• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Azure Cloud Gaming Conference 19th Jan London 2015 FREE Register Now

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    char

    Join us for a full day conference on the Cloud

    There’s a new trend in gaming called cloud gaming. What’s cloud gaming all about? Think of the cloud. Now, thing of gaming.
    During the day we will discuss the true opportunity of Cloud Gaming : Simplicity for the world of multi-platform, multi-game, multi-player, multi-device development.


    The goal if cloud games is to provide gamers with the ultimate gaming experience and we will outline some of the best practice from across UK indies, Studios and research.

    The UK is a hotbed for great games innovation, and Microsoft is committed to helping start-ups and independent games developers accelerate their route to market.

    During the day we will share with you guidance on cloud services, developer tools, and support and prove that we are making it easier than ever for game developers to quickly grow their businesses. Building games with the cloud can help them quickly scale their reach across platforms, tap into the massive computing power of the cloud on demand, and immediately gain global reach without having to invest in building their own costly infrastructure.

    Microsoft will share details of the $1.2 M innovation fund which enables iOS, Android, Windows, Xbox game developers to benefit from cloud computing, so would you be interested in getting 3 month Microsoft Azure Cloud for up to 20 cores free for up to $100 usage per month. Independent game developers across the UK can apply to receive substantial benefits from the fund including free cloud services from Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio development tools, other software, plus access to Microsoft's Technology Advisory team to support indie game studio development.

    Register for this FREE event here https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032609327&Culture=en-GB&community=0

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Get $300 of Azure for 3 Months for FREE to build your cloud backend

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    cloudgaming

    The UK is a hotbed for great games innovation, and Microsoft is committed to helping start-ups and independent games developers accelerate their route to market.  By offering free cloud services, developer tools, and support from our team, we are making it easier than ever for game developers to quickly grow their businesses.  Building games with the cloud can help them quickly scale their reach across platforms, tap into the massive computing power of the cloud on demand, and immediately gain global reach without having to invest in building their own costly infrastructure.

    So would you..

    Be interested in getting 3 month Microsoft Azure Cloud for up to 20 cores free for up to $100 usage per month.

    Free game data storage and $1.2 M innovation fund enables iOS, Android, Windows, Xbox game developers to benefit from cloud computing

    Independent game developers across the UK can apply to receive substantial benefits from the fund including free cloud services from Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio development tools, other software, plus access to Microsoft's Technology Advisory team to support indie game studio development.

    If Yes?

    Register here http://aka.ms/gamedevoffer

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Take the Cloud Hero Challenge & win a Surface pro 3

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    Take the Cloud Hero Challenge today!

    Want to save time and money by offloading developer and IT administration tasks to the cloud? Take part in the Cloud Hero Challenge, submit your entry by Friday 19 December 2014 and win an exclusive t-shirt. Just complete ONE of the challenges listed below and submit your Azure Subscription ID & web URL in the entry form by Friday 19 December 2014, then you will get a free t-shirt sent to you.

    1. Set up a virtual machine in less than 10 min

    2. Provision a develop & test workstation with Visual Studio in less than 10 min

    3. Provision a highly available, scalable website in less than 1 hour

    Your free t-shirt will be sent to you when you’ve submitted your entry and it is as simple as that.

    If you are keen and fancy a chance Surface Pro 3, a weekend holiday getaway or an XBOX ONE console, then take a step further and share your experience in participating in the challenge. Share in no more than 500 words your experience and you will get the chance to win either a Surface Pro 3, a weekend holiday getaway or an XBOX ONE console.

    Tell us about your experience by 24th December for a chance to win* a great prize and to be featured as “Cloud Hero” of the month.

    Ready to go? Click here to get started & good luck!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cross Promotion of your own content from within embedded Ads

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    Today Microsoft Advertising released ‘house ads,’ 

    Well what are house ads?

    Basically House ads are a new capability that enables developers that have two or more Windows or Windows Phone apps in the Store, to promote one of the apps in the other apps, using the Microsoft Ad SDK.

    So simply put its an awesome portfolio cross promotion tool, allowing you to promote your content apps/games from one apps to another..

    For example, let’s say you have a 2 games..

    game1, and game2. Both games use the Microsoft Ad SDK, and there are times when the Ad SDK cannot deliver an add or you may want to simply say for every 100 paid ads add 1 of my ads.

    So  you can be promoting your game1 within game2, and the game2 within game1, without any changes to your code.

    So what do you need to do to implement this..

    You must have at least two apps in the Store using the Microsoft Ad SDK, running either standalone or as part of Windows ad mediation.

    How do you create a House Ad?

    To create a house ad, go to the Microsoft pubCenter, create an ad campaign, select ‘House’ in campaign type, and enter the app that you want to promote. You can start and stop the campaign any time you want. House ad campaigns have no time boundaries and are provided at no cost to you.

    When choosing to use house ads, you will need to balance promotion vs revenue. Windows ad mediation helps deliver the highest fill rate possible, with revenue generating ad networks. Using house ads reduces the inventory of ads available to your app to monetize, shifting your advertising focus to app promotion.

    Ads

    Read more about house ads in the Microsoft Advertising blog.

    Our recommendations are give house ads a try if you have multiple apps in the Store, in addition to using Windows ad mediation to help increase your Windows Phone ad revenue.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Xbox Controller support to a Windows 8 HTML5/JS Game & a HTML5/JS Web Browser game

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    controller

    This game has been built using the Microsoft Platform Starter Kit Game  RubbaRabbit platformer 

    We are actually going to consider two variants:

    A game for Windows 8. x and Web Browser game.

    GamePad support in Windows 8 using HTML and JavaScript

    To enable gamepad support to the game which has been developed in HTML5/JavaScript on Windows 8. x you will need to learn how to work with XInput control class. There are a number of great examples available these include the JavaScript controller and XInput sketch.

    These samples include some  C++ code this C++ code is simply required as its the library project-strapping above XInput to enable it to be able to work in your HTML5/JS game


    C  Javascript


    So firstly we need to add the game contraoller to the project. You need to add the C++ .cpp files and header .h files to your solution within the game and add a link to it within your project for Windows 8. x References:

    VisC

    If you wish, you can open up the C++ file with Visual Studio to see  what they actually do, simply they are an interface to access the controller: the constructor to obtain a reference to the controller and function getState to retrieve its current state with the projection on the Xbox controller buttons.


    Now you need to add support for the GamePad in the game itself. To do this, usually, you have to make quite a small change in processing input from the player.

    The game loop

    So the game loop is simply the code inside the game which loops on a regular cycle, The game loop forms every scene of the game. In our case we want to check whether the user pressed the button.

    In this example the  game loop is defined inside the function update:

       1: /**
       2:  * game simulation loop step - called every frame during play
       3:  */
       4: this.update = function () {
       5: ...
       6: }


    You need to include the function which is processing the buttons and sticks:

       1: if (touchleft || jaws.pressed("left") || jaws.pressed("a")) { 
       2:     player.vx = -move_speed; player.flipped = 1; 
       3: }
       4: else if (touchright || jaws.pressed("right") || jaws.pressed("d")) { 
       5:     player.vx = +move_speed; player.flipped = 0; 
       6: }
       7:  
       8: if (!player.attacking && (touchjump || jaws.pressed("up") || jaws.pressed("w") || jaws.pressed("space"))) { 
       9:     if (!player.jumping && player.can_jump) { 
      10:         sfxjump(); 
      11:         player.vy = jump_strength; 
      12:         player.jumping = true; 
      13:         player.can_jump = false; 
      14:     } 
      15: }
      16: else { 
      17:     player.can_jump = true; 
      18: }


    As you can see, the engine developers are already taken care of that the user can send a command not only with different buttons with the keyboard jaws.pressed("a")

       1: if (touchleft || jaws.pressed("left") || jaws.pressed("a")) 

    What nice is that  they have also added support for  virtual buttons on a touch device (variables touchleft, touchright , etc.).

       1: if (touchleft || jaws.pressed("left") || jaws.pressed("a")) 

    Your code must have some variables that meet different game actions and imput controls which support various input methods/devices.

    Adding Gamepad support

    To add gamepad support is really simple

    Firstly we need to initialize the controller and them simply check the status on a regular basis.

    To initialize the controller we create a Controller via the designer that is available to us from the connected earlier C++ libraries:

       1: //Add Xbox Contoller support    
       2: function initXboxpad() {
       3:     var controller = new GameController.Controller(0);
       4:  
       5:     if (controller != null) {
       6:         updateState();
       7:     }
       8:  
       9:     ...
      10: }
    Next, we need to periodically update the status of the controller, for this will describe updateState feature that will query the call on every frame of the animation:
       1: //Add Xbox Contoller support    
       2: function initXboxpad() {
       3:     var controller = new GameController.Controller(0);
       4:  
       5:     // render loop
       6:     if (controller != null) {
       7:         updateState();
       8:     }
       9:  
      10:     function updateState() {
      11:         var state = controller.getState();
      12:  
      13:         if (state.connected) {
      14:             var x = state.leftThumbX / 32767;
      15:  
      16:             touchleft = (x < -0.9);
      17:             touchright = (x > 0.9);
      18:  
      19:             touchjump = state.a;
      20:             touchattack = state.x;
      21:             touchpause = state.start;
      22:         }
      23:         window.requestAnimationFrame(updateState);
      24:     }     
      25: }
      26:  


    Note that in this case we've have added support for touch, keyboard and controller input so a variety of control methods could be used.

    GamePad support in browser

    GamePad support is currently being developed in W3C standard Gamepad API that will consistently work with different types of game controllers and browsers.

    The W3C standard assumes "General" model

    gamepad
    For example, here is the documentation of Mozilla. The only thing I want to mention here is that it is out of date on the assumption Internet Explorer 11 Gamepad API are supported.

    The game loop and game code

    To demonstrate, I am continuing to use the same example of the Starter Kit, only this time, create an empty Web project and copy the original source files.

    html5

    Because the game is simply HTML5/JS , the game simply runs in your browser. Everything else remains unchanged, and we use the same assumptions about the game loop, which we did for a project under Windows 8.

    Gamepad support

    What's great about HTML5/JS is that you can use code from the Babylon.js library which support gamepad input

    babylon.gamepads.ts (GitHub). You can simply copy the library itself or make it a fork.

    The library makes a few important things:

    • The Gamepad API to simulate an event-driven model (if you need);
    • makes it easy to access the individual elements of the controller (such as a joystick axis brings together into one object);
    • distinguish between an Xbox controller


    Please note that the library is written in TypeScript.

    You can simply add the library inside the project, Visual Studio includes support for the TypeScript and automatically generates the .js files when saving.

    Do not forget to connect the library to the page with the game:

       1: <script src="js/babylon.gamepads.js"></script>

    The wiring diagram of the controller is very similar to what we did in the case of Windows 8 x:
       1: //Add Xbox Contoller support 
       2:    function initGamePad() {
       3:        var xboxpad;
       4:        function updateState() {
       5:            if (xboxpad != null && xboxpad.browserGamepad.connected) {
       6:                xboxpad.update();
       7:                touchleft = (xboxpad.leftStick.x < -0.9);
       8:                touchright = (xboxpad.leftStick.x > 0.9);
       9:                touchjump = (xboxpad.buttonA == 1);
      10:                touchattack = (xboxpad.buttonX == 1);
      11:                touchpause = (xboxpad.buttonStart == 1);
      12:            }
      13:            window.requestAnimationFrame(updateState);
      14:        }
      15:        var gamepadConnected = function (gamepad) {
      16:            if (gamepad instanceof BABYLON.Xbox360Pad) {
      17:                xboxpad = gamepad;
      18:                updateState();
      19:            }
      20:        };
      21:        var gamepads = new BABYLON.Gamepads(gamepadConnected);
      22:    }


    Inside features BABYLON.Gamepads is passed to an event handler connection controller from your computer. As you can see, adding support to the project controller is about 20 lines of code


    Version of the code with event-based programming model:

       1: //Add Xbox Contoller support 
       2:    function initGamePad() {
       3:        var xboxpad;
       4:        var gamepadConnected = function (gamepad) {
       5:            if (gamepad instanceof BABYLON.Xbox360Pad) {
       6:                xboxpad = gamepad;
       7:                xboxpad.onleftstickchanged(function (values) {
       8:                    var x = values.x;
       9:                    touchleft = (x < -0.9);
      10:                    touchright = (x > 0.9);
      11:                });
      12:                xboxpad.onbuttondown(function (button) {
      13:                    switch (button) {
      14:                        case BABYLON.Xbox360Button.A: 
      15:                            touchjump = true;
      16:                            break;
      17:                        case BABYLON.Xbox360Button.X: 
      18:                            touchattack = true;
      19:                            break;
      20:                        case BABYLON.Xbox360Button.Start: 
      21:                            touchpause = true;
      22:                            break;
      23:                    }
      24:                });
      25:  
      26:                xboxpad.onbuttonup(function (button) {
      27:                    switch (button) {
      28:                        case BABYLON.Xbox360Button.A: 
      29:                            touchjump = false;
      30:                            break;
      31:                        case BABYLON.Xbox360Button.X: 
      32:                            touchattack = false;
      33:                            break;
      34:                        case BABYLON.Xbox360Button.Start: 
      35:                            touchpause = false;
      36:                            break;
      37:                    }
      38:                });
      39:            }
      40:        };
      41:        var gamepads = new BABYLON.Gamepads(gamepadConnected);
      42:    }

    As a result, we can easily control the character in the game directly from the Xbox controller
    Useful links
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition Azure Virtual Machines

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    We recently announced a new version of Visual Studio.What was interesting in the announcement of Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition which would replace the existing Visual Studio Express and Professional and that it would be a free development tool.

    Vs2013

    Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition simply has all the feature which the Visual Studio Professional version had to offer. So if your new to Visual Studio or running Express because it was FREE. I would suggest you update and give Community edition a spin.

    Additionally if your a small indie or studio of developer it has some  pretty high-end featured version and if your company has less than 5 developers using the tool and with a turnover of less than $1 million its still FREE!

    Additionally a few weeks ago someone accused me of creating link bait with one of my post titles http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2014/11/19/are-you-a-mac-user-who-wants-to-use-visual-studio-and-build-net-applications.aspx well I was setting a nice precursor to the announcement of something really excellent for dev who currently use Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro to dev with or even Linux.

    So what happened?

    Well we ended up hosting Visual Images in the Azure Image Galler so now you can spin up an image in the Microsoft Azure VM portal which has Windows Server 2012 R2 and Visual Studio Community Edition 2013 so even if you don't have a Windows 8 desktop you can us your MacBook or even a iPad or Android Tablet to build and deploy apps across all platforms using Visual Studio.

    VScommunityVM

    Getting Started

    So its really easy to provision a Windows Server 2012 R2 with Visual Studio Community Edition already installed what neat is that the VM has all the Windows 8 and Azure SDK installed.

    Windows Server 2012 R2 is pretty close to Windows 8 So you get a very modern development environment so you can build apps for Windows phone, Windows 8, Android and iOS.

    So is it difficult to setup as I don't use Windows 8?

    To set this up it takes around 9 clicks and a short wait of between 5 and 8 minutes….

    You then simply make a remote desktop connection to the machine over the Internet or use a RDP client or even the new AzureRemoteApp feature.

    Additionally its really to connect via the “Connect button” in the  Azure portal.

    So why not give it a go?

    So setup a free Azure trial subscription – you can provision this system and use it for free for the 30-day duration of the subscription.

    So What are my plans for Azure VM and Community Edition 2013

    Every month a run a number of developer or game camps in the past for Mac users we have helped them provision a bootcamp of Windows 8 then Visual Studio which can sometimes take a few hours depending on what the spec of machine is HDD space capacity etc.. well not anymore!

    The prerequisite or first task can be for delegates to provisioned their own dev machine in the cloud.

    What's next?

    So Azure VM Gallery and Azure RemoteApp are the very start of one of the huge use-cases we’re seeing for Azure: Dev-and-Test in the cloud. From the conversations I had with people to date it’s really fired a few imaginations as they think of the range of possibilities for their own companies’ dev and test environments.

    So what are you waiting for?

    You can sign up for that right here for FREE to provision a dev workstation.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Azure RemoteApp - stay productive anywhere, and on a variety of devices – Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, or Android

    • 0 Comments

    image

    Azure RemoteApp  allows you to stay productive anywhere, and on a variety of devices – Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, or Android.

    RemoteApp simply lets you run the Windows applications you want or need on a Windows Server in Azure, where they're easier to scale and update.

    Users can access their applications remotely from their internet-connected laptop, tablet, or phone – while appearing to run on the users' local device, the applications are centralised on Azure's trusted, reliable platform.

    Azure RemoteApp

    • Run Windows applications anywhere
    • Scale quickly to meet changing business needs
    • Safeguard sensitive corporate applications
    • Supports cloud and hybrid deployments

    Azure RemoteApp will be GA on Thursday 11th Dec 2014.

    Azure RemoteApp will be available as Pay-As-You-Go subscription and via Azure Agreements see www.azure.com for more details.

    For more information, please read the blog post at: http://blogs.technet.com/b/enterprisemobility/archive/2014/12/04/microsoft-azure-remoteapp-general-availability.aspx

    So if your interested give it a try with a free 1 month subscription

    Azuretrial

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Developer Unlock your Windows Phone 7 devices before 1st Jan 2015

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    lumia700nokia-lumia-800

    This is a reminder that effective January 1, 2015, it will no longer be possible to unlock Windows Phone 7.x devices for app testing.

    So if you have a Windows Phone 7 device, we recommend that you developer unlock your Windows Phone 7.x devices prior to January 1, 2015 in order to continue testing your apps with those devices.

    Please note this unlock will be good for 24 months.

    On January 1, 2015, if you have not unlocked your Windows Phone 7.x device, deploying and testing of apps from Visual Studio on that device will no longer be possible.

    However, app testing can still be done on other unlocked phones, via the Windows Phone Emulator, or by submitting beta apps through the Windows Dev Center.

    Please note that this change will not impact apps available in the Windows Phone Store, nor will it impact customers with Windows Phone 7.x devices.

    Additionally, if you have apps that only have a Windows Phone 7.x package, now is a good time to update these apps to Windows Phone 8 or 8.1.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Marmalade Windows Developer Offer

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    marmalade-header

    Just Apply, Port & Publish! Spreading your game to the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store is super-easy with Marmalade and you could bag up to $1000 of incentives.

    To qualify, your game will need to:
    • Have received a 3 star rating or above and/ or your game has at least 5,000 installs (if premium/paid) or 50,000 installs (if free-to-play)

    If your game does not meet the above criteria, it can still qualify. Submit it for evaluation and your entry will be evaluated on the following criteria:

    • Whether your game has innovative content and is clearly differentiated from other games in the same genre
    • Developer track record in shipping quality games on mobile or other platforms
    • Overall quality of the user experience and presentation
    What’s in it for you?
    • $100 PayPal gift voucher
    • A priority review for Windows Phone Store promotion
    • A developer account token for the Windows Phone Store
    • A license to Windows 8.1 Pro (worth up to $200)
    • A Windows Phone device (at Microsoft’s discretion and subject to availability)
    • A Marmalade Indie license (worth $500)
    How to participate

    1 Register or login

    You need to be logged in to sign up for the offer

    2 Sign up for the offer

    Once you have signed up, someone from Marmalade will be in touch to let you know if you have been accepted onto the program.

    3 Get tooled up

    Once accepted you’ll receive:

    • a Windows Dev Centre token to set up a dev account
    • a license to Windows 8.1 Pro (worth up to $200)
    • a Windows Phone device (at Microsoft’s discretion and subject to availability)
    • a Marmalade Indie license (worth $500)

    4 Develop or Port

    Develop or port an innovative, functional app using Marmalade.

    • read the porting guides, which cover everything you need to know about configurations, SDKs, general considerations, and first steps
    • complete your Windows Phone app

    5 Publish your app to the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store *

    To publish to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store you will need a developer account. Email us at windows@marmalademail.com for a developer token code that you can use to create an account free of charge, if you have not already received one.

    *Game must be published between 1st Nov 2014 and 31st March 2015 to qualify.

    6 Reap your reward

    Once you have published your app to Windows Phone Store and Windows Store don’t forget to let us know to receive extra rewards.

    • $100 Paypal gift voucher
    • priority review for Windows Phone Store promotion

    Sign up for the offer

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Getting started with code? learn to code with Microsoft Virtual Academy

    • 2 Comments

    So you want to learn to code?

    Whether you’re just about to start exploring the world of coding, want to create the next hit game, or build an app that can change the world, you’ve come to the right starting place! Microsoft Virtual Academy

    Getting Started with Programming Courses

    Hour of Code with TouchDevelop

    Hour of Code™ with TouchDevelop

    Oh no! This video game is broken! We need your help to get it working! Join Microsoft in completing your Hour of Code™ by helping fix a game that controls a crazy robot trying to make it through a maze of wacky obstacles. The Hour of Code™ is an initiative by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org designed to introduce you to computer science and computer programming.

    Learn Now

    Introduction to Programming with Python

    Introduction to Programming with Python

    Are you brand new to coding? Want to see how fun and easy it can be? This course will provide you with an introduction to solving real-world problems using the popular programming language, Python. Get step-by-step instructions for translating an idea into code.

    Learn Now

    Software Development Fundamentals

    Software Development Fundamentals

    This introductory level course will help you understand the various aspects of software development. The course focuses on key fundamental concepts that all software developers need to know, and helps you prepare for the MTA Exam 98-361: Software Development Fundamentals.

    Learn Now

    Preparing for Exam MTA 98-375 HTML5 App Development Fundamentals

    Preparing for Exam MTA 98-375 HTML5 App Development Fundamentals

    This course will help you explore introductory concepts for Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript. Get expert insight as to how to prepare for the MTA Exam 98-375: HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals.

    Learn Now

    Getting access to more dedicated resources for Education with Microsoft IT Academy

    If these courses have sparked your interest and you want to learn more, there are loads of FREE courses at http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com

    If your a school, college or Uni then click here to find out if your a Microsoft IT Academy. If your school, college or Uni is already a member of the IT Academy program, you will have access to learning materials that can help take you farther on your learning journey and get Microsoft professional certifications as part of your full time or part time studies.

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