Q&A with Matt Kiazyk on “Own This World” for Windows Phone 7

Matt Kiazyk (@mattkiazyk) hails from small town Manitoba and is a partner in Big Nerds in Disguise(BNID), an independent application development shop based out of Calgary, Alberta. Graduating in 2003 from Brandon University, he now works for an accounting firm in Brandon, Manitoba. He recently teamed up with the Big Nerds to make Own This World for the Windows Phone 7 device.Own This World is a geo-dependent online game that allows you to take over territories based on your location; think of it as playing a real-life game of Risk.

1) Who are you? 
I'm Matt Kiazyk, hailing from small town Manitoba and have been programming since the GOTO 100 days of my parents Vic 20. Recently, I've delved into the Windows Phone 7 market and have teamed up with Big Nerds in Disguise from Calgary to create the popular Own This World for Windows Phone 7.

2) Tell us a little about Big Nerds in Disguise (BNID). 
BNID formed in May 2009 with the intent of developing some apps for fun that we could sell. Our first app was a bit controversial so it didn't see the light so to speak. We went through some personnel changes to address our weaknesses (like graphics). By September 2009, we had two coders and an artist. I joined as a Windows Phone 7 developer during the summer of 2010. We are primarily focused on “scratching our own itches” for now, keeping our consulting separated from BNID.

3) What interests you in mobile game/app development? 
Probably having the ability to pull information or play a game anywhere in the world at any time is the most satisfying thing of mobile development. Simple things like seeing when a movie is playing or looking up an address is so simple nowadays. I laugh every time somebody asks where the phonebook is so they can look up a number!

Login Screen for Own This World

4) You've built a pretty interesting game called "Own This World". Please describe what it is and how it works. 
Own This World is a massively multiplayer, location dependent mobile game where the real world map has been split into millions of territories that you compete for with players that are also physically in the same area. For each 30 seconds you are in a territory, you gain a troop and the most troops in a territory owns it. If you have troops in a particular territory you can attack other players to gain control. It's built similar to a real-life game of Risk which is why it's been so popular.

Map Overlay in Own This World

5) How's the feedback been for "Own This World"? 
Tremendous. People love the idea. We have users who tell us stories on how they have taken a different way home from work just so they can get those territories nobody has claimed. We've had lots of feedback on our forums as well. With all the feedback we have received, our users have helped the game evolve over time.

Nightly Production of Resources in Own This World

6) Originally, you built "Own This World" for the iPhone. Now, you're bringing it to Windows Phone 7. Describe the process you went through to accomplish this. 
Own This World for iPhone was build with a web service back end, so data-wise, nothing needed to be changed, and simply needed to port the web calls to .NET. The rest of the UI was coded from scratch. For each screen, we would go through and say "OK, what do we want this screen to do". Then following the UI guidelines, we would create it and always go back to the first question. It worked quite well. Because the iPhone app is more mature, we also had to make the decisions on which features to cut out for version 1.0 or which features just won't work on Windows Phone 7.

Attack! Attack! (A screenshot from Own This World.)

7) What advice would you have for an iPhone developer who's considering bringing their application to Windows Phone 7? 
My advice would be to be ready to think simple for your user interface. Windows Phone 7 devices have a back button for a purpose, so there's no reason to have a close button if you don't need to. Next, follow the UI guidelines. It makes your app look professional and it integrates well into the overall experience.

8) Would you care to share what's next for "Own This World"? 
For Windows Phone 7, up next is catching up to the features of the iPhone version. Alliances are top priority. This will allow friends to team up together and share resources/territories to take over the world faster! As far as Own This World for both systems, coming up we'll have the ability to transport troops across territories. This will allow you to fortify your main territory or perhaps launch that attack on a user with more troops in hand.

Own This World – Leaderboard

Own This World is now available for Windows Phone 7 through Marketplace. Go check it out and let Matt, and the fine folks at BNID, know what you think!

Download for Windows Phone 7