Nonoba Racer (+Multiplayer API)
As the demand for social software continues to grow, it shouldn't be surprising to see an increase in online multiplayer games as well. This is particularly true in the Flash game industry as the Flash platform matures. Nonoba, a Flash game community headed by game creators and developers, hopes to ride the incoming wave of multiplayer Flash games by making its own multiplayer game API (application programming interface) available to Flash game developers.
One of the more popular games showcasing this new technology is Nonoba Racer, by Chris Benjaminsen. It's a multiplayer, top-down racing game that focuses heavily on community play and advancement via upgrades.
Each new player starts with the same car. You have the option of playing as a guest or registering with Nonoba, which lets you save your score and keep your car upgrades and winnings over time. Control the car using the [arrow] keys, [up] to accelerate and [down] to hit the e-brake. [Space] is used to fire weapons or use an item, all of which are available by spending coins that you win at the end of each race. The amount you win depends on your position at the finish line. There are only three different tracks so far, but each track can be configured with different attributes, such as how many laps it takes to win. You can either enter a game in progress via the lobby, or create your own game and let others join you.
Analysis: If released as a single-player flash game, Nonoba Racer wouldn't be anything new. Sure, it's fun to race against cars and win money to upgrade your ride, making it faster, adding traction, steering control and even things like rocket launchers and paint jobs. But it's the multiplayer element that makes this game noteworthy, as well as the technology behind it. It's fun to play with the same people for an hour or so, going from room to room, making friends that you can show off your upgrades to (and enemies, for that matter, who you can shoot at and make eat your dust).
On the downside, some people are experiencing disconnections, latency issues and some gameplay problems (bouncy collision physics, most notably). Chris assures us that he and his team are working hard to make adjustments as necessary and deal with the large load on the servers the game has been causing due to its popularity. Your mileage may vary.
Whether you're a game player or programmer, you owe it to yourself to see what's happening over at Nonoba.
Note: As with any multiplayer game, make sure no peer-to-peer, instant messaging, streaming media or any other bandwidth-intensive applications are running in the background, especially if you're experiencing latency or disconnection issues.
And if you're a game programmer interested in creating your own multiplayer games, check out the Nonoba Multiplayer API and find out how to apply for their developer beta program. Also at Nonoba: a kickoff contest with $20,000 in prize money for the best games created on the Nonoba Multiplayer API.