Augmented reality games, but what’s reality doing there?

Kweekies is a new augmented reality game that’s tuned to hit iPhones, Nokia Smartphones and Windows Mobile sometime this summer.

Created by int13 the game is marker based (meaning that the software uses pattern on a paper to know how the world is oriented) and features some cute cuddly Pokémon-styled creatures that you train and control (to fight). See the embedded videos below.

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Augmenting reality to ignore reality

Love of the AR concept leaves me blind to shortcomings, but my girlfriend stayed vigilant and posed an observation: How does AR enhance this particular game? And she’s spot on.

Other than providing a flat surface, the real, physical environment plays no part at all in Kweekies’ gameplay. Making that surface virtual would provide more or less the same experience and remove the need to lug around a fragile piece of paper with inkblots on it (can it even be folded without producing errors?). But it does look cool, I’ll give it that. The portal concept and design is nice even though it looks like it’s just bling. Maybe Valve could do something functional there.

Is augmented reality in virtual reality’s footsteps?

This does beg the question whether primitive AR implementations will cause people to write them off as ‘cool… but pointless‘, thereby slowing down AR development. After all, that happened to virtual reality in the 1990′s: creating viable consumer products was impossible but we still made some primitive demos that spread hype like a nuclear shockwave. Time passed. The only things that remained exciting were machines with sky-high pricetags that even game arcades could hardly afford. Public demand decreased and VR R&D crawled out of sight and into the shadowy corners of labs, hospitals, military bases. By the time we had everything to make killer consumer products (ca. 2005)—people had lost all interest.

But maybe the masses will love all AR applications regardless? They’re cool, there will be others like Wikitude that’ll do practical stuff. One of the most popular iPhone games is a ‘yo momma’ joke generator. So who knows?

[Kweekies via VR Geek Blog]

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2 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Hi,

    I’m the CEO and lead developer of int13, the company behind Kweekies.

    The game as seen in this video is far from finished, some parts of the game will be built to use the camera position and orientation in space as an input, very much in the same way a wiimote is working.

    We’re also evaluating ways to interact more physically with the creatures, we’ll probably post a new video about this in the coming weeks or months.

    But even if the game stay as it is now I think your girlfriend is wrong, the core gameplay would be the same in a pure virtual world, but the experience would not be the same at all.

    You really have to see the game for real to feel the immersion, after a while the player is almost tricked into thinking the creature is really living on his desk, and this is the goal we want to achieve.

  2. Hi Stephane.

    Yes, the experience isn’t the same. However, this is a very minimalistic augmentation of reality. It feels like reality is in the background—rather than being at the core of the application.

    Kweekies involves overlaying graphics on top of the real world; as does using a projector. My question is to what extent does the medium amplify to the application.

    I’m looking forward to see where you take the game, and wish you the best of luck. Thanks for commenting.

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