Have You Seen This?: HoloChess Is a Great Example of How to Make a HoloLens App Without the Hardware

I am often asked about getting started with HoloLens development and most of the time my answer, in short, is: Install Unity, install Visual Studio, install the HoloLens emulator, and make something.

I suspect most of the time this advice is ignored, since the idea of developing for a device you do not have access to can be frustrating. It's totally possible to make something awesome this way, though. And according to the HoloChess feedback description—Pinya Games did just that: "I don't have a HoloLens, so any suggestions or even screenshots of the game would be awesome."

HoloChess

Looking through the Window Store for HoloLens I came across an app called HoloChess for $1.99. A holographic version of a universal game such as chess seems like a great place for a young gaming company to start.

I figured I would give it a go. Here is a short play-through.

It is a solid take on a classic. I imagine it could be fun to play with a friend or against AI opponents. Though the developer has not implemented holographic sharing yet, you can still play multiplayer by taking turns using the HoloLens.

Pinya Games seem to be aware that the lack of multiplayer options is a problem, though. The description points out: "Currently there is no Online or AI to play against. Wait for future updates!"

One quick nitpick from a user-experience (UX) perspective. After selecting a piece to move, if that piece is going to take an enemy, I find it a bit counter-intuitive to have to choose the tile it is on, as opposed to selecting the enemy itself.

Pros:
Good quality visual assets
Mostly good user experience, see my one nit-pick
A classic game

Cons:
No means of playing by yourself.
Being able to move the board would be a big help.
While the model quality is good, the chess piece design choices mean it's sometimes hard to tell what they are.
Save and Load game buttons would go a long way to making the game a better experience.

Overall... A Good First Effort

So while it is not a mind-blowing release it is a good try for a first beta. Chess is a standard in gaming and should be in the marketplace. Should you spend $1.99 on it? Well, that depends completely on whether or not you have someone you can take turns with. Otherwise, follow the companies advice and "Wait for future updates!"

Given the pros and cons and beta nature of the release, remember, it was created without access to a HoloLens. Given their limitations, this becomes an impressive effort—and should make the few developers I know who are waiting on hardware to start developing at least a little ashamed.

Have you been developing for the HoloLens without access to one? What horror stories do you have? I would love to hear those stories below in the comments.

Cover image via HoloChess.

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