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Using Procedural Content Generation to Build Casual Games for Mobile Platforms

I recently ported Infinite Mario to the Android platform in order to evaluate the use of procedural content generation in mobile devices. My goal was to develop a casual platform game, where players can jump right into the action without worrying about making it to the next save point. Procedural content generation is used to provide the player with short, unique gameplay sessions. The player’s goal in Mario Forever is simply to complete a level. The major challenge in this game is learning to defeat levels you have never encountered before.

Mario Forever

The game is freely available and I highly encourage trying it out, but I have not posted it to the Android market due to Intellectual Property issues. The game can be downloaded for Android 2.1 at: http://users.soe.ucsc.edu/~bweber/MarioForever.apk

Installation is a little tricky, because the game is not on the market. To install the application, point your phone’s browser to the link above and download the apk file. In order for the application to be installed, the following setting must be enabled on the phone: Settings -> Applications -> Unknown Sources.

The controls are a little difficult, but two options are provided. If you have the Motorola Droid like me, you can use the directional pad to walk and run (with the center button) and use S to jump. For other models, the touch screen can be used to control Mario’s movement: hold your thumb on the left side of the screen to walk or run left and hold your other thumb on the right side of the screen to walk or run right. To jump, gesture your thumb upwards for the duration of the jump.

The game can also be ran without an Android phone using Java web start here.

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