the social possibilities of hand held MMO's

edited April 2007 in Story Games
Whilst Wikipedia-ing at work i came across an article that Maple Story is going to be released for Nintendo DS and i was intrigued that they were attempting to keep the online aspect on a handheld platform.

It occured to me that it could possibly add real life interaction back into the genre. The DS's have adhoc connections, so 5 friends meet at a coffee shop and run an instance rather than sitting separately and spamming a channel with LFM. 5 strangers at a con, or less likely, by happenstance could have some hand held platform on them and get together to accomplish something in game.

What if, they were to go a step beyond and ad a geocashing or flash mob aspect to it? Assuming some hand held has GPS functionality, what if Dungeon X only exists at a specific location? There could be events that require players to amass themselves and interact socially.

It's not very SG, but it's just something that stuck me, on my ride home from work


  • When I worked for a mobile phone game company a few years ago, I was investigating some of the located-based games out there. I especially had fun playing around with Mogi. Basically it's a virtual treasure hunt where prizes are superimposed on a real GPS-created map of Tokyo. The first person running the game on their mobile who traveled over the actual place where the prize was located would "collect" it.

    We were talking about some cool fantasy MMO ideas where the game would take real places in a GPS map and replace them with fantasy items. So "gas station" becomes "magic shop" or "golf course" becomes "dragon's lair". The US mobile market was (and still is) a little too conservative for this type of game to get much traction. But you could certainly create one. Here are some other games that have been made.

    I think you could make a much richer game experience on the DS, but with the ad-hoc wifi, there's no connection to a central server that knows where each DS is located in real-space and there's no GPS on the DS.

    But yeah, this type of technology really opens up interesting new possibilities of augmented interaction with real people.
  • You can plug stuff into a DS though, so a GPS dooflotchie can be added on.
  • If you have a big enough memory card there are actually a few MMOs that you can run on the PSP. Beyond MMOs there are lots of neat multi player games that can be played on handhelds. I'm looking forward to playing multi-player Gadget Trial whe the game is finally released later this year. I've played Monster Hunter (which is kind of a 4 player MMO similar to Phantasy Star Online) with people here in town before and it was tons of fun. I think there's a lot of neat possibilities for MMOs that can be carried around and played whenever. Voice communication software is the key to portable but non-face-to-face video game roleplaying I think. I've been trying to find a roger wilco type program that runs well on the PSP, but so far haven't.

  • This is true, but it's hard to reach any critical mass of users with something you need to add on. The beauty of location-based games on mobile phones is that even the phones that don't support GPS still know what cell-tower they are close to. So you are always going to get location data automatically.
  • I like the idea of friends getting together with their DSes or whatever and having local dungeons. I think it's kind of cool. I wonder about the location-based stuff since it seems to discriminate against people from small towns, though.
  • Hmm. MGS portable ops has some location based stuff. What it does is randomly generates location based content. For example, if you come over to my house you can download a soldier named Hippo who is immune to porn (really). At my brothers house you can get a docter named Bobcat. Randomly generated maps and other content that is consistent but unique to the location should be possible.
  • Posted By: VaxalonYou can plug stuff into a DS though, so a GPS dooflotchie can be added on.
    You might be able to build it directly into the game cartridge (like how Boktai for the GBA had a light sensor that affected the in game lighting). Or just package it with the game.

    But if you got such a game for the DS, I'd expect these capabilities to be extremely limited. Nintendo is terrified of being attached to any sort of "internet sexual predator" news story, and so tightly controls plyer interactions using the wifi stuff. So while you may be able to meet with your friends in person, the game probably wouldn't help you meet other folks playing the game who happen to be next door to you.
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