Unity, Tegra Zone and Google freebies for devs: Gaming on Android

You can tell the Game Developer's Conference is going on; there's lots of gaming news this week. Today I wanted to talk about a couple of video game related announcements of interest to Android enthusiasts (some related to GDC, some not). First of all, 3D gaming platform company Unity Technologies released Unity for Android ($400) and Unity Pro for Android ($1500). Unity got its start as a browser-based 3D gaming engine for personal computers, and has also been available on iOS devices. Bringing the engine to Android means porting Unity games to the platform becomes much easier. Unity's Nicholas Francis said in a blog post "it's incredibly simple to take your existing games and port them directly over to the new build target." Phandroid has an interesting post about the speed of porting between iOS and Android. If you're an Android dev, there's a free trial for Windows of Mac OS X, so go get started making us great games!

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Next, Nvidia introduced the Tegra Zone app. The app offers a curated selection of games designed to take advantage of the Tegra 2 chip (or as Nvidia calls it, the Tegra 2 super chip!). All of the included apps can be found via the standar Android Market; Nvidia is just exposing them to Android owners who have a shiny new Tegra 2 powered device like the Motorola Xoom. Nvidia said in a Press Release NVIDIA has worked closely with game developers to enhance games for the Tegra 2 super chip, bringing such features as:

  • More realism: Increased geometry detail, higher resolution textures and complex shaders, lighting, and shadows
  • More interactivity: Larger number of characters on screen and more instances of independent animations
  • Extra challenging: Advanced artificial intelligence processing , complex world and player management
  • Improved game play: More levels to tackle and more equipment for gaming characters to use
  • Better game play and an enhanced shopping experience

Tegra 2 'super chip' brings hi-resolution gaming to Android

Next we have word that Google is giving out Xoom tablets to GDC attendees. Engadget has the story. Google is big on seeding the developer community with hardware, and as a gamer its encouraging that they're doing it at the Game Developer's Conference. Obviously Google takes gaming as seriously as we do. Now let's hope Android sees some new game devs coming on board thanks to these give-aways. Last is a strong rumor (via tweet from Millennial Media) that Amazon's Android Store is coming sometime this month. This isn't good news just for gamers; the Android Market is something of a mess and if anyone knows how to expose users to products they might be interested in, it's Amazon. Think of this like a Tegra Zone for the rest of us. You can learn more about the Amazon App Store at Business Insider. So more games are coming, and more ways of finding the great Android games are coming. The GDC is just getting going; maybe we'll hear more big Android gaming announcements before the week is out!

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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