Yesterday at IndyTechFest, William Steele of Microsoft held a session on "Building Applications on Windows Phone 7 with XNA" which was recorded on UStream for all to watch.
While geared for developers, there were a few nuggets of information made available that many of you may find interesting. And once again, we'll save you the hour with a summary of the new information:
- Regarding orientation, Silverlight is portrait by default; XNA is landscape, though of course they can be altered
- XNA games are limited to 30 FPS, but that's also the limit on the physical screen's refresh rate
- Only Silverlight can use on-screen keyboard; not yet available for XNA but you can write your own custom keyboard in XNA
- Games built on XNA 4.0 will NOT run on the Zune (there's a "real reason" and one they're telling us publicly. Hmmm...)
- Silverlight app shows up in the Apps Menu; XNA apps shows up in the Games Menu or some special hub
- XNA is obviously geared towards gaming; Silverlight is "user event driven", but both can basically do the same things
- For buying software, Windows Phone Marketplace will be in dollars; Xbox Marketplace will be Points ("funny money")
- Two separate markets (Xbox and Windows Phone Marketplace), meaning you'll have to buy the same game/different platform twice, no way to link (?)
- "Featured" area of Marketplace = paid promotion of application by developer
- Trial-ware will provide link to buy, pause game, hop to marketplace to buy and then continue game (like Xbox)
- No in-game purchasing yet (e.g. bonus levels, avatars, etc.), but definitely something they are looking at
Some revealing tidbits there.
We're not at all thrilled with the purported fragmentation of the Marketplace between Xbox and Windows Phone. While developers will only have to write the software once for PC, Xbox and Phone (the first two go to one market, the latter to another) there seems to be no way to connect purchases for the consumer. That seems like a bad idea. It's also baffling as to how you can't purchase the two together but they can interact across platforms (we suppose it has to do with the backbone "cloud services"). We suggest one solution would be for developers to offer "redemption codes" to consumer who buy on one platform, to "purchase" on the other. That system already exists on Xbox, though it could be a hassle.
We also now have confirmation that the Zune HD appears to be locked out of all of future development, despite being able to run XNA 2D (and unofficially 3D with some tricks). Evidently Microsoft has a real reason, which they are not telling the public--we speculate that it's because the Zune hardware has an expiration date.