Monthly Archives: January 2012

2012 – The Nokia Windows Phone year

Posted by admin on January 25, 2012
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / 3 Comments

Nokia Windows Phones have been around for no more than a few months. There are markets that have just started to see Nokia WP handsets, while the first up-to-par handset (the Lumia 900) is yet to be on the shelves.

Nokia is well known for its capacity to provide good quality handsets and the know-how of promoting them. So how are the first handsets accepted by the people? While we don’t have any concrete numbers for the sales (there are rumors that Nokia has shipped – not sold – about 1.5 million Lumias so far) we do have some usage information from MonsterUp and Galaxium for you, just to get a feel of what is going on.

Below, you can see two pie charts. One is the overall percentage of manufacturers since the beginning (which is January 2011 for MonsterUp and July 2011 for Galaxium). The second one is the percentage since 1/1/2012, so a little less than one month. I think the trends show up quite nicely. HTC is still the dominant Windows Phone manufacturer with Samsung taking the second place. LG seems to be losing the 3rd place to Nokia, at least with our data. Also, notice that all manufacturers are losing percentages apart from Nokia who has increased its percentage. Of course, we are comparing apples with oranges here, but I think this trend will continue.

(click on charts for bigger versions)
By the way, as a side note, we have seen out first ZTE device playing our games (not included in the data above)!

MonsterUp Lite is now live (or should be in a few hours)

Posted by admin on January 24, 2012
Development, Games, Windows Phone / 1 Comment

As promised, the new version of MonsterUp Lite, while still free of charge, will allow unlimited gameplay with Rhin-O in the Countryside. Of course, Rhin-O does not have any special powers and you are still not allowed to post your high scores to VortexLink, but you still have the (really cheap nowadays) full version of MonsterUp as well.

By the way, the next update of both MonsterUp and MonsterUp lite is going to be awesome. After one year, we discovered a fundamental issue with the game that we never noticed before.

MonsterUp Lite – proper version released

Posted by admin on January 21, 2012
Development, Games, Windows Phone / No Comments
Over the past couple of months, MonsterUp Lite has been downloaded more than 10.000 times and many people were disappointed to find out that it was more like a Trial version, limiting your playtime just to test the game for a few minutes.
We never want to disappoint our fellow gamers, so we decided to upgrade MonsterUp Lite to a proper Lite version.
The new version, which will be automatically be provided as an update to everyone who has already downloaded MonsterUp Lite, will provide unlimited gameplay with Rhin-O, our green monster in his home land, Trello Land’s Countryside. Play as much as you like and save your high scores to compete with your friends.
The full version of MonsterUp is always available of course, if you want to use online scoreboards (through VortexLink), all our different Monsters with their unique and fun special abilities and all our different background themes.
The trial version can be downloaded here for free (the new version will be available in a few days):
while our full version with all the goodies mentioned above inside can be had for only $1.29 (or the equivalent in your country) here (available now):

Should Tetrada come back to the Marketplace?

Posted by admin on January 12, 2012
Development, Games, Windows Phone / No Comments

I have been looking around and was surprised by how many Tetris clones are in the Marketplace these days. Most of them did not even bother to find a new name for their game, and some of them also copied the trademarks, the logo AND the music from Tetris (like this guy). The list of games that are named Tetris or something similar on the WP7 Marketplace is really long! Tetris, Tetris7, e-Tetris, Tetris, Sexy Tetris, BailinTetris, Tetris7 (another), SuperTetris, Tetris, Tetris, Tetris+, Tetris, TetriX, Sketris, AccelTetris, SirTet, Tetris and I am not even mentioning the Tetris games that are not named Tetris. Of course the Tetris gameplay is not patentable so good for them, but the name Tetris is copyrighted as is the logo and use of the Russian music piece for video games.

The question is, since all these guys are in the marketplace, why is not Tetrada? It was a conscious decision to pull Tetrada when I did, but I was thinking if I should change a few things and re-release it as an update to the original App, which would give the new version for free to the people that bought it in the first place.

What are your thoughs on that?

 

 

The first full year as a Windows Phone developer

Posted by admin on January 11, 2012
Apps, Development, Games, Windows Phone, Windows Phone / No Comments

A few days ago, it was MonsterUp’s first birthday (happy birthday MonsterUp!) and a little more than a year since we released our very first Windows Phone title, Tetrada (R.I.P.). Tetrada was developed using a Zune HD originally, since we had no access to a Windows Phone, but when we did get access porting it was a relatively easy process, since both share similar technologies. When Tetrada was released, most comments were positive and many people also compared it to the “official” Live title Tetris, actually preferring our implementation. Of course, Tetrada was nothing more than what it was, our first try at Windows Phone game development, and as such, it fulfilled its destiny. It also put Karios Games on the WP Games map, where we have stayed since then.

After than came MonsterUp, our flagship product. MonsterUp was based on the simple “always-jump-on-never-ending-platforms-and-get-as-high-as-you-can” idea. It was accepted with very good comments, even winning a Game of the Month award, the month it was released. But we didn’t stop there. The game has got 13 updates since then, adding new game modes, extra characters, extra themes, special powers, online scoreboards and so much more. The game received numerous awards, including the honor to be the only game in the Top 10 of Microsoft’s App Challenge which took place in Los Angeles during the annual Microsoft Worldwide Conference in July 2011. The game was definitely a success, having received hundreds of reviews and keeping a constant 9/10 mark on the reviews average. We have learned a lot from MonsterUp, but I think the most important thing we have learned is that we have to make games for gamers and the gamers’ opinion matters. We tried to respond to feedback as best as we could and we took your ideas seriously when developing the next iteration. I mean, when you think about it, it makes sense that when you create a game, the end users are the ones who are going to play it after it gets released. So why not keep them happy? This was exactly our goal over the past year, and we hope we have succeeded in doing  just that.

Our third game, Galaxium, was released in summer 2011.  With Galaxium we wanted to see how rapid we could come up with a complete game, using our experience and engine elements we have been developing with our previous games. The answer was a little more than 1 1/2 weeks. Immediately after its release, Galaxium won the first prize in the competition which inspired us to create it in the first place. Since Galaxium was a rather simple game, a top-down space shoot em up with powerups, spaceships and asteroids, we decided to try to keep it simple even when updating, and also provide an ad-based free version alongside the ad-free paid version. This allowed us to take a look at the ad-based business model and have an opinion on the viability of such projects. The things we have learned were not surprising. First of all, people love free stuff. Not only do they love them, but they can also get quite demanding, even though they paid nothing for them :) People also, some times, confuse price with value and feel that if something costs nothing, it is of no value. As an example, our free version has an 7.5/10 while our paid version has 9.8/10. And it is exactly the same game.

After Galaxium, we decided to experiment a little bit with apps on the Windows Phone platform. As a result, we have released 2 apps, one companion app for current or prospective students of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and another one for enjoying your favorite Aesop Fables wherever you go. Although we are game developers at heart, we rather enjoyed the apps development enviroment, with XAML and the combination of Visual Studio with Expression Blend proving to be quite a powerful combination for Apps development.

So looking back we want to share the following to current or wannabes Windows Phone developers.

-Listen to your users and consider their feedback

-Designing and developing your app/game is most of the time less than half the work you have to do. If you don’t have someone dedicated to promotion/advertising etc, prepare to work a lot after you release it.

-Don’t expect a return of investment right away. In fact, it might take a while since Windows Phone will start to take off, in our humble opinion, this year.

-Enjoy the Windows Phone development platform. At the moment, it is a large part of the satisfaction of developing for it.

-Experiment with the different business approaches you can take. Go paid, go free, go ad-based, try and see where it takes you.

-Learn and adapt along the way. We all do it :)

So what happens in 2012? Many things! First of all, we are really excited with all the Windows Phone news, the Nokia devices, the larger-than-average satisfaction rate of Windows Phone users and the positive things that finally start to show in the media. We have a lot to look forward to, including Skype on our devices, an awesome Windows Phone – XBOX – Windows 8 ecosystem and, of course, fantastic devices to support all this.

Finally, from our part, we will continue to support the platform. The sequel to MonsterUp, called MonsterUp Adventures, is progressing quite nicely and we expect to launch it sometime in Q1 or Q2 at the latest. And it’s going to make a big splash, we promise :)