Interesting AR games?

Are there are any non-toy AR games that are any good, or are even slightly interesting? SCVNGR is like AR tic-tac-toe so far as I can tell, the barest of bones connected to annoying marketing features.

You can readily imagine some kind of MMO-like game where when you bring your phone or pad to a given real-world spot, you find items, monsters, NPCs, etc on your device display, and where you level up in the usual quest-driven way, can collaborate with other players nearby to defeat bosses, etc. etc. etc.

The real-world component of the game might make the game tedious for some, but fun for others, especially if common game locations are located near convenient places like shops, restaurants, bus-stops, train stations and so on, and if major gathering places are in public parks and squares.

Anyhow, since smartphones with GPS have been around for some time now, I’d have guessed someone would have tried this already, but I’m not aware of any such games offhand, at least not that are any good at all.

I’m frankly shocked that there isn’t an iPhone game like this yet. I was discussing it with my friend a few weeks ago.

I mean, all the modern ones have GPS and cameras, and a persistent internet connection.


You pick a character and class.

You look at a map to find where AR codes are posted (on posters, in stores, whatever). Go to one, meet a monster, and fight it!

Before you begin, you can “form a party” with up to 3 other players who are fighting the same thing. The game checks that your GPS is closeby and that they are looking at the AR code, too.

Fight goes sort of like an “active battle” style JRPG fight. The 3D monster (think the 3DS AR card battles) animates and attacks and uses special abilities, and so do you. You buff your allies and use items, etc.

At the end of the battle, you earn XP, maybe even level up, and find equipment. The equipment you find is determined by the server, from a loot table for that monster.

The best part is that you could easily crowd-source the content. The developer could make a few dozen monster types/animations. Others could register on the site, pick a monster type, monster level, maybe a few color options, and a location to “register” for that monster. Then the site gives you an AR image to post in that location.

Because the game checks in on the server, you could do lots of neat stuff. Make it so hard “boss” fights are only able to be battled once per day, or once per week. Let easier creatures be battled once an hour, and fodder can be as often as you want. Buy/sell/trade the items on an online virtual store and auction house. Some monsters would be location-restricted (think of a big dragon that has to be on a large poster on the side of a building) while others could be fought anywhere (think of a custom monster on the inside back page of a gaming magazine).

You could even make the whole thing free, because the money-making opportunities lie elsewhere. Maybe your local Nike store has a custom AR battle, and when you beat it you get not just regular loot, but a coupon code for the store. Business owners could post AR codes and attach the same sort of rewards to their defeat as you see on foursquare checkins. Of course, this sort of business participation comes at a nominal fee. Registering new battles would ALWAYS cost money, in fact…but it would be relatively cheap (think a couple bucks to register a basic AR creature fight, maybe $5 to register a boss battle, and then that code is good forever).

Once that basic RPG AR-battle game is in place, meta-game opportunities are broad. Attach cryptic clues to the end of each battle, detailing the location of another nearby creature to fight, and string them together into level-appropriate scavenger hunts. Create real-world puzzles where you have to accomplish certain AR “finds” in certain order. Etc.

I’m just surprised that there’s been a tens-of-millions-strong mobile game platform with cameras, GPS, and internet connectivity and nobody has made this yet.

Everything in your idea sounds really good to me, but I think the moneymen would have issues with this. I imagine funding for a game like this would have to come from marketers that sign businesses up to participate. Most companies find the idea of marketing that you have to hunt for to find to be counterintuitive. They would ask, “why sign up for this when I can just spam out the coupon directly to the consumer without the fooling around? Why not Groupon or Facebook it?” In short, you’d need to convince them that players would actually go through the effort to participate, then that those players could turn into customers rather than rushing off to find the next challenge.

Still, I expect that someday someone will crack that nut.

The reason nothing like this exists is because no one wants to make it.

As someone who briefly worked in the AR segment, its a joke industry. No one in it has any sort of vision or plans and its just a bunch of smoke and mirrors “lets use this to sell products” bull shit.

Kinect and PS Move might actually force people to change the AR paradigm, but when it comes to cellphone stuff I wouldn’t expect much.

what is AR?

Augmented Reality.

Oh, I suspect there will be a use for AR stuff at some point, once the proper set of technologies comes together. There’s already automatic text replacement, and I can imagine you could do auto-substitution of QR codes, or even something with face recognition. Of course, those are just technologies and not proper games.

Yeah, this I’m aware of. It’s like VR back in the 80s, where all the companies at the cheesy conferences were named after things from Neuromancer, and consisted of one solitary person.

Oh yeah, and I’m not fond of QR codes for real-world targets in this context. Just use GPS for finding locations.

I’m thinking more the AR patern recognition, together with using the gyroscope, to make the “monster” you’re battling literally come out of the AR image.

If you haven’t played with the 3DS built-in AR game, you probably haven’t seen what really big potential it really could have. It really is a fantastic example of how you can make a 3D object appear in the “real world” (when you’re looking at the screen) and see it on all sides by moving that screen around.

The point is, an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 has all the hardware needed to do this well, and a target market of tens of millions.

Bluemax - yeah, I think the “AR segment” is not where this could come from. It would have to come from the “game segment.” The same sort of people who envisioned and made reality of the 3DS AR game, Eye of Judgement, EyePet, and some of the Kinect stuff.

Telefrog - the reason business owners wouldn’t simply facebook our groupon a coupon is because an AR “bonus” coupon for going and fighting the monster at their store has two very real advantages:

  1. Location. It gets you in their store! You go to fight a unique creature you can’t fight elsewhere, and retailers know, getting people in the door is worth something.
  2. The psychology of “rewards.” If you find a 10% off coupon in the paper or something, you can shrug it off. If you win a 10% off coupon because of something you accomplished, you’re more likely to view it as valuable and use it. (and hey, your’e already in the store!)

I don’t think retailers would pay a LOT for this, but they shouldn’t have to. There’s no real custom content creation involved - they’re choosing a few things from a database. Word gets out that the Nike store has the level 20 poison dragon, and you haven’t fought one of those yet, so you go down there to fight it to get some neat new loot (“oh and hey, neat, I also got a 10% off discount!”). But it’s just a pallete swap of the Fire dragon, and you’ve fought the level 10 version some time ago, anyway.