Goodbye, Pokéject

When Windows Phone 7 first came out, I immediately started looking to use the new development tools to create an application. Pokémon Black and White were out around the same time, so I figured creating a Pokédex-like application would be a good idea.

pokeject

Unfortunately, not much over a year later The Pokémon Company International went after a number of the Pokémon apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. They asked Apple, Google and Microsoft to remove the offending applications from their respective stores. My app was included*.

Eventually, The Pokémon Company International released their official Pokédex applications for both the Nintendo 3DS and iOS. (at time of writing, there is no official app for Windows.)

pokedex-ios

The Pokédex app for iOS has a different focus from my app, aiming directly at listing out all the information rather than focusing on checking off the list (though you can use it this way using tagging). This is great, as the information contained in the application far outweighs the data I managed to collect for use in Pokéject. Including some rather cool 3D models.

pokedex-3ds

Personally, I believe the 3DS version to be a lot weaker – the user interface is pretty horrible looking, and I found it a lot harder to navigate. The biggest complaint is the lack of ‘multi-tasking’ on the 3DS. I would like to be able to check off my Pokédex as I play my game. This isn’t possible when both are applications on the same machine.

I thought about reviving Pokéject as web application, going as far as porting a large amount of the source code over to ASP.NET – however I recently started using the iOS version – which contains much more data – and decided it would not be worth the time investment.

So this is the end of the Pokéject project. It’s been fun, but the official versions contain way more information, I suggest people use them moving forward.

* A recent check shows that there are still a number of Pokédex apps in the Windows Phone store, though the most popular and best presented ones were removed long ago.

What playing Pokémon has taught me about myself

I enjoy collecting things

Anyone who has seen the amount of pens I own has seen that I like collecting things. Trying to limit my collection urges is tricky, but thanks to careful reflection and fierce reduction there aren’t that many things I collect unnecessarily these days. One thing that I think helps reduce my clutter is the fact I have never ending possibilities for collecting Pokémon. The only difference is that these Japanese ‘Pocket Monsters‘ are just save files on a cart in my Nintendo DS.

Looking back on my younger life I can think of many collections – stickers, rocks, Pogs, games, DVDs and CDs have all had this lucrative collectability appeal to me. Problem is that most of these collections have just gathered dust and eventually were recycled or sold. Collecting Pokémon is something I enjoy and it doesn’t cost too much money or take up too much space. For me this is a good way to keep my collection habit contented, and I’ve been doing it for over 10 years.

I like knowing lots about a subject, and talking about it

So while I admit I’m fairly terrible with the names – and often need to use Bulbapedia, I do have quite a good amount of knowledge about how to breed and train Pokémon. There are special techniques that you learn for yourself and are taught by others who also play the game. This is much like learning a programming language or any other skill – it gives you a sense of accomplishment that you can share with others (like Emma!).

I feel relaxed when doing repetitive tasks

The main reason I play Pokémon (when I’m not working through the story) is to switch off. I actually want to ride my bike forward and backwards over and over again, only stopping occasionally to swap a freshly hatched Pokémon for a freshly laid egg. I enjoy running back and forth near the long grass for an Audino to appear to start a battle.

It is repetitive, can be done at the same time as watching a movie, and is quite relaxing. Yet at the same time, I still feel like I’m accomplishing something. Sure it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of my life, but I still find that valuable.

I’m not much of a gamer really

I used to call myself a ‘hardcore casual’ gamer. I liked to get all the latest titles, but I never played them all the way through. Even though I have enjoyed many Sonic, Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games – I’ve never wanted to complete all the titles in their respective series.

The only video game series I’ve managed to find time for over the last decade has been Pokémon (starting with Gold) and I’m alright with that. I sold my Xbox and I gave my other games away.

The Pokémon series is smart, well produced and very well recieved. I don’t need any other games.

Pokéject 1.1 Released

At last Pokéject 1.1 has been released to the Windows Phone 7 marketplace.

The latest version now features graphics for all forms and genders of the 649 Pokémon currently available in a swooby user experience – perfectly designed for Windows Phone 7.

You can have a look at the Pokéject app page, or download it now from the Windows Phone marketplace.

You can even try it for free with the first 151 Pokémon, and no nag screens!

Creating Pokéject for Windows Phone 7

Pokéject is a new brand new Pokédex app for Windows Phone.

I thought I’d share some of the thought process behind creating an app for Windows Phone 7. The app is still very much in development, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about the start of the process while they’re still fresh in my mind.

First I started with a simple prototype. By using some of the templates that come with the Windows Phone tools for Visual Studio 2010 I created the screens I’ll need for the application. By using the built in templates I ensure the prototype will fit into the Metro design language specifications. I already have a library for Windows Phone app development which I add to keep the amount of code to write at this point to down to a minimum.

Then I collected some basic data for use with the prototype – by using the wonders of Bulbapedia with an Excel / PowerShell combo, I had enough data to see if the core concept would actually work. The Windows Phone Emulator does a pretty good job of getting you early feedback at this point.

Pokéject for Windows Phone Prototype

Then I started working on the actual look and feel. I mainly used Expression Design to create icons and and visually edited the XAML with Expression Blend. At this point I deployed the application to my Samsung Omnia 7 and checked performance was good.

When I had a good idea of what might work, I set to using Visio to create the wireframes for the application. Within a few hours I was at a point when I was formally designing the app, with a view to integrate this into the already working prototype.

Pokéject for Windows Phone Wireframes

Naturally, the stuff in the wireframes was more complex (in functionality, not user interface clutter) than the existing prototype, so here’s where the fun starts! I go back to Visual Studio and Expression Blend and start thinking about the best way to implement the the features in the wireframes. Not bad for an evening’s work.

After the initial prototype was completed, I showed it to a small selection of people. This early feedback helps me shape the design while keeping honest to the initial idea. This is one of the great things about having the prototype sat on your phone ready to show people!

Phone

On the development side, I started playing with the finer details. When it comes to selecting which controls to use, I suggest having a look at the Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone 7. This includes such gems as the LongListSelector and WrapPanel – both of which have been used in the app.

Essentially, the work this point forward is about turning the prototype into the real thing. I wont go too deep into this process in this post – but if you’re a .NET developer, you already know how this works, though I’ll go into detail about the Windows Phone 7 development gotchas over the next few weeks.

Buy Pokéject from the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace »

Pokéject 1.0 Released

Pokéject is a swooby new Pokédex app for Windows Phone with the focus on giving you a fantastic experience for exploring the world of Pokémon. I’ll be talking a lot more about the design and build of the app in the coming weeks.

You can check out the Pokéject app page, or download it now on the Windows Phone marketplace.