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Ultimate Coder Ultrabook Challenge: Week 6 and it is a wrap!

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That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Alas – our Ultrabook Challenge is coming to a close and too soon it seems the lights dim to reveal what is left…and what is lost.

When we got Intel’s invitation we frankly had to first get our heads around it. We’ve been steeped in mobile technology since 2008 and the idea of an Ultrabook first had to work its way past all of our expectations on handsets and tablets. But in a fairly short time – especially once the hardware arrived (!) – we saw that there was a LOT to work with here…


What we came up with is a game called Wind Up Football or WUF – a multiplayer, multi-touch, pick-up-and-play robot melee. In the scope doc under ‘what makes this game fun?’ I wrote “S&!^ goes flying.” and that’s pretty much been the guiding principle.
Now while the challenge was specifically to build something that made use of the Ultrabook’s strengths we also took the challenge a step further by cleaving to other high-value targets Intel has set for us in the past, specifically ‘multi-platform’ deployment. In other words, while we optimized for Ultrabook we built WUF with a much wider distribution target in mind and we’ll launch the app on iPad, iPhone and Android devices all at roughly the same time. This kind of thing is made possible by the magic of Unity 3D and the sweet tools they provide.

Of course the hardware drives a lot of what’s possible in an app. Things like GPUs, processor power and built in sensors all effect what we can do so WUF will change depending on the platform its being deployed on. For this case, the Ultrabook has the most horsepower of all the target platforms so it gets a slew of extra eye-candy and special effects that simply won’t fly on weaker machines. Explosions, environmental cues, dynamic lighting, dancing Bok Choy Boys…it’s all possible because the Ultrabook gives us headroom that the iPad frankly never has.

In the end, we’re pretty proud of what we produced in a rather tight development cycle. Not only were we able to come up with a playable and marketable game but it is something that has a lot of room to grow and we expect we’ll see WUF evolve into a bigger, better and funnier game as we get feedback from players and time to reflect.

Now there is an obligatory part of this wrap-up post where I’m supposed to convince the judges why we should win so I’ll take a stab at this.

I’m always aware that the other folks in this competition are better programmers than our team – it’s a demonstrable fact and I’m always wowed by the things these people can do with a keyboard. But in the end, despite the ‘ultimate coder‘ name of this competition, it really isn’t about code…it’s about user experience. If the iPhone explosion proved one thing it’s that we all want the experience of an app to be smooth and slick and lovely. The sterile utilitarianism of Windows productivity software has given way to the charming but often pointless elegance of iEverything. And in the realm of art, UX and fun – I think we can hold our own. Soma Games has a history of celebrated visuals, above-par sound and unique gameplay. Wind Up Football has already been picked up by GREE as part of their iOS launch and we’re off to a great start with showing the world a fun game that risks a world where multi-touch is not a possibility – but a requirement. Windup Football is a great example of how the Ultrabook is a string entry to an increasingly mobile ecosystem and yet stands head and shoulders above its nearest competitors.

Long Live the Ultrabook!
Long Live Wind Up Football!

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Posted in Gaming Biz and GRoG and Soma Games and WUR 1 year, 11 months ago at 8:17 am.

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