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Developers React: The iPad's Future
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Developers React: The iPad's Future

January 29, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

Reactions: The iPad Itself

Reactions to the device itself vary. Some, like Chaim Gingold, Spore developer turned iPhone indie (Earth Dragon) are excited about the iPad's broad potential. Says Gingold, "What we are seeing, historically, is the long metamorphosis of computation from something that is used by nerds and specialists to shoot rockets to the moon and so on, to something that is designed around basic human needs and desires. Apple has always been one of the most innovative companies in applying computers to the lives of normal people."

And that, says Gingold, is tied into the device's form factor. "When you cuddle up with your friends to watch a movie on a couch or in bed on a laptop, something doesn't feel right -- it should be a different device we use to share photos, watch movies, share YouTube videos, and so on. The laptop is better than a desktop PC, but it's still not right. This feels more like it."

When it comes to form factor, Stein says, "if there's any company that can break ground here, it's Apple, and the focus on media and entertainment definitely gives this a shot at success." Young feels the device is a "netbook killer -- in that world it's unmatched in terms of its gaming capability."

Vihola sees the form factor allowing developers more freedom compared to the iPhone/iPod Touch. "On the iPod, you needed to design for simplicity to keep the visual elements both readable and accessible. The iPad makes it possible to put a lot more detail in and together with better handling of large, sweeping gestures, makes genres such as real-time strategy really come to life."

Seyler agrees. "The hardware looks plenty capable of running quality games, and the 10 inch multitouch screen should give developers a chance to get very creative with input design."

Most of the developers seem to see the possibility for expanded in-person multiplayer -- something the iPhone definitely does not excel at. Says Capy's Piotrowski, "Single screen multiplayer is probably the most exciting thing that immediately comes to mind for iPad-specific experiences."

Says Vihola, meanwhile, "It is going to be great for some of the more casual concepts as the bigger screen makes locally shared experiences more accessible -- imagine gathering around the iPad for board or trivia games," while Pusenjak says it "may be perfect for family games where multiple people can interact with it at the same time." Gingold agrees, "That should be fun to design for, and hopefully lead to some fun software."

The Same, But Different

The increased screen real estate -- nearly 10 full inches of multitouch -- is exciting for developers, but the size of the device is like to present changes to the way people think about development, despite the nearly identical interface options to its smaller siblings. Says Rein, "I suspect we'll see iPad-only games that take advantage of the differentiated form factor of the device and the different ways you might use it compared to the iPhone or iPod Touch."

"Holding up the iPad for virtual joysticks isn't going to be as comfortable out of the box as with the much lighter iPod," says Vihola. At the same time, Igor Pusenjak, of Lima Sky, wonders if the form factor might affect existing accelerometer-based game designs. "How does it feel to play an accelerometer-controlled game, such as Doodle Jump, on a device of that size?"

And the upsizing of the device might make it tough to connect with an audience, he suggests. "One thing that makes the iPhone and iPod touch a perfect casual gaming platform is that you always have it with you in your pocket."

PopCap's Stein, without being specific, says that the company is "always interested in how we can adapt our games to offer the best user experience. This means thinking deeply about the game itself and how we can best present that in a way that remains true to the core essence of the play but takes best advantage of the features of the platform and makes the most fun and entertaining game possible."

Young is even more positive -- he is "really excited about the potential for doing away with simulated d-pads." Gingold also loves the multitouch angle, saying, "It will be nice to play with a multitouch interface where you wish you had transparent fingers a little less. The iPhone screen is so small, as soon as you touch it, you lose a lot of visual contact. I can't wait to play with all the new software Apple has made, and see what kind of UI designs they've invented. That's one of the most interesting things for me."

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