February, 2006

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    Call of Duty 2 XBOX Live


    [Update] Infinity Ward is close to releasing an update that will address many of the issues people are having with the XBOX Live gameplay. http://forums.xbox.com/2598446/ShowPost.aspx  Also, apparently, every XBOX 360, has 64 MB of memory on board that can be used for downloadable content or patches/updates.  It's a very limiting amount of memory but usable.

    Now that I've had my XBOX 360 for a little over a week, I find myself playing Call of Duty 2 the most.  I like sports games a lot, but I just haven't been enjoying the game play as much on the current 360 sports games as I have with the older XBOX games. 

    I fully expect that to change, the game developers need time with the new XBOX 360 hardware. If you remember, XBOX games continually got better over time as the game developers got accustomed to the hardware and built up libraries of code they could reuse allowing them to spend more time focused on other aspects of the game.

    The other night, a few of us from work planned an XBOX Live session to play Call of Duty 2.  We found we couldn't create a private game or host a party.  Very surprising.  I did a bit of searching, and there have been complaints with the lag and the lack of this support: http://digg.com/gaming/Complaints_grow_with_Call_of_Duty_2_online_for_XBox360

    I also found a funny thread on how you can gain some limited control over the session: http://forums.xbox.com/2040758/ShowPost.aspx.  Quite a few hoops to jump through and you still can't control who enters (or stays in) the lobby.

    I got to hoping that this deficiency might be addressed by some kind of downloadable patch, much like many of the games on the XBOX were fixed/improved in this manner.  I then remembered that not all XBOX 360s have hard drives.  For content updates, that's ok, the people that don't have hard drives won't get the latest content... but what about patches that fix glitches or close down cheats that people are exploiting?  You can't limit people who don't have hard drives from playing on Live, can you?


  • Cloudy in Seattle

    Sparkling Cider - Cider and Sparkle Designer Extensibility


    One of the questions that came up on our Cider newsgroup was whether Sparkle and Cider would support the same set of extensions and extensibility points. 

    To answer that question, it's good to clarify that in the Cider and Visual Studio world, there are two kinds of extensibility: Visual Studio extensibility (think VS addins) and the Cider Designer extensibility (think custom property editors, design time actions, custom adorners and licensing etc.).  This post is referring specifically to the Cider Designer extensibility.

    Our high level goal is to share a single extensibility model with Sparkle -- we don't want to make our customers develop more than one design time experience for their controls or have a negative experience when transferring controls from one designer to the other. 

    Having said that, there are a number of challenges in accomplishing that single extensibility model for our v1s, namely the differing release schedules, priorities and target customers.  Nonetheless, we believe that we will be able to put together the right user experience by supporting different subsets of the same extensibility model with reasonable fallbacks in both Cider and Sparkle.

    Which extension points do you most commonly use and what are your scenarios for writing a design time experience for your controls?

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    Developer Designer Workflow


    There have been some interesting articles about Cider in the news lately:

    One of the interesting things that a couple of these articles go into is something we've seen some of our customers ask about and that is the designer developer workflow.  There are a lot of questions centered around:

    • "How do I take my UI in Sparkle or drawing in Acrylic and use it in Cider?"
    • "Where is the best place to implement functionality X, in Sparkle or in Cider?"
    • "Can I switch back and forth between Sparkle and Cider when developing my UI without losing changes?"

    As it turns out, these kinds of designer/developer workflow questions are very similar to the kinds of questions we are discussing internally with the sparkle team.  We have a lot of functionality already and are in the midst of implementing new features and tweaking existing ones in both products.  As a part of this process we’re working to define the best practices for working with both tools and we will be sharing them with you as soon as we can.

    One thing that is certain is that we are going to avoid data loss when switching between designers.  That, as well having MSBuild always build the output of both designers, are central to the developer/designer workflow.

    Our main scenarios for developer/designer workflow involve (but are not limited to):

    • The designer creates a style library in Sparkle -> the developer consumes it
    • The designer creates a UI -> the developer writes the code behind
    • The developer creates a UI -> the designer reworks it

    What developer designer workflow scenarios are important to you?

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    WinFX February CTP


    The February CTP of WinFX, the Windows SDK, Orcas Development tools (includes Cider), and VS Extensions for Workflow have been published.

    Links are available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getthebeta/

    Let us know what you think!

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    Back on the Blog


    I was surprised to see how long I had gone between blog entries.  A month in fact!  By far, the longest break since I started blogging back in August 2005.

    My excuse is that I've been pretty busy ramping up and completing deliverables at work while also getting my townhouse in order and getting acquainted with the area. 

    Overall its been a great experience and I'm enjoying my new life out here.

    Some notable happenings:

    • Finally gave in and bought an XBOX 360 on E-Bay.  Lots of great changes, the whole experience has been well thought out and there are already some great games.  On top of that, the games will continue to get better as the developers figure out how to best use the new hardware.
    • Had some friends visit from San Diego -- visiting Seattle in winter from SoCal, now that's friendship.
    • American Idol.  'nuff said.
    • The sun has shown itself a lot the last coupla weeks
    • Went to my first Microsoft morale event -- pool at The Parlor.  Lots of fun.
    • Had my first office move, from building 41 to building 42

    Anyways, expect more blogging in the future, my next couple of posts are going to talk about some of the areas and scenarios we are looking at for Cider.

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