Google Mobile Gaming Solution
My Sims Are Fragmented!
I woke up this morning to a sound I haven't heard in a while, the subtle WebOS "boop" that notifies me when I've got a new e-mail. It was my HP Touchpad that I purchased during the fire sale booting back up to WebOS instead of the Android port I had installed on it earlier. I have to admit, ever since I got Android on the Touchpad, I've been neglecting it. I originally intended to use the device primarily for gaming, but got frustrated by the poor selection and the poor sync between devices.
Allow me to explain, I've been playing Sim City on my Nexus S quite a lot recently and I'm at a point where I feel my virtual city beyond the threshold where it's okay to start from scratch. The other problem is, the city is becoming so large that I need some more screen real estate to lay down some more roads! I look towards my Touchpad as the perfect solution to my troubles, a bigger screen, better processor, and it's running the same version of Cyanogen Mod, it should work perfectly! I booted up Sim City and realized I was starting at a brand new city, nothing like my "Spitopolis" city on my Nexus S.
I realized then, this is the reason I haven't picked up the Touchpad in months. Today I went looking for solutions to this problem that are available now, apps like Titanium Media sync. With Titanium you can persistently sync certain files to a Dropbox account or an FTP server. I thought that if I just synced back and forth my save file whenever I'm done it could work! While in theory, this does work it means that I will have to manually retrieve and sync save files whenever I'm done a "gaming session" which just isn't practical on a mobile device.
This is a problem I have with almost all of my favourite Android games. Minecraft, World of Goo, Apparatus and many more. It makes me pick and choose which game to play on which device. For example I started playing Plants vs Zombies on my Touchpad and got quite far. Of course I have it on my Nexus S and when I'm "on the go" and want to play PvZ I have to start from the beginning? That's ridiculous!
There are a few exceptions to this rule; Tiny Tower works seamlessly between devices through it's proprietary "Mobage" log in. It syncs the save game to the cloud and I can pick up where I left off on my touchpad, or on my Nexus S. This is how it should be for all mobile games, especially if Google is looking to take a chunk out of the tablet market!
The Competition, Game Centre
I'm not an iOs user but I know about Game Centre (Canadian spelling) and it seems that all games for iOs seamlessly connect with Game Centre making the experience so much more social, and so much more synced between devices. Even Tiny Tower who opted for a proprietary service on Android uses Game Centre on iOs because it has much more functionality and ease. I like to compare it to Xbox Live, it's a unified gaming community that everyone is a part of because, well let’s face it, they have to be.
The story goes as it always goes for Android, fragmentation. There are a few products out there that are trying to be the "Game Centre" for Android, most notably is "Open Fient" which functions as a social gaming platform (for those developers who opt in) between iOs and Android. The problem here is it's not universal, and has no cloud save state feature. It's fragmented and rarely used in the games I play.
Google, You Have the Money
The solution here is rather simple, or at least in theory it’s relatively simple. Google, buy a service like open feint, for the current user base. Adapt it to be part of the Android SDK, or offer it as an API, so developers can quickly integrate your social gaming service into their products. As part of the service, add a "save state" feature that will seamlessly transfer save files to the cloud that can be called down on any device. This will be a Google service treated no different than Gmail or Docs, you can select to allow or disallow sync.
The reason this will work is because developers will know that everyone with and Android device IE. Their entire customer base, if they’re developing for Android will have this Google Gaming Service built in and ready to use. It will also make the gaming so much more social, as they can include a "gaming hub" to see what your friends have been playing and their scores. It will open the doors to countless multiplayer experiences and will be universal across all Android games.
Of Course there are a few problems to solve, like how to treat the save files from one game to another. But, C’mon it’s Google, they can do this, and if they do it will VASTLY improve the currently grim Android gaming environment.
I’m interested to hear what you guys think about this! Comment down below! Also, I would like to add... yes, I’m talking a little bit about continuous client stuff. That alone should excite a few of you!