Our bags are packed and today we leave for San Francisco and the Games Developer Conference, the Mecca for computer, video, and mobile games. The GDC is the world’s most important event for game developers, publishers, and those who would like to enter the field. For five days, the entire focus will be on games for the PC, consoles, or mobile phones. Naturally, we will be there too, to track down the latest trends in mobile gaming and to set a few ourselves.[full]
FISHLABS presentation: Mobile phones as game consoles
This time, we will even give a presentation about mobile games. Our topic: “Console Game Experience on Mobile Phones with Immersive Games and Innovative Gadgets”. What is that about? Quite simple: to date, most mobile games have had a rather simple design and either the fun is over after a few minutes or things repeat endlessly with limited variations. Of course, simple games don’t have to be bad. If the game play is so good that even the 99th still motivates and challenges, there are many hours of fun in the game. Actually, this kind of mobile games is even extremely popular with a very large target group. But they usually fail to excite real gamers who are used to something completely different in terms of graphics, game depth, and interaction on PCs or consoles.
Mobile games have to get by with limited technology
Thus far, mobile games have been at a disadvantage, because mobile phones simply do not have enough processor speed or storage and the displays were too small. In addition, the downloading of mobile games was limited by network operators, so that the potential of high-end mobile phones simply couldn’t be used. No wonder that most implementations of PC or console games are disappointing. The game play and the scope of the games was not originally designed for such end devices and thus suffered from the technical limitations. That is more than enough for classic games such as Pac Man, Tetris, and so on, which mobile phones have offered since the beginning of the new century. That is another reason why this game genre is so popular on mobile phones.
Enormous graphics and computing power in your pocket
Of course, mobile phones are becoming more and more powerful and in particular devices from Sony Ericsson have been on par with the first Playstation since at least the K800. Some mobile games which were developed especially for the Symbian devices from Nokia and Sony Ericsson with 3D graphics chip need not even shy away from comparison with games for the PSP. Upcoming mobile phones will even be able to compete with the latest generation of consoles, and most network operators have lifted the size limitation on game downloads. Only one thing is still poor: the controls of mobile games. The buttons on the phone were not developed to control mobile games. Therefore, particular attention must be paid to the controls in developing game play, especially for 3D mobile games, so that gaming on a mobile phone does not turn into a frustrating experience due to the controls.
Your mobile phone becomes a true game console with a separate game controller
All FISHLABS mobile games have simulated analogue controls, similar to a game controller. Given the limited options of a mobile phone keypad, they are certainly among the best in the market. Still, they can never achieve the touch & feel of a real game controller which allows, for instance, sensitive aiming in first person shooters. This is probably why some clever US American boys and, most notably, a girl decided to invent an analogue game controller for mobile games. Beth Marcus, founder and CEO of Zeemote, and her team developed the first and so far only analogue game controller for mobile games worldwide. Beth certainly knows her way with joysticks. She’s the one who invented the force feedback joystick and later sold her company to Microsoft. And now she seems to have landed another major hit. Here at FISHLABS, we spontaneously redesigned our shooter Heli Strike in order to test the new game feeling. Mobile phone in one hand, the Zeemote in the other, it is possible to navigate the helicopter elegantly across the phone display via Bluetooth and fire salvoes with the buttons on the front. Not only can the helicopter be steered much better with the Zeemote, you can also relax much more looking at the display and concentrate better on the action. This makes Heli Strike even more fun, and you will eventually put down your phone and the Zeemote with great reluctance.
FISHLABS mobile games support Zeemote
We were so pleased that from now on, we will adapt all our mobile action games to be used with the Zeemote. The device will not be released for a few more months, but we will keep you updated and our fans will be the first who get to order the Zeemote directly from us. If you happen to be visiting the GDC in San Francisco as well, you can try out our mobile games with the Zeemote in the North Hall, room 111, on Tuesday at 4 pm.