Chrome sweet Chrome: Marmalade's Chromecast extension

Marmalade enables devs to quickly and easily add casting functionality to their mobile games
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With mobile gaming becoming more advanced, companies are looking at new ways to bring their titles from smart devices to the central pillar of any living room: the TV.

While a number of microconsoles offer access to mobile libraries, Google has a more unique solution in the form of Chromecast. This affordable device plugs directly into the HDMI port of your TV and receives movies, TV, music and games from any smart device, whether it’s Android or iOS.

It’s a product that has certainly impressed cross-platform middleware firm Marmalade.

Screen smarts

“The Chromecast is proving to be an incredibly popular device for getting content onto your TV, thanks largely to its inexpensive price point and ease of use,” says Marmalade’s head of SDK Tony Waters. 

“Up until now these devices have primarily been used for streaming media but we see a great opportunity for developers to leverage its capabilities for gaming.”

Creative director Mike Barwise adds: “Chromecast really proves the potential of the multi-device future for gaming, where iOS and Android devices fluidly mix side-by-side with a shared display. It shows off the versatility of the mobile platform, developing from being a powerful device for playing games on the move to enabling larger living room experiences.”

Not only does Chromecast give developers a larger screen to play with, it lends itself to new multiplayer possibilities with each gamer using their own smart device to play. However, there are still important things to consider when designing for the new tech. 

“Due to Wi-Fi transmission and the current specification of the hardware, the platform is currently better suited towards non-‘twitch’ experiences,” explains Barwise.

“If you decide to go the route of more turn-based play, creating ways that your game can give players something to do or strongly look forward to when it isn’t their turn keeps engagement up.

“How the players use the mobile device in relationship to the shared display is one of the key questions to iterate upon early. The privacy that individual screens enables opens gameplay opportunities, but this can come at the risk of actually segregating players to the detriment of the shared display at which point you may as well be playing a regular game. 

“Related to this is the need for interface synergy between the sender and the receiver apps – if players are glancing between displays they want to be able to quickly absorb information in a consistent way.”

Already known in the industry for its suite of middleware that make developing cross-platform mobile games easier, Marmalade will soon be adding Chromecast support to its offering.

Ready to cast

Games run through Chromecast depend on both a mobile sender application and a receiver on the Chromecast device itself. While the latter is optimised for video by default, devs can create their own versions using HTML5 and JavaScript. 

To make this process simpler, Marmalade is creating a cross-platform ‘wrapper’ SDK extension around the Chromecast APIs on both iOS and Android. 

“This allows a developer to write the Chromecast ‘sender’ app as a cross-platform Marmalade application, rather than having to write two separate applications, or handle the Chromecast APIs for the two different platforms separately,” explains head of R&D Nick Tuckett. 

The Chromecast extension will soon be made available to Marmalade users. You can register for updates via
www.madewithmarmalade.com.

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