Tyler Pearce, a student from Carleton university shares what he learned developing a Windows Phone game with his team.
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Could you briefly describe your application/game?
The game is called ChopChop, you play the role of a chef. Players must use phone/touch gestures such as ‘Flip, Stir, or Spread’ to cook as much food as possible before the time runs out! You can see a video demo as well
Did you use XNA, Silverlight or both?
We used a combination of XNA and Silverlight for the game. This allowed us to create all of our core gameplay and content inside of XNA, while at the same time overlaying our score and timer elements that were created in Silverlight. This sped up development quite a bit.
What was your banging your head against a wall moment?
Because this was the first mobile app I have developed, there were many new things to learn. One of these was the current state of the application. When the user closes the app and it enters the ‘tombstoned’ state, the user can lose their current place in the game. This caused many headaches. If the player did this, the game appeared ‘broken’.
Did you ever solve that issue?
After learning about this issue, we found out it is possible to store specific settings of your game to be reloaded later. Because of the scale of our game and the amount of specific settings we had, we ended up just navigating the user back to the main menu rather than restoring. It is possible however to resume the game if we want to go that route.
If you had to build this same app again from scratch, what would you do differently?
We would do more research into the features that Windows Phone 7 has and take advantage of them in our game. Towards the end of development we discovered many things that we wished we knew about such as customizing Live Tiles for your app which is super cool. We would also test on the actual device rather than the emulator much sooner. We found a major bug that only happened on the device that we had to fix quickly.
Any nice surprises?
We were looking for an easy way to detect when the phone was ‘shaking’. After some searching we found this fantastic library on the Microsoft website that made it extremely easy and customizable. (Called ‘Shake Gesture Library’) I would highly recommend it.
Did you leverage the mobile platform?
We did our best to keep the User Interface as simple and clean as possible. We used the accelerometer as one of our main features in the game.
Did you leverage the touch screen?
Since our game is based around gestures, we used a huge variety of different touches. Some gestures we used in the food in the game were: Squeeze (Pinch), Stir (Move fingers around in circle), and Tap (Tap finger).
Did you have a favourite feature?
I really enjoyed how easy it was to create different pages/screens in the game. We were able to design a great looking score screen in Silverlight, and once the user completed a level, navigate them there with their score and overview. This was a really nice work flow.
What is one thing you think you did really well in this application?
We needed an easy way to extend the game by easily adding levels, gestures, food items, etc. With this in mind, I spent a very long time developing the framework for the game. With this in place, we were able to design new levels and easily choose different touch gestures for foods or animations. I was very proud of this.
Are you publishing your application/game?
We plan to plan to publish the game as soon as we polish and perfect it. The game is currently called ChopChop, but may change due to other competing apps with a very similar name. We will be sure to let everyone know if we decide to change it.
Where can I learn more about your app/game?
You can view our website
Who developed this application?
I was responsible for the full development of the game as well as the User Interface and Menu Design. I take great pride in what I do and always hope to make an influence in my work.
I currently operate an Ottawa Web Design business in Ottawa called TeeMedia where I specialize in WordPress development. After this great experience, I plan to continue exploring app development on the Windows Phone.
I was responsible for the music and sound in the game, as well as aiding in visual assets. I also created the marketing for our game (Poster designs, demo video, 3D logo, etc…)
Currently I do contract work in audio production, video editing, and graphic design (www.andrewrobillard.com) and also hope to continue to work on new apps for Windows Phone.
After a Microsoft representative pointed out the benefits of designing for the Windows Mobile community, our team brainstormed some ideas and started developing. Chop-Chop was a fun idea and even though I had my doubts in the beginning, it was really fun to play! It really opened my mind up to the possibility of working in the mobile app industry.
I was inspired by the opportunity to create a mobile app game this semester because I’m very passionate about the creative process and was excited to test my skill set. My contributions for the mobile app game included the game concept, level concepts, 2D and 3D graphics and animation.Getting to work on a project that’s finished product has the potential to be used by an outside company motivates me beyond just this project and has excited me to pursue a career in the industry.