Microsoft has been offering many of its products for free over the years, however these programs are not heavily advertised. In fact, asking around, many of my peers were unaware of these programs. The two programs I’ll be outlining here are BizSpark (for small startups) and DreamSpark (for students).
BizSpark is a free 3-year program that provides access to most of Microsoft’s software. Anything you download in the 3-year period you can keep permanently. You’ll need to have a website and an email with the website name in it; ie firstname.lastname@example.org ( you can’t use yahoo, gmail, etc ). It’s a fairly easy program to join with few restrictions ( ie: your startup must be less than 5 years old, earns less than $1 million dollars a year… )
Here are some of the free software available:
DreamSpark is a program that supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching, and research purposes. It’s mainly targeted to students and you can gain access by providing a university or college email address when signing up. Most large and many small schools are eligible ( ie: both Jr. Colleges near my house were eligible ). DreamSpark is completely free for students.
Here are some of the free software available:
They also provide free certifications and training modules.
A couple of my favorite 2013 Unite videos:
Discusses strategies on getting a game to go viral.
Discusses the life cycle and strategies that take place after a game is released.
Protect your friends!
“Take aim hero! The world is at war and it needs your help! Enter into Torn Shot, a world at war over whether or not machines should have the right to hold leadership positions. Protect your friends and travel the world to find treasure, destroy enemies, and earn enough to get to Sky City to cast the deciding vote. Each time you play the game, more of the story is revealed!”
Early concept art
* 100% free! No Ads, DLC, In game purchases, etc!
* Global Leader Board – Compare your horde of treasure with other heroes from around the world and across
* Achievements System
* 4 modes of difficulty – you start on Easy and unlock the other modes ( Medium, Hard, Legendary ) when you play
a specific area over and over.
Torn Shot is a "reverse tower defense" game inspired by the classic game, "CrossBow." It was developed in two months and with a team who is mostly made up of first time game developers. Torn Shot is 100% free! Free of ads, DLC, in game purchases, etc. It’s currently available on the iOS, Android Marketplace, Web, .
It will be available soon in Apple’s App Store! If you enjoy the game, please help us out and rate on the App Store(s)!
Click the image to play through your browser!
It’s been a while since the last update for Demolitious. Although it was released over 2 years ago, people around the world are still playing! As mobile phones and tablets get better the UI system for Demolitious greatly suffered. On a high resolution device the buttons were barely visible and the swipe mechanism was never very good. Fast forward ahead and there are cool plugins for Unity such as NGUI (UI plugin) and Easy Touch (swipe/touch plugin). Not only does this make the game many times over more optimize yielding a huge performance boost I went through and ripped out the default Unity GUI code that has been there since Unity version 2.6 (currently Unity 4.2.2 is available).
As I was going through and integrating the plugins, I took this opportunity to do a massive clean up; mostly replacing code with new “tricks” that I’ve picked up after releasing the game. It took about 7 straight days to complete and has already been submitted to the app stores. If you haven’t played Demolitious before it’s a trajectory game similar to Scorched Earth, Angry Birds, and Worms. Click on the screenshot above to play in your browser, or get it here:
Moga Pro Controller (w/Android Phone) $50
Up until two weeks ago I had an iPhone. I first purchased one up when the 3g version was released and then later upgraded to 4, then 5. I have had a few Android tablets but never switched my phone over. My main problem with Android was the touch sensitivity of the screen. There was always a slight lag when sliding, dragging, or pinch zooming the screen. This later became known in my circle as, “Android lag”. I tried new Android products regularly, but still couldn’t find one without this “touch” lag until the Galaxy S3 was released. That was the first time I could see switching over but did I have a reason to? I was perfectly happy with my iPhone; it was easy to find accessories and in my experience games generally came out on iOS before Android and was made with more of a custom fit due to less fragmentation on Apple’s side. I’m completely against marrying brands so I will not hesitate to switch. A few weeks ago using my Android tablet, I connected a PS3 controller to it and was able to play a variety of emulators! The experience was so amazing that it became my reason to switch to Android from iPhone.
Nvidia Shield $300
Sure not all phones can match the specs of the Nvidia Shield but you don’t need to, to play some of the emulators. I was planning to buy an Nvidia Shield until I decided to switch to an Android phone. The Moga Pro has an adjustable clip that can even accommodate phablets. It also comes with a foldup tablet stand which is extremely handy when you want to play on a larger screen. Although the DPad is a little stiff, the controller performs beautifully!
I’ve tested Moga Pro on the following emulators:
Besides emulation, there are games specifically optimized for the Moga Pro, here are a few examples:
(No registration required!)
For the past 4 months we’ve been working hard on developing this game. From start to end with a skeleton crew, we managed to pull it off and are very proud to bring it to you 100% free. No annoying Ads or cheap shot DLC tact on to purposely incomplete games. There are no registrations and no catches (seriously!). You can play right now through your browser by clicking the image above and it’s also available at Apple’s App Store & Google’s Play Store.
“ Bro Dudes is a 2D platform shooter where you become a valiant Bro, on a quest to rescue the fair princess, err President’s dinner from the clutches of an evil dragon… um Ninjas. You control the actions of a daring Bro, finding his way through the dangerous areas which has been populated with treacherous monsters and obstacles. In the mysterious areas, around the beach, your odyssey continues against the awesome forces that oppose your efforts to reach the Drag… Ninja’s hideout. Lead on Bro, your quest awaits!
One of the biggest challenges with 2D platformers on mobile devices are the touch controls. During testing, the controls were the number one topic we received feedback on. It seemed like everytime we adjusted the controls, some people would like the change, while others would prefer the controls without the new adjustment. It was becoming clear that touch controls make very poor dpad substitutes so we spent a lot of time developing a new approach for controls using the touch screen.
Using our new approach, the player is finally enpowered to customize their controls specifically to their personal preferences with great detail. See our FAQs below for more details.”
*** In order rank on the leader boards, you must complete the game and have a better score.
There are three leader boards in Bro Dudes.
Click the “Menu Button” to access the Leader Boards!
> Does this game have zombies?
> That’s cool but zombies are boring… you guys should make them pirate zombies!
Not a question, but done!
> Can they be vampires too?
Vamperic Pirate Zombies… ok you got it!
> Why do the Vamperic Pirate Zombies sometimes walk in mid air without falling?
They give zero fracks about gravity.
> Why is this game so hard?
Retro games from this generation are generally considered more difficult than today’s "Everybody Wins!" games.
> Why is this game so easy?
Because you’re the beeessssst arrrround!
> How long did this game take to develop?
4 months (March-June)
> Who are you guys?
We’re friends who love developing and playing games. The team for Bro Dudes consists of 1 developer, 1 artist, and 1 musician. However we’re lucky enough that a couple of other people dropped in to help with the sound effects.
> Why did you make this game for free? / Why don’t you sell it, have ads or charge for DLC?
We love developing and playing games! So much so, yes we’d do it for free. Yes if we can make a living off of it, even better. We decided not to sell the game because we want everyone to play it. Ads are too annoying and DLC didn’t fit our purpose for this game.
> You guys worked really hard and I really love the game, how can I help?
Very cool, we’re glad you enjoyed it! We have a tip jar through Paypal on our website: indiegamesstudio.com. The proceeds are a huge help to pay our monthly server fees, licensing fees, and 3rd party plugins.
> The game is kind of short, what gives?
The game is design to be beaten very quickly; hopefully fast enough before it’s your turn in the line you’re standing in.
>How does this new control concept work?
Our new approach consists of two parts:
1) The type of control - There are three types of controls: 8-way dpad, analog stick, and moving analog stick. The moving analog stick is the same as the analog stick except that the center is set wherever you touch the screen. This means that if your thumb leaves the screen and comes back down at a different location, then the "moving analog stick" will relocate it’s center to the new location.
2) Fine tuning the control – Although this will affect all three controls, the dpad is the most affected. Since there are various sized fingers and preferences on how the dpad should "feel", we provide a slider bar to enable the player to custom design the "feel" of the controls specifically for them.
What does that mean?
If you’re shooting to the right, (i.e., pressing fire while touching dpad-right, but suddenly you want to shoot diagonally up and to the right) how far should you have to move your finger from dpad-right to dpad-diagonal up and right? Some people prefer to move their finger a very small amount while others want to move a slightly longer distance. So lets say you have big thumbs, you might not have as much control when the distance is too short, so you end up toggling between shooting right and diagonally up and right. Or maybe if you have smaller thumbs, the distance may be too long and you may not shoot diagonally up and right when you want to.
The slider bar adjusts the distance between directions, such as right and diagonally up and right, as well as change the size of the image of the control. The larger the image, the greater the distance your finger travels to go from right to diagonal up and right. Conversely, the smaller the image, the less distance your finger travels to go from right to diagonal up and right.
After the reveal of XBox One it left me like many others asking, “Yea so what about the games?” Microsoft in it’s arrogance, demoed their new machine as an upgraded Roku box which has an App that plays games rather than a next generation game console. However adding fuel to the fire it’s rumored to have the following functionalities:
The future of gaming? If these rumors are true then I really hope this console is just another failure from Microsoft. As a technology agnostic individual who is repulsed by fan boys, I believe the future of gaming is very bright. I often read articles claiming that PC or console gaming is dying or dead (due to each other or casual Facebook/phone/tablet gaming) and this is very easily proven inaccurate. PC games won’t die because PCs are still very much needed. We need PCs to create software & hardware. Coding on a tablet would be a nightmare even with an external keyboard compared to PC. PC gaming is great because it doesn’t suffer from the intentionally created backwards compatibility problems that exist on consoles. Which is why if Sony follows through with things like used game DRM then I think it’ll eventually push console people to PC gaming. However they won’t need to buy a standalone PC to play games, they can buy PC gaming consoles that connect to their TV, like Valve’s Steam Box.
See? We still need PCs. And where there are PCs, there will be games.
That means consoles are dying right? No. Even if consoles like XBox One, PS4, and Wii U end up alienating their players to the point where they decide to walk, we’ll see a number of new consoles try to take their place (this is capitalism because a market will exist and therefor an opportunity to make money despite the existence of casual phone/tablet gamers); most likely through KickStarter. Take heart, whether it’s a handheld like the Nvidia Shield, a PC gaming box like the Steam Box, or a completely new system like the Ouya, gaming isn’t going away on PC or consoles.
Microsoft announced today the DRM will be removed from the Xbox One. This is definitely a step in the right direction. As we approach the release date, I predict they’ll drop the mandatory Kinect always on “feature.” Here it is from Microsoft’s Don Mattrick (ref: Kotaku ):
“You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.
So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:
An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.
These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.”
Bro Dudes the most bro’est game out there!
Bro Dudes is a 2D platform shooter. Think Contra, references to Bad Dudes, mash together with large amounts of Bros and Dudes. At the time of this writing the game has been in development for about month and is still in the early stages. Although it’s running on Web, PC/Mac/Linux, and mobile (iOS & Android), it has yet to be released. The first level which is still under some development, can be played in the browser. Things to note about the demo:
Here are some of the features:
More to come!
Waiting in line to try the Oculus Rift at GDC 2013 (btw.. it took 1 hour)
Simply put it’s a virtual reality headset, called Oculus Rift. Its like a big ski mask that goes over your eyes and completely seals them in from the outside. Unlike glasses which have a space between your eyeballs and the lens, allowing you to see the real world through the sides, the headset covers your eye region, sealing your eyes in; in fact you can’t see the outside world at all. This ultimately is a big factor of making you feel like you’re in the game!
If you’re a developer you can pre-order one from Oculus for $300; the expected ship date is May 2013 (roughly a month away!). Note that the developer’s version is more of a prototype and the consumer version will be much better. However if you have to have it now and have $300 to burn, then grab the developer’s version. I asked and even prodded but wasn’t given a clear answer to when the consumer version will be released. They couldn’t even lock down a year, however they did hint and said, 2013 will probably not happen. Possibly, if everything goes without a hitch we may see a release in 2014 but 2015 is also a possibility. I suppose it means if we’re lucky maybe a year or two.
Believe the hype! At first I thought the VR system would take over the “Look” control of the game but for the demo they used Hawken which is a mechwarrior-type game and you’re in the cockpit. They handed me an Xbox controller hooked up to a PC and it had the standard FPS controls. However whether I walk forward or strafe, at any time I can look with my head behind and on the sides of me. It became really intense when I was walking straight pass a wall and caught a mech waiting on the side in my peripheral; so without having to move or change the direction of the mech I instinctively turned my head to confirm an enemy and my hands took over to control my mech so I can fire on him. It happened very quickly and without forethought. Just reflexes. At that point, I realized I was in the game. The demonstrator asked me to activate my hover so I can fly and as I did I looked down and peeked past my cockpit to see the ground getting smaller. When I did that I felt vertigo or the feeling in a rollercoaster. My body thought I was in danger and I felt a little tightness. The demonstrator then asked me to free fall from atop of a sky scrapper and again I felt the vertigo and for me I really felt like I was there. Understandably your reactions will vary and even if you have the same reaction as I did your body would eventually become used to it as you play more and more.
This is a developer’s version which in this case is more of a prototype. The takeaway here is the concept of having virtual reality which relies on head tracking. The head tracking was spot on however some people complained that it blurred a little whenever they moved their head. I saw this but I was more interested in running around in the world that It became invisible to me. Only when I stopped and looked for it, I saw it. The other complaint was the low resolution; it’s 720p which isn’t that bad since most console games are playing at 720p anyways. I get it you paid $500 for a video card blah blah blah, Oculus said they hope to fix these issues for the consumer version, however even as is I’m sold.
[Left] Raspberry Pi with case, 32GB SD Card, Wifi adapter and power [Right] Raspberry Pi Desktop
Earlier this month I decided to purchase a Raspberry Pi (RPi). Quite simply it’s a credit card sized single-board computer developed in the UK with the intention of promoting basic computer science principles in schools. There are a number of hobbyists out there doing amazing things with it; a few are listed at arstechnica. Besides using it as a computer to run a MAME cabinet or an XMBC Media Center, it can run a number of servers (VNC, SSH, LAMP, etc). Running off of 5V @ 0.7A (3.5W) the estimated cost to run this computer is about $0.24/month.
Raspberry Pi model B comes with 2 USB ports (do not run an unpowered USB hub off it!), HDMI (1080p & ouputs audio), RCA composite out, 3.5mm jack (audio out). Like a Mac Mini you’ll need to supply the monitor, keyboard, and mouse and unlike a Mac Mini you’ll need to supply an SD Card for storage (32GB max?). If you’re like me you’ll only use the keyboard, mouse, and monitor for the initial setup and then remote into later from another device. In Windows 7 (maybe earlier?) you can use “Remote Desktop Connection” and log right in. Of course you can use VNC if you prefer. For an SSH client in Windows I use the very popular putty client. On my iOS devices I use iSSH as it supports both SSH and VNC through SSH tunneling. I know 99% of you already know this, however Mac & Linux users can use their respective “Terminal” apps to SSH and VNC for remote desktop.
So now that you have all your parts the basic setup is as follows:
Here’s the tutorial I used from engadget; it’s step-by-step, concise, and I didn’t run into any issues using it. Once you’re done I’d recommend performing an update & upgrade:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Although it’s supposed to cost $35 it was a pretty big disappointment as a stand alone computer. Although my expectations were not high due to it’s price, having seen it play Quake 3 Arena I did make a foolish assumption and thought web browsing would be relatively fast since it’s running on a very stripped down version of Debian Linux. However, browsing the internet is unbelievable slow, like really sllllllooooooowwww. I originally planned on getting another one for my nephew so he can use it to browse the web but it was just plain awful experience. Out of the box it wasn’t able to play flash videos , even after installing Chromium. Perhaps this will be fixed later…?
Much too slow for Unity; and no the Linux export won’t work since it uses ARM architecture. However it does come with a visual game editor called Scratch as well as a growing python game development community.