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Are you a huge fan of first person shooter games? If so, and you own a Windows Phone, you may want to check out Pixel Gun 3D. This multiplayer game is already available on both iOS and Android, but the developer also launched the title on Microsoft's mobile platform earlier this month. The interesting part about Pixel Gun 3D is how it's inspired by popular Java game Minecraft.

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This week, Microsoft is celebrating Xbox Live by announcing and sharing new features throughout the week. Yesterday we had our first look at the new Friends App on Xbox One. Plenty of new changes and features are coming to Xbox Live in the next-generation. Here are some new changes for how multiplayer works and how the Xbox One is built for the future. Videos and details below.

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Windows Phone Game Review: World Domination

World Domination is an online, multi-player game for your Windows Phone that is designed in the tradition of the classic board game Risk. Your mission is to march your armies across the globe, wiping the floor up with your opponent.

The menu pages for World Domination covers your gaming status.  The menu pages include pages that will list the active games you have in progress, game requests waiting to be filled, your completed game stats, and a global high score list. Along the bottom of the menu pages you will find three button controls. One to start a new game, your settings access, and access to the help/how to section.

World Domination was recently updated which really improved the game performance. Before the update things were a bit laggy but after the version 1.8 update things moved along a lot nicer. Overall, World Domination isn't a bad online multi-player game.

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Does the name HexaLines ring any bells to veteran Windows Mobile owners? It should if you are crazy for competitive mobile games. HexaLines was a strategy game that saw players filling up as many paths as possible. Starting from the centre Hexagon, players are tasked with adding more hexagons to expand the available path for his or her colour.

Playing against either AI or friends, the game can get relatively busy on-screen with a number of ways to attack (or be attacked by) the enemy. Rotating the next available hexagon and strategically placing it to either cut off an enemy's flow or pour your own colour into their line is key to survival.

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Windows Phone Xbox Live Review: Pac-Man Kart Rally

The selection of Xbox Live racers on Windows Phone varies widely in quality. Hydro Thunder GO and Need for Speed Undercover occupy the top end of the quality spectrum, while Cro-Mag Rally sits in a pool of ick at the bottom. Sadly, Cro-Mag Rally was also the only mobile Live kart racer for almost a year. Fast-forward to May 2012 and Namco Bandai surprised us all with Pac-Man Kart Rally. While it never matches the lofty quality bar set by the Mario Kart series, Namco’s racer still manages to be pretty fun, easily surpassing its only other Windows Phone competitor.

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When Windows Phone Central first wrote about Electronic Arts’ Battleship coming to Windows Phone, we were concerned that it might be a timed exclusive for Nokia phones. Thankfully that has proven not to be the case, as Battleship launches Wednesday, June 6 for all Mango-supported devices. Phew!

Battleship has little to do with the corny movie of the same name. Instead, it’s an adaptation of the popular board game from Milton Bradley. In the Classic game type, two sides take turns blindly firing at each other, trying to find and destroy the other’s ships. Salvo mode works much like classic, but moves faster than traditional games because you’re allowed to fire as many shots per turn as you have remaining ships.

The videogame-exclusive Superweapon mode adds a variety of new weapons to the gameplay. These weapons unlock based on ships sunk across all game modes, tying the whole package together. We’re pleased to bring you the first official screenshots of Superweapon mode... As you can see, it also jazzes battles up with 3D graphics. Don't worry, Classic still looks like the game you remember.

Battleship comes to port this Wednesday. Microsoft was unable to confirm the price in advance, but we’ll let you know as soon as it pops up.

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The TBODA team have been busy working on improving NumberTap, a free mathematical brain workout Windows Phone title. We previously looked at NumberTap when it was released back in August 2011. Since then it has come on leaps and bounds with a number of versions introducing the following features:

  • Badges (achievements)
  • Bonus questions for double points
  • Time bonus for answering all the questions in a round before the timer expires
  • Added more question types (divides and some with brackets)
  • Added functionality to share a players score to social networks

As well as being more feature rich with the above, NumberTap was patched a few times to squash any reported bugs. Should you give the app a try? Definitely. Not only is it free, it's a lot of fun and is of same quality as Phonealytics by Luke Lowrey. A leaderboard is also present with badges and score multipliers, which add depth to the game with multiplayer elements.

Version 1.7 has been submitted and should be available soon.

You can download NumberTap from the Marketplace for free.

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When you play every single Xbox Live game that comes to Windows Phone, it’s easy to become jaded. I mean, how many physics puzzlers and Angry Birds clones do we really need? Still, today I write about a genuinely exciting game that I can’t wait to play: Pac-Man Kart Rally from Namco Bandai. It comes out this Wednesday; and WPCentral has some exclusive details to whet your appetite.

First, a little history. Pac-Man Kart Rally originally debuted on older mobile phone platforms in 2010, including Windows Mobile and Blackberry. The title drew inspiration from Pac-Man World Rally on Playstation 2-era consoles, but was not a direct adaptation. In late 2011, Pac-Man Kart Rally received a serious graphical upgrade when it made the trip to the Android platform, exclusively for Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play handset.

Head past the break for the full scoop on Pac-Man Kart Rally's characters, tracks, and multiplayer!

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Yet another step in the right direction has been carried out for multiplayer gaming on Windows Phone. Already available on other platforms, Exit Games have released a free Windows Phone SDK that will use their socket-based network engine. While Microsoft was working on "Switchboard", a solution to mobile real-time multiplayer gaming, this solution will be welcomed by developers who wish to implement such functionality into their titles.

Some quick-glance features:

  • Develop in C# .NET 4.0
  • Easy UI creation and view-management via Silverlight/XAML
  • On device debugging
  • Demo containing sample code for easy integration in your Windows Phone Apps 

What's more is that this technology supports cross-platform connectivity. You can head over to the Exit Games website and check out the free SDK for yourself. For consumers, this could mean an MMO (or online FPS) title could be around the corner.

Source: Exit Games

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As you might have heard, indie strategy title Armed! is one amazing game. With great graphics, an amazing UI, deep strategic gameplay, and online multiplayer to boot, Armed! is heads and tails above most Xbox Live games (and certainly Fusion: Sentient). What’s more, Dallas-based developer Sickhead Games plans to show Armed! lots of support, starting with today’s update.

The Armed! version 1.1 update consists primarily of bug fixes (full list past the break). As of now, most known issues have been addressed. I can enter my Scoreloop information without the game crashing now, so that’s one improvement. A version 1.2 update with Fast App Switching support is also on the way. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t enable the feature in this patch (it’s beyond easy), but apparently Sickhead was concerned about locking out Nodo users (do they still exist?).

Head past the break for the full changelog.

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Want really good graphics? Check out ARMED!

Just caught wind of a new Windows Phone game that simply looks fantastic. ARMED! is a sci-fi turn-based, multiplayer strategy game. You are in command of a fleet of sci-fi tanks, turrets and robots with one goal in mind...crush your enemy.

Key features includes:

  • Five maps with unique artwork and tactical terrain features
  • Twelve offensive and defensive units to command into battle
  • Over fifty unit upgrades and special attacks to help turn the tide
  • Simultaneous turn online multiplayer with ratings and matchmaking
  • Live Tile updates with turn notifications
  • Track your rankings on the real time leaderboards
  • Scoreloop integration with photo profiles

While the main attraction of ARMED! is the mult-player mode, you also have a single player option to do battle with the CPU. The game is fantastically animated with the ability to zoom out and have a two-dimensional view or zoom in for the 3D table top view.

There's a lot to ARMED! and luckily there is a really good tutorial to walk you through the mechanics of the game. In just tinkering with ARMED! for a few minutes, the graphics are impressive and the game play not too shabby either.

There is a trial version available for ARMED! and the full version is running $3.99. It is a mango app for your Windows Phone and you can grab ARMED! here at the Marketplace.

via: wp7connect thanks Danny p for the tip!

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Silverlight built MMORPG on Windows Phone?

Right, so this is just friggin' awesome (in the words of our oversea brothers). An MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) called Wowo World has sprung up that is developed with Microsoft Silverlight. In the video above we can see a working client for Windows Phone, something that would surely excite a number of Xbox Live players who are migrating to the mobile platform.

While this title might not be of interest for those who don't speak and understand fluent Chinese, hopefully they will release an international English version or other MMORPG developers who are in the same boat would spark interest in developing a client for Windows Phone. We've previously covered Microsoft further researching into technologies that combat ping and latency with mobile connectivity, so this would certainly be something of interest to real-time multiplayer fans.

Source: WP7 Connect & Wowo World, thanks Se1fcr3ation for the tip!

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Microsoft’s BUILD Conference is currently underway in Anaheim, California. The event primarily centers on Windows 8, which we’ve already reported features the beloved Metro UI. Windows 8 also shows an increased gaming focus over previous versions of Windows, with strong Xbox Live (formerly known as Games for Windows Live on PCs) integration. Clearly Microsoft wants the Xbox Live experience to be seamless across Xbox 360, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.

Here’s where things get interesting for mobile gamers. During the second day of BUILD, Microsoft announced that there will be cross-platform gaming between Windows 8 and Windows Phone. They demonstrated this with Tanks (unclear if that’s the final name), a Broiled Earth-style competitive game. According to Techin5, there was no visible lag as players took turns blasting away at each other (note that it is a turn-based game). Tanks has a clean, cartoonish art style that should appeal to casual gamers on PC and Windows Phone alike, assuming it comes to market.

We’ll let you know if any more Windows Phone-related announcements escape from the conference.

source: Techin5 Thanks Jubbing for the information!

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Yesterday we reported on some new features that are coming to Xbox Live when Mango rolls around. One of those was ‘Fast Async,’ Microsoft’s proprietary form of asynchronous multi-player. Geekwire reached out to Microsoft and published this interview with an unnamed representative:

“How will Fast Async work and how does it compare to the current approach for turn-by-turn gaming in WP7? 

Similar to turn-by-turn async gaming, Fast Async, coming this fall with the Mango update will expand on this experience by enabling Xbox LIVE games to manage game data and sessions in a faster and more flexible way. It will also provide a way for games to find players across screens, without having to wait and watch the matching happen, and will prompt players with clear messaging, when it’s their turn to move.

Will Fast Async be implemented by default in all turn-by-turn games, via the OS, or will it only come in some turn-by-turn games, when developers implement it? 

Fast Async will only be included in Xbox LIVE titles if implemented by the game developer.”

The good news we can take away from this is that Xbox Live games will soon have turn-by-turn multi-player, just like indie games have had for a while now. And Fast Async is apparently a little better than regular old async, particularly in the area of matchmaking. One game we know of that will definitely support Fast Aync is Babaroga’s Zombies!!! board game. Oh, and Fast Async isn’t limited to just Windows Phone, which some people are taking to mean that Xbox 360-Windows Phone cross-platform gaming could be happening too.

The potentially bad news though is that real-time multiplayer has not been announced and may not arrive with Mango. If that’s the case, let’s hope it’s not too far off. I doubt Gameloft will port N.O.V.A 2, the popular iPhone Halo clone, until Windows Phone supports real-time multi-player. Insert comment about how Gameloft only seems to be more interested in porting older, much less popular games here.

Sources: Geekwire via WMPUThree Panel Soul

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Ricky Tan has published an insightful blog post on MSDN that covers implementing multiplayer gaming on the windows Phone platform. Using UdpAnySourceMulticastClient, Ricky walks us through enabling peer-to-peer support (over WiFi in this case) in a game for Mango.

Fancy carrying this out yourself? According to Ricky, it's not as difficult as one would assume. Here's some quick points to get you interested (check out the links below for the article with full code viewing, downloads, etc.):

PlatformerGame.cs: This contains the game code and is where the sockets are initialized, and where the sends and receives are handled.

UdpAnySourceMulticastChannel.cs: This contains the UDP multicast sockets code for joining the group, sending and receiving data.

OtherPlayer.cs: This is a modification of Player.cs to add other players to the game.

Ricky has added peer-to-peer support into the platformer start kit developed by David Russet. Read more information on this (plus the full download and snippets of code) over at Ricky Tan's blog. Multiplayer gaming is most definitely in the works, we also have to keep an eye on Microsoft's progress with 'Switchboard'.

Via: Channel9; Thanks, Mark!

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Real-time multiplayer gameplay on mobile devices has long been a feature many gamers would like to have on the move (we have some form of multiplayer gameplay though - Haypi Kingdom being an example), but with constant connection dips (while on the move) and data limitations in place, plus many more factors, it's never been fully implemented.

Victor Bahl, director of the Mobile Computing Research Center at Microsoft Research, explains the problem:

"Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a very challenging technical problem, Gamers move around, the wireless channel is hostile, the bandwidth you need is not always there, disconnections can happen, and smartphones are energy-constrained. If you just take a game and put it on a smartphone, it is not going to work."

Fear not, all is not lost. The talented team at Microsoft Research has been hard at work on 'Switchboard' - a potential answer to most (if not all) problems with multiplayer smartphone gaming in its current form.

 "There are techniques for multiplayer games to handle ‘jitter’—occasional spikes in network delay. When those techniques react to jitter, you may see a player or object jump from one spot to another. Such ‘glitches in the matrix’ become problematic if they happen frequently. A major challenge in this work is to predict what a player’s latency will look like for the foreseeable duration of a game and minimize such glitches."

"Switchboard finds suitable game candidates by “pinging” their phones to estimate latency: the time needed to move a packet of data. Latency is important to gaming because a long lag time—in the hundreds of milliseconds—to move data can affect game play”, notes Gantenbein."

While it may not provide seamless play for WP7 users, this is a step in the right direction and shows Microsoft are attempting to address obvious limitations/problems. Let's see how this plays out, but for now hopes should remain relatively high for some degree of multiplayer action potentially being possible in the future with Xbox Live.

Source: Microsoft Research, via: Windows7news

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Game updates are usually a cause for celebration. They are supposed to add new features, improve existing ones, and fix bugs and glitches. But sometimes, an update introduces new problems or even breaks the game entirely. See the last Crackdown: Project Sunburst patch, for instance. The latest game to receive a bad update, or downdate as I like to think of it, is Haypi Kingdom, the only massively multiplayer online game on Windows Phone. Before we get into what’s gone wrong, let’s look at the release notes.

Haypi Kingdom version 3.0 changelog:

  • Retina display support
  • New buildings in City view: Battlefield and News Center
  • Honor added in General tab
  • Map tab fully redone
  • Oasis and forts now say what city they are associated with
  • Alliance war added. Also added alliance war guide link in Help tab
  • Alliance tab fully redone
  • Alliance rank now based on Alliance Prestige
  • Alliance events now sorted: Three stars for coin donations, two stars for resources and money donations, one star for requests to join, quit, etc.
  • New languages added

Head past the break to learn more about these changes, how the Windows version is semi-broken, and a workaround to make the game playable.

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AlphaJax -Everyone’s favorite Scrabble clone, I mean, word game - has received a steady stream of updates since its release in October. We were excited when a February update added unlimited, ad-supported play to the trial version of the game as well as user statistic tracking.

Today’s update overhauls stat tracking. Previously, the leader board just put the players with the highest number of wins at the top. Now player skill is also a factor. The new rating system is based on the Elo rating system. Gamers increase their rank via wins, but rank goes up a lot more by defeating a higher ranked opponent. On Xbox 360, the Xbox Live TrueSkill system works much the same way.

How does AlphaJax’s rating system affect people who are new to the game? Players aren’t ranked until they complete ten online games. Pass-and-play (local multiplayer) doesn’t affect rank. Even if someone loses all ten of their starting games, they won’t receive a negative rank. When they finally do win, they should jump up in rank a fair bit since other players are likely ranked higher than zero.

Now that players have a proper skill rating, random matchmaking has significantly improved. There are two options: Skill Match and Random Game. Random works just like it did before, throwing one player up against a completely random opponent. Skill Match, however, pits the player against someone with a similar skill rating. This should result in much more competitive games. Winning a Skill Match is also more likely to have a significant impact on a player’s rating. A high AlphaJax rating, I assume, helps you get all the girls. I’m… not quite there yet. ;)

AlphaJax, is the leading Scrabble-style game for Windows Phone 7. It supports two-player online play against friends or random players as well as local multiplayer. Our review praises AlphaJax’s features and presentation. Even now, AlphaJax remains quite possibly the most polished and addictive indie game on the platform.

AlphaJax is available in ad-supported and ad-free ($2.99) flavors. You can pick it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. WPCentral staffers Daniel Rubino (Malatesta), George Ponder (coppertop) and Paul Acevedo (eastx) are accepting challenges!

Head past the jump for the full version 1.7 changelog.

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Remember when we discussed the debut of Haypi Kingdom, the first MMO for Windows Phone 7? We were surprised to see a free to play game that is supported by microtransactions make it onto Microsoft’s mobile platform. After all, doesn’t Microsoft prohibit microtransactions in Windows Phone 7 games?

Developer Haypi Inc. kindly straightened out the matter for us. As it turns out, microtransactions are indeed forbidden on the platform. That’s why games like The Sims 3 that have lots of optional purchasable content on iPhone don’t offer the same downloadable content on WP7.

So how does Haypi Kingdom manage to sell players in-game coins for real life money? PayPal! You see, coins aren’t purchased through the client itself. When a player decides to make an optional coin purchase, the game launches an external web browser. Purchases are made through PayPal’s site, not the actual game, so Haypi Kingdom isn’t breaking any rules. UPDATE: The workaround has been removed - currently there's no in-game method for purchasing coins.

Haypi Kingdom’s payment model works the same way on Google’s Android platform, where microtransactions are also prohibited. Before coming to Windows Phone 7, Haypi Kingdom had already made a name for itself on Android and iPhone.

To read more on this ground breaking game and the Press Release from Haypi, follow the break.

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While Xbox Live games for Windows Phone 7 continue to remain online-only affairs, that hasn’t stopped indie developers from creating games with online play. Lately we saw Broiled Earth, a competitive artillery game, and now thanks to Haypi Kingdom, Microsoft’s mobile platform has its first MMO (Massively-Multiplayer Online game).

The game's description, according to Haypi Kingdom’s official website:

Haypi Kingdom is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). You will be a general directing an ancient kingdom in a strategic game - boosting resource production, adventuring in extensive wild land, reaping legendary treasures, equipping your troops with advanced abilities and fighting against enemies - with the ultimate goal of becoming the strongest kingdom in the ancient world. Your general can get higher title and more advanced attributes as he joins more and more battles. His attributes will be shared among his troops as well.

You won't play alone. In this massive multiplayer online game you will be able to interact with thousands of players from all over the world in a competition for fame, power, wealth and glory. What's more, there are plenty of possibilities to interact with others - Not only offense and defense, but also trade, alliance, mail system, chat system, etc.

Of special note is Haypi Kingdom’s revenue model. The game is free to play, but players can purchase in-game coins through optional microtransactions.

Coins can be used to speed up upgrades, enhance resource production, buy VIP time to add upgrading slots, buy resource or treasures, call back troops, and enhance your city loyalty immediately, etc. Coins can only [be] purchased with real money at "SHOP". Each player is awarded 30 coins when they first play the game.

Basically, coins allow impatient players to speed up various processes in the game. Smurf Village on iPhone and of course Farmville use similar payment models.

We previously heard from another developer that microtransactions were prohibited on Microsoft's mobile platform, so it’s surprising to see that may not be the case. Micro payments would certainly open up the door for more popular online games to come to WP7.

Gamers who are interested in a social role-playing experience on Windows Phone 7 can get Haypi Kingdom for free here (opens a link to your Zune software) on the Marketplace. We’ll have a full review of the game soon.

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