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This week I had the privilege of attending and helping with some Silverlight in casual games presentations at the XNA Gamefest conference happening in Seattle.  I say helping because the real game experts were there.

Two Silverlight presentations were given.  One by Bill Reiss/Joel Neubeck and the other by Mike Snow.  Between the two sessions we covered concepts in Silverlight game development as well as a walk-through of starting out to create a simple game.  I consider these guys to be the foremost experts on the topic given their experience in creating games like Dr. Popper, Stack Attack, Zero Gravity, Zombomatic and Tunnel Trouble.  Mike also will be posting some game frameworks as well as demonstrating some multi-player aspects.

It was a decent turnout for those interested in learning where Silverlight plays in casual games.  We also were able to talk with the MSN Games teams that gave us an understanding of what would be needed to implement a game in Silverlight.  I was surprised to see how simple the initial process is to get a game in the pipeline for consideration of MSN Games.  So if you have some thoughts on writing a game in Silverlight and want a distribution channel…consider MSN Games!

Silverlight Game Contest!

Need some incentive?  How about a Silverlight game contest?  TeamZone Sports is sponsoring a contest…with some cash prizes.  Official rules are coming soon, but you can sign up to be notified here.  I’m excited to see what comes out of the contest!

XNA and Silverlight?

With the announcement at XNA that the XNA Community games are going to be opened up wider so that anyone can essentially write an XBOX game and have other community members consume it, I suspect people will be jumping at those opportunities!  Maybe you want a game in multiple channels: XBOX, Windows, Zune, Web.  There are going to be things you may want to know in advance.  Bill did a demonstration of a single code base that ran on Windows (XNA), Zune (XNA for Zune) and Silverlight.  It was pretty cool to see the same experience in all those different platforms.  Bill had some good advice on things to look for when developing for this goal…maybe he’ll append those to the post (hint, hint).  You can download his sample code here.

Thanks to MSN Casual Games for inviting Silverlight to the conference (and for the sweet swag).  Thanks to Bill and Joel as our MVPs in this area for representing their experiences and sharing their knowledge with us.  Thanks to Mike for sharing his expertise and be on the lookout for him to provide some source on how he accomplished some multi-player game play within Silverlight using sockets. 

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The group that brought you one of the first Silverlight end-to-end games (Zero Gravity) is now featured for some of the work they've done with Silverlight 1.0 and Silverlight 2 for Miniclip.com, the largest online gaming site in the world.

You can view the Terralever case study online here.  The Terralever crew is interviewed in four different segments talking about the project from a designer, developer, business and technical perspective.

The team built two casual games for Miniclip.com on both versions of Silverlight.  The first, a Silverlight 1.0 game called 'Zombomatic 3000' has been on Miniclip's site for a few weeks now.  It is a puzzle-based game built entirely using Silverlight 1.0 technology and the tools.  The team took the vision further and had been working on Tunnel Trouble, a game with more interactivity, more logic and a more dynamic game play.

I've enjoyed watching the process happen and have been amazed by the talent that has been producing these games.  I've also been impressed with how far the team has been able to take Silverlight to its limits and the challenges and learnings they have faced along the way.  They presented a session at MIX08 on their experiences with developing Tunnel Trouble if you want to check it out as well.

Congrats to the Terralever team for building the first commercial games built on Silveright!

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got an email today about something i hadn't seen yet, another silverlight 2.0 game, Pirates!  cameron emailed me about a cool prototype he's working on with the engine.  here's a shot:

as cameron puts it:

"The goal of the game will be to attain the buried fortune of a long dead pirate named Rough Hand James. He created a map to his treasure and scattered the pieces all across the globe. It will be your adventure to find those map pieces and locate the treasure. You will start out on your ship with the first clue to the treasure and along the way you may encounter the Royal Navy, sea monsters and other pirates. You will engage in sea and land battles, loot merchant vessels and follow clues through towns, uncharted waters and wilderness all to find the greatest fortune every massed by one pirate."

awesome...'rough hand james' -- nice.  check out cameron's blog to follow some of the interesting things he's finding along the way with both silverlight as well as creating some artificial intelligence for gaming.  i can't wait to see what cameron thinks of silverlight 2.0!

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UPDATE: for international users, the team is aware of this limited functionality...and the current build works with US English keyboard layout and US English regional settings.  sorry about that, but it's a lab project that will evolve.

for the past few weeks i've had the pleasure of really seeing this whole designer-developer continuum really work.  the team over at have been working on a little lab project using .  first let me tell you about the team...they rock.  i figured there would be a ton of questions, etc., but from our first initial meeting, their team was already spouting off xaml in conversation and talking about the animation engine in silverlight.  these guys don't go into anything blind and did their research and gained some super knowledge.

many of their clients rely on them for interactive design and development, and trust me, they know what they are doing.  their project here was a simple idea, take a concept which they've done over and over for clients, a game, and see if can be proven as a platform for these types of games.  they set out building a 'twitch' game...something that can be played quickly, that you'd play again and send to your friends for some quick rivalry for high score.

after about 4 weeks involving designers (using expression design and expression blend), developers (using visual studio 2008 beta 1) and animators, they've delivered on their goal.  in my last meeting with the team they had a ton of ideas for the game, but wanted to get this first version out there.

so what is it?  well, is a game and involves our absent-minded astronaut, lt. bennett, who continues to crash his ship into an asteroid.  your objective?  help lt. bennett find his way back to his ship in each level through various mazes.  there are different types of levels and different types of obstacles involving teleports, asteroids, ice blocks, pipes, etc.  once you get lt. bennett back to his ship, you advance.  your score is based on time and moves.

so try it out, get the high score, send it to your friends and see if they can beat you.  follow lt. bennett and his journey via myspace, facebook and follow him as a friend in twitter.  he'll be posting pictures from the milky way, comments about his journey, and reacting to your feedback about the experience.  he'll also be taking questions, suggestions and possibly accepting ideas for new missions (game levels).

zero gravity requires the silverlight 1.1 alpha plugin to be installed.  this plugin works with internet explorer and firefox on windows, as well as safari and firefox on the max osx platforms.  you can read about silverlight and platform support at the silverlight.net community site (which has great resources as well to learn from).

this game was written entirely in 1.1 using the .net framework and the tools provided.  it was really great to see the designers working in blend/design and passing their xaml assets on to the developers for integration.  in fact, the continuum seemed to work well as the developers were working on the gameplay well before any assets had been created...the nature of xaml allowed them to quickly swap out the user interface elements without changing their code at all.

i know the team has visions for people creating their own levels and submitting, perhaps even hosting your own version of the game.  you can follow their blogs for samples on how they implemented certain scenarios, what challenges they faced, what they liked/didn't like in silverlight, etc.  for now, give them feedback and see if you can become the zero gravity master.

congrats to the team.  i trust they will be doing more advanced experimentation with silverlight and their clients.  if you need someone to implement some silverlight applications for you, for sure you need to contact these guys.

now, go play ... and digg it!