Cloudy thoughts of Gaming in the Future

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With Microsoft’s release of Windows Azure and moving towards a future of Cloud Computing, I’ve been waiting to hear what is to be done in the Market of Gaming, more specifically the Community Contributions using the XNA Framework.  Up until XNA version 3.0 Microsoft’s plan was to keep Community Content as a Closed faced application that wouldn’t be able to communicate with the outside world.  XNA 3.0 delivered Xbox Live integration into Community Games, allowing hobbyist developers the ability to make their creations multiplayer.  With the Resent release of XNA 4.0, which falls after the Release of the Cloud, I was hopeful to find some sort of Cloud Applicable use for community developers.

Windows Phone: Silverlight or XNA XNA 4.0 did however bridge a recent gap that would have been introduced with the Release of the Windows Phone.  With the number of Gaming platforms that are being introduced it would be beneficial to tie them together with the Cloud.  Lets close our eyes and dream for a moment.

Fading into Dream Land

Recently, I’ve downloaded a new game from the Xbox Live Marketplace, and I’ve become fairly addicted to this game as it allows me to be creative, as well it is extremely educational [Hey, it’s a dream right?]. I’ve been playing this game all morning but have to meet a friend of mine across town, but I’m about to reach Virtual Nirvana.  I open up the save menu, and there is an option to save to a Cloud Drive.  I don’t really understand what this is at the time, but think sure why not?  I leave my house and head for the bus stop. As I wait for the bus I get a bit bored and pull out my Windows Phone, and go browsing through my games. I’ve downloaded my favourite game but am disappointed as I won’t be able to continue on from where I left off.  I launch the Game, and it reports to me that there has been a recent game session saved to a Cloud Drive that is associated with my Xbox Live ID.  The bus finally arrives, I step on the Bus and reach my seat.  Looking down at my phone I realize that my game has loaded up to the exact place in which I saved it before I had left the house.

Once I arrive at my destination I save the game before exiting the bus. I stop into my friends house, he tells me he’s found this amazing game for the PC on Xbox Live.  Wouldn’t you know, it’s the same game that I’ve been playing all day.  Wanting to impress my friend I show him that I can load up my session by logging into my Xbox Live Account.

Snap Back to Reality

If saving to a Cloud disk seems a little far fetched [There would be a lot of security folk at my neck for even suggesting it], it could re-introduce the Latter match back into games, like PC games back in the early 90’s.  Saving information from gaming sessions out to a SQL Azure database to offer a bit more than most community run games. I would really enjoy to see content being able to be delivered for an in game experience, however that opens up a large number of security talks, especially with the ability for Media Extenders to expand the content onto a PC.

I have a game idea which would benefit from fresh content being delivered from a Web Service to be injected into game play.  Currently the only way to expand a game would be to create game add-ons in which Gamers could download and attach to your game, but I am still searching to find if this ability is enabled for Community Developers using XNA.

Get In the Game!

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If you haven’t tried out Developing for Windows, Xbox 360, Zune, or would like the jump on Developing for the Windows Phone. Check out the XNA Game Studio 4.0 CTP.  Microsoft has also released a full tool set for developers that are specifically interested in Developing for the Windows Phone.