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MMObility: My week in mobile


I love exploring the mobile gaming world. I also really enjoy window-shopping on different websites, looking at the latest mobile technologies. If I really let my imagination run, I can picture society in only a dozen or more years: people walking around while constantly being connected to their family and friends, playing games while video chatting.

Of course, I also wonder whether this would be a good thing or not, but I forget the concern as soon as I spy the latest patch for one of my favorite MMOs. The last week was an eventful one, and as usual I was all over the digital map. Why don't you click past the cut and see what happened? I promise I'll skip the parts about what I had for breakfast (always two pieces of toast, a cup of tea, and a fruit smoothie) and will get right to the better digital parts.

Outer empires screenshot
I tried to spend some time in Outer Empires, a browser-based iOS game that sets players off into a sort of miniature EVE Online universe. Like EVE, Outer Empires is a mix of the bland and fantastic. I like to spend my time shipping goods all over the star map, but leveling is so slow that I often find myself bored before I achieve anything. Yet, as with EVE, I continue to give OE chance after chance. I love the fact that the browser version is the same one you'll find on your phone or tablet, but even being mobile is sometimes not enough to make it fun. I think there might be better content coming, or so the news section promises. I hope so. While I enjoy the game, it doesn't invite me to sit down and play it for hours at a time, which is a requirement for success.

Netbooks section of Best Buy
I also wanted to check out one of my favorite sections of Best Buy's website: the netbooks. For a brief period I owned one that was always connected to the internet thanks to a built in 3G modem. We hadn't taken the house to a wireless connection yet, so I quickly hit the data cap. Still, I absolutely loved how light the device was. The ones manufactured now are still light and even more powerful, but I'm more excited to see them drop below the $200 line. I have to admit to having slight ulterior motives in writing this column, in the hopes that one day I will have a hand in spreading the news of a $50 device that will allow players from all over the world to connect together. Perhaps playing games together will actually lead us to world peace one day? Yes, I'm serious. Granted, we might have to fight for our survival in a post-apocalyptic Hellscape as well one day, but I'm an optimist.

Puzzle Pirates screenshot
I was happy to spend some time in Puzzle Pirates this week, as well. As I have stated before, the puzzles and design in the game are probably some of the best I have seen. The multiplayer ship combat is awesome, and the way the game has players interact with each other in real time during combat is pure genius. My only issue with the game is that many of the puzzles can be hard on the wrists, especially if you sign up with a crew for a longer voyage. I feel bad, but half of the time I have to leave early simply because I'm starting to ache. I would give anything for an iPad version of the game. The touch screen is absolutely perfect for the puzzle-based gameplay. Sometimes I will stream it through my Splashtop remote desktop, but even that can have its issues. Until Puzzle Pirates comes out with an app, I will continue to log in and enjoy it from the comfort of my laptop on the breakfast bar. It's a perfect spot, especially early in the morning when temperatures are not yet in the triple-digits.

Chromebook picture
I rounded out the week by checking back in on the new Chromebooks. If you do not know what they are, read up a bit on them. Essentially they are laptops that run a browser-based operating system, specifically, Chrome. What this means is that there is limited storage and no way to install your usual programs. This is no gaming or Windows machine; this is an internet device. The concept behind the small laptops is a great one, but one that definitely needs some tweaking. The exciting thing about them for me is the opportunity to truly have a light, fast, all-in-one device, one that can actually play real MMOs that offer interaction with hundreds or thousands of players. It should be noted that many browser-based games still need some sort of graphical push in order to work, but the general idea is that if you can do it in your browser now, you should be able to do it on a Chromebook.

The little machines should have great security features, super-fast boot-up times, and long-life batteries, and they remain very light. Honestly, however, the price-point at this time reaches into the basic (but decent) laptop realm or the really nice netbook realm. Now, if Google started to produce $200r 14- or 15-inch screen laptops, then we might have a contender. For now, I would bet that these devices will see more success with businesses that need a quick start-up computer for employees or with students who need a simple internet machine without the worry or hassle of buggy programs. I guarantee that soon enough the prices will drop, and even the better netbooks will have really stiff competition. Will they play the games that I often talk about in this column, though? Many of them, yes. After all, HTML5 is coming and performance is going up overall. Until the models improve or drop in price, I am going to stick to a standard laptop. I've actually decided that my next major PC purchase will not be a $1,000 desktop (like the ones I have bought over the last 11 or 12 years) but a slightly tougher laptop than the one I own now for half the price.

I guess you might call this last week of mine a typical one. I did some research, played some games, tried to find new ways to play old games, and tweaked the technology I already own. Mobile gaming is even starting to take over my desktop gaming, but I don't mind. Soon enough, there will be no question about "standard" MMOs being able to run on a small notebook. Technology will ensure that. I can't wait!

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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