Tips and gotchas for Windows Phone: Road Trip Runner

This series features interviews with student Windows Phone app developers who share the lessons they learned building windows phone applications.

This week’s interview features Kam Shing (Joe) Yip a student from Concordia University who built a game called Road Trip Runner

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Could you briefly describe your application/game?

Road Trip Runner is based on the imaginary little man that I used to think was running next to the car as I was bored looking out the window during a road trip. The player can choose the side of the window from where he wants to play the game. The game displays a little man running across the scene on your car window as seen with the camera from your Windows Phone.

Tap on the screen to jump and dodge the incoming shurikens. The simple gameplay keeps the game casual.

Did you use XNA, Silverlight or both?

I used both XNA and Silverlight, but the game is mostly made in XNA. In particular, the textures calls, game loop and logic are in XNA. However, the game cannot be completed with XNA alone as XNA does not have access to all the tools necessary. For Road Trip Runner, I needed the raw camera data which can be accessed only through Silverlight.

What was your banging your head against a wall moment?

Save and load data. FileIO is not the same on the phone, I didn’t know the proper way of accessing data. In my mind I thought that a game is not the same if there cannot be a high score to beat! So I kept on pushing for the feature.

Did you ever solve that issue?

I wouldn’t say I solved the issue by myself. Fortunately, I have other friends working on their own apps and games which require save/load features. I asked for their help and they managed to help me solve it.

If you had to build this same app again from scratch, what would you do differently?

The menu, I wish I could have made a nicer menu system and better screen manager.

Any nice surprises?

The simplicity of the camera API was a surprise to me. In the beginning I didn’t have the right tools. I was using the 7.0 SDK. Raw camera data access can be found in the 7.1 SDK only. It took me a little time before realizing this, but when I got the chance to code in the right environment, it wasn’t long until I got the camera working. It went smoother than I expected it would.

Did you leverage the mobile platform?

The game is very mobile specific I would say. It is design to use what is particular about the mobile platform. So, it cannot be just any game. Mobile may have less power in terms of process or graphic, but there are functionalities that are specific to the phone, so the game is designed to use what is particular about new smartphones, their camera.

Did you leverage the touch screen?

The game uses tap for having the little man jump. It is the only way to control him

What is one thing you think you did really well in this application?

The idea I would say. It is funny how many people actually imagine a little man running alongside their ride. I saw a post on a webpage about the topic and I realize how many people actually imagine a little man running or at least something similar. I would like to bring this little game of ours to life and I did it.

Where can I learn more about your app/game?

Who developed this application?

Joe Yip, that’s my publisher name. People call me Joe, but some calls me Kam Shing which is my other name. I am a computer science student at Concordia University in the computer games option. I make games for school projects, personal projects or events. I enjoy making games, not only it is fun, but it also gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Look for Road Trip Runner on the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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