REDMOND, Wash., May 20, 2002 — Casey Cutting doesnt get to play nearly as much golf as hed like. For the 33-year-old, self-employed builder, who lives in the often-soggy Pacific Northwest, good weather usually means good working conditions, which trumps good golfing.
Fortunately for Cutting and other players, while rain-free days may be at a premium in Oregon, sophisticated computer-based golf games are not. With increasing frequency, computerized games are available for group or solo play on an array of mobile devices. In fact, developers and players alike continue to make the Pocket PC the platform of choice when it comes to computer-based games on mobile devices. Reasons commonly listed include more performance, better memory, better sound and speed, and better graphics than other devices.
“Pocket PC provides a unique gaming experience — rich interactive arcade-style game play in your hand and on a multifunctional device that users keep with them throughout the day,”
says Adrian Sack, CEO of the game-development company, Ideaworks3D.
Ideaworks3D is among the game developers showing off their latest and greatest creations for the Pocket PC this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2002 trade show in Los Angeles. Games for the Pocket PC on display include Hexactos
“Tennis Addict,” “Soccer Addict,”
as well as Ziosofts
“Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf,” “FIFA Soccer 2002,”
“Need for Speed High Stakes”
racing game. In addition, Eidos and Ideaworks3D showcases the PDA version of Eidos
along with several other classic PC games ported to Pocket PC by the company. Ideaworks3d is showing its own original wireless games for the Windows Powered Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition in the form of
Golf on a Course the Size of a Dinner Steak
Cuttings Pocket PC game of choice is
Developed by Ziosoft,
offers three skill-level options: Practice, Normal and Professional.
offers players a graphically realistic experience on the course, where they can control the power and direction of the swing and choose their own screen views.
also keeps track of personal statistics. It even allows players to place and track simulated wagers.
All of this takes place on a device thats the size and weight of an average dinner steak. It measures about three inches across by five high (7.62 x 12.7 centimeters) and is a bit under .75 of an inch (1.9 centimeters) thick. The device, a two-tone gray HP Jornada 565, weighs in at 6.1 ounces (173 grams).
Cuttings personal digital assistant, or PDA, is based on the Microsoft Pocket PC software platform — an increasingly popular choice for developers and players at the epicenter of the online gaming craze.
“Ive been using it a lot more because of the faster, better screen,”
“Its much clearer than other devices and the games are amazing. They just keep getting more and more detailed.”
Greater detail and clarity are a direct result of dramatic increases in the power of the latest PDAs.
“The Pocket PC offers the power of a PC from just a few years ago,”
says Scott Smith, a technical evangelist for mobile device software at Microsoft.
“Well see even more power and performance added in the coming years along with integrated wireless connectivity to other users.”
Smith says that Microsofts latest version of the Pocket PC software, named Windows for Pocket PC 2002, was built to be the state-of-the-art PDA software, offering users an enhanced overall Pocket PC experience with key improvements in personalization and connectivity.
For gamers, Pocket PC 2002 offers images in up to 65,000 color shades, 320 x 240 screen resolution, and stereo-quality sound. And with processors that range up to 206 MHz, the Pocket PC 2002 offers an ingredient essential to most games — speed.
“Pocket PCs offers serious and casual gamers the best PDA experience,”
“The rich graphics and sound capabilities make the gaming experience the equivalent of a PC experience only with a much smaller device.”
Microsofts Ongoing Commitment to Developers
Like gamers themselves, the developers of computer-based games are embracing Microsofts Pocket PC software.
Ideaworks3Ds Sack notes several compelling reasons for building games on the Pocket PC platform: the advanced wireless integration, the rich screen colors and increased CPU speed in recent years, the superior multimedia support, and the familiarity of the Windows platform.
“The Windows heritage is great for what we do,”
“Its extremely easy to get up and running, and many of the same development principles (as used with Windows) apply.”
Ideaworks3Ds version of Eidoss
for the Pocket PC is a picture-perfect, 3-D version of the original game, and is just one example of the companys ongoing efforts to port famous PC games to mobile devices.
Alex Thabet, vice president of sales and marketing at game developer Hexacto, says the Pocket PC is a compelling choice for developers due to its memory and processing power, which deliver a high quality of graphics and animation, richness of sounds and, ultimately, a game with real depth.
“These are key elements that consumers look for in a game,”
“As of today, they can hardly be delivered on devices powered by other systems.”
Hexacto was an early mover in developing games for the Pocket PC, and currently offers nine titles, including
— both of which made CNETs top-10 list of Pocket PC games — and has 12 more under development. Another of Hexactos offerings is called
which Thabet played as a child and which he credits for teaching him the basics of business.
“I enjoyed playing it so much as a kid that we decided to create a version for the Pocket PC,”
“And trust me — the fun remains.”
In addition to offering a superior environment for the development and playing of games, Smith says that Microsoft helps developers succeed in business as well.
“We interact on a daily basis with people who write the applications — via e-mail, on the telephone, and during onsite visits where we talk strategy,”
“We also bring them to the Microsoft campus in Redmond to spend a week in our porting lab, where they have access to our engineers and support resources.”
Sack says hes impressed to see Microsoft dedicating some of its veteran games evangelists — people who have worked with the PC and Xbox development communities working on Pocket PC games.
“The fact that Microsoft has guys of that caliber engaged with us speaks volumes about the companys commitment to this field,”
Microsofts dedication to developers has led to tangible results. Examples include access to the right development tools and support, including marketing and public relations support. Thabet says that most business discussions have led to concrete opportunities and revenue-generating activities. Hes also noticed an increase in Hexactos visibility and credibility among potential partners.
“We have been quite impressed by the support weve received from people in the mobility group at Microsoft who know and understand the game development business,”
Don Choi, director of business development at Ziosoft, agrees that the Pocket PC offers a superior gaming environment for players and developers alike. Ziosoft, which recently released the
“Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf”
game, is currently developing several titles for the Pocket PC, including
“Need for Speed High Stakes”
“Ultima Underworld,” “FIFA 2002 Soccer,” “Spawn,” “Age of Empires”
and an original title called
“Combat Crime Unit”
“The main advantage of the Pocket PC is that game development is very similar to what it was like to develop on a PC five years ago,”
“The processors supported are much better than many other platforms, and there are fewer memory constraints. And, of course, they have much better displays, which is particularly conducive to gaming.”
Choi, like Thabet, says he has been impressed with Microsofts overall commitment to game developers.
“Microsoft is showing a lot of interest in the entertainment sector,”
he says, citing DirectPlay — an application program interface (API), available as a free download that enables games and other applications to connect and interoperate over wired and wireless networks. DirectPlay allows developers to take advantage of new communications options as they become available without having to rewrite the coding in the game.
“DirectPlay allows us to create multi-player games using a variety of connectivity protocols without having to worry about individual specifications.”
The Future of Gaming
When it comes to online gaming, Choi, Thabet and Smith say the future is wide open.
Just in the last year, says Thabet, sales of games for the PDA device have grown substantially. He attributes this growth to an increase in the Pocket PC installed base, higher quality of gaming content, an increasingly popular online distribution network, and the emergence of strong, recognizable gaming properties.
Choi says his company has experienced growth in the PDA-based games market as well, and that he anticipates continued growth in the future.
“Before the Pocket PC there wasnt a handheld device for adults,”
“Now, the Pocket PC offers intriguing game experiences to gamers who want to experience more than a simple side scrolling action game. I expect demand to continue to grow.”
Smith anticipates a future of heightened innovation and creativity.
“Were playing in a world where people that offer the most creative experiences and content will drive the future,”
“I expect to see lots of creativity and unique applications, and well continue to deliver the best platform for developing and deploying them.”
According to Smith, multi-player games played on handhelds will become the standard in the not-too-distant future.
“Were going to see devices that are even richer with double the current processing power and more three-dimensional graphics,”
“It will be a common scenario to have a connected device.”