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The Incident 1.3: Making It Work
November 10th, 2010

You’d be forgiven for thinking that The Incident 1.3 simply involves taking the pixels from the game and pushing them out onto a TV. If this was the case, the update would have be trivial. But, as always, the devil is in the details and Neven and I don’t do things half way.

First problem, as Neven mentioned, is the wider screen. Here’s how it would have looked if we simply took the iPad graphics and displayed them on a TV:

iPad video on a widescreen TV

Not so great. It doesn’t fit vertically and there are black bars on either side. The (landscape) iPad resolution is 1024 x 768 and a widescreen TV is 1280 x 720 (720p). Here’s how it looked after Neven widened the artwork and I rejiggered the UI:

Correctly proportioned video a widescreen TV

Much better. Now, obviously, it wasn’t as easy as all that. Neven had 3 layers per level to widen and I had a heck of a lot of UI to rejigger. Consider the main menu for example:

Correctly proportioned video a widescreen TV

Looks pretty nice in wide screen, no? Once this work was all done, it was time to move on to making the controller work “right”.

The Incident 1.2 introduced controller mode. With 1.2, it was possible to use your iPad as a display and your iPhone or iPod Touch as a controller. When the game is played this way, the iPad is within arm’s reach. It’s practical to tap on the iPad to control the menus and tilt and tap the controller to make Frank run and jump. On the other hand, when the display is a widescreen TV, there’s a good chance that the player is going to be sitting on the couch. When we decided that 1.3 was going to be all about TV output we knew it would have to feel exactly like a console. You should never need to diddle with the iPad for any reason. The controller would have to be able to control every aspect of the game; menus, gameplay, all of it. And in 1.3, it can.

Now, there are a handful of games already in the App Store that support using a TV as a display but what sets The Incident 1.3 apart is this independence; connect your iPad to your TV (with one of these or these), tap The Incident icon and the controller takes over. Receive a call and the game will pause. Finish the call, reconnect the controller and it will pick up right where you left it. Seamless. No need to get up from the sofa and tinker with the iPad. You wouldn’t do that with your Wii, right?

Some people have been asking about the possibility of using AirPlay in place of a VGA or component cable. Well, the thing is, AirPlay is for streaming. A buffered and compressed video stream is not the same thing as a video game. Even if the iPad were able to compress video in real time, it wouldn’t be able to send it wirelessly without a significant delay. Not a problem when watching a movie, but for a video game it’s a deal breaker. The only way to do this right now is with a cable.

  • As a developer i’d love to know how you’re handling all the multiple game types in code. Are you loading different configs or entirely diffent game classes?

  • could you make this work with apple tv?

    There’s been rumours that app store or controller set-up similar to what you have done would come to apple tv. I wonder and hope it’s possible.

    You mentioned the limitations of airplay.
    If airplay will stream controller data to another ios device, in this case an apple tv, could the apple tv deal with the video output?

    Keep up the good work!

  • jiminy smack it ! — 9:35 am on 11.11.2010

    I’m looking forward to when ” DLNA Push ” starts seeing support in TVs and whatnot.

    Believe for some games up to 120ms is negligible. And could be reasonably achiavable. 70 to 120ms.
    [that’s miliseconds unlike microseconds with onlive’s controller ;P ]

    I wonder why there’s not even a decent effort at an “open source remote rendering compressor and streamer” libeary out there …. ?

    Oh and please support TVout via at least the latest gen ipods and iphones as well.

    Cheers though, like biiig ups for the dedicated time, effort and curiosity to get the output and widescreen right !