Aug 13, 2013
Sometimes you’ll come across a game that deserves and needs to be looked at differently. To give After the Gods a score out of ten would be missing the point and would stop discussion before it even began.
Why is this? Because, quite simply, After the Gods isn’t a particularly good game. It consists of a fairly basic premise that’s easy to achieve. You have to tap on different statues to activate them and then move your camera around to call upon the selected God’s power. Rain, wind and the power over light are all combined to complete a couple of different objectives. For to get flowers to grow, you need it to be raining and sunny. After a couple of these ‘objectives’, the game’s over. 6 out of ten.
Except the game deserves more praise than its simple mechanics deserve. After the Gods is an augmented reality title, part of a growing trend in the world of mobile applications. Within After the Gods you have to physically move yourself around the world you’re in charge of. A printed sheet of paper needs to be aimed at for the technology to work, but you’ll soon not care how silly you look when hovering over a piece of paper with your phone.
The fact you’re able to (and need to) tower over this virtual world works brilliantly for After the Gods, making it unlike any other ‘God game’ I’ve played before. Talking to the Project Lead, Brian Schrank, he mentioned that this wasn’t a design decision made early on, but one that came about organically.
“We began the project with very open minds trying to invent ways to richly leverage the unique affordances of AR on mobile. For example, the fact that camera position and orientation in virtual space is more naturally mapped to real, physical player input…
The fact that AR mobile tabletop games inherently give the player a god view was a bonus feature we decided to use about halfway through the development process.”
As it currently stands After the Gods isn’t available on the Play Store. You need to download it directly from the game’s site (which is here). The reason for this is that the game’s too big at the moment. Brian and his team have to trim their title down to the required 50mb limit, which may take some doing.
That’s not the team’s only goal with After the Gods though. Aside from polishing the technical issues that After the Gods has, there are hopes of creating more environments and allowing the user to greater alter the world they’re in charge of. The ability to share worlds would also be near the top of the ‘to do’ list, but it’ll all take some time yet.
When asked if he ever thought AR would become a mainstream concept, Brian had this to say;
“AR will become mainstream when it allows people to do things in ways that are easier or more gripping than they are to do without AR.
New technologies augment and build off of existing needs and cultural patterns rather than invent new patterns out of scratch. For example, email digitizes and accelerates textual communication. It exploits a need better than a written letter. The written letter exploited the same need better than the spoken word.
During the advent of cellular phone technology, it was popular to question if cellphones could ever become popular, not only because of the early astronomical price, but because people could only imagine of how distracting and horrible it would be to be merely a phone call away from anyone at anytime regardless of your location. In hindsight, those concerns seem quaint. So the question is: What can AR do well?
AR blends the real and the virtual in real-time, which is an incredibly useful feature, especially when you connect that feature to the Internet, so it only a matter of time before it’s a vital tool we use everyday and could never imagine our world without.”
The day when AR is a commonplace concept may seem like a way off, but it’s slowly gaining momentum. The 3DS and Vita both offer AR ‘toys’, rather than games and there’s also the release of physical cards for Tekken Card Tournament that offer AR capabilities.
We live in a world where the Oculus Rift is seen as a viable device and ‘the future’ of gaming. Surely AR can gain respect as well? With games like After the Gods coming through, respect is more than deserved.