Shove Halfpenny


Since finding out that the world championships for this old pub game are often held locally (Cheltenham & Bath) it has been in the back of my mind to bring this game to Windows Phone 7.  My Dad remembers playing and I picked his brain for the rules, essentially the objective is to get 3 coins between the white lines “the beds” using as few coins as possible (5 old Half Pennies are used – I raided the coin collection* I had as a child and polished up some old Half Pennies (Ha’pennies) using some Worcestershire sauce (try it!) – these are the coins you see in the app.ShoveOptions

A little more research reveals that there are 3 main board types “Wood” (Mahogany), “Slate” and “Glass”*.  I decided to offer each of the board types as options in the game, each having slightly differing surfaces and consequential playing experiences (I have mimicked the different surface types using different physics settings within the app options page).

I am in the fortunate position of being able to visit these local pubs to glean more information on this historic game, which I hope to add to the app by way of ‘bonus information’ (!).

The classic board (above left), still available to purchase today (around 70.00).

* I may have to add some other coins from this collection to help give this app an international appeal!

** Apparently stone was also used, although I have not come across an example of this board.

What’s Missing?

At the time of writing the following is planned:

  • Turn by turn playing over XBOX live (still waiting to hear back from wpgames at Microsoft – who are those guys?
  • Additional Game Scoring (traditionally done along the sides of the board)
  • Coin choices (I am thinking ‘Dimes’ as an option?)
  • Social Network integration
  • Basic Help (Rules)
  • Historical Background Information  (I am hoping I can get hold of some old photos of the pubs in question so that there is a loose tie in to !

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe …

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time. Like tears in the rain… time to die.’


(Thought I might try and work that in to blurb around ‘Nuke Your Office’).

Pretentious … Moi?

WP7 / Silverlight Social Networking Buttons

 A couple of people have asked about the social networking buttons that appear on most of my WP7 apps allowing you to share a link via Twitter / Facebook etc. 

image As is often the case I spent some time pursuing my own efforts before I stumbled upon a rather easy / nifty / flexible solution involving the API available at

Essentially this rest based API provides a consistent way to call each Social network, so it is simply a case of creating a HyperlinkButton for each of the providers you wish to support (Its not difficult to consolidate this into a single method that is called by all the buttons, provided you give each button a name that reflects the provider you wish to call). 

So each hyperlink button has a click event that calls a method something like:


Notice that the click event code fires before the navigation is fired – very handy!

You can see this in action when you send or share a Puzzlegram: or Nuke your own office :

3 Screens and a cloud

I suppose the above has been in the back of my mind, along with the target audience for Windows Mobile 7 (so called “Life Maximisers”) and I thought I would take a moment to review and reflect on how my own WP7 apps sit within this framework.

“Nuke Your Office” (



Although still under development I have had some feedback which suggests that at present it might be “a little too realistic’ – I think the issue is that rather than being a ‘stress buster’ after a hard day at the office( as intended), it is actually making people feel a little uncomfortable ( think ‘Nuclear Winter’ and ‘Guantanamo Bay’).  I have been pondering on this and am looking at branding it along the lines of the commando war comics that were around when I was a kid.  (I’m not looking to run into any copyright issues so this will just be more of an homage rather than an out and out rebranding).  I’m hoping that this will sit better with people.  (Also thinking of making the demo mode conventional weapons only)

Technically the app exists as a phone app,a back end Web Service (Storage of Bombing Raids / Pseudo video information) and as a Web App (Playback of Bombing Raids).  So it fits quite well with the ‘3 screens and a cloud’ paradigm (albeit only 2 screens and a cloud in this case). 

As for the target market I am reasonably happy that, at one time or another, we have all wanted to blow up our workplace (or perhaps target a specific part of our workplace where our boss happens to be located?) It also fits with the ‘Busy, personally and professionally’ aspect of this demographic who probably wouldn’t invest the time to play a time consuming game, but might be willing to spend 30 seconds in return for being rewarded with some satisfaction!

NB At the moment the desktop version contains the functionality to drop bombs – I will probably remove this once the Phone is released to encourage people to buy the phone version .  I’m also considering adding a timeline for playback as I have noticed that it can be a little frustrating waiting for the first bomb to drop  (please leave me a comment with your own thoughts).

“PuzzleGram” (



My second attempt at a WP7 app started life as a tutorial in Laurence Moroneys’ ‘Introducing Microsoft Silverlight’ book (which I can thoroughly recommend).  This too has phone (the basic app), Web Service (Storage of images for sharing) and Desktop (playback of puzzle) elements, and my thinking was to create an opportunity for people to send personalized puzzles to their friends and family, as easily as possible. (Having had more exposure to the Phone since developing this I am unsure as to whether I am at risk of duplicating some of the ‘sharing’ functionality that is to be a part of the platform itself – we shall see and I will modify accordingly)

Demographic wise this will probably appeal to older users (those that had exposure to this kind of puzzle as children, like myself?) though having said that, my own children (8 and 11) have had some enjoyment (though more as a ‘guess who this picture is’ than hardened puzzle solving!)   In any event I am hopeful that this will find its place on the marketplace.

“Spot the Difference” (



Back in February 2009 I entertained ideas of attending MIX 2010 (I knew that it was to be the launch platform for the WP7 SDK).  In the event I couldn’t make it but provided a virtual presence in the shape of this app! (I also got my Twitter question answered on air by Scott Guthrie in real time – which was almost like being there!)  By this time the news was already out that Silverlight was to be the dev platform for WP7, and so I created this app with a promise to take it through to a WP7 app and publish the results via Channel 9.   In the event the work required to convert the app to WP7 was minimal, which obviously bade well for things going forward.  I’m using an XML feed to allow multiple puzzles with different levels of difficulty, along with the ability to send puzzles to friends and family online.

While this probably isn’t going to appeal directly to ‘Life Maximisers’ I have had some feedback to say that people enjoyed it and would download it as an app for their own kids to play with.

“Shove Halfpenny” (N/A)


image Currently in development I have completed much of the logic and graphics but am currently waiting on the ability to ‘nudge’ the halfpennies from the side in order to put the coins in motion (this really needs a functional accelerometer, although I have been able to mimic this functionality to a certain extent in software as a proof of concept).

I also hope to take advantage of the XBOX Live functionality (player turn & notification) to allow two players to play over the cloud.