My last blog was mostly tongue-in-cheek, referring more to the IF version of Vespers on the iPhone running in Frotz. Still, there has been speculation over on the GarageGames forums that the Torque engine was being ported to the iPhone platform. I didn’t give it much consideration, though, since I figured (a) it would be a long way away, (b) licensing would be more than it’s worth, and (c) they’d be far more likely to port their 2D engine rather than the 3D engine. Plus, I can’t imagine Vespers truly running on the iPhone in 3D — surely there’s no way the phone could handle the load. It would beg for mercy, maybe even spontaneously ignite.
Well, so much for (a), (b), and (c) at least.
Yesterday, GarageGames officially announced the licensing and availability of the iPhone version of Torque. (It’s actually called iTorque, but really, it’s almost too painful to type that. Seriously. I’ll just call it iPVT or something until they correct that gaffe.)
So it turns out they’re porting both 2D and 3D engines, which is pretty cool. And the SDK is apparently available now, although at first only to commercial licensees, which I’m not. The indie version is supposed to be available soon, after they’ve worked out some of the kinks. The nice part is that their licensing model is really not that bad: $500 for the 2D or 3D SDK (for current owners) with the right to publish one title; future titles are only $100 each. And no royalties for GarageGames, ever. That’s a pretty nice deal, all things considered.
The Unity engine will also be available for the iPhone at some point, which means that there will be a whole lot of goodness coming to the iPhone. I really know nothing about the iPhone and its memory or graphics, but I imagine since both Unity and TGE will allow for iPhone development, it must be at least somewhat capable.
My guess, however, is that 3D gaming will still be limited, at least for a while. I really can’t imagine that we’ll be seeing complex 3D graphical games running at acceptable speeds on that platform, although the smaller screen would presumably dictate (and allow) simpler, less intensive models. Maybe as the platform evolves we’ll see more powerful 3D chips able to handle large models and textures with detailed lighting. Who knows.
As for Vespers, I still have serious doubts.
Graphically, it’s a pretty intense game — even though that really hasn’t been the objective. The monastery is a fairly huge set of models with a lot of polys and some large textures, and it’s still makes my desktop cough and wheeze. There’s a lot we could do to simplify and optimize, but that would take a lot of extra work.
Then, there’s the whole interface thing. I think it probably wouldn’t be too hard to come up with an interface design to allow for simple movement similar to the typical W-A-S-D/mouse combination, but there’s still the accompanying text input and output. I don’t know. It might be possible, but it would require a whole lot of redesign.
Still, it’s nice to see the possibility there, however distant. But we still have a long way to go with the desktop version.
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