• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Developer Offer from Marmalade

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    Today Marmalade  launched a brand new Developer Offer for Windows Phone Store and Windows Store.


    If you already have a good quality app, then participating in this Developer Offer is simple and rewarding. Using Marmalade to publish your app to Windows Phone Store and/or Windows Store will earn you a Windows Phone device and Windows 8.1 license, a Marmalade Indie license (worth $499) and $100 in PayPal gift vouchers. Simple!

    For more information about the Windows Developer Offer, visit our website.

     

      Native Performance. Any Device.

    www.madewithmarmalade.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Getting Started building your first game in Lua with Marmalade Quick Part1/2

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    Marmalade Quick and Lua are perfect new developers, but for experienced programmers, be prepared to experience a different kind of syntax. For example,

    image 

    If your a C# developer you will be used to loops looking like this (c# example):

       1: for (int i = 0; i < 50; i++)
       2:  
       3: {
       4:  
       5: }
     
    There are no brackets in Lua, and variable types.
     
       1: for i = 1, 50
       2:  
       3: do
       4:  
       5: end

    In Lua everything is one type of variable, but it is how you use it that reflects what exactly it is. For more quick information on Lua, see this great blog by Nick Smith from Marmalade here. Some key things (variables, functions, listeners, etc are all still valid).  Lua does however miss objects, but you can add objects can be added.

    One of the key advantages of Quick and Lua is you can make some really great things with half the code that you would usually write when using other engines. The fact that box2d as well as the other API’s are already packed into the engine make it pretty extendable for more detailed information, check out our documentation.

    Getting Started
    You will need to have Marmalade installed you can get it for FREE  from here.
    Next, I have prepared a few assets for a quick tutorial. these can be downloaded from https://github.com/leestott/MarmaladeQuick

    Knowledge of quick and lua is preferred, but not required. I will try to be as detailed as I can. I suggest you make a start with the 101 of development a Hello World Example you can make a Quick Hello world app in 5 minutes by following the guide here.

    Creating a Game with Marmalade Quick

    Ok, so let’s get building a flappy bird clone!

    clip_image001

    After clicking Marmalade Quick (that big Q in the middle), you will need to hit ‘Create New Project’ on the bottom left.

    clip_image002

    You will then be presented with a screen which allows you to add some details to your project,  Press hit ‘Create Project’!

     

    clip_image003

     

    clip_image004

    Ok so you have created your first Marmalade Quick project is up and ready .

    Using the Hub, you can change your target platform and even edit certain configurations for specific platforms. Let’s deploy it to x86, which uses the Marmalade Simulator on Windows and Mac, and see how it looks in the Platform drop down choose Simulator x86

    clip_image005

    So you should have a black screen.

    This is exactly what we want. The command line is showing the build process as well as a debug message that says ‘This is my app!’, and the simulator is showing nothing. Considering we just created a new project.

    You can close the simulator as we know this working we now need to do a bit of preparation before we can get coding.

    On the bottom left of the Hub, hit the drop down menu under ‘Action’, and press ‘Open Project Directory’.

    clip_image004

    clip_image006

    You will now be in the Project Directory of your application.

    Open the ‘Resources’ folder, and you should be presented with the Lua files and folders.

    We now need to add all our assets to this folder structure. downloaded from https://github.com/leestott/MarmaladeQuick

    So take the of the ‘Assets’ folder  and paste them into the Resources Folders.

    Take the files out of ‘quicklua+’:  and put it into your own ‘quicklua’ folder in your project (overwrite if asked).

    clip_image007

    This is the folder hierarchy which has just been created

    · ‘fonts’ folder - allows you to specify alternative fonts

    · ‘gfx’ folder - where we will keep our graphics (I have provided some for you already)

    · ‘quicklua’ folder - the prebuilt Marmalade Quick APIs that we will be using

    · ‘sfx’ folder - includes some sounds we will use in our game

    · app.icf - modify certain behaviours at runtime

    · class.lua - a prewritten Lua file which allows for object oriented development (see here for more info)

    · common.icf - more configuration settings

    · development.icf - automatically generated settings file

    · game.lua - this is where most of the game code will take place

    · main.lua - the entry point to our application

    · menu.lua - our main menu!

    · object.lua - Allows us to use objects (more on that later...)

    -modebug.lua – Allows us to debug the lua code in ZeroBrane

    What I need you to do first is edit your app.icf file, and add the following:

       1: [S3E] 
       2: MemMgrMaxAllocWarning=0 
       3: DispFixRot=FixedPortrait 
       4:  
       5: [GL] 
       6: VirtualWidth=480 
       7: VirtualHeight=800 
       8:  
       9: [QUICK] 
      10: mainFilename="main.lua" 

    Why edit App.icf?

    What the above code does is  fixing the orientation to portrait. Why? Well, Flappy Bird is primarily a portrait game, so if the user decides to rotate their phone, we don’t want the game rotating with it so we want to lock the orientation to FixedPortrait

    As for our virtual widths and heights, we want our app to run on multiple devices and platforms with all kinds of screen sizes and ratios. Our solution is to build the game at dimensions of 480x800, which means that our game’s display surface will always scale to fit the full device screen with these dimensions in mind. See here for more info.

    Setting ZeroBrane as the Default IDE for .lua files

    Go back to the directory of your application, right click one of your Lua files, hit ‘Properties’, and next to ‘Opens with:’ press change. Then navigate to your Marmalade install folder, and go to:

    "quick\tools\ZeroBraneStudio"

    Open ‘zbstudio.exe. Zero Brane Studio is an IDE for Lua code which we package into the SDK. You only need to do this once.

    And now we can code! First things first, add the following to main.lua:

       1: -- Imports 
       2: dofile("menu.lua") 
       3: --

    image

    You need to set the project directory so we can see just our project select Project\Project Directory\ Set from current file

    image

    Also you need to set Marmalade Quick as the Lua Interpreter

    image

    We will need to to allow debugging of the app and testing of the app within the Marmalade Simulator

    Ok next we need to add the menu into the game this will be the first thing the user sees.

    The ‘--’ are simply comments, and will not be compiled by Marmalade Quick at run time.

    add the following to menu.lua,

       1: -- Creates scene 
       2: menuScene = director:createScene() 
       3:  
       4: -- Create background: 
       5: local background = director:createSprite(director.displayCenterX, director.displayCenterY, "gfx/background.png") 
       6: background.xAnchor = 0.5 
       7: background.yAnchor = 0.5 

    All we are doing here is creating a global variable called MenuScene which holds our menu scene.

    As we have not called local before the variable name, it is automatically global and will be accessible from other parts of the application.

    Next, we make a new local sprite called background. Here, we place it in the middle of the display, and then load the image we want. We also change the x and y anchor of the sprite which affects the coordinates of the node’s anchor point.

    Hit save all within ZeroBrane, and press the run button

    image

    The Simulator will load and display a screen with the background for the main menu.

    Building the menu

    We need a scene changer.

    The scene changer  will allow us to change scenes in our app. Go to your menu.lua and add:

       1: -- Switch to specific scene
       2:  
       3: function switchToScene(scene_name)
       4:  
       5: end

    So what we have done here is create a function called ‘switchToScene’ which takes in one parameter. Specifically, the name of the scene we want to move to. 

    We haven’t put local before ‘function’, so it is automatically global and accessible from other lua files.

       1: -- Switch to specific scene
       2:  
       3: function switchToScene(scene_name)
       4:  
       5:  if (scene_name == "game") then
       6:  
       7:     dofile("game.lua")
       8:  
       9:     director:moveToScene(gameScene)
      10:  
      11:   end
      12:  
      13: end

    In this code we are comparing the parameter passed into the function.

    Specifically, ‘scene_name’. We are saying that if the ‘scene_name’ variable is equal to the string “game”, then we will import our game.lua file, and then move to that scene using the director.

    Adding a Start Button to the menu Screen

       1: local playButton = director:createSprite(director.displayCenterX, director.displayCenterY, "gfx/start.png")
       2:  
       3: playButton.xAnchor = 0.5
       4:  
       5: playButton.yAnchor = 0.5

    Adding a function to call a new game

       1: function newGame(event)
       2:  
       3: if event.phase == "ended" then
       4:  
       5: -- Switch to game scene
       6:  
       7: switchToScene("game")
       8:  
       9: end
      10:  
      11: end

    We call this function when we want a new game using the ‘switchToScene’ function. 

    We are passing the user’s touch into the function, and then checking the state of the touch. In Marmalade Quick, we have 3 states for touch:

    • began - when the user first touches
    • moved - when the user moves their finger
    • ended - when the user takes their finger off the screen

    In this case, we are saying, call the function when the user takes their finger off the button. Don’t forget to pass in “game” as the scene switcher parameter, so the app knows which scene to go to.

    We have our function that will take the user from the menu to the game scene, but it isn’t connected to the ‘start’ sprite yet. Even at this point, it is still a sprite. We now need to use something called an event listener. Add this under your playButton code:

       1: playButton:addEventListener("touch", newGame)

    What this line does is add an event listener to the playButton. This means that it is now waiting for something to happen. When that event does happen, it will react accordingly. In this instance, our event listener is waiting for a ‘touch’, and when the play button is touched, the newGame function will be called.

    Making the Game Scene

    Go to game.lua and add the following:

       1: gameScene = director:createScene()
       2:  
       3: local label = director:createLabel(0, 0, 'Hey - welcome to the game scene.\nCome here often?')

    Again this scene is global like our menu scene.

    We have also created a bit of text using a label and we then display it to the user.

    Adding a Game Title to your menu screen

    Go to menu.lua file code. Make sure it is after the background code so that the text isn’t drawn underneath it.

    The \n after Flappy Bird is an escape character by the way. It allows us to write on different lines). As you can see, we also change the colour of it. As a node, you can do all sorts of things to it. See here:

    But yes, the code:

       1: local gameTitle = director:createLabel(0, director.displayCenterY+(director.displayCenterY/2), 'Flappy Bird\n A New Developer")
       2:  
       3: gameTitle.color = color.blue

    image

    So now we can create a button in your game scene that once pressed, goes back to the menu scene. All you will need to do is pass in the “menu” string to our global scene switcher function in main.lua.

    Ok lets now add some code to game.lua: so delete the text

    local label = director:createLabel(0, 0, 'Hey - welcome to the game scene.\nCome here often?')

    and add the following

       1: local background = director:createSprite(director.displayCenterX, director.displayCenterY, "gfx/background.png")
       2:  
       3: background.xAnchor = 0.5
       4:  
       5: background.yAnchor = 0.5
       6:  
       7: background.rotation = 180
       1: local player = director:createSprite(director.displayCenterX/2,director.displayCenterY + (director.displayCenterY/2), "gfx/player.png")
       2:  
       3: player.xAnchor = 0.5
       4:  
       5: player.yAnchor = 0.5

    What is really great about Quick is that it supports Box2d physics engine. So we can simply add physics to the player and world and we can do this by adding this line of code under our player:

       1: physics:addNode(player, {radius = 21})

    If you press run, your ball should slowly fall off the screen and increase in speed while doing so.

    In Part 2 we will continue with the development of  the game.

    For more details on Marmalade see http://www.madewithmarmalade.com/windows

    Windows Developer Offer

    Just Apply, Port & Publish! Spreading your game to the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store is super-easy with Marmalade and you could bag up to $1000 of incentives.

    To qualify, your game will need to:

    • Have received a 3 star rating or above and/ or your game has at least 5,000 installs (if premium/paid) or 50,000 installs (if free-to-play)

    If your game does not meet the above criteria, it can still qualify. Submit it for evaluation and your entry will be evaluated on the following criteria:

    • Whether your game has innovative content and is clearly differentiated from other games in the same genre
    • Developer track record in shipping quality games on mobile or other platforms
    • Overall quality of the user experience and presentation

    What’s in it for you?

    • $100 PayPal gift voucher
    • A priority review for Windows Phone Store promotion
    • A developer account token for the Windows Phone Store
    • A license to Windows 8.1 Pro (worth up to $200)
    • A Windows Phone device (at Microsoft’s discretion and subject to availability)
    • A Marmalade Indie license (worth $500)

    How to participate

    1. Register or login

    You need to be logged in to sign up for the offer

    2. Sign up for the offer

    Once you have submitted your application, someone from Marmalade will be in touch to let you know if you have been accepted onto the program.

    3. Get tooled up

    Once accepted you’ll receive:

    • a developer account token for the Windows Phone Store
    • a license to Windows 8.1 Pro (worth up to $200)
    • a Windows Phone device (at Microsoft’s discretion and subject to availability)
    • a Marmalade Indie license (worth $500)

    4. Develop and Port

    Develop or port an innovative, functional app using Marmalade.

    • read the porting guides, which cover everything you need to know about configurations, SDKs, general considerations, and first steps
    • complete your Windows Phone app

    5 Publish your app to the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store *

    To publish to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store you will need a developer account. Email us at windows@marmalademail.com for a developer token code that you can use to create an account free of charge, if you have not already received one.

    *Game must be published between 1st Nov 2014 and 31st March 2015 to qualify.

    6 Reap your reward

    Once you have published your app to Windows Phone Store and Windows Store don’t forget to let us know to receive extra rewards.

    • $100 Paypal gift voucher
    • priority review for Windows Phone Store promotion

    Sign up for the offer

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    So have you ever thought about building or porting your existing Marmalade games to Windows?

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    Home

    Microsoft is committed to giving developers what they need to build outstanding games for Windows.

    Whether you are a current Marmalade game developer, or an aspiring one, we hope you can participate in one of the events, programs, or online trainings available this month.

    14th November 2014 Microsoft/Marmalade day at Platform Expo Hull Register here - https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032599163&culture=en-US

    20th November 2014 Microsoft/Marmalade MVA – Creating your first Marmalade App Online learning http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/liveevents/creating-your-first-marmalade-game

    4th December #Include Marmalade Developer Day http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/include-2014-tickets-13759522101

    Game development is perhaps the most rapidly growing sector of the mobile app space, and the opportunities are continuing to grow. Go get started!

    To be able to create Windows Store deployments you will first need to sign up for a Windows Store developer account. This is a one of fee of US $19 for an Individual account and US $99 for a Company account to become a registered developer.

    clip_image002

    Once you have published your first game to Windows/Windows Phone apps you can enjoy the Dev Center Benefits

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    Home

    If your new to Marmalade and Windows you should check out the following resources http://www.madewithmarmalade.com/windows

    The new dedicated windows landing pages includes all the information and materials you need to get started including guides, written by a Marmalade developers to help get you started fast as possible using your favourite development tool building for all mobile devcies.

    So what is the opportunity of building for Windows?

    Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 supports many improvements which are all supported in Marmalade see

    Windows 8
    http://docs.madewithmarmalade.com/display/MD/Windows+Store+Apps+Platform+Guide

    Windows Phone http://docs.madewithmarmalade.com/display/MD/Windows+Phone+8+platform+guide

    With users rapidly adopting the 8.1 versions and the wide range of benefits for developers, now is the time to ensure you target your apps to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1.

    The graphs below show which OS is generating app downloads in Windows and Windows Phone.

    clip_image005

    Downloads Per Category

    Games are the most popular category for all devices, followed by Music & Videos, Social, Entertainment, and Tools & Productivity. Of note: Windows downloads are more highly skewed towards games than Windows Phone.

    The graph below shows the percentage of all downloads grouped by category.

    clip_image007

    Downloads by Market

    Windows Store is available in 242 markets, and Windows Phone Store is available in 191 markets. As you localize your app for Windows consumers outside your home market, consider which markets are generating the highest downloads.

    clip_image009

    The market with highest number of downloads is United States, though the distribution of downloads shows that several other markets also generate significant downloads, including China, India, France, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t consider other markets. Your app may have characteristics that make it perform differently in different markets.

    Many markets have low credit card penetration, and the Store supports additional payment instruments so users in those markets can purchase apps and make in-app purchases. The Store supports Alipay, PayPal, as well as carrier billing (Windows Phone only) with 65 partners in 38 markets. Carrier billing offers consumers a convenient one-click way to buy apps, games and in-app purchases, and we see developer paid transactions typically increase by 3x in developed markets and 8x in emerging markets.

    Localisation is key

    Language is a key driver of downloads and adoption. As you evaluate languages to support in your Windows and Windows Phone apps, you can extend the reach of your existing apps by adding support for more languages.

    clip_image010

    Offering your app in English only will only cover about 25% of Windows Phone customers, though it covers a larger percentage of tablets and PCs users. Adding Spanish, French, Mandarin, Russian and German increases coverage to more than 75% of the base. Take a look at our docs that show how to localize your Windows or Windows Phone apps.

    What is the best Monetization strategy for Windows?

    In-app purchase of durable and consumable digital products is the model that has grown the fastest in the Windows Phone store, and is becoming an increasingly significant source of revenue in the Windows store. Advertising also continues to grow, although it is a more significant source of revenue in Windows than Windows Phone. The paid apps model is beginning to show a slight decline as developers move to the “freemium” app model that offers both in-app purchases and/or advertising as a potential revenue source. As the adoption of in-app purchasing continues, particularly of consumable in-app purchases, we expect this to become an increasingly significant source of revenue.

    clip_image012

    The //build presentation Maximizing Revenue for Phone, Tablet and PC Apps in the Windows Store has more detail about the different revenue models and best practices to help you optimize your app for maximum revenue.

    Windows Phone In-App Purchases
    In-app purchase was available on Windows Phone starting with Windows Phone 8, and has continued to grow and improve, including aligning the API with Windows 8.1, enabling a larger number of in-app purchase items in the catalog.

    Apps that use this source of revenue effectively are quickly becoming the highest-grossing apps in the store. As this trend continues, even some paid apps are moving to a “freemium” model with a free base app and an in-app purchase feature. We now see that in August, all of the top 20 highest-grossing apps used in-app purchase, as well as 44 of the top 50 highest-grossing apps.

    clip_image013

    Nineteen of these 20 apps are games offering consumable in-app purchases, and only one uses durable purchases as its main revenue source. In short, if the value is there, in-app pricing does not have to be low to be profitable.

    Next Steps

    We recommend you take some time to browse through http://www.madewithmarmalade.com/windows to understand what it takes to develop and port your existing marmalade games to Windows.

    We highly recommend you begin developing for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 using Marmalade, since these have become the primary operating system for users.

    Marmalade allow you to develop and manage one source code for both platforms. Also, we strongly recommend consider using the in-app purchase model to increase your app revenue and a cloud backend.

    clip_image015

    Additionally if you’re a start-up Microsoft BizSpark http://www.bizspark.com provides free software, cloud resources, support, and visibility to help start-ups succeed.

    We look forward to seeing you at one of the events above!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Are you new Start-up have you heard of BizSpark?

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    image

    So what is BizSpark

    BizSpark is a Microsoft program to help software start-ups at the beginning when money may be tight.  You can utilize it for a maximum of 3 years, but afterwards BizSpark Alumni can keep, at no charge, all the software they downloaded during their three years in the program, including a standard configuration of Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server.  If you wish to purchase after your 3 years in the program, special BizSpark Alumni discounts are available.  Microsoft does not take equity in your start-up.

    image

    BizSpark provides:

    * Software: You get access to a ridiculous amount of Microsoft software (a Visual Studio Ultimate MSDN subscription, which includes 900+ current, full-featured software development tools, platform technologies, and server products to build software applications).  This includes Windows, Office, Visual Studio, SQL Server, etc.  For the most up to date listing of products, click products by benefit level and then click Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN tab for a representative list of products.

    * Cloud services: you receive $150 of free monthly Microsoft Azure benefits.  Run your services in the cloud (Azure supports running Linux virtual machines as well as Windows).  If you are building Windows, iPhone, or Android apps, take advantage of Windows Azure Mobile Services, which provides cloud storage space, authentication services (with built-in support for using Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft Account/LiveID, and Active Directory credentials as well as custom auth using JWT), and push notifications (with support for Windows Push Notifications, Apple Push Notifications, or Google Cloud Messaging).

    * Support: access to investors, advisors, and valuable offers to help run their businesses, find talent, and obtain financing. Start-ups also get access to technical, product and business training and support.

    * Free access to the Windows Stores

    * Free promotion to the global BizSpark community

    Register

    To be eligible, you must meet these criteria:

    • Actively engaged in development of a software-based app, product, or service that will form a core piece of your current or intended business.  (NOTE: you must be building a product!  Start-ups providing consulting services are not eligible.)
    • Your company is privately held, and in business for less than 5 years.
    • Makes less than US $1 million in annual revenue
    • http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark 
    Help!

    Here are some great resources to help you:

    Also, if you are a start-up that doesn’t have a public-facing company name or website yet, please

    Perks of the program:

    • Windows 8 / Windows Phone developer accounts
    • Visual Studio Ultimate 2013
    • Windows 8
    • Office 365
    • $150 / month Azure credits
    • Website hosting, virtual machines, databases, and mobile services
    • Visual Studio Online (Formerly TFS)
    • 90 Days of pluralsight + DigitalTutors training
    • Free marketing support with Microsoft
    • UnityVS, for debugging Unity games within Visual Studio

    Who qualifies?

    • Actively engaged in development of a software-based app, product, or service that will form a core piece of your current or intended business.  (NOTE: you must be building a product!  Startups providing consulting services are not eligible.)
    • Your company is privately held, and in business for less than 5 years.
    • Makes less than US $1 million in annual revenue

    Whether you are a student, start-up, or an indie game developer, Microsoft views you as a welcome addition to our start-up program.

    Some additional resources:

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Startups, developer entrepreneurs, indie game developers get started @ Future Decoded

    • 2 Comments

    clip_image001

    Calling all  startups, developer entrepreneurs, indie game developers and students this month, inviting you all to Get Started @Future Decoded on 12th November, ExCeL London.

    This special event takes place from 1:00pm to 7:30pm in the open theatre space at ExCEL next to “Startup Alley” and includes networking drinks.  

    WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?

    We are inviting the community of like-minded innovators to join together at Get Started @ Future Decoded to:

    · hear inspirational stories from other “cloud developers”

    · learn how to get started with the cloud to realize their digital dreams

    · learn practical tips and tricks from Microsoft Technical Experts to quickly get started – regardless of what platform or tools they build with—in the areas of:

    Web / Mobile Apps & Services

    Cloud Gaming

    Internet of Things

    · Enable anyone with a great idea for an app / game / IoT service to rock up and pitch for a chance to win:  free cloud services, a Microsoft Mentor, a Visual Studio license, 1 month residency at Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, and 1 day with the game studio team at Lift London.

    REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

    Register here:  http://aka.ms/getstartedcloud

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Future Decoded Tech Day: 12 November, ExCeL London.

    • 0 Comments

    clip_image001

    Future Decoded Tech Day: 12 November, ExCeL London.

    Nobody can predict the future. But a bunch of clever folk can certainly help you prepare for it. That's why we've gathered together some great technology and business experts for our 'Future Decoded' event in London on 12 November. And we'd love for you and your technical colleagues to join us.  
    You and your technical colleagues can share thoughts with the likes of Professor Brian Cox and Sir Nigel Shadbolt. You also get to swap ideas with fellow developers and IT professionals. The day is split in two: keynote speakers in the morning; then choose from one of 8 specialist tracks in the afternoon.

    Giving your teams the opportunity to explore becoming an all-out ‘Native Ninja’ developer or going cross platform and immersing yourself in the Cloud. Tracks will be taking on the challenge of ‘Demystifying big data’ and highlighting the magic of DevOps bringing people together and synergising Enterprise Mobility.
    Future Decoded brings together some of the world's most influential thinkers to explore technologies and gadgets that will shape business in the 21st century. It's a fantastic opportunity to join the debate and take part in working sessions with leading technology experts. All the speakers have one thing in common - they've got fascinating insights that'll help you plan for the future. 

    To secure your Free place at Future Decoded on 12 November - Book your Free tickets now

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    MVP Community Lounge at Future Decoded 2014, 12th November 2014

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    MVP

    Future Decoded 2014 is a great new 3 day event that Microsoft UK has pulled together to demonstrate the very latest technology.

    I’m pleased to announce that there will now be a large MVP Community Lounge (12 November the tech day).  The lounge will be situated on the mezzanine floor as you enter the Excel Centre! So if you are attending the event on 12 November please be sure to find the lounge and have a free tea/coffee

    - clip_image003

    We have a number of MVPs speaking at the event on 12 November, and they include:

    · Damian Flynn

    · Paul Keely

    · Gordon McKenna

    · James Rowland-Jones

    · Jennifer Stirrup

    · Chris Webb

    · Jonathan Noble

    · Richard Conway

    Future Decoded is a 3 day event so register now at

    10 November: Target audience is Business Decision Makers

    11 November: Audience  Microsoft Partners

    clip_image001

    12 November: Audience is IT Decision Makers and IT Implementers

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Purchasing Power Parity setting the price of your app based on local economies

    • 0 Comments

    Windows Phone now supports customizing the price of their games on a per currency basis. That's where Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) comes in.

    There is a great article on the subject of PPP One simple Hack to Crack IAPs in the Developing World The author Gurinder Pal Singh raise the issue that of the impact of currency conversion and the cost of living within different countries and cultures. This isn't something which many developers actual consider when listing their game or app in any of the stores..

    But the Purchasing Power Parity of each currency, is a pretty important factor the authors simply summarizes this as..

    The problem is that all currencies are not created equal, some are more valuable than others. A $100 bill, when converted at the exchange rate, will buy you more stuff in India or China or Mexico or Romania and so on, than it would in the United States. So a Dollar has more purchasing power in these countries than in the United States at the international exchange rate. And that is where the concept of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is born.That means that a “Tier 1″ In App Purchase (IAP) costs three times as much in India than it does in the United States!

    image

    Windows Phone Dev Center gives you the option to customize your app’s price on a per-country basis

    Understanding base pricing

    Base price is the price you select that will be used in every country or region where your app is sold, unless you specify a different price for a particular country or region. The base price is converted to the same price level in the local currency of each country or region. For instance, if you select $.99 USD when you save your App info, the price in France will automatically be converted to the Euro pricing that’s used for that level of application. To learn more about your app’s tax implications in selected markets, see Tax details for paid apps.

    But what about PPP

    Now understanding PPP and from Gurinder article I think there is a real valuable lesson. Gurinder decided to run an experiment.  He manually adjusted each of his App Purchase based on the current Purchasing Power Parity in the players currency.

    The results?

    The number of transactions in those countries increased by 1100%, and revenue from those countries increased by 400% which is a pheonminal  success story.

    Customizing your app’s price on Windows Phone

    You also have the option to adjust pricing on a per-country basis. After you’ve successfully saved your App info, you will be returned to the App Submission Hub page. Under Options, click Market Selection and Custom Pricing. Once you’re in Market Selection and Custom Pricing, select from a list of countries or regions you’d like to set new pricing for and save your changes. Price changes will be applicable to all new purchases only.

    Price considerations for specific markets

    Payment methods such as mobile operator billing can help increase sales of paid apps and in-app purchase items in markets where credit card use is low.

    What are the considerations of using Mobile Operator Billing

    Due to the higher costs to enable mobile operator billing, a Commerce Expansion Adjustment of 13.9% is added to the Store Fee deducted from Net Receipts to calculate the Application Proceeds payable for paid apps and in-app purchase transactions in the following countries/regions .

     

    Country/Region

    Payment Methods

    Effective Date

    Argentina

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    Chile

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    Colombia

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    Costa Rica

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    Egypt

    Mobile Operator Billing

    June 2014

    Kenya

    Mobile Operator Billing

    July 2014

    Malaysia

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    Mexico

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    Peru

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    South Africa

    Mobile Operator Billing

    March 2014

    You may want to consider if the Commerce Expansion Adjustment applies in a country/region where your app is available and factor that into your market pricing strategy.

    Details about the Commerce Expansion Adjustment can be found in the App Developer Agreement.

    The Commerce Expansion Adjustment will be applied to all transactions processed for the specified Country/Region and Payment Methods as of the Effective Date. This information will be updated monthly; new countries/regions and payment methods will be listed within thirty (30) days after the Commerce Expansion Adjustment takes effect for that country/region and payment method.

    Go Dos.

    Read One simple Hack to Crack IAPs in the Developing World How we increased our IAP Revenue from the Developing World by 400%! Consider PPP when localizing your games.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    What’s the big deal about Monetisation?

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    This week I had a catch-up with the UKs new MVP for ID@Xbox Simon Jackson @SimonDarksideJ and got into a conversation of monetisation, Simon mentioned he had a section on this very question in his new book “Mastering Unity 2D Game Development” which has been published under Packt Publishing.

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    Simply put one of the hardest decisions developers need to make about their game or app is how to get paid, sure we love them and they are a part of us but there should always be some sort of reimbursement for efforts.

    So the following is a quick run down of the various options available to developers today!

    Some of the most common patterns for monetization in games are:

    Paid

    Your game is sold at a fixed price. For big game studios this is generally the only option, especially with disk based delivery and some marketplaces.

    The emphasis with paid only means you need a high quality sale portfolio for your game, outstanding game marketing assets (logo’s, screenshots, videos, etc.).

    What is also just as important is the blurb about your game, it really has to stand out and draw the player in to make them part with their hard earned cash.

    Paid with trial

    Offering a trial with your game is a great way to entice players in, obviously it gives them a taste of you game before they commit cash.

    Be honest about the trial though, there have been many cases and annoyed players where games were published as free but were actually limited trials, do not upset your potential buyers, be up front about it.

    You still need a good presence with your marketing and store front, but the trial is also another great option to draw them in.

    When going down the trial route, just be sure to only pick a single path and stick to it, either by limiting the game, or only offering so many levels, or even having time limited play. Just don’t mix them.

    Another factor in offering trials is that each platform you deploy to may have a different way of providing it, either directly from the marketplace or through marketplace API’s. It’s best to design how your game will behave in trial and link that to a flag or option you can then control separately from the menu or check on startup.

    Ad Supported

    Often the route for a lot of “free to play” mobile titles, this is one option that can be hard to get right. Too many ads and the player will just get annoyed and uninstall it, too few and you are not going to get much back from it.

    A key thing to remember about ads is that it’s all about presentation and numbers. You need thousands of ads presented through your titles to make any kind of money back from Ad Providers, better if the player also clicks on the ad as this generates better revenue but you cannot bet on the player doing this.

    Warning, do not attempt to fake or force the player to click on ads. It’s a very bad experience and likely to get you uninstalled quickly. Also Ad Providers are clever enough to work out if you are faking the clicks and simply not pay you.

    I have seen cases where developers have layered ads on top of each other to maximize ad presentation or use GUI controls in close proximity to the ads tricking the player in to clicking them. These are very bad practices and should be avoided, at best you won’t get paid for your ads, at worst it will significantly get you bad reviews and lower the population of your players.

    A few patterns that generally work are:

    o Display in a non UI blocking portion of the screen in game play

    o Just display in the menu or non-game screens (e.g. inventory, pause screen)

    o Displaying ads only in loading screens

    o Pop up ads that appear when an event occurs

    o Ads on purchase screens

    You can mix and match but remember there is a fine line between a background annoyances the player can just ignore if they don’t want to look, to intrusive and overbearing. Test with a select audience and alter your implementation based on their feedback BEFORE publishing.

    The terms use by Ad Providers aren’t meant to befuddle you but they do take some getting used to, here’s some of the terms and their meaning:

    Fill Rate – The percentage rate at which ads will be sent to your game, if the provider has run out of ads or has none for your ad settings (age, region, language, etc) then this can drop to 0 meaning no ads.

    Impressions – This is a figure to denote the number of successfully show ads in your game, be aware that if the same ad is shown several times that some ad providers count this as the same impression, and just check against your own experience.

    Click through rate (CTR) – the higher paid option with ads to denote players are actually clicking on ads to look into them.

    eCPM – basically a unit of measure of how much you will be paid per click or impression. Usually multiply this figure by your number of impressions to see how much you will get. Note this figure will go up and down based on just about anything, including the weather.

    AdTypes – There are various ad types and sizes supported by each provider with different capabilities. Banners are the simplest being a screen area size it will take up when displaying the ad. Others like intersatials are interactive and generally take up the entire screen. Check each provider for what they support and which you want to use.

    Another factor to keep in mind is around publishers themselves, they will all perform differently in different markets and languages. Generally Ad Publishers focus on a few select markets or only take advertisements in certain languages, etc.

    Some examples of these are:

    Microsoft PubCenter – strongest in the United States

    Smaato – Strong in central Europe and US but poor in non-English countries.

     Inneractive – good mix of support across the globe and mix of ads but suffers from low or poor fill rates in practice (something they are working on)

    Google AdMob – strong across the globe but you need millions of impressions to make any real money

    There are many more out there such as InMobi, VServe, Leadbolt and others which each have their strengths and weaknesses, only your personal testing will see what publisher works best for you in which countries.

    When using advertising it is very important to add your own instrumentation to your title to track how the adverts are doing, don’t just use the Ad Publishers figures from their respective dashboards. That way you can manage yourself what works best for you and alter your plans accordingly. Don’t just publish and let it go, manage it effectively to improve your returns.

    When implementing ads there is also no rule that says you have to use only one provider! Always hedge your bets with AdProviders and implement as many as you are comfortable with, structure your ad presentation in a framework so that you always show the best performing adverts first and use another ad network if the current one isn’t delivering.

    If this seems a bit much to do yourself, then there are several frameworks out there that will do this for you. These Ad Rotating solutions are fully featured to work with a number of Ad Providers and ensure you always display ads.

    One such framework is a solution called AdRotator which is open source and works with most platforms, you can check it out at http://getadrotator.com, There are others also on the Unity asset store, just be sure to check what platforms they support (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc), so you might have to use a few different ones for all the platforms you deploy to. Vserv.mobi (vserve.com) for example can also display ads from other providers and not just its own.

    In app purchase

    A common feature being implemented in most games these days are in-app purchases, they are simply your paid shop front within the game to unlock levels, purchase rare items or remove unwanted features like Ads.

    In some cases in-app purchases have been used to implement trial functionality, publishing the title as free and then offering an in-game unlock option, on console like the Ouya, this is standard practise.

    Note, as with the trial system, be upfront if your game is sold as a trial. Players do not like and will aggressively mark down and slam titles that appear free until they are forced to pay to play!

    In-app purchases on most platforms come in two forms:

    · Durable

    Items that the player can purchase and have a real world item they can own. These are generally single use and you can verify with the marketplace for the platform if the player has purchased them. Although it is advised that you also manage that information locally so as to not slow the game down on start-up while checking. If you can also keep that information on a back-end service in case the user resets their device or transfers to a new one, this is not mandatory however.

    Can only be purchased once.

    · Consumable

    Effectively consumables are in-game currency, items that are meant to be recharged and replenished over time.

    The big difference between consumables and durables is that they are not tracked on the server (other than in payment history but that is not available to apps/games)

    Can be purchased many times over.

    As well as the store/marketplace for each platform there are some online services that will do payment systems for you, saving you from re-creating everything for each platform you support. One such company is called Lotaris (http://www.lotaris.com/) which offer many different ways for players to purchase items and apps, you still however have to publish your app to each platforms store.

    WARNING – If you are using in-app purchases be aware that big brother is watching. Employ unethical or illegal practices when implementing these systems could bring to a whole heap load of trouble.

    Check the following article for more info: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140402142426/http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2014/05-14.

    READ NOW if you plan to or are already using in-app purchases

    In-Game currency

    BitCoin as a practice in games has been rising steadily, the basic premise being that the game is generally free to play and uses some kind of in-game currency which players can earn in the game. This currency usually takes two forms, basic coin which can be earned in-game and premium coin which can only be bought with cash (or for completing rare and special events).

    The idea is simple, play through the game slowly as normal but if you want to advance quicker or get ultra-rare items then you need to buy and spend premium coin for those items. In some cases you can also convert premium coin to basic coin to get in-game currency quicker

    Although this makes a steady profit in single player or offline games, where it really comes in to its own is with online multiplayer. Seems there is a growing market for people to advance quicker than others or just to beat their friends quicker.

    Doing coin systems is generally harder than just doing in-app purchases but makes for an easier to manage ecosystem.

    Also see the warning about in-app purchases as this applies heavily to in-game currency/ bitcoin systems as well, if not more.

    The Roundup

    As you can see there are many options out there to get paid for your apps / games and lots of directions to consider. I’ll leave you with a few points to think on:

    · Think long term when considering returns for your app/game. If you have services to support how will you pay for them

    · Consider your whole app estate when generating revenue, give bonuses to loyal customer who get more than one of your apps/games

    · Never annoy users with “Too Many” or “Too Frequent” ads, be considerate.

    · Always ship an option to turn off ads. Offer several pay points for user to support your app/game, you may be surprised how much people are willing to support a good one

    · Tie in your monetisation with other channels, promotions, competitions, think out of the box.

    Monetisation is more than just about money, it is about brand awareness and the public’s view of your entire portfolio and says a lot about how you want to grow your business and treat your customers!

    Simon thanks for the chat and inspiration and congrats on the MVP award!

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  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 10 Tech Preview unable to build to Windows Store in Unity?

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    I had a few question from game developers running into problems with the technical preview of Windows 10.

    Windows 10 is now available for FREE via the Windows Insiders program and for MSDN Subscribers. over 1 million users are now running the technical preview.

    The problem which I have been seeing is with Developers who are using Windows 10 and Unity3d 4.6 some are encountering the following issues. So I thought the following blog may provide a bit of support in addressing a fix.

    Reported issues include

    Previous projects now crash when loading them into Visual Studio 

    New Projects now crash on launch from Visual Studio

    To fix the issue you simply need to update DirectX SDK

    DirectX SDK Debug Layer: To obtain the Windows 10 Technical Preview  and Unity3d version of the DirectX Debug Layer DLLs required to successfully use D3D11_CREATE_DEBUG_DEVICE or the Visual Studio 2013 Graphics Diagnostics feature, download it from here.

    This will get integrated in a future version of the Window SDK for the RTM release of Windows 10. Be sure to install VS 2013, Windows SDK 8.1, and/or VS 2013 Remote Debugging Tools in addition to installing this patch.

    If your an avid gamer then I would suggest you follow the following guidance also

    Win32 desktop games: Such as STEAM

    The existing guidance for quality Win32 desktop games running on Windows 7, Windows 8.0, and Windows 8.1 all applies to Windows 10 as well (see Desktop Games on Windows 8.x). Note that there is a new <compatibility> manifest section GUID for Windows 10 (see Chuck Walbourn great post on Manifest Madness).

    DirectX 12: If you are looking to try out DirectX 12, you should read the DirectX Developer Blog post and sign up for the DirectX 12 Early Access program.

    Web Games HTML5 and Babylon.JS

    Web developers: The Technical Preview includes IE11, but there are a few improvements for Windows 10.

    Build Universal Apps which support Windows Store and Windows phone

    See this post.

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