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.