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Sheep game takes SA app honours

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Now South African phone users can do more with sheep than just braai, after local developer Justin Southey’s ‚The Most Addicting Sheep Game‚ grabbed the honours in Microsoft’s Windows Phone Application Development competition.

Southey walked away with a cool R50 000 for his game, which features sheep noises sourced at grass-roots level, as it were, on a family farm in the Karoo.

‚The Most Addicting Sheep Game‚ has become one of the many money earners on Marketplace in South Africa with 450 downloads so far and these are not limited to SA users, with many downloading from as far away as Germany and the US.

Other apps to feature strongly in the competition included a News24 app, which was a firm favourite for the business user. Judges liked its fresh interface, specifically designed for Windows Phone devices, and the fact that it allows users to easily access the latest news, sport, finance and lifestyle content from the sections screen and shows up-to-the-minute articles from 24.com’s most popular brands.

Another favourite was Torchbear, a social media information sharing tool that is represented by a ‚passing of the torch‚ . Users can tell where the torch has travelled and how many people have passed it as well as to where. Also featuring strongly was Mosaic, which allows users to build mosaics using the pictures on their phone.

Southey initially designed ‚The Most Addicting Sheep Game‚ for Xbox Indie using tutorials online and sold almost 10 000 copies of the game within its first year of release. When he heard about the Windows Phone App competition, he decided to reconfigure it for Windows Phone.

‚It took quite a lot of redesigning to make the game look and feel at home on a touch screen, but the response has been so worth it and the developer tools that are easily available online are fantastically user friendly, which made the journey a simple one,‚ he said.

Microsoft’s Suliman Noor-Mohamed says the competition was launched to highlight both the new Windows Phone operating system and to drive the development of local applications for Microsoft’s Marketplace in South Africa. The competition ran between November and December 2011 and has been a huge success, with around 70 new, homegrown applications now available to all Windows Phone fans.

‚The Most Addicting Sheep Game‚ was a favourite among the judges for a variety of reasons,‚ says Noor-Mahomed. ‚Not only is it incredibly addictive but it is also a quality app, with the design, structure, multi-gestures, movement and sound all being seamlessly integrated.‚

Clifford de Wit, developer and platform lead at Microsoft SA, says the biggest thing to come from this exercise is the proof that the South African developer market is actually far larger than people realise and says this competition marks the start of a focused drive to highlight the talent inherent to this country.

‚The talent that lies within our borders is astronomical and we really can’t wait to see how local developers take advantage of a new platform, namely Windows Phone, especially now that Nokia has announced the Lumia. And Microsoft will be right there throughout, helping to market highlighted apps through various channels going forward.‚

For his part in this, Southey now considers himself a Windows Phone evangelist due to the completeness of the toolset, code library support as well as the active and supportive local technical community. His new startup has already developed a new game, called BugZap, and he is seriously considering becoming a full time developer. Readers are urged to watch this space.

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