Xeno bits
14Jul/12Off

MonoGame first steps

I'm currently trying to port Pirate Cat on IOS using Monogame, here are my observations so far:

When I'm using Monogame 2.1.0:

The game run slow on emulator and the touch detection seem to be random, I'm not worried as I'm using a quite old mac mini and it could be pretty different on device.

Except from that the game seems to work fine , without changing anything in code, here are some screenshots

 

When I'm using Monogame 2.5.1:

With 2.5.1 the game crash during loading, I checked and the issue come from the fact that I'm using XNA getData method from Texture2D  in 2 places, if I comment those part and the things related, the game is succesfully loading and running, but most of the sprites are displayed as black shapes see screenshots below:

Here is basically what I'm using to load my game assets :

public override void LoadContent()
{

ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem(new WaitCallback(InitGameRes));
}

Now note that if I do not use a dedicated thread to load game assets everything is properly displayed except that I still have the issue with getData, still the getData method is working on the monogame samples so I'll have to do something on my side if I want this to work, my current guess is that the targeted images do not have power of 2 dimensions.

Game using MonoGame 2.5.1 without using threaded loading

When I'm using latest Monogame 3D branch:

With the latest 3d branch sources I still have issue with GetData but the other assets are loaded properly using a dedicated thread. Now none of the fonts are properly displayed at any place in the game.

 

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25Feb/12Off

Windows phone in France – some fresh stats

Thanks again to Flurry analytics  and Distimo I was able to extract some precious data from Belote World Tour usage and extrapolate a bit on the current state of Windows Phone in France.

The game itself is currently ranked 146 in french marketplace Top Overall and 61 in Top Games, I've made the chart below, representing the downloads and ranking between 1st and 25th february, in order to find how downloads impact ranking  but it does not appear to be that simple!

 

 

The daily downloads are not really decreasing, but my ranking is, I guess it's some kind of Microsoft magic in order to avoid apps trusting the top ranks, or maybe user base is growing fast and so is the downloads / rank ratio but I really doubt so based on the previous months evolution.

Now regarding the devices, it's really tight between Nokia Lumia, Lg E900 and Samsung Omnia 7, but remember that Lumia was launched in november, it's clearly the fastest growing.

One last about carriers, Flurry does not seem perfectly able to detect them right now but I guess that the second one is SFR, no Free in sight yet, but maybe it's included in Orange.

Now once again all those stats are provided by third parties, and I have to admit that I have noticable differences between distimo/app hub and flurry downloads stats for example, but it still can help to get an estimate on how are going Windows Phone in France.

Edit: One last important figure that I forgot to mention in the original post is the OS version repartition, it's interesting to see that today more than 1/4 of the devices are still not running Mango.

4Jan/12Off

Ad providers comparison

When I started to introduce ads in my game I was a bit puzzled by which provider to use, windows phone is a pretty young platform and options were at that time (end august 2011) pretty limited for none US developer like me.

  • There was Microsoft own solution (Pubcenter) which was available only to US developers.
  • Google had released a "beta" sdk for AdMob
  • And there was various other "minor" providers that looks good on paper but I was not able to find any user story about them.
So I decided to experiment, which was a big hazardous as I already had almost 4000 downloads at that time.

Downloads states between 08/25/2011 and 09/25/2011

I've put 3 different ads in game,
  • 1 during game (MS Pubcenter as I've seen on their forum that I should be able to receive my payment once the platform would be open to international developers, more on this later on)
  • 2  on an unskippable 5 seconds screen after each game round, Smaato (http://www.smaato.com/) and Inneractive (http://inner-active.com/)
What, no Google? yep, after trying to use their sdk I discoverd that it simply ruined performances of my application, so it was a no-go. Last time I checked their SDK was still in beta and I was not even able to run their last provided samples on Mango. I guess that WP7 is not a priority for them.
Once done needless to say that users were pretty upset after downloading an update including so much ads, and I've got many bad reviews during this period, sacrifice was worthy, in the name of science!
After one month of experiment here are the figures :

Inneractive stats

Inneractive figures

Smaato stats

Pubcenter impressions

Pubcenter figures

Let's try to see what's going on here :

  • Smaato ecpm are crappy : 0.075 ??? seriously
  • Inneractive ecpm are a bit better, but their sdk report 1/5 of displayed ads compared to other providers, I contacted them regarding the issue and they advised to use exclusively their SDK to solve the issue, that looked a little bit too magical  to me (and risky considering time needed to revert this choice, although I can use ad rotator  (http://wp7adrotator.codeplex.com/) to ease the process) .
  • Pubcenter ecpm are not stellar but at least they are the best, even if I had no idea when I would be able to get my money.

In the end I kept only the pubcenter banner, removed the unskippable ad screen, and user started to be happy again.

Few month after this experience here is my opinion about those providers:

  • Smaato will not let you earn much, but at least today they are the only ones from who I received money. Their sdk is pretty good and site is the best I tried so far, especially regarding analytics.
  • Inneractive tools are easy to use, I was easily able to contact their support and they spent some time to help me solve my issues by chat, but I was disappointed by their answer to my displayed ads amounts issue.
  • Pubcenter sdk is the best for sure, their site not so much (I need to use IE in 32 bits version in order to use it...). I finally succeded to setup my account in order to be paid at the end of november, as they were opening pubcenter to new countries including my. But I still have not received any money from them so far.... I heard many times that I had to be patient with microsoft (same thing for paid version of my app...)

Hope this will help few people out there.

11Dec/11Off

Belote world tour on the marketplace

The Pro version can be found here:

http://www.windowsphone.com/fr-FR/apps/47f371d8-5351-43c3-86fd-618656355bdb

And here is the free one:

http://www.windowsphone.com/fr-FR/apps/7109da2e-b0a4-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8

10Dec/11Off

Belote World Tour

Belote World Tour is our first game released on WP7.

It's a card game based on very popular Belote, popular only in France unfortunately.

First free version was released on 13th of july, it helped us to improve the game based on users feedbacks and include more features.

After some iterations we judged the game was ready to be released as a paid app at the end of August, in the meantime we started to include some ads in the free version , but more on this soon in a dedicated post.

I do not have to complain regarding the attention the app received, I launched it with absolutely no PR and it succeeded to reach pretty easily the top 50 of free apps (thanks to the popularity of the card game itself and the fact that it was the only app representing it), it stayed there during few month and since october it's slowly going down in the rankings.

After 5 month here are the download stats:

Free version

Not much to comment here, except that considering its ranking in the marketplace we can only conclude that WP7 devices are not that popular in France so far.

Paid version

This one is a little bit more interesting, first we can see that it's nothing compared to the free version, no need to explain that, but in the meantime at the beginning of november we added a new game mode, exclusive to the paid version, and sales started to become relevant, thanks, in my opinion, to the existing users of the free version, seeing new locked feature and ready to pay to unlock it. Moreover the price doubled from 1.49 to 2.99 during this update(for science purpose only ;p) but it did not seemed to be a blocker issue for a lot of players.

Now for the numbers lovers here a few more stats regarding the application usage thanks to Flurry analytics, a very convenient tool to understand better how people are using your application.

Median session length : 6.2 minutes

Daily active users :

Session frequency by day / week / month