Using Location in Games

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A lot of this is out of date now (a whole 6 months later!)--but this is my presentation from LOGIN 2011 about using location based APIs in games.

A lot of this is out of date now (a whole 6 months later!)--but this is my presentation from LOGIN 2011 about using location based APIs in games.

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  • 1. Using Location in Games Ralph Barbagallo ralph@flarb.com
  • 2. Who am I?• Game programmer, designer, jack of all trades.• Founded FLARB in 2001, one of the earliest publishers and developers of mobile games in the US.• Been working on a location-based game ad startup since 2010
  • 3. Getting Location• Most smartphones have GPS receivers• GPS-less devices (netbooks, iTouch) use “Fake GPS”• Location from IP lookup• Color: “GPS Doesn’t Work”
  • 4. GPS Accuracy• Limited government restrictions• 5-10m GPS, 50m WiFi, 500m triangulation• Hyperlocation won’t be a reality until NFC or other tech comes about
  • 5. GPS APIs• iOS – Core Location• Android – Location Manager• GPS uses lots of juice!
  • 6. Location in a Browser• W3C Geolocation API• Javascript in modern browsers• Works the same way as native APIs
  • 7. Storing Location• Geospatial databases• Basic functions: – Storing geographic locations – Sorting (distance checks) – Testing (intersections with shapes)
  • 8. Storing Location: MySQL• Spatial Extensions in 4.1 (subset of OpenGIS)• Geometry stored as WellKnownText (WKT) or binary (WKB): “POINT (30 10)”• All computations are in Euclidean (flat) space
  • 9. Storing Location: PostGIS• PostgresSQL with GIS extension• Most mature relational solution (2001)• WKT or WKB• “Geographic Coordinates” for accurate queries mapped on globe
  • 10. Storing Location: MongoDB• Popular NoSQL database with game devs• Geospatial indexing using spherical coordinates• Uses geohash to store points• Only points, no lines, polygons, etc.
  • 11. Storing Location: SimpleGEO• SimpleGEO Storage is a cloud service• Cassandra with custom spatial extensions• Store location as lat/long, geohash, or IP• Cloud service—use HTTP calls. Heavy overhead.
  • 12. Using Location• Places Databases – Find out EXACTLY where you are• Different places database provide different info about venues and locations – Trending – Coupons
  • 13. Places APIs• Foursquare• Factual• Facebook Places• Google Places• SimpleGeo• CityGrid• Etc. etc. etc.
  • 14. Street Addresses• Get latitude and longitude of street address• Geocoding• Google Maps API:http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=xxx&sensor=false
  • 15. Foursquare API• Unauthenticated – Raw places API. – Free to use, with paid tier. – Crowdsourced• Authenticated – OAuth2 – Access to check-in history, friends, mayorships, trends
  • 16. Facebook Places API• Database is based on Factual• Authenticated only• Tagging friends• Deals platform
  • 17. Foursquare vs Facebook• Foursquare’s unauthenticated mode make it useful as a general places database• Facebook has WAY more users• Neither one can detect cheats• Tagging friends is a powerful feature
  • 18. Designing for Location• A sample – Parallel Kingdom – Paranormal Activity – Turf Wars – The Merchant Kingdom – Dokobots• Too literal.
  • 19. Location Design Problems• Convenience• Density• Privacy
  • 20. Popular uses in apps• As a social networking tool – WhosHere – Color – Instagram• As a coupon/deals platform – Stickybits – Goldrun
  • 21. Business Models for Location• Real-world rewards for virtual world play – Pain in the ass for the advertiser – A hassle to redeem• Local deals are hard to source – Most LBS companies are sales organizations
  • 22. Data Collection?• Heaven’s Diner!
  • 23. Summary• Location is an interesting and low-tech buzzworthy feature• Location gaming is in its infancy• The “check-in” may be going away, but location isn’t.
  • 24. Thanks!• Ralph Barbagallo• ralph@flarb.com• twitter.com/flarb• ralphbarbagallo.com