I was in the Westfield Bondi Junction (a mall in Sydney) at the weekend waiting for the other half. So I took my phone out and took a look at what I could do to kill the time.
I have Monkey Ball, Crash Bandicoot Racing, de Blob and Trism on their atm but I decided I couldn’t play any of them. Why? Because of the way they save or don’t save when you press the home button.
Out of all of the games above only Trism saves its state when you press the home button. This makes short burst play hugely frustrating on the other games. Most mobile phone users will likely look to their iPhone to fill the gap in between meetings, or when they wait for people to turn up, or at lunch, or maybe on the bus/train/tube/ferry. All of these are short burst activities and the user needs to know that time has not been wasted.
If you look at both the PSP and the Nintendo DS they have a sleep function. So if you have to end your gaming quickly just put it to sleep and resume later. Now the iPhone allows software makers to save the application state when you press the home button the main reason for not using this is bug testing.
Saving the state and loading it on the next boot up has lots of testing implications. What happens if it is in this state or that state they press home? There are a lot of potential sticking points. However as a software maker our focus must be the user.
If the user is put off your game because of the above it could hurt their impressions of gaming on the iPhone full stop. So we hope, with Pop, we can get a good solution to state saving integrated so you can keep playing even if you have to interrupt it with real world stuff!