iPhone 4S: 'A Console Game in the Palm of Your Hand'
Modojo chats with iOS developers who universally praise Apple's announcements of iPhone 4S and iOS 5.
Apple finally revealed the next iteration of its popular iPhone, the iPhone 4S. The new device comes loaded with a plethora of attractive features, chief among them the A5 processor currently powering iPad 2, opening the door for speedier video games and even more impressive looking graphics.
In fact, Epic Games was part of Apple's keynote earlier today, as the successful publisher took to the stage to unveil Infinity Blade 2, the sequel to the award winning iOS title that has earned $20 million worldwide.
With this gorgeous looking adventure, Epic and developer Chair Entertainment hope to take gaming to the next level, thanks in part to superior technology.
As Epic's president, Michael Capps, told us, "That A5 chip makes iPhone 4S scream."
Of course, Epic isn't the only developer singing the phone's praises. Countless App Store designers can't wait to take full advantage of what the iPhone 4S has to offer.
"The prospect of an A5 chip and dual core graphics certainly ups the ante for gaming on the iOS platform," said Screenlife's (of Scene It? fame) Trevor Steinthal. "Any time you introduce faster download speeds and richer graphics, developers and ultimately gamers benefit."
Improved visuals, of course, mean developers have the opportunity to create a definitive version that trumps what players will see on the phone's predecessors, chiefly iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.
"The iPhone 4S will let us improve Death Rally's graphics, as we did for the iPad 2, and even more in the future," said Markus Maki, Remedy Entertainment's Chief Technology Officer.
Namco Bandai's Executive Producer of mobile entertainment, Jonathan Kromrey, embraces a similar philosophy.
"We're already working on special effects in our apps that are only possible with the A5 chip," said Kromrey. "The iPhone 4S allows us to use the increased power and faster graphics to create some of the most beautiful and intense games available. It's like having a console game in the palm of your hand."
Dane Baker, CEO of Villain, also applauded Apple for the power boost.
"The extra power will be great for both our console-style online first person shooter, Archetype, and our new casual games that push the hardware in different ways, allowing us to deliver more eye candy and faster frame rates for iPhone 4S players."
Chris Ulm, founder and CEO of Appy Entertainment, shares this sentiment.
"If the A5 chip offers two times faster data downloads, that will be huge for multiplayer games going forward."
Voice Control and Augmented Reality
Ulm also thinks Siri, the iPhone 4S personal assistant driven by voice, has some potential to improve games.
"If it works as shown, it will be a real game changer for natural human input."
For Gaijin Games' Mike Roush & Alex Neuse, Siri opens a window into the past.
"Imagine the possibilities with Siri. Seaman anyone?"
Corey Redlien, Wandake Games' Lead Developer, can't wait to push iPhone 4S to its limits.
"The A5 and dual core graphics processors," said Redlien, "let us take our creations to a whole new level, and further bring mobile games up to the same quality you might find on a handheld or even a home console."
"The updated platform will allow us to take advantage of making faster and more in-depth games," said Lin Tam, CEO of Spazzmania. "We anticipate quicker gameplay reaction and loading time, plus hopefully more stunning graphics."
Booyah's Director of Business Development, Brian Cho (Early Bird, My Town), meanwhile, praised Apple for its GPS technology.
"As a geo-location game developer, the new improved hardware of iPhone 4S, such as the dual core CPU, eight mega pixel camera and improved data speeds, will help us come up with innovative real world game mechanics that weren't possible in handhelds or older generation smart phones."
Brian Selzer, President and co-founder of Ogmento, definitely agrees.
"With our core focus on Location-Based, Augmented Reality Gaming, it's all about the progression of processing speeds, cameras and sensors. An Augmented Reality environment, utilizing a live video feed, mixed with quality 3D graphics, requires significant horsepower for a compelling and seamless experience."
"The new camera has improvements that will allow advancement in Computer Vision capabilities. The better the camera can see and understand a person, place or thing in the real world, the more robust an experience we can produce."
With that kind of talk, players should expect to see more Augmented Reality games on the App Store, some of which may also come from Sourcebits.
"We've been taking a long look at Augmented Reality for our future projects, and with this announcement, we feel it is definitely time to work toward an augmented future," said Rohit Singal, Sourcebits' CEO. "It's going to be a lot of fun testing the new camera and figuring out how best to implement its capabilities."
Leveraging iCloud and AirPlay
Gameloft's Senior Vice President of Marketing, Gonzague de Vallois, on the other hand, plans to take full advantage of iCloud and AirPlay.
"With the new iCloud feature, users will be able to experience all the benefits of cloud saving on servers managed by Apple, so if you start playing your game on your iPhone while on your morning commute, you can now start it up again on your way home using any of the devices registered with the same Apple ID. And with AirPlay, we're venturing into a completely new territory for mobile gaming. Not only can users play games on the go, but with the new AirPlay feature, players will be able to enjoy our games in the comfort of their own homes, wirelessly synching their mobile devices to their HDTV."
Pocket God creator Dave Castelnuovo thinks iCloud is a revelation.
"Independent developers can now add robust multiplayer gaming and be able to share save game data between different instances of your game on different devices. This is huge, because it normally costs a fortune to build the same kind of server architecture and it frees up small teams to focus on the game presentation, rather than worrying if their server will crash on Christmas Eve."
Jonathan Shaw, Co-founder of IceFlame Ltd., thinks iCloud also holds great potential.
"With iOS 5 and iCloud, game saves can automatically be updated to every device you own," said Shaw. "This should encourage more developers to make their apps universal."
Shaw's colleague and IceFlame co-founder, David Deacon, thinks the iPhone 4S helps put App Store designers in the same league as console developers.
"It should encourage more developers to use more advanced shading techniques, such as deferred rendering. This is already seen in current generation console games such as Killzone 3 and Crysis 2."
That said, some developers have different ideas on how to get the most from 4S.
"Creatively," said Alinear Studios' Neil Voss, "I am less compelled by rendering horsepower than novel features. I'm more excited about the possibility of hacking the speech agent for voice control in games."
On that note, we can't wait to see what developers do with the iPhone 4S. App Store games continue to impress, proving with each passing week that smart phone titles can compete with the likes of 3DS, PSP and even PlayStation Vita; Infinity Blade 2 is a testament to that.
This article also appears on IndustryGamers.
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