I have just finished building a Festive game to promote Windows Azure using Silverlight 4! The game is free and easy to play, go enjoy it at: http://festivegame.cloudapp.net/ or read on to hear what it’s all about…

Last year I created a Festive game for the Microsoft UK Partner team, with the creative help from our Metia team at Reading TVP, we managed to turn the game around in just one week! You can still play that game here: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/game/

After the success of last year we were given the challenge again to create a simple fun Festive game with the focus to be on Windows Azure. Again, I was given the creative support from our Metia TVP team so that I could focus my time on building the game mechanics. Thankfully, this year our turnaround time had been lengthened to two weeks.

Here are some key features and facts about this years game…

Really easy to pick up and play

All you need to do to play the game is use the left and right keys to move the bouncing Santa, absolutely no rocket science required! Increase your score by jumping up the clouds, make sure you don’t miss or it could be game over! Watch out for Santa’s run-a-way sleigh, it may drop bonus presents that you can catch for bonus speed. The presents randomly drop in different directions each time and there is no guarantee a present will drop, so choose carefully when to leap for joy. Collect six presents for a super speed bonus that will really send you up into new heights.

Challenge a Friend

Once you have had a go and achieved a score, you can challenge a friend! Simply fill in the email of a friend and send. When your friend follows the link you sent they will see your score in the top left of the screen and how far left they need to jump to beat it. We are hoping this will entice people to share the game and make it “go viral”.

Global Scoreboard

With thanks going to some of our team here at Metia London, we created a global scoreboard so you can try to be the best out there! The scoreboard allows you to put in a nickname and your organisation to help with bragging rights – again, we hope this helps people want to share the game.

Your High Score

I used the Isolated storage feature of Silverlight 4 to save your own high score to your PC. This allows you to see your personal best score even if you have left the website and come back another day.

Built for Windows Phone 7

We took the opportunity right from the outset to build this game so that it would easily be converted for Windows Phone 7. The resolution is already at 480 x 800, the controls are really simple and could either be implemented through on-screen buttons or using the accelerometer. We hope either a similar version or re-skinned version will be coming to the Windows Phone 7 soon!

Here are a selection of screen shots from the game.

Santa starting from the mountain side

Santa starting from the mountain side

Challenge a friend

Note challenge a friend score in top left

Collect falling presents to gain a speed bonus

Keep climbing higher and higher and pass other flying objects

Watch out for Santa's run-a-way sleigh in case any presents fall from it

I recently looked into the Microsoft Labs Pivot tool which now allows you to place Pivot experiences within Silverlight projects. To learn this new technology I needed a source of data with correlating imagery to use as a test subject. Seeing as I used the “American Presidents” as one of my test subjects for a DeepZoom experiment over a year ago, I thought to myself, why not use them again.

First off I scrapped and grabbed as much data on all the 44 Presidents that I could find. This included everything from their birthdays, religion, salaries to how they died and more. Pivot takes all this data after it has been neatly constructed in an XML file and outputs it as a visual interface. This interface allows you to cross reference the data to compare your subjects in a visually attractive manor.

I decided to wrap up both last years DeepZoom and this years Pivot experiment into one experience and host it on it’s own space at http://www.knowmypresidents.com.

The experience looks like this…

Pivot and DeepZoom experience

First choose which experience to view, you can flick between them at any point later on.

In the Pivot experiment you will see all 44 Presidents, you can zoom in and out of each President using the mouse wheel or the controls at the top right.

On the left are the options to filter and cross reference information. Selecting different data will automatically update the Presidents shown. You can also flick between grid view and bar graph views at the top right of the screen.

Zoom into each president by clicking on them, doing this will bring up lots of information on the right hand side. You can drag left, right, up and down to view other presidents, the information on the right will change as you drag around.

Switch between the Pivot and the DeepZoom examples by pressing the toggle button in the top left of the screen.

Zoom using the mouse wheel, clicking or using the navigation above. Each President has a picture frame near them that contains the image of the next President.

Keep zooming all the way down from Barack Obama to JFK.

You can read more about the Pivot control at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/pivotviewer/

You can read more about the DeepZoom control at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/deep-zoom/

We, at Metia, were commissioned to build an interactive map of photosynths by Dell to help promote the Beach Break Live Festival. This was our first Silverlight 4 experience and the first time we have used Photosynth in a project.

I unfortunately had to spend 3 days in glorious sunshine snapping pictures of various locations at the festival in Wales. The photosynths allow you to explore 360 degree views.

The photosynths do a great job of not only capturing events and performing acts but also the people at the event.

Dell were the main sponsors of the Festival and had their own tent acting as a free internet cafe.