Interview

Chaotic Moon's whurley on the studio's plans to release 20 to 30 titles on Windows Phone 7

Xbox Live integration a tremendous strength

Chaotic Moon's whurley on the studio's plans to release 20 to 30 titles on Windows Phone 7
For many consumers, Windows Phone 7 will come with one major caveat – it's made by Microsoft.

The relative cool response to Windows Mobile beyond its base in enterprise will be a hurdle Microsoft will need to clear post launch, yet whurley, the co-founder and CTO of US mobile developer Chaotic Moon, believes a lack of confidence in the platform's success is unjustified.

We caught up with him to find out why the studio is prepared to back up its faith with 20 plus apps in the coming months.

Pocket Gamer: How did you get involved with developing for Windows Phone 7?Whurley: Microsoft approached us at SXSW in March and showed us the platform. Our co-founder and chief creative officer Ben Lamm is a huge Xbox fan.

From the development side of the house, we were immediately intrigued by the Xbox Live integration. Our thought was that it might be applicable to one of our augmented reality efforts - a massive multiplayer in-world game called The Revenants.

Shortly after the meeting, Microsoft supplied us with the prototype phones and we got right to work experimenting with the platform and its capabilities.

We’re scheduled to release the prequel The Revenants: Corridor of Souls as a showcase title for the November launch.

What is the platform like to work with?

We've had a great experience working with the platform so far. XNA and Silverlight are both mature technologies so the development has easy to get into for non traditional developers like us.

There are a couple of issues that bug us, but there really hasn’t been a platform our team hasn’t found issues with to date so that’s neither here nor there.

The Xbox Live integration is of particular interest. We think it’s a tremendous strength. As far as weaknesses go, there are a couple of features around augmented reality we would have liked to see in version 1.0, but they're very specialised and aren’t really things we would expect in a first version. Still, it would have been nice.

What opportunities does Windows Phone 7 offer?While we see Microsoft putting their weight behind Windows Phone 7, but there aren’t a ton of developers placing their bets on Microsoft at the moment. So there’s a natural head start into a market we see value in.

Really, it's surprising there’s not more conversation about Windows Phone 7 in the developer community.

Personally I think the platform will prove tremendously successful in gaining market share over the next 12-16 months.

Do you think the emphasis Microsoft has put on games with Windows Phone 7 will give it an advantage over other smartphones?Mobile gaming is big, and it's only going to get bigger. The integration of Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 gives Microsoft a strategic advantage in mobile gaming.

Not only will the enhanced user experience and connections bring players to the platform, but tightly managed publishing process will result in fewer, higher quality games and a better mobile gaming experience overall.

We love the integration with Xbox Live Arcade as well. It’s going to offer players bragging rights through Achievements that will help drive mobile gaming to new heights.

What specific aspects of Windows Phone 7 are you looking to take advantage of?We recently ported Enigmo to Windows Phone 7 and we’re very excited about taking advantage of the Xbox Live integration we added.

We're also taking advantage of features like the panorama effect in several apps including I Can Has Cheezburger.

How would you say it compares to the likes of iPhone and Android?

For once Microsoft is acting like the 800 pound gorilla it is by not allowing hardware manufacturers, carriers, and other wholesale partners to reskin Windows Phone 7 or disable features.

This break from their historical position is a good thing in our opinion. Today, several platforms allow thirdparty modifications to the OS that in turn cause developers to suffer. We see this trending in the Android space and it’s concerning.

Windows Phone 7 won't have the draconian control Apple exerts over the iPhone, but it will provide developers with a standard platform across all manufactures and devices. This will help breed innovation in the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem. A consistent user experience always help drive the adoption of both platforms and apps.

Do you think the smartphone market is becoming overcrowded?

We're platform agnostic here at Chaotic Moon Studios. We've been developing for MeeGo for some time, and we’re very interested in bada. To us the more competition there is, the more OS manufactures will have to compete for our attention. So bring it on.

Hopefully some additional competition in the marketplace will result in better tools that allow more creative freedom.

Any further plans for Windows Phone 7 in future?

We're set to release the Windows Phone 7 port of Enigmo and the official I Can Has Cheezburger app for the November launch.

Where do we go from there? For one, we've already built out the roadmap for several of our franchises with Microsoft Game Studios. In addition to that we have about 20-30 apps in the pipeline for Windows Phone 7.

About two thirds are new applications with the remaining being ports of popular titles from other platforms.

Finally, we've been approached by literally dozens of Fortune 500 companies who need development services for Windows Phone 7 over the past two months. So it looks like we'll be producing and publishing a number of titles through at least 2012.
Thanks to whurley for his time.You can find out more about what Chaotic Moon gets up to via its 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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