Friday, May 23, 2008

Google Maps as gaming platform II?

Been thinking about Google Maps and the ability to possibly play video games in/on Google Maps - games, maybe, like GTA.

There would be quite a few limitations to the technology, but the upside could be very big/unique, as well - for instance, being able to play a first-person shooter game in your own neighborhood, virtually. I guess some gaming companies and universities are already being funded by the Pentagon to be able to recreate real-world environments on the fly and plan out battle scenarios, but maybe Google Maps can offer some fun for the consumer world, and without the massive injection of taxpayer money, and without contributing to the suffering of innocents by increasing the Pentagon's ability to terrorize.

Street View has been around for a while, but now it's available via a Flash API, too. Flash offers much better performance than regular Javascript/JSON/etc.

Check out this example Street View of NYC (you might have to click it once to give it focus) and move around using your arrow keys - it'll give you a better idea of the responsiveness of Google Maps to game controller-like input. You can zoom and pan, turn and view in a 360-degree circle, and now you can look almost all the way straight up (and you've always been able to look down a good bit). If you hold down your arrow buttons, you'll continue advancing/rotating/etc.

One major drawback is that you are stuck to the 'rails' of the Street View - that is, you're stuck to the exact paths that the Google Street View camera cars drove - usually down the center of some street lane -- so you can't really walk/run/drive/ride/be on the sidewalks, peek around corners, etc.

Even that limitation could be overcome if you were to use your own custom tile layers - with your own imagery license from whoever.

At a minimum, I could see smaller, less-sophisticated, unique 'video games' popping up on Google Maps in the next couple of years.

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