Mars Sucks: Intel’s Game for Google Earth

Mars Sucks, a game for Google Earth built by Intel

Gamasutra is running a nice feature in which a team from Intel that’s “focused on pushing the limits of PC gaming” describes the experience of creating a game for Google Earth. Called Mars Sucks, the game really just involves navigating to specific locations based on a series of clues, whereupon your spaceship starts blowing up the invading Martian craft you’ve found. Intel’s account of making the game is interesting, though. They used the Google Earth client and server, the Keyhole Markup Language (KML), a Web server and PHP5. They’ve made the source code freely available (via this zip file), and have described what went into the game in some detail. Their conclusion? “We learned that very simple games and casual games are possible now on Google Earth. We also learned that Google Earth is not yet ready to be the foundation of a serious action game. While we think the prototype [of Mars Sucks] is fun to play, it is just an early prototype. Further enhancements—some by Google and some by game developers—would go a long way to improving the game and making bigger and better games available.”

Of course, that’s no earth-shattering assessment (nor a Google Earth-shattering one, for that matter). But it’s interesting to see a team from Intel looking into possibilities here. There are already several games available for Google Earth (plus the Google Maps flight sim, but especially if Google releases an API, look for more on the way. It’s interesting to see flights of fancy overlaid on the digital version of the real world. Although that’s no more unusual than what happens in the movies, is it?

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