Tablet Gaming Today and a Look at The Future - HotHardware

Tablet Gaming Today and a Look at The Future

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We tested Angry Birds, Blood and Glory, Defender, Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave, Fruit Ninja Free, Galaxy on Fire 2: THD, Need for Speed: Shift (Demo), Pinball HD for Tegra, Riptide GP, Samurai II: Vengeance, Shadowgun, and Sprinkle. We should thank NVIDIA for providing us with access to some TegraZone titles, but we also took care to test games available for download in the regular Android Market.

Tegra Pinball is...pinball. It's noteworthy mostly because it's the only game we found that uses the Thrive's portrait mode to good effect. The others, we'll discuss below.


Sprinkle's design uses fluid dynamics to manipulate the environment and fight fires

Angry Birds and Sprinkle (the latter tasks you with putting out fires) are both brain teaser games where the goal of the interface is to provide an invisible translation layer between you and the game. Pick a trajectory / adjust the sprayer, and watch the results. Complexity is added through creative physics and fiendish puzzles.


Fruitality!

Fruit Ninja is another highly popular title that utilizes an interface so minimal, it scarcely deserves the name. In Fruit Ninja, your finger is a blade. You slash fruit. Slashing more fruit simultaneously = more points, while slashing a bomb = instant death.


Blood and Glory: Sword and sandals meet Infinity Blade

Blood and Glory is a free Infinity Blade-style gladiatorial combat game with gorgeous graphics and a mostly touch-based combat system, but the game has trouble differentiating between offensive and defensive combat moves. It was the one title that felt a bit jerky on our Toshiba Thrive. (Reviews of the game itself vary)


Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave features all campaigns and game modes of the PC Steam release

Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave is an amazingly good free action/RPG 3D tower defense title. The interface, menus, and in-game commands are all well designed and player control, while somewhat awkward, doesn't require a high degree of finesse. DD's graphics and level design are both excellent; any fan of tower defense games who want a little RPG action on the side should grab this one.

DD's interface stands out as one of the better examples we encountered. It's not perfect -- the game badly needs a 'Confirm' button when launching the next wave of attacks, and falling into lava pits due to clumsy character controls is downright annoying. Despite these flaws, DD is a great game and a good example of how complex functions can be mapped to touchscreens, even if the formula isn't perfect yet.

Tenets of Touch:

Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Sprinkle directly map movement to in-game results. Whatever direction you move your finger, that's the direction of your sword cut / bird trajectory. Sprinkle modifies this slightly--putting your finger on top of the crane moves it up or down, while resting a digit anywhere else adjusts the hose trajectory.

Blood and Glory still maps touch directly to action, but there's a bit more symbolism involved. Gestures are translated into certain specific movements and must be timed appropriately to be successful.

Finally, there's games like Dungeon Defenders. Unlike the other titles we've discussed thus far, DD essentially emulates a conventional control scheme on a touch pad, and does so rather well. This approach makes sense -- any time a new medium is invented, the first works created for it tend to be "ports" of existing projects -- an awful lot of early movies were films of preexisting stage plays, for example.

There are, however, significant limitations to a touchpad's ability to emulate a controller.
 

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While tablets are nice, I just ant get into any game where I only use my touch on the screen. I still enjoy my buttons and the tactile feed back that they and joy sticks give back to me.

Tablets are the way of the future and there is a huge market for games on them. Tablets are the only thing 95% of computer/mac users need. This market of gaming will blossom in the future as many none "gamers" become gamers because they see the games as time killers and something fun to do.

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Der, is that you? Where ya been buddy?! :)

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Dave_HH:

Der, is that you? Where ya been buddy?! :)

I have been lurking in the shadows....lol... Was flying a ton but now the weather has been bad for a long period of time so I am home more often. 

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Tablets are the only thing 95% of computer/mac users need.

BZZT.

Do you own one? I ask that seriously. The Toshiba Thrive (and every other Android 10.1" tablet based on their size and weight) are miserable for any sort of typing. In landscape mode, your fingers can't reach the middle of the keyboard. In portrait mode you can reach the keyboard--but holding the tablet in that way is stressful on the wrists. It's top-heavy. There's no way to hold an 11"-tall tablet at the base and not end up feeling like it's darned awkward at best.

The iPad/iPad 2 are exceptions, but with Apple going nuts suing everyone over things like square corners, I doubt we'll see a bunch of manufacturers jumping for that device's 4:3 form factor any time soon. Even the iPad 2 is great if you intend to consume content, but as soon as you need to create any, it falls flat.

As someone who relies on a computer for "advanced" functions like photo cropping, email, and writing in a no-frills text editor (I use Notepad) + a spell checker, I couldn't easily switch to a tablet. I need pixel precision when it comes to cropping a photo or even lightening an image. I need a keyboard I can type on at some speed. I might be able to make do with something like the Transformer Prime, but not easily.

I think tablets fulfill the desires of a certain segment of the population and provide a nifty service -- but they don't come anywhere close to fulfilling the needs of even of a moderate user.

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Joel H:

Tablets are the only thing 95% of computer/mac users need.

BZZT.

Do you own one? I ask that seriously. The Toshiba Thrive (and every other Android 10.1" tablet based on their size and weight) are miserable for any sort of typing. In landscape mode, your fingers can't reach the middle of the keyboard. In portrait mode you can reach the keyboard--but holding the tablet in that way is stressful on the wrists. It's top-heavy. There's no way to hold an 11"-tall tablet at the base and not end up feeling like it's darned awkward at best.

The iPad/iPad 2 are exceptions, but with Apple going nuts suing everyone over things like square corners, I doubt we'll see a bunch of manufacturers jumping for that device's 4:3 form factor any time soon. Even the iPad 2 is great if you intend to consume content, but as soon as you need to create any, it falls flat.

As someone who relies on a computer for "advanced" functions like photo cropping, email, and writing in a no-frills text editor (I use Notepad) + a spell checker, I couldn't easily switch to a tablet. I need pixel precision when it comes to cropping a photo or even lightening an image. I need a keyboard I can type on at some speed. I might be able to make do with something like the Transformer Prime, but not easily.

I think tablets fulfill the desires of a certain segment of the population and provide a nifty service -- but they don't come anywhere close to fulfilling the needs of even of a moderate user.

While this is all true. Many users don't type anything other then email or on facebook. I would say the majority of people just use their computer to hold pictures, read email, and browse the web, play the occasional web based game(farmville, ect..). 

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Just e-mail, facebook and especially any form of texting can alone justify the need for a keyboard. The faster and more easily you can type means less time wasted getting messages out. Along with fewer chances of making mistakes and tiring out with prolonged conversations.

It's why physical keyboards as either accessories or integrated slider designs continue to persist and even grow in demand in the tablet market.

A touch only interface is part of the future but it's not the wave of the future because it's inherently limited, but it can be combined with other input methods like minority report style gesture controls for an overall better experience and traditional interfaces when needed.

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Sweet review of the games out there for tablets and if tablets can cut it. I personally like my smartphone for casual gaming more than any of the tablets I have been able to try out. I am with you Der I really like the physical buttons of controllers, keyboards, mice, joysticks, etc. I think this goes back to the Wii U basically using a tablet as a controller device and it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

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Wii U isn't a example of a tablet gaming device. It's just a wireless hand held controller with a touch screen LCD thrown in, that's integrated for use with the console in a setup reminiscent of the DS.

You'll still be using many of the traditional gaming controls for playing traditional games for example.

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Looking forward to the future. When Tablets perform at awesome desktop specs! :D

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Can't go wrong with Fruit Ninja, I gave my little brother that game (almost 3) and he was having a blast ! lol

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