February 18, 2016 4:11pm
Toronto-based developer Matt Wiechec has brought a little 1970s video game nostalgia to the Apple Watch. Pong, one of the first video games to make it to market, is now available on Apple’s wearable.
In classic fashion, A Tiny Game of Pong allows players to compete against an AI opponents, as well as friends’ top scores, thanks to Game Center leaderboard integration. Wiechec also found an inventive way of navigating the Apple Watch’s tiny display, opting to utilize the Digital Crown to move the player’s paddle left and right across the screen, rather than touchscreen presses.
Wiechec says he decided to put together the project as a way to gain a better handle on the Apple Watch’s operating system, watchOS 2, preparing him for the development of future apps for the wearable.
— Matt Wiechec (@mattwiechec) February 16, 2016
“I thought pong’s gameplay was straightforward enough to translate well onto the small screen; and the idea seemed small enough to tackle too. Plus when the new API opened up the Digital Crown to developers it seemed like a great fit – the original game had a dial control too. I think the analog control of the Digital Crown is what makes the game so satisfying to play,” said Wiechec.
When it comes to development challenges, Wiechec says he ran into a number of difficulties creating an app for the new platform, mainly related to the fact that the Apple Watch’s development tools aren’t yet as comprehensive as what is available for the iPhone or other mobile devices. Translating a video game to wearable devices has also proven a difficult task and few titles beyond text based choose-your-own-adventure style games like Lifeline and Spy_Watch have resonated with players.
“There are a lot of technical constraints building for the Apple Watch because the watch doesn’t yet have all of the capabilities of a device that has been around for a while like the iPhone. An iPhone’s software and hardware are much more developed. So you have to get a bit more clever with what you’re given,” said Wiechec, discussing the difficulties that stem from developing software for a relatively new platform, as well as a wearable.
“Natively watchOS 2 doesn’t support the Game Center framework, so we have to communicate back and forth with the iPhone. Syncing that up took some time,” said Wiechec.
Moving into the future, Wiechec says he doesn’t have any specific Apple Watch applications in the works, but that he has a keen interest in the wearable’s fitness-focused functionality.
“There’s no pressing projects I want to jump on yet. I love the fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch and some of the sensor data that it has access to is really interesting to me but I want to see how this does first,” said Wiechec.
A Tiny Game of Pong is free on the iOS App Store for a limited period of time. A $1.39 version of the game is available that unlocks a classic game mode, new theme colours and a supporter badge.