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Carmack Considers Cell Phone MMOG 78

fistfullast33l writes "John Carmack's new cell phone game Orcs and Elves, which debuted at E3 to some fanfare, has led the famous developer to think about expanding his mobile gaming presence. Carmack said in an interview with CNN that he is interested in a massively multiplayer sequel. 'I have absolutely no interest in going and competing with Blizzard in the high end of that market, but a cell phone version might be interesting,' Carmack is quoted as saying. Even more interesting is his comment in the interview that game engines really overlook security. The article indirectly quotes him as saying 'while id Software is especially careful to lock down its game engines, companies that license and make changes to those engines often aren't as focused, which could open the door to disaster.'"
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Carmack Considers Cell Phone MMOG

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  • Data Cost? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by falcon8080 ( 975701 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @01:32PM (#15358941) Homepage

    A cell phone MMO is great and all but what about the cost of data?

    Last time I checked it cost a small fortune per KB. I know you can get unlimited bandwith for a price, but that would be a price ontop of the monthly subscription price...
    • Re:Data Cost? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 1101z ( 11793 )
      A lot of us already pay for unlimited data, or our jobs pay for it so that we can do your jobs from anywhere in an emergency.
      • Re:Data Cost? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bunions ( 970377 )
        I'd be curious to find out just exactly how many people "a lot" is. My gut tells me it's a pretty small number, but my gut has been known to lie to me before.
        • "I'd be curious to find out just exactly how many people "a lot" is."

          I'd guess just about anybody with a 'visions' enabled Sprint phone does. I think it is like $20/mo or so, and I get pretty much unlimited web, and some tv channels. My google 'live' application was a free install, and costs me nothing extra to use when it hits the 'web'.

          Hell, depending on the phone you have (some you have to manually 'unlock' [] [see 2nd posting down on this page]), you can use them as a free semi-broadband modem for you

      • or our jobs pay for it so that we can do your jobs from anywhere in an emergency.

        Which means you can't play games on it, right?
    • 2 Euros a Mb on my data plan

      O2 are cheapest here - around 75 Euros for "unlimited" (which means 1Gb)

    • Re:Data Cost? (Score:4, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @01:50PM (#15359155) Homepage Journal
      Cingular does unlimited data for $20/mo.
      • At the moment, yes, but that's only because they don't expect you to use the internet too much from your phone. I suspect they might consider raising the price if lots of people play this game lots of the time.
    • Sprint PCS has unlimited data for $10 extra. Verizon has a similar plan, but I'm not sure for how much. So, yes, it's an extra cost, but it's not a deal-killer.

      Really, it's no different than having to pay an ISP to be able to play an MMORG from Blizzard or Sony on your computer. In fact, $10 for Internet is cheaper than anything but the cheapest of dial-up ISP's.

    • "A cell phone MMO is great..."

      Heck, I think a good old fashioned text MUD would be fun to play on a cell phone....

      • Re:Data Cost? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rholliday ( 754515 )
        I can see that, but a MUD would take a lot more focus. You can take in the general situation on a graphical game at a glance, and give commands with a simple interface. A MUD requires reading the situation in text repeatedly and typing commands for everything. Doesn't strike me as casual enough for a cell phone gamer, not to mention the annoyance of typing things on those keyboards or numberpads.
    • Re:Data Cost? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by joeljkp ( 254783 )
      T-Mobile does unlimited data for an extra $6/mo.

  • by mu22le ( 766735 )
    A PSP has a better graphic hardware, a wider screen, is easier to handle and has WiFi support.

    If only WiFi was a little more widespread I'm pretty sure a MMOG for the PSP (or the Nintendo DS) would be a much better idea. I'd finally had something to do each time I have to spend 1 hour in the subway.

    • Sure, but the subway is about the last place you're gonna get wifi. Maybe if you're on an El...
    • A cellphone MMOG makes a lot of sense because it's a casual gaming market. This could attract people who don't even think of games beyond Minesweeper or Solitare- a simple MMOG could make a tidy profit off a 10-minutes-a-day player market.

      We've come to think of MMOGs as giant timesinks, but they don't have to be. The long hours of grind aren't required, they're just lazy game design. All you really need is to keep the player paying every month; if Carmack makes a successful MMOG with no grind, he'll deserve
    • Because more than 2 people own Cell Phones.
  • by SloppyElvis ( 450156 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @01:50PM (#15359149)
    I know Carmack wasn't going after the WOWs of the world, but the possibility occurred to me that it might be cool to have a cell phone client for a PC virtual world - perhaps affecting the world in non-traditional ways.

    Would you like to mash a few cell phone buttons to craft yourself something nifty for your return home?

    How about an opportunity to influence factors that aren't controllable through the PC, like beasts or items? For example, play a beast vs. beast minigame against other cell phone users, and the winner will recieve more power or loot in the PC world or something like that.

    As an alternative input device, the cell phone has some interesting possibilities. If you consider cell phones equipped with GPS, you could conceivably have a very interesting dynamic to the gameplay based on actual location. I see many possibilities for making this a fun gaming tool rather than the minesweeper handheld it is today.

    • That's interesting - it'd be like what Sony tried with their Pocketstation, and Sega's old Dreamcast VMU, but with a greater chance of success since nearly everyone has a phone.
    • I'm not sure how great a game based on one's actual location would be due to the fact that the world is a big place, and dividing it up into manageable chunks would probably result in the game not being particularly tailored to your actual location as much as your general part of the world. And if you need to move to another part of the world in order to access other content, most of the content will probably never get seen by any particular individual person, because travelling is generally time consuming
    • GPS I'm a bit leery of, but I think Sloppy is onto something with "one world, many systems." The phone's latency and reliability will be a bit low for realtime action gaming for some time (though Bluetooth vs Bluetooth is a very real possibility), but what about an occasional connect system? The phone loads a "mission," the player plays it (even underground on the subway), and afterward the results of the player's performance are communicated to the game server and a followup mission is loaded. There's a

    • I've been exploring this idea quite a bit. The basic notion is one of asymmetrical representation of the game world. Each client, be it cell phone, DS, PSP, web-browser, next gen console or PC has it's own unique view of and interface with the game world. Each plays to the strengths of the particular platform.

      It's a huge investment, but a large company that really wants to build a cohesive brand *cough - Blizzard* could pull this off.

      AR Across Platforms []

      And in an even more heretical proposition, I
    • Isn't this what Bill Gates promised to do with Xbox Live enabling over Vista and Cell Phones. Games could tie in to some kind of application available on a separate platform which could somehow relate to the actual game being played on the 360. It would be interesting to see what ideas pop up from this, though if they charge anything beyond the subscription fee for Live there's no way I'd buy into it.
  • network support? (Score:3, Informative)

    by edzillion ( 842353 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @01:54PM (#15359201)
    I talked to the head of a mobile game company just yesterday about this very topic - since I think any well made persistent world game on a mobile platform would be a winner. His issue was that marketeers always think this kind of thing is possible because the gprs standard seems to show enough data transfer speed to support it. Unfortunately its never the case in real world situations. Unless he is planning to run it over the DoCoMo network or some other proper 3g network it aint gonna happen.
    • GPRS (and EDGE) has relatively high latency, it's that, not bandwidth, that's the issue.

      I'm not sure how the CDMA and WCDMA based alternatives are with latency. It may be that 802.16 works out better than any "grafted onto a cellphone network" solution anyway.

    • Latency on GPRS networks (and even EDGE) is unnacceptable for real-time multiplayer gaming, however, network connected apps and turn-based multiplayer games can and do work.

      3G is where real time starts to become a reality. The company I work at (Spectrum Wired) recently developed the worlds first real time multiplayer mobile sports game [] (A mouthfull I know :-). This game is soft-launched in Australia and currently rolling out around the rest of the world. With the 3G networks we were typically getting a
  • The DS would be a better platform of MMOGs. You'd still need a Wifi connection somewhere, but to play an MMOG on the cell phone would be kind of cumbersome.

    Unless of course it was turn based...
  • Tibia Micro Edition (Score:3, Informative)

    by Volanin ( 935080 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @02:15PM (#15359384)
    Cellphone MMORPG:

    Tibia Micro Edition []

    • Or how about:

      MidpSSH [] combined with just about any one of these []?

      It's not as exciting as something with John Carmack's name on it, but it does have the advantage of having been around long enough to get many of the kinks worked out of the system.

      Or, in some cases [], long enough to have the kinks worked into the system. Whichever.

      • Have you ever used SSH over a GPRS network?

        I didn't think so, or you wouldn't have made that suggestion. Latency is really killer with SSH sessions and GPRS has enormous latency. It's really designed to serve webpages, not run interactive applications.
        • Yes, I have. Quite often. One could even say that I do it on a daily basis.

          I would elaborate, but you seem to have already gone on with the conversation without me.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @02:19PM (#15359420)
    This should inspire some great anti-social behavior on public transit systems when someone starts screaming "Die you !@#$% orc! Die! Die!" into their cell phone. I wonder how many people know that ORC != Terrorist and how many gamers will be beaten senseless enroute to the police station.
  • Leave it John Carmack. I think this could be huge if he does it right. Most phone providers offer an internet plan with unlimited transfers, now. Many of them have the high speed internet now, too (Sprint and Verizon's EVDO []).
  • From the Gamespot article:
    "... original title laden with sorcery, trolls, dark elves, and the undead".
    Er, yes, how original indeed! The interview with Carmack himself tells us nothing whatsoever about the gameplay, which seems to be par for the course; he's always been more interested in the technology behind games rather the games themselves and seems to have little or no insight into what makes them fun.


  • Anyone try these games? Are they decent (well as far as cell games go.) I see I can download them on my Verizon cell phone, but only if I pony up $8. I hate it when they don't offer trials.
  • who the heck would spend hours playing on a tiny screen with a cramped up keyboard? A nice idea, an MMO you could play anywhere, but the reality is unless the play intervals are 5-15 min the best place to play will be at home...

    I expect it to be all the rage at mall kiosks and gun shows.
    • Picture this:
      The guy in front of you isn't moving, even with a green light.
      Rather than get angry, you pull out your cell phone and log in to the new MMO...
      ...only to find the guy in front of you isn't moving because he's too busy farming a PVP title off newbies 40 levels lower than himself.
      • It occurs to me that a cellphone MMO would introduce a new threat: cell phones being stolen so that accounts can be pillaged.

        They don't have to hack your account or anything special like just forgot your cell phone on a desk for a few minutes, and when you came back you had somehow given away everything you had.
  • just to set the record straight about "locking down security", the quake (1) engine had the one single most hacker friendly console of any game before or after period. you could execute almost any shell command on any of the remote machines. this didn't even require any cracks or exploits, it was just built like this - to be a winnuke. which is not to say that it was a bad thing. say, you think someone is hacking or griefs too much. well, you could ban him, but how about wiping half the files off his hard d
  • The biggest problem with multiplayer games on mobile platforms is communication. Being able to chat with other people is an important part of the experience. Otherwise, you're just being charged more to play a single-player game.

    I own and operate the online game Meridian 59 []. The game was released nearly 10 years ago, and the original client used a raycaster type engine similar to the original DOOM games. (We have since upgraded the engine to use 3D hardware acceleration on the PC.) It's often been sugg
  • I've always enjoyed finding holes in games,

    CounterStrike had a bug for a short while that could be used to crash everyone connected to a server, just by changing your name to a printf string.

    another smaller (non commercial) game you could gamble for credits, 1 in 3 chance of doubling your bet amount. by betting negative numbers you would gain more than lost; by betting -1000000000000 I caused an overflow that dropped a user into a shell, from whence I could read the full password list.
  • Would like to see tie-ins for some online games.
    Eve for example has alot of little things that ones does not need a graphical interface for.
    While I belive there is some sort of cell phone work in progress I have not looked into it in awhile.
    Check my characters ingame mail and reply to corperate/guild events in near realtime. (yes go ahead and declare war, no dont use my battleship!)
    check character skills and change them if need be. (eve skills are learned in realtime-logged in or not)
    check/change factory bu
  • This is just going to expand. Already, kids view their phones as more necessary than any other form of personal technology (and that includes their ipods). They are almost obsessive with them - checking constantly for missed calls, text messages...they are loathe to even purchase a calculator for classes, arguing that their phones have builit-in calculator functions. It would be natural to extend their gaming desires to the one piece of equipment they would never be caught without. Guess I'd rather have
  • carmack was only \mildly\ pissed when the q2 engine was 'taken blatently' for HalF-LifE... he took the time to explain that in order to use the eingine, you have to change the engine ITSELF... hmmm... is he ASKING for that?

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats