October 18, 2007

Video Game Ideas: iPhone SDK edition

We've got it! We got our SDK! Well, I mean, we don't HAVE it yet, but we have a promise, and a promise that times nicely with my being done with Delicious Library 2 and looking for something to do before I start on v3.

So what are we going to do with it? Sure, we're going to port Peggle (from PopCap), the BEST GAME EVER, and I hope there's a native version of Xeno Tactics (please write me if you know who can make this happen).

BUT WHAT ELSE! We need to take advantage of the incredible and unique features of the iPhone... So, I'm going to try something new in the comments, here, and encourage people to brainstorm with me, either with new ideas or refining previous ideas to make them more possible / more fun.

Let's look at the perfect storm of features the iPhone has brewing:

- Always on. No other handheld consumer device is always on. Laptops go to sleep, as do DS Lites. Always on means that if we write social software, our iPhone can find other iPhones to talk to for us based on some criteria, and then notify us as it finds matches. Welcome to the REAL social, bitches.

- Always with their masters. Nobody who owns an iPhone will venture more than 20 feet from it.

- Pretty damn popular. Sure, there is an order of magnitude more DSes, but iPhone is growing at a crazy rate. I see several every day at the café that I actually did NOT buy!

- A cool variety of inputs, including acceleration detectors and a touch screen.

- Really good resolution. Fairly fast graphics for certain subsets of drawing, but not something that'll run Quake 3 at a billion FPS.

- Great networking, including Bluetooth, WiFi, and Edge. (Bono to be included in the next version.)

- Doesn't require a cartridge per app, like Gameboys or Sony PSPs. All apps are resident in the iPhone at once, and multitask, so having a few casual, silly apps is much more likely. (Eg, you don't have to scream to everyone in the café, "Hey, let's all put in our social networking cartridge so we can break the ice!)

- Is not butt-ugly like Zune.

Idea 1) "My Pokémons, Let Me Show Them To You."

Imagine carrying all your Pokémon (or Magic, or whatever) cards around on your phone, and you can show 'em off CoverFlow-style, baby. If some other iPhone-wielding fool wants to step to your deck, you press a button for a WiFi connection (or bluetooth, even) and get to use your fingers to point to cards you want and throw them out on the playfield - it gives card battles a real tactile interaction.

How do your cards get in to the phone? Well, if you want to use existing cards, you scan them in with the iPhone's camera, and recognize the photo (compared to a database of cards) and add that physical card to the user's virtual collection.

Finally, you can trade virtual cards to people around you. For extra style points, you could list a bunch of cards you want and cards you don't want, and other iPhone users running the same client would just get notified that a potential trade is in their area. I imagine Gabe at the opera (yes, I like to imagine him going to the opera, ok?) and suddenly his phone starts buzzing and someone wants to buy one of his chimpochocs. "Honey, shhhh!"

Idea 2) "My zombie beats your werewolf. Or mates with him."

Like with the Zombie mini-game on facebook, all iPhone users could have zombie (or mutant, or zombie-hunter, or whatever) avatars, and whenever two iPhones get too close, they start to battle. It'd be super-funny if they did this on their own, so you could just be walking along and you and another dude's phones would suddenly go batshit making fighting and gurgling noises.

You'd win persistent points, which would be tracked by a central database on some website, so you could see who trumps who. Each time you fight someone who is stronger than you, and you lose, you wouldn't get points but you'd get some of their "DNA" on you, which your creature could incorporate to become stronger. But, there'd be diminishing returns for fighting the same person over and over -- essentially you get zero points for attacking a creature with the similar DNA, so you want to find diverse creatures. You'd be much better off wandering around downtown and fighting strangers, because then you'll get a lot more possible mutations for your creature, and a lot more points for victories you make.

Idea 3) "Screw Pokémon, We Make Our Own Collectible Card Game"

Like idea #1, but rather than screw with licensing, we make up a new game that's like Magic meets Pokémon meets all those other game Richard Garfield wrote or inspired. BUT, and here's the cool part, we just make up the base system, NOT all the cards.

Like, we say, "Oh, in this game there is POWER, and POWER can be fed each round into ABILITIES or SPELLS or ATTACKS, and the order in which these things happen is this and this and this."

THEN, we let people invent their own cards (in a high-level language we invent), most of which will contain exceptions to the rules or things which change the rules, because that's what's actually fun about these games. There would be some ground rules for developing cards -- eg, you'd have to win some matches to earn the points to do it, and your total card strength would be limited by how many points you are willing to spend. And you'd have to incorporate "flaws" with abilities or affects, too, so nobody could just say, "This card is free to play and requires no power and stops time and all your hit points go away."

Even so, obviously some cards would be unbalancing. So: there's a central repository for card ideas, and before ANYONE can play a card (in matches which count towards points) it has to be digitally signed by the repository. The community views new cards and votes on which ones should go "into production", (and which ones should be retired) and those cards are made available... BUT, you can't just buy 'em directly. There's a random element to getting cards, as there should be... one cool thing we could do would be to finally do what Garfield wanted, and have it so you win cards in battle. Like, the loser of a battle could decide if she wanted to allow the winner to pick her best card and get a two new cards randomly from the repository, OR just let the winner get a single new card from the repository herself, OR vote for a single card from the winner's hand to be banned from play. (This wouldn't immediately ban it, but at some point really unfair cards would get too many votes and leave circulation.)

Players would also be able to create "testing decks" -- they could use any number of any cards, legal or not legal, BUT matches with those decks look different and don't give any points or ranking. And, like, the iPhone takes away some of the graphic glitz, so it's clear you're just beta-testing your deck, you're not REALLY playing.

Idea 4) "Gnip-gnop"

If you go to the kind of parties I do, about twenty people at any gathering have iPhones. What if you made some fast, silly gams (drinking games, maybe?) involving the phones? For example, take something as simple as a ball bouncing between people -- you'd see it coming towards your screen, and you'd have to flick it away, and you could flick it towards other players, and they'd have to keep it going...

Or, imagine an iPhone game where you do that old sliding-picture-puzzle thing, where each iPhone's screen shows a section of a larger picture, and then everybody has to move around and stand next to each other such that the puzzle is solved.

You could do this with teams -- maybe have it so there's a message, and each iPhone shows a different letter, and you have to re-arrange the iPhones to figure out the message first.

Or you could show pictures on everyone's iPhone, but only two of them are similar, and those two people have to race to touch their iPhones together before a timer expires... I wonder if bluetooth signal strength is detectable on the iPhone, or WiFi signal strength -- whether one could actually tell if two phones are in very close proximity vs. 10 feet apart.

Idea 5) "Flash Mob Friends"

Not necessarily a game... imagine tying in to the iPhone extension that can tell where your iPhone is based on the cell towers around it, and using that as a way to gather groups. You could have a tiny app that simply has a button for what kind of group you would like to hang with, and others in your group would be notified if they are in a similar mood.

For instance, if I'm hungry, I could have a group of friends I sometimes eat with. So I press "Dinner Friends" and I go to Saluté, and everyone in that group can see where I am and that I am, in fact, actively getting dinner and would like company. They can IM me or just show up.

This is a lot like what I do right now for dinner, actually, except right now it's more aggressive -- I have to page like 20 people with "Hey, getting dinner, what up?" and they have to actively turn me down "OH, sorry, just ate." I think it'd be easier on everyone if it were more passive, "Hey, everyone, getting dinner, if you are hungry and available then ping me, otherwise cool." And without the urgency of a page -- just a status you could check, like in Twitter or iChat.

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Anonymous Alexandra said...

Some crazy creativeness here :) Very cool! This zombie thing is kind of creepy though, as it seems like the iPhone would start to live a life of its own... Scary!

October 18, 2007 5:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As expected, you seem ecstatic and full of ideas about the SDK. Not to peg anything on you, but that scan-albums-with-iPhone idea you posted a while back seems rather attractive now...

October 18, 2007 5:39 AM

Blogger Suresh said...

I have long been thinking of a game that is much more mundane (or exotic, depending on your point of view) than all these: chess. I am thinking of on-line chess sites like Free Internet Chess Server or Internet Chess Club. The cool thing is the UI. You actually get to move the pieces! You can also go one-on-one with anyone who comes within your WiFi or bluetooth range. I am sure it will be a hit with all those who have long suffered mouse-slips in 3 minute blitz or 1 minute lightning chess.

-S P Suresh

October 18, 2007 5:48 AM

Blogger Joseph Reiter said...

How about conventional card games. Sit down at a table with friends and play a game of ad hoc network poker (maybe have your buddy join you from out of town over the speakerphone or voice over IP and the web). Of course, you wouldn't want to use your iPhone/iPod touch for playing bullshit ;-)

October 18, 2007 5:48 AM

Blogger Joseph Reiter said...

Of course, we can't forget games with some sort of Wii like action (using the accelerometer) such as pin ball, driving games, some sort of dice game (like a D&D where you roll virtual dice somehow by moving the phone).

How about using the barcode tech in Delicious Library and the iPhone camera to scan barcodes of products at stores and lookup the product by the barcode / online price comparison... so you walk into a store and can tell if you're getting a good deal, just scan the item and see what competitors are charging (and if it is a better deal to buy online with shipping and tax or to buy in store).

October 18, 2007 5:53 AM

Blogger Darcy said...

I'd like to see the camera on the other side of the iPhone so it's looking at you while you look at your screen or one installed in the iPod touch and the ability to use iChat. Video chat wherever you go! Of course, it'd suck batteries in a big way.

The university I went to played a game of assassins. Everyone who signs up gets a picture and some info about their target. They must then get within Bluetooth range of their target and hit the "assassinate" button or take their picture. If you're successful, you automatically get their target sent to your phone and you're off climbing the ladder. If being able to locate someone based on cell tower info is possible, this could also be one massive game of tag. Sign in, someone gets selected as "it" and off you go. Everyone else gets radar pings, "warmer, warmer, colder, ice cold" or some other general location indicator.

Computer dating for stalkers: Lavalife et al. could have a proximity alarm option. If you've been chatting with someone through Lavalife et al. and are ready to meet, you could arm your phones to indicate when you've just happened to cross paths with the person your interested in. Both of your phones would vibrate in your front pocket and make kissy noises; allowing you to look around and recognize the next love of your life. Now you can say "hi" or go for impromptu coffee.

October 18, 2007 5:57 AM

Blogger Petey Esdie said...

Delicious Library Mobile. i don't necessarily need to add/edit items, but i'd like to be able to access the lists without having to connect to the internet. most of the time i need to recall them in an area that doesn't have Wi-Fi.

October 18, 2007 6:30 AM

Blogger johnmshea said...

Hey Wil,
I like your ideas 5, and 2. With 5 I think about regularly when i have lost friends on the ski slope, or trying to find my way to a friends place for dinner. It could link to a map and tell yout the best way to get there dependant on your mode of transport, and track your movements like a satnav does. The guy doing the invitation could have a list of approaching "accepters", and see their ETA. This subsystem of "find me", would probably be useful for a lot of businesses (want to get directed to our friendly tax office! Just log on with your iphone here!). Idea 2 sounds like fun, actually great fun to actually build. Along with DNA exchange you could have genetic drift, random mutations, environmental adaptations, your zombie could have kids, and your conoly could have its own founder effect, mutating in ways that give advantages or disadvantages in fights with werewolves or whatever. You could have various zombie heroes that are called into action at different times. Having different generations could drive more of a survival of appropriate genes. When's the first release? ;-).

October 18, 2007 6:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scew games. I'd love to have a version of Delicious Monster that uses the phone to scan a product I just bought and puts it into my library, which is viewable on my website.

October 18, 2007 6:52 AM

Blogger richard said...

You're fucking mental :D awesome!

October 18, 2007 6:54 AM

Anonymous John C. Randolph said...

I have a couple of vertical-market apps in mind that will sell thousands of iPhones and/or iPod Touch units to customers who probably wouldn't get them otherwise.

That's almost 1% of a rounding error in an Apple quarterly sales report, but I'm sure there are a *lot* of companies like mine that were waiting for this.

I'm glad that Apple's working on this. Looking forward to writing apps to run on the phone, and I'm also eager to see what everyone else comes up with.


October 18, 2007 7:09 AM

Anonymous Rich said...

I hope we can install fun apps like the ideas above on our iPhones without the developers having to pay Apple some exorbitant fee to have it "verified" and placed on iTunes for distribution. I'm really scared they are going to lock down distribution to generate a revenue stream as well as decide what "deserves" to be on the iPhone/iTouch (such as nixing VoIP or IM). Don't let me down Steve.

October 18, 2007 8:17 AM

Anonymous Jeremy Knope said...

I can't wait, there's probably going to be a multitude of awesome apps that will be made come feb. Hopefully the SDK will give full access to all the fun input methods. Can't wait to have fun with it!

Is there a way to not require pairing-accept-deny type behavior with bluetooth though to do fun ideas like Zombie though?

October 18, 2007 8:52 AM

Blogger felix said...

YES YES YES on any of the above.

Since I first got my iPhone I wished there was some sort of "battle game" that could be initiated when you came across another iPhone user.

Pokemon/Magic/etc turn based games came to mind. RPG style, with Exp. points and all that. Doesn't have to be a license or existing game though; it could be completely original.

I remember my ancient Sega IR 7000 had something similar. A game where you could fight a self-designed character with someone else's character via the IR sensor. Unfortunately, I was the only person I knew who had one.

October 18, 2007 8:55 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Not that I want to rain on your parade. And maybe Apple will solve this problem with an official SDK (in fact, it's more probable than not that they do.)

But the current state of apps on the iPhone is far from "always-on". Essentially - and this is actually a somewhat ingenious solution if you know what apps are on the iPhone - the OS will automatically close an app if it starts running out of memory.

This doesn't become obvious until you have hacked your phone - since all of Apple's apps are stateless, if it closes Stocks or whatever because you have too much crap open in Safari, big deal, you'll be able to open it again as soon as you press the button (and I assume it does some tricksy "swapping" to make this possible)

BUT, if you have a 3rd-party app that needs to be running in the background - for instance, an IM app - you'll notice that you're logged out if you've done anything too heavy in Safari and then come back to the app.

There may be a way to request that your app stay open already - the iPod app does not exhibit this behavior, for instance - but the hackers haven't found it yet.

The other problem is your proximity detection. As far as I know there's no way to turn the iPhone to ad-hoc mode (though this is just software), WiFi always on will drain the batteries like nothing else, and (again, probably fixed when the SDK is actually released) you can't keep WiFi on when the phone locks without replacing the Springboard with another app that allows apps to request that it stay on.

That said, I love your CCG idea. I already had an idea for a game to put on the iPhone but it's just a conversion of a Flash game that already exists; your points make me drool all the more about being able to write games for the platform.

Don't see my points above as me bashing your points, either. Apple's releasing an official SDK - I'm sure they'll come up with solutions for these things, and if they don't, the hackers will - once they don't have to spend so much time trying to get the basics, they can spend more time trying to do more specialized things. ("Hackers" in this context refers of course to the "highly-skilled coder" as well as the slightly more popularized definition.)

October 18, 2007 9:08 AM

Blogger Kenneth said...

I love the card game idea! It's me kinda like a Pokemon MMORPG! That would be awesome! Maybe have it more like the real pokemon, instead of having it as cards? Like you've got 6 slots on which you could carry pokemons (or DeliMons :P... that's where your company name comes in really practical) and then you've got a central delimon repository on which you could store other delimons... Then you'd also have an inventory with items, potions etc. You can share delimons with other people, like in the real pokemon game. Your delimons gain experience over time, and gain level... You can also use your delidollars (virtual currency) to buy experience, spells, new delimons, or items (potions etc.)

October 18, 2007 9:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to see an iphone/touch port of BLOXORZ, which is one of the most addictive games I've ever played in my stinking life. It's flash based so I can't get at it by mobile Safari, and even if I could I'd prefer a redo of the interface just for the touch.


October 18, 2007 9:41 AM

Blogger Dan said...

On idea 3.
It would be cool if you could rate any card you do battle against.
And the accumulation of ratings affects the power level of the card.
The hope would be the game would self balance and better cards become more expensive to use over time.
A bit finer grained tweaking to the simple ban/noban vote.

The first thing we need to do is build a always on local area network app. So you are always connected to the iPhones in your vicinity. The hard part will be to make it battery friendly.

Maybe broadcast the cell towers your connected to. Store them in a central server. And anyone on the same cell is able to access a connection to your phone.
And if more bandwidth is needed an adhoc wifi network is setup.

Or maybe it could be done through bluetooth, don't know much about how that works though. And I would think it would take a lot of power to constantly be broadcasting.

October 18, 2007 9:55 AM

Blogger Joseph said...

I had a couple of ideas:

1: Snow Day: Each iPhone has a snow field where you can build forts/walls/tunnels, uncover "artifacts" like slingshots left in the field during summer. You could also take these found objects and combine them into machines like makeshift catapults or snow blowers. Then over wifi you can invite friends over to play in your field you could have snow fights, sled races, tag, really what ever you'd like to do.

2: Bacteria! The Game! : You build micro organisms out of basic building blocks then use those to build larger life forms, you could breed them with other players, battle them, trade them, whatever. Visually, it would be like you were looking at a petri dish through a microscope. You could pinch/squeeze to change scale from huge swarms all the way down the to most basic blocks of a specific critter.

For "Screw Pokémon, We Make Our Own Collectible Card Game" you probably wouldn't need to approve cards, instead you could do something similar to items in WoW. Each item has a level and that determine how many points you can use for stats, the stats then have a weighting so better stats cost more, finally they have a penalty for stacking stats for example: if the item budget is 100 you could do 80 flim or 50 flim and 50 flam. That way it would be possible to have a completely unique deck but not have completely over powered. It would also be really cool if you could design the art for your cards.

Oh and someone HAS to do an xbox live type of friends list / matching service

October 18, 2007 9:59 AM

Blogger Steven said...

Hey Wil, please please make Steve listen to you about opening AppleTV too!! ;)

October 18, 2007 10:09 AM

Blogger pauldwaite said...

> you could just be walking along and you and another dude's phones would suddenly go batshit making fighting and gurgling noises

Somewhere, Steve Jobs is weeping.

October 18, 2007 10:19 AM

Blogger Rod Begbie said...

Peggle on my iPhone? Please excuse me while I chair-dance at the prospect. Peggle remains the main reason I use VMWare Fusion on my MacBook.

October 18, 2007 10:21 AM

Blogger Ilyak said...

NWC once had a game called Nuclear War.

If would be pretty neat if comparable game with wireless multiplayer was avaliable for handheld devices.


It was humorous and vile and stuff.

October 18, 2007 11:35 AM

Anonymous DavidJ said...

Although not really a game, I can see a lot of people opting for an app, oh, let's call it "matchmaker". You enter a whole lot of e-harmony-esque info about your likes, dislikes, nutritional needs and so on, and matchmaker does the rest. Big-picture items are constantly looked for (single, female, mime), and if there is a hit, more connections are checked. If the person is interesting enough for matchmaker, it would negotiate with the other matchmaker for some face time. So, at the end of a subway ride or walk through the mall, you get home and your matchmaker gives you the scoop. The possibilities are endless. I'm looking for a date. I'm looking for a Bowling partner. I'm looking for a D&D afficionado. I'm looking to by a used TV. Holy Frick! I think I just came up with the next killer app. Make it so Wil.

October 18, 2007 11:38 AM

Blogger Ian said...

Why do you think the iPhone doesn't go to sleep?

A game that should make excellent use of the iPhone's unique interface would be the old classic 'Marble Madness'. I hope someone is willing to port that.

October 18, 2007 11:44 AM

Blogger David Portela said...

Having a mobile version of Delicious Library would be great! I really would encourage you to squash the slowness in the current version first. I have recently stopped using it because it is nearly completely unresponsive on a library of just 400 items. I'm using a 2 Ghz MacBook and this experience is repeated over and over in the comments at VT. Will keep an eye out for future updates, in the hope they will solve this.

October 18, 2007 1:20 PM

Anonymous Ross said...

Here's a game with a smidgeon of reality! We get Homeland Security to issue an iPhone to every person on the suspected terrorists list! Like everyone else, they'll love the thing and carry it everywhere. Except-- their iPhones send out a Bluetooth message "I am a terrorist." So next time you get on an airplane, you can search through the cabin and figure out whose iPhone is sending the message. Then you nab the bad guy! A great way to keep the kids busy on those long flights!

October 18, 2007 3:36 PM

Blogger Steve the Pirate said...

How about a networked two-player game of battleship, with proper player detection (over Bonjour) and nice animations?

Lucas! Have at you!

October 19, 2007 4:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also LOVE to see a iPhone version of delicious library. Even if it only added my list of media to my iPhone. Really hoping to see this soon, now that my list of media isnt portable anymore :(

October 19, 2007 5:56 AM

Blogger Leon said...

I love these ideas, but I wouldn't go nuts about the whole 'hoping someone else happens to be running the same application and they are near you' thing. It could just be my perspective in Sydney, but I have not had a single encounter with someone while using any of the DS's "put it in sleep and hope someone comes by so you can autotrade stuff" game features. The probability of me running into someone with the right technology, turned on and running the same app as me isn't, I feel, enough for the REAL social.

Maybe when all iPods are touches.

October 19, 2007 6:10 AM

Blogger Jerm said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned using the multi-touch nature of the iPhone for gameplay. A simple, locally networked air hockey type game could be a lot of fun. The twist would be instead of just blocking the puck with your stick, you have to catch it with your two fingers in a pinching motion. Then with a flick of your fingers and an "unpinching motion" the velocity and direction of the shot back to your opponent would be based on when you let go of the puck, how fast your fingers were moving when you let go, etc.

October 19, 2007 6:22 AM

Blogger Matthew said...

One way to register the "connection" in your ad hoc party game would be to touch the two iPhones in question together with a finger (or two) in between... and "connection" would only register by a simultaneous input over a certain length of time. Could be made more exact if one could measure the relative area... say finger print on one, and fingernail on the other. Unless there were a way to press to iPhones together hard enough to register a "full screen" press ;) Takes the mating game in a whole new direction...

October 19, 2007 7:12 AM

Anonymous Ben Darlow said...

Fantastic ideas! But the thing I think is most exciting about this SDK being opened up is that the iPhone already has a bunch of hardware features that make it an ideal platform for ingenuitive videogames. Lack of tactile feedback might prevent more traditional 'd-pad' based games from working so well, but a whole slew of Nintendo DS-style games would be possible.

Sure, indie developers like yourself will come up with some great ideas, but Apple really ought to be courting the handheld games dev scene. This has masses of potential.

October 19, 2007 7:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you're done with DL2? It must be vaporware, because there's no mention of it on your site, and Leopard launches in a week. You wouldn't be trying to hide something, would you?

C'mon man! Get it up on your site so we can at least have a look at all these cool new features you've been talking about. And don't give us this "it uses features that Apple hasn't disclosed and I'm under an NDA" because we both know that's BS. I signed the same NDA you did, and Apple has already announced every feature I ever found in Leopard during the beta period, plus many features I hadn't found.

October 19, 2007 7:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if i don't talk about games, but let me come back on delicious library and the famous 1000 notes limit for a sec...
You know what i'm talking about right ?
i'm maybe dreaming a bit, but let's imagine that i go to the library (a real one on the street) and want to check if i've got the book already at home before i buy it...
no probs ! cover flow on my delicious library iphone/ipod version ... flick through and bingo i already have the book that i lend to friend a month ago !
i ring my friend from my iphone (of course the iphone contact list is linked with delicious library) and after a quick chat, me and my friend (and my book :D ) will met tomorrow.
(and of course i don't buy the book , which i often do at the moment...)
so ;) ?
same for dvd's, cd's

October 19, 2007 8:31 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Wow, you're done with DL2? It must be vaporware, because there's no mention of it on your site, and Leopard launches in a week. You wouldn't be trying to hide something, would you?

What? I don't think I said I was done with DL2. Also, I'm pretty sure that the definition of vaporware is when you announce things that don't exist, so not having DL2 mentioned on my site doesn't qualify as "vapor". More like "honesty."

Possibly you're suffering under the misapprehension that I should be chained to my computer and allowed to write or think about nothing but DL2 until I finish it? I'm not sure this would be more productive for me even if it were the case.


October 19, 2007 9:31 AM

Blogger Rachel Blackman said...

I think anonymous misread the bit at the top about 'and this times nicely with my being done with DL2.'

I.e., you wrote that the SDK release (in February) will time nicely with your being done with DL2, while the poster read and misinterpreted that the SDK /announcement/ timed nicely with your being done, and thus wanted more information about DL2.

October 19, 2007 10:13 AM

Blogger pwc said...

iPsychic (perhaps AMiPsychic). Phones self-organize, one shows someone a symbol or glyph, and then the other side has to guess it by focusing on their latent (non-existent) telepathic powers, then choosing from their phone's CoverFlow'd gallery of available choices. The phones then pong each other and track scores, and the person with the best score telepathically commands everyone around them to buy him free drinks for the rest of the evening.

October 19, 2007 12:26 PM

Blogger Matthew Z said...

Your Idea #2 sounds like it would be the best game ever, "you could just be walking along and you and another dude's phones would suddenly go batshit making fighting and gurgling noises"

I would go out of my way to find people with this game to do ultimate battle!

Please make this game!!

October 19, 2007 12:39 PM

Anonymous Luke said...

I've also been really excited since the news came out about the SDK.

Anyone else played Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics? Puzzle Quest? Strategy RPGs would be an awesome fit for the iphone...

October 19, 2007 10:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alls I know is that I like being able to grab my iPod to check whether or not I already own a book/movie/CD. Hopefully, you meant for us to assume iPhone syncing was coming.

The other thing I know is that I own an iPhone, I do not own an iSight or other webcam (that's right, I have a PowerBook, not one of them MacBooks--I take comfort in the fact that PowerBook is a much better name).

October 22, 2007 10:04 PM

Blogger Chris said...

When reading these ideas, I noticed that many of them involved the "instant local network" that could be generated by a bunch of folks (that may not know each-other) being nearby.

This made me think of the One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC):


The XO incorporates a system for instant "Mesh Networking", and the UI is based around the concept of interaction with others in that network.

Put some of these ideas to work for the children of the world -- it might be just as interesting and do more good than games for expensive toys for wealthy people!

October 23, 2007 11:59 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Games for the XO seem like a good thing, but I only program for the environment I think is most powerful at the time, so I have to leave it to someone else.

October 23, 2007 12:08 PM

Blogger erock said...

I like idea 5. Sharing information about Where I am, what I'm doing and that I'd like company would be great. Necessary: filtering who can see where you're at. Passive notices like this are great because of the massively full of information environments we live inside of. Even better (although it seems a little bit scary to us, perhaps) would be to connect with people you don't know to talk about something / work on something / do some yoga / learn some kung fu in the park or whatever with.... hmmmmmm

October 23, 2007 12:56 PM

Blogger Andre said...

Wil, those ideas are great, and just fired up my imagination for some other ideas. I think some kind of social anything has the potential to be huge. I'm definitely looking forward getting my hands on an SDK.

October 26, 2007 8:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like option 3, but not card based. Sort of mix 2 and 3 and have more than just the creature.

Also, Will Wright should add the iPhone to the list of platforms for Spore related games to target.

October 26, 2007 11:06 PM

Blogger invalidname said...

Re: scanning the pokemon cards. I like this concept, but it's probably more practical if you can get the cards barcoded with unique IDs. I floated that as an idea for a Java-based game a while ago, in the context of considering whether Java media frameworks would ever be up to the task (don't count on it). I think that new PS3 card game, Eye of Judgement, also uses a barcode scheme.

October 29, 2007 9:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are great ideas.
My favourite is the Zombie game. I, however, would rather have ONE zombie on my phone - no trading, no offspring or whatever. The thing with this game is that it gives your iPhone a single personality - and I love that.
The card game is great for the other end when you want to trade and all that stuff.
I hope these happen (rather see the Zombie game, if I had to choose one)!!!

October 29, 2007 9:37 PM

Anonymous Jeff Hawkins said...

I want to see Rock, Paper, Scissors using the accelerometer.

October 31, 2007 5:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I say, just knowing you are planning on developing for it is seriously making me consider buying an iPhone?

October 31, 2007 8:12 AM

Blogger tom said...

The iPhone is NOT "always on". It does go to sleep, much like any Mac will go to sleep. It is woken up by the baseband radio chip when you receive a call, have an alarm go off, etc.

Forcing it to stay "on" (constantly executing code) will drain your battery within hours.

October 31, 2007 11:16 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Ok, I don't know the gory details, but if it can be woken up by the radio or an alarm, it sounds like my ideas are still, in theory, feasible. I mean, you could have an alarm go off every 5 minutes where the phone woke up and pinged around for zombies. It could sync with a central time server so all phones would do it within the same 2-3 second interval.


November 01, 2007 1:48 AM

Blogger Craig said...

One of the reasons I bought the iPhone was because of the potential to one day sync, or run Delicious Library on it (No Joke). That's what I REALLY want. As for games... bleh, I play them for a week and never open them again. You speak of tools vs. solutions in another post... I use the iPhone as a tool, and the apps I use on that device have to "fix" or fill a need that I have. Playing games is not really a need, it's more of an activity forged out of desire, brought on by boredom. What I need is to be able to see what Movies, Books, and Games I already have at home while I'm at a store like Best Buy. I have 400+ DVD's, so remembering what I have and don't have already becomes a challenge when I get the impulse to pick up a new flick. If I had DL in my pocket with a neat new iPhonized 2.0 interface I'd be able to flick through and say, "hmmm, I dont have Womb Raider, OR 28 Freaks Later... uhhh, I mean 300 and Blades of Glory." then make the purchase and add them to my Library right then and there via my iPhone. Of course, you understand what I mean.

But this post is mostly about games... I'd like Street Fighter 3, CVS2, or even Halo Thr33 now that Bungie is independent again. If you can get me those to play while on the go... I'm in.

November 01, 2007 7:34 AM

Blogger avocade said...

Flashmob forever! That last idea is what really kicked my brain. Wifi-, bluetooth or cell-signal strength, locate other people, use google maps to easily plot them on a global/local map, or just see other people who've made themselves visible in the vicinity, and send out a local (500m radius perhaps) twitter/IM for a quick flashmob-/dinner-/ad-hoc-meeting-gathering event. This kind of computing/networking power in so many people's pockets (compared to Zune-squirting minority) will be insane. 2008 will be totally insane!

November 02, 2007 7:04 PM

Blogger Mark said...

This is not an idea for a game, but simply a way of using the iphone for 'teh social'. Sharing photos would be really cool. After a luncheon one could run a shared slideshow and commentate thusly: "Here's young Oigle on the slippery dip." then "Here he is eating his birthday cake." etc, and people could watch - on their own screen - and go "Ooo" and "Ah" and nod approvingly, then grab a copy of the photos they like, to take away with them. Better than the 'squirt' I'd say.

November 03, 2007 1:21 AM

Blogger Kai said...

Hi Wil!

We in the "underground" worked out a couple of ways to keep the phone from sleeping a particular app, so it is certainly doable.

I think the nicest thing about this blog entry is that it kind of got me thinking about what to do with the phone again, as lately I've been burnt out about it after months of intense "what can we do with this thing" sort of living.

VoIP, Chat...that stuff is just BORING, isn't it?

I did have an idea for a really neat iPhone game....maybe its time to revisit the thing.

Great post!

November 03, 2007 7:15 AM

Blogger J said...

We've got it! We got our SDK! Well, I mean, we don't HAVE it yet, but we have a promise, and a promise that times nicely with my being done with Delicious Library 2 and looking for something to do before I start on v3.

Prediction: we won't have it at all. The SDK will be distributed only to large corporations like EA. It will never enable open-source software or freeware.

I hope I'm wrong, but smart money is on me being right.

November 04, 2007 7:46 PM

Anonymous jessie said...


November 04, 2007 10:35 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Prediction: we won't have it at all. The SDK will be distributed only to large corporations like EA. It will never enable open-source software or freeware.

Prediction: Steve was talking about code-signing, which is a technology already in Leopard, and it doesn't prevent people from writing software, it just prevents people from running software WITHOUT knowing where it came from.

Prediction: I'll have the SDK.

I hope I'm wrong, but smart money is on me being right.

I don't even know what this expression means. Smart money? Whose money is smart? Is my money smart? I think it's smart... but it's not on you, it's on me.


November 05, 2007 12:15 AM

Blogger J said...

Maybe you will have the SDK. You did say "we," though, which sounds inclusive of everybody else.

Steve was talking about code-signing, which is a technology already in Leopard, and it doesn't prevent people from writing software, it just prevents people from running software WITHOUT knowing where it came from.

What it prevents is people running software without going through Apple first. Practically, what does this mean?

* No open-source software.
* No free software of any kind (who will pay for it to be signed and hosted?).
* No software Apple or AT&T don't "approve" of.

This is a pretty craptacular situation if you ask me. As a developer and a geek, I want my BSD userland and other useful free software.

November 05, 2007 12:58 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

* No open-source software.
* No free software of any kind (who will pay for it to be signed and hosted?).
* No software Apple or AT&T don't "approve" of.

See, again, I just don't agree with your assumptions. It's true, Apple COULD do all these things... I just don't feel like grousing at them over things they MIGHT do wrong.

The way Leopard handles code-signing is, it says to the user, "I know for a fact this code came from X website." It could also say, "I know for a fact it came from X company."

Neither of these requires registering with AT&T or Apple -- there are signing authorities everywhere that will sell you a digital fingerprint. Thawte, Verisign -- that's what these companies do.

I doubt very much Apple wants to jump into digital certificate issuing business. There's no cool angle for them: it's low-margin, and if you screw it up you engender a lot of hate. What's the upside?

Steve said he wants to open the iPhone up for development. There's really nothing we can do until February, so why churn up our stomachs assuming the worst? Why not assume the best, and if the worst happens... well, we'll deal with it. Just like we did before.


November 05, 2007 1:20 AM

Anonymous Matt said...

Getting back to the fun stuff game ideas.

Collectible Card Games.
Why not use the camera, take a picture of set resolution. the program scans a line of pixels like a barcode to set the Abilities. You build your deck by taking random photos while in the app. I guess the trick is to make it so even someone who knows the code will still get random abilities out of a photo.

From there is just a standard card game to set the rules,the winner might get to keep the cards used so you need to take new ones to rebuild your hand. You should have to take the photo in the app so you can't backup the good cards in iPhoto.

November 26, 2007 9:54 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

The issue I see with games that use data from real-world objects is that either (a) they'd be too easy to min/max, or (b) they really wouldn't provide enough feedback to the user to make them distinguishable from just random noise generation.

So, the devil is in the details to that kind of idea. I'd be curious to see approaches that find some balance.


November 27, 2007 10:05 AM

Blogger J said...

I think what's really interesting is watching how developers (whoever they might end up being) take advantage of multitouch. One of the "iApp-A-Day" applications is a two-player air hockey game which is WAY more fun than it has any right to be.

Boxing, maybe? That could be a lot of fun -- each finger controls a glove.

November 27, 2007 11:36 AM

Blogger groovinkim said...

there already is an app like #5 that google purchased (altho they haven't made any notable improvements yet) - http://www.dodgeball.com

i've been using it for a long time and it works really well

January 03, 2008 6:13 PM

Blogger Jared said...

Use the Barcode recognition software from Libary and revive Barcode Battler!

If you want to bring that Deckmaster-meets-Top Trumps angle, you can win the scanned items off your opponent.

"Can of beans, I choose you!"

January 20, 2008 4:44 PM

Anonymous choge said...

Right, so I'm pretty late to the comment party... but I was thinking.

I used to play a certain game with a few of my friends where you see someone who knows of this game and make eye contact with them (so they see the next part). Then you flip your hands up into gun-shapes as if you were drawing for a shootout in the Wild West. The other person has about half a second to do the same or is "killed" and loses. The winner wins gloating rights and the people talk or whatever.

This is nice because you can do it whenever you want: when you first see each other that day, in the middle of a conversation, whatever. You just need to make eye contact so someone doesn't lose because they didn't see the other person. With iPhones, you could have two people who didn't even know each other pass each other with a "Quick Draw" app or whatever and their iPhones play a ringing sound that is specific to that app (like a custom ringtone so other people might just think your phone rang, but you'd know what it was). Since these two people might not know each other, you wouldn't know who it was... so you'd substitute this custom ring for eye contact, and then whoever tapped their iPhone's "win" button first would, uh, win. You could track win/loss numbers, average reaction times, etc.

The only problem would be the aforementioned 'keeping the iPhones on without draining battery quickly' problem... but someone will figure that out eventually.

February 03, 2008 11:40 AM

Anonymous Ben said...

OK, so I was going to start this comment with "do you reckon it'd be possible to..." but I suppose anything is possible... I mean, look at Delicious Library.

But yeah. My idea:
How about being able to wirelessly play music on an iPod touch or iPhone from a shared library on a Mac in the house?

Surely that'd be pretty easy to implement.
Probably would kill the battery though, but I think it's a pretty good idea.

February 04, 2008 3:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not Guitar Hero? iPhone has the capabilities and GH is extremely fun and popular. If they can make it for DS, why not iPhone. It has a bigger screen and is much smaller and lighter. They already have a type of Guitar Hero which is a patch on TapTap, but it is more like iPod's phase then it is guitarhero. It should be more Guitar Hero-esque.

April 13, 2008 9:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need line rider for iPhone. Simple as that.

Has anyone here heard of Pivot Stickfigure Animations? Someone should port these to iPhone. (and iPod Touch). I would do it myself, but I have a PowerPC mac and can't afford a new one.

As an after thought, I think Guitar Hero is a brilliant idea.

April 13, 2008 9:30 AM


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