Asynchronous Multiplayer Mobile Gaming

With all the news on Friday about Apple’s release of iPhone OS 2.2, there was another iPhone news item that got less attention than it deserved. Two young iPhone developers, Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron, released the sequel to their much-acclaimed iPhone puzzle game, Aurora Feint. Aurora Feint II: The Arena (iTunes link) introduces the concept of ‘casual asynchronous massively multiplayer online gaming’ for iPhone. That’s a mouthful, merging a number of distinct terms into one. Let’s break that down into its individual pieces:

  • Casual games have simple rulesets and can be played in a short amount of time, such as Blackjack or Mindsweeper.
  • Asynchronous games allow for people to participate without playing at the same time, such as turn-based games like Chess or Scrabble.
  • Massively multiplayer online games have persistent, shared worlds, such as World of Warcraft or for you parents of youngsters out there, Club Penguin.

This combination of gaming elements is very appealing in the mobile market. It’s a perfect lifestyle fit. People want to play games in short increments of time. This may be during a commute on public transit or waiting in the doctor’s office. People want to play games on their own schedule. Not every player in a game can dedicate the same period of time to participate. People want to play games with real people, especially people they know. A shared game world provides this opportunity.

Aurora Feint II accomplishes this through the use of ‘ghosts’. A human player builds up a character in the game world that has the ability to act autonomously while the player is offline. The player’s ghost can be challenged in the game world at any time, and when the player returns to the game world, the ghost can be controlled directly. It’s a novel approach and solves a number of problems with people wanting to play with their friends on their own schedules.

Casual asynchronous massively multiplayer online gaming is going to be a hot market for game developers and it’s a natural fit for mobile devices. Expect to see more iPhone titles like this in the near future.

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  • Zigurd Mednieks

    You are on the right track, but a successful mobile multiplayer game can be difficult to design. Chess is too slow, as is Scrabble. But speed chess or some of the Scrabble-derived puzzle variants are fast enough. Only a very small subset of standard games are suitable, and original games need to be designed around the issues mobile multiplayer games face. Something as simple as not being able to taunt an opponent can make the user experience sterile.

  • The concept of casual gaming has been around for a while, along with quick playtime so you can use the game while commuting. With the popularity of internet browser on mobile phones, it is even easier these days to play such game that were available only on a browser.

    A great example is Risk. Much like Chess, Risk started as board game, but the popularity is enhanced in recent times due to the rise of online Risk games. The good news is you can make your moves on several games whenever you have time, feel that the game is continuous as others make their moves while you are not playing and have endless fun and of course learn a lot about strategy, diplomacy, psychology and politics. Now, who can say no to that.

    You can find out more about the game and where to play and how to win in

  • I was stunned to see this as I thought I was getting the jump on folks. Yesterday I released the first game based off of my Social Competition API at

    I’m providing an API to social game developers that would like to build turn based games, like chess by mail, or civilizations. I’ve also built a test game on the platform at This game has the application code for running Texas Hold’em matches, but all state and competition management is managed by the API.

    I’ll eventually be adding more features to the API like Tournaments and Leagues. Right now we just have a ladder that players move up and down as the win games.

    I plan on releasing the API specification the first week of December, but any interested parties can contact me through the site right now to start a dialogue.

  • Risk is one of the most populated game now a days , i too have been captivated on it.