Windows 8 App Development. The Time is NOW!

There is a lot of momentum with Windows 8 right now. From the launch of the Nokia 2520 to all of the Windows Phones and other tablets, it is a great time to be part of the Windows ecosystem.

With that said, it is a great time for Students and Developers to start building apps and games for the Windows Platform. Listed below are a few promotions going on.

 

App Builder Rewards: Double Points December

App Builder
Publish an app in December • Complete the quest • Earn 10,000 points

It’s Double Points December! Publish your app in the Windows Store and complete the “Apps Quest” between December 1st and 31st 2013, and you’ll get double points for up to 8 apps. The more apps you submit, the more you earn.  Join App Builder Rewards today! https://build.windowsstore.com/rewards

 

Build an app this holiday season and ring in the new year with some cash in your pocket

Holiday App Challenge

We are excited to announce the Windows 8 Holiday App Challenge. Spend your winter break coding an awesome new app to be eligible to win up to $150. Full contest details can be found at http://windows8challenge.com.

How to participate?

  1. Develop a Windows 8 app. Submit your app to http://aka.ms/HolidayAppChallengeSubmission to be eligible to win av$50 gift card.
  2. Promote your app to get 100 downloads. Visit www.windows8challenge.com for tips and tricks to get 100 downloads in no time!
  3. Confirm your app has 100 downloads. Submit your confirmation at http://aka.ms/HolidayAppDownloadConfirmation to be eligible to win an additional $100 gift card. The contest ends on January 15th, 2014.

Offer terms and conditions: http://aka.ms/HolidayAppOfferTerms.

 

The Modev Windows $10k App Contest

MoDev Contest

We’re looking for those game changers, industry disruptors—denizens of creative awesome from across the developer community. We’ll award prizes two ways:

  1. An impartial panel of judges will pick the top three apps from among the entries and award prizes
  2. We’ll put the pool of entries up for a public vote, and encourage some healthy competition between entrants to promote your app and get the public to vote for you

To qualify, entrants need to submit new Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store between October 1 and December 31, 2013, and fill out the Contest Entry form. Judging and public voting will begin in January 2014, with winners announced by January 31st.

 

Windows Game Building with Construct 2 in Farmington CT

I will be hosting another workshop at our Farmington CT office. This one is focused on casual game development using Construct 2. This is a beginner level workshop and we will cover the basics of game design and programming using Windows 8 and Construct 2.

Ricardo_Retro_Atack

This workshop is great for students, hobbyists and professional developers who want to learn the basics of game development and publish their first app to the store as no programming skills are required!

This workshop is hands-on, so to get the most out of the event we strongly encourage you to bring your laptop configured with the following:

1.  Mac users only: Boot CampParallels DesktopVirtualBox orVMWare Fusion

2.  Windows 8 (a 90-day evaluation version available here)

3.  Visual Studio 2013 Professional (Trial or free for DreamSpark or MSDN subscribers) or Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows 8 (free for anyone)

4.  Scirra Construct 2 (free version)

To publish to the Windows Store you will also need a Windows Store developer account:

1.  If you are a student, use the DreamSpark benefits for a free account

2.  If you are an MSDN Subscriber, use the one-time free account benefit associated with MSDN

3.  Otherwise, the account is $49 per annum, but via the free App Builder Rewards program, you can accrue points to cover the fee as well have access to technical and marketing resources as you launch your application in the marketplace.

Sign up on Meetup.

 

Awesome Chance to win Cash for your App

Co-Branded-Header_650x150
Just this week on 10/1, some friends at MoDev announced a contest, for a chance to win cash prizes, totaling $10K.  My favorite part, is that you can actually control whether or not you win, with a public vote, which will occur after the contest entry period ends on 12/31.  You just have to get your friends (and their friends) to vote for your app! Helps drive awareness for your published app & increase your downloads, but also increases your chance to win.  Check out the details below.

The Modev Windows $10k App Contest

We’re looking for those game changers, industry disruptors—denizens of creative awesome from across the developer community. We’ll award prizes two ways:

 

  1. An impartial panel of judges will pick the top three apps from among the entries and award prizes
  2. We’ll put the pool of entries up for a public vote, and encourage some healthy competition between entrants to promote your app and get the public to vote for you

 

To qualify, entrants need to submit new Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store between October 1 and December 31, 2013, and fill out the Contest Entry form. Judging and public voting will begin in January 2014, with winners announced by January 31st.

Successful Windows Game Development Event in Farmington

Screenshot (3)

On September 28th, Microsoft Technical Evangelist Jim O’Neil held a Windows Game Development workshop in the Farmington campus. I was in attendance as a “shadow” since I have not held an event yet. My first event is on October 12th in Farmington (more on that later). We had 16 attendees that were a mix of young adults, hardcore developers and developers wanting to learn more about Windows Game Development.

Jim took the lead by introducing some casual gaming concepts and tools to create these games. He showed off a few of his games along with some others that are in the store. The audience provided great feedback in terms of what they would like to see and try to create. Once the slides were out of the way, we got down to creating apps.

Screenshot (2)

We used Construct 2 to demonstrate how easy it is to get started. If you are not familiar with Construct 2, it is an IDE built on top of Visual Studio. They make the interface very simple to create casual games such as some platformers, top down views along with a few others.

We modified the standard Constcut 2 turtorial to add some Windows features, such as Touch and Snapped Mode. (These Windows Game templates can be found on our Github repository.) After adding the objects to the screen, we got into the event handling aspect of Construct 2. The ease of putting together commands for all of the objects can allow even the novice developer to become seasoned quickly.

The theory behind the “event sheet” in Construct 2 is the same pattern and practice as other development methodologies such as MVC. In the MVC pattern, you have the Model, which is your data storage or object. In Construct 2 these are the Sprites, System, Touch etc. The View which is your presentation of the Model can be found in the Layouts of Construct 2. And then you have the Controller, which provides access to the Model and the View for handling and manipulating data or business rules. This is the Event Sheet.

After wiring up the event sheets to the objects we got a full functioning game by lunch time. There is still more to do, such as exporting to Visual Studio and then importing into the Windows Store but this gave the audience a great jump start on building a game.

So what’s next? Finish that game. Or take our starter kits and build upon them.

If gaming is not for you, then on October 12th I will be going over app development for Windows 8. We will be looking at Bing maps and plotting data points all with HTML5 and JavaScript.

meetup_logo

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

3 Windows Store Games to Check Out from Small Dev Shops

We all know about the LARGE development shops that create the popular games. At some point in time the makers of Angry Birds (Rovio) were small. I am not saying any of these games will be the next Angry Birds on the Windows platform, but, they are entertaining and worth checking out.

Zombie Pop

Zombie Pop

Fight back the unthinking, undead hordes with your zombie-swapping, color-matching prowess. In this fun twist on classic match-three games, the jewels are zombies who must be stopped. Slow the creeping menace by tapping crowds of three or more zombies of the same color, and watch them collapse, even as more join them. Can you stem the tide, or will you succumb to the zombie invasion

Zombie Lines

Zombie Lines

How long would you last during a zombie apocalypse? Take the test with this new kind of zombie game and find out. Clear rows of advancing undead with a unique matching system. Group sets of three or more matching zombies to kill them (again) and fight back. Compare your score with friends to decide who is most likely to survive when the dead walk the Earth!

Junk Rocket

Junk Rocket

Aliens have destroyed all of the best and brightest in the world, and now it’s up to one brave soul and his crew of poorly trained technicians to mount a desperate counterattack. Use your junk cannons to prepare your ship for the ravages of space, and then navigate your way to the alien overlord for a thrilling showdown!

Keep Track of Your Local Rivers

Screenshot.202925.100000Weather has always been unpredictable, just ask anyone who lives in Florida. However, when we look at patterns we can “sorta” predict weather. There is an app in the Windows Store that looks at these patterns to display rising rivers in your area. Why is this useful? Well, have you seen what happened in Colorado or even in Austin?

Fluvium (Fluvial – term used in geography and Earth science to refer to the processes associated with rivers and streams and thedeposits and landforms created by them – Wikipediaallows you to find nearby rivers and add them to your watch list. Data comes in from the USGS is updated every fifteen minutes, providing close to real-time monitoring. There are thousands of USGS monitored sites that you can choose from and add in Bing Maps integration to give you a pinpoint view of the area.

The app is definitely worth checking out.

Webinar for Startups Sponsored by Microsoft Ventures

uvanyLeaders from Microsoft Ventures will discuss:

• Resources and tools that support growth oriented companies
• The business and technical aspects of building a startup, including training on cloud and mobile technologies
• How startups can partner with large corporations
• Programs such as Microsoft Accelerators, Microsoft BizSpark and the Microsoft Seed Fund
• How Microsoft Ventures supports the startup community to encourage innovation.

Live broadcast from the offices of Nixon Peabody in NYC

Hosted by: Todd Tidgewell, Partner, Nixon Peabody LLP

Thanks to our Exclusive Event Sponsor:

ms-ventures

And our Industry Partner:

bianys

Click here to Register Now!

After you register, call in information will be emailed to you.

In addition, as a member of the UVANY community, qualified
startups get access to free software and tools through the Microsoft BizSpark program.

Microsoft® BizSpark® is a global program for startups with over 50K+ members in a 100 countries, that helps provide access to free software development tools (including Dev tools, Office, Windows and SQL), training and visibility. There is no cost to being in this program.

Simply sign up using the code below to get your free BizSpark program benefits:

http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/Register.aspx?SecurityCode=xWLmknmBr8

Nokia 1020 Windows Phone

I have been an iPhone user for some time now. I had a 3GS and a 4S. I liked both of the phones. Good quality. Great app selection. Ease of use. Albiet some quirks but overall a great phone. However, when I start my new job in a few days it makes more sense that I have a Windows Phone. So I did a bit of research on what Windows Phone to get and the answer just kept coming back to the Nokia 1020. Recently launched. Great camera. Windows Phone 8. Why not? So I took the plunge.

My purchase journey is like the “normal” purchase path.

  1. Problem recognition – “I need to get a Windows Phone”
  2. Search – “The Verge, forums, Nokia website etc. all provided me info”
  3. Evaluation – “Do I want to save money and get last years phone or take the plunge and get the latest and greatest”
  4. Purchase decision – “Walk in the store. ATT.com or Microsoft Store online and get a free case”
  5. Post-Purchase – “Sweet! I got the phone…uh..did I make the right call?”

My Post-Purchase impressions where “wow, this is big”. I am coming from an iPhone 4S which is a great size. Fits in your hand, feels sturdy. This Nokia 1020 is much bigger. The weight of it is a little more but not too bad to notice. My second impression was the back of the phone. Being touted as teh next best camera since cameras were invented, you can tell right away that the camera is the focus of this phone. It protrudes from the back and will not allow the phone to lay flat.

Now, what runs through my mind is this is a major change or maybe buyers remorse. Not only from an operating system but from a physical and emotional stand point. My New England Patriots case won’t fit. My car charger. How will this hook up to my home stereo to play music? Will it fit in my pocket? My wife will kill me when she gets the credit card bill. Then my mind quickly goes to the features of the phone. What about my apps? How can I get the same ones on Windows Phone? My pictures? My contacts?

Well, that went away after about 3 minutes of using the Nokia 1020. The Windows Phone operating system is slick. Great transitions. Home screen that makes sense. Organize app icons super easy. So far so good.

My big question now is my contacts. Ugh. How will they come over. Well, I found this app called “Transfer My Data” (could not have a better name) and it just did that. Transfered my data. Wow. I had more issues transfering contacts from my iPhone 3GS to my iPhone 4S and that was using the same operating system!

My photos I just backed up so that was not a big deal, however there is an app that will send those over as well.

Now, apps. I read the internet and see “Windows Phone does not have any apps, that’s why no one uses it”. I was skeptical at first but I can honestly say you cannot believe everything you read on the internet.

Facebook, Foursquare, FoodSpotting, ESPN, Twitter, Spotify, Pandora, Untappd, Zite, Weather Channel, Netflix and Kindle. Check! They are all there. The one I am missing is Instagram but sounds like it is on its way. The biggest pain in installing these apps is remembering your usernames and passwords, but after that hurdle the fun began. Setting up the home screen icons!

I can honestly say after a day of using this phone I’m sold. This phone does not only have a great camera (which I never even talked about yet) but the Windows Phone operating system works well. App selection is not bad. I would even say pretty close to the AppStore. (How many tip calculators do you really need anyway?)

I have not used the camera enough to really comment on it, but the little I did use, it is awesome.

Overall the phone is great and if anyone is thinking of taking the plunge and switch from an iPhone or Android to Windows Phone, it is easier than you think.

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