October 18, 2007
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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