As part of an update about upcoming Windows Phone gaming features, Microsoft this week offered a teaser about a new service called “Fast Async” — promising that it will improve gameplay for turn-by-turn (a.k.a. asynchronous”) Xbox Live games on the phones. Classic examples include Scrabble knock-offs, chess, and other turn-based games played across devices.
But beyond the “Fast Async” name, and the promise of a better experience, there were few details about what, exactly, the new service will do. So we asked a couple questions. And here’s what we heard back from the company.
How will Fast Async work and how does it compare to the current approach for turn-by-turn gaming in WP7? Similar to turn-by-turn async gaming, Fast Async, coming this fall with the Mango update will expand on this experience by enabling Xbox LIVE games to manage game data and sessions in a faster and more flexible way. It will also provide a way for games to find players across screens, without having to wait and watch the matching happen, and will prompt players with clear messaging, when it’s their turn to move.
Will Fast Async be implemented by default in all turn-by-turn games, via the OS, or will it only come in some turn-by-turn games, when developers implement it? Fast Async will only be included in Xbox LIVE titles if implemented by the game developer.
Clearly the company is keeping many details close to the vest, but it will be interesting to see how this changes the game experience on the devices.
As part of the announcement, the Windows Phone team also unveiled 14 new games coming this fall, including the Orbital puzzle game (pictured) “TextTwist 2” from Game House and “Kinectimals Mobile,” a Windows Phone version of the Xbox 360 Kinect game.
See Microsoft’s full blog post for more details.
Update, 11:53 a.m.: This is interesting: In response to our follow-up question about the “across screens” reference above, Microsoft says the matchmaking service with Fast Async “can be used from any Xbox LIVE platform, not just Windows Phones.”