The goal of this site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
Following on from Sarah Lamb great post at UK MSDN “Imagine a scenario in which you were able to add new levels to a platform game immediately after they have been built. Using a cloud backend makes this all possible, and when you can also track significant quantities of data to keep your game flow smooth and your players engaged, you give your title the best chance it has at being great at player retention.”
I wanted to ask the following questions…
How many of you use the cloud today in your gaming experience?
Take a look at following video
Now ask yourself the question again?
So this is how we see the use of games and apps on modern devices
How do you see your consumers using devices, apps, services and infrastructure?
What does Windows Azure Offer?
How many of want to use the cloud but not sure where to start?
Simply go to http://www.windowsazure.com
Or if your a academic or student go to http://www.windowsazure.com/education
How many are you just really interested in learning more about the cloud?
One of the key features for mobile app/game developers is Azure Mobile Services https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/mobile/ which supports Windows, iOS, Android and HTML
What does Azure Mobile Services offer?
Interested to hear what the thought leaders in the RU Gaming Industry think re: The opportunity of the Cloud?
See the following summary document EU Cloud Gaming Conference 2013 simply click on the image to download your PDF copy to keep.
Next week, I have been asked to present to a group of developers who are new to Windows 8. The group have been developing their first Windows 8 store apps and wanted me to cover the following topics.
1) Design guidelines and how make your app look beautiful 2) How to successful submit and publish your app to the Windows Store
In this blog I want to discuss 2) How to successful submit and publish your app to the Windows Store
Firstly you need to use the correct type of App developers account
Individual app developer
We use the term “individual,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean that only one person is working on the app (although that could be the case). Instead, it’s better to think of this type of account in terms of its capabilities.
With an individual developer account:
A company account can use the enterpriseAuthentication, documentsLibrary, or sharedUserCertificates capabilities. It's also the only way to submit desktop apps to the Windows Store. One thing to remember about company accounts: they can take a little longer to set up, because we need to verify that you represent your company.
Here are the essential differences between these two account types.
For more details see account types
What types of Apps can you develop?
To acquire a desktop app, a user clicks a URL (one that you provide when you list the app) that takes them to a website. From there, the user can download or purchase the app.
If you are an enterprise developer, your apps probably fall into one of two categories: apps that you want to make available to a large number of potential users, and apps that are really only relevant to individuals within your company. If you want to make your app available to as many people as possible, your best option is to list the app in the Windows Store.
If you’re a developer working with an OEM to preinstall your app, you must follow specific steps to get apps listed in the Windows Store or make them available for imaging on OEM PCs.
The following resources guide you through the types of Accounts types for Publishing your app to the Store
On the menu bar, choose Project, Store, Create App Packages.
If you’re running Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8, instead choose Store, Create App Packages.
The Create App Packages wizard appears.
On the Create Your Packages page, choose the Yes option button, and then choose the Sign In link.
The Sign In dialog box appears.
If you haven’t already established a developer account, choose the create an account link to display the page from which you can get an account.
In the Sign In dialog box, enter your Microsoft account and password, and then choose the Sign In button.
On the Select an app name page, choose from the list the App Name for the app that you’re packaging, and then choose the Next button.
If you’re packaging an update to an app that you’ve already published, select the Include app names that already have packages check box to display names of published apps in the list.
If no app names appear in the list, choose the Reserve Name link to open the Dashboard and reserve a name.
On the Select and Configure Packages page, in the Output location text box, enter the location where the package files will be created.
(optional) In the Version text boxes, update the version number of your app.
In each field, you must enter an integer that’s between 0 and 65535, inclusive.
If the Automatically increment check box is selected, the last field of the version number will increase by one each time that you package the app. However, the major version number typically shouldn’t increase unless you’ve significantly changed your app.
In the Select the packages to create and the solution configuration mappings section, select the check box for each build configuration for which you want to create a package.
The build configurations grid lists the possible platform architectures of the package (that is, Neutral, ARM, x64, and x86). In each row, a combo box displays the combination of the current Solution Configuration and Architecture choices that are relevant for that row’s architecture. The check box for the default platform is set to the current, active project platform. The combo box for the Neutral row show the Solution Configuration combinations that contain AnyCPU as the project’s platform. If no Solution Configuration combination is relevant, the entire row for that platform is unavailable for selection. One package is produced for each configuration that you specify.
For each build configuration that you specified, choose the Solution Configuration that you want to build.
When you package an app for the Store, you can specify Release or any custom solution configuration that you’ve created.
A package will be created for each build configuration that you specified.
Select or clear the Include public symbol files, if any, to enable crash analysis for the app check box.
When the check box is selected (default), Visual Studio generates the public symbol files (.pdb) and adds them to the .appxupload file. The .appxupload file is created as part of the packaging process and contains two other files: .appx and .appxsym. The .appxsym is the compressed file that contains the public symbols of your app. When you upload the app and the .appxupload file to the Store, the Store analyzes the file and uses the public symbols to map crashes of your app. The resulting telemetry information about your app is published for you to review on the developer dashboard. For more information, see Submitting your app and Analyzing your apps in the Windows Store.
Choose the Create button.
When the packaging process has completed, the Package Creation Completed page appears.
To verify whether your package meets requirements for the Store, choose the Launch Windows App Certification Kit button.
This option is available only if you specified at least one solution configuration that supports local validation. For more information, see How to test your app with the Windows App Certification Kit.
For more information, see Packaging your Windows Store app using Visual Studio 2012.
Troubleshooting packaging, publishing, and deployment errors (Windows Store apps)
One or more errors or warnings might appear when you build, package, or deploy your app. The following page list the errors and warnings you may receive and provides guidance on resolution.
Next week, I have been asked to present to a group of developers who are new to Windows 8. The group have been developing their first Windows 8 store apps and wanted me to cover the following topics. 1) Design guidelines and how make your app look beautiful 2) How to successful submit and publish your app to the Windows Store
I would like to share my prep material and resources in the following blog. The following is a good one stop shop for Windows 8 App and Game Designer/Developers looking to make the most of the Windows 8 UI/UX. For those who are new to Windows 8 the information will simply to help you get started on developing awesome apps and games.
I will be producing another blog to cover part 2) How to successful submit and publish your app to the Windows Store
So lets get started with Answering 1) Design guidelines and how make your app look beautiful
The Information below is broken down into answering these specific questions.
1. I want to Understand the Windows 8 Design Principles and Patterns? 2. How to go about designing mockups and prototypes? 3. I am really struggling… I need some help/inspiration with my App ideas?
1. Understanding the Windows 8 Guidelines, Design Principles and Patterns?
Touch interaction patterns
Ok now I understand the UI/UX design patterns
2. How can I go about designing mockups and prototypes? Check out the following Windows 8 Design Assets
Download Adobe Photoshop (PSD) design assets that help you create great Windows Store apps.
Download mockups that help you sketch designs for your apps.
Learn how to use purposeful animations to visually tie experiences together and tell a story.
3. Ok I am really struggling… I need some help/inspiration with my App ideas?
Well here are some tips to building apps, these are grouped into section of types of apps ie Financial, medical, retail, games, entertainment, news, sport, productivity, shopping, travel and education. These sample provide a great starting point to getting your apps built.
Financial apps: SunGard (code sample available)
Learn how you can build great retirement planning apps for Windows 8.
Financial apps: SmartSight
Learn how you can build great financial analysis apps for Windows 8.
Medical apps: In-patient (code sample available)
Learn how you can build great hospital in-patient apps for Windows 8.
Medical apps: Manipal Hospital (code sample available)
Learn how you can build great hospital management apps for Windows 8.
Retail apps: Social CRM (code sample available)
Learn how you can build great retail management apps for Windows 8.
Retail apps: Point of Sale (downloadable white paper)
Learn how you can build great point of sale apps for Windows 8.
Learn how a game can embrace UI design principles for Windows Store apps and simultaneously improve its users' experience.
Learn how to create great entertainment apps for Windows 8.
Learn how to build great news apps for Windows 8.
Learn how to build great productivity apps for Windows 8.
Learn how to build great sports apps for Windows 8.
Learn how to build great shopping apps for Windows 8.
Learn how to build great travel apps for Windows 8.
Learn how to build great education apps for Windows 8.
On Saturday the 1st of June 2013, Microsoft Technical Evangelists Mike Taulty and Andy Wigley will be delivering a day of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Azure and cross platform development sessions!
The event agenda is a follows
1) Windows 8 – The Developer Overview. 2) Windows Phone 8 – The Developer Overview. 3) Azure Mobile Services – Quick, Easy and Powerful Mobile Backends 4) Architecting & Building Shared Code for Windows and Windows Phone.
Times 10am until 4pm, Where The event will be held in Microsoft's Edinburgh office, very close to Waverley railway station.
On the 3rd 4th and 5th of April, The Windows Games Ambassadors hosted the Scottish Universities Jam at the University of West of Scotland ‘UWS’ in Glasgow. The event was an intense weekend of game development based on Windows 8 games with a focus on students developing a portfolio of Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps. Our goal of the event was simply demonstrate the opportunity of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 importantly getting created games into the Windows 8 and Windows Phone stores.
The event was planned/developed/implemented by simply ensuring the Windows Games Ambassadors are networked with home and local Universities. After the recent Windows in Academia Event http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2013/04/10/windows-in-academia-presentations.aspx we worked with one of the attendees Dr Daniel Livingston and Michael Cameron @busypixel Windows Games Ambassador at his local institution to develop the Game Jam.
The event was a mixer of lectures by Academics and the Scottish Windows Games Ambassadors with the aim of boosting students confidence in their own abilities as developers (This has been cited as one of the key reasons student won’t publish apps to store’ WGA Survey 2013) by guiding them through the development process of a Windows Store or Windows Phone 8 app.
Students were able to use any development tools available to them that can create Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 apps, a variety of development tools were used such as; GameMaker, Construct 2, TouchDevelop, Rapid2D and of course Visual Studio. Once the games had been developed, students were shown how to set up their free developer accounts and publish to the Windows 8 Store.
The GameJam started off with a brief overview of the Windows 8 Development process and answering any queries before the theme of “Mythical creatures” was set, from there students demonstrated their creativity and enthusiasm to develop some truly brilliant apps.
Huge thanks to YoYo for providing free GameMaker Studio licenses for use at the event and for a time limited period after the event to ensure GameMaker developed apps could be submitted to store.
The event was held at the University of West of Scotland. The organisation and the venue at the University was great, huge thanks to senior lecturer Daniel Livingstone from UWS and Michael Cameron Windows Games Ambassadors who lead the event use of the University resources during the Easter Vacation period for all the attendees at the University.
While there were of course issues during development – much like at any GameJam, students were able to push past them and demonstrate their ability to thrive under the constraints of time.
As the end of the GameJam drew closer and students had started to add finishing touches to their games and submit them for certification.
The completion of the Windows GameJam at UWS has reinforced our views that students have the ability to create some great games. Confidence is key, and if a student is willing to try then I think they will be pleasantly surprised with what they can achieve. As part of the confidence issues we are planning to develop the Windows Games Ambassadors into figure heads with guest blogs on both the Faculty Connection, Student and Ubelly resources.
Below is a selection of the games that were created more information on each one as they arrive in store and ideally guest blogs about the individuals and their portfolios will be developed.
Unicorn Space Command
The event focused on the development of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 so build once deploy to all strategy using 3rd party frameworks which allows cross platform publishing.
The event was long enough to produce store ready apps for Windows 8. Students and academic were impressed with the variety and choice of 3rd Party toolsets available.
one student commented ‘I haven’t used GameMaker since School and its AWESOME!’
The Windows Games Ambassadors will be holding additional lectures and time allocation for students to get these apps store ready across the UK So if your interested see http://www.windowsgamesambassadors.co.uk
Over the past few weeks with the Public Beta of Unity for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have had a number of questions about the opportunity of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and UNITY3D.
Unity is popular cross-platform game engine with a built-in IDE developed by Unity Technologies. It is used to develop video games for web plugins, desktop platforms, consoles and mobile devices, and is utilized by over one million developers.
Unity in education is primarily used to create mobile and web games, but can also deploy games to consoles or the PC.
A number of 3rd Party Unity assets are presently being developed to provide full support for Windows 8 and Windows Azure.
One of these plug-ins is developed by Bit Rave. Bit Rave have extensive experience working with the Windows 8 platform capabilities, and as part of that we decided to build a library for Unity to make Windows 8 integration easier for everyone.
Bit Rave are currently looking for people interested in joining a closed beta. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate.
So what important about Windows 8 features?
Live Tiles are what makes your Windows experiences come to life. Bit Rave Live Tiles allows you to update and manage Live Tiles from within Unity.
For more information on Live Tiles check out Guidelines and checklist for tiles and badges on MSDN.
With both square and wide tile, Bit Rave makes it trivial to support both.
With support for text tiles and image tiles, there are lots of options.
And for Unity Pro users, you how about a screenshot on your live tile!
You can also manage rotating tile updates with just a few lines of code.
Windows 8 comes with a variety of devices, all with varying different screen layout capabilities. Bitrave's Snap View library helps you implement responsive applications for all changes in UI without having to leave Unity.
To learn more about the view states, check out Guidelines for Snapped and Fill Views on MSDN.
Register for snap, filled, and full screen views with the following line of code.
Register for orientation changes with the following line of code:
Charms covers both the settings charm, and the share charm for sharing content from within your app. For integration with the Search charm, it has it's own component appropriately named Search.
Setting is how your users find your help, your privacy policies, and find out further information about yoru application. You can trigger the settings charm manually with a single line of code.
Sharing is one of the key components of Windows 8 applications. Sharing allows your application to interact with other applications who can consume the content. You can allows your application to share with your favourite social media client, or maybe share an image with a photo manipulation app.
Bit Rave for Live Apps allows you to share seamlessly. To register content for sharing, it can be all done in a single line of code!
3: "Hello World!");
Or maybe you want to share an image from within game:
And for Unity Pro users, how about sharing a screenshot from a camera!
And you can even trigger the UI manually from within game:
With your Microsoft ID following you between machines, you can now take advantage of Roaming Settings. Use roaming settings to synchronise high scores and game files across machines. Bitrave Settings let you do all this simply and easily without having to leave Unity, and also supports Local Settings for non-roaming preferences and data.
Register for updates to settings data with the following line of code.
Roaming settings go with you, and all it takes is just a line of code to set them.
1: RoamingSettings.SetValue("high-score", hiScoreValue);
And just one line of code to retrieve.
1: var highScore = RoamingSettings.GetValue("high-score");
Local settings act just like roaming settings, but stay on a single machine when you don't want them to roam. You set and retrieve them in the same way.
1: LocalSettings.SetValue("high-score", hiScoreValue);
1: var highScore = LocalSettings.GetValue("high-score");
Azure Mobile Services allow you to take your application to the cloud quickly and easily.
And now you can access Azure Mobile Services directly from your Unity code.
Initialisation is just as simple as you'd expect.
1: var service = AzureMobileServices("url", "token");
Insert an item into your Azure database in a single line of code from Unity.
Update items in the Azure databsae with just one line of code from Unity.
Remove items from the Azure database in 1 line of code from Unity.
Query items in your Azure Mobile Services from Unity.
1: service.Where<ToDoItem>(p => p.Category == "Exercise", MyCallback);
2: public void MyCallback(List<ToDoItem> items)
NOTE: await / async will be available when supported by Unity. Until then we are using callbacks.
Lookup items in your Azure Mobile Services from Unity.
1: service.Lookup<ToDoItem>(myItem, MyCallback);
2: public void
3: MyCallback(ToDoItem item)
Microsoft recently ran an full day of events to highlight the opportunity of Windows and Unity.
You can watch the content below and get access to all the materials at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Building-Windows-Games-with-Unity?d=1
This session is a lightning tour of the Windows 8 experiences, and the most relevant improvements that game developers will run into when building a game for the Windows Store. You will also get a comprehensive overview on the economics behind the Windows Store
End-to-End: Develop, debug and deploy a Unity game for the Windows Store
In this session, we will build a game using Unity Editor and then export it for usage in a Windows Store app. You will see the exporting of the unity player, the visual studio project and deploying to a Windows RT device.
Deep dive: Tips & tricks for porting games from other platforms to Windows 8
Go deep under the hood of Unity for Windows Store apps. After this session you will understand how the engine works, and the changes you will need to make to port a Unity game to run on the Windows Store app model.
Sharing code: Reuse all this new knowledge on the Windows Phone platform
Most of what you learned so far on building Unity games for Windows 8 is applicable to Windows Phone too. In this session, we will highlight the few differences across the platforms; we will start with the Windows Phone Store monetization differences and then get to the tools and platform differences. ...
Differentiate: Integrate your game with Windows 8 platform features (such as contracts,…
To have a truly great game, you will need to integrate with Windows 8 features like contracts, live tiles, and push notifications; in this session you will see coding examples and learn techniques for writing plugins that integrate a Unity game with native Windows 8 features.
Introduction to building games with Unity
In this session, Carl Callewaert demos how to build a game using Unity Editor.
Partner Session: Rogue Rocket Games
Rogue Rocket games has released two games to the Windows Store: GunPowder and SushiChop. In this session you will hear their lessons learned during their journey writing these two games.
Partner Session: Coding Jar Studios
Coding Jar Studios started by writing Fling Theory for the Windows Store and quickly ported the game to Windows Phone. In this session you will hear their lessons learned while writing the Windows game and porting it to phone.
Partner Session: Luminary
Luminary is one of the first companies that ported games to Windows Phone. In this session you will hear their lessons learned in porting a Unity game from other platform to Windows Phone.
Construct 2 supports publishing Windows Store games
For one week you can purchase Construct 2 Personal and Business Edition licenses with a 40% discount see https://www.scirra.com/blog/111/spring-sale-40-off?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=LinkToBlogPost&utm_campaign=BlogSubscription-22-4-2013
If you're looking to upgrade your Personal license to a Business license, there has never been a better time! The normal cost of upgrade is $280/€229/£180, with a 40% sale discount the new cost is $168/€137.40/£108.
If you would like to upgrade your Personal license to a Business license:
This sale will run until 6pm BST on Monday the 29th April. If you want to take advantage of this sale, make sure you arrange purchase of a license before this date.
There a new Game Templates for Windows 8 appearing every day, here are the 9 templates, available on GitHub built by fellow evangelist Chris Bowen. Chris has developed nine AWESOME game templates with features like the Windows 8 object, a “Pause" layer, snapped view support (with game pause), touch support, and some project property updates.
These can be downloaded for FREE from Github
Additionally we have lots of academic curricula materials available at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
If your interested in Construct2 and game development for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 you can download all templates as a ZIP, or get individual templates below, just click the link and choose “View Raw”, which will let you save the template.
Auto-Runner (click “View Raw” and save) Side-scroller with player constantly running, having to jump between platforms.
Driving Game (click “View Raw” and save) Top-down driving around a track with bordering objects.
Infinite Jumping (click “View Raw” and save) Vertical game where player automatically jumps and must reach new platforms.
Physics Catapult (click “View Raw” and save) Fire catapult at structures with physics behaviors for impact/gravity.
Physics Puzzle (click “View Raw” and save) Click/touch objects to remove to clear puzzle.
Platformer (click “View Raw” and save) Jump between a variety of platforms (static, moving, one-way).
Top-Down Shooter (click “View Raw” and save) Top-down view, move player and fire at targets.
Turret Defense (click “View Raw” and save) Add turrets to maze to fire on targets as they pathfind to their goal.
Vertical Shooter (click “View Raw” and save) Vertically-scrolling game player and targets both moving and firing.
Connecting your game to Windows Azure Cloud Services
There is FREE plug-in for Construct 2 which makes it easy to integrate the power of Azure Mobile Services into your games for Windows 8. Saving to the cloud is a great way to seamlessly store data for achievements, leaderboards, save games, user data and lots more see http://www.scirra.com/forum/plugin-azure-mobile-services-for-windows-8_topic64265.html
We would love to hear about your experiences of building Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Games with Construct2.
As you know from my previous blog posts and presentations A Microsoft certification confirms to everyone, employers, clients, and your peers. That you're a technical expert with proven skills and abilities.
Gaining a Microsoft Certification also makes you part of the elite community of Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP), which allows you access to exclusive Microsoft resources and benefits such as the MCP member website, career-building tools, and training.
At TechEd Europe
In the Certification Center at TechEd Europe 2013, you'll have access to onsite training, Exam Prep sessions, and practice tests, as well as the assistance of MCT Ambassadors who have passed multiple exams.
So take this opportunity to gain certification and also sit two exams for the price of one or simply take the 50% discount. This opportunity is only available to registered TechEd 2013 attendees.
Learn more and sign up to take a Microsoft Certification exam at TechEd Europe.
Not registered yet for TechEd 2013?
Register today and start planning your ideal conference schedule! Register for TechEd Europe
TechEd Forum: http://channel9.msdn.com/forums/techedeu
Event Site: http://europe.msteched.com/Certification
Not attending TechEd Europe - take your second shot exam now
Prove that you have the knowledge and skills in the most current and specialized technologies and solutions by earning a Microsoft Certification. Passing the exams needed to demonstrate those skills can be tough, but for a limited time, you’ll get a free second chance to succeed.
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For single exams with Second Shot: If you fail your exam the first time you take it, you may use the same voucher for your retake exam.
Read the FAQ to find out more.
STEP 1 – REGISTER for your Second Shot voucher. STEP 2 – SCHEDULE and pay for your exam at Prometric using your voucher code. STEP 3 – TAKE EXAM STEP 4 – RETAKE EXAM If you do not pass, use your voucher code to register for the same exam again at no charge.
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Upgrade to MCSE: Windows Server 2012
Ok who has ever watched STAR WARS and wanted a 3D princess Leia Hologram?
Holograms are often thought of as an optical novelty that can produce pretty 3D pictures, but they are capable of doing much more than that. One of my colleagues Dr Dave Brown has been continuing to explore natural user interaction with 3D data on a 2D displays specially using Microsoft Windows 8 devices.
As we know user interaction with a user interface can be in 2 or 3 dimensions. Dave work aims to build an orientation-independent user interface for a holographic display, which would naturally lend itself to the type of display being used.
Example of 3D Holographic Experience created for Windows 8
2D interaction is pervasive with the availability of multi-touch enabled displays, and 3D interaction is becoming more accessible with products such as Microsoft's Kinect for Windows and the Leap Motion controller.
For example, a vertical screen behaves as a "virtual window" onto the world such as in a first-person 3D game. A horizontal screen on the other hand, behaves as a "virtual table" for viewing and manipulating objects, or as a view from a third-person game looking "down" onto the world.
Princess Leia Hologram
All Windows 8 apps now support both landscape and portrait modes. Dave work has been developed to support both horizontal and vertical modes, and since he uses specify orientation using vectors he can also specify any intermediate angle.
For more details on Dr Dave Brown work see http://drdave.co.uk/page/projects
So if you are working on any interesting 3D project we would love to hear more?