All posts by Matthew

My name is Matthew and I work in Healthcare IT in Silver Spring, Maryland. Currently own a Samsung Focus, a Zune Hd and an Xbox 360 with Kinect.

Skulls of the Shogun – Impressions

17 Bit’s Skulls of the Shogun is the game that the Xbox ecosystem has been waiting for; appearing on Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Windows 8.  While iOS and Android have had blockbuster mobile titles like Robot Entertainment’s Hero Academy and Epic’s Infinity Blade, Microosft has had trouble just getting the older, less deep games onto Windows Phone.  The games that Windows Phone is missing is not the Fruit Ninja’s and Temple Runs of the world; they are deep, complex games that in many ways have come to challenge console gaming for superiority.

Skulls of the Shogun is one of those games.  While easy to to approach, it is a deep turn based strategy game with beautiful hand drawn graphics that look just as good on Windows Phone as they do on the flagship Xbox 360 arcade version.  This is the first game that people on other platforms will be jealous of, and they have every right to be.  Inspired by Advanced Wars, 17 Bit has moved away from the grid system that most games of this type employ and has moved to a direct move system.  Each unit has a circle that it can move within and the player has full control to move anywhere in that circle.  The simplicity of the game carries over to unit design.  Not including the General, there are 3 different units: Archer, Infantry and Calvary.   Added to these are 3 different Monks which can be summoned by possessing shrines.  The game also has a mineral system which involves haunting rice paddies and using the rice gained to summon new units.

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Skulls of the Shogun – Developer Interview

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Windows Phone hasn’t had a lot of exclusive games, so when I saw that Skulls of the Shogun, a turn based strategy game, was coming out exclusively to windows phone I was very excited.  I was able to chat with two of the devs behind one of the biggest smart phone games of the upcoming Fall which is also Microsoft platform exclusive to boot.  Hope you enjoy.


I just wanted you to introduce to yourselves to start off.

Borut – I’m Borut Pfeifer and I’m the engineer, designer in the game.

Ben – He’s actually the lead programmer *laughs* I [Ben Vance] also do programming, designing and writing as well.

Since this is a phone site, what do you guys use for your daily phones?

Borut- I have a Windows Phone; an HD 7;

Ben – And I recently switched from an old iPhone to an Android Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  I was actually eyeing the new Nokia’s…ahh..that just came out, but I had to get…had to get a phone before they came out, what was that late March?  I couldn’t wait.

Borut:  I am thinking about upgrading to one of those now too.  Pretty good.

Yeah you have a first generation one.

Borut: Yeah

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Wanted to ask you about the development of your game.  I know that a lot of our readers are developers and would be interested.  I know that this game has been in gestation for a while…I remember reading previews almost two years ago.  How did the development of the game change over time?  Was it always an Xbox Live Arcade game?

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PSA : Nokia’s “Exclusive” Games

Back when the Lumia 800 was announced there was well founded fear that the “exclusive” EA games that Nokia announced for their Windows Phones would stay exclusive.  Had Microsoft in their desire to bring Nokia into the fold allowed a fragmentation of the gaming situation on their platform?

Fast forward to today and the post on the upcoming Windows Phone games mentioned that the exclusive Nokia games are “would be coming to Windows Phone and first to Nokia Lumia devices.”

So everyone can relax.  Hopefully the exclusivity period will be similar to the one AT&T had on Ilomilo.  No matter what eventually everyone with a Windows Phone will be able to play these games.

This has been a Public Service Announcement. :)

Samsung Focus S–Software and Camera

Following up on our review of the hardware of the Samsung Focus S (read that here), here is a look at the software and camera.

Software

Now we get to the most important part of the phone.  Hardware can be great but if the software isn’t, then it is all for naught.  With Windows Phone the difference between the software used on individual phones isn’t that great.  With the limited amount of modifications or additions that Microsoft allows OEM’s to make the software is very similar from phone to phone.  But with their Mango phones Samsung has added some settings that do not appear in other Windows Phones so we will look at them.

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Samsung Focus S Review – Hardware

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The Samsung Focus was a singular type of phone.  With a simple design it was durable and it was beautiful in its simplicity.  The phone knew it wasn’t the main attraction; the OS was.  While some panned the phone and many other Samsung phones for feeling cheap and chintzy, I think this was the Focus’s greatest strength.  It had a beautiful Amoled screen that made the simply hues of Windows Phone pop.  It could be dropped and the pieces would fly apart dispersing the impact and barely leaving a mark on the phone.

At the same time you can tell that HTC would love to put their hyperactive Sense on Windows phones, and often their hardware sometimes feels like the main event.  Samsung has seemed to take a much more minimalist effect letting the OS and the medium through which you experience it—the screen—to talk for itself.

Since I am a dedicated Samsung Focus owner, it was very important to me that its namesake keeps the spirit of the original.  I have to say that I am happy on that account.  For those that thought the build quality was lacking on the original Focus, the Focus S makes many advances in that regard.  The original Focus, perhaps out of pride, didn’t surrender entirely to its understated look.  Chrome framed the sides and buttons of the Focus which gave it a slightly garish feel.  The Focus S gets rid of the chrome on the sides and on the buttons giving the phone a cleaner feel.

Read more after the break…

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Samsung Focus S – What Do You Want to Know?

I have already begun my deep dive into the world of the Samsung Focus S, as Microsoft was nice enough to give WMPoweruser a review device. Over the next few days I will post the review in parts, very similar to the way the HTC Radar review has appeared. After all the parts have been posted it will be re-posted as one long article for those among you who like to instapaper things for later.

Since my main device has been a Samsung Focus and because many people who bought the focus might be looking at the Focus S for their next phone, I will do a lot of comparing to the original Focus. But we want to make sure that we answer the questions in which you, our readers, are most interested. What do you want to know about the Samsung Focus S? Let use know in the comments.

Hands on with the HTC Titan

One of the most disappointing pieces of news today was the fact that the HTC Titan did not get a release date today.  However I do have a short hands on and a few points about the device.  First, the screen is pretty spectacular.  It has very deep blacks for an lcd but it is apparent that it is not an amoled.  The construction is excellent and one of the best phones in the hand that I have ever felt.  Tom Warren was nice enough to let me borrow his Titan and the phone has an excellent feel in the pocket due to its razor thinness.  The capacitive buttons are excellent and the volume, power, and shutter buttons are all very nice.  This is by far the nicest windows phone I have ever used and seems to have no negative aspects other than perhaps the 16gb of storage.  Enjoy the video below.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone Backstage Event

Wmpoweruser was invited to New York today for a special launch event for the second generation of Windows Phones.  It took place at the New Yorker Hotel, and the team was quite literal with “backstage” with the venue taking place backstage.  All the 7.5 Windows Phones were available to be handled and Microsoft executives like Andy Lees and Joe Belfiore were on hand to talk to the press.

Andy Lees also gave an introduction to the event.  Much of what his speech contained is well known to our readers, but some may find it interesting hearing it straight from a Microsoft executive.

Also the day culminated in the unveiling of a gigantic Windows Phone in Harold Square.  While I think it was all a bit much, it did get the New Yorkers nearby interested in what was going on.  Hours later, there were still long lines to get to see the Windows Phones.

 

Audible and Skype: When are they Coming?

While at the Windows Phone Event yesterday, Wmpoweruser was able to talk to Brandon Watson. We asked about two of the applications that our readers are most excited about; Skype and Audible. It seems, from listening to Brandon that actually buying Skype has made the process to make a Windows Phone application more complicated from a logistical and legal standpoint. Beyond that he didn’t have any timeline to give us on when we can see Skype. To be fair this isn’t his department and he has no control over it.

The news regarding audible seems to be much more positive. Brandon said that it is one of the apps that is most requested and that he and Microsoft “listen(s) to what people want.” I got the impression from the way he said it that it wont be long until we see the audible app and from previous rumors it is actually being developed by Microsoft.

Acer Allegro Hands On

This little device was off my radar but I was very impressed with it during my hands on.  It is running the Qualcomm MSM8255 but it is downclocked to 1 Ghz.  In my quick hands on I didn’t notice any problems with speed but then again that has never been an issue for Windows Phone.

The device sports a 3.6 lcd screen which had very nice brightness and seemed to be of very good quality for a low end device.  While some would find the device to be a bit chubby, I found the feel of the plastic phone to be quite nice and it is also pleasing visually.

 

ChevronWP7 Unlocker Is Now Available

For those interested in Homebrew, this is an auspicious day indeed.  Chevron Labs has gone live with their inexpensive unlocking solution (see $9) that is officially supported by Microsoft.

It is a relatively easy process which requires one to have a live id and purchase an unlocking token.  One then downloads an unlocking solution similar to the developer one and that is all she wrote.

If you are interested you can find it on ChevronLab’s website here.