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Guest blog by Simon Grey Lecturer in Games Development Studies at the University of Hull
XNA is a great framework for creating games, and we use it as a tool to motivate students to learn how to program whilst creating great games at extra-curricular events such as the three thing game. For us, a tools like XNA is an invaluable intrinsic motivator – inspiring students to want to learn to code, as opposed to being motivated because we said so, or because they will get better grades.
According to the official documentation XNA requires Visual Studio 2010. Now, clearly it’s possible to install both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012 on the same machine, but that would have a big impact on the size of the image.
To get around the limitation of our managed desktop Hard Drive capacity we would d rather not install both if we don’t have to, but if you try to install XNA on a machine that doesn’t include Visual Studio 2010 the installation will fail.
However after some monitoring of the install process here is a nice walkthrough produced by the University of Hull of how to install XNA onto a machine with Visual Studio 2012. The University of Hull we are keen to provide students with as seamless an experience as possible when moving from working at home to working in university, with this in mind I Simon has developed the following blog post, so that students can use XNA at home with Visual Studio 2012 to allow them an easy transition to and from the machines at the University
You’ll need to download this zip file which contains the entire XNA setup and the folders that you’ll need to copy yourself.
Visual Studio Professional 2013 https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=72
Visual Studio Professional 2012 https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=44
Visual Studio Professional 2010 https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=4
MonoGame for taking existing XNA Games and Apps to Windows 8 – http://www.monogame.net
XNA Game Studio - https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=3
Getting Started creating Xbox Indie XNA Games - http://www.slideshare.net/lee_stott/xbox-indie-account-via-xna-creators-club-for-all-students
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a few hundred people at Apps World on a session entitled Cross Platform Panel: Exploring Methodologies & Tools.
This is a fascinating area as today’s modern app developers are now ultimately having to become more agile in their abilities and use the best tools available to develop an app for as many platforms as possible within a shortest period of time to maximise the revenue their app or game can achieve.
However having to develop an application or game for a diverse range of mobile platforms iOS, Android, Windows Phone etc.. has a number of constraints which need to be taken into consideration for example each have their own ‘native’ development languages, UI/UX, developer tools and environments.
But for the modern developer there is an ever growing list of cross-platform frameworks that allow you to minimise the cost and effort of developing mobile apps, but which to choose?
Here is a list of some of the most common cross platform frameworks available for today’s mobile app builders.
Enyo is a free and open source (Apache 2.0 license) cross-platform and cross-browser application development framework that enables developers to create HTML5 applications and deploy them to many modern desktop browsers and mobile devices.
Enyo is built around the philosophy of fully-encapsulated components, which allow a developer to reuse component pieces (or even an entire application) in new or existing projects. It is possible to embed full Enyo applications in the DOM elements of existing Web pages.
Enyo has a dependency mechanism (package.js) to enable a basic modular approach to building applications. If you look at most Enyo projects, you will see references to a $lib directory in one or more package.js files, usually to include optional modules such as Layout (lists and responsive components) and Onyx (a widget library).
Intel App Framework is a framework for building cross-platform mobile application using HTML5 technologies. The framework started life as jqMobi, a mobile optimised version of jQuery, which was created by the team behind appMobi. Intel acquired the jqMobi tools and staff in February 2013.
Intel App Framework is free and open sourced under an MIT licence. Intel also offer XDK, which is a a full suite of tools built around the App Framework. XDK adds an IDE, build tools and an emulator.
jQTouch is a Zepto/jQuery plugin which provides a framework for developing iOS and Android applications. It is both open source and free to use.
jQTouch provides a structure on which to base the HTML, the majority of the application styling, page transition animations and touch based event handling; however, it’s not a fully featured application development solution.
iOS version uses the out-of-the-box jQuery Mobile styles
Windows Phone uses the jquery-metro-theme extensions to support the Windows UI style together with Windows Phone specific features such as the app-bar.
Kendo provide a suite of web development frameworks, all of which are built on top of the ‘core’ Kendo UI MVVM framework. The Kendo UI Mobile framework adds a set of UI widgets for the creation of mobile interfaces. The mobile framework has a look and feel that mimics the native Apple, Android and Windows Phone themes.
Lungo is a framework for developing cross-platform applications in HTML5. Lungo applications are run in the browser, similar to other HTML-based frameworks such as jQuery Mobile. Lungo provides 2 main workflows:
Lungo provides a rich set of classes to help decorate basic HTML5 markup. The markup is then given behaviour and interaction based on the structure by Lungo, without any developer code being required. Lungo’s philosophy is that you should be able to create a prototype of your application to show basic interaction and page flow without having to write any JS yourself.
Lungo also provides a JS API to interact and enhance the prototype. The Lungo API is similar to the common functionality you’d see in other mobile frameworks, such as DOM manipulation (through Quo.js), page routing and navigation, storage etc.
mgwt is an open source mobile widget framework build using GWT. mgwt provides a number of UI widgets, CSS styles and a PhoneGap API which make it easier to develop native-like applications using GWT.
PhoneJS is a commercial HTML5 framework for cross platform mobile application development from DevExpress. PhoneJS is free for non-commercial use.
PhoneJS uses the Knockout MVVM framework for structuring the application, with the PhoneJS CSS providing a native-styled UI for the various phone platforms. PhoneJS applications use PhoneGap for packaging.
DevExpress also offers a more integrated solution based on PhoneJS, called DXTREME Mobile, which adds Visual Studio tooling.
Titanium APIs provide an abstraction layer for the Android and iOS UI elements, allowing you to write your view code against the Titanium abstraction. Although, there are some view concepts which have not been abstracted, meaning that developers have to write platform specific view code
Xamarin have two commercial products, Xamarin.iOS for iOS development and Xamarin.Android. The Xamarin frameworks allow you to write applications using C# and the .NET framework. For each platform Xamarin provide bindings to the native platform APIs. As a result Xamarin applications make use of the native UI for each mobile platform. Xamarin do not provide a Windows Phone product because the C# and .NET code used for Android and iOS development is directly portable to Windows Phone.
What resources are available to help evaluate which is the best solution?
To help solve this problem PropertyCross presents a non-trivial application, for searching UK property listings, developed using a range of cross-platform technologies and frameworks. Property Cross has a simple aim is to provide developers with a practical insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each framework so this is a definite resource you should check out if your interested in cross platform development.
I would love to hear your experiences of developing apps and games for cross platform support and which tool you find the most useful?
The Academic Search beta is a free search engine, developed by Microsoft Research, that helps users quickly find information about academic researchers and their activities. It is also a test-bed for our object-level vertical search research.
With Academic Search, you can easily find top researchers and their papers, conferences, and journals. You can also find relationships between researchers who co-authored papers. Academic Search will be changing its name with the upcoming release of new and improved features. In the meantime, try Academic Search and explore more than 15 million publications.
Project Hawaii Releases Cloud Services SDK for Windows Phone 7 Beta The MRC Engineering team, in collaboration with the newly formed Microsoft Mobile Computing Research Center (MCRC), has released the fourth and final cloud service for Windows Phone 7 development: Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This OCR service is the next step in the evolution of Project Hawaii, the Microsoft Research project that is exploring how to take full advantage of the cloud to enhance the use of smartphones. With Hawaii OCR, you can use your smartphone's camera to take a picture of an object that contains text (in Roman characters), send the image to the cloud, and in return receive a Unicode string of the text. This text string can be used in a number of interesting scenarios, such as translation of street signs or restaurant menus.
Download the SDK and start building Windows Phone 7 apps today. For more details, read the Aloha: Text from the Cloud blog.
With the announcement that you can run Hyper-V on the Windows 8 client. I have had a lot of questions regarding this? I did do a post back in August explaining the process of checking your PC estate for SLAT Support see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/08/31/if-your-thinking-of-installing-windows-8-are-your-labs-machine-capable.aspx
A number of people have reported simple having problems running Hyper-V on a Windows 8 client as it requires SLAT to run Hyper-V.
Running Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 does *not* require SLAT but most institutions don't want to install a server OS as a desktop operating system. SLAT is a feature of the CPU. It is called “Rapid Virtualization Indexing (RVI)”, and has been called Extended Page Tables (EPT) by Intel and Nested Page Tables (NPT) by AMD.
You can use Wikipedia to look up Intel Nehalem and AMD NPT:
Processors that support SLAT
For AMD machines you can look up the supported models at http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/GPU120AMDRVICPUsHyperVWin8.aspx
Tools for testing for SLAT Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich has also created a really nice utility coreinfo.exe You can simply run coreinfo.ext and it will detect EPT and NPT (SLAT) support on your CPU.
To test your machine, simply download coreinfo.exe from Microsoft Sysinternals http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc835722 and use the coreinfo -v switch to list the features. An asterisk * next to a feature indicates that it is supported. A minus sign - indicates no support for that feature. Note: Coreinfo must be executed on a system without a hypervisor running for accurate results and under a administrator account on Windows 8. For example here is a screenshot from my Lenovo X200 series tablet
“*” means the feature is present
“-“ means it is missing
Alternatively, you can use Windows PowerShell to capture your specific CPU model this could be scripted to report the state of your entire PC labs or cluster estate the PowerShell command is gwmi win32_processor
NOTE: Be sure to include the specific family/model/stepping since different processor revisions may have different feature sets.
Pre Order your Surface with Windows RT
Who says that pretty can’t be practical?
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64 GB with Black Touch Cover £559.00 incl. VAT
32 GB with Black Touch Cover £479.00 incl. VAT
32 GB without Black Touch Cover £399.00 incl. VAT
Your order will ship by October 26 and arrive by October 30.
For more details and to order see http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/pdp/productID.257929400?WT.mc_id=FY13WinHH
Check out the Surface Your tube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/surface
Follow Surface on Twitter @surface
Guest blog by Andrew Wilson, Course Director, BSc (Hons) Computer Games Technology, Birmingham City University
Introducing students to the processes of game development that is designing, prototyping, play testing and refining the original idea has to be fun and engaging. Many students joining game development courses such as ours at Birmingham City University have little exposure to programming and can be frustrated by not being able to develop their game ideas as quickly as they hoped.
Therefore to complement the teaching of software development tools such as Microsoft XNA Game Studio, MonoGame or Unity3D we need tools where our students can quickly produce fun playable games and which they can learn very quickly.
As an experiment in 2012 a group of first year students were asked to develop a mobile game based on a brief set by a local independent games studio Distorted Poetry. The students were allowed to use a tool of their choice as long as it was free and that they were comfortable with teaching it to themselves. Teaching other people is one of the best ways of learning and an approach we encourage and cultivate on the BSc Computer Games Technology course a skill that has rewarded several of our students with employment in local games studios.
The 2012 teams predominately chose Scirra’s Construct2 as developing games in HTML5 was high on their agenda. Construct2 is a very nice tool to learn game development without the overhead of learning complex coding practises. Once the students mastered the environment they quickly developed game ideas within a few hours.
Construct2 game Soul survivor developed by first year BCU Computer Games Technology students (2102)
This year’s first years were given the challenge of developing a Construct2 game for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013. They have just completed their prototypes and are in the process of play-testing their games.
Their ideas are clever and innovative and demonstrates how easy Construct2 is to learn and what is achievable with it
First year Computer Games Technology (2013) prototypes for this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup
Deploying to different platforms has also been made incredible easy with the export function and can be published onto the Windows 8 App store which is available to students via dreamspark. A great addition that helps students develop their portfolio of published games which is very important for a career as a games developer.
Usman Mohammad, a second year Computer Games Technology student, is working on a Birmingham City University Student Academic Partner Programme.
This scheme is a unique partnership involving the Students' Union and Birmingham City University. The scheme topped the 2010 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in the ‘Outstanding Support for Students’ category. Usman is working on developing a workshop using Construct2 which can be used in our University’s outreach and master class programmes, where school and college students can have an introduction to games development and experience studying in our University.
So well done to Scirra and we hope you keep producing such an excellent teaching tool.
Next week I will be at the Develop Conference, attending some of the 103 sessions, 5 keynotes, and on the Microsoft stand at the Expo. I’m looking forward to networking with the 1500 developers and 450 companies during the event and discussing the opportunity of developing Windows 8 Metro Style games.
On http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh452780.aspx we list options for developing Windows 8 games.
At present there are over 50 games available in the store using the above technologies, here are some good links to get started
· Metro style app using C++, C#, or Visual Basic and XAML. You can use managed code languages like C# and Visual Basic to develop 2D (and lightweight 3D) games. If you have developed in Silverlight for Internet Explorer or Windows Phone 7, this model will feel very familiar.
· Metro style C++ with DirectX. You can develop both 2D and 3D games that effectively use the graphics processing horsepower on a range of Windows desktops and 3D-enabled Windows devices, from high powered gaming rigs to low power slates. It requires a strong working knowledge of Windows programming and native C/C++.
There are a number of online tutorial around Marble Maze which is a DirectX game written in C++. This leads you to the more basic “Hello World” example over here although while the results of that example are “Hello World” in nature.
There’s another, more realistic sample over here with a walk-through to build up a Metro style shooting game. It takes the form of a completed code sample and a walk through of what’s going on in that sample.
It runs to around 40 source files.
The key learning outcome for starting to build games for Metro are as follows as these would make excellent starting points for curricula development for Developing Metro Style Games.
1) Understanding how a Metro style app gets on the screen – i.e. the infrastructure around IFrameworkViewSource and IFrameworkView.
2) Understanding C++/CX which is a bunch of C++ extensions relatively familiar to people like me who’ve come from the C++/CLI world but a bit odd to a regular C++ developer.
3) Understanding some of the technologies used like the Parallel Patterns Library (PPL) which our default templates throw at you.
4) Understanding some of the C++ 11 techniques like lambdas which our default templates also throw at you.
5) Understanding how a Metro style app is meant to work from the point of view of lifecycle management (i.e. suspend/resume/terminate).
6) Understanding the WinRT APIs available and their main usage and purpose.
Steps 5 & 6 are common to any Windows 8 Metro style app developer.
As we are all aware, there are many game engines /frameworks (middleware) available. Some of these are already supporting development for Win 8 metro games whilst others are planning to support it within the coming months. I have listed the ones which are or have short terms plans to support W8 metro apps. I am sure that there will be more to come…
A full games development tool/suite – physics, rendering, scripting, AI etc.
Windows 8 Metro support: coming soon (for GA)
An Open Source, OpenGL implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework
Windows 8 Metro support: coming soon (‘later this year’)
Dev languages: C#/XNA
SharpDX is an open-source project delivering the full DirectX API under the .Net platform, allowing the development of high performance game, 2D and 3D graphics rendering as well as realtime sound application.
Windows 8 Metro support: Now
Dev languages: C#
Well this week marked another important milestone for Microsoft with the release of Windows Server 2012, on Tuesday 4th of September, Microsoft made the official announcement of Windows Server 2012 you watch all the content at http://www.windows-server-launch.com
What’s new in Server 2012
Microsoft has positioned this as a very cloud-friendly OS. So its more important then ever to start ensuring your teaching cloud fundamentals to your students to help with this we have dedicated curriculum at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
Here are some of the new features.
So, what are the press and analyst saying about Windows Server 2012?
Windows Server 2012 offers a major step in function capabilities aligned with several major strategic trends for both Microsoft and the rest of the industry.
The team at Forrester posted a blog titled, “Microsoft Announces Windows Server 2012,” Here are just a few quotes.
On the release of Windows Server 2012 as a whole:
“Make no mistake, this is a really major restructuring of the OS, and a major step in function capabilities aligned with several major strategic trends for both Microsoft and the rest of the industry. While Microsoft’s high level message is centered on the cloud, and on the Windows Server 2012 features that make it a productive platform upon which both enterprises and service providers can build a cost-effective cloud, its features will be immensely valuable to a wide range of businesses.”
“There is no doubt that this is the most significant jump in OS capabilities since Microsoft first introduced Windows as a server OS.”
Forrester Says Evaluate Windows Server 2012 NOW:
“But, and this is critical, you must begin to evaluate and pilot it even if you are still completing your rollout of Windows Server 2008, as many Forrester clients still are. My guess is that WS2012 is the future of Windows OS, and will probably serve as the core of Microsoft’s strategy for the next decade. I doubt their ability to produce a radical upgrade to this in the next four or five years, and even the next version of the OS is likely to look like WS2012. This implies that you need to understand how this new OS will change and enable your strategic IT road map, particularly since the new OS has features and capabilities that, if properly exploited by you (or by your competitors), could generate real competitive differentiation such as the ability to deploy applications more rapidly, manage them more efficiently, etc.”
What does this mean For IT Students and curricula?
Firstly if your teaching infrastructure, administration, storage, cloud or virtualisation its critical, that you begin to evaluate and become familiar with Windows Server 2012. As academics you have a number of ways of doing this.
1. Download a trial version from http://www.windows-server-launch.com
2. Download and install a full version for FREE for teaching, learning and research in your labs and computer clusters from DreamSpark Premium – http://www.dreamspark.com
3. Point your students at www.dreamspark.com and get them to install windows server 2012 and get familiar. For further details and FAQ click here
The key thing is that understand how this new OS will change and enable your strategic curricula roadmap, particularly since the new OS has features and capabilities that, could generate real competitive differentiation for your student employability giving them experience of skills such as the ability to deploy applications more rapidly, manage them more efficiently have experience of the Windows Azure IaaS, PaaS and SaaS options and virtualisation using HyperV.
1. You should evaluate this new release.
2. Make use of FREE training resources for your IT Services and support teams at https://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/
3. Attend one of our FREE IT Camps to get deeper understanding of Windows Server 2012 http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/it-camps.aspx
4. Make use of the curricula and teaching resources at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
5. Consider running older OS and software stacks within a VM, particularly given the improvements to the overall Hyper-V environment.
6. If your contemplating a major new cloud or virtualization project or initiative, Windows Server 2012 should be the platform of choice, simply because of the FREE licensing options for teaching, learning and research as part of DreamSpark premium.
Windows Server 2012 Training & Certification Now Available to all Microsoft IT Academy members
if your interested in IT Academy please visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/itacademy/
1) Certifications and official Microsoft training and certifications are now available for Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, Private Cloud, Windows Store Application
In addition to this we now have new structure for Microsoft Technical Certifications
With a dedicated number of suitable examinations for the FE/HE education market which adds added value to the student experience and curriculum content aligning your courses with employees requirements.
2) Windows Server Certification and examination tracks
3) Microsoft Second Shot promotion is active so students (and lecturers) get a FREE retake if they do not pass first time for more info click here
4) Courseware available for Windows Server 2012 is now available to all Microsoft IT Academy members
Module 1: Managing a Windows Server 2012 Infrastructure
•What's New in Server Manager
•Introducing IP Address Management
•PowerShell and Server Core Enhancements
•What’s New in Active Directory
•Introducing Dynamic Access Control
Module 2: Network, Storage, and Service Access in Windows Server 2012
•What's New in Remote Access
•New and Improved Networking Technologies
Module 3: Server Virtualization in Windows Server 2012
•What’s New in Networking
•Introducing Hyper-V Replica
•What’s New in Live Migration
•What’s New in Guest Clustering and VM Monitoring
First Look Clinic Syllabus
Hands On Lab Syllabus
5) Microsoft IT Academy now includes a number of enhanced resources including new online digital content and resources for more information click here
Click Here for the FREE E-Book on Windows Server 2012