Friday, March 22, 2013

[iOS&Android]: Google Maze, a browser game bridging mobile and desktop

Yesterday Google Japan released a game that turns any website into a playable maze game. The coolest part? You use your phone as a controller. I'll take you through everything you need to know, with special emphasis on how to set it up as most of the instructions are in Japanese.

What is Maze?
Google Maze takes any website, renders it flat, and then adds collectable blue dots which act as points. You have a 300 second time limit to reach the end of the webpage, but this is often very generous.

How do you control it?
After you've synced your phone and desktop browsers, you use your phone as a controller. Hold your phone in landscape mode at a 'normal' angle when starting, as this is when it calibrated the phone's sensors as to which way is up. Then, on the bottom left press the "power" button and tilt your phone. This will cause you to move. The ball will not move if you aren't holding down the power button. On the bottom right is a "jump" button which allows you to jump over obstacles. Careful though, you will bounce on the way down and you could fall off the map and lose a life.

You have to get from the starting point of the webpage to the end of the webpage. The entire way has railings around it (thank goodness) because there is certainly a delay between the  input and the action. You have 3 lives, and 300 seconds to do it in, and the time does reset after each death.

Is Maze part of Google's agenda?
Google has been well known to do random odd things in order to achieve something. When they acquired YouTube, it was all about ad revenue and search databases. Ingress was a game meant to help gather maps data. Android was more or less to get a foot into the mobile door. It is yet unclear if Google Maze has a purpose or if it is purely just trying to bridge the gap between mobile and desktop. It could also just be an incentive to install Google Chrome onto both a desktop and mobile phone, and force users to setup the tab sync function. Only the big G knows.

First, you will need to open up Chrome on your desktop and login. Then go to Next, open up Chrome on either your Android 4.x device or iPhone running iOS 5 or newer, and log into that Chrome as well. From there, ensure tab syncing is turned on (on Android go to the menu button, settings, and touch on your gmail account. Sync options are right there. I apologize, but I don't actually have a compatible iOS device to find the address on). Then, under Chrome settings (again), press on the "Other Devices" button. Assuming you also have sync turned on your desktop/laptop, you should see the "Chrome World Wide Maze" tab open. Click on that, then hit "start". You can also skip the intro because I'm going to walk you through every detail.

Once everything is connected, your phone should show the URL and a 6 digit code. On your desktop navigate to that address, and enter your code. Then hit "connect" on your desktop. After that, it's time to select the webpage you will be navigating. You can search the web for any page, or use one of Google's pages shown on that site, which of course are all different Google products (Google+, Locations, and the Nexus 4 page). The page will then render, and then it's important to have your phone is a "normal" position so it will calibrate properly.

BugsI haven't been able to get any sites working besides the sites Google has listed on it's page. If you have any tips please let me know in the comments.

Also, because your phone is the controller, the actions on the screen will be delayed (your phone registers your tilting it, sends it through the internet to Google's servers where it then sends it to your desktop. Even at the speed of light there will be some delay).

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