GDC 2013: Nyko Keeps on Keeping On With the Playpad

GDC 2013: Nyko Keeps on Keeping On With the Playpad

Apr 4, 2013

Nyko is keeping on keeping on with their Playpad. While our initial review was not quite favorable, the controllers are still being worked on and promoted. The Nyko Playground app has been updated with a brand new interface, promoting games that support the controller, though interestingly they’re promoting every game with HID support, as their controller doesn’t have a specific API to use its basic functionality as with the MOGA and Green Throttle controllers. It means that they support more games than those with specific APIs. The advanced functionality is still there, just now not immediately featured.

So, what about the vaunted app for mapping touchscreen inputs to gamepad commands? Well, according to the Nyko representative I spoke to, that plan suffered a major problem when Jelly Bean released, as it changed the way that their software interfaced with virtual touchpad drivers. As such, they would likely need to have their own drivers that ship with Android in order to make it work reliably. So, don’t expect support for this feature very soon, if ever, at least not without rooting.

The update to Nyko Playground should be available soon on Google Play.

GDC 2013: Green Throttle’s Controller Has an Interesting Angle: Multiplayer

GDC 2013: Green Throttle’s Controller Has an Interesting Angle: Multiplayer

Apr 4, 2013

I saw many, many Android controllers at GDC, all with different particular hooks to them. However, Green Throttle’s angle is particularly interesting: they want to promote mutliplayer gameplay.

That’s because by connecting to the Green Throttle app (available for both Gogle Play and Amazon Appstore), up to 4 controllers can connect to a device via Bluetooth, and the individual controller will show which player number it is, similar to an Xbox 360 controller, of which the design is practically identical.

To help promote this, Green Throttle is actually self-publishing some games that feature multiplayer support like Crystal Storm, a dual-stick shooter that also works with touch controls, but is at its best when taking on monsters with players together. Other third-party games like Gunslugs will also support the controller

The controllers do not support HID at the moment but this functionality could be coming down the road.

Green Throttle’s controllers are availble for $39.99 each, and the Arena app is available now.

GDC 2013: Online RPG Dragon Eternity Coming Soon to Android Tablets

GDC 2013: Online RPG Dragon Eternity Coming Soon to Android Tablets

Apr 3, 2013

Game Insight demoed Dragon Eternity, their online RPG featuring dragons and plenty of killer creatures to take on. Players fight and take on missions across a fantasy world, visiting towns and choosing who to fight, while trying to keep from being defeated by the dangerous creatures. Thankfully, you have a bevy of magical abilities and a handy dragon to help take down enemies. Combat is turn-based, with players having a light rock-paper-scissors system to use: they can choose to use one of three stances when they attack that have different effects. Attack stance boosts damage dealt, Defense stance reduces damage taken, and Magic stance boosts mana earned for magical attacks.

While the game is now on iPad, Android tablets should be getting the game very soon, within about a month or so. Accounts will be cross-compatible as well. Given its genesis as a browser-based game, the interface works best for the large screens of tablet devices, so phones are not recommended to play the game with. If you want to get a head start on your character, you can play the browser game from the Dragoneternity.com website.

GDC 2013: Nvidia Demos Project Shield

GDC 2013: Nvidia Demos Project Shield

Apr 1, 2013

Nvidia gave Project Shield, its Android device with a controller built-in, an open showcase for GDC 2013 convention-goers to play with a variety of new and upcoming titles, such as Dead Trigger 2 from Madfinger Games.

The Tegra 4 hardware definitely enables games to go to a higher level of detail than on most mobile devices. Vivid Games showed off Real Boxing on both the Tegra-4-boasting Project Shield and the Tegra-3-sporting Nexus 7, and the game had noticeably more detail on the Tegra 4 device compared to the venerable Android tablet. The touch controls still work for that game too, and while the devices were tethered down, it was still possible to anchor the device against one’s body to play a game on the 5″ touch screen. Will it be as comfortable or convenient as playing games with the Shield’s controller support? Probably not, but based on a short test, it seems at least possible.

The Shield, as promised, runs stock Android, with the only noticeable deviation being that there is an Nvidia button on the controller that immediately opens up the Nvidia hub app with Shield-compatible games. Otherwise, titles can be downloaded from any other source available. The TegraZone hub app has always pointed to Google Play, so nothing seems to change in this circumstance.

The hardware is not final, though Nvidia reps claim that it is about 90% complete. One demo unit had a washed-out screen, and the d-pad was very inaccurate, like the original Xbox 360 controller, to where it was difficult to select menu items. However, these kinds of things can be modified in a short bit of time – OUYA’s d-pad was being finalized just weeks ahead of its launch, so an improved d-pad is not out of the question. The joysticks and triggers all had a solid feel to them to where playing first-person shooters felt accurate and comfortable. It’s easy to flip the device open thanks to a little lip that has been added to the end of the screen. There’s a mini-HDMI output available on the device, along with Miracast support.

I was able to also briefly demo the PC game streaming, trying out Borderlands 2. While I wasn’t able to get too long to judge how things like if any latency becomes apparent, the game’s video was being replicated on a nearby PC, and it performed just like playing with an Xbox controller. This was done via an ethernet connection; convention wi-fi was too spotty for Nvidia to use it on.

While Project Shield’s actual possibilities as a consumer product remain up in the air, there’s definitely some promise with the device itself, and it definitely showed that the Tegra 4 will boast some pretty visual.