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MMObility: Survival on a desert island

We've all played that age-old game of pondering what we might take with us on an endless trip to a desert island. What music would you bring? Whom would you bring with you? What food would you bring, if you could choose only one food? I've recently been thinking about this old game again, mainly because of my obsession with portability and all-in-one devices. Which device would I bring with me to that island, if I had to choose? (Let's forget the fact that I could just make a call or otherwise contact the authorities to rescue me off the island!)

The ultimate question is this: Which MMO would I bring installed on that device? Or, going a bit further, which apps or other downloads would I include? Once I started asking, my fantasy turned into somewhat of a challenge to myself: Could I survive a week without any access to a desktop at all? Could I write, play, and otherwise continue to do my job with only a pocket-sized device?

Join me past the cut and let's see what I might include on this trip.

We'll cover the games I would bring first. Later I will go over a few tools I might use to write, edit photos and communicate. The first game would have to be Pocket Legends, the World of Warcraft of mobile gaming. It is slick, works well, and runs wonderfully on both my iPhone 3GS and my HTC Inspire. The cash shop is fun and fairly inexpensive, and there are always a lot of players on. Spacetime Studios was smart enough to make grouping automatic and easy, so you won't waste time just looking for a group.

The game is as easy to download, run and play on the iPhone as on the Inspire. I prefer the Inspire experience with its larger screen and better performance, but there's not much difference between the two. Spacetime also does a great job keeping the game updated and adapting. The community is large, and the community managers seem to have finally grasped the idea of maintaining a Twitter and website presence.

Next I would have to go with Illyriad, the fantastic browser-based city-builder. Not only does the game run in any browser, mobile and otherwise, but it looks great. The developers were very smart and made the game playable without the need for plug-ins. This means that I can sign in with any device using my Facebook connect (if I want) and can get right to it without downloading a thing. Many browser games require external downloads or suffer from lag, but Illyriad is a delight to play. The only issue? The smaller buttons and links have to be zoomed in to touch -- I'm hoping a basic stylus will help with that.

The gameplay of Illyriad is perfect when I have only a few minutes at a time, but with the sheer amount of information, skills to learn, and wonderful community members, there is plenty to do. While on my island, I might scheme about how to take down my neighbor or which skills I will need to become a successful trader. Microtransactions are essentially virtual dollars that speed up caravan movements or speed up skill-learning, for example. Given Illyriad's realistic trade, amazing community, and variable-speed gameplay, I would be insane to leave this one off the list.

Another great one to have would be Outer Empires. This iPhone app does have a browser version (both are great), but the Android browser does not work with every part of the game. (You can chat, travel, and get into combat, but you cannot drag and drop cargo.) Between the browser and the official app, though, I think I'll be alright. I covered this game last week, and for good reason.

The last game I would choose is Yslandia. I haven't gotten so far in this iPhone-exclusive, but that's the main reason I want to bring it with me. The website and the art is so unique and interesting that I simply have to investigate more. The in-game art is a lot more simple than you see on the website, but it still has a nice feel and flow to it. Also, Moving Player designed the game so that you can customize your UI, something I've yet to see in a mobile MMO. This helps players who might have larger hands or other issues with the standard layout.

Since I will have all the time in the world to play these games, you darn well better believe that Massively will want me to write about it. Of course I might just want to keep a running diary or log of my life on the island, so I need a text editor to do it with. I could just log into the standard websites -- best done on my Inspire -- and write my columns and blog posts that way, but I also need something to rough my stuff in. I like good ole' Google docs for doing my roughs, and the fact that it is accessible through any browser makes it even better. I can copy and paste from either device into the editor for Massively and I'll be all set.


"As I write this, I am planning on using nothing but my two phones for a week of writing and playing. It would be a great way to show that the gamer lifestyle can be supported on only portable devices."

What about an image editor for my columns? This is a tough one. The biggest issue I have is with resizing pictures for my columns. I lucked out and found Picsay Pro, which does everything I need it to.

To round off my time on the island, I'll throw in some Skype, a little Sketchbook Pro, and a smidge of Pandora. Skype is the premier free phone and messaging device (even Oprah uses it!). As long as I don't call for a rescue, I should bring this all-in-one communicator. Sketchbook Pro is just what it sounds like: a program for drawing and creating images. I absolutely loved it on my iPad, so why not on my phone? Last but not least, I'll use Pandora for listening to a customized radio station. It works flawlessly, and the few commercials it airs are not a bother.

So I am prepared. Do I book my tickets now or just stowaway on some random cargo liner? Neither, but as I write this, I am planning on using nothing but my two phones for a week of writing and playing sometime in the near future. It would be a great way to show that the gamer lifestyle can be supported on only portable devices. Are the games to the point that I want them to be at yet? Not quite, but they are getting there very, very fast. In fact, so far in this column, the biggest challenge I am facing is finding the time to play the ever-increasing wave of new iOS and Android MMOs.

Watch this column over the next few weeks and I'll see how the phone-only experiment pans out. When I do it, perhaps a few of you can join me!

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Raptr.

This article was originally published on Massively.