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New Real-Time Multiplayer API in Play Games Should Greatly Improve Online Competition

October 7, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

We saw a while back a couple people playing a game across a few different devices, a tablet a phone, a larger tablet, and how they all worked together to create a multiplayer experience.  That was, as memory serves, Google I/O this summer.  Well, the Google Play Games SDK (software development kit) for app developers and maintainers now comes with a few very notable updates and upgrades, namely the real-time multiplayer API.

No, sadly this isn’t the one that will let you play the same game across multiple devices as a single board of play.  But this one is much cooler, the real-time multiplayer API (which we are going to shorten for convenience to RTM API, alright?).  What is RTM, you might ask?  And why is it so important to people that play mobile games, and especially the developers of said games?

RTM, real-time multiplayer, is something found as a norm on consoles like the Wii, XBox, and PlayStation.  It lets you connect to the Internet and send your request to play with or against someone else to the next room, the next town, or the country halfway around the globe.  The same concept applies here, but aims to fine tune the idea of RTM for a great mobile experience.  First and foremost, we don’t usually have a huge screen and game controller, just our phone or tablet.  And second, we have a sometimes-lousy and unreliable Internet connection, over mobile data or Wi-Fi.  Those two things are important restrictions when working with mobile gaming as a whole.  Also worth noting are the compatibilities of the new RTM API.

The RTM API let developers run the online experience across devices running both Android and iOS, as well as letting the developer code the RTM game in the C++ computer language (if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry).  There are also improvements to be found within the Developer Console itself, as well as other miscellaneous updates and changes throughout.  But what about that RTM bit, the one that brought you here in the first place?  Let’s look at this a little.

Let’s say that a developer has made a RTM game with enough room per match for two teams of three people each.  That’s one round of the game, okay?  So with this new RTM API, the developer actually routes the multiple players through their game, not the Google Play Games servers, as well as creating a peer-to-peer (each player is directly connected to every other one, and can communicate data that way).  So, since there’s a PtP (peer-to-peer) connection, any action or move that one player makes gets sent directly to every other one.  This works the same way if you’re in an online race, where it’s every player for themself.  You send the things you are doing directly to the other players, your competition, so they can react and either get beaten by you directly or beat you directly at your own game.  That is essentially the biggest change in the RTM API.  Also worth noting is that in an auto-matched game or set of players, everyone stays anonymous to each other, even if they are in the same real-world room as one another.  How nifty is that?

Anyway, with all that in mind, do you think that any major changes will come to your favorite mobile games?  Which game that you play the most or have as your favorite do you hope will get this new API implemented quickly?  How will this benefit the games that suffer bad online experiences?  Let us know down below.