A very large part of this year's work has been in Android, where we have 3 games in service with another just about to follow, and several more due by the end of this year. The Android API has proved to make game product production easier than we had imagined with good support for automatic item placement to make decent use of varying screen formats. Our first products were Move it!, Backgammon and then Chess. Our primary marketing model has been to depend on in-game ads, which provide a continuous long-term trickle of income.
Move it! also made its way to the iPhone through the Washington-based Optime Software, who already have our Hearts and Backgammon engines and are about to release another title based on one of our engines. Move it! is of particular interest to us as this is the first really new game we have created, rather than just our version of some existing classic game. That has the advantage that we are new, and therefore fresh, but harder to secure acceptance as people tend to want to find stuff they already know. We are also just about to release a follow-on title, based on the same type of idea. We are expecting to create a whole series of games of this type. The key to achieving this has been the success of our own in-house puzzle solving technology, which has made it possible to create and test complex puzzles that could not be efficiently tested by hand.
Our involvement with Antix continues and just now 11 of our games are about to go live in Indonesia and South Korea. This uses game binaries that will run on both mobile phones and TVs, running under the Antix Player, which can run under any phone type, whether RIM, iPhone, Android, Nokia or whatever. This allows users to buy a game on their mobile and simply transfer it to their TV, where they can continue to play.
Earlier this year we again entered the World Computer Shogi Championship in Tokyo, where we actually managed to improve our ranking by two places, winning 4 games and losing 5, although our single core Celeron notebook should not have been a match for the large multi-core i7 and dedicated hardware, which was up to 1000x faster than our machine! As ever these trips are very enjoyable and offer opportunities to connect with the Shogi, Academic and Commercial communities in Japan. Of course, we also spend time with our publisher!
However a significant diversion in our Japan trip was the lecture I gave within the School of Computer Science at Tokyo University of Technology. They are running a computer gaming course based around our gaming technology and this was our first hand-ons lecture for the course. We also provided a second lecture that they gave on our behalf the following week. This is outside any previous lecture we have ever given, requiring a translator for the full 90 minutes. Previously lectures given in Japan have always been in English.
We encourage such contacts as this industry-academia synergy is healthy and
a good way to feed in new ideas. In a similar vein AI Factory is also currently
starting a research collaboration with Bradford and Imperial for MCTS (Monte
Carlo Tree Search). As part of this I gave the keynote at the AI & Games
Network, where I introduced our generic framework to the event, with a view
for encouraging academic research groups to adopt this for sandbox work. This
went down very well and indeed our sandbox will be taken on by at least one
such group, with several others very interested.