Microsoft flaunts cross-platform gaming goodies
Ninety per cent of a game's source code can now be shared between an Xbox, a PC and a phone - assuming one wants an Xbox game on a three-inch screen.
The demonstration, performed at Microsoft's tech•ed conference, shows a platform game transitioning from an Xbox to a Windows Phone 7 Series, and finally to a PC. All three versions exist as a single Visual Studio project, and share 90 per cent of the source code - not to mention cloud-based state storage that allows continued gameplay between platforms.
Microsoft isn't the first to suggest that punters might want to take their gaming experience with them: Nokia's last pitch for N-Gage was as a cross-platform gaming environment that only managed one game ("Reset Generation"), which was enough to demonstrate that applying the limitations of a mobile phone to a desktop game doesn't make any sense.
N-Gage also promised cloud-based storage, allowing the user to pick up from where they left off, but even while demonstrating a game doing exactly that Microsoft's spokesman admits that it's probably not games that are going to benefit from such cross-platform-cloud-based application development.
Microsoft reckons that its combination of platforms enable all kinds of applications across three screens - with e-government and social networking being specifically mentioned. So far convergence has mainly been about accessing the same content on different devices: few people are using instant messaging on a TV, or word processing on a telephone, which is what true convergence should bring.
Quite how far convergence should go is open to debate: and Apple is headed the same way with the iPhone/iPad combination, with applications being binary-compatible between different form factors. Still, anything that reduces the amount of code one has to write is to be applauded. ®
It's a start
Still don't get why some cross-platform games don't allow cross-platform play so PS3's, PC's and Xbox's playing the same game title can all play together. But I suspect that's more down to MS and Sony protecting their walled gaming networks.
What I really want is cross-game play, so mix COD and Tiger Woods golf. Brings new maps for capture the flag, and new hazards for the golfers. Do you play through, or call your own airstrike?
20 years ago porting Amstrad CPC Z80 source to CBM C64 6502 I was hitting that 90% shared source in the majority of source files. Only the poor conditional assembly support in the tools stopped me actually using the same files.
Frankly, if you can't hit that ratio your doing something very wrong, especially in a higher level language. Just a little planning and the right architecture.
Nothing to see here.
RE: With a 90%
"Microsoft are again just telling halve truths or exaggerating if you will, after all they do have product to sell"
If history has taught us anything it is that MS never lie!
Here's a secret
"Ninety per cent of a game's source code can now be shared between an Xbox, a PC and a phone - assuming one wants an Xbox game on a three-inch screen."
Here's a secret - this has always been true, ever since the invention of languages such as "C" which can move cross-platform. 90% of the source code of DOOM has been moved to every device ever manufactured - and, probably, to some that never got out of prototype.
Of course, the other secret is that being able to share source code between a 6-threaded 2.4GHz beast and a low-power mobile device is not actually all that useful.
Still, Dev Studio - you've gotta love it.
Q. What do mathaticians do if they have constipation?
A. Work it out with a penci!!!
I always forget to de-hammock...l