MMObility: Staying desktop-free with Splashtop Remote and Warspear Online

Let's face it: If you are frequenting this site and specifically this column, you probably have a soft spot in your heart for gizmos, gadgets, and gear. I know I do. But all that cool stuff costs a lot of money. When I spent the first half of my life as a drummer, I was known as the "duct tape drummer" because I used it for everything from bandages to kick drum holders. I could achieve what I wanted at a fraction of the price mainly because I wasn't worried about how my drum kit looked or how new my gear was.

I bring that same mentality to my gaming. This column was born out of the need for gaming-on-the-cheap and more mobility, and today I wanted to give you two examples of how this mentality works in my life. Remember, the ultimate goal here is to have fun, and I have had more fun since I started this column than I have had in a long, long time.

Click past the cut and let me show you some new ways to game!

First I wanted to show you my new favorite app, the Splashtop Remote. It's dirt cheap and works perfectly. Essentially, it is a remote desktop application for your iOS or Android device. You need to be on the same network as the host computer for it to work effectively, but there is an "internet discovery" feature that lets you connect to your desktop through Google's account services.

What is the point of streaming your desktop to your iPad, for example, when your PC is just in the other room? Trust me, I asked the same question, at least until I opened the app and played Vanguard: Saga of Heroes on my iPad from bed. It was glorious. See, the entire premise of this column is to pull us away from our desktops. That might sound like I am poo-pooing desktops and all that they have done for me over the last 11 years or so, but I am not. I know they have their place, and I have enjoyed my PC for a long time. But now, as a 37-year-old man who values his time, health, and money more than ever, I want to experiment with gaming in different, possibly cheaper and healthier ways.

There are several advantages to streaming your favorite game to your iPad. First of all, you can run it at a lower resolution and it still looks pretty darn good on the smaller screen of the iPad. Simply match the aspect ratio and raise it up a few times and you're good to go. In other words, the iPad is at a 4:3 ratio (a resolution of 1024x768). I set the game I was playing (in this case, Vanguard or Lord of the Rings Online) at 1280x960, much lower than my computer normally runs at. I can also turn off some of the bells and whistles and the experience is still grand, mainly because I'm playing from my bed or back porch. This means that the PC is not working as hard, and the system works great.

Of course, controlling your favorite game can sometimes be difficult when using Splashtop. Luckily, you can press three fingers on the screen to bring up a handy menu that includes a set of arrow keys that act as your WASD or arrow movements. There is also a handy pop-up keyboard for chatting and shortcuts, so I set the forward-slash key (in LotRO, for example) to reset the camera. Since the Splashtop camera controls (moving the camera around with your finger) are really sensitive, I can just open the on-screen keyboard and reset the camera to a normal position. Abilities and macros are fired off normally from the hotbar.

I want to add that the developers are working on a "gaming version" that looks amazing so far. Once complete, it will truly add a large number of options.

If you decide to try Splashtop, take your time with each game to get it to run smoothly. Games have to run in windowed mode, but that should not be a problem. The program does support full-screen mode, but I found the buttons and shortcuts to be too tiny. I let it run my desktop in default mode, and the games would open and fill the window.

Don't forget that this means you can play all of the browser-based and Flash games you want. Your desktop essentially becomes a cloud, acting sort of like your own version of OnLive. Why bother with all of this when the PC sits right there? Yes, the toy factor does account for a lot of the turn-on, but let's be honest: It's just cool to play Ryzom on the iPad.

Next I wanted to show you one of my favorite new mobile MMOs: Warspear Online. I recently listed this in my big 50 mobile games list, and I've been enjoying it a lot since then. Honestly, the game is not revolutionizing the genre at all. Most quests are of the kill-10-rats variety, and you have a limited number of classes to choose from. Some of the translations are still a bit off, and the click-to-move movement could be swapped out for a d-pad.

Again I call on the Spirits of the Cute to explain why I like this title so much. It just works. I love the graphics -- please, AIGRIND, do not change a thing about the graphics. Eight-bit is so in right now, and my little barbarian is so adorable. Also, you can download the game for your PC, Android, Symbian, iOS and Windows Mobile... the only thing this game doesn't run on is a box of tissues. Let's be honest, OK? Real honest. This is the perfect bathroom game. Or, of course, the perfect back porch game or bed-at-midnight game... you get the picture.

So far I have been running newbie quests and gathering flowers and other random items for lazy NPCs, but my mind is racing with the possibilities of such a portable little world. The interior locations could be used for player housing, and I could only imagine a raid with several other players! The developers at AIGRIND have told me that a new update scheduled for July will introduce many of these items: a friends list, guild management, two new factions with new territories, a cash shop with virtual items (the game is entirely free right now, but it used to be subscription-based) and a switch from the current reputation system to a more common system of leveling.

There are always other players around -- 10,000 a day, according to AIGRIND. Chat is accessible through a quick menu, and you can hold and drag the map around when you are lost. Here's a good tip to remember: When playing, press "menu" then "settings and logout." Next hit "settings" and use the top selector to go to "game" and scroll down. There you will find "show hotkeys panel" and select that. A handy hotbar will appear at the bottom of your screen. All of this functionality and portability make for a really fun little game. I tend to log on and finish one quest at a time, but I can't wait to make it into new areas of the world. You can check the game out at the official site, download it from iTunes or for nab it for Android.

Now you have plenty to keep you busy until next week. Enjoy!

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.