There’s no denying the iPad 2’s sex appeal. Apple managed to improve upon the original iPad with a design that is 33 per cent thinner and 15 per cent lighter, but this stylish tablet is more than just eye candy. Underneath that razor sharp screen sits a dual core A5 chip that not only helps Apps load faster, but is capable of superior graphics. In addition, the unit comes with two cameras as well as a gyroscope.
Naturally, developers can’t wait to show us what the iPad 2 is capable of, and to get a better idea what the future holds, we spoke to some of the industry’s brightest minds to get their opinion on how these new features will impact video games.
“We are extremely excited about the dramatic increases in graphics and processing power,” said Chillingo co-founder Chris Byatte. “While we’re firm believers that better technology doesn’t automatically make for a better game, in the right hands, better technology can mean the difference between realising a creative vision or not.”
Geremy Mustard, technical director of Chair Entertainment, agrees. “For developers like us who are always pushing the hardware to its limits, the iPad 2 will allow us to do things people won’t believe can be done on a tablet device.”
This includes creating immersive 3-D worlds that easily trump the environments seen on the previous iPad.
“Let’s put it in perspective,” said Piotr Gajos, VP of design at Sourcebits. “The original iPad is able to run Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, albeit trimmed down. Developers had to remove the most advanced features, such as dynamic lightning and shadows, and lower the amount of details in characters and environments. With iPad 2, compromise doesn’t have to be that big. Mobile versions of Unreal Engine can come closer to its desktop counterpart.”
With this in mind, developers should be wary of creating iPad 2 specific games, as they don’t want to alienate the 15 million plus consumers with the first iPad. Oscar Monroy, Senior Technical Architect at Sourcebits North America, thinks this could be an issue.
“The concern will be fragmentation between the previous owners of iPad/iPhone. Most games will be developed under the iPad 2 to take advantage of those upgrades.”
Jake Theis, Senior Brand Director at Frima Studio added, “Splitting the total iPad market by releasing games that are only supported by the iPad 2 would be a mistake. Instead, over the next year or so, games for the iPad will want to take advantage of the new technology by offering games and Apps that can survive using the older tablet, but also have additional features or versions supported by the iPad 2.”
In addition to the power boost, the iPad 2 also comes with the aforementioned cameras, an exciting addition that Chillingo plans to exploit.
“We’ve already started to implement the camera features in some of our upcoming games, such as Play Kalei, where you can take a photo and upload it into the game to use as a level. It’s a simple example, but the point is that it’s now that much more seamless to integrate media like photos into games,” said co-founder Joe Wee.
Piotr Gajos also sees potential for putting players into the Apps. “This feature could result in games which utilise player photos as in-game avatars.”
Dave Castelnuovo, creator of the incredibly popular Pocket God, has other plans. “The biggest thing I’m looking forward to on the iPad 2 is Airtime and the ability for apps to project themselves on a television. This allows me to create a game where the iPad 2 is the controller of a game that is broadcasted on the big screen.”
In fact, Castelnuovo may be on to something, especially when it comes to sports.
“For a football game, each player could have their own play book, so they can call plays without everyone else seeing what they are doing.”
Joe Wee followed that with, “Standardized video out/mirroring support is probably what we’re most excited about, as it means every iPad user now has a portable high-def game console in their hands. The implications of this are enormous, and you’ll be seeing some great new titles from us that will make you reassess the need for a traditional game console.”
We already play more games on the iPad than Xbox 360 and PS3, so we look forward to seeing what these designers and their respected teams can achieve.
Apple’s iPad 2 is currently available nationwide.