Ever been disappointed with gameplay on your iPhone, because the screen's so damn small? Well, hook it up to your TV, silly! Handheld game control AND big-screen video — sounds like a win/win to me!
Well, not so fast; right now, the above scenario is still in the "experimental/neat hack" category. On the plus side, though, it's got a major gaming developer on its side.
Here's what happened: whilst poking about in the iPhone SDK last month, Erica Sadun of Ars Technica discovered an unpublished programming class (MPTVOutWindow) that routes the iPhone's video through the Dock Connector port to an outside source, such as an external screen.
Intrigued, Sadun brought the hidden code to the attention of Moto Chaser makers Freeverse. In just a few hours (proof that the extra caffeine in Jolt Cola really works!), Freeverse coders crufted together a Moto Chaser version that ported its video to an external TV, while still using the iPhone's accelerometer for input and steering. (See above video for proof…)
Now, for some technical gotchas: Freeverse noted that the program ran best on the second-generation iPod touch, whose 532 MHz processor is actually 25% faster than that in the 3G's. On top of that:
Moto Chaser maxed out at around 20 frames per second, making it "nearly
playable," according Freeverse, whose producer Bruce Morrison noted
that the "norm for commercial games is 30fps, a point at which motion
becomes as smooth and watchable as normal TV video." Sound quality,
however, was said to be greatly improved when pumped through a
respectable sound system.
Assuming the House of Jobs can crank up the CPU speed on next-gen iPhones — and maybe implement a way to wirelessly pair with Apple TV — those Nintendo Wii batons may be facing some serious competition…
p.s. also, we may see better video reviews of iPhone apps.