Windows Phone

MWC 13 is now over

Posted by admin on March 01, 2013
Apps, Development, General, Windows Phone / No Comments

Well I am back from Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona and I had lots of fun. Met some nice people, learned a lot and saw a lot. I can now say that at least for apps and games for mobile, I feel like I have a new perspective on many things. Let’s see how well this will help me in future games.
Here are some pictures I took with my Lumia 920 during the MWC 2013 week.

Mobile World Congress 2013

Posted by admin on February 23, 2013
Apps, Development, Games, General, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / No Comments
Mobile World Congress 2013

Mobile World Congress 2013

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving for Barcelona to attend this year’s Mobile World Congress. MWC is of course the biggest event for all things mobile in the world and this will be the first time I attend it. After attending last year’s Build in Redmond, WA and Microsoft Partner Conference the year before in LA, CA I guess I am getting the hang of going to big technology related and non-academic conferences for the first time :) After finishing my PhD last year, this seems like the next best thing, since I’ve been to quite a few academic conferences during my studying time anyway.

So back to Barcelona, MWC will take place between February 25 and February 28 in a new venue, not that I knew the old venue. The new venue is called Fira Fran Via which is apparently an awesome state of the art event space. I am sure the venue cannot possible beat being to Microsoft’s HQ building complex in November, but I’ve been to Barcelona 3 times already and I like the city and the people, so at least it will be much closer to where I live (no more crossing the Atlantic ocean – yey) and in Europe for a change.

I will arrive on Sunday and attend the Mobile Sunday event, where apparently will be lots of cool people and free beer tasting. The event  will begin at 6pm, look for me there if you want to meet up and discuss games over beers (what better way is there?). I will be wearing my MonsterUp t-shirt if it’s not too cold:) I will try to where these everywhere (I have a few of them) so you can find me:)

On Monday I will be attending Nokia’s separate event all day long. There is a keynote at 11am where I hope we get to see all new shiny awesome Lumia phones and (why not) the first Nokia tablet. That would be awesome ;) There are quite a few interesting sessions throughout the day, including game development sessions which I will make sure not to miss (in both Track 1 and Track 2) but the main thing I will try to do is talk to Nokia people about working with them for more Lumia games from Karios Games.

Tuesday will be a bit more relaxed. I think about going to Connected Living and Clicksoftware sessions about HTML5. I already have a couple of games on Facebook and Chrome Store using HTML5 so there might be a few things to learn there.

On Wednesday there are a few interesting things. I will try to attend the Generation ‘M’ session as well as the App Planet Open Forum.  After the congress, I will also try to be at WIPJam and Mobile Mixology parties. They are not very close to each other but I will do my best!

Finally, Thursday is going to be WIP-ADC day. Many interesting topics there so I will most likely spend the whole day attending these. After this, straight to the airport.

So if you are there, drop a line! I will try to tweet and otherwise write about the event here and on my twitter account (@marioskar) so if you are interested about WMC, make sure to follow me!

Build 2012 impressions

Posted by admin on November 06, 2012
Apps, Development, General, Windows Phone / No Comments

Last week was crazy and awesome at the same time. I’ve never really considered visiting Build, especially since it’s a looooong way from where I live (try 12 hours total flight time) but Sebastien seemed overexcited about going so he kind of dragged me along. Not that I complain of course, since the experience was educational, fun and I am not regretting going through with it.

Since it’s always a good occasion to visit nearby places, before going to Seattle (and then Redmond) for Build, we decided to visit Vancouver in Canada. Very nice place, I’ve been to Canada before and the impression I am always left with is how nice people are in Canada. Everyone seems to be living a relaxed life somehow, although it’s as cold as always, especially in late October when we visited. After Vancouver, it was a 4 hour train ride to Seattle.

The Seattle Needle, taken in very low light using the Nokia Lumia 920

Seattle is known for its rainy days, and boy is that true. I think during the week we spent there, it stopped raining for about half a day. This, of course, also means that the area is quite green. Seattle is your typical north-west city but Bellevue and Redmond looked oh-so-much better to me. Especially the Microsoft campus. The campus is more like a city of its own, with about 120 buildings (conveniently numbered B1-B120) but also with lots of amenities for employees, like stores, restaurants, child care facilities and even doctors. Employees can get in and out of them using their access card and they get special discounts on stuff as well. We, as Build attendees, were also given a sample in the form of a $120 limit voucher which we could use to take advantage of the low prices at the Microsoft Store where I got myself a nice bluetooth keyboard and a 12 month gold live subscription. The Microsoft Campus also features its own transit system, in the form of Connector

The sessions were very interesting during Build, although after the 3rd day me and Sebastien decided to focus on the Build Hackathon, creating an awesome real time weather app in 2 days for Windows Phone 8, complete with live tiles, map inverse geolocation and other nice Windows Phone features. Although it was not chosen for the finals, the app taught me a lot, since I normally make games. I also had a chance to speak to a couple of Microsoft employees about the future of XNA and I had confirmed my fears that XNA is officially dead on both Windows 8 Store Apps and Windows Phone 8. I also had the chance to find alternatives though, so I guess my next games will have to take a detour from the XNA libraries I have been building for the past 2 years (except in the case of MonoGame, which I have used already to make the iOS version of Galaxium as well as MonsterUp Memory for the Windows 8 Store). MonoGame will also support Windows Phone 8 sure, so there are good chances I will be porting my games to take advantage of the awesome Windows Phone 8 features like the new resolutions and in-app purchases in the future. Other options include SharpDX and Unity, the latter being a very compelling choice at the moment.

In front of one of the many logos that Microsoft should change at some point, since they recently changed their official logo:)

Of course, one of the highlights of Build was us getting 3 awesome gifts: a Microsoft Surface with 32GB and Windows RT, a custom developer edition Nokia Lumia 920 with 32GB and a 100GB SkyDrive space expansion. I will come back with close looks at the new devices in future posts, but I can say right now that they are awesome :) By the way, all the pictures on this post are taken with the 920’s awesome camera.

/b switch. You know. For “build” .

Food was great and the Microsoft employees were always nice and helpful even though they had 2500 weird people going around every day for a week. All in all, it was an awesome experience. Met some nice people from Nokia and Microsoft as well as developers from all over the world, had some nice (and not so nice) discussions, learned a lot and I would do it again. Maybe next year? We’ll see!

MonsterUp Adventures – 1 month anniversary (update)

Posted by admin on July 09, 2012
Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / No Comments

So, MonsterUp Adventures was released more or less 1 month ago. People seem to love it so far! And we would love to release some download numbers for you guys. So, without further ado, I am in the pleasent position to announce that in this month, MonsterUp Adventure has been downloaded more than 7200 (update: it seems that my unofficial downloads were off – official downloads that are just coming in indicate that we are talking about more than 12,000 downloads in the first month!) times (and counting) and has been played more than 17000 times (update: logically, this must be more than 20,000 by now).

This is huge!

We also have received more than 190 reviews from all over the world, with an average of almost 4.7/5 (94%) which left us speechless!

Thank you everybody!

An open letter to Joe Belfiore – manager of the Windows Phone Program at Microsoft

Posted by admin on June 25, 2012
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / 8 Comments
Joe,
I am a long time exclusive game developer for the Windows Phone platform. My games, MonsterUp, Galaxium and the recently released MonsterUp Adventures, have proven to be huge hits, constantly being in the top games of their respective categories. I’ve supported the platform before it was even first released, debugging my first games on a Zune HD. I have worked with Microsoft on several occasions and I am starting to develop games for Windows 8 as well. I’ve never done any development for iOS and Android so far. I’ve placed a huge bet on Microsoft winning the mobile wars, a bet which I have documented here (http://www.karios.gr/?p=626) and here (http://www.karios.gr/?p=621). As you can see, I have been fully engaged with Windows Phone development for the past 18 months.
Having provided so much time and effort on the platform, I feel I have the right to say a few things about the recent announcements. Most of the things are trivial, but even so they were not followed by Microsoft and this hurts Microsoft, Windows Phone, Nokia and myself personally. I do hope that the Windows Phone team is small, flexible and independent enough to be able to make some core decisions on the future of Windows Phone and not tied by some bureaucratic corporate policies that prevent you from doing so.
  1. Avoid bad publicity at all costs. Only in show business it’s true that bad publicity does not exist. We can’t afford it no more than we could last year. The recent announcement has completed shattered Nokia’s future. I cannot believe that no-one from your team though of that. Don’t take my word for it, Nokia’s share has fallen to 1996 levels today because of Microsoft. Nokia has invested the whole company’s existence to Windows Phone and at the moment, it is not working for them. And you aren’t helping. Unfortunately, Nokia’s “beta test” campaign seems like an ironic joke at this moment.
  2. Make announcements complete. This goes to both your team and the Surface team. A complete announcement is a much hyped day, where anticipation is really high for something amazingly cool, with you on the stage showing the full set of characteristics (or the coolest ones), including user features since Windows Phone is a customer first product, pricing and availability. People want to be able to get sucked into the hype and preorder on the spot. They want to hear the words “…and it will be available TODAY”, they almost expect to! If this information is not available, don’t do the announcement, but use the extra time to build up more hype (by leaking a few stuff). The same goes for the surface team, announcing a product with a potentially huge coolness factor, doing an awesome job keeping the whole project a tighly kept secret, but blowing it in the end. No firm availability dates, no pricing, no specific requirements, and worse of all not allowing the press to even use the Surface hardware at the end of the event (http://marketingland.com/hands-off-microsoft-surface-tablet-review-15146). I understand it is a beta OS on unreleased hardware. In this case, do not invite the press to have a fake “hands on” session, it is bad publicity (see number 1).
  3. Listen to your users. The (sadly) few people that are enthusiastic about the platform do everything we can to promote the things Windows Phone has to offer and you know what kind of an uphill battle this is. By killing support on current devices, you lose twofold: you lose a lot of your current customers (since you lose their trust) and you lose their promoting work (since you cannot expect them to suggest Windows Phone to anyone after that, do you?) I’m sure you have seen the poll about this already at uservoice (http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/2945071-bring-new-features-of-wp8-that-can-be-supported-by) and the hundreds of angry customers’ comments below. The interesting thing is that the poll itself is a mature suggestion, and not some ranting , suggesting that you just port the most important user features to the existing user base. If I had written the suggestion, I would have demanded that you do a full transition, with the kernel and native code support, since this would avoid fragmentation on the Marketplace and give the Windows Phone team a big “wow” from everybody. Apple did a full transition from PowerPC architecture to x86, including development tools and OS, and they had much less resources that Microsoft has at their disposal. It is obvious to many people that these are just wrong strategic decisions and not technical barriers. If WP8 runs a bit slower on older hardware, so be it, people will be pleased with the effort and upgrade their harware as soon as possible. If someone puts iOS 6 on their iPhone 3GS, do they expect snappy performance? No, they don’t. They get a trial version of the OS version, and upgrade happily to iPhone 5 in a few months.
Fortunately, you still have time to fix all these, since Windows Phone 8 is still months away from actual deployment. Hire more people, make this a priority, demand more resources and make it happen. Come up on stage and announce it. But please do it sooner rather than later.
Thank you,

Marios Karagiannis

Ideas/Design/Development

.:Karios Games:.