the question, will this idea of compact iOS gaming reach the level of immersion through interface which the dedicated gaming consoles manage to achieve? Do you we need to adapt to this new on screen interface or should developers look towards creating new genres for the platform, rather than trying to adapt those available on the Microsoft and Sony gaming consoles?

One game I came across which appeared to try and embrace the platform is titled 'Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery. It takes this idea of simplicity even further than just the interface with simplistic yet elegant pixelated graphics (Although perhaps this is merely for stylistic purposes). The gameplay appears very slow, which I imagine will give the player time to react and explore this new platform comfortably. The controls and actions are said to be very simple, infact, it seems there is a high emphasis on vivid soundscapes and narrative. This raises another interesting point, although the game uses  minimalist graphics, the sound is said to make the experience immersive and captivating. Surely this suggests sound should be viewed as having equal relevance to the visuals of a game:

Although I have not played the game, I have gathered that perhaps a new approach has been taken. The whole experience of onscreen interface is more hands on and interactive, the player almost responding to the virtual world through touch. It is likely the developers of this particular game have taken that well in to consideration, really trying to absorb the player in the world though simple actions and powerful sound deign. Although there is a chance that we may never be given the fast paced releases we find with the more dedicated gaming consoled, we could potentially see some very interesting new experiences emerge within the iOS gaming trend. I would very much like to play this game and gather a better understanding of the approaches taken to fit the the platform.

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