Tag Archives: china

Off the Map in China

Off The Map in China

Off the Map in China

Gamasutra has posted an interview by Christian Nutt with your truly. It begins with…

Famous for his work with id Software and on EA-published cult classic Alice, American McGee set up shop in Shanghai, China, in 2007 with his new studio, Spicy Horse. Though the company’s first game, Grimm, for the GameTap digital service didn’t make a big splash, McGee maintains that developing the game was instrumental in setting up a tightly-run and efficient organization in China, one which has helped him reexamine the very process of developing games.

In fact, McGee suggests that most of what developers know about working in China is wrong. He suggests that process can lead to a crunch-free environment and great quality games — his team is currently working on a sequel to Alice for EA, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Says McGee, “EA has talked about trying to figure out how it is we’re doing what we’re doing, because clearly they’re looking at what we’re doing and they’re seeing us hit all the milestones and come in ahead of time, and come in high quality, and everything that they could ask for from a development team. [But] I don’t know if you could export it.”

Christian and I go on to talk about life and work in China, cultural and development impacts on starting and running a studio in Shanghai, and more. You can read the full article here.

Also, if you’re interested in some of the thinking that originally inspired me to move to China, I suggest you check out “Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic” The book examines how American culture has become obsessed with consumption – and how it’s destroying people’s ability to be happy with themselves and what they have.

China on a Budget

I’m always amazed when I hear of friends spending $350USD or more per day for hotels in Shanghai. Sure, they’re nice… but if you’re hardly in them, what’s the point. So I’m glad to read the WSJ has an article highlighting the many fine and cheap hotel options available across China. From the article:

What can a $35 Chinese hotel room offer that some $350 rooms lack? Plenty, if you’re staying in a budget hotel.

With free in-room Internet access, many waist-level electrical outlets for easy recharging, and often new plumbing and excellent lighting, these hotels have mushroomed over the past few years, sometimes by the hundreds in major Chinese cities. One chain, Green Tree Inns, says it has 63 budget hotels in Shanghai alone. Yet most foreigners don’t know about them. Alex Xu, Green Tree’s chief executive, estimates that foreign clients make up only 5% to 10% of his patrons, who are largely Chinese business travelers.

American investors are more clued in. Morgan Stanley owns a chunk of the Motel 168 chain and its slightly upscale sister, Motel 268, through one of its real-estate investment funds. Green Tree’s Mr. Xu is a naturalized American citizen who owns the company along with several other California business partners. The concern had 200 hotels last year, added 200 more this year, and is planning another 300 in 2010.

It’s unlikely these budget hotels will remain undiscovered for long, as more visitors book their own travel to China, rather than relying on group tours or travel agencies. Last year, only 54% of foreigners visiting China went through travel agencies or tour operators, and often only for hotel and airline bookings, not group tours, says Xu Jing, regional representative for Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency.

Read the full article at Wall Street Journal Online.

iPhone Developer “Spicy Pony” Launched

Spicy Pony Logo

Spicy Pony Logo

Quick on the heels of news that the iPhone is gaining traction in China, Shanghai-based Spicy Horse gives birth to a mobile division aptly named “Spicy Pony“. Last week the Pony quietly released its first app – the unique brain trainer “DexIQ“. This week it makes official its entry into the iPhone arena with an eye towards developing entertainment, game and social apps for the Asian and Western markets.

To celebrate we’re making DexIQ FREE for a limited time (weekend of the 18th, December ’09).

Like many others, I was using an iPhone in China long before China Unicom’s official launch of the handset (October 30, ’09). Before the launch, conservative estimates put iPhone penetration in China around 1.5 million – some say as many as 3 million. But these are “gray market” phones, meaning they were sold in Hong Kong then brought into China, jail-broken and resold.

China Unicom iPhone sales hit 100,000 as of last week (December 11th, ’09). At that rate they’ll sell over 600,000 phones per year – and that’s without added momentum from price reductions, new features, killer apps, and the diminishing appeal of gray market phones. I’m going to be non-conservative here and guess that official iPhone sales will have surpassed 1 million units by this time next year. Things that will help drive iPhone sales for China Unicom:

* Young Chinese see cell phones as fashion accessories and love to update every 3 to 6 months.
* Most high-end cell phones here are the price of the iPhone (Chinese youth and professionals have been spending 300-800USD on phones for several years).
* Unicom is offering amnesty for gray market phone owners – allowing them to switch to legit accounts while gaining access to 3G.
* Better and faster network performance from anywhere will gain importance as people see their friends leveraging such access.
* Rumors abound that Unicom will unlock WiFi before long, when that happens watch out!
* More and cooler China-specific apps will drive interest in the device (as happened in the US).

For me, the biggest hurdle in switching was that I had to change my cell phone number. In China numbers are a big deal – everyone loves 8’s (very auspicious) – so phone numbers, license plate numbers and the like are chosen carefully and coveted. Fortunately, there’s little interest in 6’s, so I was able to secure a sweet ‘666’ number. Now that I’m on the new network I couldn’t be happier. It’s fast, reliable and price competitive – especially when compared to the so-so performance I was getting with my iPhone on China Mobile’s GPRS network.

For Spicy Pony, the rapidly expanding Chinese iPhone market is a phenomenal boon. Our studio and expertise are perfectly aligned to address the new Chinese and existing Western markets. It’s an exciting time to jump into the fray. We’re going to leverage our talents against development of original concepts for China and the West – and we’re cooking up a big license-based game I’m sure everyone will find quite wonderful.

Keep an eye on the Spicy Pony site for details and updates.

Check out the new Spicy Pony Website!
Check out the latest Spicy Pony game DexIQ!

And remember, DexIQ is FREE for a limited time. Enjoy!

Chinese Review of DexIQ

DexIQ Practice Select Screen

DexIQ Challenge Select Screen

Read my first review of DexIQ in Chinese this morning. Here’s an excerpt (translated by Google Translate):

DexIQ” is a very innovative game, the iPhone screen split in half, left and right side were a single game, while the right-hand man at the same time the player will need to manipulate both sides of the game. I just started can control, behind the barriers in the brain and responsiveness is really a test fails to the same as the name of the game, DexIQ in the English dictionary, and there is no vocabulary, Dex for the people who used to play the game should be very familiar with yes Dexterity (agility) and abbreviations, while the IQ intelligence that we are familiar with, and the producer is to the two together to create a new property of the individual ability to express the same time, the player the ability to think and operate and had to worship the author’s imagination force.

Spicy Horse Games is one of the few development of next-generation games company, I can count on over to Ubisoft, 2K, EA, on the Spicy Horse in the development of next-generation games. The Spicy Horse CEO American Mcgee is a famous figure in the game industry to participate in “Quake 2 & 3” produced by American Mcgee, has been tremendously popular “Terrorist Alice” is named after him. Because he likes China’s customs and currently lives in China and make contributions to China’s gaming industry. Be able to develop the game of such quality, I believe Spicy Horse can make the game more fun, let the world know that Chinese people can be creative and production capabilities. At present, this game is only available in English, with Unicom’s iPhone sales, the Chinese version should be soon on-line.

You can read the full review HERE.

While the translation job done by Google Translate leaves something to be desired – the point is made. DexIQ is a unique app which presents two separate games simultaneously on one screen. To play you have to “split” your brain between the two modes of action – some games are geared towards mental exercise, while others challenge your dexterity. As far as I know it’s a unique proposition in the iPhone gaming arena. Based on the sales and reviews so far it seems to be one people are attracted to.

We developed the game here in Shanghai at Spicy Horse. And our internal team is now looking to make improvements for the next version of DexIQ (including a Chinese version!), plus starting work on their next iPhone game.

If you’ve got a free moment be sure to check it out: DexIQ on iTunes Store

And if you like it, please write a review and give it some stars!

DexIQ – Launched!

DexIQ Poster

DexIQ Poster

Spicy Horse Games has just launched its first iphone app “DexIQ”. Head over to the iPhone App Store now and BUY IT! You can also read more about it on DexIQ.com or take a gander at this informative product description:

Think you’re smart?

Think you have quick reflexes?

Your brain has two halves, shouldn’t your IQ test?

Presenting DexIQ, the first app designed to challenge your dexterity and IQ at the SAME TIME!

Two screens of independent game action unfolding simultaneously

Tests designed to challenge your reflexes paired with ones designed to test your IQ

32 individual mini-games combined into 8 levels of spasm-inducing cognitive battery
Compete against your friends to see just how dumb and slow they really are!

Compete against yourself to see which side of your brain is dominant!

Share your unique DexIQ score and achievements on the Plus+ Network!

So stop wasting time on games that only challenge half your brain. Take the DexIQ challenge NOW!

DOWNLOAD NOW

Just a little back story for those interested: This is actually the 2nd iPhone title built at Spicy Horse, but the first to be released. The concept was created by Ken Wong, our Art Director and built by “Spicy Pony”, our little internal iPhone development team. DexIQ represents our first attempt at becoming a serious iPhone developer of fun games and entertainment apps. We’re hoping our unique location in Shanghai, China will also allow us to build apps specific for China.

If you enjoy DexIQ please take a moment to rank it (5 stars!?) and write something nice about it. If you do it’ll make my day 🙂

The World of Warcraft China Saga (pt. 2)

Greg Pilarowski has written another informative piece on the latest turn in the Blizzard “World of Warcraft” in China saga. From the article:

Activision Blizzard’s (Nasdaq: ATVI) great adventure in Chinese bureaucracy appeared to have drawn to a peaceful close in late September with the commercial relaunch of World of Warcraft. On November 2, 2009, however, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) declared that the relaunch was illegal and demanded a halt to the commercial operation of the game.

You can read the rest by heading over to The Escapist.