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Google Earth As a Game Engine For Ship Simulation

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-i-ask-is-a-tall-e-ship dept.

Google 84

dinther writes "Yesterday the program Ships was released. Ships is significant because it is the first serious application that uses Google Earth as a game engine. In Ships, you take control of a selection of ships and drive them around the world (if you have that much time). Building games around Google Earth is now viable, thanks to its ever-increasing level of detail. From a technical standpoint, the Google Earth browser plugin has proven to be quite a capable platform to work with. Further tech details about the application are available as well."

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84 comments

only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (3, Interesting)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009397)

The Google Earth Plugin is currently only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+.

Well, that's the first browser-based game I've tried to play that isn't cross platform.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (3, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009441)

Google Earth browser

browser-based game

are we forking the meaning of "browser" now?

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009483)

Google Earth browser

"Google Earth browser plugin"

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014599)

Google Earth browser

"Google Earth browser plugin"

"Google Earth browser-plugin"

That annoying little worm thing makes all the difference ;)

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (4, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009543)

Well, that's the first browser-based game I've tried to play that isn't cross platform.

Doing 3D games in a browser makes baby Jesus cry.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28009673)

Well, that's the first browser-based game I've tried to play that isn't cross platform.

Doing 3D games in a browser makes baby Jesus cry.

<joke>
Yes, RuneScape does indeed cause him to cry. Although, in fairness, a baby will cry at most things.
</joke> :)

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (2, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009695)

http://www.quakelive.com/ [quakelive.com]

No, it really doesn't.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (5, Funny)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010473)

Well, that's the second browser-based game I've tried to play that isn't cross platform.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010601)

Yes, it does:

We're sorry, but your web browser or operating system is not compatible with QUAKE LIVE. You must be using a combination of the following:

Windows XP
Windows Vista

Firefox 2.0 / 3.0
Internet Explorer 7 / 8

Support for Mac & Linux, along with alternative browsers is under development.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010623)

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/59 [mozilla.org]

Give it a whirl and let me know if it runs after you tell QuakeLive that you're really running XP SP3 and Firefox 3.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (3, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010663)

No thanks. I choose my browser and platform based on important principles like freedom and openness -- principles that the web was designed to support. I've no intention to lie about that choice just badly designed game.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (3, Informative)

hr.wien (986516) | more than 4 years ago | (#28012895)

Linux/OSX won't magically be able to run Windows executables just because you change your browser's UA string.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014643)

Which is why they shouldn't sabotage the game based on user agents, if it works fine in my browser.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009733)

Haven't been around long, eh? There have been tons of them out there, mostly before Adobe got their butts in gear and actually made a working Linux Flash plugin. Before even that, though, there were ActiveX ones. And there are IE-only ones, etc etc.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28010717)

There are other things... like netflix.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014879)

Well, that's the first browser-based game I've tried to play that isn't cross platform.

Quake Live?

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28015329)

Plugin - which means it's the same as flash, java, quicktime, and all the rest.

On the bright side, the page will still load for linux users - it'll just have a big empty box in it. ;)

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28015517)

I have noticed more and more that google just seems to ignore the Linux user group.

Its the same with Chrome. And now yet again I feel left out.

Re:only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28016297)

Be thankful is not available for Linux. Every time I install a Google product I have to manually disable that piece of shit GoogleUpdate malware.

finally... (5, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009417)

finally a game that SHOULD account for piracy.

Re:finally... (3, Funny)

scsirob (246572) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009473)

But only when you pass Somalia..

Re:finally... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28009569)

There aren't any pirates in Somalia, only black people.

Re:finally... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28009591)

Are you a pirate?
Are you a nigger?

Are you a pirate nigger? If so, PNAS could be just what you're looking for.

Can we have pirates? (2, Insightful)

sammyo (166904) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009459)

Subs?

There are AIS feeds for live ships at sea, it's only available when the ship is near a land receiver but for the ports that update, all the actual current positions of working vessels could be included in a 'sim'.

But pirates would be more fun.

Re:Can we have pirates? (2, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010933)

I played with a military version of this about 12 years back when I was, er, military, though it was strictly a top down view only - unless you plugged the feed in to oilstock without permission, and wrote a small script to parse it all. After borrowing the world wide digital terrain elevation data CD's from another agency (again possibly without permission and subsequently taking up several gigabytes of drive space) you could even have a rudimentary google earth like view in 300 easy mouse clicks per reference frame. Want to change the view angle? Remember that 300 mouse click sequence I just showed you?

They were fun days.

load on google servers (4, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009585)

wouldn't this type of game cause an exponential increase of load on Google's servers??

Re:load on google servers (2, Insightful)

wayLateToTheGame (1486381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009743)

Why exponential?

Re:load on google servers (4, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010021)

Because people don't know what exponential means, they think it means "a lot".

Re:load on google servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28011115)

Word of mouth depends on the number of people already playing.

Of course, that still doesn't say anything unless you know the adoption rate and the initial number of people.

Re:load on google servers (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009827)

Exponential? As in increasing geometrically? I don't think that's likely.

Google's servers handle a lot of data, so I doubt this will even be a significant increase.

Re:load on google servers (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010023)

just used exponential to say that if the load starts increasing, the rate of increase would also keep increasing as, suppose 1 person plays it, he tell about it to 2 more who tell it to 2 more people each so 4 more and do on

not sure which is the correct word for this so used exponential

of course it would only be valid if the game were to be popular..

Re:load on google servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28010599)

Yeah, this would be exponential, however, you aren't accounting for the load already on google's servers. I think that this game would have to become extremely popular before google starts to feel any strain from it.

GE would be more fine as a tool for games (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009625)

If they worked more on the GE com api, instead of the new google api.

Now we need to work trough a web layer.

This is actually a big deal (4, Interesting)

LS (57954) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009705)

Imagine if you could play GTA but across the whole world, dealing with drug cartels in Columbia and making weapons trades with the Russian mafia. Or recreate a WW2 battle. Google earth could become a platform for any game that is based in real world geography.

The API may not be robust enough and the detail may not be comprehensive enough to do this yet, but it seems like it could be done in short time if Google so wished.

The platform could become a general gaming engine as well, where you could select a universe (real world / Star Wars World / J.R.R. Tolkien world, etc) and visit other planets.

I suppose google could call this Google Universe, a MMO engine based in GIS technology, with one of the Universes being managed by google based on real data, and any others being created by 3rd party developers.

The potential is pretty exciting...

LS

Re:This is actually a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28009987)

The potential is pretty exciting...

Imagine a beowulf cluster of them.

Re:This is actually a big deal (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010621)

Agreed, the ultimate game would be : Google Earth (except with the resolution and detail you won't get before decades) + SimCity (so you could build your own city in the real world and connect it to others) + GTA, so you could do all the aforementioned criminal stuff + driving + flying around.

In the meantime I'd content myself with a Google Earth based DEFCON.

Re:This is actually a big deal (1)

DamageLabs (980310) | more than 4 years ago | (#28011175)

+ GTA, so you could do all the aforementioned criminal stuff

Plus Ports of Call, so you could move your car from continent to continent.

We must not forget Oil Imperium, because you will need a lot of oil to power the cars and ships.

Add a dash of Flight Simulator for flying, and it could be finished.

More or less.

Re:This is actually a big deal (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28011677)

The API may not be robust enough and the detail may not be comprehensive enough to do this yet, but it seems like it could be done in short time if Google so wished.

Why Google? Are they supposed to benefit from leveraging their terribly slow, inefficient, clunky-control-laden graphics engine or the freely available public satellite and height data?

Re:This is actually a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28012655)

As a platform, no chance in hell. Nothing Google creates will be useful for more than simple browser based games.

However, as a data feed, I've always wondered why there aren't any "real" games that have used it (or similar things).

Art also imitates Art (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#28012833)

Imagine if you could play GTA but across the whole world, dealing with drug cartels in Columbia and making weapons trades with the Russian mafia. Or recreate a WW2 battle. Google earth could become a platform for any game that is based in real world geography.

The potential is pretty exciting...

Sounds like a harsh realm [imdb.com] to me.

News headlines (0, Offtopic)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009755)

Is it me, or are there far too many headlines regarding games on Slashdot recently?

Re:News headlines (0, Offtopic)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010297)

By the way, there are at least three grammatical / punctuation errors in the first paragraph of your Titanic book's web site: Two misplaced apostrophes and a missing hyphen.

Re:News headlines (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010349)

And a spelling mistake in the first paragraph of the book itself :-(

Oh dear.

Re:News headlines (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28012343)

Is it me, or are there far too many headlines regarding games on Slashdot recently?

I think it's seasonal, I remember the same thing last spring.

College students are out of classes, high school students are thinking about it. The spring sports seasons are wrapping up. More free time for kids/young adults = more game industry activity = more game industry discussion on teh intarwebs.

Even the flash games sites are pushing major releases this month.

This is without speculating on the changing demographics of the slashdot userbase.

And besides, what's the alternative? More politics articles? More 'inane ask slashdots'? IMO, there's less really interesting tech industry news right now, due to the economy.

Its clever but... (2, Informative)

gnalre (323830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28009999)

Collision detection leaves a lot to be desired. However it is kinda cool to driver a cruise line up Rotterdam high street.

But all in all I'll stick to ShipSimulator 2008

congratulations! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28010099)

congratulations! you've made the world's most boring game!

coming next from the studios of dull-o-game are more tedious job with so sense of achievement related titles:

canning factory tycoon. you work in a canning factory, making sure the machine that puts the labels on doesn't run out of labels. 70,000 hours of gameplay.

night time security guard simulator. you play a guard in an office complex where nothing ever happens. walk around on the hour registering your prescense at various parts of the building. go home. do the same thing tomorrow.

the sims 3. sit in filth and squalor because you don't have enough time to wash and clean because you are making some poxy computer character wash and clean *his* virtual place.

Re:congratulations! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28010271)

congratulations! you've made the world's most boring game!

When the reviewer has to mention the adjustable camera angle and the ship's wake as cool features, you know you have yourself a bestseller :D

Re:congratulations! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28011299)

night time security guard simulator. you play a guard in an office complex where nothing ever happens.

Well, you can make something happen. [wikipedia.org]

You might not like the ending though.

Re:congratulations! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28011325)

the sims 3. sit in filth and squalor because you don't have enough time to wash and clean because you are making some poxy computer character wash and clean *his* virtual place.

Reminds me of the next expansion to World of Warcraft [youtube.com]

Re:congratulations! (2, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#28011355)

congratulations! you've made the world's most boring game!

Doesn't seem any more boring than those real-time simulate-flying-a-747 games. My father in law used to play those. "Don't touch the computer", he'd say, "it's on autopilot, I'm coming in to Intercontinental in an hour".

Re:congratulations! (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#28011519)

what's really amazing is all those sim airline pilots who spend thousands of hours flying with the autopilot off as time on autopilot doesn't count for "promotion"...

Re:congratulations! (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013283)

congratulations! you've made the world's most boring game!

How does this upset Desert Bus [wikipedia.org] from this title?

You are a bus driver, going from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. You drive the bus in real time for the 8 hour trip, with little to keep your attention, save for a swinging air freshener and an occasional bug splat on the windshield. To make matters worse, the bus pulls to the right, meaning you have to keep your hands on the controller at all times. Let the bus go off the road and you'll be towed all the way back to Tucson in real time, which, depending on how far along you are, can take up to 8 hours as well. If you manage to make it all the way to Vegas, though, you get a point. You then have seconds to decide whether to drive back for an additional point. And then again. And again. No pauses, no game saves, not even a periodic reminder from Keifer Sutherland that events are occurring in real time.

But hey, there's an idea: remake Desert Bus using Google Earth data!

Is it a game, or is it real? (4, Funny)

snarfies (115214) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010203)

The only winning move is not to play.

How about a nice game of chess?

Re:Is it a game, or is it real? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010587)

Is it a game, or is it real?

I think the "or double-click to teleport anywhere in the world" part kind of gives it away... :-)

Nukular adverts (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014827)

The only winning move is not to play.

However, at your discretion, you may also use GoogleNukewords to sell advertising space on the side of the missiles.

One customer, Lockheed, has been making quite a bit with their "If found, please return for repair and recycling" ad.

Survival Horror, please (2, Funny)

tmosley (996283) | more than 4 years ago | (#28010825)

I think it's time for a zombie outbreak game that is based on the real world, with totally open gameplay. It's time to find out if malls really are the best place to take shelter or not, and settle a bunch of other zombie based issues once and for all!

Re:Survival Horror, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28014849)

I think we have plenty of zombie outbreak games for now.

Re:Survival Horror, please (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 4 years ago | (#28016105)

Sure, but they are all pretty limited, generally with linear plotlines and limited numbers of areas available. They also tend to suffer from resorting to spawning points, where a game like this could use real population data to create a realistic starting scenario that STAYS realistic through the whole game. Rather than just finishing a drink at a bar and finding everyone in the world is suddenly a zombie, you would hear news of it, and it would likely take days for it to reach you, so you could use that time to set up your base of operations while still having to deal with other regular people. You could have some cities walling themselves up to keep the zombies out only to have one get in and find it's a deathtrap. People could occupy various types of structures, or flee into the countryside, etc, etc.

It could be a lot of fun.

and you call yourselves nerds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28011845)

you are not a real nerd if you do not like simulator games. this game fuckin' rocks. TOOT TOOT

only problem is that sometimes the keyboard controls don't work and you end up moving the map instead of turning the steering wheel.

Re:and you call yourselves nerds... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014869)

you are not a real nerd if you do not like simulator games.

Actually, the real nerds simulate people who like simulator games. It's a cute little trick we do to identify our sims... a bit like how farmers put tags on the ears of their cows.

Rendering (1)

djnforce9 (1481137) | more than 4 years ago | (#28012099)

I am not sure if this plans to be done or if it's possible but what would be VERY cool for a game like this is if the color pattern of each building could be inspected in real time and a model of that building generated based on the shape and material of that building (e.g. a copper roof of an L shaped building). They could do the same for grass, rocks, trees, etc as well. The only guesswork would be what the rest of the building looks like but that could easily be rendered with a more generic set of textures (as long as the building looks the same each time you visit it). That would be about as close as you can get to having a virtual simulation of the real world without having to worry about making the game hundreds of GBs in size (just need a set of textures for each material).

Big map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28012781)

This could give a whole new meaning to big maps in Civ.

Land Shark (1)

ScytheLegion (1274902) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014059)

It's actually pretty cool - just tried it out with XP, Vista: IE, FF / OS X: Safari, FF, Opera (slow day...). Obviously, loading a layer on top of Google's API, because the best part is you can "sail" over/through anything! I chose the Container Ship (very slow maneuverability) and inadvertently "sailed" over land, then right through downtown Rotterdam. Also dragged the anchor across land - didn't seem to slow me down. The horn and anchor don't work in all browsers...

All ships are defaulted to Rotterdam, so that's the only point of origin.

Here's the direct link to load the "game" - requires GoogleEarth browser plug-in. http://ships.planetinaction.com/ [planetinaction.com]

This could give survival horror a personal touch. (1)

indytx (825419) | more than 4 years ago | (#28014355)

How much trouble it would be to add the ability for a game's level editor to grab info from Street View and then extrapolate the Street View data into a realistic 3-D environment? I would gladly pay a subscription for this level of functionality if I could play a FPS level that looked just like my neighborhood. My side hedges would make an excellent place from which to snipe.

Ah, but IS it a game? (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28015171)

For all I know, the ships I steer in this game could be real ships using Google Earth, GPS, etc to do their navigation. I could wipe out an entire species [wikipedia.org] in the guise of playing a game.

Hmm... 275 points for running a tanker [wikipedia.org] aground in Prince William Sound? I'll get right on that!

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