This past Friday we took a look at the upcoming Augmented Reality game ARDefender from developer Int13. What sets ARDefender apart from other Augmented Reality games is its use of a special printed image that is placed in the camera's view and is recognized by the software to create a 3D model of a tower inside the game. Int13 was nice enough to promptly send over a preview copy of ARDefender so that we could try it out for ourselves, and after spending some time playing with the game over the weekend, my feelings are largely positive. The game works just as well as was demonstrated in the video from our preview, and beyond being a really interesting piece of technology, ARDefender offers up a pretty fun gameplay experience as well.

The first thing you'll need to do before playing ARDefender is print out the PDF image from their website that creates the tower in the game. After printing and cutting out the square image, you'll place it down on a flat surface where you intend to play. Loading up the game and hitting the play button will bring up the view from the device's camera, and once it recognizes the PDF image it will instantly create a little tower out of thin air.

Gameplay involves using the weapon mounted on top of the tower to fend off waves of enemies as they attack. Touching anywhere on the screen places an aiming reticule at that spot and holding down a button in the lower right corner fires your weapon. There's a regular cannon with unlimited ammunition, and limited missile or laser attacks at your disposal. Occasionally an airplane will drop off a crate full of ammunition for you to collect. The tower has a health gauge in the upper corner and the goal is to keep the tower alive for the duration of each round, which seems to always be 60 seconds. More difficult enemies appear with each round, and if your health gauge runs out the tower crumbles and it's game over.

The first portion of this video shows one round of gameplay in ARDefender, with a few toys I laid out next to the tower just for fun. Then I tried to pan around the tower to give a closer look at the 3D model it consists of. Finally, I printed out the PDF image at four times the size of what the default is, to see if it would give me a larger tower in the game, which it indeed does. It doesn't seem that the game will recognize both towers at once though, but I did find that I preferred playing with the larger tower rather than the smaller one. This will also depend on how far away you plan on being from the surface where the tower is set.

Overall I really liked what I've played of ARDefender so far, despite its fairly simplistic game mechanics. It's hard not to be impressed with how convincingly the tower is created in the real life space where you play the game, in my case a coffee table and kitchen floor. It's worth noting that the game had trouble creating a tower when I tried playing on an uneven surface like carpet, so it seems to require a smooth flat surface for best performance. Also, it's a really bare-bones package. There's no sort of cohesive campaign or storyline to play through, or any type of persistent stats or score tracking. This can easily be rectified with an update down the line, however, and I'd personally love to see some additional downloadable images that give you different styles of towers to play with.

Despite any shortcomings, the game still manages to be pretty fun. ARDefender has already been submitted to the App Store, and we'll take a closer look at the game when it becomes available, hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks.

  • GodSon

    I really hope this is out in the next day or two. Love the difference in sizes of towers(in the comparison) as well as the 3-D detail of the tower that was focused on in the video. With Campaign, themes, additional content, bosses, etc... AR Defender could be VERY promising and full of longevity. :)

  • Stevenlagris

    I definitely like the idea of printing a bigger pdf out, would it work with one like 5x5ft? It would b cool to play a version that's like life-size.

  • Stevenlagris

    I definitely like the idea of printing a bigger pdf out, would it work with one like 5x5ft? It would b cool to play a version that's like life-size.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a fun tech demo. Probably not much more. I still might buy it if it's 99 cents just for it being fun to play with. Certainly if it's free. I can't see spending more then 99 cents on it, though.

    • tsharpfilm

      Hahaha. (:D Great impersonation, crunc. Yeah, the skill and programming that went into making this isn't worth more than a dollar, AT ALL! ;)

      • Anonymous

        I think therein lies the problem with a lot of games these days - we are expected to pay for someones work effort, instead of paying for the amount of value/entertainment the resulting product gives us. I'm willing to pay more for things that give me more value. I'm not willing to pay as much when the value the thing gives me is limited, regardless of how much effort the developer put into it. If the developers wants to charge more, but the resulting product is of limited value, then perhaps the developer should have considered a different project, one that provided more for the end user, rather then one that simply required a lot effort to produce.

        No, mind you, the game does look cool and I'm willing to pay 99 cents for it. That's what it appears to be worth to me. If they expect me to pay more they'd better put out a free demo so I can see that it is in fact worth more then that. Right now I see a whole heck of a lot more value in a game like, for example, Angry Birds, and that's only 99 cents.

      • tsharpfilm

        Wait a minute... You were serious?!

        I think I'd have fun just moving around the virtual tower on my computer desk. That alone is worth at least $1.99.

        I look forward to getting this.

      • Anonymous

        lol. Yes, I was serious. If an app is a tech demo, it should be treated (and priced) as a tech demo. That's how this appears to me. I'm happy to pay more if in fact it provides more value then simply being something you play with a few minutes and then don't touch again except to occasionally show to friends. Such things can be cool, but I don't pay for them, or at least I don't pay much for them. If it's more then a tech demo I'm all for supporting the cause.

      • Stephc

        Hi Folks,

        I'm the CEO of the company behind this game. ARDefender is our first title based on the AR tech that we've made, it has been planned from start to be as simple as possible, it's a kind of appetizer for what is coming next. We nevertheless worked hard on this one, and tried to make it fun and polished. Some updates are also coming, we're watching for the popular requests ;)

        It's always a pleasure to read good feedback and to see people having fun with our small creation.

      • Stephc

        Also, the game will be priced 99c at start, then we'll see how much we invested in the updates and how far the game is in term of depth.

      • GodSon

        More Power-ups, *BOSSES*, More enemy types/variations, campaign mode, and we're good!

      • tsharpfilm

        Lol. Bosses would be kind of cool. Maybe a big troll could come up during the game and try to smash the tower.

      • Anonymous

        That sounds good! I will buy it for sure for 99 cents.

      • Nuzreq

        You guys have any idea when this might be approved for the store?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JZIZ6NLYZDGC52DL4QEVBIALMU Hackmodford

      I agree... I'll most likely play once and then show to friends... maybe print a 100ft x 100ft version for fun :P

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a fun tech demo. Probably not much more. I still might buy it if it's 99 cents just for it being fun to play with. Certainly if it's free. I can't see spending more then 99 cents on it, though.

  • Adams Immersive

    I can see myself trying to lay out coins, jar tops, garbage can lids, etc. in an attempt to fake that PDF symbol at different sizes :)

    Can’t wait to see where this evolves in future!

  • Adams Immersive

    I can see myself trying to lay out coins, jar tops, garbage can lids, etc. in an attempt to fake that PDF symbol at different sizes :)

    Can’t wait to see where this evolves in future!

  • Jcat

    Love the idea being done on iphones - but only if it were something more elaborate involving augmented reality, besides watching just the tower come to life. Played with PlayStation "Move" this weekend, and I got super spoiled with this concept. "ARDefender Looks interesting though -- may still check it out.

  • Anonymous

    I just realized something - this "game" is a candidate for "AirPrinting" support. Of course. Once that exists.

  • Anonymous

    You should try displaying the PDF on your iPad and see if it displays the tower on top of it.

    • guest

      Is this for iphone only?

      • GodSon

        iirc iphone/ipod touch (Camera enabled).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1335603011 Greg Feingold

    If I pull the PDF up on my iPad and play the game, will it work?

  • Tuwdc

    isn´t it the same game released on bada (samsung wave) a while ago? then i already own this game cause its for free on bada. played it a couple of times and liked it!

    • Stephc

      Yes, this is the same game, we had a contract with Samsung to release it for free on the Samsung Wave. (I'm the CEO of int13)

      The game was initially planned for the iPhone, but we experienced a lot of problems with the iPhone camera API, we could not use official camera API to do any proper AR before the 4.0.

      It took some time, but Apple is relaxing many of their hard rules recently, I think this is a good thing for everyone.

  • simplymuzik3

    Are you planning on adding any type of "upgrade" system? So that after each round you can upgrade your damage/tower armour etc. That would be awesome! Even if its just "increase damage" type of upgrade, that would still be awesome! Each kill could get you a certain amount of "points" that you could spend on upgrades after each round! CANT WAIT for this game!

  • Hayden

    Nintendo had a tech demo for the 3DS at E3 that was much like this. Except the way Nintendo went about it sounds like a lot more fun. In Nintendo's you're shooting at a dragon (which is a card laid on the table), the player had to walk around the table to hit the dragon in certain spots. I would love to see something like that in the App Store. :)

  • Dagan

    look-up augmented reality space game
    youtube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bps3FkX-_cY

  • Geert

    Wow.

    Imagine Warcraft on a table top and people playing it multiplayer using phones and tablets.

    This should be happening within five years, shouldn't it?

    Must be an amazing sight. Very Japanese, somehow... :-)