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With the Google Maps Platform, AR games can route characters, integrate heights and biomes

Google renewed its Maps Platform API last year and also focused on AR gaming. Many of these experiences, such as Pokémon Go, use location data and today Google is adding three new features to make games more immersive, realistic and powerful.

With Google Maps Platform you know whether a busy traffic road is overloaded or when the road is closed for construction at night. You know when a business district is full of people (and other players) during the week or when leaving during the weekend, when a player is in public or private ownership, and when restaurants and shops are opened and closed every day and over time.

With this context, developers can build games that adapt to the environment of a player in real time. The goal is to create an immersive experience with the real world, while Google Maps processes all location data and infrastructure. For example, the API identifies landmarks where developers can place in-game objects.

To make gameplay even more concrete and attractive, the API adds support for pathfinding, elevation and biome. Pathfinding uses routing algorithms in Google Maps, so that characters and elements in the game can be moved on a larger scale. Movement experiences include, for example:

  • Direct monsters to chase a player
  • Flying a plane to deliver things to a safe house
  • Working together on missions through a futuristic city

With support for terrain height, virtual worlds will no longer be flat. In practice, developers can "style the hills, mountains and cities to bring even more custom locations into your game." Similarly, biome data can display the land cover type of a location and further customize the virtual world:

Now you can grow cacti in the desert, let players look for insects in a grassland, or place raccoons in a rear waste container. Or how about a dust-free space monster that gains power by sucking up different landscapes?

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