Google Maps meets 'Grand Theft Auto'

New horizons in interactive use of Google geographic tools: Drive a little car around Google Maps, or fly an airplane with the Google Earth browser plug-in.

Who would have believed Google's geographic Web services could actually get your adrenaline going?

Granted, these aren't real video games, but two Web sites are pushing what can be done with interactive interfaces to Google Maps and Google Earth.

The first, taking advantage of Google Maps' new ability to work with Flash applications, lets you drive a car, bus, or truck around Google Maps. It won't bat an eye if you drive through a building or into the ocean, but Katsuomi Kobayashi, the programmer from Osaka, Japan, who wrote it, was happy to note that the software can display images at 40 frames per second vs. 20 at best for JavaScript. And it uses less CPU power, too.

This rudimentary game lets people drive various vehicles around Google Maps. Here I'm taking a semi through Tokyo traffic.
This rudimentary game lets people drive various vehicles around Google Maps. Here I'm taking a semi through Tokyo traffic. Geoquake

Another novelty is a flight simulator for the browser plug-in version of Google Earth announced at Google I/O a week and a half ago. (This is different from the flight sim that works with the Google Earth standalone software .) It works with recent versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Flock, but on Windows only.

This basic flight simulator works with the Google Earth browser plug-in.
This basic flight simulator works with the Google Earth browser plug-in. Barnabu.co.uk

Again, the software is crude by gaming standards, but it does illustrate what can be done these days inside a browser. I'm among those who are interested to watch Google Earth abilities gradually pop up in Google Maps and in the browser. It's easily conceivable to me that we'll soon be seeing all manner of games that run on the 3D models of the real world that Google and Microsoft are building. Lower network latencies, faster server responses, and higher network data capacity all point in that direction.

(Via Google Geo Developers Blog and Google Maps Mania.)

 

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