I’ve started working on a bit of summer laboratory experiment to see how Google Earth could become a platform for realtime mobile gaming. (Follow the link on the Flickr photo page to the URL you can load in your Google Earth client to see the game board in its current state.)
With Google Earth open enough to place objects dynamically using the tag, a bit of SketchUp modeling and borrowing an enormous battleship model that construction dude uploaded to the SketchUp/Google 3D Warehouse, I started plugging away at a simple game mechanic based on the old Milton Bradley Battleship game.
Battleship, for those of you who never played, has a simple mechanic — two players set up their navy ships on a peg board, hidden from the other guy. You take turns plugging a peg into your side of the board, with each peg hole designated by a letter/number coordinate grid. When you plug a peg in, you say where you put it — E4! If your opponent has a ship in that coordinate (or part of one, actually), they say, sorrowfully, “Hit!” and you register that peg hole with a color to indicate a hit. If not, you just put in a neutral peg to remind you that you already tried that spot. The game continues into one player has sunk all the other guys ships.
The mechanic I’m experimenting with is simpler. One person places their ships using Google Earth and the other person goes out in the normal world with a mobile phone, a GPS connected to the mobile phone. The phone has a small Python script on it that reads the GPS and sends the data to the game engine, which then updates the Google Earth KML model showing the current state of the game grid. When the player who’s trying to sink the ships wants to try for a hit, they call into the game engine and say “drop”. The game reads back the coordinates at which the “peg” was dropped and shortly thereafter, the other player will see the peg appear at the coordinate it was dropped. If the peg hits one of the ships, it’s a Hit, otherwise it’s a miss.
As I continue developing the engine, I’ll probably have the game engine let you know when you call in to do the “drop” whether it was a hit or not, or the opposing player can text or call to indicate the same.I want to put in a “ping” command for the call-in battleship control center to help whoever’s wandering around in the world navigate a bit. (Although the game is only really practical if you limit the boundaries over which it can be played.)
I need a lighter weight battleship — the current SketchUp model is too large, in data size terms and takes too long to initially load (although, it only needs to be loaded once.)
* Experiment with “1st Life” action reflected in “2nd Life” worlds (verso of the folly Ender suffered in Orson Scott Card’s simply fascinating Ender’s Game
* Learn KML
* Learn SketchUp
* Learn Python for S60
* Make a mobile/pervasive game in which one has to move around in order to play Equipment
* Google Earth client
* Apache+Tomcat+MySQL (Java and JSP on the server-side computer)
* Nokia N70 and a little Python app to connect to the Bluetooth GPS and upload the data to the server
* Voice Application (for the battleship control center to drop/ping)
* SketchUp Time Committed
* About 2 days learning stuff, and 1/2 a day programming the computer to make it do things.Why do I blog this?To keep track of and share the near future laboratory experiments I’m doing this summer.
Technorati Tags: mobile, pervasive electronic games, pervasive media, play, urban play