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Build real world games with Google Maps

Clemeintine Jacoby
Software Engineer at Google
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2018 Google I/O
May 10, 2018, Mountain View, USA
2018 Google I/O
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Build real world games with Google Maps
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About speakers

Clemeintine Jacoby
Software Engineer at Google
Rose Yao
Director of Product at Google

Rose is a seasoned product leader with over 12 years of experience building and leading product teams. She got her start as a computer engineer at University of Nebraska, Lincoln and joined Google as an associate product manager after college. Her work at Google includes popular products like Gmail and iGoogle. She then went on to lead the mobile, OpenGraph, and photos product teams at Facebook before trying out the startup world. After Facebook, she joined Athos, a smart clothing company as the VP of produ

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About the talk

Google Maps APIs now offer a product for building games based on the real world. Build your game world around the real one, powered by the unrivaled accuracy and richness of Google Maps' data. This session will cover the product components of the API, share a live demo of how the product works, and provide background for developers on this exciting new genre of real world games.

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Hello everyone. My name is Rose. Yell, and I leave products for Google Maps platform. I want to thank you guys for joining us here for our second session a Google IO this year. And for those of you watching on YouTube. Hello and welcome. Yesterday we talked about how we're changing the way we build product and what that means for you as a developer. We also need you to sign your name Google Maps platform today. I want to talk a little bit more about why platform more accurately represents our Ambitions and the products. We want to go with you. We spent a lot of time yesterday

talking about how are making Google Maps platform easy to use simple and scalable. I partnered with Cloud. This means one website one plan One console for all your map Saint Cloud projects and the ability skill seamlessly without interruption as your product growth. We also talked about our core product the ones, you know In Love from the last 13 years math places and Ralph. These are the foundational building blocks of any location Basics. Today. I want to talk about how we go beyond the basics with industry solution in particular.

I want to talk about one of our first industry Solutions Real World game Google Maps platform understand what this mean. I'm going to bring Clementine up to talk more about what exactly are offering is and how it works. But first I want to talk about the journey that we took to get there and how we really belt it. So as probably managers we get ideas from all sorts of places, but the most important one is from you guys are developers in this case about 18 months ago. A lot of game developers are approaching us to ask how they can use Google Maps to build real world games

and whether we have the products to support them we were intrigued but honestly until this point we'd never investigated. We're really takes to build a product from the grounds up just for particular use case or industry Oliver core products are designed to be Universal. Go to do this, right we interviewed dozens of talking developers in the world. We ask them what they want to build and why what tools they use how they ran their business and what success really look like for them. Once again a basic picture of what type of game they want to build and one success look like we

got deeper into problems that Google math can really help himself from there. We work closely with a small group of developers who gave us a regular feedback and helped us every build their also developers are launching with us this summer. So coming to T-Mobile store near you. The result is RV one product which helps with 2 qt use cases that are unique to understanding of the real world. First is world-building. We build Nessa K valt developers to build beautiful fantasy world based on Google's understanding of the real world II is Mission

planning. We answer was seems like a very simple question. What is the best place to place a game? No matter where you are in the world and that is how the playable locations AP. I was born and Clementine will talk about how that's not quite as simple as this sounds. This is the type of industry solution and partnership we want to have with you are developers on Google Maps platform to talk about the product and how it works. Awesome. Thank you Rose. And hello Mountain View. My name is Clementine Jacoby and I'm the product manager for the gaming offering that Rose just

introduced. So this product is hot off the press we actually announced it in March at the game developers conference in San Francisco, and it's been overwhelming to see the response from the developer community so far. It's super super exciting to see the range of ideas that developers want to bring to the real world stage. So today I'm here to actually dive a bit deeper into the product and tell you what we've built but to do that I have to take you back to 1972. The raise your hand if you've ever played pong. Okay. So almost

everybody I want you to think about the game World in pong. It's a two-dimensional world and a single screen when this is were gaming started. Later, the single screens became one of many part of still two dimensional but more complex game worlds. Like we saw in Super Mario Brothers. And today there's this ever-increasing to Manta model game worlds as more and more realistic 3D environments on bigger and bigger scales. The game developers invest huge amounts of time energy and money in this problem in developing game world and

discover that they spend about as much energy as we do on modeling a world for their users to explore. Modeling us all by hand can produce really breathtaking results, but it's also very expensive and it's getting more and more expensive as we scale this problem up and so we're constrained by that. As an example the game World in Grand Theft Auto V, which is one of the richest and biggest game worlds ever created was about as big as downtown Manhattan at lunch. But what if we could steal the art of creating Game World what if we could create Game World

in which detail didn't have to be balanced with size? Hold that thought in parallel to that progression mobile phones have gotten good. Like really good good enough that developers can start to convincingly blend realities and across the mobile ecosystem. We're seeing digital content brought into the physical world by smartphones that are now powerful enough to do this blending of reality. Google Maps specializes in reality for over a decade. Now. We have been building our model of the world capturing the complexity of the real-world bring it

to your smartphone so you can explore no matter where you are. So damn roads are getting bigger and more realistic phones are getting better and more powerful and its Rose said lots and lots of games developers were coming to Google Maps asking for product. So we looked at the demands. We looked at the momentum and we decided that we wanted to pitch in. Do we set out to create an offering specifically for gaming to help developers build games based on the real world powered by Google Maps data and back by Google Maps infrastructure return the

real world into your playgrounds allowing you to take the richness of reality at your starting point. Before I dive deeper, I just want to show you a quick 30 second video. digital audio all right, so there's obviously There's a lot of magic happening in that 30 second video, but I'm going to break it down for you in the rest of this talk. So with this product, we really wanted to both filled something that gave developers the control that they were after but was also

easy to get started with and so like Rose said we wouldn't talk to lots of developers about how to strike that very elusive balance of control and ease-of-use and from those conversations we learned is that there are three key things that developers really want from us. The first one is sort of obvious. They want access to Google Maps data that rich accurate and living model of the real world. Now critically our data is really fresh. We make 25 million update the day to this map to reflect the pace at which the world is changing and it's all backed by the same infrastructure that

serves billions of daily request to Google Maps. The second piece is that developers wanted the real world in the game engines that they were already using where they could leverage a whole ecosystem of tools for game development. So we brought the real world into Unity, which is the most popular engine for creating mobile game. Are cicadas all of the heavy lifting for you? No Google Maps expertise needed. This was game developers to focus really on what they do best, which is creating rich and immersive gameplay. The third base I want to spend a little more time on

the third pieces that we help you design interactions around real-world places. And this is a really fascinating technical challenge. It turns out I understand how hard this is. I want you to think about designing a scavenger hunt. It's up to you to decide where players need to go and what they need to do when they get there. That's already sort of hard as anyone who designed a scavenger hunt note, but now imagine that you're trying to design that scavenger hunt around a city on the other side of the world that you've never been to before. That's harder. And now imagine that you

need to expand that scavenger hunt from one city to every town and suburb on the planet. That's the challenge that you're up against when creating a global scale location-based game. Doing this well requires knowing a lot about the players environment no matter where they are because no matter where they are. You want to find things that are unique and interesting about the area around them. You need to know things like, you know, what do people take pictures of what do they ask for directions to which areas are by be an

interesting that players might enjoy exploring which ones are off the beaten path that you should Place rare treasures at and reward players for finding You want to know all of those things, but just knowing all of it isn't enough because you also have to find a sensible way of prioritizing between all these signals to find the best place for your player at that point in time and space. And as a bonus, these things are constantly changing so Street that's bustling during the day might be abandoned at nights a busy mall might turn into a restricted construction sites.

I need you all the time. Plus even if you work this all out once it's still not enough and this is the sad spoiler alert because it can take years to build a good game. And so you need something that's going to be challenging and dynamic for years to which means that these experiences have to be somewhat dynamic they have to change over time. Hopefully I demonstrated that this is a really hard problem. So now I'm going to talk about how we help you solve it and in short we've built are really special products specifically for this use case call the

playable locations API its Charter is to help developers find the best places to play games anywhere in the world. So we start by combing the Earth looking for places to Stage interactions. Please give me businesses or public spaces or areas of historical or cultural interest. The important thing is that we start with getting sufficient coverage so that your game will be interesting no matter where in the world your user opens their phone to play the game. The next very important stuff is that we get rid of

all the bad points. So we make sure that there aren't points in water or in the middle of big roads or anywhere else is inappropriate for playing games and it turns out that the world is full of places that aren't very pliable and Austin's very not obvious reasons. cemeteries landfills emergency room entrance is either all bad places to play but for like different and nuanced reason. Three figure that out. Now that we've gotten rid of the bad points. We need to rank every place in the world by help level it is it is also

non-trivial. So we take into account a huge range of signal in in deciding how playable point is but one signal that developers really care about is recognizability because your player is not going to have fun if they can't find the place that you're trying to get them to go. so we use a vast array of signals to determine what the most recognizable places around your player are and then we rank those places by prominence, which is represented by the big blue dots here. Now we also recognize that the best places to play. They're going to vary depending on the

kind of game that you want to make sure we let you tailor your request to find the places that will work for your particular game for the experience. You want to create you can set up rules and filters and shoes with laces that are appropriate for your particular game and I'll show you a bit more of that later on. But here's an example. You may want to direct young players too busy social spaces where they can interact with their friends. Or maybe instead your game is designed to get players to move. And so you place Collectibles along jogging tracks and in public parks.

Or maybe your game is designed to start of seamlessly fit into users everyday lives. And so you Center gameplay around popular cafes commuting Todd's busy thoroughfares cetera. The choice is up to you. We give you that control to create whatever experience you want and then we help you do that at global scale. This is possible because the API gives you meditator about each playable location. So this means that you can control the types of places that appear in your game and the types of game objects that appear at each sort of location. So

I'll give you a very literal example. Let's say that you interpret the real world Place type super literally in place treasure chests at Banks Provisions at grocery stores and power upset doctors offices. The result would be a game that works as well in downtown Tokyo as it does in a Sydney suburb or in the real United States. This is pretty cool and getting to this end State manually is virtually impossible. These design challenges require a detailed understanding of your players context and environment

no matter where they are. But with this playable locations API, you can build your game one design it once and know that it'll work everywhere. The Google Maps does in over 220 countries around the world. That's a lot of things that you don't have to worry about and billions of things that you don't have to do. and said you focus on the what of creating exciting experiences while we help you figure out the where okay, so that is the first component the second component that I want to talk about is the maps Unity SDK. So now we're going to look at some

maps imagine now that you're building the game world or the environment that all of those interactions are going to take place in. The very first thing you need is high quality Maps data. Help you with that piece. We bring the real world into Unity. Let's take a look. This is Manhattan rendered by the maps Unity SDK in a demo app that we put together for this talk. Rtk, makes it easy to turn this blank canvas into a stylized game environment. Here's an example notice. Custom textures have been applied

the buildings parks and Rose to create this futuristic-looking feel. We can do fine grained control over this process by modeling each map feature as a separate gameobject. What that means is that what was previously a blank Street Corner could be a Sci-Fi Adventure a medieval setting or really anything else that you dream up. I know every game objects is annotated with metadata. This allows you to make styling decisions based on the real world. Since this is a Candyland. I might decide to make shops chocolate bar.

Are turn restaurants into gingerbread. Changing the heights of buildings is really easy to and through simple customizations like these you can create a game world that's connected to the real world, but has your own look and feel. Okay. Now we're going to marry that 3D World with the playable locations API that I just told you about. So here are the green dots represent playable locations around the player. Let's turn the prominent ones into Mission Point so that our players have somewhere interesting nearby to play and these will be represented by funky

rainbows. Obviously. Now because you get meditator you can also control what types of objects appear at what types of places so for example, we could place candy stands at real world stores. Or as another example we could place gummy bear characters at Real World restaurant. I know if we were to switch back to our fantasy theme these could instead be dragons and treasure chest. orinar futuristic theme spaceship since loading Loop But whatever your game you're focused on the fun part of creating rich and engaging gameplay while we do the rest. Keep in mind that this is all happening inside of

unity. And so if I press stop here, you can see that the scene is empty because this is all being created. Dynamically at runtime. We include lots of other features help you build your game as well like 9 slicing for texturing buildings decorators for adding gargoyles or parapets are other objects shahrooz borders for simulating contact Shadows. Anime include the names of roads and buildings. We also integrate with unity's lighting system which helps you create a beautiful day night cycle. We

support unit. He's level of detail system, which means that we automatically fade-out distance objects to maximize mobile performance. But most importantly Unity is a physics engine which means that you can now use the real-world geometry and any 3D physics-based game. The spaceship always gets the Applause. Okay, and I forgot features next. I'm going to show you some examples of just how far you can push this platform. So the technique used to create this scene is a little different from the previous examples in this case procedural rules were used to

assemble a city based on the real world layout. Below we can see cars driving around and lampposts and power lines. And as resume, you can start to see just how detailed this game world really is. third Cafe tables shop fronts people arguing the technique is more sophisticated, but it's that same semantic model of the real world that makes it possible. Let's look at another example. This team looks totally different, but it's using the same technique. The way the buildings work is really cool. They assemble themselves from modular

components to create a stylistic interpretation of the real world. Or to put it another way the cityscape is grown organically to match the real world. What's really incredible about this is that these examples are all created by one developer in a matter of weeks. And so what you can see is that he was able to achieve this insane level of detail and really short amount of time. I want to talk about one more example before we move on. This is a road running through Glacier Park Glacier National

Park in Montana. Cure the trees rocks and vegetation. We're all procedurally-generated down to individual Blades of grass. Elevation data was brought into the maps Unity SDK to create this vast open world environment complete with mountains roads towns animals and Wilderness areas. And what we really like about this example is that it shows that you're not limited to Urban centers when building these games. Sorry, this is the most exciting part of the talk. Now that you've seen the product and action. I'm

going to I'm going to tell you a little bit about what developers are already creating. So for the last year, we've been working with the small set of developers to find this offering with hopes to wanted to build games starting this year or launching this year. Today, I'm going to show you three of those games. First up we have Jurassic world alive. This is the second installment of Lydia's Jurassic World Series created in partnership with Universal Studios in this game players are part of the dinosaur protection group and use the game to search for

fines and rescue dinosaurs. Here's a shot from inside the game. So in Jurassic world alive visual contrast was really really important to the developer. So they limited the building height so that the dinosaurs were the first thing a player saw on the map. Let's take a closer look at the gameplay. Solutia the developer for this game uses the playable locations API to spawn dinosaurs based on their actual characteristics and behavior. So you'll get some dinosaurs that spawn at certain times of the day and others that only spawn in certain kinds of areas. For example, you might find some very to

see dinosaurs hanging around your dentist office. Jurassic world alive also features some really cool AR gameplay powered by arcore on Android. And when it comes to safety Jurassic world alive spared no expense. Are using the Flava locations API they're able to help players avoid unplayable locations and stay safe while also encouraging players to meet up at po eyes, which introduced this social components into their game. Okay, next up. We have Ghostbusters World a location-based AR collection game built by next days in collaboration with Publisher 433

Ghostbusters World features first person shooter mechanic It also allowed players interact in real-time as they capture and collect those. Here's a shot from inside their game notice the London Eye in the background. Hi Fidelity landmarks really help Orient the player in their surrounding and they instantly make the game feel connected to the real world. We have The Walking Dead our world built by next game and based on AMC Mega hits. This is a location-based AR Survival game where players experience the real world after the zombie apocalypse.

In this game player Penny to explore the real world battle Walker warm alliances with other survivors and build safe havens. Let's take a closer look. Piercing the world inside the game and you can see that it's abandons and crumbling. So this sort of gives you the sense that you're in the zombie apocalypse and allows you to see your familiar World in an unfamiliar context. Here's that next game set about their map. From the get-go. We wanted to have a we customize the math. We have a unified look throughout the game, which is important for creating an

immersive experience. Wheel of the buildings and landmarks the most especially in bigger cities. It's unbelievable. How rich and recognizable they are they truly make our game feel alive and there's so many things we want to do in the future. We've barely scratched the surface with what the map can provide us. One cool thing to note here is the way they squashed the building says the player approaches. I think this gives the map of really open feel while you can still see the real world Heights of buildings further away. No notice their player here is surrounded by Walkers next games

use the playable locations API to create a lot of variance in their mission was really important to them to be able to change game play as much and as often as they wanted to actually match their players daily routines. The next games used our API to put points where players already were. One big surprise for next games. Does it every country in the world comes with its own bespoke set of considerations? So is one example considered Finland then when does we're next games his face and then finland's they have a concept called the freedom to roam which

means that anyone can freely enter any forested area. No matter who someone's backyard. This results in vast playable areas in Finland on the other hands in the u.s. You don't want people entering corn fields that are privately owned or Asia rice patties and trampling and ruining the crops because they're hunting zombies. So what this means is that it's not actually enough to know that a place is a forest. You have to know what a forest means in that context and Country and it's not enough to

know that something is a field. You have to know if it's a field of grass. That's great for walking or if it's a delicate rice paddy, that could be ruined by Zombie Hunters. This is a really big challenge, but it's one that's made easier with the playable locations API. All of these games are coming soon along with lots of others. We can't wait to play them and to see what you'll build as well. So I'm just going to step back and summarize now. What does offering we want to make it easy for developers to do four things? First

create Dynamic experiences that global scale you'll have access to hundreds of millions of 3D buildings points of interest landmarks roads and park the form the foundation of your game world, and it's all relies on that same model of the world that Google Maps has been building since 2005. So you'll have fresh inaccurate data no matter where your players are. Second completely customize your Game World. You can turn an entire River into a lava flow fill parks with trees oceans with waves whatever you want. You can do simple things like change colors

or textures, but you can also be much more involved and swap entire features out for prefabs like you're seeing here. 3rd design gameplay around real-world places we talked about this a lot find the right locations for each type of mission character and in-game reward drive your players to popular places or take them off the beaten path that choice is up to you. And either way will help you create your unique Gameplay at global scale. And finally deliver Rich experiences at huge scale.

Relying on Google's infrastructure and serving capacity means faster response times scale on demand and the peace of mind that your games are going to just work. We're really excited about the possibilities, and I hope you are too and with that. I'm going to hand it back to Road. Thank you. Thank you, time for showing us just how this product works and the problems were selling for game developers. I have to admit I've been pretty addicted to helping with the zombie apocalypse. So you'll find me routinely on my commute and I home watching TV and helping clear zombie infestation.

They hope you guys will join me soon cuz I need help in the beginning. We realize that this is a type of product that we can do more and more of as in the streets pain that really focus on how do they how do we interact with the real world works? I depart know if you guys are all first or side to do more solutions like this if your imagination is running wild so is ours the police come talk to us so that if you want to sign up and build a game with us, please go to our website Cloud. Google.com Mass. Ash platform / gaming to fill out a quick form

to tell us what you're building. The form is pretty simple, but don't worry well being I want to ask you more about your game and to help you get started. We're really excited to work with you guys. But this is New Territory for us. So we're starting my working of a smaller. So the game studios that doesn't mean that we won't be in touch the cleats and that your contact info and be patient with us and to talk to us in person today. We will be having office hours at 1:30. So at that one time, I just want to say you guys.

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