Karios Games, my personal-project-to-become-a-company-very-soon is accelerating its growth. I’ve recently pitched in front of a jury and will be receiving my first “kick” from Venture Kick in Switzerland. Venture Kick is a non profit organization that helps young entrepreneurs get off the ground in Switzerland. All one needs is a good idea and some pitching skills (and some luck I guess). I have had more than a good idea, since I’ve launched a lot of games as you know already in 5 different platforms (facebook, chrome store, windows phone, ios and windows 8) and I got lucky, since I was chosen to receive the first “kick”, namely a small grant from the organization.
Things are starting to pick up from there and I will be doing my best to organize Karios Games into an awesome games making machine, like I always wanted it to be. I will not be hiring just yet, but since I am working on it full time now, I expect to be doing that also soon.
As always, there are a few games in the pipeline already, small and bigger projects, and I will be announcing new stuff when the time is right. Until then, patience!
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!
Some people seem to have difficulties turning off Windows 8, believe it or not. Although most people just use the laptop lid and don’t care or the power button on their desktop, there are quite a few more ways to shut down Windows 8.
Microsoft has provided the Shutdown and Restart buttons for Windows 8, under Settings in the Charms Bar. To show the Charms bar, press Win+C to open Charms and then click on Settings. Alternatively pressing Win+I will directly open the Settings.Once here, clicking on Power button will display options to Shutdown, Restart or Sleep the Windows 8 computer.
While on your desktop, click on Alt+F4 to bring up the shutdown dialog box. This box will give you quick access to shutdown, restart, sleep, switch user and sign out from your Windows 8 computer.
One quick way to shutdown or restart Windows 8 would be to use our freeware tool called HotShut. This light-weight portable tool, will sit quietly in your taskbar notification area and give you options to shutdown, restart lock and log off. You can also set it to start with Windows 8.
And finally how could we forget this one which is popular with some. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, and on the screen which appears, from the button which appears in the bottom right side, you will see the options to Shutdown, Restart and Sleep
But my personal favorite is using a simple shortcut. Right click on the desktop, and choose New Shortcut. In the file location, type “C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 0”. Choose Change Icon and choose the shutdown icon (or any other you like). Click OK twice. Right click on it and choose “pin to start”. After you do that, when you want to shut down, hit start on the keyboard and click on the shutdown icon. Easy.
I never owned an iPod. My portable music needs were satisfied by various other players, like an iRiver and a Zune HD. The latest was the one that also proved very useful when I begun developing games for the then up-and-coming Windows Phone platform. The Zune HD is an amazing MP3 player. The software was fast, fluid and intuitive (not to mention it looked absolutely gorgeous). I still use it a lot, and I am sad that it has been discontinued as a product. I always believed that Microsoft should follow the iPhone-iPod paradigm, that of having an extra product that acts like a media player, but is also able to run all the software Windows Phone can, without being a phone itself. That would catapult the platform, since developers would potentially have many more users. Oh, and I would buy one :)
Anyway, back to the feature of the title. While developing my first game for XNA, Tetrada, which essentially became my first game for Windows Phone, and then got pulled from the Marketplace, I discovered that the Zune HD hardware had a unique and amazing feature. While its (gorgeous) touch screen was capacitive (as in “reacted to touch and not pressure”) it also had variable pressure sensitivity (although I do suspect that it was implemented in an “touch area variable” way more than actual pressure sensing). So it would react like any Windows Phone, iPhone or Android phone today to touch, but if you pushed further on the screen, the hardware (and of course software) would register this push depending how strong you pushed. This little feature is amazing and gives many possibilities to game developers. For example, imagine being able to control a racing game’s accelerator or brake pedals by pushing harder. Or control the power of the shot in a football game.
This pressure sensitivity already appeared in this week’s Microsoft announcement of the Surface tablet’s keyboard, so I guess I can still hope!
I would love it if this feature returned to Windows Phones, it would make games on the platform stick out in yet another way.