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MMObility: As I pack these devices for E3


As I sit here waiting for a fresh reinstall of Windows Vista on one of my desktop PCs, I decided to take stock of all of the equipment currently in my nerd life. It's funny that when you have access to more devices, habits start to form around those devices. My morning ritual is typically to get up, start up the laptop, and prepare breakfast while it readies. Then I sit down and poke around on Twitter, check email, or catch up on different blog sites. Sometimes I will make a cup of tea and sit in the stoop of the backdoor with my iPad, waiting for my wife to get up.

Over time I have discovered that some devices work better for certain tasks than others. For example, I prefer to write my articles on my basic laptop, but I prefer to finalize them with photos and re-editing on my desktop. I now would rather check my email and Twitter on my iPad (I got my wife's old one when she moved up to an iPad 2) and would rather use my iPhone for music than my HTC: Inspire. It's odd, what a mix of devices I have now... but how inconvenient.

So I wanted to go over a few comparisons between all of the devices and talk about what I might find at E3 next week. Click past the cut!

Perhaps I am doomed to have more than one device in my life. While there are certainly harsher realities out there, I would like to get the number down to one or two. I am absolutely in love with my laptop, as basic as it is. Before I had this one, I lived behind the desktop. Sure, I'd play around with a friend's laptop or borrow my brother's at Christmas so my wife could entertain herself while my insane family made noise, but generally I had no reason to have one.

Then this job came along. It was almost a no-brainer to get a laptop. That way, I could literally write from anywhere, and I filled my head with worst-case scenarios of being stranded at an airport with a massive deadline looming or bring on vacation in some exotic place (North Carolina maybe?) while needing access to an online game. The laptop would solve many of my issues, and it largely has. Still, battery life and the fact that it is not a "gaming" machine have limited me somewhat.

"Slowly I found more interesting MMOs for all of the devices, but I worried about the fact that, as with consoles, there was sometimes no crossover between products."

Then I started getting more into the world of mobile MMO gaming. When I got my wife's first iPhone, the world of mobile life really opened up. I even began to find actual, real MMOs for the tiny device. Over time, I found more. Granted, not all of them were perfect or perfect for me, but I knew that the market would expand. Then I got myself an iPhone, and later, an HTC Inspire. Slowly I found more interesting MMOs for all of the devices, but I worried about the fact that, as with consoles, there was sometimes no crossover between products. If it worked on the iPhone, it might not work on the Inspire. If it was a great game for the laptop, there was no guarantee that the developer would make a more portable version.

I've kept hope all this time, and games are starting to cross over. Also, browser technologies and brilliant coding have led me to games that will play on any of these devices. Not all of the devices play the same -- some are more powerful than others -- but it's still exciting to find games that work in any situation.

At this point, I am leaning heavily on my laptop and my iPad. The iPhone is hardly touched anymore, and even the Inspire's wonderful power and browser capability are sometimes thrown off by the phone's ability to do too much. In fact, that is the key difference between Apple devices and all others: Apple does not want to allow you to do everything on your device. The iPhone is not as compatible, nor as customizable, as many of the other phones on the market. But if you use approved apps and stick with it, you will rarely, if ever, have issues. Customizing and tweaking is all sorts of fun until something has a conflict or you download a virus or you accidentally use the wrong version. My Inspire reminds me too much or my desktop with its ability to do too much and glitch out too often. Apple products simply do not have as many issues as the others. Remember, Apple's not in the business of making phones only for people who have a degree in computer science. That's why it's are successful.

In fact, PC issues caused the install of my OS on my desktop just today. It became too bloated, too sluggish, and it started having errors. Yes, a standard PC desktop will last a grandmother five years, especially since she will probably never update a driver or play a game on it, but for us semi-tech-savvy individuals, keeping a gaming PC running perfectly (without spending even more money on it) is nigh impossible. It will, at some point, let you down.

Yes, I know how to build my own PC. Yes, I maintain some of the best paid spyware- and virus-protection software. I know what my RAM does, I know about graphics cards (I buy new ones every few years), and I know that building your own PC just means that you put it together instead of paying someone else to.

"The point is that the mobile devices in my house, especially the all-in-one devices like the iPad, have encouraged me to stray farther and farther away from the desktop."

The point is that the mobile devices in my house, especially the all-in-one devices like the iPad, have encouraged me to stray farther and farther away from the desktop. Yes, even for gaming. It might be a reflection of my age, as well, but I have never been someone to grind away at one game, a game that requires the power of a gaming rig, for hours and hours and hours, week after week. So did the mobile lifestyle make me what I am, or was I already built for the mobile lifestyle even before it existed? It's hard to say. I'll be encouraged by hanging out with other mobile addicts next week. But what will they be using?

I fully expect to see a great number of iPads at E3, but I do not expect to find many people who play MMOs on them. Sure, there will be a mass of publishers there who will be pushing a cool iPad or Android game, but portable massively multiplayer games? Nah, they won't be the shining star of the event. Still, I would bet good money that I will find plenty of closeted mobile gamers -- MMO gamers even -- who will be willing to hang out and swap mobile tips with me. I'm sort of ashamed to admit it, especially since there will be so many amazing new desktop games to see at the event, but what excites me most is the possibility that I might stumble across some tiny booth in a dark corner for a developer that makes mobile MMOs. Or at least a publisher that has a few coming out.

Laptops will be numerous, of course. A lot of the developers use them to show off new trailers or gameplay to writers like yours truly, especially when meeting for a lunch interview or cafeteria nerd-date. Hopefully I will discover a few new games that can run on my basic laptop. Then I will come back here and tell all of you all about them. I think that sounds like a good deal.

Now, how to pack all of these devices together?

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.

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