casual connect usa 2013

Yesterday we ran our final Casual Connect USA news item for the year: a preview of upcoming games Animal Park Tycoon and Yeti Rising. Now its time to look back at how Windows Phone and Windows 8 fared at the show. Did they live up to our predications, and has Windows Phone gaming prospered since Casual Connect 2012?

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Yesterday we brought you a look at Advanced Mobile Applications’ Hills of Glory 3D and the upcoming Windows Phone 8 version of Babel Rising 3D. AMA, you’ll remember is a sister studio of Ubisoft. They’ve worked with a number of gaming franchises, including the Android version of Townsmen (coming to Windows Phone from Handy Games).

Today we conclude our Casual Connect USA coverage for the year with first looks at two more upcoming games from AMA: Animal Park Tycoon and Yeti on Furry (formerly called Yeti Rising). Both games are due out on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 later this year.

Head past the break for the full hands on video and more details!

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We’re nearly done with our Casual Connect gaming coverage. At the San Francisco-based gaming industry event, I interviewed a number of Windows Phone and Windows 8 developers. One of the largest of those developers is Advanced Mobile Applications (AMA). Founded in 2004 and based in London, AMA is a sister company to Ubisoft, who publishes some of their games.

During the event, AMA’s VP of Sales Jean-François Denis took the time to show us several of AMA’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 titles. Today we look at two of those: the recently-released Hills of Glory 3D (also available for Windows 8) and the upcoming Babel Rising 3D. Yep, a new Windows Phone 8 version of Babel Rising 3D is coming. Learn more and see both games in action after the break!

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Earlier this week we brought you a hands-on look at Autodesk’s FBX Review app for Windows 8, which we shot at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. While there I also took in a demonstration of Sketchbook Express, a much more consumer-oriented Windows 8 app. Like FBX Review, it’s completely free.

Renée Busse, Autodesk’s Sketchbook Community Manager, used Sketchbook Express and a Surface Pro to whip up a lovely little drawing in no time at all. Head past the break to see the full video and learn more about what Sketchbook Express and its big brother Sketchbook Pro can do on Windows 8!

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You might know Autodesk for their 3D design tools like AutoCAD and Maya, or their game design middleware like Autodesk Scaleform. They also make a couple of Windows 8 apps for consumers: Sketchbook Express and FBX Review, which we discussed when it released back in July.

During my recent trip to San Francisco for Casual Connect, I stopped by the Autodesk Gallery for a quick visit. From a quiet corner of the Gallery, Wes Adams, Autodesk’s Games Industry and Product Marketing guy walked me through some of the cool things FBX Review can do. Head past the break for our hands on video, plus a photo tour of the Autodesk Gallery.

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In the last week or so we’ve brought you interviews and announcements from German developers Handy Games and Flare Games. Now we’ve made it a trilogy by speaking with Exozet Games, the studio who brought popular board game Carcassonne to Xbox Windows Phone last year.

Matthias Hellmund, the Head of Mobile Development at Exozet, sat down with us to discuss the development process of Carcassonne, its online multiplayer, and even the notorious grinding Achievements! Few game makers come prepared with as many development stories. Head past the break to learn the full picture behind how Carcassonne arrived on Windows Phone.

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Most of the developers we spoke with at Casual Connect last week weren’t there specifically to promote games for mobile Windows platforms. But one team came for just that reason; submitting their Windows Phone and Windows 8 game to the Indie Prize Showcase contest. The game: Fling Theory from Vancouver-based Coding Jar Studios.

You might remember Fling Theory as one of the six games that Microsoft and its partners launched during GDC back in March. It also happens to number among the first Unity releases for Windows Phone 8. Jodon Karlik, the studio president and Doug Insley, technical artist walked us through Fling Theory’s gameplay, development process, and possible Xbox Live plans during our chat. Get all the details and see the video after the break!

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We’ve still got some Casual Connect coverage in store for you guys, starting with this news from Polish developer Artifex Mundi. You might recognize them as the publishers of several popular adventure games on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, including Nightmares from the Deep, Abyss, Dark Arcana, and Enigmatis.

We spoke with Tomasz Grudzinski and Mariusz Szynalik of Artifex Mundi about their plans for mobile Windows platforms. It turns out Artifex Mundi has four or five games in store for us this year! Head past the break for video previews of three of those games, including sequels to Enigmatis and Nightmares from the Deep, plus a fresh new title called Deadlings.

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Casual Connect presented some great opportunities to get to know Windows Phone game publishers. One of those publishers is Game Insight, makers of our own Rich Edmonds’ favorite Windows Phone 8/Windows 8 game My Country.

Game Insight has also recently published Rule the Kingdom, an exciting RPG/city building hybrid game for both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. And they have more games in the works for both platforms! Get the full scoop (and our video interview with Game Insight’s PR director John Kopp) after the break.

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Next up in our coverage of Casual Connect USA is an interview regarding one of our favorite Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 games: Royal Revolt. The game comes from a collaboration between two German studios, Flare Games and Keen Games.

During last week’s event, we spoke with Georg Broxtermann, the Co-founder and Director of Business Development at Flare. He revealed how Royal Revolt came to mobile Windows platforms, some very encouraging performance numbers, and what we can expect from Flare Games in the future. See the video after the break!

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At Casual Connect USA last week, I didn’t just interview big mobile studios like Handy Games and Game House. I also spoke to smaller gaming studios on the verge of releasing Windows Phone and Windows 8 games.

Take Sic’em Studios, for instance. They may not be a gaming giant, but they have sizable plans for mobile Windows platforms. Steven White, a former QA Lead at BioWare, is the owner and programmer at Sic’em. His studio will be releasing two games on Windows Phone 8 this year: Rambledam’s Escape and Detonation. See them on video after the break!

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Casual Connect is an event dedicated to casual videogames, but you’ll often run into more than just game developers and PR people. One such attendee was Cal Morrell of Avenquest Software and Photo Affections. They’ve created a remarkable photo printing app for Windows Phone 8 that photography fans (especially Lumia 1020 owners) are going to love called FreePrints.

We sat down with Cal, who walked us through FreePrints’ features and the process of optimizing the app for Windows Phone 8. Note that this app is currently available only in the United States, but we do have good news for international users (and our hands on video footage) after the break!

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Next up in our Casual Connect USA gaming coverage are two titles from an established Windows Phone developer. Earlier this year, Handy Games (one of Germany’s largest mobile game studios) jumped onto our platform with two impressive Windows Phone 8 titles: Epic Battle Dude – a “one-dimensional“ casual RPG and Aces of Luftwaffe – a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up. Both are great games (especially Aces) and both are free to play.

So what does the studio have in store for us next? Quite a lot, it turns out. Christopher Kassulke, CEO and owner of Handy Games revealed to us the next two games in the pipeline for Windows Phone 8: 1941: Frozen Front and Townsmen. We were in town for a casual games conference, but both games looked deeper and more fully featured than the average casual title. Get the full scoop in our video after the break!

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If our last Casual Connect game preview Delicious: Emily’s Wedding was a little too feminine for you (shame!), then perhaps a space shooter will be more to your tastes. TegTap, a two man indie gaming studio is currently preparing to bring its most successful game Solar Warfare to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. It’s built with the Unity game engine, which should hopefully make for an easy dual platform release.

We met with CEO and game designer Troy Tegeder to discuss Solar Warfare’s development process, gameplay, and his future plans for mobile Windows platforms. We also demoed the Windows PC version of the game using the new Leap Motion controller. The Windows 8 game will support Leap Motion as well.

Head past the break for our exclusive video showing just how precise Solar Warfare’s motion controls really are!

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Yesterday we brought you the news from Casual Connect that Puzzle Retreat would be coming to Windows Phone 8 this year. Now let’s follow up by discussing a Windows 8-specific game. This one comes from Game House, who we didn’t expect to have a mobile Windows presence at the show.

Imagine my surprise when I stopped by their booth and saw the Windows 8 version of Delicious: Emily’s Wonder Wedding running on a big and beautiful touch-screen monitor right at the front of their booth. Ruby Urlings, the game's producer was even on-hand to demonstrate its story and gameplay for us on video. Give it a watch (and read the history of Delicious on mobile Windows platforms) after the break!

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A couple of days ago we promised you lots of gaming coverage from the Casual Connect event in San Francisco. Well, my schedule has been overstuffed with meetings (including some I didn’t list in the previous article!), but we’re going to start getting some of those articles up today. First up is our video interview with Sam Wong from the Voxel Agents, an indie game studio located in Melbourne (pronounced “Mel-bin” for some reason), Australia.

The Voxel Agents have created a surprisingly clever and unique puzzle game called Puzzle Retreat. I say surprising because there are so many puzzle games out there, it seems like every possible concept has been done to death. So if I’m interested in a puzzler, it might possibly be a game worth noticing. Making Puzzle Retreat even more worthy of notice, the game is coming to Windows Phone 8 later this year!

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Ready for more mobile gaming event coverage, loyal readers? Casual Connect is upon us again. Last year we traveled to Casual Connect Seattle, where we brought you a tour of Microsoft headquarters, studio visits and hands on footage with the makers of Skulls of the Shogun and Ascend: Hand of Kul, and lots more exciting Windows Phone gaming news.

This year’s domestic event has been dubbed Casual Connect USA and takes place in San Francisco, the same city we visited for GDC 2013. Casual Connect is the premiere industry event dedicated to casual games. These include mobile and tablet games, so we expect to learn lots of juicy Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 news at the show.

Head past the break for our mobile Windows news predictions and a sneak peek at the developers we’ll be interviewing at Casual Connect USA!

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