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    Template of the week: Platformer HTML5 Game

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    Windows 8 platformer starter kitWoot Studio , MC Funkypants and Plexi Pixel have just released a Platformer Game Starter Kit for Windows 8

    You can find more templates and starter kits here.

    Platformer games are always popular. Most of us remember the first time we made Mario hop over a mushroom or got Sonic to roll along bouncing off springs and into the air!

    Woot Studio, MC Funkypants have just released a platformer game starter kit to help game developers build a platformer game without having to start from scratch. Run, jump, launch into the air! The starter kit gives you three levels you can use as a base to explore the code you would use to create your own game. Change up the levels. Change up the artwork and have fun creating your own world to explore.

    If, like me, you lack artistic ability, you will appreciate the fact that PlexiPixel has created some royalty free art assets to go with it including characters, weapons, ships, effects, and accessories which you can download at the starter kit website!

    The starter game kit include two games: Rubba Rabbit

    Rubba Rabbit

     

    and Gwendolyn the Lionhearted

    The starter kit contains a Visual Studio example project of the two games that are built with the same engine. You can download the app and try it on Windows 8, it is a working game.

    Want to learn more?

    Have some fun creating your own world and take advantage of the fact someone else has done some of the heavy lifting for you! Don’t forget that Canadian developers who publish apps before mid June 2013 can get rewards through the Developer Movement!

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    Game developers unite in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver (or just online!)

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    Games are some of the most popular downloaded apps on mobile platforms and they are just plain fun to build! Get a jump start on building a cool game in person, or with some great online resources.

    Finally, we can get serious about games! Join us at the Windows 8 Gaming Development Clinics, we’re visiting three cities: Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver. We’ll cover core Windows 8 features, development best practices, and cross-platform guidance for deploying your games.

    If you can’t be there in person, check out some of the great resources out there to help you get going with game development and have a little fun!

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    How does a student get a DreamSpark account for free software and store accounts?

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    DreamSparkDreamSpark gives students access to free software, free Azure cloud services, and free store accounts for publishing apps, but how do you get it?

    DreamSpark (https://www.dreamspark.com/) is a program that provides students with free Microsoft software, the ability to try Azure cloud services without entering a credit card, and a store account. Chances are your school is already signed up for DreamSpark and all you need to do is create your own account to start reaping the benefits. But even if your school isn't signed up, if you are a student you can still get it. Here's how!

    To create your DreamSpark account go here and select Create Account

    You will be prompted to sign in with a Microsoft account (hotmail.com, live.com, outlook.com) if you don't have a Microsoft account you can create one here. You can use an existing email address (even gmail) for your Microsoft account.

    You will now see a screen where you specify your name, date of birth, preferred email, most of this is pre-populated based on the settings in your Microsoft account. Consider selecting the checkbox so Microsoft can let you know about programs and offers in your area. After you have completed all the required fields select continue to verify.

    Now, DreamSpark wants to verify that you are in fact a student. There are three ways to do this

    1. Get verified through my school email – If your school has a DreamSpark subscription, you can just provide your school email address to get verified

     

    2. Get verified through my school account– If your school has a DreamSpark subscription, but validates DreamSpark through school accounts rather than email addresses you can select this option. Most schools in Canada do not use this authentication method, so if you don't see your school listed it doesn't necessarily mean your school does not offer DreamSpark to its students! It just means they have chosen another method for authentication, you may want to try the email address option instead. If you choose the school account you have to search for your school in the list.

     

     

    3. I have an International Student Identity Card – This is not your university or college student ID card. this is the international student card (you can apply for one here) if you pick this option you can type in your ISIC serial number or the ISIC/CIP number or your ISIC/NUS card number to prove you are a student.

    4. I have a verification code – this option requires you to enter a verification code. But where do you get a verification code? You need to reach out to a Microsoft representative or possibly a school administrator. Attending a Microsoft hackathon or workshop is a great place to meet someone and find out how you can get a verification code. Entering a code will give you access to DreamSpark resources for one year.

    5. I can supply documentation – if none of the above options works, choose this option. You can provide a scanned copy of your school ID card, a current report card, or acceptance letter to a university or college as proof that you are a student to get validated.

    Once you have created and verified your account, you can now download software, get a code that allows you to publish apps to the Windows store for free and get free cloud services on Azure including website hosting!

    What are you waiting for get your DreamSpark account today!

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    Turn your WordPress site into a Windows 8 app without any coding. Really?

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    IdeaPress claims you can create a Windows 8 app from your WordPress.com or WordPress.org site without any coding! They are right!

    As Windows 8 matures, more tools and templates are appearing to help developers and non-developers create Windows 8 apps. Today I decided to test one of those tools: IdeaPress. I’ll be testing it by creating an app from my personal WordPress.com site. If I get a chance I’ll try to do another blog with a self hosted WordPress.org site to see how that works.

    The tool: IdeaPress

    • The promise: “Transform your WordPress site into a Windows 8 App in minutes.”
    • The reality: gotta say, pretty impressed, it’s not 5 minutes, but I was submitting to the store within two hours from when I started.

    Note: For a limited time in Canada one of Microsoft’s partners, IdeaNotion, is offering 200 people a $50 Visa Gift card as a reimbursement for your Windows Store Developer Account when you publish an app using the IdeaPress tool. Email mwnwcan@microsoft.com with your blog URL to secure your Visa gift card.

    What you will need to use this tool

    • A WordPress.com site and your WordPress login information
    • A collection of images to personalize your app
    • A name and description for your app
    • A page on your WordPress blog where you can post a privacy policy (sample text for a privacy policy is provided by the tool)
    • A Windows 8 developer account (so you can publish the app)
    • A WordPress.com Account whose username and password you are willing to share with the Store Certification testing team (you can give them your account information if you want, or create a test account on WordPress if you prefer)

    How does it work?

    1. Go to Ideapress and select Login to create an account. I used my Live account, but you can use other accounts such as Facebook as well. After you create the account you will receive an email with a link to activate your account and reset your password.IdeaPress Login
    2. After you have logged in, select Start New AppStart New App
    3. Next you will go through a series of pages to enter the details for your app. The first page is Settings where you enter the URL of your WordPress site.Enter URL
    4. WordPress.com won’t allow the app to post comments to your site without permission. So when you enter a URL for a WordPress.com site IdeaPress gives you instructions to log in to the Developer WordPress site with your WordPress account and follow the instructions provided to generate a Client ID and Client Secret which you use to complete the fields on the Settings Page. The instructions are pretty clear, I didn’t have any trouble following the steps. NOTE: Make a note of the app name you enter in WordPress you will need it again shortly.Create WordPress App
    5. Once you have specified the Client ID and Client Secret from your WordPress account you can go to the General Info tab and enter an App Name and App description. The app name should be the same app name you entered when you just entered in WordPress. The description should describe the content of your blog so that someone who is browsing your app in the Windows Store understands the type of content you provide and can decide if they want to download it.App name and description
    6. Now continue to the Content Configuration Tab. On this tab choose which pages from your WordPress blog you want included in the app. Note: My WordPress site is made up of a blog page where you can view my posts and a variety of HTML pages. IdeaPress was unable to incorporate a couple of my HTML pages into the app. When I tried to select those pages I either received an error message at the bottom of the screen, or the application would spin for a while and then return with some of the pages deselected (the ones it could not include).Select Pages to include
    7. After you select the pages without receiving any error messages, continue to the Theme Configuration tab. Now, you can have some fun playing around with the look and feel of your app. Note: You even get a live preview as you make changes so you can see how the finished app will appear to the user.

    You can choose

    • Layout of your content
    • Images to display: Background image, title image (if you prefer an image such as a logo instead of text for a title on the main page), a default image to display for content read from your blog that is not already associated with an image.
    • Colors for headers, titles, background
    • Logos for your tiles
    • Images and color to display on the Splash screen that appears to the user when your app launches

    Note: IdeaPress tells you what image sizes are required for each logo or page. I used Paint to resize my images, you can also use free tools such as Paint.NET to resize images.

    Note: Even though I uploaded the images for my tile and splash screen I got an error saying I hadn’t uploaded any images. As soon as I uploaded a Default Article Image (under Layout and Theme) the error message went away, so I think Default Article image is mandatory and you just get a misleading error message when you don’t provide all the mandatory images.Theme Configuration

    8. When you have a look and feel that you like, go to the App Generation tab.

    On the App Generation tab you get to choose whether to Generate a Visual Studio Solution or an App Package.

    • Generate Visual Studio Solution – if you choose this option, you will get a package which contains a .jsproj file you can open in Visual Studio (install Visual Studio Express on your PC by downloading and installing the Windows 8 SDK). The advantage to this option is you can see the code, make changes to the code if you want to, get screenshots from the simulator, and build the app package to submit to the store yourself.
    • Generate App Package  - if you select this option, you will have to provide your Windows Store account information. IdeaPress will used this information to create and send you an app package. The advantage to getting the app package from IdeaPress is you can submit that package to the store directly without Visual Studio. NOTE: You will need a snap shot of your app when you publish it to the store, so you might want to go to the theme configuration tab and take a screen shot.

    Regardless which option you choose you will require a Privacy link.

    Your app will connect to the internet to access your blog content. The Windows Store requires any app that connects to the internet to have a privacy policy. The easies way to handle this is to add an extra page to your WordPress blog, the IdeaPress team provides an example privacy policy so you can get an idea of what information to include on the privacy policy page. Enter the URL of your privacy policy page here, and make a note of it, because when you submit your app to the store you will again be asked for the URL of the privacy policy.

    Submit app

    Finally you can check the box that says you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions and choose Submit. IdeaPress will email you a link to your solution or package and you can start the process of submitting it to the store! No coding required!

    So there you have it, if you have a WordPress.com blog site you can build and publish a Windows 8 app without writing any code!

    NOTE: My first two attempts to publish to the store failed certification, thought I would share with you why I failed certification and how I fixed it. The first time it was rejected because they did not feel I had selected a suitable category. So i changed the category to Lifestyle since my personal blog covers a fairly broad range of topics. The second time I failed because to post a comment on a post you need to log in with a WordPress account. I did not mention that in my app description, and I failed to provide an account the store certification team could use to test that feature in the Notes to testers section. Once I made those corrections my app passed certification and is now published to the store.

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    Double Points for Developer Movement until May 10th!

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    Developer MovementDeveloper Movement is offering Double points for every Windows 8 app you publish until May 10th and you could win a $500 gift card!

    The Developer Movement program which gives Canadian developers points for publishing cool apps to the store has a new challenge!

    Until May 10th, for every Windows 8 app you publish

    • You get double the points.
    • You’ll automatically be entered into a draw for a chance to Win 1 of 5 $500 gift cards.

    Let’s do some quick math:

    • You get 5000 points for publishing a qualifying Windows 8 app, with the double points you would get 10000 points.
    • You get a 5000 point bonus for your first app
    • You get 1000 points for registering in Developer Movement

    So that works out to 16000 points when you publish your first app, so with one app you could get a

    • Xbox 360 Kinect
    • Seagate 2TB Hard Drive
    • Sony 3D Blu-Ray Disc player
    • 10 Rubik’s Cube Mugs and 3 T-shirts

    Publish a 2nd app and you would get another 10000 points. With 26000 points you can get

    • Samsung 21.5” LED monitor
    • 6 Star Wars LightSaber Umbrellas and 2 Shaker Blender bottles

    If you were on the fence about whether to build that app idea that’s been buzzing around your head, or finishing up and publishing that app sitting unfinished on your laptop, this is a pretty nice motivation to get coding.

    Don’t forget students can publish for free, and there is a great Windows 8 Getting Started Guide at DreamSpark.com

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