"Beginner's Guide to Designing Video Game Levels"

This tutorial from Mike Stout has nothing to do with Microsoft but everything to do with game development. If you've ever wondered how to get started building your game levels, this is a must read...A Beginner's Guide to Designing Video Game LevelsIn this tutorial, I'll explain how to design levels for video games, based on my experience as a designer for the Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, and Skylanders franchises. I'm not going to dive deep into individual concepts, but rather give an outline of the high-level process I use when designing a level.I'll walk you through an example level I'm creating from scratch, so you can see typical results from each stage of the process.In Step 1: Understanding Constraints, I'll walk you through common limitations I always look out for while designing levels.In Step 2: Brainstorming and Structure, I'll show you how I decide what goes into a level.In Step 3: Bubble Diagrams, I'll introduce you to a visual method for outlining what goes into each area of your level.In Step 4: Rough Maps, I'll talk about how I flesh out each bubble from a Bubble Diagram to figure out what goes into each area. I could write an entire series of tutorials about how to do this, so we'll only go over the basic outline here.In Step 5: Finishing the Design, I'll talk about moving on from your basic design to create final spaces. This is also a huge topic that could be further explored in a series of tutorials, so for scope I'll keep this very basic.1. Understanding ConstraintsAt the beginning of a design, the hardest part is figuring out what is going to be in a level. As a designer, you get to decide a lot, but you don't always get to decide everything—especially if you're working in a large team. On a large team, most of your constraints are going to come from other people. There will be business constraints, franchise constraints, audience constraints, legal constraints, engine constraints, and so forth. Most of the time, these restrictions come from far away up the chain.Closer to you will be the constraints applied by the vision of the creative director, art director, and anyone else involved making decisions at that level.If you're working on your own as an indie, you're the one who will be making these decisions, so you still need to understand your constraints very well....2. Brainstorming and StructureComing Up With IdeasOnce I'm clear on my restrictions, I start brainstorming. For example:We want a lot of interiors, so I decide this will be an underground base.Helicopters get into the base via a long vertical shaft, so I'll start the level at the bottom of one of these.The bad guys wrecked the place coming in, so the place is torn up. Several of the areas should be wrecked.I want to do combats with enemies at differing heights, so I want to have at least one really long stairwell fight sequence. This is not a real level design, so I'm going to make it absolutely linear so my examples in the article are as clear as possible.And so on....... Bubble DiagramsBefore I commit a bunch of time and effort towards making a final design, building something in-engine, or even starting to think about individual areas, I always want to have a sense of the overall level and how it flows. This keeps me from making mistakes and having to rework my designs as much.To visualize the whole level and how its areas are connected, I make a Bubble Diagram.......4. Rough MapsFlesh out Each BubbleOnce I've got the Bubble Diagram finished, we know what's going into this level, and we know how each area is connected each other area.The next step is to run down the list and create a rough design for each bubble. I almost always do this on paper or in Illustrator, because that's how I learned, but I know a number of great designers who do this kind of thing in-engine to get a better sense of the space. Whatever makes you work fastest is best here.Below, see an example of what one of the bubbles (specifically Bubble 3: Tight Corridors) looks like after I've designed it out on paper (top-down):...5. Finishing the DesignThis step is when I finalize how all the areas connect to each other in physical space. All of the transitions are completed, and I've finalized the heights and distances of everything.Different designers do this step in different ways. A lot of designers like to dive straight into the engine and build this stuff out, which is great. My preference is usually to finish the 2D map, since I tend to be a bit slower than most when constructing levels in-engine and this speeds me up. The best way will be whatever makes you work faster and makes your end product better.[Please click through to read the entire post and get a PDF of the tutorial]Follow @CH9 Follow @coding4fun Follow @gduncan411

Posted by on 10 February 2016 | 8:00 am

Web Performance | Web Hack Wednesday

Martin and Martin look at Web performance and how to make websites faster.

Posted by on 9 February 2016 | 4:54 pm

Jared Parsons on Building Roslyn in the Open

Jared, the compiler lead on the Roslyn team, spent some time discussing the intricacies of the Roslyn project. We started out by talking about compilers in general, moved on to the more difficult task of compiling while in error,and generally discussed what kinds of things Roslyn actually provides to developers. In addition to these great topics, Jared also lifted the curtain on the actual open development process the team uses (warts and all). In a word, the whole chat was enlightening.https://github.com/dotnet/roslyn

Posted by on 9 February 2016 | 4:40 pm

Kraig Brockschmidt, Creator of Calc, on the Early Days at Microsoft

I had the distinct privilege of spending some time with Kraig Brockschmidt a long time Microsoftie who wrote the scientific calculator for Windows 3! He describes some of his early work as a support engineer, the joys of the early OS, and how that revision of the calculator came about. He was kind enough to send in some early-days photos that we happily interleaved into the video. I hope you enjoy our discussion as much as I did!Some handy links:Kraig's blog and site: http://www.kraigbrockschmidt.comKraig's autobiographical book, Mystic Microsoft, that has lots of stories about his early days at Microsoft: http://www.mysticmicrosoft.com.

Posted by on 9 February 2016 | 1:12 pm

Tuesdays with Corey: What is Azure Active Directory Domain Services? | Tuesdays With Corey

Corey Sanders, Director of Program Management on the Microsoft Azure Compute team walks through the concepts and benefits of Azure Active Directory Domain Services and how it can integrate into your Azure resources. He also plugs his upcoming webinar on AzureMore information on Azure Active Directory Domain Services can be found on their main information page.Sign up to listen in on Corey's upcoming webinar "What are the top 5 reasons your business apps should run on Azure": http://aka.ms/CoreyAppsonAzureDon't forget - we're always looking for Suggestions and Questions here in the comments section OR via twitter #AzureTwC. You never know - you might make it to an upcoming episode and be a virtual star of the show - like THIS one!Post any questions, topic ideas or general conversation here in the comments OR online on via Twitter.Follow @CoreySandersWAFollow @RicksterCDN 

Posted by on 9 February 2016 | 12:04 pm

Bits and Bytes: Adding TypeScript Support to an Existing Project

In the previous Bits and Bytes, we looked at Getting Started with TypeScript, now we will see how we can add TypeScript support to existing projects.Similar to getting up and running we are going to need to make sure Node.js and our TypeScript compiler is installed. Once that is complete we can add a tsconfig.json file to support our compiler options. For info on getting up and running check out Getting Started with TypeScript.Once we have TypeScript support we can code away within our project. But most developers have third party JavaScript libraries to help with their website development. From jQuery support to full single page applications using React or Angular. In any of the cases, you still can create custom TypeScript libraries but the interaction with the third party libraries will be limited.Here is how you can fix that.TypingsIn order for TypeScript to perform the type checking, the types of these libraries need to be defined somewhere. This is where type definition files help. They provide the compiler a definition file of the JavaScript code that is not typed a "definition" of how it should be. We can add each definition file in the typings directory under a library of choice (ie angular, jquery..etc.). and the file extension for such a file is .d.ts, where d stands for definition.So where can we get these files? DefinitelyTyped.org or theGitHub repository. There are 1000's of libraries out there and documentation on how you can create your own.Once you find your .d.ts file, add it to your project and you should be able to enjoy the benefits from TypeScript from autocompletion, to syntax errors to member documentation.Try it out and let me know what you think.

Posted by on 8 February 2016 | 10:43 am

Configuration Management | DevOps Fundamentals

This session on Configuration Management demonstrates and discusses the benefits of handling changes systematically so that your systems maintain integrity over time.[02:10] Introduction to Configuration Management[04:35] Demo - Configuration Management and Continuous Deployment demo overview[06:54] Demo - Demo architecture[07:27] Demo - Three management server options: Azure Automation with PowerShell DSC, Chef, and Puppet   [09:36] Demo - ARM Template - creating the VM for Azure Automation and PowerShell DSC to configure [11:55] Demo - PowerShell DSC configuration source [13:45] Demo - Puppet configuration file[16:25] Demo - Greg explains the demo solution with WiX and MSI and continuous integration and deployment[18:26] Demo - Reviewing the Azure VM that was created and configured by PowerShell DSC and Azure Automation[19:40] Demo - Showing the solution running in each of the three VMs[20:50] Demo - Review of the demo architecture[21:52] ResourcesResources:DevOps Dimension ShowParts Unlimited and Parts Unlimited MRP HOLFollow @nzthiagoFollow @GoLiveMSFT

Posted by on 8 February 2016 | 10:00 am

Defrag Tools #153 - Media eXperience Analyzer part 5: Audio Glitch Analysis II | Defrag Tools

In this episode of Defrag Tools, Chad Beeder and Jorge Novillo wrap up a series on Media eXperience Analyzer (MXA). We examine one more audio glitch scenario, and show how to use MXA to determine what caused the problem.Media eXperience Analyzer (formerly WindowsXRay) is a tool used to visualize ETW traces, with a particular emphasis on media scenarios such as audio/video capture and playback.For an introduction to MXA, and explanation of how to capture a trace, refer to Defrag Tools Episode #149.Timeline:[00:00] Introductions and overview[01:20] Loading the trace into MXA[01:50] Step 1: Start with the Audio Glitches dataset to see where we need to look in the trace[02:52] Step 2: Look at the CPU Scheduler dataset to see what was going on at that time[04:04] Filter on the audiodg.exe process to see the activity of the audio engine - notice a gap in the audio pump activity[05:57] Look at the Call Stack when the thread started again after the delay. What was it waiting on? (Hard page fault)[07:27] Ready Thread viewer tells you what was running when our thread was ready to run, but couldn't.[08:28] Hard Page Faults dataset lets us see what file we were paging in during this time: the DLL for the Audio Processing Object was paged out.[12:47] Email us at defragtools@microsoft.com

Posted by on 8 February 2016 | 8:00 am

Coffee and Code – Visual Studio for Java Developers!

Coffee and Code – Visual Studio for Java Developers!Let's face it.  When we say "Java", chances are very unlikely that the first company you think of is Microsoft.  That's ok, it doesn't hurt our feelings.  But if you do use Java, this episode of Breakpoint is just for you.  In this episode, JR and Paul dig into Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and how it can provide work tracking, version control, build, test and deploy for your Java development teams.  They also show you how to use your Java kung-fu with great IDEs like Eclipse and IntelliJ to work in concert with VSTS.  So grab that cup of java and join us for Java coding with Visual Studio!

Posted by on 7 February 2016 | 4:25 pm

Behind the Scenes: Making the 2016 Iowa Caucus App | TechNet Radio

Capturing more than 90% of the caucus results within three hours in a secure, accurate and trusted manner is an amazing accomplishment. In today’s special TechNet Radio episode, join Tommy Patterson as he welcomes the team that brought to life the 2016 Iowa Caucus app. Built on Microsoft technology, the new platform featured a secure system, enabling precincts to report their results directly by party, ensuring that only authorized Iowans were reporting results.  Tune in and learn how this cross-platform app came to be --- from planning, to testing and execution --- and learn how Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing platform played a vital role in storing, managing and reporting the election results.[3:44] How did the planning process look like at the beginning of this project? What were some of the hurdles that had to be crossed?[8:30] How did this work from a technology perspective? What did you use?[13:40] What about the testing and security aspect of this project?[27:01] How did you handle performance issues?Looking for more Microsoft solutions? Check out WhyMicrosoft.com__________________________If you're interested in learning more about the products or solutions discussed in this episode, click on any of the below links for free, in-depth information:Websites & Blogs:Tommy Patterson’s BlogCloud Solutions HubBuilding Clouds blogLearn more. Visit InterKnowlogy hereRelated Resources: Live App Links:https://www.iagopcaucuses.com/#/statehttps://www.idpcaucuses.com/#/state Follow the conversation @MS_ITPro Become a Fan @ facebook.com/MicrosoftITPro Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS

Posted by on 5 February 2016 | 7:05 pm

Automate to Migrate | Automate to Migrate

Improve agility, reliability and profitability by automating your workflow. David Tesar of Microsoft & Andre Elizondo of Chef share how you can automate your environment with Chef and Microsoft Azure.Next StepsMore ResourcesWatch the first event, Compliance <3s DevOps to improve application and infrastructure security and complianceGet started on your DevOps journey by mastering the DevOps FundamentalsRead a preview to the Automate to Migrate event on the Chef blogGet started with Chef

Posted by on 1 February 2016 | 11:41 am

An Intro to Audio for Game Developers

Microsoft teamed up with Playcrafting to host a Global Game Jam in NYC from January 29th-31st! Over 300 people attended and jammed throughout the weekend.Alyssa "A.C" Menes (@acmenes) delivered her Intro to Audio for Game Developer talk at Global Game Jam and it was streamed on the Global Game Jam Twitch account at twitch.tv/globalgamejam.Alyssa is an NJ/NYC-based composer and sound designer for video games. She is committed to working with indie developers to help them find the perfect sound for their games. In 2015, she teamed up with the creators of Killer Queen and created the audio for Pixel Prison Blues, a 30-player game made especially to be played at Buffalo Wild Wings. She is also working on sound design and implementation for Hiveswap, the Homestuck Adventure Game. In addition to creating audio for games, she regularly speaks at classes, seminars, and conferences about game audio, including speaking engagements at PAX East, PAX Prime, MAGFest, and the East Coast Games Conference. She is also the founder and conductor of the Montclair Gamer Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey's first orchestra dedicated to performing video game music. Check out Alyssa's work at http://soundcloud.com/acmenes and acmenesmusic.com!A little about Playcrafting:Playcrafting empowers the game development community through education, networking, and collaboration. They offer workshops, classes, courses and events for game developers and those aspiring to make games in topics including game design, programming, art, business, and more.

Posted by on 31 January 2016 | 6:33 am

MVP Summit 2015: Iris Classon | MVP Summit 2015

Iris Classon is an appreciated speaker, writer, blogger, Microsoft C# MVP and member of MEET (Microsoft Extended Experts Team) with a tremendously passion for programming. She has had a remarkable career path that proves that nothing is impossible- switching from being a licensed and registered clinical dietician to a software developer with a dozen certifications and a full time developer job with renowned companies.She has been featured in several newspaper articles, online articles and podcasts such as Hanselminutes, Computer Sweden and Developer Magazine. As a sought-after and frequent speaker at conferences such as TechDays, Scandinavian Developer Conference and various user groups she is known for her unique, creative and uplifting presentation style. Iris is hostess on the Get Up and Code! podcast, and on her spare time she does pro-bono work as a dietitian and is very engaged in the developer community. She also enjoys extreme sports such as barefoot running, mountain biking, weightlifting and scuba diving- and of course traveling.

Posted by on 12 January 2016 | 3:45 pm

MVP Summit 2015: F# Takeover | MVP Summit 2015

F# Takeover 

Posted by on 12 January 2016 | 3:33 pm

Top Ten Windows Server 2016 Features | System Center Universe 2016

Top Ten Windows Server 2016 Features, presented by John Savill, Windows Technical Specialist, SavillTech - Microsoft MVP

Posted by on 4 January 2016 | 4:08 pm

Web on the Edge -interview Christian Heilmann | Web on the Edge

Web on the Edge -interview Chris Heilmann when he was visiting in Finland December 2015.

Posted by on 14 December 2015 | 11:17 pm

Automate to Migrate Preview | Automate to Migrate

Improve agility, reliability and profitability by automating your workflow. David Tesar of Microsoft & Andre Elizondo of Chef share how you can automate your environment with Chef and Microsoft Azure.Send questions to #TalkDevOps to have them answered live.

Posted by on 6 December 2015 | 5:52 pm

Creating fluid and beautiful UI using the new Visual Layer | Developer’s Guide to Windows 10 Version 1511

One of the major new capabilities for developers in Windows 10 version 1511 is the final release of Windows.UI.Composition. This was in preview in the 10240 SDK but has now reached full release in this new update.Unleash your creativity and explore new possibilities to visually bring your application to life! Learn how to utilize new light-weight Visuals, Animations, Effects, and Manipulations to easily create smooth and highly scalable UI experiences spanning Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox. Whether you're a XAML or DX developer, learn how you can use the new family of Windows.UI.Composition APIs in your apps.

Posted by on 4 December 2015 | 5:52 am