Susan IbachTechnical Evangelist
This series features interviews with student Windows Phone app developers who share what they learned building their phone apps.
This week’s interview features Harold Mintah, a student at Carleton University. Harold is a member of Team GreenSource who built a game called Grumpy Tree.
Could you briefly describe your application/game?
Grumpy Tree is a platforming game about animals taking initiative to make change in the world. The animals are faced with environmental issues presented by the grumpy Character, Mother Nature.
Experience a different style of platforming by tilting and tapping your device through obstacles, and solving puzzles.
Did you use XAML, DirectX, monogame, Unity and why?
We used cocos2d-x, writing the game in C++. We decided to use it because of our familiarity with C++ and because the engine provides professional libraries without any licensing headaches.
What was your banging your head against a wall moment?
We found it pretty frustrating trying to design levels only with code with no level editor. Since this game was being coded for a competition, we thought it was best to finish something and submit, rather than spend all the time developing a level editor
Did you ever solve that issue?
Partially, I wrote a C# application that used images to specify the positioning of objects, give objects parameters, then export a text file containing "Copy-Paste C++" code.
If you had to build this same app again from scratch, what would you do differently?
Certainly invested a bit more time into developing a good level editor.
Any nice surprises?
We had a great time developing for windows phone 8, mainly because of the powerful hardware, so it was great to be able to design high resolution textures without being concerned about lag. You won't notice any lag in our game :)
Did you leverage the mobile platform?
We tapped into the mobile platform by using the accelerometer of the device to control the character.
Did you leverage the touch screen?
The player is able to tap on the screen to make the character jump, and an intuitive swipe interface for level selection.
Did you have a favourite feature?
We really, really liked the tile-feature, because we were able to make our application stand out with our unique pattern.
What is one thing you think you did really well in this application?
We built a game that ran very smooth in a very short amount of time. As students, we had assignments, midterms and tests, and were still able to come up with a nice, smooth-running application.
Are you publishing your application/game?
Yes! It's already published, just search "Grumpy Tree" , http://www.windowsphone.com/en-ca/store/app/grumpy-tree/67823904-2ac5-408a-8681-cbb80183675a
Where can I learn more about your app/game?
If you would like to learn more about the game, and our other games visit www.facebook.com/mintahgames
Who developed this application?
We had Paul Raubic who was the lead programmer, Melanie Bujold the researcher, Jullie Sisson the beta tester, and myself Harold Mintah the lead game and graphic designer. We also had Peter Raubic, our mentor to critique our game and give us advice. Our game was developed for the Microsoft Imagine cup competition, we came first in the game's category in Canada! Paul and I are still developing games, and we hope to someday lead the indie game development industry.
From left to right: Paul Raubic, Julie Sisson, Harold Mintah, Peter Raubic, Melanie Bujold
The Canadian Microsoft Student team is recruiting Microsoft Student Partners for the coming school year, could you be an MSP?
The Microsoft Student Partner program allows our team to work with students on campus to share the latest Microsoft technology with students at your school. Canada’s really big and there are student doing cool stuff in every province and territory, so we work with students at campuses across the country to help us with events and sharing news
There are lots of ways MSPs can help us, exactly what you do will probably depend a bit on your interests, skills and passions. Here’s a few ways you might help us out this year.
We have an early bird special!! We send out a welcome kit to all our MSPs to help them prepare for the year, we have a few extra goodies for the MSPs who are on board before August 9, 2013 (that means apply by August 1st so we can interview you and make sure you will be a good candidate for the program in time for the earlybird bonus)
If you miss the August 1st deadline, you can apply at any time during the year, we generally interview potential candidates in August, December, and May. That makes it easier for us to co-ordinate training and getting new MSPs up-to-speed.
Two simple steps
At the recent Build conference and yesterday morning, some big news was announced concerning Unity and Windows. One of the biggest pieces of news is that the pro add in for the Windows Store and Windows Phone will be FREE. Below is a simple table showing the pricing break down for Unity (NOTE: prices are current at the time of posting and are subject to change, for up-to-date information always visit the Unity website)
This table summarizes the cost to download the Unity software itself, and the prices for the add-ins that allow you to publish to different platforms for both the Basic and Pro versions of the software.
Never has it been easier or cheaper to bring your game or interactive application to multiple platforms. This truly is a game changer. You can read the mobile deployment announcement from Build here and the Unity 4.2 and Windows Phone announcement here.
The partnership announcement also contained some news about Microsoft console support.
You can read more about these announcement in this press release from Unity.
Contest details have not been announced yet, but you can sign up to be notified here, so you can be first to know. What we do know:
To help get you started building or porting your game or application to the Windows platforms using Unity be sure and check out the great videos from the Building Windows Games with Unity conference. You can even check out the session by Canadian company Coding Jar Studios who published their Unity game Fling Theory to the Windows 8 platform.
Speaking of conferences, don’t forget that the Unity conference is being held in Vancouver this year, so if your in the area this is a great chance to take part in workshops, meet other Unity developers, and hear about all things Unity.
If you are publishing your app to the Microsoft platforms, you will need a copy of Visual Studio.
Are you a student?
If you are a student you can get Windows Store and Windows Phone store accounts for free and you can download Visual Studio Professional for free all through DreamSpark, your one stop shop for software.
Are you a startup company?
If you are a start-up company, check to see if you are eligible to join the BizSpark program so you can get Visual Studio Professional for free and free cloud services and storage.
Not a student or a startup?
If you are not a student or startup you can download Visual Studio Express for free when you download the Windows 8 SDK or Windows Phone SDKs.
Want to build a game but don’t have the time (or for some of us, the talent) to create the art assets? Check out the Free Fantasy art asset pack!
Always wanted to build a game but thought it was too hard?
Having beautiful art assets gives your game a much more polished look and feel and makes the game more appealing to your players.
Sometimes you find a few royalty free assets you can re-use on various websites, but we decided to try and help you by providing some themed art assets you can use for your games. No strings attached!
The art pack contains character sprite sheets, special effects and objects you can use in your game.
This week let’s check out the assets in the Fantasy pack.
Characters include a wizard, elf, dragon, ogres, and more.
Special Effects include explosions, fireballs, and lightning
Objects include weapons, shields, money, and more.
You should also download the background assets collection to find a suitable backdrop for your game as well. The pack includes a suggested fantasy background scene.
Inside the background art pack you will also find environmental assets like trees, bushes, rocks, and more.
You can find more art asset packs at http://wootstudio.ca/win8platstarter
Now you have the assets, how do you build your game?
For help with Windows Phone check out
For help with Windows 8 check out
If you build something cool, tell us about it!
If you are a student, you don’t have to settle for the Express version of Visual Studio to develop your game! Use the same tools as the professionals by downloading your copy of Visual Studio Professional at DreamSpark! You can download Visual Studio Professional, the Windows Phone SDK, and the Windows 8 SDK all for free! DreamSpark is the student one stop shop for software!
Are you a Canadian student who built a Windows or Windows Phone app? Help other students by sharing your story!
Whenever you build an app, you learn from the experience. Share what you learned with other students!
Did you find a cool little feature you hadn’t seen before?
Did something you expected to be simple turn out to be a hassle?
Whether you built an amazing game, or a goofy little app that calculates how much money you spent on beer and determines what you could have bought instead (there’s a scary app idea!) I want to find out how you built it and what you learned from the experience.
So, tell me about your app!
Email me at GoDevMental@Microsoft.com tell me
I’ll contact you for the interview, it doesn’t take long.
You learn something from every app you build, whether it’s how to pass a variable from one page to another, or figuring out how to use Azure Mobile Services. If you had to figure it out, chances are someone else did too! Help your fellow students and brag a bit too :)
I want to blog your story!