3D rendering effects overview on Windows Phone 7 Series with video

Microsoft demonstrated all the new effects available in the XNA Game Studio 4.0 release during a GDC session and my pal Chuong from Pocketnow had the chance to capture it on video. The first video principally covers the new guidelines and resolutions supported by WP7 (WVGA & HVGA). Microsoft is also suggesting to developers that developing intensive 3D games at WVGA isn’t really recommended. Using the build-in hardware scaler seems to be the preferred solution. For example, a game can be rendered by the GPU at 600×360 & then upscaled to 800×480 by the scaler (same aspect ratio) to achieve greater framerate. I’m guessing that this is what Apple is implementing on the iPad (iPhone apps are upscaled for “free”) and feature higher-res iPhone phones.

Tse second video is an overview of the 5 new effects added to the XNA 4.0: BassidEffect, DualTexttureEffect, AplhaTestEffect, SkinnedEffect & EnvironementMapEffect:

Here’s description of each one of them:

- 0-3 Directional lights
- Blinn-Phong Shading
- Optional Texture
- Optional Fog
- Optional Vertex Color

- For lightmaps, detail textures, decals
- Blends two textures
- Separate texture coordinates
- Modulate 2X combine mode
- Good visuals at low pixel cost

- For billboards & imposters
- Adds alpha test operations (pixel kill)
- Standard blending is free with all effects
- Only need alpha test if you want too disable depth/stencil writes

- For animated models and instancing
- Game code animates bones on GPU
- Vertex skinning performed by the GPU
- Up to 72 bones
- One, tow or four weights per vertex

- Oh Shinny!
- Difuse Texture + cube environement map
- Cheap way to fake many complex lights
- Frsnel term simulates behaviour when lights reaches a surface and some reflects, some penetrates

Windows Phone 7 Series will support WVGA & HVGA resolutions, no programmable shaders (at launch)

Microsoft’s Shawn Hargreaves just announced that 2 screen resolutions will be supported on Windows Phone 7 Series: 800×480 (WVGA) at launch and 480×320 later (possibly in Q1 2011?):

The phone features an image scaler which allows games to render to any size backbuffer they like, and have it automatically stretched to fill the display, with black bars along the edges if the backbuffer and display have different aspect ratios (an idea that will be familiar to Xbox developers). This scaling is handled by dedicated hardware, so does not consume any GPU resources, and it uses a high quality image filter that gives much better results than bilinear filtering like you would get if you did this yourself on the GPU. The scaler is important for two reasons:

At launch, all phones will have a 480×800 (WVGA) display resolution, but we will add 320×480 (HVGA) in a future update. Of course you can detect the native resolution and program your game to adapt to this if you want, but the scaler allows games to pick just one resolution, always render at that fixed size, and still run correctly on phones with different native screen sizes. For bonus points, we automatically scale touch input to match your chosen resolution.

480×800 is a lot of pixels! This is a great resolution for displaying text, browsing the web, etc, but it can be a challenge for intensive 3D games to render so much data at a good framerate. To boost performance, some games may prefer to render at a lower resolution, then scale up to fill the display.

The other piece of info reveiled yesterday is that XNA Gmae Studio 4.0 won’t expose programmable shaders because of the tight developement scheduled for WP7. but this fuctionality should be included in a future update:

The phone supports full hardware accelerated 3D, but we are not exposing programmable shaders in this release. Charlie Kindel summed up the reason for that in a great article about focus and priorities:

“We will do a few things and do them very, very well; we are better off not having a capability than doing it poorly. There are always future versions.”

Instead of programmable shaders, we augmented the existing BasicEffect with four new configurable effects: SkinnedEffect, EnvironmentMapEffect, DualTextureEffect, and AlphaTestEffect. These are designed to run efficiently on the mobile GPU hardware, and I think do a good job of providing enough flexibility for developers to create awesome looking games, while also meeting our goals of being able to ship a robust and well tested product on schedule.

This may disapointing to some devs given that the GPU inside of the SnapDragon chipset (AMD Z430) features a unified pixel & vertex shader pipeline (based on the Xbox 360 Xenos GPU). I guess that Microsoft still needs some time to update Direct3D Mobile. Hopefully updates will be released soon after the initial launch this fall.

All about Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 Series

Microsoft’s Andre Vrignaud live-tweeted the Xbox Live on WP7 session that took place at GDC today.

  • Q: Will games have to go through cert? Or just XBL games? A: all games go through cert, XBL games will have a few more reqs.
  • Other resources: Windows Azure – microsoft.com/windowsazure
  • Other resources: pitch your Xbox LIVE-enabled game: wpgames@microsoft.com
  • Wrapping up… get the dev tools at creator.xna.com, go to MIX10 for more next week!
  • Focusing on asynch (turn-based) “mobile minute” friendly gaming at launch. No ad-hoc local WiFi/Bluetooth gaming initially.
  • Most APIs are present on all platforms – make it easier to write clear, crossplatform code.
  • Why Push? Efficent battery util, low memory/CPU use, simple model, no persistent connection required, web 2.0 friendly.
  • @smartyp Yes, these WP7/XBL capabilities are available to both Silverlight and XNA-based games.
  • Push Notif. to Tile: Allows you to push visual notif. to pinned tiles on user’s home page. See at a glance what’s up in game.
  • Notifications not guaranteed delivery – best effort.
  • Notifications: Raw (cloud notifies app), Tile (user pins notif. to quick launch menu), Toast (Cloud sends a title and sub)
  • Extend games with HTTP: consume 3PP web services (weather, shopping), connect to own WS. We will have policies, need to talk with us.
  • Game Invites handled through email; player chooses email recipients.
  • Avatars: 2D avatars for launch, via web service.
  • Trial Mode: developer owns trial experience. Simple check, can be simulated to test. Send player to Marketplace to purchase.
  • XBL Leaderboard data blob is 4KB – place to store ghosts, races, game data, etc. Some cool stuff you could do here with this!
  • Leaderboards: Track friends, score or time-based, fixed set of columns, game defined blob of data, paging, easy API.
  • Think I see a blog post ahead about Achievements best practices, recommendations, and learnings we’ve had over the years…
  • Achievements: real achievements, real gamerscore. Up to 20 achievements, 200 GS max.
  • Profile: your WP7 phone knows you by your Windows LIVE ID (associated with your Gamertag). Use existing WLID, or create new.
  • XBL conn. opt: HTTP req/resp, push notifications, XBL features (2D avatars, invites, profile, achievements, lb, trials)
  • XBL at fingertips with WP7. Games Hub = where XBL meets WP7 OS. Profile, game library, turn notifications, browse spotlight.
  • Some aditional XNA Game Studio 4.0 information was also posted by Charlie Kindel:

    XNA Game Studio 4.0

      • Power: XNA Game Studio 4.0 includes powerful audio and graphics tools that allow developers to create all types of games, from casual 2-D games to 3-D games with high-quality graphics.
      • Productivity: XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a managed code platform, which means that Microsoft has done the back-end work that will save developers time in the coding process. It allows developers to be more productive and focus on gameplay and design.
      • Portability: XNA Game Studio 4.0 makes it possible for developers to adapt games built on previous versions of XNA Game Studio to work on Windows Phone 7 Series without re-coding the entire game. Also, once a developer has created a Windows Phone 7 Series game, they can use some of that code in XNA Game Studio 3.1 to adapt that game for Xbox 360, Windows or Zune.
    • XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a set of software tools that will be used by developers to create games for Windows Phone 7 Series. This updated version of XNA Game Studio will allow game developers to create better mobile games faster by providing:

      Pedigree: Microsoft has invested in XNA Game Studio for the past four years to make it one of the most comprehensive and trusted tools for developers. There have been over 1 million downloads of previous versions of XNA Game Studio since its initial release in December 2006

    Game Development on Windows Phone 7 Series

      • Collect Achievements and build your Gamerscore
      • View Xbox LIVE leaderboards
      • See your Xbox LIVE Avatar
      • Access Spotlight feeds
      • Add Xbox LIVE friends to your friends list while out on the go
    • Windows Phone 7 Series is a whole new approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences. It offers users new ways to find and play games, including:

      The games hub. The games hub will contain all the games an individual has acquired through the Windows® Phone Marketplace. We are partnering with a select group of publishers to create great Xbox LIVE games for the games hub. The Xbox LIVE features include the ability to:

      The marketplace hub. Windows Phone 7 Series includes the Windows® Phone Marketplace, where apps and games will be sold. Both independent and professional developers can offer games as apps via Marketplace, giving consumers a wide array of games to choose from.

    GDC isn’t finished yet so we can expect more WP7S info in the coming days (and next week at MIX). Stay tuned…

    Microsoft unveils first 3D games on Windows Phone 7 Series

    Following theannouncment of XNA Game Studio 4.0Microsoft just unveiled the first screenshots of 2 3D games currently being developed for Windows Phone 7 Series. The first one is The Harvesta Diablo-like action game featuring destructible 3D environments developed by Luma Arcade. The second one, Battle Punks developed by Gravity Bear, is a sword-fighting Facebook game. Microsoft also confirmed what I told you guys in my WP7 article: Direct3D is going to be only 3D API supported on Windows Phone 7 Series. So OpenGL apps/Games will have to be ported. Suffice to say that Microsoft is going hard at the competition (Apple/Android). Engadget also had a short XNA/3-screens dev demo at the GDC (basically the same thing we saw a few days ago):

    XNA Game Studio 4.0 announced: Windows Phone 7 & Visual Studio 2010 support

    As expected Microsoft as finally announced XNA Game Studio 4.0 at GDC today. This new version new lets developers develop games for Windows Phone 7, Windows PC & Xbox 360 (note the missing Zune HD…) and adds the following features:

    - Hardware accelerated 3D API’s on Windows Phone 7 Series
    - Visual Studio 2010 integration with our toolset
    - Added buffered audio support to the Audio API’s
    - And much, much more!

    It will also include deep XBOX Live integration to enable seamless gaming on the 3 support platforms (as seen in this video)Another important point noted by Microsoft’s Michael Klucher, is the fact that the Zune HD (and original Zune) won’t be supported in 4.0 so those who still want to develop for it will have to use the currently release 3.1 version. Remember that “every Windows Phone 7 Series phone is now a Zune”..:

    When we first announced XNA was a development platform for the Windows Phone 7 Series last week and followed up with some real-time Twitter Q&A (@WP7Dev), we got a lot of questions about Zune/Zune HD and how that will work with XNA Game Studio 4.0. Development for the Zune and Zune HD will continue to exist in XNA Game Studio 3.1, however, in XNA Game Studio 4.0, we’re encouraging you to migrate your games over to the Windows Phone 7 Series platform. We tested this a lot during development and had games like Hexic and Goo Splat up and running in an hour or so, it’s very easy! Finally, we learned some valuable lessons on launching a development platform. One of those lessons is that you need a way to bring your ideas to consumers at launch. All of us at Microsoft have heard that feedback, and I will say that it doesn’t matter what type of game developer you are, you’ll be able to find the perfect audience on Windows Phone 7 series. I know you’ll have a lot of questions about how this will work so I urge you to stay tuned to MIX ’10 where we’ll be streaming sessions live to the world and ready to answer more of your questions.

    For more info head over here and here.

    Video: Multi-Platform game development on PC Windows Phone 7 & Xbox

    Here’s a video (that probably shouldn’t even be on YouTube yet) of Microsoft’s Eric Rudder’s keynote at TechEd Middle-East in Dubai demonstrating an Indiana Jones game build using XNA and running on the PC, Windows Phone 7 Series and XBOX 360. Multi-Platform development (thanks to XNA & Silverlight) is going to be Microsoft’s big selling point during GDC & MIXthis month. Using both frameworks will enable developers to easily build/code games and applications for multiple platforms without too much hassle.

    Windows Phone 7 Series MIX sessions details announced

    Details of the 12 Windows Phone 7 Series sessions at MIX are now officially announced. As you can see it’s all about XNA & Silverlight:

    • Unit Testing Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 Applications

      • Jeff Wilcox

      Learn how to create and maintain Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 Series applications using the Silverlight Unit Test Framework. See what tools are available to easily validate controls and application interfaces, add automatic testing to builds, and gain a solid understanding of test principles to deliver great experiences for your clients and customers.

    • Silverlight Performance on Windows Phone

      • Seema Ramchandani

      Learn how to optimize your Silverlight code for Windows Phone. This session will discuss common bottlenecks using the graphics and managed stacks, and will highlight how to optimize startup and reaction time.

    • Distributing and Monetizing Windows Phone Applications and Games

      • Todd Biggs in Mandalay Ballrom A on Wednesday at 10:30 AM

      Windows Phone Marketplace will revolutionize distribution of Windows Phone applications, games, and content, and is designed to solve the two largest problems of the Windows Phone consumer-focused developer community: distribution and monetization. This session will provide application developers with the insights, tools, and processes necessary to begin distributing and monetizing their applications on the Windows Phone platform.

    • Development and Debugging Tools for Building XNA Games for Windows Phone

      • Cullen Waters in Mandalay Ballrom A on Wednesday at 9:00 AM

      This session covers tools available to the developer for building XNA games including debugging, emulation, and performance. Special emphasis is placed on best practices for managed code performance and .NET profiling tools you can use to optimize your games for windows phone.

    • Windows Phone Application Platform Architecture

      • Istvan Cseri in Mandalay Ballrom A on Tuesday at 4:30 PM

      Windows Phone 7 Series represents a significant change from the past. The entire stack, starting with the operating system, user experience, and the application platform have been engineered to build a new class of phone that users will just love. This session will go under the covers and describe how to think about applications and games from the perspective of user experience, security, packaging, cloud services and performance. Details on the new application model, device capabilities, location, sensors, and other platform capabilities will be covered.

    • Building Windows Phone Applications with Silverlight, Part 2

      • Peter Torr in Mandalay Ballrom A on Tuesday at 3:00 PM

      Together with part 1, these sessions give an overview of the functionality for Silverlight applications that is unique to the Windows Phone application platform. Part 2 will cover the new application model, updated control templates, themes, and services available to applications, including new Windows Phone web services.

    • Building Windows Phone Applications with Silverlight, Part 1

      • Mike Harsh in Mandalay Ballrom A on Tuesday at 1:30 PM

      Together with part 2, these sessions give an overview of the functionality for Silverlight applications that is unique to the Windows Phone application platform. Part 1 will cover new input paradigms including multi-touch, software keyboard, accelerometer and microphone, as well as the APIs to leverage phone applications like email, phone dialer, contact list and more.

    • An Introduction to Developing Applications for Microsoft Silverlight

      • Shawn Oster in Mandalay Ballrom A on Tuesday at 11:00 AM

      New to Silverlight? This is the session for you. This session will cover: how to get started building your first application, tooling, extensibility and deployment. We’ll also highlight the capabilities of Microsoft Silverlight on the PC, as well as support for Windows Phone.

    • Windows Phone UI and Design Language

      • Michael Smuga, Albert Shum in Mandalay Ballrom A on Monday at 3:30 PM

      Windows Phone constitutes a dramatic new user experience paradigm. This session will provide prescriptive guidance, tips, and techniques on how designers & developers can build beautiful, compelling user experiences that are consistent with the built-in Windows Phone 7 Series experiences.

    • Overview of the Windows Phone 7 Series Application Platform

      • Charlie Kindel in Mandalay Ballrom A on Monday at 2:00 PM

      The new Windows Phone is coming! Get a high-level overview of the new application platform and a complete picture of the developer story. Learn about the developer tools, the application frameworks, the support for Silverlight, and the support for XNA.

    • Designing and Developing for the Rich Mobile Web

      • Joe Marini in Mandalay Ballrom A on Wednesday at 3:00 PM

      The Mobile Web has been a long time in coming, and now that it’s here, it’s a force that you and your business can’t afford to ignore. What has made all of this possible is the combination of ever-more-powerful devices, fast network connections, and highly capable mobile browsers. In this session, you will learn how to build sites that work well and look great on Windows Phone and across mobile devices. We’ll cover the core mobile Web scenarios, preparing content for mobile, and tips and techniques for debugging and testing your sites.

    • Building a High Performance 3D Game for Windows Phone

      • Tomas Vykruta in Mandalay Ballrom A on Wednesday at 1:30 PM

      This session will detail how to use XNA to develop 3D games for Windows Phone, with a special eye towards the special characteristics of Windows Phone application platform. Special attention will be placed on optimizing high-performance managed code games for the platform, to help you squeeze out every last drop of performance.

    • Building Windows Phone Games

      • Michael Klucher in Mandalay Ballrom A on Wednesday at 12:00 PM

      With the release of Windows Phone, game developers will be able to create amazing content rapidly through the power of Silverlight and the XNA framework. This talk will outline the basic application model of Windows Phone, enumerate Windows Phone core device characteristics, and walk through highlights of Silverlight and XNA Frameworks on the phone.

    • Changing our Game – an Introduction to Windows Phone 7 Series

      • Joe Belfiore in Mandalay Ballrom A on Monday at 11:30 AM

      Major changes are coming to Windows Phone! This session goes in-depth on the design and features of Windows Phone and gives a comprehensive picture of what’s coming in this exciting new release.


    Windows Phone 7 Series video shows new applications

    Cnet’s Ina Fried just posted a short video interview with Microsoft’s Charlie Kindel ahead of next weeks GDC & MIX. The new thing you will notice is the couple of new (demo) applications present on the start menu (those apps were probably build on Silverlight/XNA for the GDC keynotes). Charlie also does a rpid tour of the Xbox Live Hub.

    Source: Cnet

    Windows Phone 7 Series sessions at GDC 2010

    If you still think that Microsoft isn’t serious about development & gaming on Windows Phone 7 Series then suggest you think again. Just found out that a couple of days before the MIX10 event Microsoft will host several Windows Phone 7 sessions at the Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco (see here):

    Developing Games for Windows Phone 7 Series
    High Performance 3D Games on Windows Phone 7 Series
    Development and Debugging Tools for Windows Phone 7 Series
    Bringing the Best of Xbox LIVE to Windows Phone 7 Series

    Optimizing Performance of Modern Games for Windows Phone
    Speaker: Speaker TBA
    Date/Time: Thursday (March 11, 2010) 3:00pm — 4:00pm
    Location (room): Room 301, South Hall
    Track: Programming
    Format: 60-minute Sponsored Session
    Experience Level: All

    Session Description
    The Windows phone development platform supports a wide range of high-performance applications, including detailed rendering in games with high-fidelity content. This talk covers best practices for harnessing the full power of the device, with an emphasis on optimizing graphics in high-end mobile games.

    Overview of Game Development for Windows Phone
    Speaker: Speaker TBA
    Date/Time: Thursday (March 11, 2010) 1:30pm — 2:30pm
    Location (room): Room 301, South Hall
    Track: Programming
    Format: 60-minute Sponsored Session
    Experience Level: All

    Session Description
    The future of Windows phone has never looked better. This talk covers the foundation of Windows phone development, with a look at Windows phone device characteristics, the basic Windows phone development platform, and the business opportunities available through Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

    Development and Debugging Tools for Windows Phone
    Speaker: Speaker TBA
    Date/Time: Thursday (March 11, 2010) 4:30pm — 5:30pm
    Location (room): Room 301, South Hall
    Track: Programming
    Format: 60-minute Sponsored Session
    Experience Level: All

    Session Description
    Developing for mobile platforms has always required special tools and special techniques. This talk covers the core tools available to the Windows phone developer, with an emphasis on building, debugging, and testing high-performance games.


    Expanding the Reach of Gaming on Windows phone
    Speaker: Speaker TBA
    Date/Time: Friday (March 12, 2010) 3:00pm — 4:00pm
    Location (room): Room 301, South Hall
    Track: Programming
    Format: 60-minute Sponsored Session
    Experience Level: All

    Session Description
    A well-designed connection between a mobile game and hosted server through arbitrary web access opens up a whole world of possibility for mobile games. This talk focuses on a basic design for a web-services-enabled game with an eye towards best practices and outlines upcoming Microsoft services that greatly broaden the Windows phone gaming community.

    Windows Phone 7 is going to be big.