As a good redditor and developer myself, I never start any kind of work until I go through several subreddits to spice up my mornings. I usually laugh at a few images, read some interesting stories and perform some weird rituals in that lovely time sink we know as reddit.
2 days ago, a fellow redditor submitted a post to /r/windowsphone about a game he just released, and it caught my attention: it was a Flappy Bird type of game, but an interesting one, not a simple clone. I downloaded it, played it, and truly enjoyed it.
Then I contacted the developer to share his story, so here it is:
Q: Alex, why Windows Phone?
A: As a developer, adding another platform to the list seems very beneficial as well as a scary proposition. I was constantly asking myself whether or not it would pay off. I knew I wanted my newest release to be successful, and one of the major ways to do that is to let any user be able to play regardless of the platform. So I decided to take on a platform I have never developed for: Windows Phone. As it turns out, It was way more convenient than I could have imagined.
Q: How do you actually start developing for Windows Phone? How does it compare to other platforms?
A: In the past Microsoft took up Apples method of $99 annually, which can be devastating for indie developers who are just looking to make enough money to make their next game, but thankfully they changed their ways. Like Google Play, Windows Phone is now a one time registration fee of $20,which is $5 cheaper than Google Play. This is only for the ‘individual Account’ and not the company account, but learning about the one time fee made me sigh a breathe of relief knowing this wasn’t a huge risk I was about to take.
Q: Do you have to own a WP to be able to publish a WP App ?
Yes, you do have to own a Windows Phone to deploy a verified packaged (similar to Apple). Microsoft has had events in the past where they give away test devices but I couldn’t find anything at the time, so off to the store I went. I was hoping to snatch a low end pre-paid device for $50 and to my infinite luck I found a “Nokia Lumia 635” on sale for $25. Sweet! I just left it un-activated and now I have myself a Windows Mobile Device. Just looking at the specs I realized the specs were pretty similar to my Galaxy S3 which is the phone I use for personal stuff. Not a bad deal for that price!
After easily enabling my phone for developer mode, It was time for the moment of truth. Will my game compile properly on a Windows Phone? What’s going to be different? How much work is it going to take in code rewriting? The game engine I’m using is called Game Maker Studio by YoYo Games, and while it has Windows Phone listed as an export, I was unsure about what fate my game held after 8 months of never testing on it.. After a quick compile It was up and running.. but I had black flickering. However, after removing some FPS limiting code and tweaking a small Draw function, It was up and working great! Exactly like my other mobile devices in 10 minutes of work. This was quite pleasing.
Q: How is the Windows Store behind the scenes for developers? Is it easy to submit your App in comparison to other platforms?
A: On the Apple store, this is a nightmare. Ask any developer and they will all agree it can be really stressful if you don’t get all of your keys and certificates to match up and harmonize with each other. Android is easy to upload, but don’t misplace your key or you’ll never be able to update your app! I wondered what Windows Phone has in store. Thankfully, the submission uses your phone to create the package and it’s as simple as an upload button. To top it off all of your graphic assets including your Icons, feature graphics, screenshots, promo graphics, etc can all be uploaded simultaneously. One button and boom, the graphics set themselves in the correct spots based off their dimensions and file type.
Finally, It was time to play the waiting game. I wondered how long it would take until the app was approved. iOS takes 7 days to review your app manually, while Google Play can be as little as 6-8 hours with their automatic publishing. Again Microsoft continues to surprise with approval the day after I submitted. This is super convenient in a fast moving tech world, especially if you need to fix game hindering bugs or issues.
If you’d like, you can download the title I worked on called ‘Flappy Defense’ an over the top Castle/Tower Defense with a thematic twist. I’m really glad its on Windows Phone and it feels great to say that it’s available on 99% of smart phone devices.It’s also fun to say the catch phrase ‘Mobile Trinity’ when describing the platforms its available for. Besides verbal boasting, Windows Phone actually has the most downloads for my released title so far than the other two, likely due to the non-crowded store factor, which is great for indies to get exposure.
Q: How do you rate your experience developing for WP? Any final comments?
A: In summary, the low cost, easy access and developer friendly layout have definitely attracted me for future titles. The best part is everything I listed here was done within 8 hours! Now that I know what to do, I can see submission taking less than a few hours at the most. If you have the capabilities, I highly recommend looking into Windows Phone development, especially with UWP (Universal Windows Platform) coming very soon.
Now you know your homework. Go download Flappy Defense.