You might have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here. Since my 30th birthday at the start of the month, things have been non-stop. Running 3 websites is hard work when you work full time, have a life and move house. So when I got an e-mail asking if someone could guest post on here, I thought why not. I don’t usually accept guest posts, but thought I should be open to the idea seeing as I’ve not updated this site myself in so long! Hope you enjoy. This is a free contribrution to the site.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Pokémon Go is in the midst of unparalleled success. People are calling the technology behind it life-changing and the game literally inspires stampedes. Niantic’s servers are overwhelmed on a regular basis. Is it any surprise why many game developers are now rushing to create their own Augmented Reality (AR) games? While Pokémon Go might have brought the idea of AR into the mainstream, it isn’t the first smartphone game that has utilized this technology. In fact, I dare say there are better games that you should take a look at.
Created by Niantic (the developer of Pokémon Go), Ingress is a GPS-location based game where players have to build and hack portals in order to defeat the opposing faction. The battle takes place in the real world and players must travel to destinations on the map to hack enemy portals. When players build their own portals, these locations will then pop up on their enemy’s map. At this point, players must work to defend their positions.
Regardless of the faction you choose, you will have access to a global playing field and can further your goals by grouping up with people in your area. In order to achieve victory, you need to cooperate with other members of your group by completing quests, capturing territory and uncovering the mystery behind the game. The game requires a high amount of cooperation and strategy to complete missions. This makes it an incredibly deep and engaging experience.
Ever wanted to be a ghost hunter? Well now you can experience it first hand with SpekTrek. The app accesses your GPS and location to map out all of the ghosts in your area. It’s up to you to hunt down and catch these virtual ghosts.
This is a simple navigation game when you think about it, but as you delve deeper you realize that it’s a fitness app in disguise. The game tracks the amount of distance you’ve traveled, your habits and even total calories burned. The further you travel and more ghosts you capture, the higher your level. It’s a great game for the whole family as you can plan out your route together while also getting some much needed fresh air.
Iron HUD – Augmented Reality Iron Man Edition
If you want to be Iron Man, the Iron HUD is for you. This game puts you inside the cockpit of the Iron Man suit and adds a Heads Up Display (HUD) onto your screen via the built-in camera on your phone. Want to hear what Jarvis has to say? Simply tap the left HUD icon. Tapping the center icon will fire a repulsor shot while holding it down will convert power to the Chest RT. The right icon allows you cycle through different modes. It’s simple to use and a lot of fun.
Yet what’s the point of seeing the world through the eyes of Iron Man if you can’t do everything he can? While the app doesn’t literally give you the ability to fly, it does feature a flight mode where you can control the camera. You can even do some target practice with an in-app purchase. It’s a fairly simple idea, but some of the more dedicated fans have used the app to actually experience scenes from the comic books and movies.
This neat little AR game turns a flat surface into a mini puzzle/platform arena. It’s up to you to guide your robot safely to the exit. To play you slide between the real world and the puzzle game to solve the puzzles and create a path for freedom. It’s clear the developers didn’t simply throw together a game simply for the novelty of AR. They really took the time to polish the mechanics and design of the game to create a truly innovative experience.
While there are only 16 puzzles, it’s a fun and quirky little game that’s perfect for when you have some downtime at work. What makes this game even better is the fact that it’s completely free. You don’t even need to contend with intrusive ads or in-app purchases!
Star in your own version of The Walking Dead by playing Zombies Everywhere. This AR game places virtual zombies in the real world wherever you point your camera. You need to survive the massive zombie horde for as long as possible. Luckily, you’ve got a cache of weapons that includes a flamethrower, minigun and an always popular shotgun. You’ll also run into more enemy types than the standard shambling zombie.
The more zombies you defeat, the more weapons you unlock and more new enemies appear. If you’re not in the mood to fight but want to see what a zombie apocalypse might look like, you can turn the game on safe mode and treat the world as your playground.
Staying Safe with AR
If you’ve taken a look at Pokémon Go in the news, you’ve probably noticed plenty of stories about the dangers of the game and people running into dangerous situations by following a trail of Pokémon. Most of these problems would apply to any VR game. While some of the news stories are exaggerated, you should make sure to protect yourself by keeping the following in mind:
- You’ll want to keep your eyes on your surroundings at all times. Criminals are starting to know what to look for and will take advantage of people who look distracted.
- Avoid restricted or otherwise dangerous territory, even if the in-game rewards are enticing.
- Be careful about what internet connections you use. Public networks are almost never safe and using them unprotected can easily lead to identity theft. You should probably use security software as well as a Virtual Private Network to encrypt your connection (Secure Thoughts has a deeper explanation).
- Be careful about the money you’re spending. Some game developers are more consumer-friendly than others.
There are dozens of AR games available on the app stores in case you get tired of Pokémon Go. We can be certain many more will be making their way onto the market over the next year. Do you know of any other great AR games for smartphones? Any thoughts on the ones mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author: Caroline is a technology and entertainment writer. She loves seeing how game developers are utilizing augmented reality to change the way people play games.