Development

Taking a little break

Posted by admin on December 20, 2013
Development, Games, iOS / No Comments

I’ve been building my latest MonsterUp game for a few months now. The game has been accepted as part of the AppCademy program from Nokia and Microsoft and will be included in there when it’s done and passes all the necessary certification. Very happy and proud about that, but this is not what this post is about at all:)

The MonsterUp new game is being built using Unity and I’ve been learning a lot about the engine and tools while doing that. This does mean that I had to refactor a few things a few times already, but at some point I wondered what it would be like to make something new with all the things I’ve learned so far. So, I’ve decided to take a little break for a week or so from building the MonsterUp game and make something else completely.

The new game would have something to do with physics and maybe sports, so I chose to do a small archery game. The game set out to be an archery competition game with obstacles and moving targets set in different locations. And it also needed a cool name, where my friend Paddy helped. So the final name of the game is Daryl, from the Walking Dead character of course:)

I built the game using Unity in about one week, including integration with iOS stuff like Facebook and Twitter sharing, GameCenter achievements and leaderboards as well as Everyplay integration for sharing gameplay replays to social networks and youtube. Yes, Unity is awesome and the ecosystem is very well formed allowing all sort of nice things. The game features 5 different themes, Countryside, Beach, Old Castle, Rainy Forest and Snow Mountains. The game will be released shortly for iPhones, iPods and iPads (in both landscape and portrait mode) for free including the first of 5 themes. The rest are available for purchase as a single IAP inside the game. I also added some consumable bonues items that make shots less tricky, since they help with the shaky hands of the archer, the wind that affects the trajectory of the arrows and allow undoing some, ehm, unfortunate shots. None of these is essential in enjoying the game for free, but they add to the experience.

So there you have it, a free game for iOS made in a week using Unity that looks damn good, plays great and is fun! When the game is released, it will be available here.

 

How to fix Surface RT

Posted by admin on July 20, 2013
General, Windows 8 / No Comments

After the latest results, clearly showing that the beginning of Windows RT was not as good as expected, one has to think what could be done to fix the whole situation. I hope Microsoft people are taking notes (and I am also available for consulting :-p), so here we go, let’s design Surface RT2 together:

-It’s NOT (only) about apps. Hunting developers down to write apps for the platform is not the way to go, if your platform lacks other stuff (see below). The apps will come if your platform and hardware are interesting enough.

-Put LTE in there. When I got my first iPad, I got a 3G version but never really used it. But talking with people, I discovered that mobile data is REALLY important, so make sure Surface 2 has LTE functionality. I know people can use a 4G USB modem, but they don’t. Of course, make it optional, not everybody really needs it.

-Never, ever release under-powered machines. Surface RT is nice and all, but even my Samsung ATIV Tab feels snappier. I know that Windows RT are optimized, fast and fluid and all, but if the hardware lacks behind, it reflects bad on the whole thing. Many people don’t care why this is true, they just don’t want it to be there. Find ARM chips that make Windows RT REALLY fast and if you can’t, build them. We know you got the resources.

-Bundle the keyboard (touch or type) with the tablet. Every commercial I’ve seen focuses on the keyboard only for people to decide that it’s a rather expensive add-on.

-Keep the price low. After recent price cuts, it’s more reasonable, but the initial pricing was just ridiculous. It was almost priced as high as the iPad without offering as much. I don’t know how you will do it, sell more XBoxes to cover the losses, but when you create a new platform, and this is what RT is, you HAVE to lure people in. Even if you take a loss at the beginning. It’s like letting people pirate the first versions of DOS, remember?

– I personally love the idea of a desktop-as-an-app where one can actually run full versions of Office 2013 when they need to. But when people pick up a tablet, they should NEVER EVER be dropped on a desktop environment unless they specifically request that (by tapping the Desktop tile for example). In that capacity, make ALL Office apps available in RT form, with limited functionality of course (at least as feature enabled as Pages and Keynote on the iPad if not more), but usable completely without a keyboard and mouse. The desktop Office and IE should be there as the “one more thing” the Surface RT can provide. The same goes for ANY form of Control Panel settings page. EVERYTHING should be on a familiar and consistent metro touch friendly environment. Right now, it REALLY shows that the product is half baked. You even left Windows Defender running for some reason, even though users cannot run ANYTHING that doesn’t come from the Store.

In conclusion, people just don’t get it. Naming the new platforms Windows anything is a classic mistake. You made the same mistake with Windows Phone. I know how much you love Windows, but the Xbox is successful partly exactly because it is not called Windows anything. When someone buys something that runs Windows something and resembles a computer, they expect it to be a Windows computer. Which Surface RT is not. When they buy a phone that is called Windows something, they might expect blue screens of death and drivers installations, even though that is not the case with the excellent platform that Windows Phone is. But me knowing that is not nearly good enough. In branding and communication, I would give you a low mark for the past 2 years, when it comes to the new platforms (Windows Phone and Windows RT). And if you don’t believe me, go outside and ask non-technical people what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they see a tablet-thingy that runs Windows something. Or a phone.

Surface RT can still succeed (and I am not the only one that says so). Just make sure you fix the important stuff first and fast so that you can save it on round 2. Because otherwise, I don’t see a round 3.

MonsterUp Adventures for Android released

Posted by admin on July 13, 2013
Android, Development, Games / No Comments

I love MonsterUp Adventures. It’s my favourite game:) When I started designing it, I tried to take everything that was great with the original MonsterUp and make it better in small or bigger ways. The result game had it all! A purpose to all this jumping (there are levels to pass and you have to collect specific number of gems to do so – not to mention stay alive long enough), there is a small story (Skotooooooooooooooooos), the animation has double the fidelity (twice the frames actually) and the graphics are much much more awesome overall (thank you Ilias, you are awesome), there is original music (thank you Marietta, you are awesome), boss battles, an animated game map, multiple game saves, mini games and so much more!

android_table

The game has been an exclusive for Windows Phone until today. Today, I have released the game for Android phones for free. So go ahead, download and enjoy this awesome game, it won’t cost a thing. Go to Trelloland, find the Skotos minions and defeat them, it’s awesome fun, I promise you!

GalaxyS4 Nexus4

The iOS App Store – Ups and Downs

Posted by admin on July 13, 2013
Development, Games, General, iOS / No Comments

I was asked the other day to contribute to an article by 148Apps.com about my angle on the Apple App Store. The App Store has recently turned 5 years old, and it was where it all started for indie developers on mobile. Myself, I have not been on the App Store from the beginning, but opted to focus more on the Windows Phone Marketplace, which I never regretted as I have said in previous blogs. This does not mean that I have not published on other marketplaces and that I don’t have an opinion about them of course:)

You can read my thoughts, along with fellow developers thoughts about the App Store by heading to the 148Apps article page and reading the article itself, titled “App Store Fifth Anniversary: The Ups and Downs of iOS Publishing”.

appstore5over-wide

So is Windows Phone 8 here yet?

Posted by admin on June 13, 2013
Development, Games, Windows Phone / No Comments

According to a recent AdDuplex blog post, Windows Phone 8 is being used by more than 50% of the current Windows Phone 8. This is really interesting news, since Windows Phone 8 is a relatively new version and it caught up rather quickly. This means that the Windows Phone market share is rapidly expanding, now more than ever. In the US, the numbers are even more interesting since Windows Phone 8 users account for 70% of all Windows Phone users, but this actually means that not many people were considering Windows Phone before the awesome Lumia 920. But how do these numbers look from an everyday Windows Phone developer, like, say, me ?

In my case, WP8 looks much smaller than this. For the past month, only about 20% of my users for MonsterUp Adventures were using Windows Phone 8.

MayJune2013MUA

May 13-June 13 2013 – MonsterUp Adventures WP OS

The month before that, the number was about 16%. For the original MonsterUp the numbers are pretty similar, with 18.4% and 10% respectively.

MayJune2013MU

May 13-June 13 2013 – MonsterUp WP OS

So what can I understand from these numbers? For starters, Windows Phone 8 is a much bigger success and is working much better than Windows Phone 7.x when it comes to customer acquisition. The other thing of course is that people who used to play my games, still love them and still play them :)