Interview

Khaeon's Didier Pippel on why Windows Phone 7 is a serious competitor

Khaeon's Didier Pippel on why Windows Phone 7 is a serious competitor
Most of the Windows Phone 7 developers we've spoken to stress how important Xbox Live will be to the platform in the coming months and years.

Not only will it offer a more secure and involved firstparty gaming network than iPhone from day one, but it also brings the brand in tow - the years of success on Xbox undoubtedly carrying weight.

More importantly in Didier Pippel's view is that Xbox Live guarantees that gamers will be on board from the word go.

We spoke to Khaeon Gamestudio's executive producer to ask why he thinks the studio's first WP7 title – Fight Game: Rivals – is being pitched at exactly the right market.

Pocket Gamer: How did you get involved with developing for Windows Phone 7?

Didier Pippel: We got involved through a combination of the work we did for Rough Cookie [Khaeon's mobile focused partner developer] and our existing connections to Microsoft as console developer.

Having the opportunity to develop for a brand new platform, just as Rough Cookie did with Star Defense on iPhone, was something we certainly didn't want to pass up.

What is the platform like to work with?

Having worked with Xbox 360 Developer Kit (XDK) and other Microsoft platforms before, Windows Phone 7 development feels very familiar, which is a great plus.

It's vastly different to create a game for a phone though and, since both the OS and devices are all new, there were some specific challenges to overcome.

Given Fight Game: Rivals is a combat game, we're acutely aware of the expectations of existing gamers, versus the fact that it is a phone, not a console, which provides a vastly different game experience.

That's more a fact than a weakness, but it is an easy mistake to make and, for example, approach Fight Game: Rivals as a 60Hz button basher on a device that can be interrupted by calls, runs on limited battery and almost has no buttons.

What opportunities does Windows Phone 7 offer?Without going into too much detail, for us the fact that Xbox Live is a big part of the experience is something we see great potential in and are eager to develop for.

Next to that, being part of a new platform release as developer is pretty fantastic. It's not often you get the chance to be one of the first.

Do you think the emphasis Microsoft has put on games with Windows Phone 7 will give it an advantage over other smartphones?

Yes, especially from a game perspective. It is a channel to a group of people you know are gamers, instead of to phone users who could be gamers. With games on a smartphone it's great to be able to work with the knowledge of the existing game world to a greater extent.

However, the really interesting part is to see what happens when the phone, PC and console users on Xbox Live converge.

With our Windows Phone 7 productions we are aiming for that space, creating IP that spans more than one platform and one screen.

What aspects of Windows Phone 7's set-up are you looking to take advantage of?

We are aiming our Windows Phone 7 productions to make optimal use of the Xbox Live integration features, leveraging the powerful tools to get the most out of the devices.

How would you say it compares to the likes of iPhone and Android?We have development experience on all three platforms and with what we have seen so far I'd say it is definitely a serious competitor.

From our perspective, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 are the top three smartphone platforms to develop games for.

Do you think the smartphone market is becoming overcrowded?

It definitely is a risk. As a developer we can only put effort into so many platforms, and from a business perspective we'll always have to pick the ones with the most potential and users.

Another tricky thing is that each platform introduces the need for a learning curve, so if we're making that investment, we need the best chance for our games to reach a larger audience.

Any further plans for Windows Phone 7?

Yes. As mentioned before, Khaeon Gamestudio is focusing on the design of games that span multiple game capable screens and that link through social media.

Since Windows Phone 7 is the first device directly linked to the existing game and social spaces around Xbox Live, it definitely is part of our future plans. In fact, Fight Game: Rivals is the first Fight Game game in a series that will be designed for and released on different devices.

We have other things in the works that also aim at this space, which we'll be announcing in the near future.
Thanks to Didier for his time.You can find out more about Khaeon on the developer's website.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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