• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Introducing the New FREE Visual Studio Community 2013


    Visual Studio Community 2013

    A full-Featured IDE - Free.
    Start coding the app of your dreams for Windows, Android, and iOS.

    Download Everything you need, all in one place for FREE!

    Community includes..

    ToolsTools Designers, editors, debuggers, profilers - all packaged up in a single environment.

    Languages Languages Code in C++, Python, HTML5, JavaScript, and of course C#, VB, and F#.

    Web Web Extensive web support for ASP.NET, Node.js, and JavaScript

    Devices Devices Tools for Apache Cordova and Unity to reach even more platforms.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Using Unity3d and Azure Cloud


    One my colleagues Dave Douglas has been some work in educating game developers on the power of having a cloud backend to their games

    Dave has made some great  quick-start tutorial is for Unity3D game developers who would like to get a cloud backend that runs across multiple platforms (including the Unity Editor for quick testing).

    One of the big advantages for game devs using Unity3D is that it supports so many platforms additionally Unity have a great set of resources for windows Developers including amazing FREE tools like Visual Studio tools for Unity and some amazing offers and resources


    It’s fair to say more people own more than one device that connects to the internet and a lot of them can run apps and games.

    The number of connected devices more than number of people.

    While the platforms and ecosystems may differ as a gamer I would like to play the same game across any device (and on any platform) and expect things to sync. Azure Mobile Services is a ‘Backend as a Service’ which supports multi-platform app development. In Unity the BitRave plugin for Azure Mobile Services is designed to just work on any platform that Unity supports.

    Dave Douglas @deadlyfingers one of my colleagues in Microsoft UK has done the following walkthroughs of how to get started.

    Watch getting started with Unity BitRave Azure plugin running on iOS and Android

    Watch getting started with Unity Prime 31 Azure Plugin running on Windows 8 and Windows Phone

    You can Also read his blog with the complete walkthrough documented at



    There are more training resources for game developers at Microsoft Virtual Academy http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/game-development

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Games Ambassador & student Tim Stoddard nominated for a TIGA Games Industry Award


    Guest blog by Tim Stoddard, Staffordshire University @Gamepopper

    Standing out above the crowd

    My discovery into games development came from an opportunity at A-Levels to make a project on anything, so I decided to make a game using GameMaker 8. I decided to pursue making computer games in University, when I transferred from Computer Science to Computer Games Programming. After making a few games for the Windows Store, I decided I wanted to make one fairly large indie game, and being a student is the best time to do it.

    So for the duration of a year, I was working on a game part time, during my degree and placement, and mostly on my own.

    So what is the Game?

    The game was Secret of Escape, a top-down stealth action game developed in Construct2. The game has since been released on Desura, Itch.io and IndieGameStand, as well as being shown at several game events such as Launch Conference, Norwich Games Expo, Insomnia52 and London Gaming & Anime Con. But out of all the moments I’ve had from making a game, the one that surprised me the most was Secret of Escape being nominated for the TIGA Games Industry Award for Best Student Game.


    I submitted my game to the awards because I figured it might be a good chance, and the process of entering was straightforward. All you needed to do was enter your details, choose which category you wanted to submitted to, and upload both a copy of your game and a video and give a reason why you should win the award. Then in mid-October I got an email which showed my game as shortlisted for Best Student Game, needless to say I was excited.

    What is your advice?

    If there is any word of advice I would give here, it would be this. If you are ever nominated for an award, go to the award ceremony. Not only is it a moment to be proud of an achievement in your career, and is common courtesy to accept an award in person if you win, but an awards ceremony is a big opportunity to network and speak to professionals from all parts of the industry.


    I had the opportunity of speaking with people from indie developers such as Futurlab (Velocity 2X), Evil Twin Artworks (Victory At Sea), Sumo Digital, all the way up to large studios such as Rebellion (Sniper Elite III) and Bullfrog Productions (Fable Anniversary). Not to mention people who work in Recruitment (Aardvark Swift and Amiqus), Accounting, and Quality Assurance.


    Of course there was the ceremony, with the nominees of each award being displayed on large monitors, some with footage of the games being shown. I got to see my game being shown during the Best Student Game, and cheer at excitement for seeing it there. I also cheered when Staffordshire University was shown during the Best Education Initiative award. I was also sitting with the developers at Bullfrog, so I gave my support for them too.

    Sadly I didn’t win, but being nominated and going to the award ceremony is definitely one of the highlights as a game developer. Hopefully one day I’ll return and take a trophy home with me, so I guess it’s time to start working now..

    Tim excellent stuff and great to see you making the right steps!

    So if your a student and interested in standing out above the crowd go and build a game for the players and not for yourself!!

    Enter the www.Imaginecup.com gaming competition or individual competition like http://gradsingames.com/competitions/search-for-a-star/ and http://gradsingames.com/competitions/sumo-digital-rising-star/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Building a Azure Backend for an Android App



    One of the great things about Windows Azure is its platform agnostic

    Cloud Opp

    So if your building games for Android check out the following videos by Dave Douglas http://www.deadlyfingers.net/ a fellow Microsoft Technical Evangelist on building a Azure backend to your game.

    Part 1

    Create android app with cloud backend (Part 1: Azure Mobile Service)


    Part 2

    Create android app with cloud backend (Part 2: Table Permissions and OAuth)


    Part 3

    Create android app with cloud backend (Part 3: Push Notifications)


    If your interested in trying out Azure apply online at www.azure.com or register for our special game dev offer http://aka.ms/gamedevoffer

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Are you a Mac user who wants to use Visual Studio and build .Net applications


    Well the answer is yes you can!

    At the Connect() developer event in New York City.  We announced a number of new capabilities coming with the Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 5 releases and some exciting news regarding .NET Open Source and Visual Studio Community editions.  You can watch the event on-demand here.

    But here is a quick summary

    Open Sourcing the .NET Core Runtime and Libraries

    Open sourcing the .NET Core Runtime.  This will include everything needed to execute .NET code – including the CLR, Just-In-Time Compiler (JIT), Garbage Collector (GC), and core .NET base class libraries. We are releasing the source under the MIT open source license and are also issuing an explicit patent promise to clarify users patent rights to .NET.  This is published on the public GitHub https://github.com/dotnet/corefx

    The source release includes many of the newer core .NET framework libraries (ImmutableCollections, SIMD, XML and MetadataReader).  These libraries are fully open, and are ready to accept contributions.  Over the next several weeks and months we will continue to transfer source (including the Core CLR which is not there right now but in the process of being moved) into the repository and likewise make it open for contributions.

    What does this open sourcing mean?

    The open source announcement, simply means that developers will have a fully supported, fully open source, fully cross platform .NET stack for creating server and cloud applications – including everything from the C#/VB compilers, to the CLR runtime, to the core .NET base class libraries, to the higher-level .NET Web, Data and API frameworks. 

    Announcing .NET Core Framework on Linux and OSX

    Last month at a Cloud Event held in San Francisco, Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO – showed a slide like this one where he talked about how Microsoft loves Linux:


    We’ve worked hard with Azure to make it a first-class cloud platform for Linux based applications, and shared how more than 20% of all VMs running on Azure are Linux based.  In fact, we now have a number different Linux distributions officially supported for use on Azure – with full integration within our management portal and command-line extensibility.

    Which now include Ubuntu, CoreOs, Centos, Suse, Oracle Linux and Puppet Labs


    Bringing Core .NET to Linux and OS X

    In addition to making the .NET server stack open-source, we are also going to release an official distribution of the .NET Core for Linux, as well as an official distribution of .NET Core for the Mac operation system as well.

    This will enable you to build .NET server and cloud applications and run them on both Windows Server and Linux.  It is going to enable every developer – regardless of what operating system they use to develop or target – to use .NET. And to do so on a fully open source runtime.

    We will be working closely with the Mono community as we complete our Linux port.  The Mono community have done a great job advancing .NET and Linux over the last decade.  Releasing the .NET Core source under an open source license is going to enable us to collaborate together much more closely going forward. 

    Visual Studio Community Edition

    A new free edition of Visual Studio -  Visual Studio Community 2013 edition is a full-featured IDE.  It supports multiple project types in one solution file in a single IDE, and has all of the productivity features and IDE extensibility capabilities (meaning you can use Xamarin, ReSharper, VsVim, and any other VSIX extension) that developers love in Visual Studio.

    It is now available completely free for:

    • Any individual developer working on a commercial or non-commercial project
    • Any developer contributing to an open source project
    • Anyone in an academic research or course setting (e.g. students, teachers, classroom, online course)
    • Any non-enterprise organization with 5 or fewer developers working on a commercial/non-commercial project together

    There is no program you need to join to use it – simply visit www.visualstudio.com, click the download button. 

    Visual Studio Community Edition Virtual Machine

    It is going to enable even more developers to take advantage of Visual Studio and build even better applications.  We are looking forward to seeing what you build with it. Additionally if your a Mac User you can now spin up a virtual machine running community connect as part of an Azure.

    The Visual Studio Community 2013 image enables you to unleash the full power of Visual Studio to develop cross-platform solutions. Create apps in one unified IDE, and incorporate new languages, features, and development tools into them with Visual Studio Extensions (available in the Visual Studio Gallery).

    Pricing Information

    Pricing varies based on the subscription you select to provision your virtual machine see http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/?scenario=virtual-machines but as an example you could spin up a D3 Series Windows Virtual Machine with 4 Cores and 14GB Ram with a 250GB SSD drive for 1.42 Euro per hour and simply only pay per the hour by turning the machine off when not required.


    It has never been a better time to be a software developer. 

    With the provision of FREE Software and Visual Studio Community edition it will now enable organizations to succeed in today’s digital environment.

    Using the cloud, every software developer on the planet can now create and build solutions that can reach millions of users, with no upfront costs, powered by a cloud infrastructure that delivers completely global reach.  The impact an individual developer can now have has never been greater than it is today.

    .NET open source, cross platform, and Visual Studio Community edition announcements will enable the development technology we build to be leveraged by an even wider range of developers and across all mobile platforms

    Developers can now use the breadth Microsoft’s tools and services for free with Visual Studio Community 2013 tools for developing applications from mobile and desktop to web and cloud, Azure Free Trial providing hosting for 10 websites + 10 mobile services, and Visual Studio Online offering developer services free for up to 5 users.  You can get started with all three offers today.

    The Event and official announcements

    You can watch the online presentations here.  Also read Soma’s blog post for a summary of some of the new VS 2015 and .NET 5 capabilities

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Internet Explorer and Xbox Controller support for games





    Internet Explorer Developer Channel went experimental implementation of W3C Gamepad API and you can use your controller to create games on HTML / JavaScript as for Web applications and for Windows 8:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>Gamepad API Sample</title>
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=Edge">
    <script> function gameLoop() { var gamepads = navigator.getGamepads(); for (var playerIndex = 0;
    playerIndex < gamepads.length; playerIndex++) { var gamepad = gamepads[playerIndex];
    if (gamepad) { if (gamepad.buttons[6].pressed || gamepad.buttons[7].pressed)
    // A trigger is pressed, fire weapon. fireWeapon(playerIndex);

    } window.requestAnimationFrame(gameLoop); 


    If you want to implement gamepad support in the game to HTML5 for Windows 8 now, not waiting for the release of the next version of Internet Explorer, you can use the wrapper over XInput for Javasctipt.


    Windows 8 XInput and JavaScript controller sketch sample


    Building games with controller support?

    Love to hear from you..

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Building game with Xbox Controller Support



    Xbox One Wireless Controller can work with your PC if you download one of the following driver packages:

    Note To use your Xbox One controller with your console after using it with a PC, you must re-sync the controller to the console. You can do this by using the wireless sync button or a USB cable. For details, see Connect a wireless Xbox One controller to your console.

    If you want to use an Xbox 360 Controller with your computer, you can use an Xbox 360 Controller for Windows. Or, you can use an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller together with an Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows.

    Related Issues

    Connect a wireless Xbox One controller to your console
    How to assign a profile to an Xbox One Wireless Controller

    Getting to Grips with the API 

    The main method of work with a gamepad in Windows is to use the C ++ API XInput . http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ee417001(v=vs.85).aspx  Noteworthy is the absence of initialization functions, you simply query the state of the controller:

       1: XINPUT_STATE state; 
       3: DWORD result=XInputGetState(0, &state); 
       6: if (result == ERROR_SUCCESS) 
       8: { 
      10:   if (state.Gamepad.wButtons & XINPUT_GAMEPAD_A) 
      12:   { 
      16:   } 
      18: } 

    XInputGetState function takes as parameters the index controller (they can be connected to more than one) as well as with the state of the structure where the return value of buttons:


       1: { 
       3:     DWORD                               dwPacketNumber;  
       5:     XINPUT_GAMEPAD                      Gamepad; 
      10: typedef struct _XINPUT_GAMEPAD 
      12: { 
      14:     WORD                                wButtons;  
      16:     BYTE                                bLeftTrigger;  
      18:     BYTE                                bRightTrigger; 
      20:     SHORT                               sThumbLX; 
      22:     SHORT                               sThumbLY; 
      24:     SHORT                               sThumbRX; 
      26:     SHORT                               sThumbRY; 

    Buttons coded bits:

       1: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_DPAD_UP          0x0001 
       2: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_DPAD_DOWN        0x0002 
       3: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_DPAD_LEFT        0x0004 
       4: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_DPAD_RIGHT       0x0008 
       5: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_START            0x0010 
       6: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_BACK             0x0020 
       7: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_LEFT_THUMB       0x0040 
       8: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_RIGHT_THUMB      0x0080 
       9: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_LEFT_SHOULDER    0x0100 
      10: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_RIGHT_SHOULDER   0x0200 
      11: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_A                0x1000 
      12: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_B                0x2000 
      13: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_X                0x4000 
      14: #define XINPUT_GAMEPAD_Y                0x8000 

    Slightly more complicated is the values ​​of the hammers and two joysticks.  The values ​​of X, Y, are within SHRT_MIN-SHRT_MAX (-32768 +32767), and for the hammers _UI8_MAX (255).  Usually in games, these values ​​are normalized to -1.0 +1.0.  Also for joystick should consider the so-called dead zone.  Return values ​​axes at the neutral position can vary from zero, and to disregard them use the default values ​​of "dead zones", which should be computed by the following algorithm:
       1: float magnitude = sqrt(state.Gamepad.sThumbRX*state.Gamepad.sThumbRX 
       3: + state.Gamepad.sThumbRY*state.Gamepad.sThumbRY); 
       6: if (magnitude > XINPUT_GAMEPAD_RIGHT_THUMB_DEADZONE) 
       8: { 
      10: } 

    Typical values ​​of these thresholds are as follows:

    You can look at more detailed examples of work with a gamepad online http://code.msdn.com as well as take advantage of the wrapper which is part of DirectX Toolkit .

    XInput game controller sample

    This sample demonstrates the use of the XInput APIs in a C++ app.

    Download C++ (61.0 KB)


    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb648761.aspx XInput Controller Sample

    In addition to the functions directly related to the status polling controller to XInput also includes management features vibrating motor and is connected accessory, such as a voice recorder with a headset or audio to the headset. Support also has a joystick for managed code in the library and XNA Monogame .


    Get in touch?

    So if your building a game or have built a game for Windows 8 with Controller support please get in touch as I would love to share your experience!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Creating Your First Marmalade Game 20th Nov



    ​If you're looking to build games and want a fun (and free) high-performance, cross-platform development tool, take a good look at Marmalade. Learn to use the Marmalade interface, hear how to develop the basic components and structure of a game, explore scene management, and get the details on Marmalade tools, Marmalade Quick, and Lua.

    In this first of two Jump Start training courses with live Q&A, you're in for a treat and lots of demos as experts Lee Stott and James Mintram walk you through an entire game build, help you create (and avoid) space aliens, and explore game loops, graphics, and collisions. You even look at monetization and learn how to publish your first game. Get ready for some fun and games (literally)!

    Course Outline:

    • Develop Games Using Marmalade for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8
    • Marmalade Quick and Lua Scripts
    • Essential Concepts for Developing with Marmalade
    • Bring Your Games to the Windows 8 Platform

    Register Now

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Marmalade Game Porting Lab Nov 14th Hull


    Remember: there's only one week until Platform Expo in Hull!

    Join members of the Marmalade and Microsoft teams at our upcoming Porting Lab.

    At this free event you'll learn about the Marmalade toolset and how to port your app to the Microsoft platform. With two tracks for beginners and experts, and several rounds of prize draws for successful ports, it's going to be a great way to meet fellow Marmalade developers and learn by doing.

    Find out more about Marmalade & Microsoft Porting Lab

      Native Performance. Any Device.


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Developer Offer from Marmalade


    Today Marmalade  launched a brand new Developer Offer for Windows Phone Store and Windows Store.

    If you already have a good quality app, then participating in this Developer Offer is simple and rewarding. Using Marmalade to publish your app to Windows Phone Store and/or Windows Store will earn you a Windows Phone device and Windows 8.1 license, a Marmalade Indie license (worth $499) and $100 in PayPal gift vouchers. Simple!

    For more information about the Windows Developer Offer, visit our website.


      Native Performance. Any Device.


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