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    Could a game take you to Russia for Imagine Cup Finals?

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    The Imagine Cup game category has changed this year and will allow more game developers to participate!

    Imagine Cup 2013 RussiaIn the past the Imagine Cup game categories required students to design games that fit an Imagine Cup theme of helping others. This resulted in some wonderful games that educated and inspired us. However, the theme sometimes limited the scope of games that could enter the competition.

    This year the Imagine Cup Game competition is simple and exciting! Basically, if you build a cool game using Microsoft technology you can enter! I’ve met game developers across Canada building some original and creative games. I really can’t wait for the world to see the depth and breadth of talent we’ve got here in Canada!

    Games entered in the Imagine Cup must meet the following criteria (extracted from the rules)

    All games must be developed using at least one product in the Visual Studio family and must be built for one or more of the following platforms:

    • Windows
    • Windows Phone
    • Kinect SDK
    • Xbox Indie Games

    One of the secrets of a successful entry in any competition is to address the judging criteria. The game category is judged based on the following:

     

    Criteria Description Weighting
    Fun Is the game exciting? Is the concept clear? Is there good player feedback? Is the game appropriately challenging? Does the player want to keep coming back for more? 40%
    Execution Does it look good for its chosen art style? Are the sound effects and music well done? Does it play smoothly and reliably? Is the in-game UI clear and useful? Are there good usability features such as player help, tutorials, and game pause? 30%
    Innovation Does it notably improve upon an existing genre? Does it create a new genre or deliver a unique play experience? Does it deliver innovation in storytelling, art direction, or other aesthetic areas? 20%
    Business Viability Is there a clear audience for this game? Does the team clearly identify “back of the box” highlights for why someone should buy this game? What does the development and publishing roadmap look like after the competition? 10%

    You can find all the details about Imagine Cup here.

    Last year Canada sent a team to Sydney, Australia for the worldwide finals, this year the worldwide finals will be in St Petersburg Russia. Register today and maybe you’ll be there!

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    Tips and gotchas for Windows 8 apps: WayTwoGood

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    Windows 8 WayTwoGood AppThis series features interviews with student Windows 8 app developers who share the lessons they learned building Windows 8 applications.

    This week’s interview features Three Red Cubes a team of students from Ryerson University who built an application called WayTwoGood.

    Could you briefly describe your application/game?

    WayTwoGood is built to deliver aggregated daily deals from multiple websites. By using Windows 8 APIs the application makes it easy to find great deals across many major cities in North America.

    Did you use .NET and Silverlight, HTML and Java, or DirectX and C++

    We used .Net and Silverlight. Since the app is very presentation-oriented and data-intensive, we used our experience of building Windows Phone apps to create a polished and rich app.

    What was your banging your head against a wall moment?

    While applying the Windows 8 development methods, it took us a little while to understand how the different visual states worked and to create them. This is a major feature on Windows 8 and we wanted to make sure our app took advantage of the different view states.

    Did you ever solve that issue?

    By going through the default sample and understanding how the LayoutAwarePage class (provided in the sample) handled Snapped, Filled, Portrait and Landscape views, we were able to incorporate that into our app.

    If you had to build this same app again from scratch, what would you do differently?

    Having understood the different visual states, if we were designing it from scratch, we would be more forward thinking about the different elements and controls we created for the app. Making the process of creating a fully compatible Windows 8 app a breeze.

    Any nice surprises?

    - The huge amount of code we reused from the Windows Phone version of the app was very surprising and welcome.

    - The “async, await, Task” pattern of Windows 8 development was very easy to adopt and move away from event-driven approach. This made our app very efficient and provided a great, fluid user experience.

    Did you leverage the mobile platform?

    We built the app to be completely compatible with different screen resolutions, orientations and visual states. Because Windows 8 will be on many different devices of different form-factors we wanted to make sure our app provided a great, uniform experience.

    Did you leverage touch?

    The application provides full support for touch. The Windows 8 APIs make it really easy to provide user interactions through both keyboard-mouse and touch.

    Did you have a favourite Windows 8 feature?

    It’s really difficult to choose between the Windows 8 API contracts and “async, await, Task.” Without either of them our application would have been very different.

    What is one thing you think you did really well in this application?

    The application is really responsive thanks to the “async, await, Task” model of programming that’s taken centre stage in Windows 8 development.

    Are you publishing your application/game?

    Yes we’ve already published the app and is being featured on the Marketplace since last month. Download it from the Marketplace here:

    Did you fail certification? If so what caused you to fail, and how did you fix it?

    We failed certification the first time we submitted the app because of how we had structured navigation and data loading, which was causing the app to show slow performance on first run. We fixed it by creating an overlay which disappeared as content was being downloaded, once again, by virtue of “async, await, Task” calls.

    Where can I learn more about your app/game?

    Visit on our website at http://threeredcubes.com/ and check out all our projects. If you’re in Toronto, you can always visit our office and say hi.

    Who developed this application?

    We’re a team of Ryerson University students who have a start-up called Three Red Cubes and we’re working out of Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone.

    Three Red Cubes Team

    Don’t forget to create your account in the Windows 8 store, reserve your app name, and get your app out there. For information about how to create your account and resources on how to get coding check out our Windows 8 resources page

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    How does a Flash developer get going with HTML5?

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    EaselJS spritesheetEaselJS is a JavaScript library that provides an API that will be familiar to Flash developers to make it easier to work with canvas.

    HTML5 is supported in Internet Explorer 9 and higher, and other modern web browsers. You can build native apps for Windows 8 with HTML5. The great thing about this broad uptake of HTML5 is more and more resources to help game developers make the move to HTML5 and JavaScript.

    EaselJS is a JavaScript library that contains a number of classes for working with Canvas. These APIs will be familiar to Flash developers.

    Best of all you can download it, find documentation, and examples all right here

    Other developers are already exploring EaselJS and have created posts and videos to help you get started.

    The resources are there and waiting! Check it out! Then build a game, find out how to publish your game to Windows 8 and tell me when you do so I can try it out! You might even want to enter your game in Imagine Cup.

    Here are a few examples you can explore to see what the APIs will do for you so you can start drooling, I mean coding!

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    Don’t be Timer76! Start coding and publishing Windows 8 apps now!

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    Windows StoreYou can publish an app to the Windows Store today. Getting your app in now, gives it a better chance to get noticed!

    October 26th, 2012 Windows 8 becomes available to the public. People buying laptops, desktops, or some of the new hardware like Microsoft Surface will be running Windows 8. It won’t be long before they start searching the store for that perfect twitter application, a recipe organizer, or a puzzle game to help them pass the time at the doctor’s office or on the plane. If you’ve ever considered building an app for Windows 8, doing it sooner is better than doing it later. Your app has a better chance of getting downloaded if you get it into the store early when it is more likely to get noticed.

    Not sure how to get started? We have a Getting Started with Windows 8 with links to a number of great resources and we’ll keep adding more as we find them.

    We’ll be having hackathons across Canada as part of WOWZapp, a worldwide hackathon on the weekend of November 10th and 11th for those of you who want some company or help with your apps. Sites in Canada and registration for those sites will start appearing next week, so save the date!

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    Curious about co-op and new full time jobs at Microsoft?

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    The Microsoft Human Resources team has put together some webinars to help you understand some of the opportunities available!

    Some of the more common questions I get when I am on campus and talking to students are around job opportunities. Microsoft Canada does hire co-op students and new graduates, but, Microsoft Canada does not have a lot of technical positions. The Gaming studios in British Columbia hire interns and graduates, but aside from that most of the technical positions are based out of Redmond, Washington. The good news is that many of these positions are filled by Canadian students! To find the list of current job opportunities from Microsoft corporate visit the student section of the careers website. If you are looking for Microsoft Canada intern opportunities check the Canadian Microsoft student jobs site.

    Sometimes it’s hard to gauge what a job entails from a job posting, so the Microsoft HR team has put together a series of free webinars to help you find out more about the types of positions available. This a great chance to find out more about what it’s like to work at Microsoft.   Details on all the upcoming webinars can be found here. Times are probably PST.

    Friday, October 12, 2012 4:30-6:30 Software Testing in Your Career

    • Get the scoop from academic and industry icons on why testing is vital to any successful career in software, no matter your role or title.

    Thursday, November 01, 2012 6pm-7pm Demystifying the Microsoft Program Manager Role

    • It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a ...Microsoft PM!? Chat with current Microsoft PMs and decide if this role is right for you.

    Tuesday, November 06, 2012 12pm-1pm Demystifying the Microsoft Program Manager Role

    • It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a ...Microsoft PM!? Chat with current Microsoft PMs and decide if this role is right for you.

    Monday, December 03, 2012 11:30am-1pm The Insiders View on Windows 8

    • Hear from a Microsoft top dog on the coolness that is Windows 8.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012 4:30pm-6pm The Insiders View on Windows 8

    • Hear from a Microsoft top dog on the coolness that is Windows 8.

    Microsoft has been listed as a top employer in Canada and Worldwide, come find out why!

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