• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 10 Tech Preview unable to build to Windows Store in Unity?

    • 0 Comments

    I had a few question from game developers running into problems with the technical preview of Windows 10.

    Windows 10 is now available for FREE via the Windows Insiders program and for MSDN Subscribers. over 1 million users are now running the technical preview.

    The problem which I have been seeing is with Developers who are using Windows 10 and Unity3d 4.6 some are encountering the following issues. So I thought the following blog may provide a bit of support in addressing a fix.

    Reported issues include

    Previous projects now crash when loading them into Visual Studio 

    New Projects now crash on launch from Visual Studio

    To fix the issue you simply need to update DirectX SDK

    DirectX SDK Debug Layer: To obtain the Windows 10 Technical Preview  and Unity3d version of the DirectX Debug Layer DLLs required to successfully use D3D11_CREATE_DEBUG_DEVICE or the Visual Studio 2013 Graphics Diagnostics feature, download it from here.

    This will get integrated in a future version of the Window SDK for the RTM release of Windows 10. Be sure to install VS 2013, Windows SDK 8.1, and/or VS 2013 Remote Debugging Tools in addition to installing this patch.

    If your an avid gamer then I would suggest you follow the following guidance also

    Win32 desktop games: Such as STEAM

    The existing guidance for quality Win32 desktop games running on Windows 7, Windows 8.0, and Windows 8.1 all applies to Windows 10 as well (see Desktop Games on Windows 8.x). Note that there is a new <compatibility> manifest section GUID for Windows 10 (see Chuck Walbourn great post on Manifest Madness).

    DirectX 12: If you are looking to try out DirectX 12, you should read the DirectX Developer Blog post and sign up for the DirectX 12 Early Access program.

    Web Games HTML5 and Babylon.JS

    Web developers: The Technical Preview includes IE11, but there are a few improvements for Windows 10.

    Build Universal Apps which support Windows Store and Windows phone

    See this post.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cloud Gaming Architecture–A walkthrough of how to get started

    • 3 Comments

    Architecture

    The architecture has a logical layout (below). It looks complex, but the blog will hopefully explain it.

    image

    The Pieces of the Puzzle for a great cloud gaming experience.

    When architecting our game your need to consider what the  components, described below. Some are apps (the clients), and the rest are cloud services.

    Clients

    The clients are the apps that game players download to their devices. Each app must be developed for the particular device, but they must all have behave the same. The game is the same, just the UI changes.

    clip_image004

    When building a game today you want it to be played on the most number of devices so, ideally it should be capable of being  played on Windows Phone 7 and 8, Windows 8.0 and 8.1, iOS, Android, and Kindle.

    To enable maximum platform support communication is enabled using REST APIs. The experience of playing the game should be smooth and seamless. A key factor is to ensure that the client app makes the minimal number of calls (after authentication).

    When developing your client its key to ensure that each of the client has a thin hardware abstraction layer (HAL). the HAL must contains the code necessary to display and process the UI controls, along with the code that initiates contact with the Visitor Center and the code that interacts with a Game Room.

    Visitor Center (VC)

    The first stop for a player is the Visitor Center. So think of the Visitor Center as the landing page for your game i,e.  you’ll find the leaderboard results and a directory of the gamer IDs. You can also find a friend on the system through the leaderboard.

    clip_image005

    Identify Yourself

    When the player starts the game, the client app authenticates the player with either Facebook or another authentication services (using a username and password). The client app then sends the Visitor Center the identity of the player (via a token). The Visitor center confirms the identity by contacting Facebook or other authentication services to verify the token (and thus the player). Once confirmed, the Visitor Center sends the client app a new URL that goes to the Game Room where the user will be playing.

    Note that if the user does not sign I, you may want them to allow them to play as a Guest (guests may be simply unranked or wouldn't be issued persistent stats or friends).

    Game Room (GR)

    clip_image006

    The Game Room consists of 3 APIs that interact with the client.

    1) Game: Sends the current puzzle to the client.

    2) Post: Receives the user’s individual results from the client.

    3) Results: Sends the leader scores and relative ranking of user to the client, along with the next puzzle.

    Game Room Services and Locations

    You may want to geo locate each of your games rooms, best practice is to locate each Game Room on the continent with the greatest player base – so European languages are housed in European data centers, for example. The hard cases are English, Spanish, and Portuguese, which have broad, world-wide audiences. English is played from everywhere, but is most concentrated in the US, UK, India, and Australia. Spanish is split between Spain and Latin America. Portuguese is most heavily played from Brazil, but there are still plenty of players from Portugal and other parts of the world.

    The Aggregator

    When a game ends, each client sends the player’s results to the Game Room. The Game Room has an Azure load balancer in front of it that distributes the results to one of its three web roles. Because the results are randomly scattered, they must be gathered into one central spot—the aggregator.

    clip_image007

    The inner working of the aggregator is an Azure Cache. Caches are used in computing because they take the pressure off a system by holding recently stored data in memory and letting many operations access the data. Because the data is in memory, it can be instantaneously returned to any operation. The cache operates instead of a database engine that would otherwise query for a particular result. Multiply the queries and the database quickly reaches its capacity to respond. Caches are tried and true time savers.

    Here’s what happens between the GR and the aggregator.

    clip_image009

    After a game ends, each Game Room web role receives the individual client results. The web role then sends all of its accumulated results to the aggregator. Note that due to retries, there may be duplicate client results received by the Game Room and received by the aggregator. (Two people sharing the same Gamertag while simultaneously playing using different devices also causes duplicate client results to be received.) Then, the aggregator sends all of the Game Room web role results back to each Game Room web role, as shown in Panel 3 of the diagram above.

    Each Game Room web role removes duplicates and sorts the results, and sends the top results and individual results with peer ranking back to the client. After the next round starts, each Game Room writes its buffer of unsorted results to blob storage. Each blob is named in the form <puzzle language id>-<game id>-<instance number>.txt, and consists of Comma Separated Values (CSV) data.

    Leader Board Orchestrator (LBO)

    The LBO does the heavy lifting for the app. It works in close partnership with the two database stores that conceptually flank it to create the “best of” lists (best of right now, best of the hour, best of the day, best of the week).

    clip_image010

    When the Game Room and the aggregator have finished the results reporting work, the LOB starts.

    It first gets the results of the game from the newly written blob storage. It then processes the data to create in-memory tables that are inserted into an instance of Azure SQL Database. Once the data is inserted into the database, a large number of queries, in the form of stored procedures can be run against the data. To preserve the integrity of the data, stored procedures are the only way used to determine stats. The integrity of the data can also be checked during the process. The LBO can use more than one worker role to process the data. The results can also be compared. If any discrepancies arise, then the worker can be immediately stopped, and a new worker started to retry the processing.

    Headquarters

    There is another component, although it is more of an infrastructure piece. The “Headquarters” service is used to run tests against the various other parts of the game. For example, it runs the test-bot that makes sure the game rooms (in all languages) are working. It also checks the integrity of the database operations. If a worker role running an operation creates a result that is different from others, the worker is terminated and a new one started. The headquarters handles those administrative and quality assurance duties.

    clip_image013

    Deployment

    And finally, a server that is on-premises builds and deploys the whole system, every night. The build system is automated, and Azure REST APIs enable deployment. The function is key in protecting the integrity of the system by only allowing only the build scripts to perform the tasks. No one physically should have the permission rights to build and deploy manually.

    clip_image014

     

    References

    Azure Blob Storage

    How to use the Windows Azure Blob Storage Service in .NET

    Azure Caching

    Cache

    Azure Cloud Services

    Cloud Services

    InstanceInputEndpoint

    WorkerRole Schema

    Azure PowerShell

    Windows Azure PowerShell

    Azure table storage

    What is a Storage Account?

    Azure SQL Database

    SQL Database

    TFS Online

    Visual Studio Online

    Visual Studio

    Visual Studio

    Table-valued parameters

    Batching Techniques for SQL Database Applications in Windows Azure

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Technology Primers for Cloud Services

    • 1 Comments

    Cloud Services are just one of Azure’s compute models. Think of a ‘compute model’ as the motor of a vehicle. Every type of powered transportation needs an engine to roll, fly, or sail. In the same way, every Azure app needs an engine to process data and perform tasks. But the motor is specialized to the vehicle’s demands. A compute model serves computing power in one way or another, but is optimized for different service types.

    Azure has four compute models, each optimized for different uses:

    · Websites: these are designed for only one purpose—to serve websites by executing server-side code such as PHP, ASP.NET, Python, and node.js (along with SQL for databases). You only worry about the website code—not the system that it runs on.

    · Virtual Machines: Virtual Machines include nearly everything that a hardware-based system contains—an operating system and virtual disk space, in addition to the virtualized processing power. Like a real machine, you are responsible for installing software and keeping the system patched.

    · Mobile Services: a mobile service is a turnkey backend for a mobile or other connected client app. It provides infrastructure for server-side storage, user authentication, and handles push notifications. A single mobile service is often used to coordinate app activities across client platforms like Windows, Android, iOS, and HTML.

    · Cloud Services: Cloud services are made of “roles” which are like VMs, in having a system and small virtual hard disk. They have one bonus: you do not have to maintain the operating system. The downside is that any role can go down without warning. Therefore, it is best to code these as stateless entities—with no knowledge of what happened before or what will happen later. Roles should be autonomous and ready to immediately resume the task at hand whenever they start. They are called ‘roles’ because they are adapted to specific kinds of tasks. A web role is built to communicate on the web using IIS to serve websites or web services. In contrast, a worker role only runs the methods of the application—it is a VM dedicated to computing without the overhead of IIS.

    Understanding the Opportunity of Cloud

    Sign up for a Free One Month Trial via http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/

    Check our Architecture BluePrints of Cloud Based gaming

    image

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Wordament and Cloud Gaming

    • 0 Comments

    clip_image002

    One of the most successful word games on phones and tables is Wordament. The game is played by thousands of players, every day. It’s played on Windows phones, tablets, and PC, phones and tablets from Apple, and devices built on Android—including Kindle devices. It’s played around the world in over a dozen languages. And it’s all run on Azure.

    Here are some interesting facts:

    · It’s been downloaded and enjoyed by millions

    · They have about 500 million game results stored

    · Every puzzle is unique

    · Over 7000 concurrent players have participated at a single instant in time

    · After a game ends, the leaderboard for the worldwide session is shown

    · During a game, everyone using the same puzzle language plays the same game for two minutes at time—everyone is connected at the same time

    · The bits are located in four datacenters around the world

    · They roll out a new build every night using “a ton of PowerShell scripts and TFS”

    · They log everything. Data is so cheap, their data costs $45 a month

    · C# is the only language used to code all parts of the game

    So how does the game actually work?

    1. Wordament is a game that presents a grid of 16 random, different, letters in a four by four grid. Each letter is on a tile. Each letter has a score. None of the letters are duplicates.

    2. To score, you must start at a letter, and connect to an adjoining letter. You can go left, right, up, down, or diagonally. You cannot reuse the same tile.

    3. The goal is to spell as many words as you can. Only words that are spelled correctly are accepted. Longer words have higher scores.

    4. Every two minutes, a new game starts. Players from all over the world are playing the same game (the same four by four grid). (Different languages have their own grids and games—so people playing the English board only play against each other—not Spanish or Finnish.)

    5. When the game ends, results from all players are collected, and the highest scores (and the user names of the player) are shown on the leader board.

    6. After 45 seconds, the leader board disappears, and a new game begins.

    7. The total playing/scoring cycle is 2 minutes and 45 seconds (165 seconds).

    The Gaming Experience

    One factor contributes to the success of the game: its smooth playing experience—and this is also a result of the architecture. When playing the game, new games start and stop without missing a beat, and instantly leaderboards are shown. So around the world, such as playing on a train in Africa, you can still get a reasonable response and keep playing. That feeling of effortless response is key to keeping the game going—and that is also a product of the architecture.

    So what is the Architecture behind Wordament

    see the following 3 part blog at http://msdn.microsoft.com/dn774975

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Great Deals - Educational Pricing for Unity, Autodesk, Adobe and Microsoft

    • 1 Comments

     

    In partnership with Studica, Unity3d has discounted costs. Here’s a link to the page.

    image

    Also, Autodesk, creators of Maya, 3DS Max, etc., also have FREE versions of their tools for students.

    image

     

    Microsoft offers DreamSpark to Students and FREE developer accounts to get your apps and games published on Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox 360 for FREE


     Microsoft offers BizSpark to startups, and night time project devs working on their own thing.

    image

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Getting to Grips with Unity3D - Essential training resources

    • 1 Comments

    unity

    Get up to speed by undertaking the follow Microsoft Virtual Academy intro to Developing 2D & 3D Games with Unity.  This training was delivered by Adam Tuliper,  David Crook, Dave Voyles, Tobiah Marks, Jason Fox, Carl Callewaert (Unity) and Matt Newman.

    Get up to speed by undertaking the following Microsoft Virtual Academy hosted a Porting Unity games to Windows Store and Windows Phone training event.. This training was delivered by Mickey MaDonald and Jaime Rodriguez.

    Unity Offer

    Porting to Windows is easy and profitable check out the following videos..

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/Inside-Unity3d-for-Windows-Phone -- is an interview with Tautvydas (one of the Unity devs for Windows Phone)

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/The-Bridge -- is the winner of our Unity contest and also the Unite 2014 award for best 2D game..  You gotta get this inside story (especially if you were an XNA fan before)..

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/The-Veil -- is the winner of 3rd place on our Unity contest..   

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/Owlchemy-Labs -- Alex Schwartz is a creative whiz.. super cool, super eloquent.. and a one to watch

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/Zoo-Tycoons-Friends -- is a solid story on our own Microsoft Studios Zoo Tycoon friends game..  Matt Roberts from the Zoo Tycoon team show how they reused their C# logic on Unity and Azure..

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/Luc-Bealieu-of-Frima-Studio -- these folks are super creative.. they are the publisher for the Nun Attack series of games, and Zombie Tyccoon 

    · http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog/The-People-Behind-the-Unite-Conference -- has an interview with our dear friends at Unity Carl and JC

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    New SSD based Azure Cloud Services announced perfect for Virtual Machines and Cloud Services

    • 2 Comments

    image

     

    The new D instances have solid-state disk (SSD)-based local drives and faster processors relative to many of the A-series instances.

    The D-series instances can be used as VMs, as well as web or worker roles in Cloud Services, and are well suited for applications that demand faster CPU performance, local disk performance, or higher memories. Please note that the SSD drives in the D-series are non-persistent.

      Following are the CPU, memory, and disk configurations of the D-series instances:

           Name   Number of vCPUs   Memory (GB)   SSD Local Disk (GB)  
      General Purpose  
      STANDARD_D1   1   3.5   50  
      STANDARD_D2   2   7   100  
      STANDARD_D3   4   14   200  
      STANDARD_D4   8   28   400  
      Memory Intensive  
      STANDARD_D11   2   14   100  
      STANDARD_D12   4   28   200  
      STANDARD_D13   8   56   400  
      STANDARD_D14   16   112   800  
     

     

    Resources

    For more information, visit the Virtual Machines webpage.

    To get a comprehensive look at pricing, visit the Virtual Machines Pricing Details webpage

    If you are new to Cloud and Azure try Azure with a Free one month trial* Sign-up for free and get €150 to spend on all Azure services http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/

    Want to learn more about Cloud Services undertake one of our FREE Microsoft Virtual Academy Session http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com

    Free on a Tuesday attend one of our UK specific, learning Webinar http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2014/09/19/getting-started-with-azure-webinar-every-tuesday-lunchtime-live-demos-of-websites-cloud-services-vms-and-mobile-services.aspx

    If your a educator or researcher you apply for a FREE Azure academic pass from www.windowsazure.com/education

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Getting Started with Azure webinar every Tuesday lunchtime: live demos of Websites, Cloud Services, VMs and Mobile Services

    • 2 Comments

    logo

    The Microsoft UK team are spending every Tuesday to teach you how to use free cloud computing resources from Microsoft Azure cloud  and cloud computing concepts.

    So why not learn how to develop beautiful, interactive and fast websites using Microsoft web tools and platform!

    You also have the option of attending our physical Camp so here is a list of our events for Sept and Oct.

    Date

    Location

    Capacity

    Name

    Description

    URL

    26-Sep

    London CP

    80

    Web Camp

    At this Web Camp, you’ll learn how to develop beautiful, interactive and fast web sites using Microsoft’s web tools and platform. You will also learn how to deploy and scale your web sites with the cloud.

    http://bit.ly/1mhwQun

    30-Sep

    online

    unlimited

    Getting Started With Azure

    The Azure Weekly runs every Tuesday from 12:30 – 13:30 (UK timezone) and is aimed at the techie who has not yet had any/much exposure to Azure but who just wants a leg-up to get started.

    http://bit.ly/1tlIvcO

    07-Oct

    online

    unlimited

    Getting Started With Azure

    The Azure Weekly runs every Tuesday from 12:30 – 13:30 (UK timezone) and is aimed at the techie who has not yet had any/much exposure to Azure but who just wants a leg-up to get started.

    http://bit.ly/1wrZolL

    14-Oct

    Online

    unlimited

    Getting Started With Azure & Guest Speaker Richard Conway from Elasta Cloud – Big Data

    The Azure Weekly runs every Tuesday from 12:30 – 13:30 (UK timezone) and is aimed at the techie who has not yet had any/much exposure to Azure but who just wants a leg-up to get started. We have invited Richard Conway, MVP for Azure, to show you how to get started with Machine Learning on Azure

    http://bit.ly/1uJEKx4

    21-Oct

    online

    unlimited

    Getting Started With Azure & Game Development  Guest Speaker L.Deane Gateway Interactive

    The Azure Weekly runs every Tuesday from 12:30 – 13:30 (UK timezone) and is aimed at the Game Developer who has not yet had any/much exposure to Azure Cloud Services

    bit.ly/1uJEKx4

    28-Oct

    online

    unlimited

    Getting Started With Azure & Guest Speaker P.Norris from Madfellows

    The Azure Weekly runs every Tuesday from 12:30 – 13:30 (UK timezone) and is aimed at Game Developers who just wants a leg-up to get started. Madfellows use Azure cloud for game data storage and content distribution. Speaker soon!

    bit.ly/1BPdXmj

    30-Oct

    online

    unlimited

    Building Websites With Azure

    New to Azure? Are you a web developer? Find out how you can use tools in Visual Studio to deploy websites into Azure. This introductory webinar will teach you everything you need to know about getting up and running and developing web applications in Azure

    bit.ly/1p29t3X

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone Emulators or Simulator to test your apps or games

    • 2 Comments

    So if your looking for the Windows Phone Emulator to test your apps or games please follow the links below.

     

    Windows Phone 8.1

    Windows Phone 8.1 development tools

    The Windows Phone 8.1 development tools are installed with Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows with Update 2 or later and Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 or later. New features include universal Windows app development for all Windows devices—universal app templates, a full-featured code editor, a powerful debugger, emulators, rich language support, and more, all ready to use in production.

    Get Visual Studio Express 2013 for WindowsGet Visual Studio 2013 Update 3

    Windows Phone 8.1 Emulators

    The Windows Phone 8.1 Emulators package adds six emulator images to an existing installation of Visual Studio. With these emulators installed, developers can test how apps will run on phones running Windows Phone 8.1. This package requires Visual Studio 2013 with Update 2 or later, Windows 8.1 (x64) Professional edition or higher, and a processor that supports Client Hyper-V and Second Level Address Translation (SLAT).

    Download now
    (1.14 MB, English)

    Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Emulators

    Add six emulator images to Visual Studio 2013 so you can test how your app will run on phones running Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. (Requires Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 or later.) Learn more about Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Emulators.

    Download the Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Emulators

    Windows Phone 8

    Windows Phone SDK 8.0

    Tools for developing apps for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5 devices. Get details and additional languages

    Download now
    (1.02 MB, English)

    Windows Phone SDK 8.0 Update 3 Emulators

    Adds five new emulator images to an existing installation of Windows Phone SDK 8.0. With this update installed, you can test how your app will run on devices that have Update 3 (version 8.0.10492 or later) of Windows Phone 8. This update requires either Visual Studio 2012 with Windows Phone SDK 8.0 and Update 4 or later, or Visual Studio 2013 with the optional Windows Phone SDK 8.0 option selected during setup. Get details and additional languages

    Download now
    (942 MB, English)

    Windows Phone SDK 8.0 Update for Windows Phone 8.0.10322

    Adds four new emulator images to an existing installation of Windows Phone SDK 8.0. This update requires either Visual Studio 2012 with Windows Phone SDK 8.0 and Update 4 or later, or Visual Studio 2013 with the optional Windows Phone SDK 8.0 option selected during setup. Get details and additional languages

    Download now
    (920 MB, English)

    Windows Phone 7

    Windows Phone SDK 7.1

    Tools to help you develop apps for Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 7.0 devices. Get details and additional languages

    Download now
    (3.37 MB, English)

    Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 Update

    Brings additional functionality to Windows Phone SDK 7.1. With this update, it’s easier to develop apps and games that are optimized to run on 256-MB devices. Get details and additional languages

    Download now
    (290 MB, English)

    Windows Phone SDK Update for Windows Phone 7.8

    Adds two new emulator images to an existing Windows Phone SDK installation. This update supports Windows Phone SDK 7.1 and Windows Phone SDK 8.0. With this update, use Windows Phone 8 Start screen experience in your Windows Phone 7.5 apps. You also can test how your apps will run on Windows Phone 7.8 devices. Get details and additional languages

    Download now
    (1.1 MB, English)

     

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows now offers Developer lifetime developer accounts and benefits

    • 3 Comments

    devicesWin

    New Dev Center Lifetime Registration And Benefits Program

    Devcentre

    Starting today, Windows Dev Center requires only a one-time registration payment, which grants developers the ability to submit apps to both Windows and Windows Phone stores, with no annual renewal fee. Existing registered developers will no longer have to pay Dev Center renewal fees to maintain their account.

    devcentreben 

    Today we  also announced the Dev Center Benefits program, the program has been designed to increase your success on Microsoft platforms by helping develop, improve and market your apps with a variety of offers and tools.

    The good new is the Dev Center benefits program will be available to all registered developers worldwide.

    So what are you waiting for sign up Now! for the Dev Center and the Dev Center Benefits program.

    For more details see http://bit.ly/1soCDeD

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