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High Speed, High Action with Bluetooth

Soon after the game was released, it became evident that the N-Gage players of The Plot were the heaviest users of networking. Most were captivated by the unique local multiplayer mode, which allowed networked action game play in both cooperative and competitive modes, not available with other devices.

These Local Action SubPlots were most often played with friends specially gathered together, whereas the Team Puzzle SubPlots often involved cooperation with ad-hoc teams among players that did not necessarily know each other in real life. The action typically started with one of the players initiating the SubPlot by sending a text message in a premium number and receiving an unlock code. Others would then use the unlock code to join him and begin frantic chasing and shooting in the most hideous corners of the Underworld.... Before too long, this play mode was spontaneously named "BlastPlot" by the player community.

Bluetooth is a specification for a short-range, low-power radio link capable of connecting mobile devices within 30 feet with a speed up to 1Mbps. It is an ideal technology for cell phones because the burst-like technology consumes little power. Bluetooth-enabled devices detect each other automatically, so a local network among terminals is created. The Bluetooth network, or piconet, can accommodate up to 8 players communicating simultaneously. When the number of connections increases, the bandwidth is shared among all participants, and the throughput decreases correspondingly.44

So far, in the mobile world, the Bluetooth connection has mainly been used for connecting a phone and a headset together without wires. Another traditional use for Bluetooth has been a connection between a phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA) device, such as a Palm Pilot or an HP iPAQ. When a phone acts as a modem, the PDA device can be used to browse the web, read email, and perform various other activities.

For Nokia N-Gage, Bluetooth is the enabling technology for local network game play. Networked games can be created for players close to each other, whether in a cocktail party setting or for a group of friends challenging each other in a mock battle. For multiplayer action games, the time delay between sending and receiving data from other game devices, or latency, is an important measure. Too big of a latency effectively prevents seemingly synchronous game play and destroys the experience. The latency of a Bluetooth network with N-Gage game decks is less than 50 milliseconds, which is short enough to keep the network game play smooth.

Carriers might not automatically generate revenue from Bluetooth-enabled games because the network is created locally between the terminals. Nonetheless, it is good to acknowledge that once mobile game players learn to play networked games locally, they are also more willing to experiment with distant game play. In addition, game designers can build opportunities for tying local network play into game services offered by the carrier, in the manner described in The Plot scenario.

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