one man's journey into creating gibblybits

Thursday, October 08, 2009

google wave and Free iPhone ideas

1. I got a Google Wave invite, along with the "regularly washed, but not so innately superhuman people who we would have given a wave to had we known the way this baby would scale but had to wait until a larger group was hitting it all at once" crowd.

2. Here are a couple of free iPhone ideas:

* Animation Studio
You know those stupid Jib Jab holiday greeting cards? And you know those goofy iPhone apps where you put your face into a pumpkin or whatever? Put them together in an app. Pre-scripted animations, like little loops, some scenes, bam! You got a mini movie. Add the ability to lay in a soundtrack and you're done.

* Diddlebug for iPhone
No, really, have you heard of this old Palm app? You opened Diddlebug and got a blank screen. You could just scribble a note, drop down a list of common timings (1m, 5m, 30m, 1hr, 3hr, etc. with more detail and you could set a time manually) and it would beep you later. The Palm would beep when the counter ran down, and would show you the note you scribbled. Holy cow, it was SO useful. Like writing something on your hand useful. WHY DOES THIS NOT EXIST FOR IPHONE??? Try entering a reminder in iCal in under 60 seconds. I dare you.

* I've been playing Star Trek: Encounters a lot lately. It's a mindless fragfest after I unlocked all the ships. This is an old game for the PS2, and it's a pretty cool simulation of a tactical operation in a large space vessel. At times, however, you can tell this is really just a modified boating simulator with lasers and torpedos. Anyway, there are lots of nice little touches, but you still don't quite get the feeling of a real "bridge"

So there was a game called Bridge Commander where you essentially gave orders. Now, combine the two and add multiplayer. In fact, what I propose is this:

Starship Captain
Generic enough title?

1-4 players. You need at least one Mac and 1-4 iPhones or iPod touches. You'll need Wi-Fi enabled, although you can setup a local network.

Each player selects a station. The usual: navigation, tactical, engineering and command. Each station does what you expect, too.

The navigation officer steers the ship, plots a course, looks around the system, etc.
The tactical officer get to shoot the energy weapons and any other weaponry, along with managing some of the shields.
The engineering controls revolve around managing the ship's resources, tuning the performance and keeping everything humming. When damage is reported engineering assigns resources to fix it.
Command analyzes a top-down view of each situation and issues orders accordingly. At any point controls can be shifted to command, meaning a 1 player game is pretty much just the captain in his (or her) chair, doing everything.

Of course, the Mac is simply a screen, just like the screen you see in Star Trek movies, except there's a HUD in each corner for each officer to look at. Maybe if there is more than one Mac you could get a HUD on each one, with different camera controls, but there's no need to add to the requirements for the game -- one Mac and one iPhone remain the minimum.

Now, the neat trick here is the scaling. That is, the game scales depending on how many players there are. Got 3? Mix and match, or choose from a few pre-cooked control schemes. You see, the control mechanism is really just an abstract of a keyboard, right? Like the old X-Wing game, you needed to use quite a few keys to control the ship. With a joystick that allowed you to program some buttons, the game got a little easier. That's the idea here. Pick and choose from configurable options, depending upon how many are playing at once.

This local multiplayer could be really fun. Everyone is working co-operatively. I think it would be possible to create more than just shoot-em-up games this way. But a star ship would be cool. Also, the lag in controls could be allowable if you are talking about piloting a LARGE craft. Mostly I say this for navigation, because many gamers are used to very tight responses. Thus, "twitch" games. But I think a more "sailboat" approach to steering a vessel would be fun. It would certainly make it different.

Could this work as an online multiplayer game over the internet? Yeah, I think with all the lag factored in it could work. It'd be cool to have cooperative teams online too, possibly even custom ships with a variety of crew combinations. Perhaps there could even be a hierarchy, with strike teams and everything communicating through in-game chat. Hey, the sky's the limit!

1 comment:

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