The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which is discussed in great detail in Chapter 4, "Wireless Standards:How Data Goes To and Fro," is a very simplistic game platform. All game traffic must be downloaded from the network and must be displayed in simple cards. The cards themselves are nothing more than small Web pages. You can basically display text, see simple black and white graphics, and enter basic data into a form. That's it! Worse yet, the downloading between each card is usually very slow, requiring a few seconds of patient foot-tapping.
Despite all these limitations, dozens of creative and daring individuals and companies have come out with an impressive array of WAP games.
The Wireless Games Web site was created by a publisher of wireless games and other technologies called Digital Bridges (http://www.digitalbridges.com/). This British company is dedicated to creating and expanding the reach of WAP games.
Some of their offerings include the following:
Shown in Figure 3.1, this is a full-featured role-playing game. This game brings the worlds, characters, and play from the beloved Steve Jackson Sorcery game onto wireless phones.
The game is a typical fantasy adventure. You quest in search of the Crown of Kings, solving puzzles, fighting monsters, and building up your character.
Figure 3.1 Sorcery.
You play a tank commander, facing off against another tank. All you do is choose the direction you want to fire, select a velocity, and fire. Your opponent then gets a shot at you.
You can actually send your opponent messages as you shoot it out. A simple but engaging game.
You are a trainer. You must take a virtual fighter and try to build the best boxer by juggling various attributes. You can then compete against other fighters, as shown in Figure 3.2.
The more your boxer fights, the more experienced he becomes. You can continually edit and save your character for future battles.
Figure 3.2 Fight KO.
In this simple game, you are a master safecracker trying to rob an entire town. You go from store to store, guessing codes and trying to get the loot. You have ten tries before the police show up.
This is a WAP variation of the popular and addictive Mine Sweeper game that comes with all Microsoft Windows machines.
You must try to work your way to the center of a grid and grab the flag. But the going isn't easyyou must sniff out and avoid stepping on any mines.
Wireless Games offers a suite of various games of chance, including
Blackjack (see Figure 3.3)
Fruit Machine (Slots)
Figure 3.3 Blackjack.
Additionally, there are a number of simple, popular classics offered:
HangmanSolve a hidden word puzzle or feel the pain.
FoursA "Connect-Four"-type game. Try to drop checkers into slots and get four in a row (see Figure 3.4).
Tic Tac ToeEveryone's favorite (and unwinnable) three-in-a-row game.
AnagramTry to unscramble phrases.
Figure 3.4 Fours.
This is a simple virtual pet "game" created by The Games Kitchen, and borrowing from Bandai's popular Tamagotchi.
The idea is to take a baby pet and feed, care, and play with it. You must keep it happy and full, or it will get sick and possibly even die. Figure 3.5 shows a sample game session. Your pet "lives" in real time on the Wireless Games servers. You can log in and check on your pet at any time.
Quiz Call and LMA Football Quiz
Trivia is one of the simplest and most sensible genres of wireless games. Trivia doesn't need a lot of fancy graphics or network speedonly a good database of tough questions. It's easy to quickly log in and challenge yourself to a few toughies at any time. Trivia is also something that is highly popular, given TV shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Figure 3.5 Wireless Pets.
Wireless Games offers two games:
QuizcallAnswer five questions correctly and you can reach the ultimate Knock Out Round.
LMA Football QuizHow good is your knowledge of football (soccer, that is)? The highest scorers each day are posted for all to see.
This is a popular card-collecting game, licensed from Playaday.com. One player picks a statistic from the back of a selected card and issues a challenge to an opponent. If the opponent's card has a higher stat, then the opponent wins the card that you challenged with. Figure 3.6 shows a sample card.
Figure 3.6 Top Trumps.
This advanced game lets you play on a 3D simulation modeled after an actual golf course. You and your caddy must choose the best club based on the wind and course conditions, and then hit the ball in a given direction. Figure 3.7 shows a sample screen.
Figure 3.7 Wentworth Golf.
Jamdat has become one of the most successful wireless game companies in the world. The following is a sampling of Jamdat's games:
One of the most popular WAP games in the world is Gladiator. This game brought in more than 3.2 million extra minutes of airtime on the Sprint PCS service in the first three months after it launched in October 2000.
The rules are extremely simple: You are a gladiator challenging an opponent to head-to-head combat. You can choose which area of the body to strike at, what type of strike to deliver, and how to defend, as shown in Figure 3.8.
Your gladiator will grow stronger with each win. You can then take your new, stronger gladiator and challenge other players.
At its heart, Gladiator is no more than a multiplayer version of Rock-Paper-Scissors. However, clever graphics, engaging text, and a strong community base have turned the game into a sort of epic.
Figure 3.8 Gladiator.
Other games by Jamdat include
Home Run DerbyA baseball game of pitcher versus batter. Two players face off. The pitcher chooses the type of pitch, and the batter chooses the type of hit. The result will range from a strike to a home run.
Krazy KonondrumA party game where you get to answer questions such as, "Would you rather be a doughnut or a pomegranate?" The game takes your answers and compiles them with other people's, generating a live survey or poll.
Rock, Paper, Sizzer and RoshambofuJamdat has several versions of the original Rock-Paper-Scissors game. In Roshambofu, you play the game against an Ancient Master, as shown in Figure 3.9.
Figure 3.9 Roshambofu.
This Swedish company has created a set of innovative offerings.
This clever game goes beyond the "Virtual Pet" genre, allowing you to act as a master to another human being. Players can pick their goals, depending on the personality type of their characters. You can then balance your character's various attributes and skills, as shown in Figure 3.10.
Figure 3.10 Lifestylers.
Your Lifestyler character lives, eats, sleeps, dates, and worksjust like you. But there are all sorts of highly humorous and wacky situations and confrontations, where choices must be made. Choose how your character behaves, and the character will begin to fall into different lifestyle categories, including Casanova, Athlete, Couch Potato, Average Joe, Geek, and Clown.
Picofun Football, released in 2000, was one of the world's first multiplayer WAP games. This soccer simulation game allows you to manage your own team. You can pick from dozens of players to buy and sell. You must also pay good salaries and keep morale high. During fantasy games against other players, you can see detailed statistics.
On the Green
On the Green is a highly detailed golf simulation game. There are numerous courses, each with different graphics, hazards, and scenery. With each hole, you can choose your club, angle of swing, and the power of the swing. As you play, you can progress up 13 skill levels.
Wall Street Wizard
Wall Street Wizard is a fantasy stock market trading game. You can trade real shares with fake money. Every player starts with the same amount of money, and whomever's portfolio has the highest percentage gain at the end of each month is a winner.
This is a multiplayer battle where you can choose to play against another player or against a computer challenger. With each fight, your character's abilities will improve. To reach the number one ranking, you must successfully beat all computerized and human opponents.
This German company has created some of the goriest and sexiest WAP games out there. Quite an accomplishment on such a small, black-and-white screen....
This is another dungeon-exploring role-playing game. As illustrated in Figure 3.11, you must work your way through a maze fighting monsters and seeking treasure. You will eventually find keys to open doors to new levels. The graphics are particularly good for WAP, and they're rendered on-the-fly. You can also save the game at any time and continue at your leisure, which is a nice feature for the on-the-go game player.
Figure 3.11 WAP Knights.
This is a turn-based tank battling game. You face off against the enemy in a 5x5 grid speckled with buildings. You can perform two actions each move, with the option to either move, fire, or repair your tank. This game can be played against other people or against the computer. You work your way up a high score list with each new battle.
This is another fighting game, very similar to Jamdat's Gladiator. The gruesome graphics, however, are much more advanced, as shown in Figure 3.12.
Figure 3.12 WAP Massacre.
You take on the role of an Interpol cop, chasing a criminal around the world. You must hunt from locale to locale, gaining clues and learning more about your suspect. When you think you've got the criminal identified, you can issue an arrest warrant.
This is a logic puzzle wherein you move various crates across a grid, trying to match a given pattern. You must carefully study the board and pick a strategy with each level.
This game is another variation on the "Virtual Pet" genre. In this case, you're in a relationship with a "Virtual Girlfriend." You must keep up with your girlfriend's demands, choose different ways to make money for her, and be sure to pay attention to your girlfriend regularly. Figure 3.13 shows a sample screen. The game is a little sexist, of course, but if you're into that sort of thing, the juvenile humor of it all might be for you.
Figure 3.13 WAP Girlfriends.
FunCaster offers 30 different types of games, including casino, chance, mind, leisure, word, and kids games. Some of the more unusual offerings include
MermaidA game of pure chance. You can choose from five different rocks. Choose a rock, then guess what type of marine lifeform lives beneath. You can double your score if a mermaid appears.
ShapezGuess the arrangement of four shapes, given six possible shapes, as seen in Figure 3.14. The play is similar to the classic Mastermind game.
Figure 3.14 Shapez.
Unplugged Games creates back-end game technology as well as original wireless games. The founders of the company come from a strong game background and are focused on using small devices in innovative ways.
Void Raider is a complex, rich game of intergalactic trade and war. You begin as the Ensign in command of a tiny starship, and must capture enemy merchant ships, selling the cargo at a profit. You can also hire yourself out as an escort, and protect friendly merchant ships from enemy raids. If you get good enough, you can even go on hunts for enemy privateers, kidnap them, and demand random.
You must manage your crew, your ship's engine, and your weapons. As you earn more money, you can upgrade your ship and hire better crews. You can eventually get promoted to Fleet Admiral.
Rags 2 Riches
In this wacky game, you are a fashion designer trying to predict next season's trends. This is a rich guessing game with amusing writing and wacky situations.
Word Trader is one of the most original WAP games out there. You are given a list of five words. Each word is associated with a different category, such as animals or cooking. You trade away the words you don't want to other players, and then get new words dealt to you at random. The idea is to build a list of five within the same category.
After you've made a match, you "claim" that category. The first player to claim six out of eight categories is the winner.
nGame features games that can be played across multiple platforms. Many of their games work on the Web, on interactive TV, and on mobile phones.
The company has dozens of WAP games, including nearly every classic casino game. They also have a great selection of originals:
Alien Fish Exchange
Try to breed the most exotic aquatic life! You are given a few alien fish to start off with. Take care of your fish, feeding them and playing with them, to encourage them to mutate into new breeds. The game features dozens of different breeds, each with different attributes and behaviors.
The game is multiplayer and the world is persistentyou can log off the game at any time, and your fish continue to grow...or waste away. You can access your virtual aquarium from the Web, your cell phone (Figure 3.15) or your digital TV set (Figure 3.16).
Figure 3.15 Alien Fish Exchange on a cell phone.
Figure 3.16 Alien Fish Exchange on digital TV.
You command a fleet of eight shipspatrol boat, minesweeper, assault ship, submarine, destroyer, cruiser, battleship, or aircraft carrier. Select two of your ships to fight. If you use a powerful ship, you will always winbut you want to avoid sacrificing a powerful carrier against a lowly patrol boat. Points are gained for every enemy ship you defeat, as seen in Figure 3.17. The game can be played against human players or against the computer.
Figure 3.17 Carrier Force.
Chop Suey Kung Fu
You choose a Kung Fu Master and then fight against an opponent. Each turn, both players pick from a selection of martial arts moves. More powerful moves are less likely to hit. As with most other nGame games, this game is playable against either humans or the computer.
You are a hacker. Your job is to create various attack programs and do battle with other players across the network. You must also write your own defensive programs, because you can be attacked at any time.
The game is in a persistent world. Your programs can be attacked whether you are logged in or not. As you explore the network, you will also compete against dozens of other hackers. Your can maintain your programs by logging in via the Web, digital TV, or mobile phone.
There are 90 different offensive and defensive programs to choose from! Figure 3.18 shows a sample screen from the game.
Figure 3.18 Data Clash.