Mind Pirate is announcing Global Food Fight today, an augmented-reality game that can run on Google Glass, smartwatches, smartphones, and tablets. The title is a wacky brawl where you can slingshot food at your friends who are half a world away.
Perhaps this is how a new era of gaming begins as pioneers like Mind Pirate take advantage of platforms with sensors and touch screens to provide new kinds of experiences to players. Mind Pirate wants to take a leadership position in defining the next generation of mobile entertainment.
The game will launch simultaneously on Google Glass and the iPhone, and it will debut on wearables such as smartwatches later.
Mind Pirate chief executive Shawn Hardin told GamesBeat that Global Food Fight is built on top of Callisto, its own wearable-technology platform that makes it much easier to create augmented-reality games.
“We’re focused on building a wearable-technology platform,” said Hardin. “We’re not a game company, but we started with a game because, as a class of apps, it is one of the most popular you can make. Global Food Fight is a great way to show off what the platform can do.”
Global Food Fight is a free-to-play, massively multiplayer, location-based 3D action game. It lets players look around in a 3D environment and find targets. Those can be friends, foes, celebrities (like Gwyneth P. in Los Angeles), and politicians from around the world. The player can use a slingshot to launch squishy tomatoes, gooey cream pies, frosted doughnuts, and more at the targets.
“You tap your touchpad to shoot your fruit at them,” Hardin said as he coached me on how to play with Google Glass.
With Glass, you turn your head as you look at the targets in your display. The virtual landscape stays still, and you can turn your head left or right to move within that virtual landscape. In that way, you can move your crosshairs over another player who is embedded in the fixed landscape.
When your target reticle falls upon someone, you tap the side of your Glass frame. That launches the food. It flies across a landscape to the opponent’s own street; you can collect gold coins along the way by aiming at them. You see the target person appear and try to use your eye to keep the reticle on target. The other person will try to evade or put obstacles like gnomes in your way. If you hit the person head-on with the food, you can knock them out and score lots of points. If the attack is deflected or blocked, you get fewer points.
On the very first shot, I scored a knockout. Then it went downhill from there.
The action happens asynchronously. You can build up your defenses by purchasing obstacles that will block incoming food. The game’s global positioning system (GPS) mini map will show a player’s location. You can attack someone near you or opt to target someone far away.
Hardin said that the game is cross-platform in that Glass players can duel with iPhone players, and vice versa. That is important since there aren’t that many Glass users yet. The game has about 50 levels.
Besides GPS, Global Food Fight uses sensors such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, camera, haptic feedback, and the touch screen. It guides players through settings such as San Francisco, London, and New York. Players can challenge friends via social media and brag about their exploits on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.
To become the Undisputed Food Champ, you must defend a neighborhood from the menace of flying food by enlisting defenses like cool cupcake cannons, nut-throwing squirrels, feisty lawn gnomes, and kamikaze canaries. The game has 100 unlockable defense layouts. You play against people of a similar level, and it gets quite hard once you’re playing against veterans in the game.
The game is available for free on the Apple iTunes App Store and on Google Glass at www.mindpirate.com. Mind Pirate will also hold an event in a couple of weeks that showcases its games for wearable devices, including titles from other developers.
Callisto isn’t limited to just games. Developers can use it to create other kinds of apps for wearables as well. Callisto will be made available to both enterprise and consumer developers in 2014. Five third-party developers are currently working with Mind Pirate’s Callisto platform. Over time, Callisto will add things like a store so you can purchase more items with real money in the games.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based Mind Pirate was founded in 2012 by Hardin, who was previously an entrepreneur-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as Unni Narayanan, the vice president of game production and operations, and Michael Fu, the vice president of engineering. The startup acquired mobile-game developer Twyngo and raised money from Bessemer and Signia Venture Partners. Mind Pirate has 13 employees.
Ed Cluss, partner at Signia, said, “Signia is a big believer in the Mind Pirate team and the ability of the Callisto platform to extend apps, games, and services across all wearable devices. The exciting game launch today is the first of many possible uses of Callisto for glasses, watches, and any wearable.”
Hardin said that the company’s credo is “your world is the game board,” an idea conceived around Google Glass and its capability to overlay augmented-reality games over the landscape that a user sees.