iPhone 3GS graphics to approach 'console quality'

TR: What does the new firmware mean, both in conjunction with the 3GS and with the original hardware? Are you planning to integrate any of the new features into existing or future games? Are you considering new designs based around the new features?

DB: The most exciting feature of the new firmware for both platforms is the multiplayer functionality. Our choices for multiplayer gaming on the iPhone have been restricted to the Wi-Fi hardware and 3G before SDK 3.0. Access to the Bluetooth hardware has been sorely missed by games developers until now. This allows us to support multiplayer gaming without requiring gamers to be attached to a wireless access point or suffer the latency issues associated with 3G communication. The new SDK provides us with easy access to the Bluetooth hardware and I think we'll be seeing most games quickly adding local multiplayer support in the near future. It's certainly something we're working on adding to our games.

We will also be making use of the iPhone's internal iTunes library of music, giving gamers access to their media libraries from within our games.

I don't think the new hardware is a considerable enough leap forwards to base entire new game designs around but I'm just waiting for someone to come up with an ingenious compass based game. The iPhone market is full of surprises.

TR: Will the 3GS fracture the market, or will games come with original and 3GS modes and/or versions? Would you go with the weight of handset numbers in the market, or the prestige of working with the most powerful hardware to deliver the best game possible?

DB: The iPod touch 2nd generation model was already a step towards having to support platforms with varying performance characteristics and the 3GS has added a third specification to the list. At the moment, we're committed to supporting both the 3GS and the slower handsets by falling back to lower resolution assets on the older machines.

The situation isn't as bad as PC game development where you have thousands of configurations; we only really have 2 differing types of hardware that we have to support. We will always want to push the latest and greatest hardware as much as we can, but I think that's just part and parcel of being a games developer. A crucial point is that we also need to maintain support for the masses. At the moment I think it's more than reasonable to expect developers to support the old and the new devices - it will probably be another generation before we start seeing support for the older devices dying off.

For more background info on Exient, check out company's website.

Adam Hartley