• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Make It Happen! – Imagine Cup UK Finals 31st March 2015




    We live in a time where we can imagine the impossible and make it probable.  Hello and welcome to the 2015 Imagine Make It Happen Event! This unique event brings together influential Tech Speakers, Students and Start-ups redefining the rules to make their dreams a reality.

    Morning Sessions:9:30 AM-1 2:30 PM

    Registration at 9:00 AM

    Being a Start-up takes just the right amount of ‘crazy’ and some strong core skills. Our morning sessions with a key note from Dave Coplin Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft UK, are designed to help you get lean, keep investors keen and get your Start-up seen, as well as nuts and bolts workshops on how to scale, how to be productive and more.

    Afternoon Sessions: 1:00 PM- 18:00 PM

    Registration at 12:30 PM

    Calling Students and futurists of all ages, to  come and be inspired at the Imagine Cup 2015 UK finals. The largest Student Technology competition in the world. Yes it is a competition but more importantly it is a celebration of student innovation, the power to not just look into the future but to change it for the better.

    The half day event is an educational and inspirational afternoon that showcases the field of Computer Science through a celebration of student innovation! It will consist of exciting demonstrations that will showcase 12 of the most innovative student start up’s in Tech for Apps & Games & talks from Cambridge professor’s and Tech Industry experts. We hope to inspire students to consider fantastic opportunities available to them in becoming the next generation of Computer Scientists.

    At the Microsoft UK HQ we are heads down currently creating the agenda for the day that as well as talks, will consist of breakout sessions where students can learn to code, test out the start-ups Apps & Games, meet the Xbox team and learn about the Microsoft developer tools.

    Do you have questions about Imagine Make It Happen? Contact t-carobi@microsoft.com or Ben Kosky : t-benko@microsoft.com or Lisa Crawford a-licra@microsoft.com

    Register your place now at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/imagine-make-it-happen-tickets-15650107894

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Can’t get enough Marmalade?



     James Mintram and I will return for an advanced course, “Developing Games with Marmalade and C++ for Windows and Windows Phone.” If you want to build on the skills you learned in Creating Your First Marmalade Game, join us on February 26.

    We’ll learn about building the game, deploying it to a device, and including features, like "game save" and leaderboards. We’ll add a cloud back end, and we’ll explore monetization. Plus, we’ll look at best practices for game ads, packaging, and publishing, as we integrate with Windows platform-specific features. Bring your questions!

    Course Outline

    • Marmalade and Visual Studio Overview
    • Building the Gameplay
    • Cloud Services
    • Monetization
    • Creating Marmalade Extensions
    • Packaging & Finishing Touches

    Register now! (http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/liveevents/developing-games-with-marmalade-and-c-for-windows-and-windows-phone)

    Developing Games with Marmalade and C++ for Windows and Windows Phone

    Date: February 26, 2015
    Time: 9am‒1:30pm PST
    Where: Jump Start training with live Q&A
    Cost: Free!

    Marmalade Developer offers


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft HoloLens




    One of the coolest new technologies enabled by Windows 10 is Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s most advanced holographic computing platform. There will be more shared about Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft’s Build development conference (tickets are sold out, but sessions will be streamed and made available as video on demand), and in the meantime you can learn more here: http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/

    If you’re interested in developing for Microsoft HoloLens, you should head here: http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us/get-ready and scroll down to the “contact us” link on the right hand side of the page.

    Microsoft HoloLens runs on Windows 10, so you should also get started with the Windows Insider Program, and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Calling all Game Developers – Microsoft Dev Center Contest



    Bring your best games to the Windows and Windows Phone Store and you could win* up to $10,000. Build a creative new game, or port one you’ve already made and you could win these prizes:

    First Prize: $10,000 USD
    Second Prize: $5,000 USD
    Third Prize: $3,000 USD
    10 Honourable Mention Prizes: $1,000 USD each

    The winners

    Contest winners will be announced on or before May 11, 2015. Winners will be contacted directly with details on how to collect their prizes.

    Entries can be submitted between 12:01 a.m. PT on January 21, 2015 – 11:59 p.m. PT on March 20, 2015.

    Who can enter?

    Developers can submit games made with any technology. You can submit original games or port existing published games (from an alternative platform like Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle, Blackberry, etc.) to the Windows or Windows Phone platform in the Windows Store during the Entry Period.

    What will your game be judged on?

    Submissions will be judged by a Microsoft panel on the following criteria:

    • Quality of Submission (50%): How visually appealing is your game? How well do you use special effects to develop immersive gameplay? How intuitive is your user experience?
    • Creativity (30%) How original is your game design idea?
    • Technical Excellence (20%): Is your game performance fast and fluid? Did you leverage Windows platform features such as contracts, touch, game hubs, live tiles, notifications, sensors or speech as applicable, to create engaging interactions?

    How to enter

    Step 1

    Create or port your game to Windows Store or Windows Phone or both.

    Step 2

    Submit your game to Windows Store or Windows Phone Store. You will first need to create a developer account on Windows Dev Center, and register for a free account that you can use to publish to the windows stores. Allow sufficient time for certification and to get your game published to the store.

    Step 3

    Apply to the DVLUP challenge with your published game link, between January 21 - March 20, 2015.

    *Complete rules

    Contest is open to Windows Developer Center account holders 18+. Other eligibility restrictions apply. Games must be published in a Windows Store after 12:01 a.m. PT January 1, 2015 and before 11:59 p.m. PT March 20th 2015 to be eligible.

    For complete details, see Official Rules

    For frequently asked questions, see FAQ

    For more information, see the DVLUP challenge

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Orleans now available on GitHub



    Project "Orleans"

    Orleans is a framework that provides a straightforward approach to building distributed high-scale computing applications, without the need to learn and apply complex concurrency or other scaling patterns. It was created by Microsoft Research and designed for use in the cloud. Orleans has been used extensively in Microsoft Azure by several Microsoft product groups, most notably by 343 Industries as a platform for all of Halo 4 cloud services, as well as by a number of other companies.


    Latest Orleans technical report

    Repository of community add-ons to Orleans

    Orleans was created by Microsoft Research and designed for use in the cloud. Orleans has been used extensively running in Microsoft Azure by several Microsoft product groups, most notably by 343 Industries as a platform for all of Halo 4 cloud services, as well as by a number of other projects and companies.


    Orleans Videos

    Microsoft Research project Orleans simplify development of scalable cloud services

    In this episode Chris Risner and Haishi Bai are joined by Sergey Bykov, Principal Development Lead at Microsoft Research on project Orleans - a framework to simplify development of scalable cloud services. In this episode Sergey discusses the motivation for building project Orleans, describes the concepts you need to know and demonstrates how you can quickly get started using it.

    Using Orleans to Build Halo 4’s Distributed Cloud Services in Azure

    This talk will detail how the Halo 4 team at 343 Industries used the Orleans technology from Microsoft Research to build the cloud services that power the Halo 4 blockbuster title. Attendees will learn about the paradigm shift that the team went through to think about building cloud-native services using Orleans and how that transition resulted in their ability to rapidly design services that are simpler to maintain and evolve as well as being easier to conceptualize. Participants will leave this talk understanding how to use Orleans to build highly-concurrent, stateful services that scale-by-default. Participants will also learn how the virtual actor concept makes it easier to reason about and achieve fault-tolerance in the cloud.

    Building Real-Time Services for Halo

    Video about 343 Industries building real-time services using the Orleans framework

    Download and Try Orleans via Github


    Session at Build 2014: Using Orleans to Build Halo 4’s Distributed Cloud Services in Azure

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Kinect hack London is coming!


    Get hands-on with the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor

    The lovely folk at Microsoft have given us access to a whole bunch of hardware, room to play and promise to keep you fed and watered while you have fun learning, hacking, voice commanding and gesticulating with the incredible Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and latest SDK.

    What to expect

    The event will take place at Microsoft HQ in London, Cardinal Place (Victoria, London) 5 mins walk from Victoria Train Station

    We'll provide the food and drink (and some really cool giveaways) so you can have unadulterated hacking focus to build your Kinect based apps, games or anything else in whatever ways you dream up.

    Event Start: Saturday 21st March 10:00am
    Event End: Sunday 22nd March 18:00pm

    What do I need?

    To use the official Microsoft Kinect for Windows v2 SDK you'll need a Windows PC with the following minimum requirements.

    It is advised you download and install the SDK prior to the event available here

    Everyone is welcome with the hardware/platform of your choice but the main expertise available will be on the official Windows SDK.

    Space is limited to grab your ticket now!

    Register Now http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/kinecthack-london-tickets-15373679088

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Cloud Gaming Day 19 Jan 2015


    There’s a new trend in gaming called cloud gaming. What’s cloud gaming all about? Think of the cloud. Now, think of gaming. The UK is a hotbed for great games innovation, and Microsoft is committed to helping startups and independent games developers accelerate their route to market.

    Watch the videos from the event available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/The-Game-Blog

    • Welcome. With Lee Stott, Technical Evangelist at Microsoft

    "In this talk, Lee provides a introduction to the day and give an overview of where Microsoft see the Cloud Gaming opportunity”

    Introduction to Cloud Gaming Day London

    • CRM in Gaming: Leveraging customer insight to improve their experience - and your bottom line. With James Nieswand from Illyriad Games.

    "In this talk, James will share Illyriad Games' experiences and insight into how to attract the players, retain them and improve their gameplay experience by using metrics, analysis and modeling. The talk will explain how even a tiny indie can use CRM techniques such as cluster segmentation, deep dive analysis, predictive analytics and realtime decisioning to improve the experience of not only an individual player, but all your players."

    CRM in Gaming: Leveraging customer insight to improve their experience - and your bottom line.


    • Know and engage your player. With Karl Piteira.

    "Karl helps apps engage and retain hundreds of millions of users as a Product Owner and Customer Success manager at Capptain which was acquired in 2014 by Microsoft. Prior to that he managed strategic partnerships at Myriad Group which is part of the billion mobile software club."

    Know and engage your player. With Capptain

    • The Indie View on Profitable Cloud Gaming. With Chris Sterling.

    "Chris has 25 years of professional software development experience in games and tools, and has founded several technology start-ups. In 1997 he designed the real-time strategy PC game "Beasts and Bumpkins", published by EA. He later built the commercial 3D engine and editor toolkit "DX Studio", used by both indie studios and industrial simulators. More recently he worked with Ian Livingstone to reboot the retro Fighting Fantasy game books on modern devices. He now builds social games, the latest of which being the popular word game "WordBog", and offers consultancy for cloud gaming development."

    The Indie View on Profitable Cloud Gaming

    • Machine Learning within Games. With Richard Conway from ElastaCloud.

    "Richard Conway has been programming since his ZX81. Since the inception of Azure he's been smitten by the cloud and learning to use all of the resources it can offer. He works for Elastacloud (yes you can probably guess what we do!) and loves using technologies which scale (Big Data and Big Compute). He's one of the founders of the UK Azure Users Group which now has registered members in the thousands and sets up monthly meetings, conferences and hackathons showcasing really cool cloudy tech. His most recent fascination is with machine learning and although his aging and addled brain struggles to keep up with the maths it's way cool! 
    In this talk Richard will cover some of the ways that gaming companies can build in analytics capabilities in an infinitely scalable way and using the power of the cloud (or as much as your wallet and Azure will scale to!). He’ll be covering some patterns he’s used in gaming in the past using both Microsoft’s analytics platform services and Elastacloud’s own Azure-based analytics service Brisk."

    Machine Learning within Games

    • The new Cloud Experience of Aysnc Games. With Louis Deane from Gateway Interactive.

    "Gateway Interactive are Microsoft Venture Accelerator graduates and have developed cloud based services for their new title on mobile and console."

    The new Cloud Experience of Async Games

    • Building a new world with Docker. With James Mintram from Lemon Moose Games.

    "Lemon Moose Games Ltd has developed a number of successful titles which have been distributed across a total of 8 platforms and numerous marketplaces, this session will focus on the new opportunity of containerization of application with Docker."

    Building a new world with Docker

    • The Cloud. With Sam Barton-Nicol froom Mediatonic.

    " As Director of Product Management, Sam provides a link between Mediatonic's games, their audience and the wider marketplace. Commercially responsible for the success of their titles, Sam works closely alongside internal teams and external publishers (in 2014 this includes Microsoft, Square Enix and Bandai Namco) to guide projects toward business opportunities while ensuring players remain engaged and delighted within compelling virtual worlds.
    Mediatonic work with the world's finest entertainment companies to create original games-as-a-service that connect millions of players across the globe. In this talk, Sam will share how game development can be de-risked by employing the cloud to uncouple art, design and engineering co-dependencies, to understand the needs of audiences and to release seamless, instant updates across multiple platforms."

    Ahead In The Cloud a overview from Mediatonic

    • Player ranking and matchmaking on Xbox Live. With Thore Graepel from Microsoft Research.

    "Thore Graepel is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and Professor of Machine Learning at University College London. His research interests revolve around large-scale applications of machine learning including skill estimation, user modelling, recommender systems and game AI. Thore is one of the co-inventors of the TrueSkill algorithm for ranking and matchmaking used in Xbox Live, and has also contributed to various aspects of user modelling and recommendation in Microsoft’s services. More recently, his work on estimating personality and other user attributes from social networking data has received a lot of attention. 
    In multiplayer online gaming one of the key questions is how we can match players together that are a good fit and hence will have a great gaming experience together. Different aspects such as existing social connections, personality, quality of connection, and skill can play a role. In this session I will focus on the skill dimension and explain how the TrueSkill system works out the individual skills of players from the observed game outcomes. I will discuss the impact on the quality of matchmaking and give some good practice advice for competitive matchmaking. Time permitting, I will discuss some future ideas for matchmaking including personality based matches."

    Player ranking and matchmaking on Xbox Live from Microsoft Research.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    28 days to accelerate your tech skills. Join the Know It. Prove It. challenge! http://www.knowitproveit.com


    For the next four weeks. Make a potentially life-changing commitment to yourself, to us, and to your friends, family, and colleagues, sit down every day, and learn.

    Know it.

    We want you to know your stuff, so the challenge is chock full of great courses spread across eight different learning challenges. Pick an area that interests you, regardless of your job title. Dive right in on Day One with the introductory stuff and, by the end of February, you'll possess some serious eye-opening knowledge.

    Prove it.

    We want you to show off your training. You can easily share your involvement through social channels, like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Each learning challenge comes with a badge you can use, and we have a full set of forums you can join. Oh, and I should mention both regional and technology leaderboards! Plus, Know it. Prove it. learning challenges are full of MVA courses, and you get the digital certificate of completion for each course you finish. Get involved, show your success, get help if you’re stuck, and rock it.

    Well, what are you waiting for? Grab this opportunity to launch your year off right. Join the challenge to better your technology skills. Don’t lose yourself to the day-to-day forever! Be a rock star in the KiPi Band!

    See you on launch day, February 1! Register now so you’re ready. See you there!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Adding a Cloud Backend to your game for telemetry management


    An Introduction to Red Dog Racing from Alan Smith http://geekswithblogs.net/asmith/Default.aspx


    You can watch this video introduction to Red Dog Racing is a 3D driving game that makes use of back-end services hosted in Microsoft Azure. Sector and lap time data and telemetry data is send from the game to the Azure Service Bus.

    A Microsoft Azure worker role worker role is used to de-queue and process the data and store it as entities in Windows Azure Table Storage. Telemetry data is also sent to Windows Azure Blob Storage to provide the game with a replay function that displays ghost cars for the fastest laps driven by other players. The best lap times, overall standings, and driver telemetry data can be viewed on a website.

    I have used the game as one of the scenarios in my recently published PluralSight course Windows Azure Storage In-Depth, to show how I use Queues, Table Storage and Blobs to process and store  lap time, telemetry data and replay data from the game.

    Here an overview of the various Azure Storage Solution http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Developing-Microsoft-Azure-Solutions/05

    If you want to learn more about telemetry processing or implementing game services in Windows Azure, or would be interested in a Windows Azure training course please feel free to contact me though this blog.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Visual Studio Team moves source to GitHub and offers Visual Studio as part of the Github student developer pack


    As your aware Microsoft open-sourced .NET Core which is now hosted on GitHub as its home.

    The GitHub Student Developer Pack is a great free offer for those students, with terrific tools and services from GitHub partners Microsoft has now included Visual Studio Community 2013 into the GitHub Student Developer Pack,

    In addition to Visual Studio Community, students will also find additional tools and services including:

    • Visual Studio:  The tools, designers and debuggers you need for your next project – with support for web, mobile, desktop and cloud apps using C#, Node.js, Python, F#, VB and more. 
    • Visual Studio Online: Tools for planning, backlogs, tracking bugs and running builds and continuous integration – all in one place.  Visual Studio Online accounts are free for up to 5 users.
    • Microsoft Azure:  Host apps in the cloud on a platform that supports any OS, any language and any framework.  Microsoft Azure subscriptions include 10 free web sites and 10 free mobile services.

    At the same time, we’re inviting GitHub-loving students to try out Microsoft DreamSpark great free tools, including SQL Server and Windows Store developer accounts, as well as great free training courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy.

    Microsoft Virtual Academy has hundreds of courses from game development using 3rd party tools and middleware and to how to get started with GitHub in Visual Studio.

    So give it a try and ensure you use the very best IDE with the best Open Source, source control repository and tools!

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