Tag Archives: Mobile

Box2D for Flash Games – Book Review

Box2D For Flash Games

Box2D is a highly popular physics engine. Its popularity lies not only in it being a free open source engine, but also because it has many features to produce realistic physics effects in games. It has also been used by many popular games across the mobile and web.

Flash is one of the supported platforms, therefore this port of Box2D has become almost a priority for many game developers wanting to use realistic physics with AS3. The book “Box2D for Flash Games” written by Emanuele Feronato is therefore a great resource for understanding of the Box2D physics concepts and getting your hands dirty with actual game development.

The book dive starts with basic examples without going too deep into the engine theory. Every new line of code added to the examples thereafter is further explained in detail. Concepts such as friction, density, primitive and complex body types, shapes and collisons are all covered . The chapters then take a step by step approach towards developing actual game levels from popular games such as Totem Destroyer and Angry Birds.

I personally follow Emanuele Feronato blog and know that he comes with tremendous experience in gaming. He contributes to the community with his gaming articles and this book only lets him share more refined and in depth information with his readers.

 

Stop That Silly Chicken game for iPad

Stop That Silly Chicken

With the successful release of “Stop That Silly Chicken”, it is heartening to say that the game was developed using Adobe AIR for the iOS platform.

Stop That Silly Chicken is currently available on the iPad and iPhones. The game uses Milkman Games native extensions for social media and advertising. It also uses a native extension for in-app alerts.

Silly Chicken is a character owned by 9X Media, a brand providing entertainment on television through their various music and cartoon channels.

The game concept revolves around Silly Chicken who runs around a kitchen table in a quest to steal and break the eggs kept safely in a bowl. The player has to tap Silly Chicken before he reaches the table. The player can collect game coins from piggy banks and use them to make purchases from the game store that will make it easier to trap Silly Chicken. The game has 2 modes – Survival and Time mode and both are easy to understand and play. The game is completely free using an advertising model with Admob.

I’ve been reading the comments of the players since its release and glad to see it being liked. It seem that the idea of tapping Silly Chicken and seeing its reactions through different animations is funny for many.

Please download the game if you haven’t already and spread the word about it!

Mariam

Apps Vs Apps – Nokia Connects yet again!

When Nokia must have decided to recreate the successful Nokia AppTasting magic in Mumbai, they must not have anticipated the tremendous response they got from bloggers all over the city. A roomfull of 250 bloggers managed to get #NokiaAppTasting trending in a country which has 15 million Twitter users.

It sure shows that an “Indi-Blogger” power is strong enough to stir buzz when they get together. Sponsored by Nokia India, organised by the awesome Indiblogger team (completing 5 years) and hosted by the charming Vikas Khanna and the witty Rajiv Makhni, the event was great.

Going to a Nokia event always brings back great memories of the Nokia Developer events I’ve attended in the past. Although this one was not for developers, the passion of all the bloggers, tech and non-tech, was amazing. The Nokia AppTasting event was different and unique in it’s own way.

A lot of people I interacted with were not sure what to expect from the event.

“Technology and Food, Mobile Apps and Food App-etizers, Rajiv Makhni and Vikas Khanna, Tech Guru and Celebrity Chef?”

It was not long before the questions were answered. First by cheering with clenched fists in the air and then celebrating the evening by hugging another blogger sitting besides us. India’s tech guru Rajiv Makhni ensured the love continued by asking us bloggers to stare into our phones and then kiss it. I think it was a good way to break the ice and get started with the event.

As the evening unfolded, we were introduced to many useful apps on the Nokia Lumia and Nokia PureView phones.

The Nokia City Lens app showed a great use of compass caliberation and augemented reality. Depending on the direction the phone is held, the app locates the point of interest and visually shows them on the mobile screen. And because it uses GPS data, network connection is not always needed.

Nokia City Lens

Another app was the Mobile Sommelier by VinoMatch. The app has a complete menu of wine pairing features that helps improve the taste of a meal. Every menu selection is accompanied by a photograph of a generic wine group. This also seemed like a useful app when eating out or when having guests at home.

VinoMatch


Foodspotting was demoed on a Windows Phone. Foodspotting for those who haven’t used it is a food photo sharing app that has a community built around the sharing of food dishes. Vikas Khanna shared thoughts on how many chefs don’t approve their guests taking pictures of their dishes and then sharing them on social networking sites. But for him such apps are a good way to get critiqued.

I personally use FoodSpotting and find it very useful when I eat at a new place. Especially the reviews and rating others give to the food minimizes the trouble I face in deciding what to choose from a menu.

The app showcase was interspersed with some fun interactive sessions, witty comments, funny anectodes and informative quotes from the hosts.

I came back home wiser! I now know that Onion Halwa (a dense sweet desert made from onions) is a heritage of the Chadela Dynasty in Khajurao and there is a city called “Halwa City” in Tamil Nadu.

Nokia definitely scores with the Nokia PureView photography technology which is a strong reason why I will buy the phone.

Some pics from the event –

Nokia Apps take Centerstage
Moviemaking is no longer a painstaking business - Nokia Movie Maker App
An Adobe Photoshop like app for merging the best of multiple pictures into one
The Indibloggers that got Twitter trending

Indiblogger is a platform that brings together bloggers from all over India to share and communicate their thoughts. There are no specific categories that require bloggers to join the group. All that is needed is a passion for writing.

Mariam

Reasons not to play a game on mobiles

I was looking at my devices today and tried understanding my game playing behaviour.

Out of the devices I use, my iOS device has more games than any other device. Next comes the Android and Symbian devices where I have some games installed, but have never played them (don’t know why!!). Out of all the current 100 iOS games, I only play around 4-5 very regularly and another 4-5 occasianally.

So what is it that gets me to download a game but not play it? I thought through some of the points and this is what I think.

1. Creative Inspiration – So we’ve played Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds and Cut the Rope on the iOS platform. Now, do we really need a game with the mechanics of Fruit Ninja, bird characters from Angry Birds and a name inspired by Cut the Rope?.
If you’ve played “Cut the Birds” and you’ll know what I am talking about (the game is now taken off the App store and has another version Cut the Birds 2). One of the primary resons why games fail to connect with users is that they lack originality and just end up being poor imitations of successful IPs.

2. Herd Mentality – Farmville created history with online social gaming, but then more games decided to follow suit with farm themes or similar “Click and Collect” mechanics. And were they successful? Probably yes, but for how long is the real question! I don’t remember the last time I played a Facebook connected game because of the “Follow the Herd” mentality used while writing concepts.

3. Game Tutor – As a casual game player, I really don’t like a casual game constantly throwing pop ups at me to teach me how to play the game. It breaks the flow and can be very obtrusive. I think a casual game should be self explanatory or atleast with minimum non-obtrusive teaching.
Help pop-ups may sometimes be necessary for games, especially strategy and time management games, which are competitive and require a learning curve to progress, so I’m not completely averse to them.

4. Forgotten Icon – Many times when I reach out for my device to play a game, I notice installed forgotten apps. And then when I recall them after looking at them, I wonder if it makes sense to ever play them again.
Forgetting to play an installed app is nothing but a result of an average game-play, designed to be non intuitive, and not great enough to get us engaged after the first couple of minutes initial play.
Prototyping and testing an idea with people trusted for feedback is the best way forward. Being open to criticisms is only getting better at designing and developing a better game.

5. User Experience – I was playing a turn based game against the computer AI recently. I won’t name the game, but the mechanics were as simple as Tic Tac Toe. However, everytime I was to play a turn or the AI was to play a turn, I would have a big popup message thrown in front of me informing me that it was my turn or the computer’s turn to play.
This is an example of a terrible User Experience design because it ends up irritating me/the player with constant reminders during every turn. A definate reason for me not to replay the game.

6. Buggy Pop-ups – What happens when I am playing a game (Chess for example), and I play my turn before the game can alert me of my turn. Now the game logic gets stuck at this point where it has my turn pop-up to display on screen but knows in the background that it is the AI who will play next. My game hangs at this point and I’m stuck staring at a game screen where I can’t progress. I have to shut down the game and restart it.
Will i play this game again? Only if it has an addictive game-play and value for time.

7. Noisy Screechy SFX – One usually plays a game when they want to take a short break in-between or after work or sometimes as a part of their learning process. Poor sound effects or background music really make me shut down the game even if I really need to play it.

8. Where’s the Entertainment – Some games just lack entertainment. And I can’t define this any further. Game development is a coordinated process and going wrong in any of the phases can lead to a non entertaining game.

9. Non accessibility of content – Today most games are sold through mobile app markets. iTunes gives the easiest access to download games irrespective of the iTunes version or the device OS. Similarly Android too offers ease of use of the Android Marketplace. For the others, it’s not been very easy at all times.

Mariam

PhoneGap Framework for Mobiles

I recently spent some time studying the PhoneGap framework with the purpose of creating content for Android devices. PhoneGap is an Open Source Mobile Framework that allows developers to author native applications with web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS. PhoneGap currently supports 6 platforms including Android, iOS, Blackberry, Palm WebOS and Symbian WRT (including QT).

Working with the framework made me realize how easy it is for any web developer to target multiple mobile platforms without having to write the native code, and yet achieve cross platform compatibility with the same content.

In other words, the content layouting is flexible and can run across different screen sizes and platforms without having to change the any part of the core code.

The framework usage is very simple and well explained on the website. Once you are setup with the framework within your preferred development environment, the only effort goes in writing your HTML files and compiling the builds with the HTML assets to test on the actual device. PhoneGap also has its own API functions which makes use of features such as Network, Accelerometer, use of Camera, Events, Data Storage etc.

Performance wise, it is good, but animating too many objects around the screen drops the framerate. I tried running a game and got a FPS of around 7-8 on older Android devices and around 12 on the newer ones such as the Nexus One.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was integrating jquery for database interaction, where network calls constantly failed. It was later understood that PhoneGap takes a little time to load, so if the device is not ready and the API calls to the network are made, then the network calls fail.

 

From the code above it is noticed that in order to use PhoneGap we have to load the phonegap.js script into the HTML file. This is one of the 2 code bases required for calling any PhoneGap functions (the other code base is native and is compiled when building the device build).

When the HTML loads, the first function called is the onLoad() function which checks whether PhoneGap is fully loaded. This check is done using the onDeviceReady event.

When the device is ready, an onDeviceReady event is fired. The next step is to check for network. This too is done using the PhoneGap functions – NetworkStatus. If the network exists, then the network related calls using jquery are used, otherwise an alert is sent to the user informing of no network.

I’ll soon be uploading a PhoneGap Android app, and will share the link for downloading when ready.

Mariam

 

Flash Lite games on OVI Store

I recently uploaded 2 games on the OVI Store which have been developed using Flash Lite for the Symbian platform.

The first Green Dweller – is a gaming application which was approved for the Open Screen Project Fund.
Green Dweller aims at creating awareness about the environment and how it impacts our lives. Green Dweller encourages sociability through gaming, at the same time provides a message of saving the environment by reducing the carbon footprint. Green Dweller is developed for mobile phones using the Adobe Flash Lite technology.

The second is Gear Wager – this game was nominated by the IMGA Awards in the Best Casual Games Category when it was originally developed for Symbian S60 3rd Edition phones. With Symbian^3 devices such as the Nokia N8 now having amazing processing speed, it made the game development experience with Flash much more better, thus the decision to port the game.

Gear Wager is a casual game where you have to help a fallen star escape back into the sky before dawn. Besides a new and innovative game-play, the game has the feature of Facebook Connect to post messages on the user wall.

Please download the games and post reviews (good or otherwise 🙂 )!

Mariam

FITC Mobile 2010

I’ve been reading about the FITC Mobile Conference recently, and am glad to know that it is back in it’s second year in Toronto, Canada. The event is scheduled to be held between 16th-18th September this year.

FITC is slated as one of the only events covering all aspects of mobile content development, such as iPhone/iPad, Android, Flash 10.1, Windows Mobile, HTML5, Unity, Marketing, Usability, and other relevant topics in the mobile world.

The event will have a good mix of technical and non-technical topics as well related to marketing, funding, and other business aspects of mobile development. Besides presentations, the event will have pre-conference workshops, demonstrations, and panel discussions for those attending.

You can go and check the event link to know more about the speakers and the companies presenting. It’s quite an impressive list.

Currently FITC has an Early Bird offer on the conference and pre-conference workshop ticket prices.

They have also offered a further discount of $50 on any event ticket. Please message me if you want to attend this event and avail the discount, and I will send across the code.

Mariam

Designing for Mobile in India?

If your answer to the question above is in affirmative, then Mobile Design India should be the forum for you!

Mobile Design IN, Indian counterpart to Mobile Design UK, aspires to bring together creative designers from across India on a single platform to discuss mobile designing, technology, news and encourage sharing of knowledge and ideas.

This group is co-founded by Priya Prakash from Nokia, and she is planning the group’s first event in Bangalore on the 29th of April 2010. The event will focus on 4 companies/startups that are crafting mobile user experiences thus taking advantage of the Indian market mobile opportunity and challenges.

You can read about the event on the group blog – http://mobiledesignin.tumblr.com/
Also follow the Mobile Design IN yahoo group.

I’m hoping the group would have meetings in different cities of India so designers from across the country can make the most of the benefits the group has to offer.

Mariam

Mobile Application Conference India 09 in Bangalore

I just read about an event called the Mobile Application Conference India 09 which is going to take place on 31st October 2009 in Bangalore. It will be a one full day event with opportunities to meet developers, entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, operators and probably everyone that forms a the thriving mobile ecosystem in India.

Although the speaker list is not known as yet, the topics look good and debatable. There would also be a presentations by startups to compete in the Top Startup Competition.

The conference is free, but I believe there are limited seats where your registration would be reviewed before getting the final invite. You can register for the conference on this link.

Mariam

Mobile February at the MWC

Two weeks down since the Mobile World Congress ended for this year, but I did not get a chance to write about my experiences there. The reason was me taking some time off from work to move a little around Spain and pursuing another one of my passions i.e. world travel! I’ll write about my amazing experiences as a traveler in this beautiful country another time, but for now I’d like to talk about the one week at MWC and what it meant for me as a mobile developer.

The Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain is one of the biggest events in the mobile world. Anyone related to the field of wireless, be it mobile developers, technology leaders, OEMS, carriers, aggregators, mobile tools providers etc, all descend on to this little world in Fira Barcelona to discuss the next BIG thing in Wireless.

Mobile World Congress
Mobile World Congress 2009

I had the opportunity to be there this year, and it was memorable for several reasons. I got to meet and talk to some really bright people in the field of mobiles, met some old colleagues, discussed some business opportunities, witnessed the launch of many new platforms and devices, did a presentation at the Symbian Foundation booth, participated in discussions on the last day of the event with WIP JAM, and finally attended the Lite Days event organized by the Spanish Mobile Adobe User Group.

IGameStudios Gear Wager showcased during the IMGAwards
IGameStudio's Gear Wager showcased during the IMGAwards
LiteDays by MaD UG
GetJar presentation at LiteDays organized by Spanish MaD UG

As a developer, my major concern was to look out for technologies during the event that offered great tools & support, at the same time would help me reach out to as many consumers as possible. Well, there was no magical booth that scored on all the three points but I came across some good platforms which I may look into in the coming weeks..with most of them being widget based.

  • Opera Widget SDK definitely showed some great potential. I saw some great working examples on handsets including a Flash Lite example. The Opera Mobile 9.5 has support for Flash Lite 3.1.
  • Yahoo was promoting it’s Blueprint 1.1 platform with a lot of demos and workshops. Some cool stuff here too.
  • Another widget SDK that showed great potential was Streamezzo. Apparently their framework solves a lot of developer issues, specifically related to porting on different mobile platforms. It is supposedly an intelligent framework that automatically fits it’s self well on any screen. I was quite impressed with what they showed me and would definitely look into their SDK.

Adobe too lived up to its commitment of last year in focusing on the Mobiles area. This time in MWC, Adobe made several announcements which we will find extremely exciting and motivating to take it forward, and look at it as a potential platform for 2009.

  • Flash shipped on 1 Billion devices (cummulative): Flash Lite shipped on 40% of all new handsets in 2008
  • Public beta of the Distributable Player Solution – the ability to distribute mobile apps with the latest Flash Lite 3.1 runtime. The regions include US, Spain, Italy, UK and yes India too (reason to celebrate because devs from India can now monetize from their apps)
  • Launch of Featured Applications from leading content providers at m.adobe.com (live now)
  • Palm joining the Open Screen Project and intends to ship with Flash 10 devices
Adobe Booth at the MWC09
Adobe Booth at the MWC09
Adobe Booth at the MWC09
Adobe Booth at the MWC09

AppStores also seemed to be an upcoming trend with Nokia announcing their OVI Store, allowing developers to publish and sell their content through Nokia’s global application market.

Got to see some great devices like the ones from DoCoMo, LG, Nokia and Android handsets. Apparently Samsung was to display a new Android phone during the MWC, but it turned out to be a rumor.

Android
Android

That kind of sums up my Mobile Week during the Mobile World Congress. I think the conference was great and much bigger in scale when compared to the conferences I’ve attended so far. It definitely deserves another visit next year.

Mariam