Recently, a wave of mobile games based on the user’s geolocation was announced, with varied themes from The Walking Dead to Jurassic World. It turns out that these games have more in common than it seems: all are powered by Google Maps. Google has announced that it is opening its ubiquitous mapping platform to allow game developers to more easily create real-world games. The next Pokémon Go could finally be on the way.
Google has said that its new Maps platform for games is divided into three main parts. First, that developers who sign up will have access to Google Maps data in real time. As part of this, Google is also launching a new software development kit for Unity, one of the most popular gaming engines in the world, which will facilitate the incorporation of this cartographic data into a game.
Finally, Google is introducing a new API for developers to create gaming experiences in real-world locations. Jacoby says Google will work with developers in this regard, helping them find “appropriate, unique and fun places to play anywhere on Earth.”
The Unity integration will also allow developers to customize maps with what appears to be a lot of flexibility and control. Things like buildings and roads become objects, which developers can then modify in the game engine. During a demonstration, Google showed maps of the real world that were transformed into sci-fi landscapes and fantasy realms, with dragons and treasure chests.
— Project Fig (@Fig) March 14, 2018
Jacoby says one of the project’s goals was to help developers build detailed worlds using the data from Maps as a basis for a painting. Developers can do things like choosing certain types of buildings or places, for example, all stores or restaurants, and transform each one. A fantasy realm could turn all hotels into restorative inns, for example, or anything else.
Likewise, the new API will facilitate the addition of points of interest, such as generation points or mission locations, in the right place in the real world. Google has already partnered with three game developers in new location-based titles, all of which have been previously announced.
Games include Jurassic World Alive, The Walking Dead: Our World and Ghostbusters World. Each one resembles Pokémon Go, combines augmented reality and location-based gameplay to bring popular fictional worlds to the real world. In Next Games’ “Walking Dead”, for example, the developer says that iconic landmarks such as the Statue of God Freedom, the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye and the Burj Khalifa will be highlighted, for example.
— Hobby Consolas (@Hobby_Consolas) March 7, 2018