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Paul LabergeDeveloper Evangelist
Frédéric HarperDeveloper Evangelist
Today, at Yonge Dundas Square in the heart of Toronto, the three finalists for the Great Canadian Appathon, a 48-hour programming marathon to create games for Windows Phone 7, showed their creations to the judges. Their apps were:
The Great Canadian Appathon was a contest open to Canadian post-secondary students where they were challenged to write a great mobile game for Windows Phone 7 (the official mobile platform of the Appathon) in a 48-hour marathon session on the weekend of March 9th. The event was put together by the Toronto-based mobile game development shop XMG Studio with the help of the National Post, KPMG, Telus and Microsoft. As the Windows Phone guy on Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, I was only to happy to catch the final round.
In the end, here’s how it broke down:
Plasmium takes its inspiration from the visual style of the Xbox 360 game Geometry Wars, sticking to “simple shapes but glowy particle effects and bright colours”. It was part stylistic decision, but also part pragmatic: they didn’t have an artist on the team.
“We’re all programmers of course,” said team member Michael Hoffman, “so we decided right from the beginning to overcome our lack of artistry [by using] procedurally generated graphics. And it looks very nice even though you can make those sort of graphics with just programmers drawing triangles.”
Plasmium’s team is from McGill and consisted of Michael Darwish, Michael Hoffman and Marek Zaluski.
Valley Raid is based on the classic Atari 2600 game River Raid, Activision’s scrolling shooter from 1982. Like River Raid, Valley Raid has the player piloting a fighter plane through a valley, destroying enemies and obstacles and picking up power-ups along the way. Unlike its ‘80s predecessor, Valley Raid is a 3-D game; in fact, it was one of only 3 out of more than 50 submitted to the Appathon that were 3-D.
“Because the game we chose was a 3D game and a 3D game is really tough to do, so the time was so short on us that we just had to code as fast as we could,” said team member Mahdi Tayarani Najaran.
Valley Raid’s team is from UBC and made up of Eason Hu, Mahdi Tayarani Najaran and Ben Sheftel.
Super Punch is a physics-based game in which you control a superhero who continually punches a supervillain through the air for maximum distance. Success lets you score points which you can use to buy upgrades to eventually be powerful enough to send the supervillain into space.
“We love the condensed time line because we come up with everything off the cuff and its all from scratch, you just have to come up with something really quick,” said team member Pieter Parker. “A lot of ideas died that first day, but one made it out and that was Super Punch.”
Super Punch’s team comes from two schools in Edmonton: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and University of Alberta. It consisted of Stephen Baden, Jeremy Burns, Pieter Parker and Tyler Ste Marie.
Here’s a video of Super Punch in action:
Congratulation to the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated!
This article also appears in Global Nerdy.
First, allow me to offer a graphic representation of today’s keynote at the MIX conference:
It was that nice. Great announcements, great demos, great flow and wonderful surprises – everything a technology keynote should be. If you missed the live stream, check back at the MIX conference site in 24 hours and watch the recording. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ve got to run and go catch today’s Windows Phone dev sessions, so this blog entry will have to be a quick one, covering some of the announcements and things shown at today’s MIX11 keynote, and it covers only the Windows Phone stuff. I’ll post more later, but in the meantime, here’s a quick taste!
One of the most annoying things about the current state of Windows Phone 7 development is that there are certain things that are just not doable in the emulator because computers lack the necessary sensors. (I like to joke that modern urinals are more aware of your presence than modern desktop and laptop computers.) If you want to test apps that make use of the accelerometer or GPS, you either have to deploy to a device or use cumbersome workarounds. Not with the next version of the dev tools!
Want to test your tilt-driven app in the emulator? No problem using the upcoming dev tools. There’s a window pane that will let you rotate a 3-D “virtual phone” (pictured above), and those simulated pitches, rolls and yaws get sent to the emulator, making it as if you were tilting a real phone. Better still, there’s a tilt recording facility so you can create a library of tilt motions to use in repeated testing as you build your app. A very nice touch.
There is a location emulator facility for Windows Phone, but it’s a little on the cumbersome side. You won’t need it once the next version of the dev tools comes out, thanks to the built-in location emulator (pictured above), which lets you specify a location with lat and long or more simply, by clicking on a Bing Map. As with the tilt emulator, it sends the location data to the phone emulator, and it’s as if you relocated the phone to a specific place.
The folks on the Windows Phone team have been hard at work adding all sorts of functionality to Windows Phone, and you’ll see it in the next version of the dev tools. The slide shown in the photo above shows some of the goodies that are coming your way soon, and they include:
With mobile devices, we’re working with a less than what we’d get with desktops: less processor power, less RAM, less resources – and less patient users, since these devices tend to get used while on the go. As a result, efficiency is the watchword for mobile apps: anything you can do to get the most out of the limits of the phone is a big help. Hence the jumping for joy when it was announced that the next version of the dev tools will contain a profiler.
Visual Studio is an amazing good dev toolkit, and the Profiler is a great match. Scott Guthrie ran through a quick demo of finding performance bottlenecks using the profiler, and I think that it’s going to help developer create better, snappier, less patience-taxing apps.
Coming to Windows Phone on May 25th – ‘nuff said!
We were also treated to a quick demo of IE9 for Windows Phone, which comes out later this year with the “Mango” update. It’s the first mobile version of IE that shares a common codebase with the desktop version, and hence it inherits those things that make IE9 for the desktop the “well, it’s about time!” browser. Like IE9 for the desktop, IE9 for the phone runs like snakes on energy drinks on ice, and we saw it run circles around Chrome for Android and even more so than Safari for iPhone. Attention other mobile browsers: it’s on!
I’ll leave it to Super Popped-Collar Guy to say it for me:
That’s right: your first chance to get your paws on the dev tools comes next month. Watch this blog for the announcement, and start working on your app ideas!
All enterprise and no games makes Jack (or Jill) a dull developer, and lucky for you, we’ve got a brand new game dev tutorial over at App Hub. It’s your chance to build a nifty little game called Shooter from start to finish and learn the XNA game development framework (which targets Windows, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone) and game programming techniques along the way!
You can download the Shooter project and take it apart to see how it works, and you can also follow along with the tutorial and videos, which are broken into three parts:
Download the Windows Phone Developer Tools, go visit the Game Development Tutorial, and start making some games!
We’ve had some great Internet Explorer 9 / Windows Phone 7 Boot Camps in many cities across Canada already, and here are two more!
The Ottawa Boot Camp takes place on Wednesday, May 11th. It runs all day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and takes place at the National Arts Centre (53 Elgin Street, at Confederation Square) in the Panorama Room. This event is free, but you should register to attend.
Edmonton’s Boot Camp happens on Tuesday, May 17th. It runs all day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and takes place at the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Ledcor Theatre (2 Sir Winston Churchill Square). This event is free, but you should register to attend.
These boot camps will be all about making the most of IE9 and WP7. Internet Explorer 9 has released and Windows Phone is due for a couple of updates this year, so there’s never been a better time to get up to speed on these two technologies. That’s why we’re holding boot camps in cities across Canada to help you get the most out of both. These free (that’s right, free, as in you-don’t-pay-nuthin’) events will feature the sessions below.
Enhancing Pinned Sites with Internet Explorer 9 IE9’s “pinned sites” feature makes web apps feel more like desktop apps by letting users add website to the taskbar and start menu and let developers add custom context menus to pinned site icons, provide visual notifications on the task bar with icon overlays and even add custom buttons on the default thumbnail preview. This session will show you how to best use this feature and also cover IE9’s developer tools.
Windows Phone 7 Silverlight Recipes You’ve read the introductory material and written “Hello World” on the Phone, and you’re now thinking of starting a bigger project. You’re now asking this question: “How do I do X on Windows Phone?”. This session is the answer. You’ll learn all the recipes for building blocks of applications, which you can use, modify and combine in your own Windows Phone 7 apps.
Windows Phone 7 XNA Kickstart Haven’t you always wanted to write a videogame, but could never get started? This is your chance. This session will show you the basics of XNA, the game development framework for Windows Phone (and the Xbox 360 and Windows too!). You’ll get your feet wet writing 2D videogames, learn some game coding techniques and get you need to start you on your journey as a game developer.
Billing itself as the biggest mobile development conference in Canada, MobileTeach will take place in Montreal from Monday, May 30th through Friday, June 3rd. It’s put on by our friends at DevTeach and part of the annual DevTeach conference (also taking place May 30th – June 3rd) and will cover Windows Phone 7 development along with development for the Esteemed Competition’s platforms.
Among MobileTeach’s sessions on Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight are:
There will also be a full-day post-conference Windows Phone 7 workshop on Friday, June 3rd run by our good friend Colin Melia, who’ll get you up to speed on Windows Phone development topics, including:
For all the details, see the MobileTeach site.
The MIX Conference – billed by Microsoft as its web conference (and now with phone!) and me as “Microsoft’s most right-brained major conference” – takes place in Las Vegas next week! It’s the conference where developers, designers, UX/UI pros and businesspeople get together to talk about “consumer”-focused applications and sites for the web and phone.
A little aside: I put “consumer” in quotes because I hate the term but don’t have a reasonable substitute for it. My problem with the term “consumer” is the same one that Jerry Michalski has: it makes us sound like “living gullets whose only purpose is to gulp down products and crap out cash.“ If you can think of a better word for “consumer”, please share it with me!
There will be a fair number of announcements made at MIX, so we’re doing a couple of things to make sure you get the news as soon as possible:
You can view the MIX11 schedule to see what’s going on during the conference, or you can check out the pared-down schedule I’ve posted below, featuring those sessions that focus on the web and the phone. You might notice that a lot of the scheduled phone sessions have no name and (TBA) beside them: I leave it to your imagination and deductive powers to figure out what they might be about!
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Hot from the Labs: HTML5 WebSockets
HTML5 for Silverlight Developers
Application Design for Windows Phone
Flickr API: Tap Into Billions of Photos for Windows Phone 7
XNA Game Studio for Fun, Profit, Danger, Excitement and Windows Phone 7 Games
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
50 Performance Tricks to Make Your HTML5 Web Sites Faster
Microformats and Semantic Markup
Node.js, Ruby, and Python in Windows Azure: A Look at What’s Possible
Deep Dive MVVM
Expert Lessons: Top Tips for Building a Successful Windows Phone Application
Who Would Pay For That Feature? Adding Analytics to Your Windows Phone 7 Applications
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Building Adaptive HTML5 Applications
Making Better Web Apps For Today's Browsers
Rx: A Library for Managing Asynchronous Data and Events in your Windows Phone 7 Application
Deep Dive Into HTML5 <canvas>
ECMAScript 5: The New Parts
Going Mobile with Your Site on Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Phone 7
Building Windows Phone 7 Applications with the Windows Azure Platform
Windows Phone Session (TBA)
2:00 p.m. – 2:25 p.m.
Hacking with the F12 Developer Tools
The View of the World Depends on the Glasses I Wear
2:35 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Building Data-centric N-tier Applications with jQuery
2:35 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.
5 Things You Need To Know To Start Using <video> and <audio> Today
Adding the Awesomesauce Flavor with Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites
The Devil Went Down to HTTP: Debugging with Fiddler
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Is that a Sherpa on Your Shoulder?
Designer and Developer: A Case for the Hybrid
The Future of HTML5
MMP Player Framework: Past, Present, Future
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Filling the HTML5 Gaps with Polyfills and Shims
Analyzing and Improving Windows Phone Application Performance
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
HTML5 for Skeptics
Modernizing Your Website: SVG Meets HTML5
Making Money with your Application on Windows Phone
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
CSS3 Takes on the World
Data in an HTML5 World
Creating Windows Phone Applications Using Expression Blend
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Designing Great Experiences for SharePoint 2010
All Thumbs: Redesigning an Existing UI to Suit Windows Phone 7
Get Real! Sketch, Prototype, and Capture Great Ideas with Expression Blend and SketchFlow
New Technologies for Immersive Content Creation
The Tale of Two Apps: Making a Splash in the Windows Phone Marketplace
I’m told that if Brandon Foy’s funky indie ad (as in it wasn’t commissioned by Microsoft; he just came up with the idea and made it himself) for Windows Phone 7 gets 200,000 views, it’ll get aired in a national spot. Let’s give this young digital artist’s career a jump-start, shall we?
Brandon also created this ad (also for Windows Phone 7):
The subtitle of the Wall Street Journal article Mobile App Talent Pool is Shallow tells the story: “Companies Scramble for Engineers Who Can Write Software for Smartphones”. If you’ve got the mobile dev know-how, you can write your own ticket anywhere.
Some of the key take-aways of the article:
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you know all about the importance of having a head start. The book is full of king-sized success stories, from Bill Gates to the Beatles to hockey players to big Manhattan lawyers, all of whom were passionate about something, honed their skills and then capitalized on that experience when the opportunities arose.
If you’re a .NET developer, Windows Phone is a “lining up of the planets” that represents an opportunity that you can capitalize on:
If you’ve been thinking about getting into Windows Phone development and you’re in the Vancouver or Toronto areas, you’re in luck – we’ve got free Windows Phone Hackfests in those cities tomorrow! These are events where you can learn about Windows Phone development, try your hand at it, and share ideas for apps. Here are the details:
If you’re in the Vancouver or Toronto areas and you’ve been meaning to write apps for Windows Phone 7, there’s a Hackfest near you this coming Saturday, April 16th!
Vancouver’s Hackfest takes place this Saturday, April 16th from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. at BCIT Burnaby Campus (3700 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby), Building SW3, Room 1710.
This event is free – click here to register!
Toronto’s Hackfest also takes place this Saturday, April 16th from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the ObjectSharp offices (11 King Street West, Toronto), suite 1400.
If you’re coming to the Hackfests, you’ll want to bring a computer (preferably a laptop, unless you’re into heavy lifting), and to make the best use of the time, you should install the Windows Phone developer tools beforehand.
You can download the tools from the App Hub (create.msdn.com). They’re free-as-in-beer and they’re awesome.
You’ll want to do it in this order:
AzureFest is making a surprise visit to Calgary this weekend! If you haven’t yet heard of AzureFest, check out this post where AzureFest is described in full.
Remember, AzureFest is a hands-on event. This means that you’ll be following along on your own laptop and actually deploying your solution during the event. In order to get the most out of the experience, make sure to bring your laptop, a power cable if you’re going to need to plug in your laptop, and a credit card. Don’t worry, nothing will be charged to your credit card during AzureFest. Your credit card is just required for activating your Windows Azure account.
If you want to see for yourself how easy it is to move your existing application to the cloud, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Register early as space is limited.
Calgary University of Calgary, Rm 121 ICT Building 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB Saturday, April 30, 2011 Click here to register
Have plans? No problem! A virtual AzureFest is coming your desktop in May – stay tuned.
The MIX keynote room, earlier this morning.
Don’t forget – you don’t have to be in Vegas to catch the MIX11 Day 1 keynote. All you have to do is point your browser at live.visitmix.com.