ARRR! Augmented Reality Pirates!

Cambridge-based Augmented Reality specialists Optricks Media have just released their newest creation: AR! Pirates.

[box type=”note”]Attention, mateys! As of May 26th, AR! Pirates is available for free on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad on the App Store. ARRR!![/box]

It’s a swashbuckling shoot-em-up game for Symbian devices (Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson) that uses a really unique marker-based mechanic: the coins in your pocket!

In AR mode, three coins laid out in a triangle become a desert island, and the surface they are on become the ocean. The idea is to stop waves of marauding pirates from stealing your buried treasure, so you must aim your device to blast the approaching galleons with your cannon, whilst avoiding their fire by moving (yes, moving!) out of harm’s way.

The more ships you sink, the more treasure you earn and the more power-ups you unlock. There are 30 levels in all, including battles with the Spanish Armada, drunken pirates and ghost ships. It costs 99p to download the full version, chargeable to your phone bill.

Here’s a video of the game in action!

As you’ve seen, the innovative approach that Optricks have taken with their markers mean it’s possible to play at any scale. You could use coins to keep the game small enough to play in the pub, or you could ‘upscale’ and use larger discs (like frisbees) to play with massive pirate ships. The best bit: the larger the markers, the larger the field of play, and the more immersive the player experience!

This is one of the best, most purposeful uses of AR that I’ve seen. There are too many use-cases where ‘the medium is the message’ – but in this instance the medium is what connects you to the content, rather than defines your experience of it. Great work Ian, Gavin, Marcus and Dylan.

Here’s the link again: AR! Pirates.

Crowdsourced Protein Shakes

I read about Foldit in Wired US yesterday, a game that takes the foundations laid by [email protected], which uses thousands of computers’ idle time to decode frequencies from Space, and crowdsources solutions to the protein folding problems that are currently baffling the smartest machines in the world.

The difference with Foldit is that it’s not PC idle time that is tapped into here, but players’ idle time. There is no algorithm that can yet match humans’ depth perception; natural ability to recognise patterns; and see causal links in their actions. These traits make us humans the ideal CPU to solve these ‘protein-puzzles’:

Foldit provides a series of tutorials in which the player manipulates simple protein-like structures, and a periodically updated set of puzzles based on real proteins. The application displays a graphical representation of the protein’s structure which the user is able to manipulate with the aid of a set of tools.

As the structure is modified, a “score” is calculated based on how well-folded the protein is, based on a set of rules. A list of high scores for each puzzle is maintained. Foldit users may create and join groups, and share puzzle solutions with each other; a separate list of group high scores is maintained.

Indeed, the creators report that groups working together have led to breakthroughs not matched by either individuals or heavy-duty computing power. It is the power of the engaged-masses that the Baker Lab, research team behind the game are hoping will bring forth potential cures for HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Alzheimer’s.

More info on the game and it’s background on their Science Portal.

Does this remind anyone of War Games?

T-Zero

Our new advergame for T-Mobile, developed by Kempt Media and seeded by Killer Viral.

The brief was to deliver on the theme “Double Your Credit” to launch T-Mobile’s new product, which lets you top up £10 in the week, and recieve £10 free credit at the weekend.

I’m posting this here to to help the ‘viral’ process, so grab an embed url and get stuck in!

Yamake


Yamake Shortfilm from Yamake on Vimeo.

Tonight I’m going to a press event for the launch of Yamake, the first user-generated social game for Mobile.

Created by Gameware Development (Cambridge), and published through N-Gage by Nokia, the game allows users to share content with others based on a simple gaming mechanic.

A full review will appear once I’ve got a copy, but in the meantime check out this promo video.

Google Reveals Their Game Plan

Google are launching an AdSense platform for casual games.
Here’s some info to suit all depths of interest in this new development.

Here’s the link to Google’s official announcement:
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2008/10/get-in-game-with-adsense-for-games.html

There is also a YouTube “press release” of their announcement here:

And an example of how the in-game ads might look here:

And finally, an article from CasualGaming.biz who broke the story last Friday:

Google unveils its game plan
Oct 8th 2008 at 13:54 by Michael French:

Web giant Google has finally unveiled its long-awaited bid to enter the in-game advertising sector, revealing it is putting a big focus of the strategy on casual games.

In a post on the blog for the firm’s web advertising team Adsense, Google reps said that it is targeting web games in the first instance:

“Do you develop or publish web-based games? If so, you’re contributing to a growing trend – according to comScore, over 25% of Internet users play online games every week, which is over 200 million users worldwide. As a beta user of AdSense for Games, you can display video ads, image ads, or text ads within your online games to earn revenue,” the sales pitch reads.

“You’ll be able to show these ads in placements you define, such as interstitial frames before a game, after a level change, or when a game is over. Members of our AdWords team will sell your in-game ad placements directly to top brand advertisers, and you’ll also see contextually targeted text and image ads based on content and demographic information. In addition, you’ll be able to control the ads you see on your pages using our filtering options.”

Google has opened a beta for the service, which is open to publishers with predominantly (over 80 per cent)  traffic from the UK or US.

Demonstration videos for the service make reference to a wide variety of games – although both open with footage from Playfish’s Facebook Word Challenge game.

“We’ve built ad technology for games played within a user’s browser, and now we’re looking to expand our publisher network,” the company said.

Google has partnered with Mochi Media and its MochiAds network to add inventory to its available advertising slots.

Jameson Hsu, CEO of Mochi Media commented: “Google AdSense for Games will be able to offer a wide reach for its advertisers, and Mochi Media can better monetize international traffic for our developers and publishers.”

The news comes just hours after the company revealed its YouTube video service would start offering online sales of games as well via links from its relevant videos to online stores such as Amazon and iTunes.