- In this relatively quiet week, worth pointing out another Gamasutra article of interest to GSW-ers - that would be 'Mars Sucks - Can Games Fly on Google Earth?', a piece written by some Intel engineers about making games using Google's 3D satellite imaging app.

The team explains: "Google Earth is a standalone application; it is not web browser based like most of Google’s other tools. Google Earth also makes use of 3D hardware acceleration and is thus quite fast and responsive on a modern PC. There are a few games available for Google Earth such as “Find Skull Island” and EarthContest. These and other existing games we found all require switching back and forth between a web browser window and Google Earth. Our goal was to develop a game with all the action inside a single window, similar to a traditional video game, leading to a more immersive and responsive experience."

Unfortunately, the game itself is a little, uhm, basic: "We decided to overlay an image of a Martian craft cockpit over the Google Earth window and let the standard Google Earth controls handle moving around the globe. In the cockpit, players see a sequence of clues about the location of each Martian invader... when the player stops with a Martian craft in his sights, firing begins automatically." But hey, all the source code is provided, so you can play around yourself.

The most interesting part, though? "As we write this, rumors are that Google is planning to release an application programming interface (API) for Google Earth, and we hope that will indeed happen soon. That step would really unleash the potential for building games and other applications over Google Earth. With the API release, we are hoping to find it’s much easier to display text on the screen and handle mouse events." Will game building get a lot easier in the app real soon? We shall see!