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Lt. Bennett in Zero GravityThree years ago I wrote about one of the first full-featured casual games built in Silverlight (at the time Silverlight 1.1) which we called Zero Gravity.  It was a game featuring Lt. Bennett a character who was lost in space and your job was to navigate him through simple puzzle boards back to his space ship.  It is a fun little game that can keep you busy for a while and even get you frustrated on some of the harder mazes. 

The project was done in concert with Terralever, an agency who has great experience in building great online casual experiences for some of the top brands in the world.  It was really fun to come up with various concepts on a casual game proof of concept in the VERY early days of Silverlight (they actually created the first Silverlight 1.0 game that was published to Miniclip.com and as well another Silverlight 2 game that was published as well).  Those early days of Silverlight were tough when you didn’t have a lot of the infrastructure we do now with the core runtime.  There is no multi-player Halo-style shooting or 3D here, and is representative of what was available at the time. 

Two weeks ago I reached out to Terralever and mentioned that we kind of let that project get stale (my fault) as we both wanted to release the source code but it never turned up as a priority for me (sorry about that).  In that discussion, they had some cycles to spare and their lead developer, Ryan Plemons, released the source code for Zero Gravity, updated for use in current Silverlight.  But not only that, he also ported the code to Silverlight for Windows Phone!!!  I love this gem of a statement from Ryan:

“I for one was very shocked that the transition went as smoothly as it did.”

Ryan has a blog post where he goes into some detail about the port, where there were things he needed to change (and got some benefit) like using the XNA sound libraries and the GestureHelper library from the Silverlight Toolkit.

Zero Gravity on Windows Phone 7

Now before you start pointing out all the obvious things that “shouldn’t be in the phone version” we’ll concede that there are some things that don’t match what a mobile experience should be.  The part of this exercise was to see how easy it would be to port something Silverlight 2/3 wholesale and still run.  I think it’s pretty cool to see a huge amount of codebase running as-is.  The introduction of the sound/gesture APIs weren’t required, but just added benefit to trimming some areas of code.

Congratulations and THANK YOU to Ryan and Terralever for doing this effort and publishing the source code for both projects.  Read more:

    Hope this helps!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

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i've been at OSCON all week (more day 3 posts coming up soon).  while i was out, if you are a microsoft dev, you no doubt saw the flurry of announcements of visual studio 2008 beta 2 (with golive), .net 3.5, and rc1 releases.

for the silverlight goodness, you can check out all the new stuff:

and some of the new tools releases

silverlight rc1 also includes a 'refresh' to the alpha version (v1.1) of silverlight, so you'll want to grab that if you are doing the v1.1 development.  because there are breaking changes between beta and this release candidate, samples/sites you may have visited may not work as expected.  in fact, you may have the latest plugin installed (which is now self-updating btw), but go to a site and see the "install beta" image.  if you see this (and know you have the latest plugin installed) it is likely because the author hasn't updated their site yet.  you should contact the author/site...tell them to contact me, i'll help them get it updated and understand the breaking changes.

in fact, some of our great silverlight applications out there now have already been updated!

the guys at already readied their game, , for the refresh of silverlight.  Lt. Bennett is back in the game ready for your high score attempts.  go check it out!

here are some others that have been updated:

know of others that were updated?  post them here!  with all of the updates, it is time for a re-pave of my machine for me...i've done a few too many betas/alphas/uninstalls in the past week to make me sick.  i'm going to drop the old box into the pep boys for a tune up...

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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!