onsdag 29 augusti 2012

The DiceFeud Facebook page

I created a FaceBook page for DiceFeud a few days ago. You can find it here: http://facebook.com/dicefeud

Stuff about what features are going to be in the next version is there. A couple of good suggestions from DiceFeud players have been posted and if you think of any improvements, please post them on the FaceBook page and I'll consider them.

The next version looks very good and I hope to publish it sometime during next week. There are a few animations which brings more life to the app, the accent color is more present than before, and you have to confirm taps on the scoreboard when playing to aviud setting your score where you didn't want it. A full list of new features will be posted here when I am done.

There is no link to the Facebook page in the app yet but I think there will be in the next version. I am a little reluctant to add a link because you get redirected to the facebook mobile site, http://m.facebook.com, when facebook recognizes you are using a phone browser, and that site looks like absolute rubbish on Windows Phone.

There are now players in twelve countries playing DiceFeud.

söndag 26 augusti 2012

Statistics, marketing and revenue

DiceFeud has now been public for three days. From now on, I thought I'd update the blog from time to time with statistics of downloads, played games and - most importantly - how the app is doing financially.
Before I started writing DiceFeud, I was interrested to see if there were any money to be made on the Windows Phone platform. Either there was very little information to be found on the subject or I wasn't very good at finding it.
So, if others are looking for that kind of information I'll try to write here about how the app is doing, and if I can figure out how to increase the revenue, I'll share that too.


The current parameters are these:
-DiceFeud is only available on Windows Phone.
-Today is the third day DiceFeud has been available for download on Marketplace.
-It is published in all available countries. That's about 60 countries right now.
-It is available in a free version, with one ad in it, and a premium version priced at two dollars (15.90 SEK)
-The ads are served from Microsoft PubCenter through the ad control which you just drag onto your project.

Here are som other facts of interest:
-I have spent about 130 hours on development.
-I have bought an SSL certificate for about 167 dollars.
-The web hotel costs me 9 dollars a month.


Over the last three days, 170 players have registered. That's more than I had hoped for.
The Marketplace statistics on how the app is doing are trailing a few days so I can't really see how many people have bought the premium version, but four players (yes, three of them are friends of mine) have told me they did. That's 8 dollars. A qualified guess is that all other players are using the free version.

The most interesting part is of course how much ad revenue the free version brings in. This data is available in real-time on Microsoft pubCenter and here is the verdict:
In three days, I have made 12.27 SEK. That's 1.5 dollars.

Now, when you set up your ads, you choose up to three categories and "These categories set the general guidelines for what types of ads appear in your ad unit."

I don't really understand what this means. Should I categorize my app, or tell the system what ads I want in my app? I had only set up one category, and I added two more an hour ago. We'll see if that boosts the earnings.
Anyhow, the bottom line is that you seem to need one hell of a lot of users to make a living on ad revenue. On the other hand, you need a pretty good app to be able to sell it.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the game was available on iOS and Android as well. Since it is a game where you play againts your friends, the app would really benefit from being cross-platform. I'll start on an iOS version shortly and hope I can make time to finish it. 


The only marketing I have done is on a swedish Windows Phone group Facebook, where people have been very friendly and supportive, and on Twitter where I have 8  followers. (Yes, eight. HardConsulting is the worst twitterer ever). I would need to figure out a way to reach out to a wider audience but I am not sure how. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

More to come on this subject...

torsdag 23 augusti 2012

Libraries and components

Since I didn't know very much about phone development when starting on DiceFeud, I tried out quite a lot of open source components, both for smaller details and for infrastructure. Some of them were tossed out but other ones were kept has proven to be very good and has really helped me figure out how things are done right.
If you are a Windows Phone developer and haven't checked this stuff out, you should. If you know of a good framework or component which I don't, please tell me about it.
Here is what I used:


I can't even begin to say how impressed I am with this project. ServiceStack is a web services framework which does everything right where WCF and other frameworks fail. It is developed and maintained by Demis Bellot, and a community of contributors are pitching in.
Whenever I have run into what I think may be a problem, ServiceStack has an elegant solution already in place.
In short, you publish a service in a most convenient fashion by writing a request- and a response class and boom! - you get endpoints for all kinds of client-server communication. Json, XML, Soap, REST and more, without any configuration hassle what so ever.
There is a whole lot more components in ServiceStack, but DiceFeud only uses the service-goodies and part of the authentication framwork. I can't see why I should ever use WCF again.


As much as I wanted to use ServiceStack on the client as well as the server, I ended up using RESTSharp on the client for serializing/deserializing JSON messages and sending requests to the server. ServiceStack didn't have a library suitable for WP7 when I began all this, and I figured it would take me too much time to make it work on my own. RESTSharp seems to do the job though.

MVVM Light

MVVM Light is a toolkit (not a framework) which essentially helps separating you UI from your businesslogic. It is written by Laurent Bugnion and he seems to have a pragmatic approach to application development which I find very compelling. DiceFeud is not a slave under MVVM - sometimes I had to cut corners in the codebehind files to make a detail work - but a lot of problems are solved for you by using this toolkit.

Windows Phone Assets

This package contains a few controls which are very useful. I used the Notification Tool to present message boxes in a very convenient way. The only problem with this control was that it didn't consider light/dark themes out of the box. Your app will fail certification if it doesn't look ok in both, so I had to tweak it a bit.


This package contains an application bar which works very well with MVVM. The standard application bar doesn't because it doesn't support commands in a convenient way.

Chat text block

This is a balloon message control used on the chat view in DiceFeud to get Metro looking messaing. (yes, Metro. Shame that name went down the drain)


This is a very sweet community package which contains page transitions and other stuff to make the app look a little more alive.

It really is a treat to see all the efforts of people sharing their work in libraries like these. Thank you so much. I wouldn't even want to think about the amount of time it would have taken me without them.

DiceFeud is live!

It is finally out there! The free version was certified yesterday, and today you can find both the free and premium versions on Marketplace.
The free version is here: http://www.windowsphone.com/sv-SE/apps/50edd6d8-db95-45f2-a268-30feb12d7c81
And the premium version is here: http://www.windowsphone.com/sv-SE/apps/a26e4cd2-2ef2-458c-95d2-3007486481c6

Man, oh man, this is exciting!

During beta testing I got quite a few hints that the app is ugly. I agree it is not all that pretty. However, in the last few days a friend of mine, Peter Drougge, has been kind enough to prettify it a little, and it really looks much better now. An updated version will be available shortly.

I have a little roadmap for the app scribbled down and I will write about that in a separate post.
Thanks for playing.

lördag 18 augusti 2012


Now that DiceFeud has passed certification, I would like to say thanks to the prominent people who helped out. I got great help in beta testing the app, even by people I don't even know. I turned to the Facebook group Vi som gillar Windows Phone, and just asked if someone would like to beta test the app. Within a few hours, thirteen people were willing to install the app from an XAP-file, play the game and give me suggestions and bug reports. It was really great. Some of them even went an extra mile and had their friends install it and test it.

So, I know the Academy Award tone in all of this is a little silly, but I really would like to give credit these people, even if DiceFeud goes by completely unnoticed:

First of all:

Peter Drougge and Dennis Skantz.
Peter is a friend, colleague since way back and a great developer who has given me hands-on tips when I needed them. He has some very good apps on Marketplace which you should check out.
Dennis is also a top notch programmer and a friend who has taught me a lot.

Beta testing:

Gustav Larsmark, Fabian Miiro, Jim Terneborg, Cristian Carlsson, Mathias Zetterfeldt, Mattias Andersson, Niclas Sprung, Oscar Andersson, Johan Falk, Mikael Dúi Bolinder, Fredrik Wolbe, Peter Drougge and Dennis Skantz.

Thanks a million! I hope a can return the favor sometime.

torsdag 16 augusti 2012


Today, after twelve days of waiting, the premium version of DiceFeud finally passed certification. I was very happy to see that it passed on the first try since the process has been very slow and a resubmission with fixes of certification issues would really be painful.
DiceFeud Premium is hidden from the public store because I didn't want to publish it before the free version was submitted, and the only thing missing in the free version was a link to the premium version. Now that I got this link I just submitted the free version for certification as well. Hopefully it'll be faster to get it out on Marketplace this time.

I am really excited about this. The return of investment will surely be a nightmare but it is rewarding to see it finished. Can't wait to see if anyone actually downloads it when it gets out.


tisdag 14 augusti 2012

Still nothing

Man, oh man did I pick the wrong day to publish the app. Not only was the site formerly known as AppHub down for one day. After pimping the site, renaming it to Windows Phone Dev Center, Microsoft decided to introduce tougher demands on apps submitted to Marketplace. Not only new submissions, but apps already published, meeting the demands at the time of publishing, are now required to meet the new guidelines.
The new guidelines and a couple of angry comments can be found here:

Apparently, Microsoft gave developers a twelve hour notice on fixing their apps before resubmitting them. I can see why the community went ballistic. This has probably lead to loads and loads of apps being resubmitted to Marketplace, and the backlog of apps waiting for certification must be huge by now. DiceFeud has been waiting to be certified for eleven days now. I have emailed the WinPhone team, asking what is going on, but heard nothing back.

Also, when Windows Phone Dev Center was launched, I lost access to Ad Center, which is where you can see how you in-app ads perform. I just can't get in anymore. I tried everything and reported it to Microsoft, but so far - nothing.

A very poor release by Microsoft, and it came at a very bad time. Marketplace is just gaining momentum. Huge amounts of apps are coming in every day, but when it is this hard to even get started, developers are already giving up on the platform.

I hope to see a change in the near future. This really is a shame.

måndag 6 augusti 2012

Release delayed

Windows Phone Marketplace is down due to maintenance today. Normally it should take about two days to get an app certified and published - at least that's what the documentation say - but this will surely delay the release. The estimated downtime is 24 hours so I hopefully both the free and premium versions will be up by the end of this week.

The app is submitted to all available countries on the Marketplace, except South Korea and Brazil. For those countries you have to provide some sort of document specifying the rating of the content. You know, is it ok for kids to play it etc. I have no idea where to get these documents, and I didn't really look that hard to find out. Those countries will have to wait.

Also, DiceFeud is not translated into different languages. All text is in english only. I have read that in some countries, you won't get any downloads what so ever if your app isn't translated. If that's true, maybe I will have to translate it, but then again - maybe there will be no downloads in any country. We'll see.

Just checked Marketplace again. Still down...

lördag 4 augusti 2012

DiceFeud waiting for certification

A couple of months ago I decided to try to create an app. I work as a freelance programmer, focusing on .NET so I thought the easiest platform to get started on would be Windows Phone. Now, a couple of hundred hours later, the app is finally ready to be released.
The reason it took me this long to get the app launched is that there has been a lot to learn. My daytime job is mainly in the banking industry. I do backend programming. Very little graphical interface and for the most part invisible programming, serving front end applications with data. That took me half way, but the actual front end was all quite new to me.
Also, I wanted to do things right and try to learn how proffessional apps are written.

After a quick search on the Android and Windows Phone market places, I decided to write an online Yatzy game since I couldn't find one. If there are similar apps out there already, it doesn't really matter since this has been fun and very educating. I named the app DiceFeud in lack of a better name.

This blog is a means of communicating with the users of the app. If there are problems or bugs, I will write about them here and try to estimate when they will be fixed. If you want to report a bug or discuss the app, please send a mail to support@dicefeud.net.

Also, I thought I'd write a roadmap for the app in this blog, and also acknowledgements of the open source components I have used when writing the app. It is amazing to see how helpful people are when it comes to sharing code and programming ideas.

The app is now uploaded to Marketplace and is awaiting certification.
I hope you enjoy playing. Feel free to invite me to a game. My username is grismun.