10 Burning Questions with Joachim Gräßer, Developer of Discovery

Developer Appreciation Month marches on here at WinSource and today we had a chat with Joachim Gräßer, the developer of Discovery for Windows Phone. If you’ve played around with Discovery or even recognize the screenshots above, the game takes heavy cues from Minecraft but offers a unique take on building and survival. We sat down with Joachim and had a good chat about the future of the game.

1. How did you get started with Windows Phone?

I’ve been using Windows products for embedded devices for nearly 10 years now. My first one was a PocketPC 2002 device. When I saw the first videos of the Metro UI I fell in love with it instantly. Then 2 weeks after initial launch of Windows Phone 7, I got my HD7.

2. What phone do you personally use?

I use an HTC HD 7.

3. What was your biggest challenge in developing Discovery for Windows Phone?

The most time-consuming task has been to implement the light propagation of the sunlight and the torches in combination with the chunk based world geometry. I think that–in general–the chunk based approach in this kind of games is the most challenging thing. It makes a lot of simple algorithms more complicated because of the data retrieval through un-/loading of chunks.

4. Do you have any ideas for any more games on the way that you’d care to share with us?

Currently I’m focusing on my existing apps, because I’d like to improve them until I’m personally satisfied. Nevertheless I’ve ideas for at least 5 completely different games. But, based on my experience with previous -started, but never finished- projects, I prefer to keep silent until there is something to show off. I will keep you informed when this will happen. :)

5. Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

At the moment I’m using the trial/paid way for all of my apps. I don’t have any experience with ad-based monetisation, because when I started with app development there was no support for Europe. To talk about some numbers: I’m far away of making a living of app development alone.

I had around 600 sales in the first month which is, based on most other developer’s sales numbers, quite good, I guess. But compared to the development effort, those numbers are yet unsatisfying. I hope I can drive the sales higher with more updates and features.

6. What do you want to see in Windows 8?

“NetworkSocket-Listen” support, Shader and > 50% market share. :)

7. Do you develop for other ecosystems and how does Windows Phone development compare to those?

Yes, I’m also developing for iOS and Android. But my main platform will stay Windows Phone because the development tools/frameworks are simply the best/easiest and it just
makes fun to work with them. Good job, Microsoft!

8. If you could give one tip to fellow Windows Phone developers, what would it be?

Well, I have no special tip, sorry… Instead, I wish that some developers would stop spamming the marketplace with “trash” apps and thereby take the visibilityof others developer’s apps that have taken a lot of time, effort and money to develop. E.g. there are 100+ “Tic Tac Toe” clones where most of them are extremely simple apps with only the most basic functionality.

While it is nice that they drive the total app count of the WP7 platform high, it also lowers the quality of it and detracts the interest of the user to have a look at new apps. I don’t want to restrict apps, I just would like that every developer would think about the quality of their app and the added value by submitting it to the marketplace.

9. Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

When I was 16 and at high-school I dreamed of earning my money as a shop assistant in a PC discounter. When my mum heard that she threw her’s hands up in horror and told me to become a tax accountant. Finally, we came to the “compromise” that I will go to college and start studying computer science… Thank god! That was close!

10. Are there any features you’re considering for Discovery that will differentiate it from other similar games on the market?

When I started development in november last year there were no other block world games announced/released for Windows Phone. I designed Discovery to be focused on the creative part.

Now there are other games that also provide creative gameplay modes. So, I think that by now the most obvious differences to these other games are the atmosphere created by the visuals and music and the general smoothness and playability even on 1st generation hardware. This altogether provides a solid basis for further updates that will hopefully help to stand out against the competition.

Are you interested in taking part in Developer Appreciation Month? Let us know by contacting us with the subject “Developer Appreciation Month”. We’d love to feature your app.

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