Don’t panic just yet. Stay calm. But we might…we just might be in trouble.
Apples market share seems to be climbing quite unstoppably. PC sales are sluggish, tablet sales are booming. Whether the future belongs to apple or samsung, it does look like a big chunk of the future may be on tablets. Even my famously non tech-savvy gaming buddy, when told I’d been playing a ‘new’ game (portal 2) asked me immediately if he could play it on his ipad. Not his PC, his ipad.
We might be in trouble.
Ipads are perfectly good for gaming. I’ve wasted a good few hours on fieldrunners. I know some people live and die by their ipads. I think it’s a perfectly good platform. The trouble is, there is an absolutely perfect match between all the downsides of tablets, and all the demands of deep hardcore strategy gaming.
If you had to list tablet downsides as a developer, I reckon they would be small screen size, low memory, no right-click and no mouse hover. For the kind of games I make ALL of these things are a real pain. I *rely* on tooltips. I think they are awesome. I LOVE right-click menus, they are such a handy bit of functionality. And I like deep, complex games with a lot of information on the screen and a big hefty simulation that gobbles a lot of RAM.
Democracy 3, at the start of a new game has 156,000 neural connections in memory. Am I going to fit that on an ipad or an ipad 2? I doubt it. Now I know there are workarounds, some cunning retooling of GUI’s can have alternatives for tooltips and right clicks, but regardless how ‘retina’ the screens get, we aren’t looking at a 20 inch or 24 inch monitor any more, we aren’t able to assume near-pixel perfect mouse selection, and we aren’t about to get 2 gig or 4 gig of RAM in a tablet any time soon.
So that means taking a perfectly good strategy game design, which frankly any modern PC can cope with with one hand tied behind it’s back, and squeezing and compromising and squashing it to fit onto a tablet. Obviously, I don’t want to do that. Obviously, I’m not going to do that. I’m a PC gamer, through-and-through. If I wanted to compromise a PC game design because of a console, I’d go work for EA. Ahahahahahaha….
Anyway… I do worry the more tablet computers get popular. I know I’ll inevitably have to take the idea of tablet ports much more seriously in future, and I can’t help but feel that I may end up looking back at the days of windows dominance as the easy times. Maybe if I simply stick with PC-centric strategy gaming, I can carve out a big gap in an otherwise abandoned niche?