June, 2010

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    Windows Phone 7 Resources

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    I’m working with a group at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View around learning the Windows Phone 7. As part of the preparation for the group, I searched the web and contacted my team to see what we could use. This is what I’ve come up with so far:

    Windows Phone for Developers
    The primary developer portal for Windows Phone 7
    Programming Windows Phone 7 Series
    The Programming Windows Phone 7 Series book from Charles Petzold is currently available in preview form in three parts. The first part goes over the hardware specifications of the phone and a Hello World application for the Phone. The second part covers Silverlight, and the third covers XNA.
    Learning Windows Phone Programming
    The Learning Windows Phone Programming book by Yochay Kiriaty & Jaime Rodriguez has two chapters available from their book. Chapter 2 introduces Silverlight in the context of the Windows Phone. Chapter 6 also covers Silverlight, but focuses specifically on the additional features available on the phone that aren't in Silverlight 3 specifically. It is split into five parts: User Interface, Security, Networking, Media, and any other run-time differences.
    Application Certification Requirements
    If you are considering developing a game or application for the Windows Phone marketplace, you'll want to read this document. It goes through the technical requirements and policies that must be adhered to in order to be included on the marketplace. One of the complaints I often hear about mobile development is that with a closed marketplace without transparent guidelines like this document, you are basically betting that your application will be accepted, and if you aren't, you are out the development time and resources. It's best to confirm that you meet the guidelines before you begin development.
    Application Platform Overview for Windows Phone
    The Application Platform Overview is a great starting point for getting to understand the Windows Phone. It also contains links to other articles on the MSDN documentation to gain more information on the specifics of the platform.
    Windows Phone UI Design and Interaction Guide
    The Windows Phone has a specifically designed and engineered User Interface, and the recommendation is to model your applications to match, making for a more unified experience requiring less context switching by the user. This document goes over the design and the recommendations for your application.
    Designing Web Sites for Phone Browsers
    What makes a good web site for a desktop browser does not necessarily make a good mobile web site. Whether you plan to simply apply style sheets for mobile browsers, or create a unique mobile site, this document will help to understand the best practices for the mobile web.
    Documentation for Windows Phone 7 at MSDN
    As you develop your game or application for the Windows Phone, you will likely need to look up implementation details for Windows Phone specific features like how the accelerometer was implemented. The documentation on MSDN is a great reference, and you will likely find yourself visiting this site often.

    If you run into other useful resources, please let me know, and I'll add them to the list.

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    Microsoft Kinect Presentation at FDG 2010

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    stickerKinectConsole

    I just got out of a presentation on the Kinect (formerly Project Natal) at the Foundations of Digital Games 2010 conference in Monterey, California. This is the second time I’ve seen the Kinect in action, and it’s come a long way. The demonstration started with an overview of the platform, including the traditional camera, depth sensor and microphone array. They showed a visualization software showing what the camera saw and how it mapped that into a game ready skeleton, and then onto the in-game avatar.

    They showed three of the launch titles: Kinect Adventures, Kinect Joyride, and Kinectimals.

    In Kinect Adventures, they showed three minigames: a rafting game, an obstacle course, and a modified and improved version of the Ricochet game showed off in a few venues. The main concept they were showing off was that the games had intuitive controls. They showed some videos they had where they filmed themselves making actions that they thought should be used to control the game, and determined how fun the game would be. They also spoke on the idea of the drop in/drop out mechanic, and how it they encourage multiple players without the need to return to a menu or interrupt their game.

    Kinect Joyride showcased natural gestures. The presenter brought up the idea of everyone understanding the movements related to driving a car. They then went on to talk about how during the development of the game, they found that there were certain gestures that naturally emerged, like leaning into a turn, and how they implemented these in game as gestures that controlled drifting or stunts to give the player extra points.

    boxanimalsThe last game that they showed was by far the cutest. It’s also the game that I think would get the most play at my house, as I’m sure that my daughter would end up spending a good amount of time playing with her virtual pet cat. They showed an RPG element in teaching your pet tricks like jumping, standing on their hind legs, and playing dead. This skill then translated into an obstacle course, where your actions were translated into the actions of the Kinectimal.

    One common thread between all of the games was that the interaction to the game was both natural, and very active. I’ve played a lot with the Wii, and even games like Wii Fit didn’t get me moving at much as the Kinect demo showcased. I’m really looking forward to the launch in November.

    One downside, though, was that someone asked a question about the availability of using the Kinect through XNA. The answer given was that the current access to the Kinect for developers is through the full development kit. I’m hoping that we’ll see XNA developer access once the Kinect launches, as that will give me an even stronger reason to pick one up.

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