WWDC 2008: iPhone gaming takes center stage

Every year Apple holds the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), where developers from all around the world come to California to learn and further improve their knowledge of programming techniques and work flows.

This year’s WWDC started with a bang, a few select developers got on stage demoing their applications for the soon to be launched App Store, where iPhone owners can purchase and download applications or games.

Of course here at OSXR, we were mainly interested in the game demos, so without further ado, I present you with the iPhone games demoed at the WWDC 2008 keynote address.

Super Monkey Ball by Sega, first announced back in March when the iPhone SDK beta was launched, Super Monkey Ball delighted the crowds with it’s unique game controls, using the iPhone’s accelerometer to maneuver the monkey through each stage, this was all done with 2 weeks of preparation.

Time sure does fly, it’s been 8 weeks since Super Monkey Ball was first demoed, so how much progress has Sega made since then? Try going from 4 to 110 stages, 4 playable monkeys, AiAi, MeeMee, Baby, GonGon, and 5 distinct worlds.

In today’s demonstration Ethan Einhorn of Sega, showed the last of the five worlds, Space Case, he specifically chose this world to highlight just how precise the iPhone’s accelerometer controls were, navigating through what seemed to be a rather challenging obstacle course of moving gears.

Sega’s Super Monkey Ball will be available at the launch of the App Store next month, early July, priced at $9.99. With 110 stages, that sounds like a great bargain.

Second up was Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software, a Macintosh game company, show casing two ported titles, Enigmo, a physics based puzzle game, and Cro-Mag Rally, a caveman racing game.

The goal of Enigmo is to get the falling water droplets into the container, using various puzzle pieces to manipulate the water droplets path of travel. The game is completely touch based, players can drag/rotate puzzle pieces and zoom/pan to different parts of the game world. The game will have 50 levels total with the later stages increasing in difficulty with the addition of force fields, switches, etc.

“This is extremely CPU intensive stuff to do, we are doing hundreds, if not thousands, especially on the higher levels, of polygon accurate collision test every single frame and it requires a good CPU to do that and we have a great CPU here in the iPhone.” Greenstone speaking about the water droplet physics.

Greenstone seemed quite pleased with the iPhone SDK, stating it only took 3 days to get Cro-Mag Rally running on the iPhone, and just 5 minutes to add the accelerometer based steering. Throughout the Cro-Mag Rally demonstration he referenced the the accelerometer based steering as the key feature that made the game so enjoyable for casual gamers, the iPhone ‘is’ the steering wheel he proclaimed.

Cro-Mag Rally will feature 9 tracks and 10 cars, 11 cars if you include the submarine on the Atlantis level.

Cro-Mag Rally really lends itself to multiplayer gaming, if Pangea Software could find a way to provide multiplayer support, they could have a huge hit on their hands.

Both Enigmo and Cro-Mag Rally will be available at launch of the App Store for $9.99 each.

Last but not least, Xavier Carrillo Costa, CEO of Digital Legends Entertainment, revealed their upcoming action-adventure fantasy game, Kroll (think God of War). What they showcased was 2 weeks worth of work, using the first 4 days to port the game and the rest of the time adding iPhone specific features.

The game starts out with the main character, Kroll, traveling around the ridge of a mountain, although the game is in fact full 3D the gameplay still closely resembles those good old fashion side scrollers, but with better graphics of course. Kroll’s movement is controlled by the touch screen, touching on either side will move him in that direction. The touch screen also handles any context based movement, such as using a zip-line. Not all the controls are touch based, Kroll’s jump is executed by jerking the iPhone upwards, utilizing the accelerometer. The use of accelerometer for jumping seems a bit gimmicky, just remember to chew on some Alka-Seltzer to complete the appearance of a seizure.

Overall the demo was impressive visually, the graphics were definitely better than what the Nintendo DS currently dishes out, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it surpasses the Sony PSP, but it does come quite close. The target release date for the game is in September 2008, no word yet on pricing.

This year’s WWDC was a great change in pace, Apple showcasing more games, lets hope this trend continues in the future WWDCs. The iPhone is a fully capable gaming platform, now the iPhone’s gaming future is largely in the hands of game developers, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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  5. morphalex says:

    I can’t wait for Enigmo!

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