Windows 8 evaluation process

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This isn't a tutorial, but more of a report. Yesterday, I did a virtual meeting with a Microsoft PFE, who like me is an employee of Microsoft, but my app is a "moonlighting" effort or one that is being done outside of my principle job and on my own time.

How do you get started?

Initially you need to sign up at:

Windows 8 Microsoft Registration use my name: Sam Stokes as your contact if you wish, or if you are working with a Technology Evangelist please use their name, not mine.

There is a survey, you should print it out and make sure you review it as you work on your project. This all seems complicated but the Metro Design Philosophy makes sense once you have banged your head against the wall for awhile. The metro philosophy (at least according to me) is to make the user's life easier, not yours. But once you have been working with it for a couple of weeks it starts to make sense.

Games have a lower design requirement then say a sales automation app. Games have their own design, which as game designers we get away with our own design. You are not expected to have every single design item closed out in the survey, the app must function within the philosophy.

Specifics on what you need to consider for your Metro Design

What is the mission of your game?

Irate Dolphins Mission Statement:

For Irate Dolphins the mission is to use a casual game to show how plastics impact the lifecycle of aquatic animals.

Comments about Irate Dolphins mission statement:

You need to have this ready to go, don't kid yourself, it is a reality and you need to practice this in front of a mirror. If your friends and parents aren't tired of you saying the mission statement, then you haven't said it enough. If they tease you about it and sing along when you say it then you are getting close.

From my blog at: Devschool blog on Windows 8 submission process

Another source of information: Metro Design Style

Here are some specifics

WACK

The application passed the WACK test, an automatic test that tests the inner workings of you project. What I found is that the failures are not “linear” so look for things that cause other errors, don’t do the list from top to bottom or bottom to top. Read the list of fails first and then try to figure out the connected errors.

Snap View

Ok, I didn’t get this working, turns out that all I had to do was have a little form show up that said that the app doesn’t support the snap view. I had a fancy thing designed but didn’t get it to work.

No Chrome

This isn’t about the browser, keep the user interaction simple and clean. You might ask: “What does that mean?” This is a vague thing, but it takes a long time to write so read the other design text.

Dumb things that I should have caught:

Full Screen, there very few reasons an app shouldn’t run full screen in Windows 8

Resume, Suspend and Save: Really I hadn’t put that code in, dumb, WHY!? No good reason.

Things I didn’t think about but should have:

Tile, yeah, the tile, that really needs to be beautiful, if you have to hire someone to make a good looking tile, then hire them

Secondary Tile: For a causal 2D game not needed.

App Bar

App Bar good, but… Do NOT PUT navigation into the App Bar, not that I did, but don’t. So to be clear: Do not put Navigation into the App Bar. App Bars are easily implement and for a game could hold your treasures, etc. If you are using an App Bar you should follow the Metro Design no matter what, unless it looks good.

Touch, Mouse and Keyboard

This is a big deal, all three should appear to have a good experience and I had made an error on the arrow keys that they didn’t replicate the touch and mouse functionality.

Memory Recycles

If you are building a game, make sure to stop image generation at the end of the game. If you don’t understand this issue then talk to someone who does. If you do nothing else, destroy anything that goes off screen

Portrait, Landscape, or on your head

Games don’t really have to switch orientation, so if they don’t, don’t sweat it. But... IF you do the "Snap" view correctly then you could use that view for a Portrait view of your game.

Conclusion:

1. Scirra currently is a tool that allows you to build HTML 5 games quickly for Windows 8, Facebook, Windows Phone 7 (along with Phone Gap), IOS, Android, and the Web. So pay for it! It is nice that the Scirra team allows you download it for no cost, but seriously put the cash down. I know tools and this is worth every cent they are asking for.

2. Build your games, but do more then one level. The Treasure Map game (as of this writing) is one of the best to show you how to do levels. That is critical for success.

3. Generalize a start up screen that you use over and over again. Then use the same one for each game.

4. Learning how to do the things required by the Metro Design Philosophy will improve your design capabilities for the other devices.

5. Market your game, this means you have to MARKET your game, and you have to work at selling your game. You will need to read books on internet marketing.

6. Get involved with a user group, there is a lot of training available for no cost from Microsoft with respect to Windows 8, which I am excited about. On the other hand, there are groups that incorporate the other technologies, make these connections, sometimes they have pizza and real food. :)

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