• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    A Game Jam Sandwich


    Guest blog by Dr Jacob Habgood, Sheffield Hallam University 

    A game jam is an exhausting endeavour at the best of times: coding day and night to try and come up with a prototype for the next blockbuster game—or at the very least—a better game than everyone else in the room. Add a festival launch event for schoolteachers at the start, and an industry Game Republic lecture by Microsoft at the end and you have a game jam sandwich—a rare delicacy which tastes of pizza and smells of Redbull.

    The festival launch was for the 2013 Games Britannia videogame education festival taking place at Sheffield Hallam University in June this year. The focus of the festival is about providing hands-on workshops and competitions for schools based around game development. As part of this we run a game design competition for schools, in which pupils redesign classic videogames: last year it was Monty Mole, and this year it's Zool. The 'launch' was all about announcing details of this year’s competition, and releasing the completed version of Monty Mole as a published game (now available on the IndieCity game store in aid of the Special Effect charity). How exciting is that? A chance for schoolchildren to get their game design created and published! BBC Look North obviously thought so as they were there to interview the children about their game and they appeared on TV that very evening!


    Amongst all this media excitement, our own students had been challenged to make a Windows 8 game in just 24 hours using GameMaker Studio (the same tool used to make the Monty game). Fortunately, we had the support of Lee Stott from Microsoft to help the students to obtain free Windows 8 developer accounts via DreamSpark. He'd also kindly brought along a stack of Windows 8 tablets to test the games on and (most importantly in the eyes of the students) he provided the pizza. He was definitely the most popular man in the room.

    Students were put into artist/programmer pairs and told that their game had to be a single touch control and based on the meteorologically appropriate theme of 'ice'. As you can imagine, the next 24-hours involved a predictable number of appearances by snow men, ice skaters, polar bears and penguins, with a space man selling ice-cream on the moon thrown in for good measure.


    All of the first year students taking part in the Game Jam had been using Game Maker in one of their modules, but a few of the older students taking part had never used it before. It was a testament to Game Maker's simplicity that they were able to create game prototypes in such a short space of time. It gave the programmers a chance to focus on experimenting with gameplay through simple game mechanics rather than having to worry about the underlying technology for a change.

    The students worked incredibly hard day and night to get their prototypes done and everyone was really impressed with their dedication. There were times when you could have heard a pin drop, although that soon changed once the sound effect CDs came out! Twenty four hours may seem like a long time for an event, but it’s an incredibly short time in game development terms and the deadline was soon upon us. Each bleary-eyed team queued up to demonstrate their game to the judging panel and awaited their decision.


    The three finalists were announced as Snow Fight, Ice Fishing, and Sgt. Rick O’Shot. The worms-like gameplay in Snow Fight hit the judges’ nostalgia-spot perfectly and the winding game mechanic of Ice fishing was both impressive and intuitive to play. The bouncing game mechanic of Rick O’Shot was surprisingly simple, but very enjoyable. The final accolade for these three teams was to get to present their game in front of an audience of industry professionals at the evening’s Game Republic event. Lee Stott gave a very informative talk on Windows 8 game development to the assembled crowd of local veterans, before the teams got their chance to take to the stage and show off their achievements of the last 24 hours. Finally the suspense was lifted and Sgt. Rick O’Shot was announced as the winner, for its simple, enjoyable gameplay mechanic. The team received a range of Microsoft goodies, plus access to the Steel Minions studio to finish off the development of their game—so watch this space! Everyone then retired to the pub together for some well earned food and drink courtesy of Microsoft and Game Republic.


    Many congratulations to all our students who took part for showing the kind of enthusiasm and commitment that is essential to get into the games industry! Hopefully we will be seeing completed versions of many of their games appearing on the Windows 8 store in the near future. Having a published game has great value in the eyes of the games industry, and to be able to do this in your first year at university using Game Maker Studio, is an opportunity that every student should jump at. To encourage this, YoYo Games very kindly provided our students with temporary free Game Maker Studio licences, and Lee has set up both local and national competitions to give them a deadline to work to.

    Many thanks to everyone for their support with this enjoyable event and we look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour on the Windows 8 store!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme short listing announced Feb 2013


    A new round of the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme in EMEA started in September when 109 applications were received from 20 countries in the EMEA region.



    Applications comprised those submitted to the Initiative in Informatics with Edinburgh University (where we co-fund four PhD Scholarships a year) and a new initiative with University College London.

    The applications, which were submitted by academic supervisors and are often co-authored by Microsoft Research Cambridge researchers, are currently being reviewed by Microsoft internal and external reviewers and announcements will be made in Feb 2013.

    Students will then be appointed and start pursuing their research in the 2013–14 academic year.

    If your interest in more details click here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Oracle on Windows



    Today Steve Ballmer, Satya Nadella, and Mark Hurd, President of Oracle Corp., announced a new partnership between the companies.

    As a result of this partnership, UK universities and enterprise customers now have an have increased choice and flexibility for deploying Oracle workloads onto Windows Server, Windows Azure, or a hybrid of both. Many UK Universities have Windows Server running Oracle workloads on premises, they now will be able to run those workloads in Hyper-V virtualized environments or Windows Azure, with full certification and support from Oracle.

    What this means:

    • You can run Oracle software on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and in Windows Azure with full support from Oracle.
    • Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to use their existing Oracle licenses to run Oracle software on Windows Azure.

    This makes Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V the only non-Oracle hypervisor that Oracle supports.  This also makes Windows Azure the only properly licensed and fully supported public cloud option for Oracle customers. For more details see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/windows-server/default.aspx

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Building Cloud Based Games – A look into how they did it with Wordament



    Wordament is a multiplayer, original word puzzle game and is available cross platform Xbox Live title with over 1,000,000 players which was developed by two indie developers.

    To help you understand the opportunity of cloud connected games we have developed a three part series on MSDN,

    The series goes into all the details on how the Wordament developers made this happen, using Azure as a backend, and Xamarin to take their native C# projects to other platforms.

    Part I. Anywhere, anytime, any device: Wordament’s cloud architecture
    Part II. Developing a cross platform app
    Part III. Running a business

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone Interoperability



    Got a porting question?

    Interested in Windows Phone but your currently a iPhone, Android or QT developer want to know more about porting your Android, iPhone or Qt apps over to the Windows Phone platform?

    Check out the  great resources, free easy-to-use tools to help you through the process, and even experts monitoring forums to answer porting questions. see http://windowsphone.interoperabilitybridges.com/ 

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Student Developer get stuck into Windows Phone over the summer holidays



    About two months ago the Windows Phone team issued a challenge to student developers over the summer holiday:

    The challenge, to create an awesome Microsoft Expression Sketchflow prototype of a Windows Phone application.

    The reward was to win one of 50 HTC Mazaa developer devices. The competition resulted in over 281 prototypes created and over 203 participants submitting prototypes.

    So if your developing Windows Phone make sure your using Microsoft Expression Sketchflow which can be downloaded for FREE via Microsoft DreamSpark or MSDNAA and here are some useful tips and guidance on your designs.

    • Clarity of Purpose – Easy to understand what the app would do and for whom. There are various ways to do this: use of an “about” screen, using notations throughout the prototype, and the use of another web-page or even a video explanation.
    • Innovative – Does your app do something new or accomplished something in a new way are you using the device features.
    • Use of Metro – Does your application belong on Windows Phone due to the choices made in layout, in the use of controls (e.g. pivots, colours, functions and layout)
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Universities now becoming Microsoft BizSpark Network Partners

    What is BizSpark?

    BizSpark is an innovative new program that unites start-up’s with entrepreneurial and technology resources in a global community with a common goal of supporting and accelerating the success of a new generation of high-potential start-up’s.

    BizSpark provides fast, easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and production licenses of server products; professional technical support from Microsoft; and connections to a global community of business experts who can help guide you through the hurdles of growing your business.

    Download more details about BizSpark which describes the programme benefits and more.

    Visit the Microsoft BizSpark website.

    Visit the Microsoft Startup Zone.


    Eligibility requirements are minimal: If you're a privately held company building a software-based product or service (even using open source code), in business for fewer than three years, and with less than USD$1M in annual revenue, you're in!

    How to enrol

    To enrol, you must be sponsored by a BizSpark Network Partner. This is where University Innovation and Enterprise sections can offer a huge benefit to your start-up and entrepreneurs.

    BizSpark Network Partner Programme Guide, which explains how 3rdparty organisations like Universities can participate in becoming a BizSpark Network Partner.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    How Microsoft is helping to support Students and their Careers


    Brandon Foy who created the viral Ad referenced below is currently an studying at a US .edu University. Brandon has been involved in the Microsoft community previously as a Microsoft internship student.

    Brandon has developed it’s an exciting Ad and is a real Windows Phone fan.  Brandon Ad has really inspired the Windows Phone community and inspired Microsoft, as a result Microsoft invited Brandon to show his Ad at the Microsoft Mix11 conference in Las Vegas this week.

    With his "We Love Windows Phone" video. We want to thank him by jump starting his CV. So if the Ad gets 200k views on YouTube, Microsoft will air it on a US National ad spot!

    You can see Brandon Foy on stage with JoeB at MIX here http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/mix/videoGallery.aspx

    So do we have any budding Brandon’s from UK Academia .ac.uk STEM-D courses let the Microsoft UK Student Team Know via the Microsoft UK Student Blog  or Microsoft UK Student Facebook Group.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Christmas is an Amazing time we would like you join us for Appy Christmas! 17th and 18th Dec 2012 London UK


    Win8_desktop_Lee SurfaceRt PhoneLandingHero

    Get involved in Appy Christmas!

    This December were running a special two day event so if your building an app or game, have an existing app or game for iOS and Android or simply interested in meeting with fellow app developers and building amazing Windows 8 apps then this is the event for you.

    We’re running a two day event in December to create amazing app experiences for people using Windows 8. There’ll be some workshops, some training, some tools and resources for you to make use of – and you’ll all get to publish your app(s) by the end of the month into the Windows Store.

    Who’s attending? There’s a great mix of students and non student developers. As long as you can do some basic coding you’ll have the skills needed.

    In a nutshell…

    • When? 17th and 18th December
    • Where? Modern Jago in Shoreditch, London
    • What? Write code and create a Windows 8 app! There’ll be a mix of tech talks, presentations and lots of working time

    Register now

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Six Steps to Windows Azure - Registration open for 8th and 9th November




    Six Steps to Windows Azure – Starts on 8th and 9th November:

    Six Steps to Windows Azure programme which offers a series of free technical events and online sessions on the Windows Azure Platform. The programme aims to guide developers and IT professionals currently building apps or considering the cloud on how to take full advantage of Windows Azure.

    Our upcoming events will cover both the technical and commercial aspects of adopting Windows Azure.

    We will be launching a brand new web site with the full list of details and registration. Register now for the following events.

    Windows Azure in the Real World - 8th November 2012

    Get started with Windows Azure by seeing how companies have implemented real world solutions for different types of Azure workload. Join us if you currently building applications, considering moving to the Cloud and want to understand how to take full advantage of the Windows Azure Platform.


    Advanced Topics in Windows Azure - 9th November 2012:

    Join us to tour the latest features of Windows Azure from Media and Mobile services to Windows Azure Active Directory. The day will explore the opportunities Windows Azure offers with Windows 8 and the latest Phone Toolkits (iOS, Android and Windows Phone).


    What’s next? Here are the upcoming themes. Registration will open shortly.

    Windows Azure - Architecture and Design (13 November)

    Integration with Mobile and the New World of Apps (4 December)

    Open Source Development (15 January)

    HPC (4 February)

    Big Data (24 February)

    For more details of Azure in education including FREE Curricula see http://www.windowsazure.com/education

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