IGI Meetup #10 – Mobile Development

Ernir Erlingsson of Ymir Mobile (this horrible quality picture was taken on Nokia E66)

Last Thursday (February 11th), our tenth IGI meetup took place in our usual downtown Reykjavik location. The main speaker was Ernir Erlingsson from Ymir Mobile, who had an interesting talk about mobile development. Ernir has very good knowledge and years of experience in development for phones. His talk inspired lively discussions.

Ernir made an interesting comment on how J2ME blew the opportunity to own the mobile application businesses. They had the right technology at the right time, but didn’t make it easy for people to download and get apps. This is what Apple did with the iPhone. Furthermore, J2Me never got over compatibility issues. Developing for the iPhone has the advantage of a single hardware.

Compatibility issues are something the Android is facing and some people at the meetup argued that Google is only facing problems and will not be successful. Mobile development seems to be a hot sensitive topic since there was a lively debate on Android and iPhone. Clearly, Android and Apple are using different approaches.

I admired Ernir for his attitude to mobile development. What counts is making solutions for hand-held devices, regardless of what device and what technology. If you are in the mobile development, it’s not about choosing between iPhone, Android or whatever else. It’s about delivering mobile solutions.

Although the session started with some technical problems, such as a missing projector, it was a very informative evening. It was also useful since I had a lecture at Reykjavík University the following day covering mobile solutions.

IGI Christmas Meetup

December 29th we had our 9th (or something) meetup – our IGI Christmas meetup. This was actually an early January meetup, but since we had the opportunity to have David Helgason, CEO of Unity, it was moved a little. Needless to say Balthazar bar was packed upstairs (and there were a few people downstairs watching the Aston Villa game).

Low-res picture of Davið showing his Unity platform

Davíð talked about the his company Unity and how he and his partners started the business. This is the typical story of big ambitions, humble and naive beginnings, sort of the impressive fearlessness of those who don’t know what they are getting into. They just do it. And it sounded like they enjoyed the ride. It was also a story of difficult times, which takes persistence to survive. But if you prevail, the reward are worth it.

Unity is small game software development company based in Copenhagen and San Fransisco. The main product is multiplatform game development tool that allows for easy creation of 3D games. Davið showed the tool and how easy it is to use. Unity features an integrated editor that allows for editing the 3D environment and the assets. The results can be deployed on platforms such as Windows and MacOS, and also as a web solution using the Unity Web Player plug-in. Unity also support iPhone and Wii making it truly multiplatform.

Interesting point of the talk was about how the company has matured over the years. How they are moving from being a nice small group of talented individuals into a corporation with more managerial duties. Classic example of growing pains.

As usual this IGI event was very enlightening and entertaining.

More information on this event can be found on the IGI web site: Davíð CEO of Unity – Taking the pain out of game development.

Second IGI Meetup

Low-res picture of Jónas presenting

Wednesday the 3rd of June was the second meetup evening of the Icelandic Gaming Industry (IGI). It was a relaxed and informal gathering of over twenty people. The theme of the evening was social networks and casual games. Basically, the trends is that people like to socialize and connect, and games are perfect way to bring people together.

Finnur Magnússon of Sauma Technologies talked about how new types of games are emerging when social networks and casual games are combined. Simple and fun games, easy to learn are played on networks such as Facebook. These games are popular and benefit from the social network since people invite their friends to play, and people like to compare and compete, and this keeps them playing. Finnur’s slides are here: Social Networks And Casual Gaming

This point was also made by Jónas Antonsson, CEO of Gogogic. When the users of Gogogic’s Symbol 6 iPhone game were asked to list their feature requests, the number one feature suggested was to be able to compare scores with other players. Another example of the strength of the social aspect. Jónas also talked about how games are moving from being products to being services. Instead of releasing a version of a game, it is launched as a service that continues to evolve. New features are added when ready.

Jónas also introduced the new Gogogic game being developed, Viking of Thule and showed the trailer.

The key observation I made from this evening is how strong the social need is in gaming. This confirms my belief that social community games are getting more important. Also, we will move to a global social network, where person’s identity, or indenties, will be stored in one place (Facebook Connect, OpenID and similar sites) and then different gaming sites can use that identity. And as we move from products to services games become live.