Students: Take the Windows 8 App Madness Challenge!

App Madness Ad

Windows 8 App Madness is a challenge for current college students to create apps for Windows 8 and get paid. Create and publish a Windows 8 app by April 14th, 2014 and you could win a $50 gift card. If your app is good and receives over 100 downloads, you’ll then have a chance to win an additional $50 gift card. Just follow these three steps:

Step one: Make an app

Never made an app before? Not a problem! Microsoft has a bunch of resources and all the tools you need to get started and create awesome apps. Just go to for more info. You can also check out my resources page for game developers.

Step two: Publish and submit to challenge

Once your app is published in the store, submit it to the challenge at

Step three: Market your app

Get a 100 downloads for your app to qualify to win an additional $50. Confirm 100 downloads at

What about the legal fine print?

Open only to students who are legal residents of the 50 US (+DC) 16+. The challenge is limited to the first 500 eligible apps received by 4/14/14. Taxes are the responsibility of the recipient. Allow 6 – 8 weeks for delivery. No purchase necessary.  Ends 4/14/14.

See for full rules.

Anything else I need to know?

That’s it! Go out there and make some apps!


Global Game Jam 2014 is just over a month away!

Next month is the Global Game Jam 2014!

What is the Global Game Jam 2014?

Global Game Jam 2014
Starting Friday night, January 24th 2014 and going into Sunday, January 26th 2014 participants will attempt to make a new game from scratch in approximately 48 hours.

The jam is always fun to attend every year. You get to meet with other game developers, work late into the night, have fun/joke around with new and old friends, and usually you end up with something close to a game afterwards!

Why should I attend?

Jams are a great opportunity to practice your skills, get more familiar with a tool like Unity or GameMaker, or try out a new experimental game idea you’ve been working on.

What makes the Global Game Jam 2014 extra special is the sheer number of jammers. Last year, the jam was hosted at 319 sites in 63 countries, and 3,248 games were created!

It’s a great feeling knowing not that you and your team, but thousands of other developers will be staying up late on the same night with a common goal.

Where is it and how do I sign up?

You can check out their website to find a jam site near you. If you live in the SF Bay area like me, I know of three so far:

I would sign up early to make sure you guarantee a spot, many of the venues “sell out” reaching their max capacity. If that happens though, you can always host a venue yourself or just participate remotely in your own home/office.


Last year they set a Guinness World Record with 16,700 developers, and they hope to beat that and grow to over 17,000 jammers this year.

I’m excited to see all the games that will be made this year. Hopefully it’ll be the biggest jam yet!


PayPal BattleHack World Championships 2013

I was lucky enough to have been invited to the PayPal’s BattleHack World Championships, held at PayPal’s offices this weekend. Battlehack For the last six months, PayPal held 10 hackathons in 10 different cities around the world. Berlin, New York, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Miami, Moscow, Austin, London, Washington and Barcelona. The winning team from each hackathon was flown out here to PayPal’s offices in Silicon Valley to compete in a final 24 hour hack to win $100,000! Out of over 2,000 hackers, these are the elite 10 teams. PayPal went all out giving the hackers everything they needed. Such as massages, beds (which were seldom used), awesome food, and unlimited caffeine and sugar. Battlehack World Championships Microsoft gave the team who had the best use of Microsoft technology membership to BizSpark Plus, giving them $60,000 worth of Azure. Team Seattle won this prize (as well as Nokia’s best use of Window’s Phone prize) with their app for xbox/windows 8 and windows phone. They had a shopping app that lets people try on clothes with their kinect, take pictures of themselves in their new clothes, go virtually shopping together with a friend over the web, backend using Windows Azure, all controlled by voice recognition, and then buy the item(s) using your phone or sms. The overall winner of the hackathon and the 100k prize was Team Moscow, for their very cool app “Donate Now”. Donate Now is an app for charity that encourages people to give to a cause quickly and easily. The example they used for their demonstration was a food truck passing out food in the city. Using bluetooth low energy, they broadcast out that this cause is looking for donations. On the truck there is an LED display saying the current running total of their donations. People passing by can open the app, it automatically detects the organization in the area due to BLE, and with one tap using PayPal to donate to that charity. The running total on the truck’s LED display is instantly increased to the current donation total. Battlehack World Championships Winners           Each team created an awesome hack, given their tight 24 hour time limit. I was also a fan of Team Berlin’s “Net Pay”, which helped businesses do payroll for seasonal or temporary workers. I could see myself using that app in my business, and I am sure many others would find it useful. Congratulations to all the hackers for their victories, hard work and creating amazing products in such tight timeframes. Battlehack was a very cool event, and I look forward to being able to attend Battlehack 2014 (as a judge or as a participant)! -Tobiah

LAUNCH Hackathon 2013

This weekend, I competed at the LAUNCH Hackathon 2013 in San Francisco.LAUNCH

What was it about?

The goal was to create a product + company in a little less than two days. The hackathon started on Friday night and all coding stopped at 4pm on Sunday.

Prizes ranged from $250 to $5k for SDK implementation, and the grand prize was 50k in venture funding + AngelList investment of $800k

My team was all Microsoft Evangelists. Myself, Kevin Ashley, Alice Pang and Craig Presti.

What did we do?

We arrived on Friday and started planning our project. We debated a lot over different ideas and business models, trying to find the right balance between technically doable (with time constraint), profitable business model, and what would pitch well to judges.

By early Saturday morning, we settled on the idea “RENTAG” a “one tap rental solution” Website with screenshots and info:

We got a simple prototype working on Saturday, and Sunday we focused on perfecting our pitch. Kevin even brought in his Skis (with NFC sticker placed on) we could “rent” for our live demo.CraigWorking

What was the result?

I thought we nailed the pitch! Alice tapped her phone to the Skis, and the rental appeared almost instantly on Craig’s Surface. The judges seemed interested throughout and understood the idea. Afterwards, they had positive things to say.

Our review we got afterwards:

“9 out of 10. Great team and great implementation. Good use of hardware too and finding a partner! Would be great to see more platforms as well (but know that is easy.)”

Despite our good review, we were not selected as one of the final 15 (out of 147 teams who finished products and 1,000+ contestants). But we showed off some cool technology (Windows 8+Windows Phone devices and app development, as well as NFC), talked to a few other developers, and overall had a great time.

Congrats to all the awesome teams who participated, and especially the winners and finalists!


SJSU Game Workshop and Game Demo Night

Last week my co-worker Doris Chen and I went to San Jose State University and talked to students about game development.

SJSU Game WorkshopAt the workshop we gave students instructions on how to sign up for DreamSpark to get free tools and Windows store developer accounts, as well an overview of what they need to know to start their own independent game development.

Then we showed them how to make a basic game in Construct 2, websites where they can go to find game assets, symbols, and sounds, as well as other resources.

After the workshop, we issued them a challenge to make their own games, and then next week come back and present what they made. We also invited other student game developers to join in the challenge if they wanted.

Last night, we had 14 games demoed for us! Every one was impressive. Some had never worked on a game before! There were shooters, platformers, puzzlers, some action/runner games, and even an RTS.

It was great to see student’s excitement on making their own projects!

SJSU Game Workshop and Demo Night - SnakeWe picked a “judge’s choice” out of the bunch, and it was hard. The winning game was “Gravity Drift”, a puzzle game where you used planets gravity to move an alien floating in space.

There was also an “Audience Favorite” prize, and a game called “Snake Battle” won. It was a new take on the classic “snake”/Tron type game in Unity, with power ups and up to 4 player multiplayer.

SJSU Game Workshop and Demo night - Shirts
Every student who presented a game got a prize of some kind!

I encouraged all the students to continue developing their games. Right now is one of the best times to start your own company, especially if you’re a student. The risk is at an all-time low, and the potential reward an all time high.

I can’t wait to see them all released in the store!


San Francisco Meetups – Week of October 14th, 2013.

I went to three meetups in San Francisco this week.

First, I stopped by briefly to the Bay Area Software EngineersThe Promise of 3D Printing” event. It was really cool to learn a bit more about 3d printing as a technology. 400 people attended!

I wish I could have been there for the whole time, but I had to duck out early to make it to the San Francisco Game Development Meetup‘s monthly gathering. This is always a popular meetup, over a hundred game developers met in the Marriott bar to hang out, talk, and show off each others games.

I had some great conversations with fellow independent game developers (and a few freelancers) while I was there. I don’t always go to this meetup, but I went last month as well, and I enjoyed myself. It’s nice to see such a large group of developers interacting with each other. Although due to the nature of the bar, it’s sometimes hard to get around the room to meet many people.

Also this week was Corona SDK Meetup Group’s Monetizing Cross-Platform Apps panel, hosted at YetiZen. Surprisingly I haven’t visited YetiZen before. They host many events there, but I just haven’t been able to make one until now. It’s a nice space, I appreciated all the art on the walls and the pile of board games in the middle.

Corona ran the meetup, but it wasn’t Corona specific. It was more about monetization of apps in general. The panel had representatives from Inneractive, SponsorPay, Vungle, and PlayHaven. It was nice to see so many competitors sitting together talking about monetization in general, and not trying to pitch themselves as why they are better than one another. They also each have slightly different offerings, and even brought up the fact that many profitable games use services from multiple companies, and they work nicely together.

Those are the San Francisco Meetups I went to this week. If you’d like to meet up with me at a future gathering (or even just one on one), please send me a message and we can work out the details!


ASU CIS105 class and SVCC wrap up

Last week I had the honor of guest lecturing for CIS105 at Arizona State University.

ASU CIS105 Workshop
Students created their own apps for Windows Phone 8 and submitted them to the real Windows Phone store. It was cool helping them sign up for DreamSpark and go through the entire development process in just a matter a days. Very inspiring considering most students had not done any kind of development before.

My favorite part was hearing student’s questions after the lectures. There were some good ones! I hope some of the students felt inspired to continue learning about programming and app development.

As soon as I landed back home in the bay area, I went to straight to Foothill College for Silicon Valley Code Camp.

Silicon Valley Code Camp 2013
I’ve never been before, and I am glad I got the opportunity to. It was a fun event with a very diverse variety of people, from students just starting out to experienced industry veterans.

I didn’t get to go to as many talks as I would have liked, but I got to hang out at the Microsoft booth for a bit and talk with people. We had a few different Microsoft devices for people to play with, and let people know about some of our resources such as App Builder, MVA, DreamSpark and BizSpark.

I had planned to just go Saturday and take Sunday off to rest, but I ended up making it back there for a couple of hours on Sunday just because I enjoyed myself so much the day before.

I definitely look forward to the next time I get to visit ASU, and will make plans to attend SVCC 2014!


September Meetups in the San Jose

septmeetupThis week I went to two new meetups, both in San Jose.

New to me, I should say. These meetups have been going for a little while, I just haven’t attended them before.

On Tuesday, I went to the South Bay Game Development Group. I don’t know why I haven’t heard of this event before, it was a lot of fun. They meet monthly at the 7 Stars Bar & Grill.

It was a small-ish group of 30 or so people, which gave me a chance to talk with everybody who was there. Some were showing off their games, and others like me were just there to socialize. I always worry about going to meetups in bars, sometimes they can get really loud and it’s hard to talk to people. 7 Stars was a good venue. It never got too loud, and while I didn’t have any myself the food looked pretty good.

I got there early and stayed late, and when I left there were still over a half a dozen people taking turns trying out a game on the Oculus Rift somebody had brought. I will definitely make to their next meetup on October 29th. If you’re able to get to San Jose I would recommend that you do too!

The other meetup I made it to this week was Tech in Motion’s Mobile Gaming event. Tech in Motion is a group that runs a series of tech related events, from mobile UX design to healthcare. This month’s theme was game development.

This first and last parts of the event were for socializing, including free drink tickets which was rather nice of them. In the middle they had two lectures. One from Nvidia talking about the Shield, and the other from Raindrop Games, a small indie studio that released an (unsuccessful) iOS game. I like listening to post-mortems of projects, both successful and “failures”. You can learn a lot from what doesn’t work. I didn’t agree with everything Josh said, but he had learned some valuable lessons the hard way and was able to realize some of his mistakes.

Many of the people I met there were new to game development. It was interesting to talk to people who weren’t experienced with game dev, but eager to learn more about it.

I like going to new meetup groups. It’s nice to see a mix of new and familiar faces. If you’re aware of any other awesome San Francisco Bay Area meetups I should check out, send me an email and let me know!