This June, Monday the 10th to be precise, Apple conducted its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference, more commonly known as the WWDC.
While the California based event has never been considered much important to the video gaming news, this year’s conference had some particular announcements that could very well change that perception.
With reveal of new operating system, Game Center redesign, new mini vehicle game and iOS controller support WWDC 2013 looks to be as important for mobile gaming as E3 is for console gaming.
So lets look into what Apple was up to on this year’s WWDC when E3 was going on in Los Angeles Convention Center.
Right near the beginning of the conference keynote, Apple introduced a new concept game with the showing of Anki Drive.
The game utilizes iOS touch devices like iPhones or iPod touch to interact with real life miniature racing cars.
The presentation began as the development studio representatives placed the miniature vehicles on a mat that resembled a racing track.
With the iPhone acting as “the brain” of the vehicles, the mini cars navigated around the tracks with remaining totally unaided from any player input. This activity was explained as the cars communicating with the iPhone by sending collected date about the environment at the rate of 500 times a second.
The presenters showed that via the iPhone, a player could command the respective vehicle, in this case a red car, to speed up and the car would automatically maneuver around other cars to over take them.
When the others cars were instructed to block the path of that specific car, the red car tried to maneuver around them, but when it was unsuccessful, it activated its “weapons” and blew its competitors off track.
While an interesting and novel tech demo, Anki Drive looked more like a concept with auto-pilot feel to the play rather than a hands on game and was reminiscent of B-Spec mode in Polyphony’s Gran Turismo 5.
Though this years WWDC did not reveal a new hardware entry into the iPhone brand but it did manage to show a large update in software side of things with the reveal of iOS 7. While it does not bring any changes specific to games and gaming, the new iOS does bring with it changes that impact how mobile games’ installation and play.
The new iOS allows software to get updated in the background which means that the patches and updates can be installed in the background and the games in iOS library can be available to play without any need to go to App store for manual update.
Due to iOS 7’s heavy emphasis on layering, there is an addition of motion sensor feature which creates an addition of depth with its pseudo-3D feel, which can be utilized by game developers for clever game mechanics in future mobile games.
iOS 7’s low power consumption design would also favorably impact playtime for resource heavy games.
With the new iOS features also comes the new Game Center which can be accessed with just a swipe, and allows players to toggle wifi, bluetooth, airplane mode on and off without a need to go into connection menu to do the game. This has the potential to help mobile gamers in games that function better with certain connection configurations.
The aforementioned Game Center has been overhauled with a better user interface. The new design features a minimalistic, white background with separate bubbles for games, friends and challenges.
These features include a “turn” bubble, which is built specifically for asynchronous multiplayer games like the Draw Something and Super Stickman Golf 2.
With new iOS and new Game Center, the Apple has also announced support for official controllers for iOS devices.
While the controller support was only briefly mentioned in the WWDC 2013 Keynote, Touch Arcade reports that developers with access to beta versions of iOS 7 have found instructions on how to integrate controller support into their apps.
However it seems that developers are being told that if they chose to include controller support for their games, they must also have an option to play the said games without controllers as well.
There is lot of speculation that in conjunction with Apple TV, this announcement could signal Apple’s willingness to jump into the game console market.
Perhaps this news could bring another competitor into a market that is dominated by Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, with an incoming threat from Valve’s Steambox.