Apple, Business, Companies, Software Programs

A Peek at Apple?s Chinese Online Gaming Gamble


Let’s take a look at the Chinese development company’s games that Apple may acquire. Q-Online gives locals, and soon perhaps outsiders, an opportunity to learn Chinese folklore through on-line play. The game is vibrant with action and ancient stories.

Can you imagine this site to be Apple's homepage... or what mountain would Apple developers need to bring it to Apple's clean design guidelines?
Can you imagine this site to be Apple’s homepage… or what mountain would Apple developers need to bring it to Apple’s clean design guidelines?

To begin with, Handseeing Information Technology Co., Ltd. is an odd name for the Chinese gaming company. Perhaps it is an English translation of a Chinese word. Intrigued, this writer began to explore the company and its games. Although their website offers "English", getting such a rendering proved taxing. With due respect, what I found was rendered in what has come to be called "Chinglish", a translation that approximates the English language with a few grammatical challenges. The difficulty in translation became evident prior to the Olympics in Beijing, and during my own travels in this foreign country. "Exit" became "Way Out". "Disabled" became, and was quickly changed from, the politically incorrect "Crippled" – and there are even worse examples in Chinese hospitals. To put this in perspective, few North American or European companies are brave enough try to translate English into Chinese.

The language thing notwithstanding, Qingcheng [Q-Online] offers a fascinating storyline, and the graphics used to present it look great. If Apple does consummate a deal with Handseeing, mainstream gamers will benefit. It will be an unusual move for the Silicon Valley firm, since most of its products are developed internally, not by acquisition. While considering competition from other foreign firms, Tian Bo, Handseeing’s VP of Operations, predicts an announcement of their intentions in September.

Apple is coveting 350 million on-line users in China, 60-70 million of which are online gamers. This could be a lucrative market, even if the deal hits the $150 million mark indicated by an unnamed Handseeing executive. It would mean taking on Java, something Apple currently does not support, since that is the platform of choice for Handseeing on-line games.

JGNetHandseeing Information Technology was founded in 2005, is privately owned, and employs 200 individuals. Their business partner is Sun Micro Systems, and their products take advantage of Sun’s RIA [Rich Internet Application]. The high end application engine is called JGnet. It has five major components: J.G net Media, J.G net Network, J.G net Client, J.G net Tools, and J.G net Graphics. It is applicable to 3G mobile online, set-top box online communities and online games.

Their 2D version of Q-Online included all the elements of 2D MMORPG [Massively Multiuser Online Role Playing Game], where the game is perpetual with players entering or leaving at will. Then, Green Pine Capital Partners invested 50 million RMB into Handseeing. Three months later, in September 2009, their real-time strategy heroic 2.5D web game was released to the general public. The 2.5D format is half way between a two dimensional and a three dimensional presentation, sometimes called pseudo 3D. The company is promising five new games this year. No indication if they will be true 3D or not.

Yin Yang - The symbol of TaoismThe stories depicted by Handseeing are from the Chinese Creation Myth, based on Pan Gu who created the world, and Nu Wa who made man from mud. The games’ intent is to bring the soul, heroism and romance of the legend to the players. It combines the Chinese Tai Ji culture and Taoist classic history [usually represented by the yin/yang symbol]  with vivid characters and beautiful hand-painted graphics.

Game titles include Dark WaR which was Hangseeing’s first JAVA based game published in 2008 and Q-Online discussed here. Masterpiece-Lost builds on the original Qingcheng. Fairyland is where a once every thousand years war takes place, incorporating NPC intelligent dialogue system. Liao Zhai is a real-time combat role play web game with multiple battles utilizing an internal AFK [Away From Keyboard] system. Big Wars introduces Speeder, King Kong, Liaoya, and Raider with the keyboard controlling movement and the mouse controlling firing.

The Q-Online story begins in ancient times, when the Yellow Emperor wars with Chi You, the evil leader. At the time, the Chinese people are suffering from natural disasters, disease, and starvation. The Emperor and his people struggle against the tribes of Chi You. Of course, good prevails, temporarily. The Emperor leaves our world and becomes a celestial being. Then, Chi You returns from hell with his demons.

In real life, Huang-di, [??] the Yellow Emperor, also known as Xuanyuan Shi,  was the chief among ancient Chinese tribes in 27th century B.C… He is credited with being the catalyst for bringing civilization to China in the form of agriculture, silk worm breeding, medicine, and a system of writing. His mausoleum is in northwest China’s Shaanxi province. Is the site of celebrations honoring him each year.

An image from Chi You Game by Handseeing

An image from Chi You Game by Handseeing

The mythical Chi You [??] was grotesque and violent, the first to use metal weapons in warfare. He was possibly an actual ancient ruler of Eastern China, where he was worshipped as a god of war, and supposedly buried in what is now the Shandong province of China.

In Q-Online, when Chi You returns, a new battle begins with three human forces: Luofu, the archers; QinCheng, the swordsmen; and Penglai, the wizards who employ magic. Their role is to defend mankind. Five Elements and unique dungeons are central to the game. Each dungeon has its own map, story, and combat scenario depending on the players. The objective is, obviously, to kill monsters. More than 300 tasks can be taken on depending on the level of play. Players will enjoy the high level PK system, where player killing takes place in an arena equipped to hold hundreds of fighting characters. Q-Online claims to be the first on-line game in China where players can enjoy real-time, PK, and all the MMORPG without downloading.

Players have access to various stalls to buy and sell items to assist them in their quest. The action takes place across all seasons. The scenery changes with the seasons, from flowering spring blossoms, into summer’s hot desert, through leaves falling in autumn, into a winter world of ice and snow, adding a touch of art and beauty as a back drop to the intensity of battle.

Handseeing is the key technology partner of Tianya, a Chinese social networking community,  Lianzhong, a chess playing platform and Joyland, a gaming theme park.

If Apple can get past the language barrier, as I have tried to while researching this article, it appears that they may have hit upon a winner.