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Feature: Games Demystified:  Rolando

Feature: Games Demystified: Rolando

June 4, 2009 | By Staff

June 4, 2009 | By Staff
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In his latest feature examining unique and distinguishing gameplay mechanics, Jeremy Alessi presents a guide to Ngmoco and HandCircus' iPhone hit Rolando with example code showcasing touch and physics-related game concepts. You can also read previous articles from his Games Demystified column on the gravity of Super Mario Galaxy and the Einstein-Rosen bridges in Portal.

Alessi argues that because of scale, Rolando would not be possible on any other current gaming hardware, as the title was developed with the disparate sizes of its characters and players in mind:

"Scale is a fascinating subject. It's one of the early fundamental paradoxes we come across as children. In fact, it was one of the early paradoxes contemplated by our society as a whole. From the early conception of atomism by Leucippus to the telescope first invented by Hans Lippershey, we've always wondered how big or small things could get.

Perhaps it is the classic sci-fi film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman that best sums up Rolando's sense of scale. How cool would it be to pick up a room full of people and shake them around, turn their world upside down, or perhaps pick up and fix things that the tiny people inside couldn't do themselves? The answer, of course, is very cool!

Rolando addresses the paradox of scale in two ways: the game's miniscule finger worshipping characters and the massive world that fits in the palm of the player's hand. Without the iPhone hardware, Rolando would not be the same."

Another way that Rolando was designed solely with the iPhone hardware in mind, was through using the sensation and technique of "touch" to make players feel like they're holding a tiny world in the palm of their hand:

"This is a sensation we almost take for granted because it's so innate. Touch has always been a component in video game play. It's actually the joint that hinges our audio-visual experience to the rest of our body and makes a game feel tangible. Though it is widely perceived that touching a flat screen somehow produces a less tangible game, Rolando proves otherwise.

In Rolando, players can call upon characters -- the rolandos -- by touching or drag-box selecting them. When this happens the character is ready to go and then reacts to the tilt mechanism. In addition players can touch and move additional objects like elevators and gears.

In these instances players are directly manipulating objects that the rolandos are either too "weak" or lack the proper appendages to manipulate themselves. It is in these instances that the rolandos' worship sessions of the finger are most appropriate."

You can now read the full feature at Gamasutra, which includes downloadable code examples for how players can incorporate touch functionality, tilt control, and more into similarly designed games (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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