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First steps with MonoGame.

It had been a long moment since I had drafted of article…

Very busy, I did not yet want to publish news (or a test), even if there was a lot to say, without starting the main subject of this blog: the (game) programming.

 

Further “Post XNA Game Engine Evolutions” I made some researches and I choose MonoGame: been used to XNA programming, it is a good way not to redo everything, over and above the fact that it leaves me more free for prototyping and testing (at code and architecture level). Furthermore, for my target platforms (Windows/Windows Phone/Xbox) it is free.

My other option was Unity 3D: it would have been completed if my only objective was to concentrate essentially on the contents of the games (although paying).

 

Installation of MonoGame.

At first, I have chooses the complicated way: get back sources to compile ūüėČ

A complete tutorial is present on the site… It is necessary to download Mono (Open source implementation of .Net for PC and Linux), OpenGTK (wrapper OpenAL/OpenGL for MonoGame), GTK#, MonoDevelop (Xamarin Studio), mysysgit and TortoiseGit (tools of connection to the code warehouse):

MonoGame installation.

So everything is ready to begin, or almost ūüėČ

It is simpler to get back the installer and to use directly dll comming from the build last one (dll to be included in the projects XNA in Visual Studio).

After that, it does not more remain than to recover “starter kits”, “samples” (long) and to try to compile and to execute.

 

The start.

There, I am not going to make a nth version of the tutorials that I used to accelerate the apprenticeship… I am directly going to give the links, they are more complete than all that I could write at the moment ūüôā

Tara Walker 6 part tutorials.

 

Conclusion:

Now that the environment is operational, “still stay” to build the workflow (Tools, content pipeline, project, games) for the various platforms, to define and test the general architecture, etc.

But that it is another adventure ūüôā

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Smoothly and colorfull passage with Windows 8!

Since the end of 2012 went out the last of the OS of Microsoft: Windows 8.

 

It joins in a “multi-screens” strategy, a convergence of the¬†Windows (PC, mobiles and tablets), Windows Phone, Xbox and¬†Windows RT (tablets) systems, a sharing of the profiles (Windows Live) and¬†data (SkyDrive… Meaning Cloud). This convergence is made through¬†the “Modern UI” interface, based on colored “tiles” (square) giving access to applications, which we find on the various platforms.

Accueil Windows 8

Windows 8 start screen

Arriving two years after Windows 7, this new system is subject to controversy.

At first the presence of two interfaces. The start screen and the desktop. The first one based on tiles and gets closer strongly to Windows Phone and accommodates the Store (shop of applications) and the Xbox services (games, music). Furthermore, the browser is IE10 close to that of the mobiles. This interface is rather intended for a tactile use. The desktop as for him is very close to Windows 7 and assures moreover retro compatibility. One of the most common criticisms is the shift from a mode to the other one and the too tactile orientation of the start screen for those who have no adequate screen.

There are two criticisms from this cut. The first one is the absence of start menu (replaced by the start screen which can group links towards all the applications) and second Windows RT, version relieved for ARM tablet having only the start mode, considered by certain manufacturers as ambigue because of the presence of Windows in the name (and of the absence of desktop and the classic environment).

Next to it, there is also an absence of Windows Media Center or of DVD / Blu-Ray reading of movies (attention, Windows 8 reads all the same the¬†data disks). To be able to read DVD, it is necessary to buy the extension Media Center… Or install a third party¬†software. For Blu-Ray, it is necessary to buy a third party software (that does not change). This orientation of Microsoft is understandable by a report¬†of users count¬†/ cost of development and licenses… It is a question of profitability.

Set apart it (voucher, at ergonomics level, it’s a “shock” because the users been used in “classic” Windows systems¬†need a time of adaptation) the system starts fast, is very fluid, little greedy, honorable of numerous novelties. The main clauses being IE10, Store, Xbox services, the “contextual” Search, break / resumption on the downloads of files, the¬†Windows Live / Skydrive integration and clearer interfaces.

Personally, I needed some time to accustom me to these changes, but finally we are there and found things to be as fast as under Windows 7. Example of the integration of devices with Microsoft OS, the Xbox Smartglass application allows to interact since a PC, a tablet or Windows Phone with the Xbox. With Skydrive, OneNote and Office 365 it is very easy to share documents and media between the various devices, what is not unimportant. Thus Windows 8 is a positive experience, especially as the whole ecosystem (with Windows Phone 8 and the Xbox 360) tends to be coherent.

 

But inside, what interests developers?

For an amateur developer (thus I for example when I develop at my home), the Express tools (limited and free versions) lean on Visual Studio on 2012 (thus a new version) and new thing, Team Foundation Server Express is available, what allows to secure his sources ūüėČ . Then, all the “former” technologies (WPF, WCF, WF, Silverlight, XNA, etc.) work in¬†desktop mode. Thus everything goes well ūüôā .

The big novelty is the Store, which following the example of its homonym on Windows Phone or of Xbox game for Xbox 360 and Windows Phone allows a “registered” developer to distribute its applications. Unlike Windows Phone which leans on¬†Silverlight or XNA¬†technologies and of the Xbox 360 which leans on XNA, Windows 8 Store leans on a new application¬†stack (or let us say an evolution of the previous technologies) which leans on three couples of technologies (and three big manners to develop): XAML¬†/ C#, C++ / DirectX, HTML / Javascript.

The set can represent itself so:

Windows 8 application stack


Windows 8 application stack

To summarize, a Store¬†application (and taken care by Microsoft) has to work with the¬†WinRT API (roughly, the technologies in green), whereas the desktop applications work with the classic¬†Win32 API¬†(technologies in blue). It’s to bet for the continuation that¬†Stores should converge between Windows 8, Windows Phone and the next Xbox, to strengthen the coherence of the system and return the more attractive development of application. Wait and See ūüôā .

 

Conclusion:

For my part, I am seduced by this ecosystem, visually different from the competitors and proposing nice technologies (although still heterogeneous). Of course, I find it’s a pity the absence of XNA¬†or Silverlight in new Store, but it is necessary to admit that XNA¬†has its limits (DirectX 9) and Silverlight was killed by Apple in the same way as Flash.

Remains to define what corresponds to me best…

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