How to make the iPhone software better for gaming...

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mkrishnan, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I was playing Ferrari GT on my iPhone on the train yesterday and reflected a little on some small things that could be done in terms of the firmware, SDK, or design guidelines for the iPhone to improve the gaming experience. Now my perspective background is that I originally had no interest in playing games on my iPhone and then really got converted by some of the games that came out this Fall and Winter. So I like gaming on the iPhone / iPod touch and think it has a future, even without physical controls. The ones I've played extensively are Aurora Feint, Spore, Brothers in Arms, Hero of Sparta, and Ferrari GT.

    Some of these I have seen discussed numerous times, but others I haven't heard people express before.

    So here are my thoughts, and feel free to share yours.

    - Some kind of hibernate / stateful exit for games. I totally understand Apple's position on multitasking, and it doesn't bother me much that third party apps cannot be in the background. However, the reality when a device that does as many things as the iPhone gets used for gaming is that it will emergently be needed for something else while you're playing a game. Apple actually does a nice job with several aspects of this. For instance, If you pause a game by locking the iPhone, and you have your home button double-tap set to be music controls, you can resume playing the playlist you were using without disrupting the game. If you receive a call in the middle of the game (I think?) the game also does not get disrupted. But for instance, I was using my phone for a public transit route using Google Maps. I did not need to multitask, but I did need to check where I was getting off the train quickly (because I was so absorbed in Ferrari that my stop crept up on me). There wasn't any way to do this without losing a race I was having a lot of trouble winning, and I was halfway through the third lap in first place. :( It would be nice if there was a standardized way for all games to save their state on exit so they could be hibernated temporarily to gain access to the rest of the phone (or for that matter, hibernated longer than temporarily). I don't need the game to keep running. I just need to be able to get back to where I was.

    - Universal adherence to the mute switch. I think this has been discussed elsewhere and is pretty self-explanatory. I think Apple really chose the wrong route with only offering a choice to developers to recognize the switch only in a revision of the SDK and still not making it automatically take effect

    - Shock / Vibrate Feedback Tools. If they don't already exist (I'm assuming they might not) some flexible controls for the vibration of the phone in the SDK would be nice (there have been jailbreak apps that could vary the strength of it, so it's physically possible). Especially for the atmospheric games like Brothers in Arms or Silent Hill, I think they could offer a lot to the game.

    - Better memory / task management. Sometimes I literally feel like I need to put my iPhone in airplane mode to be playing games, because I get significant slowdown when it decides to check my e-mail in the background and so on. This is a toughie -- I think if the default behavior was to suppress mail checking some people might not like this. Some kind of global option to minimize these things during apps would be nice, or perhaps even an SDK tool that let the app squelch other services, so the developer could put it in their game's preferences. Likewise, the issue that causes variability in available RAM sometimes requiring resetting the phone to get some more sophisticated games working should be addressed.

    - More support for accelerometer calibration. Beaten to death... I don't care if it's a global preference, or if there's a tool that's in the SDK that can be called up easily by the programs to give a similar calibration experience inside each game that needs it. But it does need to happen.

    Anyway, given that I think the iPhone has a lot of gaming potential, I think these are things Apple could do to make the gaming experience more effective, limiting themselves purely to software changes.

    (I apologize if there's a thread similar to this already ... I did look. If there is, please let me know and I'll merge myself in. ;) )
  2. aluren macrumors 65816

    Sep 9, 2008
    very interesting points you brought up. my only wish is that games can be played online through the cell network rather than only through wifi... i have no idea how that will be done, but it would be absolutely awesome to play a world of warcraft style game through an iphone community and i can be connected to it 24/7.

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