Game devs - for the love of all things holy start using cloud save

There are a million things more fun than starting at the beginning

Let me tell you about Knights of Pen and Paper, my favorite Android game ever. It has bards and necromancers and magic swords and barbarians and all sorts of awesome things that everyone wants in a computer fantasy role-playing game. You start small and weak, and work your way through monsters and pirates and treachery, and one day you're powerful and have all this great loot. Ready to go after the tough monsters and packs of things that would have wasted you a dozen or so levels ago.

And then, you switch phones and lose all of it. Back to the beginning for you.

You see, the developers of KoPaP aren't using one of the best features available for Android Games that anyone could have imagined — Google cloud save. That's the magic that goes on behind the scenes so you can pick up any Android that you're signed into, and play just where you left off on any other Android you're signed into. It's also going to start becoming a factor in my future game purchases, I think.

Games Services

First introduced back at Google I/O 2013 cloud save is part of Google Play Game Services. Other parts allow you to have saved achievements, or things like leaderboards. As a package, it's really awesome. It gets less awesome when developers don't add in the cloud save. A lot less awesome.

"Easy" often means something different to Google

I'm sure it's not as easy as checking some box that says "click me to enable cloud save" when the app is getting built. Google may offer the service, but there's probably a good bit of work to figure out what data to save to the cloud, what data to retrieve, and how to turn it from ones and zeros into something that can let me have my level 53 Warrior in Knights of Pen and Paper on my G3 when I install the game. I'm not here to call any developer incompetent or lazy, because any of them with a good (or even mediocre) game in Google Play has spent a lot of time and effort to create it. Development is hard, and game development can be even harder. While Google may tell us all how great and easy it is for developers to use their APIs and pre-built services, easy sometimes has a completely different definition at Google than it would everywhere else in the world. No, I'm not going to bash anyone.

I just want more. I'm a consumer, and we consumers always want more. I'm mentioning KoPaP because it's my absolute favorite mobile game (even without cloud save) and I really want the feature that allows me to play the same game on my phone and my tablet. Or on a new phone when I fire one up.

Am I asking too much?

Bonus level

I can't leave without a list of some great games that do offer google cloud save, and because of that I have them installed. We all love lists, and these folks deserve a shout-out for adding something that almost every gamer wants.

  • The Sandbox: Craft Play Share — Free in Google Play (with in-app purchases) this is the best pixel-by-pixel world builder since Minecraft.
  • Riptide GP2 — Console style racing with a ton of fast-paced action, and multiplayer madness! $1.99
  • Osmos HD — One of the best late-night chill games ever. Well worth the $2.99 price-tag.
  • Wind-up Knight — Free with in-app purchases, Wind-up Knight is a 3D side-scroller that offers hours and hours of gameplay.
  • Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour — At $6.99, plenty of people are going to balk at buying this one. But if you want a real FPS on your phone or tablet, this is where you start.

You probably noticed more than a few games that I've mentioned I love to play aren't on that list. Titles like Granny Smith, or Plague, Inc or World of Goo. You probably guessed the reason they aren't there, too.

Game devs, please use Google cloud save? Pretty please?

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.