Interesting Developments

Last night this blog got noticed by people in America – my stats got rather exciting looking!

Then, at 6:05am I received 2 emails. Yes, at exactly the same moment. From Pavan and Kusuma. Both would now like to retract their previous comments about Pooja and would like it known that she’s great, and very supportive, and didn’t tell them to submit the same app over and over. It was all just a misunderstanding. Apparently.

Interestingly, Pavan’s looked like a forwarded message, by the interesting indentation and markings.

I’m sure it’s purely coincidental that the moment this blog gets found by someone in the US, both Indian’s who’ve blamed someone at Microsoft simultaneously change their minds.

I never heard back from Nikhila after the message stating “I was told to do so. I know this serves no purpose.”, but I doubt he would name Pooja now.

Amar, on the other hand, has been rather more defensive about the whole thing. He appears to be part of the Microsoft Student Program, and rather than apologise as the others have, his response was “I do knew that am using sample codes. But almost every people are doing the same…” Obviously just following the crowd… except that most people have at least tried to make the games their own.
Regarding submitting multiple times – “by the time I finish my application there wont be any cool names available. So I just did that to reserve cool names.” I look forward to seeing how he uses 8 Balls, Crash Ball, Maze Ball, Hop Ball, Ball Balance and Dragon Balls for these new games he’s working on! Interestingly, he was also the first to ask who I am!

I have at least one more developer I’d like to talk to about pointless app cloning, although I suspect the responses will be more guarded from here on out. It’s a shame, I was hoping for a third developer to confirm Pooja’s involvement, rather than have the first 2 change their minds.

Of course, even if they weren’t told to do this, there’s still the question as to how these apps are being approved. Broken snapped mode, no store logo, demo code, missing privacy policies, and the out right cloning. These should all be reasons to fail, and in fact are reasons apps have failed if you follow the complaints from other developers. Is there a special “this came from India, just let it in” policy? Do apps which have stolen clipart and logos drawn in MSPaint get fast tracked? Is the number of the apps in the store really that much more important than maintaining a standard of quality? Do Microsoft really want to be seen endorsing this kind of rubbish?

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Now Cloning SDK Examples!

I almost overlooked this developer as the first couple of apps I found were different and looked okay. Then I realised that the apps are grouped by colour! Then I noticed “8 Player” which from the screenshot is clearly an SDK Example (though I can’t actually find the original).

There are 6 different apps in amongst those 23. Two of which are definitely SDK examples which I have found, the others look like they might well be, though I couldn’t even make Fun Camera do anything!

Fun Camera

Fun Camera

The Rubbish

I have no idea how he managed to make that screenshot as I can’t manage to make the app do anything! I just have a grey screen and a couple of buttons but nothing seems to work.

Store Details

Productivity
Age rating: 12+
Developer: Amar Zeno

Description

Want FUn? Want to edit your photos with ease??
This awesome application allows you to take photos and tweak the pictures with variant filter opions.

Features

Variant Filters

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/fun-camera/3b583f8b-8cca-415e-89d4-9ee6d49260a5

Touch Ball

Touch Ball

The Rubbish

I didn’t really understand the game – you have to tap the ball as many times as you can before it hits the walls a certain number of times. There are highscore tables and it sort of works in snapped mode, and there’s a credits page… for the guys at Contoso who actually made this! The original example! Well done to the developer for changing the title and logo and then submitting this!

Store Details

Games / Arcade
Age rating: 3+
Developer: Amar Zeno

Description

Wan This game allows you to test your precision skills by hitting a ball in motion.

Features

Precision test
Motion Ball

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/touch-ball/863cbe76-bc1a-4f26-9026-d52f559f4509

8 Player

8 Player

The Rubbish

From the layout of the application it is clearly an SDK example. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original despite much searching. The “Web Videos” link is particularly useful since the application doesn’t request permission to use the internet so it can’t do anything. Also, I managed to make it crash a few times by selecting different options.

Store Details

Productivity
Age rating: 12+
Developer: Amar Zeno

Description

This application allows you to play video files.

Features

Video playback

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/8-player/59f8ac5c-fb98-4a90-8140-c5825193533a

Ball Balance

Ball Balance

The Rubbish

I was really quite impressed with this game. It’s a fun little maze game with some physics and even high scores! I was just writing it a nice review (other than the whole cloning issue – only 6 copies of this one!) when I thought I’d better check snapped mode. It worked, it worked too well. A quick google later and I found the SDK Example for this game – Direct X Marble Maze Game. The developer has renamed, added their own logo, and submitted it to the store 6 times!

Store Details

Games / Arcade
Age rating: 12+
Developer: Amar Zeno

Description

Balance a ball and kill the time

Features

Ball Balance

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/ball-balance/9822eb5e-0a0f-4a32-a08b-196e41de4ea7

Colour Rain

Colour Rain

The Rubbish

Given the description, I was foolishly expecting an application where I could make and save images. Except that once you’ve drawn your masterpiece and hit “Save as Image” it politely informs you that it can only save handwriting. Choosing “Save as Text” then cancelling as it feels like a silly thing to do with your image causes the application to crash!
After it said the word handwriting I realised the R button recognises handwriting and turns it into text… but why?
Also, that X button in the top left – it closes the app – why?
Oh, and it’s been submitted 11 times!
Given the references to handwriting recognition and the fact that it won’t save images, I suspect this is likely taken from example code somewhere too.

Store Details

Productivity
Age rating: 12+
Developer: Amar Zeno

Description

This is an awesome paint application

Features

Painting

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/colour-rain/d477082a-b423-4b7a-977f-3efb3065b3f4

Puffles

Puffles

The Rubbish

This is a reasonable sliding tile puzzle with a choice of background colours and even the ability to set the background to a wallpaper of your choice. Sliding the pieces feels a bit weird, like they’re on elastic rather than following your touch. Also, there’s no score board or reason to replay.
Oh, and it’s in the store 3 times under slightly different names but with an identical app!

Store Details

Games / Puzzle
Age rating: 12+
Developer: Amar Zeno

Description

Want to kill time by the most simplest form of puzzle?

Then this application is for you

Features

Time Killer
Puzzle

Link

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/puffles/d466c902-29fc-4089-abb2-75262ed7e80d

After two definite SDK Example copies and one highly suspected, it’s hard to believe the other 3 apps could actually be unique. I have contacted the developer to ask why they felt the need to submit the same app multiple times and also why they’ve submitted SDK Examples and claimed them as their own. I’ll post updates when I have them!

Another Cloned Memory Game

First up today we have a developer called Nikhila Divya who has submitted the same memory game to the store 28 times!

How do I find these developers? Have a browse and spot the icons which look like they’ve been made in MSPaint!

The game is fairly simple. You choose a level from 4 and are shown an image for 15 seconds. Then you have to answer questions about the picture to test your memory. The game is unfortunately littered with typos like ballons and Goofie. From the latter you might have guessed that it also uses images from Disney which I seriously doubt they have the rights to use.

The layout of the buttons changes sometimes. In some of the versions the instructions are hidden away on a second screen. None of the versions worked in snapped mode. Though they have taken the time to upload separate screenshots for each copy!

I contacted the developer asking why they had submitted the same game so many times and their response was – “very sorry sir. I have no intension of doing this. I was told to do so. I know this serves no purpose.” It seems the developer knows this is pointless but was just obeying instructions! I’m following up to find out if it’s the same person behind this as told Pavan and Kusuma!

The Plot Thickens!

I feel like I’ve uncovered a conspiracy and I have no idea what to do with the information!

I emailed both Kusuma Sruthi and Pavan Kumar asking them why they had felt the need to submit their game multiple times to the Windows 8 store. I wasn’t really expecting a response. Yet both replied, pretty quickly, saying that they were told to do it but would remove the duplicates if I told them to. Was my email written with such authority?

Both claim to have been contacted by POOJA PATIL and told “to upload our apps with DIFFERENT NAMES and with SAME SOURCE CODE”. Whilst Pavan Kumar claimed not to have contact details he did say that she was from Microsoft. Kusuma Sruthi was more forthcoming with both a microsoft.com email address and an Indian mobile number. A brief Googling confirms the existence of a Pooja Patil with this phone number working for Microsoft to organise the Windows 8 Guiness World Record attempt in Bangalore.

Why would someone from Microsoft have told these two developers to submit their game multiple times? Were they really so desperate for apps that they encouraged this cloning? Were they really expecting that no one would notice?

I feel on a mission now to find a third developer to confirm this suspicion! Have you noticed any clones in the store?

Kusuma Sruthi

It seems Pavan has a rival for the “Most Cloned Apps” award! Kusuma is already up to 22 and shows little sign of slowing. On the bright side, he has bothered to upload different screenshots, the games have different backgrounds, and some subtle gameplay differences (different images on Levels 2 & 3, sometimes). My Start screen is now covered in tiles which look like a child was let lose with MSPaint and Comic Sans!

I have actually already reviewed two of these apps! I noticed Brain Drain and Mind Game before, as the first example of this interesting cloning approach developers seem to be taking.

How do you choose between these?

MasterBrain
MasterBrain
Revive
Revive
Read-Write
Read-Write
Zin Spel
Zin Spel
Call Up
Call Up
Passa
Passa
RandomCache
RandomCache
Minni Stoova
Minni Stoova
Re-Call
Re-Call
Juego de Memoria
Juego de Memoria
Memorie Verificare
Memorie Verificare
Memoria Jatek
Memoria Jatek
MemoDial
MemoDial
REFULGO
REFULGO
UYGUN
UYGUN
RandomBox
RandomBox
FlashReen
FlashReen
MatchUp
MatchUp
Trace Back
Trace Back
Remind
Remind
BRAIN DRAIN
BRAIN DRAIN
Mind Game
Mind Game

If you sort by New Releases there’s a sea of apps with no store logos and most of them belong to this developer. This game isn’t all that much fun to start with. There’s a bug whereby if you start a game and then return home it still takes you to the questions screen when the timer runs out (even though you can’t see the timer anymore!) They don’t work in snapped mode, and obviously the reason I first checked them was because they had no store logo.

Once again we question how has the store team not noticed? Why are these people doing this? When is the madness going to end?!

Pavan Kumar – Who are you?

As of now, this developer has 13 copies of the same game in the store! We’re sort of hoping that he’s trying to make a point, about Microsoft letting in rubbish and not paying enough attention to clones, or something. I fear they’re actually just having fun spamming the store with the same rubbish over and over again!

How do you choose between these?

DIFFUSE THE BOMB
DIFFUSE THE BOMB
brain-champ
brain-champ
find-the-bomb
find-the-bomb
tic-tac
tic-tac
memory-check
memory-check
diffuse it
diffuse it
memory champ
memory champ
BLOW UP
BLOW UP
funny pairs
funny pairs
BRAIN CHAMP
BRAIN CHAMP
stop the bomb
stop the bomb
miss match
miss match
find the bomb
find the bomb

The answer is simple, you don’t. The game wasn’t worth the download to start with, and having now checked all 13 to make sure I wasn’t missing some subtle differences, I can assure you that it’s not worth your time!

How has no one on the store team noticed this? He hasn’t even bothered to use a screenshot from the actual game for each one. The title screen in the game is actually different colours and has the actual name of the app, whereas the screenshots are almost all identical!

Come on Microsoft, sort this out!