23
Jun
unnamed

Google's general intent with Google Play Games is simple. Google wants to provide a solid backend with common game features to developers who want to make more compelling games. Once developers integrate these features, Google's user base offers a cohesive score/competition experience.

Providing features like leaderboards and achievements, Google has managed to catch the interest of many game developers already, but we have reason to believe that Google will be peppering a few new features into Google Play Games some time soon, with an update to Google Play Services and the Google Play Games app.

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Quests & Level Up Notifications

First, quests. Quests are major elements of some games, and - when handled properly - have the potential to create a really great game experience. The information available to us indicates that Google is planning on helping game developers add more compelling quest interactions into their games by keeping users aware of what quests are available and when.

Using the new functionality, Google Play Games would tell a user if a given game has any quests, and then (if the user opts in to notifications), notify the user of an upcoming quest, give them the chance to accept or pass on it, and then serve up reminders about when the quest starts and ends, along with a friendly notification once the quest is complete.

Similarly, we have reason to believe that Play Games will be able to tell users when they've leveled up in a game, using the existing Play Games toast notification style.

Snapshots

Our information also indicates that a feature called Snapshots will be making its way into games. Exactly how it will be implemented is not 100% clear yet, but there are a couple of possible options. It's clear that Snapshots will constitute an effort by Google to make saving in a game easier, so the functionality could introduce easier checkpoints, instantaneous saving, or easier cloud saving (the latter being a feature largely ignored by developers so far).

Final Thoughts

Google Play Games is a service that only works if developers are interested. When developers are interested, they'll implement these features in their games, and users will benefit by getting a great experience. Play Games has been picking up steam, but hopefully these new features will convince even more developers to hop on board.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • usaff22

    What is a 'quest'? Never heard of it before.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It's kind of like a mission inside the game, so you're playing the game and then you have to go complete a task within the game, which is its own encapsulated process. Sometimes they can affect the main story line, but sometimes they don't.

      • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

        I would assume the implementation is broader than the name would suggest, to accommodate non-RPGs.

        • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

          A quest and a mission are essentially the same thing - you are given a set of objectives to complete and when you do, the quest/mission is finished. The only real difference - but it's not a universal difference is that generally you can have more than one quest running at the same time, and generally you only have one mission running at once.

  • MasterMuffin

    Cloud saving should be implemented to every game IMO. So frustrating to start a game over when changing ROM and I forget to do a backup of the games data

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Imagine how much worse it is for the 98% (made-up figure) of the market who doesn't root and can't back up their games manually, but upgrades phones occasionally, breaks one and gets a warranty exchange, etc. And that's their main market.

      • MasterMuffin

        True, I didn't think about that!

      • Tomáš Petrík

        You can still backup without root, using adb. But yeah, the point about 98% of people stays :)

        • My1

          well, might be but games may disable that backup function for DRM and other purposes

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          Yep, but hardly an option for most people. And really hard to do granular restores.

      • Andrew

        This is what Helium is for... why would you need to root to backup in 2014?

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          Because Helium barely functions and the average user can't get it to even do that.

          • Andrew

            Haven't had an experience like that since about a month after the initial Helium launch. I use Helium to swap between devices about 3-4 times a month with no issues maintaining my data, game saves, device config, etc.

            What issues have you been having that lead to this view? (I do agree that some apps are locked for backup, that's a choice of the app to protect itself... hard to blame Helium, but those seem rare to me.).

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Crashes, freezes on various apps that cause me to keep restarting the app and deselecting apps for backup and accepting that I won't be able to back them up, sometimes the same on the restore side, sometimes failed cloud uploading, etc. It's unreliable and inconsistent enough that I just don't bother with it. Root and Titanium will ALWAYS do exactly what I want them to. That or rely more on apps that don't need to be backed up at all, which is where I've been leaning.

          • Andrew

            Suppose I can't argue with that.

            If it "crashes" on backup or restore, just hit the Backup/Restore button again, it will pick up where it left off. Often it doesn't actually fail, it just says it does due to discrepancy between expected data formats and what it sees.

            Also this may happen if you backed up version 1.01 of an app/data, and then upon restoring to a new device, Google Play updates that app to version 1.02 before you use Helium. In this case, data structures/files/formats may be different, and again it crashes.

            You're right.. not the most user friendly, but I've never had it "not work". Titanium w/root has the added ability to manage the apk install/uninstall/update process as well, which will ensure data consistency with previous device.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            Trust me, been down those roads. It'll crash over and over again in the exact same spot until I'm forced to uncheck the app it's backing up or restoring. I have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, having spent years with Titanium and similar options and knowing the ins and outs. Helium's simplicity is nice, but it's a double-edged sword. It's a lot harder to fix than, say, Titanium because it hides a lot more. And even then, as discussed, it's not friendly enough to make sense to the average joe.

    • Marcell Lévai

      Especially with games that have IAPs for currencies and stuff. Your moneyz were thrown into the toilet.

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        One of the main reasons I began avoiding IAP a while back. Now I carefully pay attention to whether a game uses Facebook or G+ to backup my progress before considering investing. If not, why bother?

        I ran into this with Robotek a long time back. Luckily when I emailed the company to complain about it, they actually refunded me my IAP.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          Most have a "restore IAP" in the menu. I don't buy IAPs though, I prefer to pay for a game outright.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            That works okay if the IAP is specific and tangible, like a hat, or a character, or a weapon. It fails if it's currency to be used to speed along your progress within the game.

          • Thomas’

            These usually don't restore consumable IAPs.

        • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

          Game i've played for years, starting on Ipod touch :( , Kingdoms at War,has backed up my purchases even across platform. So it must be laziness.

        • http://shywim.fr/ Matthieu Harlé

          And you would think every games that use FB or G+ link would save at least your progress (or your purchases). But no, no.
          Either these developers are extremely lazy, or they extremely want to make money. (or the two)

    • Mystery Man

      this is odd seeing you over here :o

      • MasterMuffin

        Couldn't resist the "exclusive" title :)

    • archercc

      Concur, while you CAN do it through other methods it not as easy as it just happening like pictures and Google+.

      Id love to be able to start a game on the tablet, then move to the phone and pick up right where I left off. And its not like its data intensive. Just set waypoints and send a bit of meta data to the cloud at each waypoint.

  • Zargh

    You forgot GOOGLE PLAY SERVICES ROCKKKKKKKSSSSSSS!!!

    (They added a last minute IO session by the same name: https://www.google.com/events/io/schedule/session/dc44916c-48e7-e311-b297-00155d5066d7)

    • Andrew

      Was hoping for the repeated caps with the !'s, 1's and one's in the official I/O session name... unfortunately I was disappointed.

  • Arthur

    I can Quests being a foot in the door for its new Android TV platform that we are also expecting to be announced. If Google makes its own Apple TV like all-in-one standalone hardware to take full advantage of all that is in the Google Play store, the Quests feature should allow for larger, console style games experience.

  • cjohnson481

    Saved games across devices is the biggest thing devs need to bring to games. If I'm killing time on my Moto X while out and about and then come home and pick up my Nexus 7, I want to start out right where I left off. Frustrating that this doesn't have higher adoption yet.

    • Arthur

      Very few dev's are taking advantage of this, a lot more need to.

    • rmkilc

      Email every the dev for every game you come across that is missing this feature. I do. But it will take more than one person to convince them.

      • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

        So lets make a list of all the games that need it and we can all badger them together.
        Worst 2 for me are Galaxy On Fire 2 and Symphony of Eternity.

    • http://si97.com/ Saif

      Email the devs.

  • cjohnson481

    "Quests" seems like an expansion on "Achievements", which are already in place at the moment, a lot of which already have status to where you are to completing. Interesting to see if this would add more storylines to some games that don't have much story to them.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      I think what they're referring to as quests here are more like what a lot of FTP games are calling "events," which isn't going to do what you're thinking. They're usually just attempts to make a special in-game situation that gives the player variety in gameplay and, more importantly, drives them to play a lot more in a limited timeframe and spend more money. The most it would do, in that case, is make it easier for developers to notify players of them and maybe track them against your friends.

  • Alvin Brinson

    When I see the word "Notifications" what I translate that to in my head is "Annoying and intrusive"... It says "Opt-In" but too many developers translate "Opt-In" to mean "You Opted In By Installing My App" and default all 47 different notification types to "On".

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      The notification opt-in is controlled through Google Settings if I'm not mistaken, so developers wouldn't be able to automatically opt you in.

  • NickAVV

    The Google Play Games client app really needs improvements. I'd like to be able to look at my friends' achievements and scores in games, and compare them with my own. If nobody can see your achievements it almost defeats the purpose

  • Randa Hafza

    i downloaded the app on my phone, but when i access it. i cant see my games or achievements.
    got a dozen of games logged into google play

  • Mark

    All utterly useless, as developers don't even implement essential stuff like cloud saves.

    Perhaps Google need to introduce a policy that if games implement this, they get featured status, allowing the crap to sink so to speak.. Developers then might bother...

  • Artevius Hardin

    I can see the Quest options being used to make daily/weekly challenges.

  • Rovindra Singh

    Is it just me or is it extremely difficult to compare achievements with friends who have played the same game. For the life of me I cannot find a way to do this.

  • Casin

    I'm just waiting for a really nice fantasy MMO for mobile. Maybe this is one step closer.

  • Fiorta

    Can't wait for I/O and my Android update. Really glad i switched to Nexus

  • Guest
    • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

      Shit disqus, get your shit straight! I thought I deleted this one.

  • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

    ...

  • Alex

    I wonder if one of the reasons for the lack of cloud saves is fragmentation -- in this case the Amazon App Store, which does not support apps using Google Play Services.

    If developers want their apps on both stores, they would need 2 implementations of the cloud save functionality, which they may not be keen to do.

    It's annoying though. As I understand it, changing iPhone generally restores practically everything from the old one, or so I've read.

  • Mikesphoneandtab

    What makes it so hard for developers to implement cloud saves? You'll see a game get Facebook Cloud saves before it gets clouds saves in the Operating Systems native cloud save option. Is it difficult?

  • Alexandre Leites

    1 star to devs without cloud saving. I think this gonna get someone attention.

  • Matt

    Google are able to influence developers to use such features by only featuring games from those who do. They don't do this...

    • Alexandre Leites

      Letting us filter games with X features might be a possible more "flexible" solution. Big companies like Google (except Apple) can't do this bad guy move.

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