Interviews

Windows 10 won't officially be launched until sometime later in 2015, but software developers are already working on applications that will expand on the features in Microsoft's next operating system. One of the most well known third party Windows app makers, Stardock, has just launched their first Windows 10 program, Start10. The app offers users a way to bring the classic Windows 7-based Start menu to Windows 10, along with a number of other features.

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The Penny Arcade Expo, also known as PAX, is a videogame and board game-themed fan convention that takes place in a variety of regions across the US and even Australia. The first ever PAX South is currently taking place throughout the weekend in San Antonio, TX at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Your man in Texas, Paul Acevedo is right there hunting for choice gaming scoops and interviews.

Microsoft itself has a relatively low key presence at PAX South, but they have teamed up with Undead Labs to offer an early taste of State of Decay: Year One Survivor Edition to the masses. Newly upgraded for Xbox One, State of Decay looks and plays better than ever. Read on for my full impressions and video interview with Jeff Strain of Undead Labs!

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Last week we took notice of a new offering on the Windows Phone Store called Gunhouse that takes elements from puzzle and tower defense games. This is the first time I've seen this style and Necrosoft, the developers of the game, mixed the elements perfectly. Surprisingly, this beautiful and unique title is not available on iOS or Android. The only other system you'll find it on is the PlayStation Vita, another underdog platform.

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One year after launch, the Xbox One has a single massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) called Onigiri. Based on Japanese mythology, Onigiri has a beautiful fantasy world to explore and lots of content for role-players to enjoy. And it's even free! The only downside is it's entirely in Japanese.

We've already published a helpful guide to downloading Onigiri and understanding its menus, making it fairly easy to enjoy for non-Japanese speakers. But nobody can deny that a true English version would still be more convenient and immersive for gamers living outside of Japan. And yet no English Xbox One version had been announced… Until now.

Windows Central is proud to break the news that the Xbox One version of Onigiri is coming to North America and Europe in early 2015, right alongside the Playstation 4 version. Learn about the English release, whether or not characters can be transferred between versions, and more in our exclusive interview with Onigiri developer Cyberstep!

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Adventure Time is a comedic animated fantasy show that seems perfect for videogame adaptations. Last year, fan-favorite developer WayForward created an Xbox 360 game called Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don't Know! Despite the company's track record with quality licensed games, Explore the Dungeon didn't set the world on fire.

This year, WayForward and publisher Little Orbit are back with another entry for Xbox 360, PC, and other platforms that improves on its predecessor in every conceivable way. In fact, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is the closest thing to a Zelda game that you can get on Xbox 360.

Adventure Time and Zelda fans, don't miss our latest Xbox developer interview with the game's producer, Ryan Rucinski of Little Orbit, complete with gameplay video!

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Tales from the Borderlands is a brand-new episodic adventure game set within the Borderlands universe. A collaboration between Telltale Games and Gearbox Software, Tales is the most story-driven Borderlands game yet. Players can grab the episodes individually as they are released, or opt for a season pass to get all five episodes for a little cheaper. The first episode is already available on Xbox One and Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and 4, and PC and Mac, with the Android and iOS versions sometime thereafter.

To celebrate the launch of Tales from the Borderlands, Telltale Games recently held a premiere event at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson (Dallas), TX. This marks the first time a game has debuted at the renowned movie theater chain, and we were lucky enough to attend. Read on for my impressions of the Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1: Zero Sum reveal event and the game itself!

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It started out as a mini-game inside Project Gotham Racing 2 for the original Xbox but Geometry Wars has grown since then to become a well known stand alone game franchise on its own. This week, the arcade shooter series gets a new installment, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, from UK-based Lucid Games. It's being published by Activision as the first game under their revitalized Sierra brand, which will be dedicated to launching smaller, downloadable titles.

Geometry Wars 3's biggest feature is that it uses 3D grids for the first time, as players control their ship and combat a variety of enemies with different power ups in its unique retro art style. The game is out this week for the PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360 platforms, among others. We got a chance to ask some questions, via email, to Lucid Games co-founder Craig Howard about their work on Geometry Wars 3.

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#IDARB or It Draws a Red Box Is easily my most anticipated ID@Xbox game of the year. Developer 'Other Ocean' describes the game as a "chaotic 8-player eSport jumping jetpack future arena ball game that is as inspired by Bomberman, Smash Bros., and NBA Jam." That said, the game is constantly changing and evolving as Other Ocean crowd-sources ideas from passionate users.

Xbox One owners will be able to download #IDARB sometime before the end of the year. In the meantime, we interviewed Mike Mika, game designer at Other Ocean. Mike spills the beans about a new #IDARB feature, the history about Other Ocean, and even shares some moving words about the recent Atari dig that he attended.

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Never Alone is a cooperative platformer for Xbox One that stars a young girl named Nuna and her mystical Fox companion. The pair must traverse the frozen climes of Alaska as they seek a way to stop the endless blizzard that plagues Nuna's village. Never Alone is a unique and beautiful window into the folklore and culture of the Native Alaskan Iñupiat people, and also an entertaining game in its own right.

First announced back in May, Never Alone now available on Xbox One and Steam. Before you grab the game (or after!), be sure to read our in-depth interview with Grant Roberts, Lead Game Designer from E-Line Media, the publisher of Never Alone. We've got lots of behind-the-scenes details, concept art, and an exclusive gameplay video that highlight just what an uncommon game Never Alone really is.

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Straw is a new Windows Phone app that aims to help you get instant feedback from your friends and followers on social networks. Recently, we covered the polling app and its public beta on Windows Phone. Since our initial coverage, the app has received numerous updates fixing bugs and addressing feedback from a growing user base. We figured it was as good a time as ever to talk with Straw co-founder Ben Rudolph about the founding of the app and its future.

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A few weeks ago, the Cortana team introduced a new concert-tracking feature listed under Interests. By enabling Concert Watch, Cortana can show you when your favorite artists are playing in your area and how to get tickets. It is an ingenious addition to the personal assistant as keeping track of your favorite artists is getting more and more difficult with our increasingly complex lives.

As cool as the concert-tracking feature is, we had a few questions about how it all worked. Luckily, we were able to ask Limor Lahiani, Principal Development Lead and Hadas Bitran, Principal Program Management Lead at Microsoft about how Cortana does what she does.

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Earlier this month, Activision announced a new Ninja Turtles game for Xbox 360 and other consoles called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze. The game will be a single-player exploration-based action platformer, and comes from fan favorite developer WayForward Technologies.

As a lifelong Turtles fan, I was thrilled to see the license paired up with a skilled developer like Wayforward. We promised some special coverage of the game would be forthcoming, so here it is: our exclusive interview with Tomm Hulett of WayForward and Director of Danger of the Ooze. Read on to learn how the game will play, what Turtles touches it will feature, and lots more!

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Stardock CEO Brad Wardell gives us his opinion on various Windows subjects

Stardock was already a well known developer of Windows utilities and games before the launch of Start8 in 2012, a desktop Start menu for Windows 8 to take the place of the one that Microsoft decided to remove from the OS. While Start8 is not the only Start menu replacement for Windows 8, it turned out to be a massive success for Stardock. Since then the company has released a number of other utilities for Windows 8, including ModernMix, which allows Modern UI apps to run in windowed form on the desktop. Both the Start menu and the ability to run Modern apps on the desktop are slated to be added to the next official version of Windows by Microsoft, code name Threshold.

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Microsoft announced a big batch of upcoming ID@Xbox games for Xbox One at E3 earlier this summer. One of the more interesting titles from that announcement is Woolfe: the Red Hood Diaries from Belgian game developer GriN. Woolfe is a 3D action-platformer starring Little Red Riding Hood. The game intertwines her tale with several other fairy tales, creating a dark and unique fantasy world.

GriNrecently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign (with just over a day left to contribute as of this writing) to help finance Woolfe's development. We reached out to Wim Wouters at GriN to find out more about the studio's plans for the game, as well as their experiences with the ID@Xbox program and Kickstarter. Continue reading for our first Xbox One developer interview!

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Our interview with Smoking Gun Interactive's co-founder about the upcoming Age of Empires game made for touchscreens

Microsoft will offer Windows Phone owners not one but two new games based on their Age of Empires strategy franchise this fall. In addition to the previously announced Age of Empires: World Domination game from developer KLab, the company announced last week plans to release Age of Empires: Castle Siege for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 sometime in September.

As the title implies, this game concentrates on offering players a way to build a castle, complete with defenses that will be made to keep it from falling to enemies. Developed by Vancouver-based Smoking Gun Interactive, Age of Empires: Castle Siege will offer a way to link up with friends on Xbox Live for alliances as well as support for online leaderboards. We got a chance to chat with John Johnson, the co-founder and CEO of Smoking Gun Interactive, to find out more about Age of Empires: Castle Siege, including how the free-to-play game will handle in-game purchases and more.

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Our interview with Alienware's General Manager discussing the Alpha

While game consoles like Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Xbox One have found their way into hundreds of millions of homes to be connected to televisions, it's been a challenge for the PC industry to offer a product that's designed to connect to a big screen TV and be used in a living room setting. A year ago, Valve announced a plan to launch its own Linux-based operating system, SteamOS, that was designed to be used in small living room PCs to play native Linux games and to stream PC games from their Steam service.

While Valve announced earlier this year plans to team up with a number of third party PC OEMS for a SteamOS hardware launch later in 2014, the company later revealed those plans have been pushed back to sometime in 2015. However, one of those SteamOS partners, Alienware, decided to go ahead and launch their SteamOS machine this year as a Windows 8.1 PC, the Alienware Alpha. While it may use Microsoft's latest operating system, the team at Alienware (which Dell acquired in 2006) are also developing their own UI that will allow owners to use the Alpha as a gaming PC with an included Xbox 360 controller, with no requirement to use the Windows 8.1 desktop.

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Let us not beat around the bush: Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8.1 has been a rough ride. Ever since the separation of the app from the OS, criticism for being behind not only the competition but behind Windows Phone 8.0 hangs around the proverbial neck of the Xbox Music team.

Earlier this week, we spoke with Jerry Johnson, Group Program Manager and Gurpratap Virdi, Director of Engineering, both of OSG Entertainment Apps about Xbox Music, including where it is heading and why it had such a rough start.

The answers may surprise you.

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A few days ago, Vivino Wine Scanner made a triumphant return to Windows Phone. Although an app for Vivino had come out a few years ago, it hadn't been updated in a long time, and the company wanted to start from the ground up. The new app is designed for Windows Phone 8 and beyond, bringing with it a highly polished UI and enhanced user experience.

If you're not familiar with Vivino, they're the largest service for finding and logging your wine collection, including ratings. Their cool scanner device though is the real attraction, as all you have to do is scan a bottle's label and let the service fetch all the necessary data through its image-recognition technology. It makes logging your wine a whole lot of fun.

With the recent launch, Mobile Nations writer John Callaham had an opportunity to ask Vivino CEO Heini Zachariassen a few questions about their service and the new app.

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If you’ve been itching to learn more about the recently-announced Lumia 930, Nokia’s Conversations blog has posted an interview with one of their chief designers, Jonne Harju, on the device. Harju notes that the lack of a camera bump eases the way for wireless charging. The outer aluminum frame is a single solid piece, which keeps down manufacturing costs. Harju emphasized the human qualities of the design, namely the shared focus on simplicity in both Nokia and Microsoft designs.

As for the future, Harju’s looking forward to designing around changing expectations in biometrics, ergonomics, and usage habits (how often do we want to get notifications, anyway?). Be sure to read the full interview to get a peek behind the scenes at the creation of the Lumia 930.

Source: Conversations

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Barcelona – Early this morning, Nokia held their highly anticipated press conference here at Mobile World Congress 2014. Anticipated is the word used because while two new and admirable low-end entry phones were introduced – the Asha 230 and Nokia 220 – all eyes were focused on ‘X’.

Yes, Nokia has gone Android. But if you think that’s all there is to the story, you may be missing the point. We sat down with Jo Harlow, Executive Vice President, Smart Devices at Nokia, for some answers to our eager questions.

If you watched the live stream of Nokia’s presentation on the Nokia X, X+ and XL devices, you may have noticed that their message was crafted perfectly. Yes, the words ‘Android’ and ‘Google’ were used, but Stephen Elop was purposeful in focusing on Microsoft’s services and Nokia’s Lumia line. It was as if they knew that one wrong word could be misconstrued as “Nokia has doubts about Windows Phone” or that this new device series was an admission of failure.

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