large scale ar games

Discussion: Pros and Cons of Large-scale AR Games

Having a chance to play the game Walkers Augmented Reality yesterday as well as some other large-scale life-size games made me think about them even more and this brought up a lot of new questions. In this post I want to bring up this subject of large-scale AR games to a debate and try to answer some questions with your help.

For example, after playing the game W.AR many question passed through my head.

For example:

  • Is this is the way AR has meant to be experienced?
  • How many people actually either have a large place to play this game in their own closeby area and how much will bother going there and play?
  • Is there an option to make a game with a large-size map more adaptable to smaller places, if so what is the best way to do so?
  • What type of games best fit for a large life-size map like the one played in W.AR?
  • Is the large-size map requires more processing power and limits the visual quality of the game?
  • Are developers just limiting themselves when they develop a game that requires a large space without any adaptation? (much less revenue potential)
  • Is the large-scale gameplay experience better on a large screen like the iPad’s compared to the iPhone?

How many people will actually bother going to a remote location to play a game that requires a very large space?

When I played W.AR I entered an uncharted territory. Having played most of the ARKit games at home, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew is that to play that play that particular game, I need to go out and play it in a very large open area. It’s not the first game that made me go and play an AR game outdoors. ARZombi was the first one. I tried playing it in the living room, but it wasn’t such a great experience and I personally felt that I need more space to enjoy it. I went downstairs to give it more room and I did enjoy it more.

I didn’t felt quite comfortable playing the game in the street, The question that I asked myself, regardless of the fact that I wanted to try out the game outdoors is whether if I didn’t want to review the game, would I actually go down and play it in an outdoor environment? I mean, intentionally go down to play this specific game?

The answer was no, but more importantly why not? Well, first of all, it’s a hassle. When I play a game, I want to play it comfortably. Second, was nothing in the game that convinced me to do it. I am not talking about games like Pokémon Go which you can use everywhere you want. That game doesn’t require a large space to play. However, what it does it encourages you to explore the world. OK, so searching for hidden things and collecting them is a good enough reason to convince people to play outdoors so what can convince me too go out and play a life-size large-scale game like W.AR?

Here is some gameplay of the game W.AR Augmented Reality.

I thought about it and thought about it again and my answer was that unless the game is very rewarding. By saying rewarding, I mean provide me with a really great health (e.g. fitness app), economical benefit (to earn rewards, like virtual loot or even real world gifts or even money), social (abilitiy to meet new people that I can’t in any other way), emotional (a game that can lift my mood, excites me and make me really enjoy playing it), or learning experience (a game that I can learn more about a subject of interest) of some sort I just won’t play it. The same works for other activities that we do in life.

Just to keep you in perspective. To play a game like W.AR comfortably, I needed to take a 15 minutes bus to the local park and then it took me like 30 minutes to get back.

Just in comparison, I would gladly take a bus to the pool because I enjoy swimming and it has health benefits. The game needs to provide me some of these benefits to a degree that is high enough that will convince me to go and play it.

W.AR was a fun game, but I wouldn’t go specifically to the park to play it.  This one in that aspect, at least for me, the game failed to deliver the right experience that will make me want to go back to the park tomorrow and play it again. If I am already in the park, sure why not, I’ll play it and have fun, but that’s about it.

What games best fit a large a life-size large-scale gameplay area?

I can only speak from my own experience and all I tried right now is a maze game, a large first-person packman game, and a first-person shooter. I did enjoy first-person shooters the most because it was more thrilling and had free movement (I wasn’t restricted to a specific path). I think any genre can fit and it all depends on the actual design of the game.

That being said, I think that competitive or cooperative local multiplayer games can be really fun to play in a life-size large-scale area.

Let me give you an example so you can understand what I mean. It can actually be a great idea for a game.

Now, try to “feel” the next paragraph, see if it can motivate you from leaving your house and go and play that game.

Just think about playing an intensive shooter with your friends trying to beat a huge 7-story monster in a specific very rewarding weekend raid event at the park. Just imagine other people joining you to be able to raid together and beat that monster. At the end, you are going to get some amazing legendary armor set and weapons! This can be really fun and this type of experience can definitely encourage me to go out and go to a remote location just to be able to participate in that event and get that precious loot.

A game like Monster Hunter but in AR!

If the paragraph is not enough, I made a little image of what I had in mind.

receiving legendary pistol in augmented reality RPG game
won’t you go out to a remote location just to play a game like this?

When I read the above paragraph I do feel that I would really enjoy participating in such an event in a game, also meeting other people, enjoy new rare loot and feeling great being able to participate in it. I will enjoy than logging to social networks and share videos and photos of me and my buddies beating that big monster in the raid. Just think how many amazing images you’ll get to see, people playing the same event in different parts of the world. Everyone shares his own stories. It will be amazing if the game can save the winning moment and the list of loot that each person got automatically as an image. Well, you get the point.

Summary

There are definitely many things to consider before developing a game that requires a large gameplay area to play. There are definitely pros and cons for this game design approach. I leave many of those questions that I asked open, to hear what’s your opinion.

In my opinion, there is definitely an advantage of playing life-size large-scale games in augmented reality. The thing is that it entirely depends on the game itself. Even if the game is fun to play in AR, it doesn’t mean that people will just go out from their homes and be motivated to find a large place to play it or go to a specific location.

No doubt that that life-size AR experience is more immersive and I’m pretty sure we’ll get to see some games like that in the near future.  It’s all about the game design, you can either make it work or not. I have tons of ideas running through my head every second. AR is a new technology, and many developers still trying to find out the right formula to make great AR games.

After playing a game lie W.AR, my mind opened up for some crazy ideas that might work really well in AR. I just gave one example above in this post.

I want to hear your thoughts about large-scale augmented reality games. What your answers to some of the questions and ideas that I’ve brought up in this post?

3 Replies to “Discussion: Pros and Cons of Large-scale AR Games”

  1. I totally agree with the “local cooperative/competitive multiplayer game” should be the case where AR mobile game needs to succeed. Though large-scale works out the most, but it is usually hard maintain a stable server or acquire a large number of people initially if it’s not a well-known IP, especially when both ARkit and ARcore are not stable enough to support that large-scale Gameplay in my opinion. People generally have a low tolerance on such new technology (Like why China VR market exploded back in 2016 but quickly collapsed in 2017). My opinion is more on the light social elements, which is a small-scale local multiplayer game that could make people play during parties or even wait for their meals! I don’t have a consolidated idea yet but I feel someone will have something really work with ARkit in the near future. Sing AR Fight is a good example but there should be more exposures and monetization elements in it to make it profitable.

  2. “Life scale” AR experiences are what need to be perfected to keep this technology moving forward. Many of the current “table-top” apps that Apple is promoting as “Ground Breaking” AR – are really “top-down” games ported to ARkit. If you think about it (and I promise app developers are) why make an AR game, I mean really invest in something that is meant to be more than mere “proof of concept”, on a tablet-top that will get much less downloads and play-time than if it where a traditional “top-down” game – not requiring appropriate lighting, a setup step, and an available table? Think about how limiting AR truly is.

    Most serious AR developers know, after the hype train slows to a halt and the dust settles, we need to offer “one of a kind” products that can’t be done better in VR or on a console, or as a mobile “top-down” game – like “clash of clans”. Because AR restricts gameplay so much, you have to provide something unique – a reason for people to get up from their sofa and walk around/play a game that can only be experienced in AR.

    If you ever wondered how you might fair during a zombie apocalypse in your home or backyard download one of the ARKit zombie apps. Besides dressing your buddies up and shooting paint-ball or airsoft rifles at them… AR is the only way to do it.

    If you want to play chess, you can play ARkit’s “holochess”… or you can merely pull out the chess board.

    There are plenty of really nice looking ARkit apps in the App Store that eventually, won’t prove better than playing them on a console or as a mobile “top-down”. These products cost money to make and maintain; after the initial hype, I expect to see many of them “moth-balled”.

  3. I completely agree with you both. If someone tells me, hey, instead of sitting comfortably in your chair and play that game, please stand up, walk to the living room, point the screen to the floor and now play the game this way-I would say hell no.

    It’s not all black and white though. some games like Meddling Martians VR and powARdup felt really good and I still enjoy playing them in my free time.

    I found myself being more motivated to stand up and play while playing multiplayer games because for me the experience was more engaging and I felt like I am having a social gaming gathering in my living room, it felt really nice.

    Let’s take AR Snake for example. Although I viewed that game through the iPad’s screen, the experience felt much larger compared to a regular screen because it was rendered in a big area inside the real world space and the 3D objects rendered seamlessly on the screen as I rotate the device.

    Some of my main issues are related to the physical aspect of AR gaming. Some games make you move a lot and I don’t want to sweat while playing games. Others just force you to play the game in an awkward position. Also, it’s not comfortable holding a device like the iPad facing forward for a long period of time which some games require. The initial scanning process is a nightmare in some games, especially when you need to repeat it every few minutes. I didn’t even mention outdoor gaming yet.

    I think that many developers are either making shortcuts to get their app to the market without optimizing them for AR or thinking if the game will even be fun to play in AR. Second, not every game that is fun to play in Normal mode means that it will be fun to play in AR. I think developers are still breaking their heads what formula will work best for AR games. You know how this goes, tomorrow we get to see a new AR game from a developer that figured out how to build an amazing experience, millions will download it and it will inspire others to follow.

    It’s just too early to judge and the best ARKit games are obviously yet to come. I try to think of experiences that can be great in AR and that’s after spending many hours with different types of games. If I had the knowledge to develop an AR game, I would probably be working on something similar to the idea that I’ve mentioned above, the social RPG outdoor multiplayer game with big raid events-but I’ve have many other ideas going through my head. It will be amazing seeing a large group of people playing together, combo-ing moves and enjoying sharing with others what new loot they’ve got.

    Still, every week I had a chance to play some very fun games, some of them I really liked, others much less. Still, I am positive that it just takes time until we get to see some very interesting games that will make us say: “How couldn’t I think about this idea before?”. I experienced the same in VR where I needed to wear a headset on my head and many of the first experiences were OK, but I preferred playing games on a regular monitor. Time passed by and new great titles emerged that inspired others and made me start enjoying playing VR games regardless of the fact that I needed to wear a headset on my head and play room-scale games in a specific room set up specifically for that type of gameplay experience.

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