androidThe world is being invaded by Ghosts. It is your task to track down these ethereal entities and catch them before they can do any harm. Fortunately, you have your Android powered phone to help you in your quest. Now save the world and catch as many ghosts as you can!”

SpecTrek is an Android application that uses Augmented Reality and GPS to superimpose virtual “ghosts” on the real world.  By physically walking to  locations where ghosts reside, you can use your camera to “capture” them and even record your score online.  It’s a simple but brilliant concept and I was eager to give it a try.  The reality though, left a lot to be desired.

I stepped outside, fired up the application and after a few seconds it had found my GPS location and a map appeared with several ghosts within a three block radius of me.  I headed towards the first with high hopes.

While the interface is relatively simple, that’s not really a drawback in my opinion.  The last thing you would want while tromping around is too many distractions that might lead to a nasty fall or traffic intersections.  :-)

As I approached the problems started.  My ghost finder activated briefly then turned off before I could do anything about it.  I tried to reposition myself… backing up, moving forward and even moving in circles around the virtual ghost’s location on my map.  All to no avail.  The opportunity to capture the ghost appeared sporadically and only for a second or two.  Very frustrating.

I gave up on that ghost and decided to try another. This time the ghost detected me and fled before there was even an opportunity to capture it.  Frustrating again.

At this point, my ghosts were all in areas not physically accessible in the real world. Which lead me to another thought… why didn’t the author use Google Maps walking direction data to make sure virtual ghosts in urban settings were placed along streets so that they could be accessible in realistic game play.  Maybe include an option to turn this off when in unmapped or open areas.  More frustration.

In the end, I tried to relaunch the game hoping that it would generate new ghosts.  No luck, same ghosts in the same place. Enough frustration for one morning.

In conclusion, the game concept is excellent. It has great potential, but frankly, it’s not quire ready for prime time.  I was very surprised there was a Full Version for sale on the market place.  None of the Full Version’s feature enhancements seemed to address the problems I encountered above, so I definitely passed on an upgrade.

Uninstalling SpecTrek for now, but I’ll check in on it occasionally in the future to see how it’s coming along and also keep my eyes open for similar games.