PipeFiction now available for Windows 8/RT (x86, x64 and ARM) on the Windows Store

Topics: Announcements, Windows Metro
May 8, 2013 at 7:02 AM
A MonoGame port of PipeFiction, an iOS pipe building puzzler released a year ago, is now available in the Windows Store. PipeFiction follows the long tradition of good old pipe building games.

Link: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-US/app/pipefiction/d2c6c95d-3009-4f82-b370-537a455c307f

Feedback is very much appreciated!

Some insights:
In the original version (iOS), we used Objective-C and Cocos2D, in the XNA/MonoGame port we used Cocos2D-xna. Transition went smooth.

Some of the issues we had to solve for the Win8 port:
  • adapt to the async file i/o
  • integrate with native Win8 features like the Charms bar and data exchange with other apps
  • handle snapped view
  • use .NET i18n features
It took us 3 attempts to get the app through the review. It was rejected the first 2 times due to a missing privacy policy, a missing "pause" screen (for snapped view) and some globalization issues.
May 8, 2013 at 7:38 PM
Looks interesting -- add a trial mode and I'll give it a try. :-)
May 8, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Hm, wasn't even aware of that possibility... Thanx for the heads up, will definitely look into how to add a trial mode for a win store app!
Jul 21, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Edited Jul 21, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Hi odddots, thanks for the donation and belated congratulations on releasing your game on Win8.

How would you say your sales have been on Win8 compared to say iOS, assuming you don't mind discussing that sort of it.
Not really interested in specific numbers ( unless you really want to ), but more like this platform has much better visibility/uptake etc than that platform.

Btw, a news item should appear on the Monogame.net site around Wednesday.

Aug 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Edited Aug 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Phew, finally added a trial mode! Just got through the review... (Trial mode lets you play the full episode 1 and a sample level of the other 5 episodes)

Sales are still pretty low (significantly lower than on iOS, but PipeFiction can't really be considered a "top-seller", anyway). But that might partially be due to the missing trial mode. I totally understand that people don't want to buy a pig in a poke...

On a local meeting, a swiss Microsoft representative recently stated that sales in the Windows Store can be up to 7x higher if an app has a trial mode compared to one which hasn't. Therefore, a quick note to self: always include a trial mode!

Btw: adding the trial mode was easy:
  • included a global flag to signal whether the game is running in trial mode or not
  • wrapped functionality of the full game with conditionals
  • connected the global flag with the Windows 8 API (used CurrentApp.LicenseInformation / CurrentAppSimulator.LicenseInformation)
Local testing was a bit of a laborious task. Had to fiddle with file-system security of the local installation folder and to manually edit the store config file (WindowsStoreProxy.xml). Partially automating that with cmd-files eased the pain a little... Hope this gets improved in the upcoming Windows 8.1 update (and the corresponding dev tools)...
Aug 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM
On a local meeting, a swiss Microsoft representative recently stated that sales in the Windows Store can be up to 7x higher if an app has a trial mode compared to one which hasn't. Therefore, a quick note to self: always include a trial mode!
Interesting, because recently released titles published by Microsoft Studios do not include a trial mode, including Halo: Spartan Assault and my own TY the Tasmanian Tiger even though we implemented trial mode. And what were the top two paid apps last week? Halo and TY.
Aug 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Here is a code snippet that makes using WindowsStoreProxy.xml a whole lot easier. It uses my System.IO.IsolatedStorage library for Windows 8. Add WindowsStoreProxy.xml to the root of your project and set Copy to Copy if newer. Call CopyWindowsStoreProxy() before you check the current license information the first time. We call it in our Game constructor. We define APP_SIMULATOR in our Debug builds to ease testing.
        void CopyWindowsStoreProxy()
                using (var src = TitleContainer.OpenStream("WindowsStoreProxy.xml"))
                    using (var isoStore = IsolatedStorageFile.GetUserStoreForApplication())
                        if (!isoStore.DirectoryExists(@"Microsoft\Windows Store\ApiData"))
                            isoStore.CreateDirectory(@"Microsoft\Windows Store\ApiData");
                        using (var dst = isoStore.CreateFile(@"Microsoft\Windows Store\ApiData\WindowsStoreProxy.xml"))
                Debug.WriteLine("Copied WindowsStoreProxy.xml to local storage");
                Debug.WriteLine("Couldn't copy WindowsStoreProxy.xml to local storage");
Now you can edit WindowsStoreProxy.xml in your project and it will be copied to the correct place when you run the project. Remember to exclude it from the project before building your final package for the Store.
Aug 13, 2013 at 12:32 PM
thanx for sharing the code!
Aug 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM
I had also read recently that Trial modes don't tend to help sales and Steve's comments about Halo and Ty appear to back that.

@oddbots, please keep us informed if you notice a higher conversion rate, now that you have a trial mode implemented.

Aug 13, 2013 at 2:04 PM
I know that I for one won't even look at a paid app if it doesn't have a trial mode, and I'm sure I can't be the only one. Even if it only makes a tiny difference, it's generally not a big task to implement and it can't make things worse, so why not use it?

I don't buy PC games unless I've tried a demo or read a review from a reputable source either, but then I read PC Gamer magazine which takes care of the reviews side of things and demos are generally available for lots of games.

I'm baffled by Microsoft's decision not to include it in Halo or Ty -- both games which, unfortunately, I've not looked at.
Aug 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM
My app has been on the store now a few months and what I found interesting is that about 60% of purchases are direct (no trial) vs about 40% purchased after trial. My app is not a game and sells for $7.99, so I was surprised at how many people will just purchase without trying first.

I think it comes down to people trusting good ratings, and trusting that if it has been promoted (in the market place itself or on 3rd party web sites) that it's probably worth their money.