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Mobile Gaming with BREW 164

Posted by michael
from the don't-brew-and-drive dept.
KeelSpawn writes "For the most of us who are bored with playing that game called "Snake" -- chasing a black dot with a string of lines -- that likely came standard with your cell phone, here's some interesting news. Try a round of golf instead, or a combat game called "Gladiator." Soon, even the ever popular "Dungeons & Dragons". All those will be playable through cellphones, wirelessly."
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Mobile Gaming with BREW

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  • Will the world's most ported game be ported to the cellphone? I can't imagine a cellphone ascention. And since you'd only have the numberpad, I guess it would be hard to actually do anyhting except walk around the dungeon.

    I guess you could use one of the keys as an option key to allow you to scroll thru the commands(apply, . , close, tAkeitalloff, ., Call), and you could just go up and down selecting inventory.

    Just a thought

    Begin Secret Code:
    JHFG_#@9599f999f9amAMANN)@Ml)28fl2KKF03
    • Truthfully, I'd rather have solitaire. That's what I used my PDA for. Since Sprint service in my area is pretty bad, I'm out of range a lot. If I've got a couple of minutes to kill and I'm out of range anyway, I might as well play something that does not require much time or thought. The game should save state between invocations so that it could be stopped and restarted at any time. I've played solitaire on a calculator before, so I know that it can be implemented using just a few keys for input, unlike NetHack.
    • We don't want gnome for windows because we would be less superior. We don't want IIS to actually run, because we would be less superior.

      And I don't want nethack on cellphones because it would make my agenda vr3 less superior.
  • Sony could give us a port of Everquest ... :)
  • Games on cell phones! I truly have no need of a life whatsover now. Of course not having a life would leave me no reason for a cell phone. Then again most people with cell phones... Hmm. I have no life and want to be able to play even the most mind numbing, ugly ass games wherever I go. Think I'll get me a PDA... Yeah, thats worth $250...
  • I read somewhere that these kind of things have been available in Japan for a while, ie: 3d games and multiplayer cell phone games.

    I think they're available on the NTT DoCoMo phones, there's information at http://www.nttdocomo.com

    • Advanced? Only retards would accept the price terms.

      We have it here in the UK. At 10p per message, (ie per turn) its cheaper to buy a dedicated games machine than play a single game. Unless you are paying your phone bills with stolen credit cards, it makes no sense at all.

  • Mobile whatever is just plain bad. It's best to sit in a stationary position and pretend that you don't work for a company that thinks entry-level programmers should be confined to the header files.

    I worked at such a company, and now I'm insane.

    I tried to #include "beer.h", and it #included "coconut-strawberry-ring-dings.h"

    Now I have an attorney.
  • Soon, even the ever popular "Dungeons & Dragons"

    I thought the lack of Neverwinter builder tools for Linux and Mac was odd, but obviously attention is being focused on a hush hush port of Neverwinter to the cellphone. All joking aside, couldn't you see this happening at a board meeting?

    "So, you want to allocate resources to these non windows thingamagigs, like that commie operating system and that apple thing? It'd never work, focus on the super popular cellphone gaming comunity!"
  • by emag (4640) <slashdot.gurski@org> on Sunday June 02, 2002 @01:59AM (#3625288) Homepage
    No one's yet pointed out that in order to even play these games, you need a BREW-enabled phone. Verizon's just started coming out with them according to the article, and there's no mention of any other US carrier offering them.

    Not to mention that this usually locks you into another contract with substantial penalties for early withdrawal. I think I'll stick with snake if I feel the need to play a game on my cellphone. Or just stick with my PDA for games, especially when I'm stuck on an airplane.
    • Actually, Gladiator and the like are on the Wireless Web, so any Web enabled Sprint phone could access them.
    • by Kylow (581998)
      No one's yet pointed out that in order to even play these games, you need a BREW-enabled phone. Verizon's just started coming out with them according to the article, and there's no mention of any other US carrier offering them.

      Not to mention that this usually locks you into another contract with substantial penalties for early withdrawal. I think I'll stick with snake if I feel the need to play a game on my cellphone. Or just stick with my PDA for games, especially when I'm stuck on an airplane."


      No, you're wrong. Jam Dat Mobile Inc. has been providing Gladiator to Sprint for quite some time. Porting it to BREW is a brand new innovation and doesn't change the fact that its already out there.

      http://www.jamdatmobile.com/
      • by emag (4640)
        No, you're wrong. Jam Dat Mobile Inc. has been providing Gladiator to Sprint for quite some time. Porting it to BREW is a brand new innovation and doesn't change the fact that its already out there.

        Funny, I thought the article in question is discussing BREW, which also mentions that BREW-enabled phones have only really recently started to be rolled out on a "limited" basis. So, that would mean that, yes, you would need to upgrade your phone in order to play BREW games.
        • by Kylow (581998)
          Yes, but you're missing the point...

          The exact same game that is being discussed is already on Sprint phones. Gladiator is NOT a BREW game, but rather a cell phone game that will now be inserted into BREW. You stated, and I quote:

          No one's yet pointed out that in order to even play these games, you need a BREW-enabled phone.

          That statement, on its face, is not correct. I can play Gladiator on my Sprint Touchpoint 1100, and it is not BREW enabled, as you state a phone must be to play these games.
          • by emag (4640)
            Perhaps English isn't your primary language. Perhaps you're just like most people who do speak it as their primary language and don't understand the finer points. "Gladiator" is but a single game. Single. Singular. Meaning one. If Electronic Arts' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf", or "Dungeons & Dragons" (the other two games specifically mentioned in the article) are available for non-BREW phones, then you have a point. A single game that's already available for Web-enabled phones doesn't mean that any and all games being provided via BREW are already available. As such, the statement "No one's yet pointed out that in order to even play these games, you need a BREW-enabled phone." still stands.
            • by Kylow (581998)
              "If Electronic Arts' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf", or "Dungeons & Dragons" (the other two games specifically mentioned in the article) are available for non-BREW phones, then you have a point."

              Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf is, in fact, available. http://www.jamdat.com/ Do I have a point yet?
  • by lycias (515562)
    Here in Japan we've had a bunch of cell-phone games, though most of them single-player, for years.
  • Ya know, it's not like these games will be free. How much you wanna bet that, in addition to the "pay-per-play" and other types of creative fees, you'll also be using up your minutes? Talk about a great way to increase your profi... Oooh! Dungeons & Dragons!

    • Doesn't Palm offer some sort of unlimited wireless (bandwidth) usage service in many areas with their latest wireless PDA? That should open the door for wireless games off your PDA, dont you think? Except that it doesn't run on BREW, but on PalmOS, but nevertheless, the platform should not matter when it comes to multiplayer games anyway - it should be possible to do it crossplatform, whether running on BREW , J2ME or Palm...
  • Bunches of cellphone game makers have gone under (e.g., Unplugged Games, www.ungames.com), and the rest have been treading water by selling their backend technology. Telecom companies are understandably risk-averse right now (something about laying off a quarter or more of your staff will do that), and they haven't wanted to hear about games.

    One company still hanging in there, waiting for the drought to end, is PureVis [purevis.com]. They do a completely visual programming environment that was originally intended for easy production of online games. They started out as GameWorld.com; the name change is a sign of the times.

  • Simple graphics and fun games. :)

  • Plagiarism (Score:1, Redundant)

    Quote: "Plagiarism is using others' ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information."

    Source: http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/wts/plagiarism.html

    The writeup for this story was, word for word, lifted from the story on CNN, without a single reference made to CNN. Slashdot is very sensitive to such things as copyright (even when it does not agree with them). The submitter should know better that, and the editors should as well. It is suggested that a direct reference to where the quote was lifted be added to this story writeup.
  • Money Making? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peridriga (308995) on Sunday June 02, 2002 @02:08AM (#3625318)
    I'm shocked to hear that no company has stepped up fill the wireless void in gambling...

    With so much money there I'm shocked no one has done it...

    With like 10 cents a bet over the phone you could rake in some money.

    btw... I just patented that idea :-)
    • Phantom Fiber Inc. [phantomfiber.com] is currently working with a number of gaming companies to wirelessly enable their games. Their focus is currently Palm and PocketPC but they are working on RIM and the new breed of J2ME phones running SymbianOS. So far, they have built some casino games for Palm and PocketPC devices, including multi-player interactive games like poker. At a recent international gaming convention in Toronto, they were the only wireless players showcasing their products.

      ian.

  • NO!

    Cellphones == for TALKING on, perferably NOT in the middle of F*cking finals.

    I swear. The damn things should be banned. Do you realize that people have ran into SCHOOL BUSES while talking on those things? HOW THE FUCKING HELL do you NOT notice a SCHOOL BUS?

    Ugh.

    Once again, cell phones are for TALKING on,

    spending $300 on one of the fuckers is an immense move of stupididy.

    Yeesh. buy a PDA (though with the recent story on PDA reliability I could see why you would be tempted not to. ^_^ ) for about the same price. Bigger screen, faster proccesor, more memory.

    Then choose whatever cell phone plan gives you a free phone.

    I actualy have a problem in that my AT
    err

    well lets see I haven't actualy USED the accursed thing in like 4 months;

    so yah, 70 minutes should last me until sometime SLIGHTLY after I die.

    Which means it is a serious pain in the ass to have to spend $20 every 3 months just on the off chance that Something Bad Might Happen to me and I may need to use my cellphone to Call Someone To Save My Ass.

    As I said, a royal pain.

    (and no I am not antisocial, I just perfer to talk to people IN PERSON. You know, real life? Bleh. Cell phones are evil, I _HATE_ the damn f*cking things, HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE them.

    Ugh.
    • Where the hell did the rest of my post go?

      Supposed to be

      ----
      I actualy have a problem in that my AT

      err;

      well lets see I haven't actualy USED the accursed thing in like 4 months;

      so yah, 70 minutes should last me until sometime SLIGHTLY after I die.
      -----

      and so forth
    • ::looks around:: Why is /. freaking out cuz of an amphersand?

      ......

      try this again
      ------

      I actualy have a problem in that my ATT prepaid phone expires minutes after 3 months. Additionaly I have to purchase minutes in $20 increments, which amounts to about 70 minutes of talk time.

      Which will last me;

      err;

      well lets see I haven't actualy USED the accursed thing in like 4 months;

      so yah, 70 minutes should last me until sometime SLIGHTLY after I die.

      ---
      and so forth
      • Because the ampersand itself it a HTML and perl marking for coding purposes...

        Yes Stupid choice for a charecter but, ya gotta live with it...

        For future reference... to write an ampersand write
        &#038

        Information Here [uthct.edu]
        • Because the ampersand itself it a HTML and perl marking for coding purposes...

          Yes Stupid choice for a charecter but, ya gotta live with it...

          For future reference... to write an ampersand write

          &#038


          Weird thanks, I always thought that I only had to be careful of stuff in between brackets. ^_^

          Of course now with half an assed brain I realize my mistake, it is what it seen when Unicode characters are based into a textbox and then returned by the server (Japanese text with Google for instance)

          ::sighs::

  • This might be a nice platform to make homebrew games on, but it looks like the fees required could be prohibitive for non-commercial programmers:
    • $400 - fee for 100 authentications with VeriSign, required for becoming an "Authenticated Developer," which you need to do to obtain a ClassID and get the rest of the developer tools.
    • $1500 - cost of ARM BREW Builder, required to build your applet for a phone
    • $unknown - Microsoft Visual Studio
    The SDK is free to download, so there's something to work with. Anyone know any free ways to do this? More developer info here: http://www.qualcomm.com/brew/ [qualcomm.com]
    • A couple of my friends here at Harvey Mudd College created a development chain for BREW applications using GCC. The project description is here [hmc.edu]

      They ended up patching GCC's ARM support a lot. The phones use a offset based memory layout, but GCC ARM outputs position independent code. By the end of the project they'd gotten a large number of pre-existing games to compile and load onto the phone.

      Look for these tools soon.
  • Now I'll have a good excuse why I didn't answer my mobile[*]: I was too busy fighting the dragon to get that +5/+5 blessed rustproof platinum longsword.

    [*] I don't have a mobile in real life, but it was too tempting not to post this.
  • Games on phones (and more) that you can download have been around for a while. Sun's J2ME [sun.com] is implemented on quite a few mobile phones. I've got a Siemens SL45i [my-siemens.com] that runs J2ME applications (not only games) pretty well. If you want a look at the sort of stuff available for these phones try midletcentral.com [midletcentral.com] and Micro Java [microjava.com].

    • J2ME doesn't have multimedia capabilities just yet. There are multimedia extensions in the works right now, but it'll be a year or more before we see them in mobile phones.

      The BREW stuff is Qualcomm's proprietary method for doing this stuff and IMHO not going to be around for the long haul, once Sun gets the multimedia stuff worked out.

      -Russ

      • The BREW stuff is Qualcomm's proprietary method for doing this stuff and IMHO not going to be around for the long haul, once Sun gets the multimedia stuff worked out.

        I couldn't agree more. You can't pull off propertiary stunts like that, unless you have an ungodly market share. Now considering the fact that nokia too has jumped on the J2ME bandwagon, i don't think BREW will be remembered a couple of years from now.

        The lesson companies should learn from WAP, is that people will not go out of their way (or pay) for any "value added" crap. If i got games on my phone i'll play them (maybe). If not, i'm sure as hell not going to change my phone and pay monthly for something that makes GBA games look like doom 3.

        While i don't see java as being attractive to consumers initially, it has a lot of things going for it: backing from sun, siemens and nokia, a broader scope, an established name in the programming community and will be possible to write non-professional software as far as i understand.
      • Actually, J2ME support (MIDP) will be offered on BREW in the future anyway, so that midlets can be run on the device alongside "native" applications. After Sun gets their next version of MIDP finished, they'll likely move onto that as well. Qualcomm is working with Java vendors.
  • conspiracy theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x AT snkmail DOT com> on Sunday June 02, 2002 @02:19AM (#3625345) Homepage Journal
    Some people say that these games appear on your cellphones so you will wear out the buttons and have to buy new phones.
  • As a student I have noticed a disturbing trend among my peers. I would say that at least 75% of them have cell phones. I often notice in class that many people are playing 'snake' and other cell phone games in class instead of paying attention. Although we would find it odd if someone brought a gameboy to class and began playing it while the teacher was explaining something, nobody seems to mind if someone is playing 'snake' on their cell phone. Personally I find these games to be academically destructive.

    With the latest advances in cell phones, where they are quickly reaching PDA level, I believe it is time to ban their use in schools. Games like snake cause extreme academic decline. Cell phones are often used to cheat in class. Everyone forgets to turn them off (and games like snake ENCOURAGE people to leave them on!). Most institutions have sufficiant amounts of pay phones that people do not need cell phones. It baffles me why they are allowed in schools in the first place. Silly games like snake are just another reason why they should not be allowed.
    • nobody seems to mind if someone is playing 'snake' on their cell phone ... Games like snake cause extreme academic decline.

      No. It's too late. I have to inform you that academia has already declined beyond hope. And it has been due to an even more harmful, destructive habit by students in lecture halls over the past century. It's far more widespread than phone games, and the economies of the situation ensure that it always will be. The tools of destruction? A blank pad of paper, a pencil, and the desire to draw amusing and unrelated pictures while the professor is talking. Horrible thing, that. My informal observations indicate that the deadly paper/pencil/imagination combination has even greater penetration rates in the student market than mobile phones. The numbers approach 100% and show little sign of ever declining. Besides, I find the swooping and jerking motions of doodling to be far more offensive and distracting than the relatively restrained thumb movements of playing Snake.
    • And all of the students that didn't have cell phones in class that used to be playing snake would now (thanks to banning them, in your dreamworld) would now be talking with their friends, doodling, fiddling with other crap, or simply sleeping.

      Cell phones aren't the cause of academic decline, it's apathy...

      Oh btw... I carry my cell phone on me 24/7... Including class. Ya know what I do, I put it on silent... So I can play snake if I wish and if someone calls, my phone still won't make a peep.
  • by mu_wtfo (224511)
    Hey, I enjoyed Snake, it was fun. Actually, I'm sure it still is, I just need to find my old Nokia to play it. Now "Brick Attack", the "breakout" clone that came with my Kyocera - blecchh. Not nearly as good. Ah, well.
  • i'm wondering if we would ever expand cellphones to a point where there would be expansion slots for us to like for example, turning our cellphone into a extream mobile gaming device (like with a bigger screen, connection, sounds, graphics, etc.) i mean a pda can do that already, i think a cellphone is certainly getting there.. =)
  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Sunday June 02, 2002 @03:13AM (#3625444) Homepage
    Check these guys, www.fathammer.com, they produce an engine for 3d-gaming on cellphones and pda's.
    • I met these guys about a year and a half ago in NYC when I worked for a gaming company - at the time they were bank-rolled by a certain cell-phone company. They said that while their engine was being developed on an iPAQ, the eventual target platform was cellphones 3 years in the future that were then on the drawing boards - they didn't even plan to release anything until then. I was flabbergasted, I was so blown away by the demo they gave us. The first thing I asked was why they didn't show/sell this to Compaq, because it would be an incredible marketing tool for the iPAQ (no other PocketPC had the iPAQ's performance numbers at the time). In fact, it made me go out and buy one almost immediately thereafter, having seen what an iPAQ was capable of (I immediately ditched my old Palm V I bought at that JavaOne so long ago).

      It seems at some point they did decide that perhaps selling it on the platform they developed it on was a good idea. Maybe they no longer have the funding from the cellphone company? I don't know.

      These guys were once part of the hardcore demo scene, too, as is probably obvious from the performance they eek out of that tiny machine.
  • Wow, that article sure was light on detail. It read like someone trying to sell the casual reader on how cool BREW is going to be, casually ignoring the fact that every handset vendor on the face of the earth is shooting for the same market with their own technologies. The article mentioned that Motorola was competing with BREW on Java support, as if no other vendors have Java-enabled hansets (not even remotely true). Check out this link [microjava.com], found at the top of a Google search on "Java-enabled phone", for a list of a bunch of Java-enabled phones. The downloads [microjava.com] page there lists a whole bunch of Java-based games for handsets.

    Last time I looked at the public info on BREW (from the downloadable API documentation), it didn't look like it had any world-beating features to enable gaming. From the article, you'd think that BREW had the inside track on becoming the game development platform of choice for mobile phones.

    IMHO, BREW looks like an awfully lightweight, low-feature application-development toolkit, appropriate to use in a low-memory handset. There's nothing here that Nokia isn't offering with their Series 60 [nokia.com] platform, or that any of the other big players aren't doing with their own proprietary toolkits, I would expect.

    The trick is that BREW has had a Java virtual machine ported to it, and game developers will develop to THAT, not to anything that is really BREW-specific, or even really enabled by BREW. But every handset vendor is doing the same thing with their own toolkit.

  • WirelessWeek: "Until recently, it seemed as if Verizon Wireless had turned up its nose at Java in favor of BREW. But the carrier has changed its attitude and recently confirmed it plans to offer Java-based applications, which it expects to hit the market in early 2003.

    Ironically, the word comes as Verizon started giving its customers a sip of BREW, Qualcomm's binary runtime environment for wireless. The company began selling BREW applications to its 2G customers in San Diego in the first quarter as part of the first phase of a nationwide BREW deployment."

    Read the rest here:
    Verizon's Change of Heart [wirelessweek.com]

  • How would D&D be the same without being in a room full of your fellow dorks, playing with brightly colored funny shaped dice, and possibly wearing costumes? How can a cell phone provide that?

    Nevermind that you could probably play it over the phone ANYWAY...
  • by AndyChrist (161262) <andy_christNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday June 02, 2002 @03:43AM (#3625502) Homepage
    " America lags partly because only half of its adult population has cell phones, compared to 65 percent in Japan and 70 percent in Taiwan and Hong Kong. "

    Most likely because unlike many countries, the land-line phone system in the US does not suck. AT&T at it's worst was never the pain in the ass that NTT is/was.
    • Yes, the US phone system is so great that I regularly get just 20 to 25 Kbps on a 56K modem there, whereas in the UK it's always over 40 Kbps. (Irony alert...)

      The best thing about the US phone system is the flat-rate for local phone calls, but that's also why cellular operators have to charge for incoming phone calls to mobile phones in the US (otherwise they'd lose money on every call). And this incoming call charging is a key reason why US residents don't give out their cell phone numbers, reducing the overall size of the cellular market and thus mobile penetration. This is the real reason for low mobile phone usage, it has very little to do with the quality of land lines, only their cost vs cell phones.

      Japan is the only country where I saw ISDN data sockets on payphones everywhere, even tiny ski resorts, and voice quality was fine when I was there. If you really want to talk crap land line systems, try India - the GSM coverage is not too great but at least it works better than the very noisy land lines.
      • other broadband services were late (but admittedly quick once they started) in coming to Japan, probably due to the almost unbelievable coverage that ISDN has there.

        But anyhow, you're looking at the PAYPHONES. They aren't going to have ISDN sockets EVERYWHERE, BTW, that's mainly in train stations and airports. (But this is in a country with thousands and thousands of train stations...)

        I hear secondhand that to get a phone line IN YOUR HOUSE will cost about 800 dollars. 800. That's one hell of a disincentive to use land line phones right there, considering you can get started with your cell phone for as little as 1 yen. (Why they don't just say "free" I don't know...) Oh, and the land line phone is metered, too, so there goes that advantage, too.

        It's not just the quality of the lines, it'S the pricing structure, and the coverage. In Japan, I know for a fact that all the advantages go to mobile phones...and at least some of those advantages go to them in most countries. In the US, it's much more split. The advantage isn't nearly so decisive.
      • Oh, and BTW, good point, about the numbers and charging for incoming calls. Didn'T think of that.
    • Personally I find it difficult to use my land-line phone on the bus or when I'm in the pub.

      There are certainly countries where mobile usage has picked up due to poor fixed line infrastructure (in some of the Eastern European countries you can have a 6 month - a year wait for a land line), but the takeup in most places is nothing to do with this.
  • You know what I hate? When I'm in the middle of raking it in in Slot Machine or beating my high score in Crab Catch on me cell (Sanyo 4500) and some insensitive prick calls my phone and the game quits. Like I care who's calling me. Sheesh, I was playing a game dammit! What else is my cell phone good for.
  • I have an Ericsson T28w, meaning I can play a fully functional version of tetris and solitaire. Anyway, I play 99.9% of said games on my cell phone while waiting in the subway for my train [mta.info]. Now, maybe if the MTA could install some high powered cell transceivers in the tunnels to bounce around calls/data...
  • I love the names of all of these phone games.

    Because the line "Wanna play with my Gladiator?" gets the same dirty look as "Wanna play with my Snake?"

    Of course, then I'd whip it out... My phone, that is...

  • by Qrlx (258924)
    Before you mod me down, go talk on your goddam cell phone for a half an hour. Notice how one side of your head is all hot? That's the MICROWAVES COOKING YOU HEAD.

    Or, if you have one of those belt clip things, it's only your OVARIES/TESTES that are being cooked.

    Sure, I'm an alamrist. And no studies have ever shown that non-ionizing radiation poses a health risk. Well, how would you even conduct such a study in today's world? Find me a control group. In the early days of radio, a five watt signal from New York could be heard in Miami. Now you need 100,000 watts just to walk over your nearest competitor.

    Yeah, it's off-topic. Especially if you have enough of a fucking life to play real pnp dnd with real people instead of over your cell phone.

    Vacations on Tape
    Instant Happiness
    • Umm... all of these games involve looking at the screen on the phone with the antenna directed away from you. I can't see how they would be played by holding the phone to ones ear :)

      Perhaps you could champion the ergonomic issues of repetetive thumb motion on the keyboard...

  • I'd rather just play games on my zaurus or handspring, at least I won't get charged, as there's tons of freeware games around.
  • Oh My God!!!! i think im going to cum with excitement. Is it at all possible to play Golf!?! on a phone?!?! never before have i seen such incredible technology come into play (no pun intended). It certainly isnt possible to download games like this onto any of the PDAs out there, and of course, none of those PDAs can talk to each other anyway because no-one has invented infra red, cell-phone connectivity, GSM cards, or connecting cables. Wow, i have to hand it to them. I would never have been able to come up with the following ideas on my own:

    1) A phone thats like a PDA in that you can connect it to your PC and download 3rd party software onto it.

    2) A phone thats like a PDA in that it _is_ a phone and a PDA in the same device.

    3) Developing more games for phones.
  • You want to play with me? :)
  • BREW is a way to run native code on ARM-based phones. BREW applications have a huge amount of control over what the phone does. Therefore, access to this environment is strictly controlled - a BREW-supporting handset will not run an application unless it's signed by the operator. I believe BREW is primarily aimed at network operators, who currently have no way to add features and applications across all handsets on their network. Independent developers can make a pitch to the operators, but they cannot deliver any BREW apps without official blessing.

  • Games on wireless phones have been around for quite a while already. I'm not talking about snake or tic tac toe, but golf, motorcycle games, bowling, wrestling, etc. Sun's J2ME [sun.com] has been providing this technology on Nextel [nextel.com] phones since March of 2001.

    If you check out the games [motorola.com] section of the iDEN Update Application Catalog [motorola.com] you can see that many, many games can be downloaded to your phone today.

    Now, graphically, these are nice. They will become compelling when Nextel releases it's next phone, the i95cl [microjava.com] (press release here [motorola.com]) which we should expect within the next 1-2 months. The primary benefit of the new phone being not only the color screen, but the ability to store many more applications through memory improvements as well as processor speed improvements.

    I have seen GPS enabled multiplayer games in the works, and many other cool things to come from the Nextel developer community. If you are a developer, please check out the Nextel Developer Program [nextel.com] and Motorola's iDEN Developer Program [motorola.com]. Both sites have free registration, resources, and special pricing on some equipment for developers. Both also have procedures to establish co-marketing relationships.

  • A friend of mine works for a company that was, for a time, seriously working on games for BREW cellphones. Programming-wise, everything you need, all the functions and graphical abilities, are there. The problem is that it's just too damn slow. BREW can't compete with Symbian, Palm OS, and Wince cellphones, I'm afraid.
  • You can download the SDK here: https://brewx.qualcomm.com/developer/sdk/download. jsp
  • BREW will fail in the mainstream, almost without a doubt. The obstacle is the same as many similar products before it (such as DivX) - the vendor (Qualcomm) has designed a system where they want to control it all. You have to download the software from your carrier, and your carrier can't offer it unless it's approved by Qualcomm.

    While this sort of strategy gets the execs all excited because they get to stick their hand out for money at every step, these ploys fail because, in the end, there's nothing in it for the consumer. The developers are sick of it because they have to be certified against standards that even Qualcomm's own BREW demo apps don't pass, and they have to pay to recertify every time the standards are changed or their app fails. The consumer doesn't want it because this "walled garden" approach by the vendors has no value for them.

    Good concept, bad business decisions.
    • I'm actually working on a book about BREW development and I disagree. BREW may fail, but not for these reasons. J2ME works in the same way--only worse. You have to get your application certified by every single carrier you wish to carry it. Nevermind the fact that carrier relationships are increasingly harder to get these days. With BREW, you just need to get True Brew Certrified by Qualcomm's hired testing lab, and that's it. You still need to get carrier relationships, but all BREW carriers adhere to the True Brew testing standards. The biggest problem with BREW (aside from the lousy hardware) is the development tools. You have to pay for a $1500 compiler that should be free (why not use GCC for ARM?) and a $400 Verisign account for no apparent reason. I understand the need to digitally sign your applet for distribution, but you still need to generate certificates just to test it. The emulator is totally inaccurate, and there is no way to debug your code on hardware. Unlike Java, BREW is a C/C++ API cross-compiled for the chipset. So you're likely to get crashes on the device that you don't get in the emulator. The problem is, there's no way to step through code on the device. You can't even so much as get a printf from the handset to the host PC. (J2ME does this at least! Some J2ME devices even have debug VMs that let you stetp through code on the device!) The API is actually way better than J2ME for games. J2ME is still a zillion easier to get running on a real handset, and thus I'll have to give the nod to J2ME early on as a develoment environment. But don't count BREW out. After all, Verizon Wireless is the #1 carrier in America. And BREW is already #2 in Korea, which is the second largest mobile gaming market on the planet. And probably will be for quite some time.
  • I am very proud of my 999 on the Nokia 6190 - but I often have wondered if 999 was the cap, because I played for a VERY long time and ive gotten into the 900s many times before that w/o much time spent. Oh course, that is on the fastest speed.

    I now have a samsung phone with 0 games, sigh -- my old samsung at least had othello, which I had over a 1000 wins in.

    My mom's cricket phone has snake but it tends to get 'bogged down' and even on the fastest setting, at times it goes stupid slow and has issues responding. who woulda thunk it that a cell phone would run low on memmory
  • Many of these types of games and more where being demonstrated on JavaONE this year on J2ME devices so I would get too hung up on BREW. In fact I wouldn't even bother with that technology.

    BREW is currently a CDMA only technology. The majority of the world uses GSM thought. (Americans sometimes forget this since CDMA has a larger, but weakening, footprint in the US.) The majority of carriers and handset manufacturers are committed to J2ME in someway. Motorola has gone so far as to pledge that all of its phones will ship with J2ME by the end of this year. Even CDMA carrier Sprint PCS have decided to forego BREW for J2ME [sun.com] when they launch thier new service this August.

    If your a developers, where would you put your efort first?

    J2ME has its limtiations though. Then again so do these devices -- With a screen not much larger then an airmail stamp we're not even talking game boy here. The limitations of J2ME are currently being addressed with initatives such as Project Monty [sun.com] (a new high performance virtual machine), Mobile Game API [jcp.org] and the Mobile Media API [jcp.org].

    <tim/>
    ---
    http://tima.mplode.com/ [mplode.com]
    • If your a developers, where would you put your efort first?

      I'd put my effort into BREW, where I can write my apps in ARM assembly and squeeze every last bit of performance out of the processor. That's really important for games. What I would not want is the overhead of a Java Virtual Machine.
  • Now, not only can drivers be distracted by talking on their Mobiles while driving, now they can play games as well.

    Driving along and playing a racing game.... my head hurts just thinking about...

  • Essentially, BREW does much of the heavy lifting that wireless carriers prefer not to tackle. It is also an open standard that supports multiple languages including the Java platform -- which means game developers don't have to worry about writing multiple versions for different devices.

    This statement is misleading. BREW is a "Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless" by Qualcomm [qualcomm.com]. It is just a friggin' API for phones with an ARM [arm.com] CPU! The only reason they claim Java - which does not ship by the way - is that is is conceivable to port and run Java under any environment. Putting a JVM on top of BREW is totally useless since the JVM does not need BREW whatsoever to run on an ARM - it's all marketing hype promoting the false associating with Write-Once Run-Anywhere. BREW competes with Java and locks you into the Qualcomm licensing machine. BREW is not open (or maybe it is, check for yourself here [qualcomm.com]), not cross-platform (ARM only), and does about as much for reducing the need for different software versions as Win32 - or any other proprietary "environment" - does for the desktop.

    • It's makes a lot of sense to write a JVM on top of BREW. Without the abstraction of BREW, writing a JVM to run on many different phones is a real pain in the ass. But if you make your JVM a BREW app, it will run on a bunch of phones.
      • But BREW is just on the Qualcomm (ARM CPU) chips. To port BREW to any other chip/architecture means (1) the B(inary) in BREW isn't the same without ARM, and (2) it is *MORE* work to do the JVM since it must run on another CPU. The BREW APIs are just sugar on top of a native API for the phone. The JVM is *MORE* efficient running on the native API than through the BREW layer. It's just not that compelling to use BREW.

        • A JVM is barely more efficient running on the native API rather than BREW. BREW really doesn't add much overhead. And if you are writing a JVM for a phone that supports BREW, it's worth it to write it on top of BREW since this will let your JVM run on other phones that support BREW. (There are many differences between phones besides the chipset, and this is where the BREW API is going to help you out a lot.) And down the road, it is possible that you'll see BREW on ARM phones that don't use Qualcomm's chipsets. It is also possible that you will see BREW on non-ARM phones, in which case porting will be as easy as recompiling.
  • But can the games be played on this type [palms.org] of palm?

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