Multi-player, co-operative cross-platform tablet interaction is a taste of the future of social gaming

AndroidBoyd's Brasserie BarCollaborative GamingCross-Platform GamingDungeon DefendersGameSpyGamingiOSiPad'Multi-PlayerOnline GamingOnLiveSocial GamingTablets+-

This week, for the regular Comrz team meet-up, we 4 staffers currently in London headed for Boyd’s Brasserie Bar at Charing Cross with tablets in hand - an even split of Android  tablets and iPads - for an experiment in tablet-based social gaming.

This being my first venture into online multi-player co-operative gaming, I was a little non-plussed initially. In advance of the meet-up we had each downloaded the Dungeon Defenders Game, as well as set up accounts on Gamespy - to allow for multi-player action.

Boyd’s Brasserie Bar proved to be an inspired venue choice for the experiment - it’s dusky lighting providing just the right environment / ambience for tablet gaming - and of course it has free wi-fi. We each started up the game and selected ’Play Online’; logging in to Gamespy to get multi-player access. Then it was just a matter of one player setting up as the host for a Custom Game, and the rest of the players looking up said Game Name and logging in with agreed password.

I initially thought the experiment was going to be a bit too geeky for my liking, but it actually proved to be surprisingly entertaining - we had plenty of beers and snacks to keep our energy and concentration up. I’ve noticed that my iPad has a somewhat worrying tendency to eject me out of applications every now and again, wich proved a little wearisome on this occasion - re-starting the game involves several option choices and 2 different logins, which did not always work on first attempt.

I guess the network dropped us all a few times, but over the circa 4 hours of the experiment, we mostly managed to maintain a highly spirited online gaming experience. After the first half hour or so I was really enjoying it. There aren’t many games out yet which allow for such a fluid cross-platform experience, but there are all sorts of goodies waiting in the wing for future release, including the tablet version of online gaming streaming service - OnLive.

Dungeon Defenders is a surprisingly good game; the controls can be a little tricky, but you soon get used to it, and all the power-ups and strategy considerations make for really decent gameplay - sure, it can be improved, but all 4 of us, regular gamers and not, really enjoyed the experience.

I see all kinds of potential here for tablet-style collaborative experiences - both work and play-wise. It’s fantastic that it can all work so fluidly across platforms too. Apple is doing its utmost to build ring fences, so it’s a nice change that Android and iOS can work well together!

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