Guest Lecture: Thomas Hulvershorn from IPlay

Another guest lecture in Business of Computer Games today at the university.

So, apparently mobile game development is one of the fastest growing areas of the game industry, which quite frankley isn’t that impressive, it just means its starting up, other areas of the game industry won’t be growing that much when they’ve had 10-20 years to establish themselves.

I-Play is one of the companies out there developing for the mobile phone, using the “shotgun” technique (this meaning them release several games in the short space of time), which according to the lecturer, Thomas, 30 in the last two years.

The first part of the lecture was about developing for the mobile phone, something which interested me being a developer myself. When a game is decided to developed, the programmers are given a list of handsets that it must work on, and get to work on it. Whether or not they use the same source and just use precompiler states for different platforms wasn’t mentioned  though.

Thomas also pointed out the differences in mobile phone development, like the restrictions of memory, keypad size, screen size, etc, and how on some phones, music is limited to midi output, and all this must be taken into consideration. As well as what to do if there is a phone call, or the battery is getting low.

One thing I noticed when it came to the porting of games to different phones was that the same game was the same price even when it had worse graphics, which I suppose when I gets down to the cost of $5, I could let it fly as long as if I upgrade my phonem I have access to the other phone version as well.

The second part of the lecture was about the Quality Assurance (QA), Thomas’ specialist field, revealing to us some of the terms they use such as ‘black box’, which means testing a game to make sure if it says it has something, it is there. Or ‘white box’, the complete opposite, which is about checking the code rather than the functionality.

After the lecture I was kind of left with a sense of emptiness, when we were told to bring our mobile phones in I expected we might get a free game to try from them, or possible some kind of fun exercise to find a bug, or even maybe a sign up sheet for QA, but it seemed more like free market research.

However the lecture wasn’t a complete loss, there was a lot of information into the workings of the testing environment for mobile phones.

The main question now is whether or not we’ll get someone to talk to us about starting your own game company. I’ve heard rumors about there was supposed to be someone but they didn’t turn up, which would be nice.

It would also be nice to maybe get someone from Blizzard to talk about being a GM for their MMORPG World of Warcraft or game development for them.