Day after day, we hear about new austounding videogames being developed for iPhone, but just some have already been released on the App Store. This could change and speed up thanks to Exit Games. The company has recently announced support for iPhone Online Multiplayer Gaming on their Neutron platform and they are developing their own iPhone SDK for gaming. Neutron minimizes time-to-market and project risks, providing an infrastructure not only for developers (SDKs, doc and code centers, etc) but for the distribution and billing of your game, as well as services (e.g. webservices for MMOG).
iMyst is coming to the iPhone!
In fact, iPhone has a very good hardware for gaming. The accelerometer provides an innovative tool for developers. This specially fits on many kinds of games like car racing/driving games (see the video below of Real Racing, from Firemint) and some featured arcades (e.g. the acclaimed Super Monkey Ball). The touch-screen also helps on adventure games like iMyst, for instance (YES, Myst is being ported to iPhone, or that says a Cyan employee). And a good combination of both is used on Star Wars: Force Unleashed, which is coming to the streets on september. However, the lack of buttons and pad it´s a handicap for classical games, like First Person Shooters. There are many tests on the community (Yeti3D, iPhoneDoom, and many others you will have on the Installer App if you have a jailbroken device) for different interfaces with on-screen buttons, but that don´t make the trick.
Star Wars: Force Unleashed
Real Racing, from Firemint
Yes, iPhone can do this graphics. And it´s not the only one, here you can see exactly the same game on a Nokia N95. That´s thanks to the PowerVR MBX 3D chip that both devices have. You can have a look at some demos of the chip here. If you don´t know about PowerVR, they were one of the companies that started the 3D boom along with 3dfx. Both firms were forced out of the gaming market by Nvidia and ATI, but PowerVR (which also made the graphic chipset of Sega DreamCast) remained building for the low-power market.
In theory, the PowerVR MBX support of OpenGL ES (mobile version of the 3D library) provides a good grade of compatibility with some already developed 3D products. That´s the case of Digital Legends, a Spanish mobile developer firm, and their iPhone eagerly awaited RPG 3D game, Kroll. They ported the game from OpenGL to OpenGL ES in just four days, that achievement made them earn a post on the WWDC 2008 to present the game.
Digital Legends shows Kroll on WWDC 2008
Gaming for iPhone has been developing slowly, but now is growing faster and faster, and we will play very good games on the iPhone. Just time will decide if it achieves to consolidate as a first line competitor in the gaming handheld world.