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Interference was built by Nathan Beardmore in his spare time, but proved so successful that it was on the front page of the UK app store over Christmas. Here's what Nathan had to say about the journey he went through to develop his app.
"Interference started life a few years ago as a web game I developed in my spare time just for my friends and family to enjoy. We had great fun playing it, and a few players suggested it would work well as a mobile app, but I didn't have enough time to develop an app at that point. In 2011 my girlfriend was diagnosed with “Cancer of Unknown Primary” in her neck, which required several months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions. To give myself something to focus on and to keep my mind occupied during the sessions I set about developing Interference into a fully featured mobile app. My background was first as a network manager and then as a Microsoft Certified Trainer for the Microsoft Certified System Engineer and Microsoft Certified IT Professional curriculums, so I'm tech savvy for sure; but had no knowledge of coding Windows Apps.
Both my girlfriend and I both have Windows Phones, and learning C# and XAML would be enough of a challenge for me to learn how to build, and see the app come to life. In terms of the design of the app as the game is based around user generated artwork, I wanted the design of the app to be understated so that the user’s eye is drawn to the artwork. This was the reason for going with the very basic grey and white scheme for the app. The Windows Phone and Windows 8 style guide of “content over chrome” is a perfect fit for an app like this. I found some really helpful resources and Microsoft have really gone out of their way to make Windows Phone and Windows 8 an easy platform to start developing for. All of the tools are free, and there’s a wealth of information available on the MSDN website, personally I started by watching the series “Windows Phone Development for Absolute Beginners” videos on MSDN, and was really surprised how easy the development process was. As it turned out, learning the languages was easier than I expected and I was able to get the app working fairly quickly and into the marketplace. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, I did face some challenges. At the core Interference is a turn based, multiplayer game, one of the biggest challenges I found was ensuring players knew when it was their turn and didn't have to keep the app open 24/7 just to keep up with the competition. However using the Notifications and Live tiles offer the perfect solution, allowing our server to send a pop up notification to players when there are new items for them to see. We have recently built on this, adding a feature where players are sent updates on the most liked drawings from the last few hours – these have proven really popular with our players, drawing players back in after their first play session.
With the great feedback and success on Windows Phone, as the Windows platform is not too dissimilar it was an easy decision to make to port the game over to Windows 8. Taking the app from Windows Phone to Windows 8 was mostly issue free; there were a few challenges. One such challenge was changes as to how the ink system worked. Fortunately, this was something I was able to get support with at the Windows 8 Bootcamp, which saved quite a bit of head scratching! Related to this was the difficulty of testing on a variety of hardware – for example, my budget doesn’t stretch to the purchase of a Windows RT device for testing. Again, Microsoft does provide support to help with this – I visited Modern Jago their space in London which has a device lab which developers can use to test their apps – worth the time spent on the train from my base in the West Midlands. A main problem due in part to success of the game – due to Interference, by nature being very bandwidth heavy, so server costs increase as more players join. I’ve recently started planning to move the game’s backend to Windows Azure to increase availability and reduce my hosting costs, leaving more funds to support the development of new features
Since launch Interference has gone from strength to strength and we couldn’t more pleased, and we were lucky enough to have the app spotlighted on the front page of the UK store over the Christmas period, meaning we were one of the first things people saw when using their new Windows 8 devices they received at Christmas.
Has Nathan inspired you to build a Windows 8 game? If you're currently building or want to build or design your own apps for Windows 8 here's some resources:
This is a fun app! What Nathan is too modest to mention is that it is also an award-winning app! He was in the Top 10 Finalists for the Creative Bloq App Generator Awards last month. Have a look at him on video here: appgenerator.creativebloq.com