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All posts tagged "games"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Progress with ZDK

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 08:30 PM


Despite a few new apps for the Zune HD, Microsoft is still lagging vastly behind Apple's iOS in sheer number of apps available for the platform. Sure the XNA framework has been available for about a year now (and longer on the older models), but the severe limitations on running code have kept developers from unlocking the device's full potential. There was hope when, in April, ZuneBoards hacker itsnotabigtruck released OpenZDK, a toolkit which allows developers to access the same low-level APIs as first-party Microsoft titles like Audiosurf and PGR. There's still no Cydia-like central repository for app so app installs are still strictly a tethered affair, but yes it plays Doom. Here are a few standouts: Read more...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Windows Live Messenger, and Three New Games, Make it to the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 04:06 PM

The slow but steady trickle of Zune HD apps continues; if you look in the Zune Marketplace, you'll find a brand new Windows Live Messenger application ready for download. You'll also find three new games: WordMonger, Dr. Optics Light Lab, and Castles and Canons. If you're a Zune HD customer, this added value is pretty cool. If you're a Zune fan like me though, the app strategy on the Zune HD continues to be a frustrating puzzle. Screen shots of all three games after the break. Read more...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two More Zune HD Apps Trickle Out

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 11:22 AM

Hey there, Zune HD owners! You now have access to two more apps in the Zune Marketplace: Animalgrams, a word game, and MSN Money, a personal finance app. Basically /msn Money is a stock ticker app with a few extras added in. About two months ago we saw another two apps, so at the rate this is going, the Zune HD app catalog should hit 100 apps by 2017 or so. Hooray. More images after the break. Read more...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Zune HD Gets Game Boy Emulator

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 05:44 AM


"User BackAtIt has taken the wrappings off the first working emulator for Zune, which is currently capable of playing Game Boy and Game Boy Color ROMs, but little else -- though this "Visual Boy Zune" app is ported from the same VisualBoyAdvance code that's enabled handheld emulation since 2004, it's in early alpha with quite a bit of work left to do."

It’s only been a few weeks since the Zune HD was hacked, and while I wouldn’t necessarily say the floodgates have been opened on Zune development, we already have our second really cool application coming from ZuneBoards member BackAtIt. He’s begun porting a Game Boy emulator to the Zune and from the early videos over on Engadget, it looks like it’s going to work very well.

What interests me about this isn’t necessarily the fact that we have a Game Boy emulator (though it is cool!) but rather that it just highlights the tremendous opportunity that MS continues to squander with the Zune platform. As soon as the Zune is hacked, two of the first notable applications that appear are the venerable Doom and Game Boy applications, both of which are essentially on any computing platform out there.

The Zune could be an awesome gaming platform. It has the powerful Tegra running its video and it could easily be put to use. Even if Microsoft won’t put out an actual handheld gaming platform, if the Zune HD were to be opened up to developers, we’d have a ton of games for it. C’mmon, Microsoft, open it up!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Three New Zune Apps Now Available for Download

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 02:09 PM

And just like that, blam, we have three new Zune HD apps: two games, and the stop watch app. Labyrinth, pictured above, should be quite fun - I've had similar games on my HTC Windows phones and they're a fun test of physical dexterity. All three apps are now available in the Zune Marketplace, though it did take me five tries to download the Labyrinth game (I kept getting a server error message). Two more screen shots after the break. Read more...

New Zune HD Apps Coming Today...

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 01:26 PM

Apparently later today the Zune team will be releasing three new apps for the Zune HD: Solitaire, Labyrinth (presumably a game, unless it helps you find your way out of mazes), and a stop watch application. Nice for Zune HD owners to get more functionality, but it's still no substitute for having a marketplace where developers can build and sell apps for the Zune HD.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Microsoft Doesn't Want Apps for the Zune HD?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:38 PM


"The current version of the XNA Game Studio suite (3.1) allows developers to build games that can run on Windows PCs, Xbox 360 and Zune media player devices. Version 4.0 is going to support Windows PCs, Xbox 360 consoles and Windows Phone 7 Series phones (but not the Zune HD), according to a blog post by Michael Klucher, Lead Program Manger for the XNA Development Platform."

OK, this is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. What I thought was going to happen was that when the Windows phone 7 ecosystem kicked off at the end of this year, we'd see a Windows Marketplace for Mobile that would address both the Windows phone 7 users and the Zune HD users. In fact, the millions of Zune HDs out there would serve as a good base for developers to code for. Instead, it's looking like XNA Game Studio Suite 4.0 isn't going to allow the Zune HD as a target platform...so now I'm completely confused. Microsoft doesn't want apps for the Zune HD? Or their plan is to continue the painfully slow process of building their app catalog one app at a time, all developed internally?

Or is it that second-generation Zune HD (presumably coming out in the fall of this year) will have a bigger screen running at WVGA resolution (800 x 480) and essentially be a Windows phone 7 without the phone components? And that's what Microsoft wants developers to code for - but not the Zune HD. If so, that sort of sucks - that leaves all the current Zune HD owners out in the cold in terms of apps. Is that really Microsoft's plan? What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Homebrew XNA Apps Coming Out, Distribution Model or No

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 07:20 PM


"[W]e are pleased to announce the immediate availability of XNA Game Studio 3.1 Zune Extensions to support Zune HD. This add-on for XNA Game Studio 3.1 adds the following functionality to the product: [1] The ability to target and develop for the Zune HD media player. [2] The addition of new Touch APIs to the XNA Framework for use on the Zune HD. [3] The addition of new Accelerometer APIs to the XNA Framework for use on the Zune HD."

Even though there's still no word on an official apps distribution platform for Zune HD, intrepid developers can still make use of some of the device's cooler features using the same XNA framework that worked on the older Zunes. Even just a few days in, developers are already starting to try out the multi-touch and accelerometer APIs like in this etch-a-sketch program (video below). Sure, it'd be nice to see some real apps available for purchase through the Marketplace, but for now I'm just happy the device is still somewhat open. Other downsides include the lack of HD-specific graphics libraries (everything's still 2D SpriteBatch-based, so no epic FPS's yet) or internet-aware niceneties.

Tags: games, apps, xna, zune hd

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Zune HD Tegra Rumor Confirmed(! UPDATED)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 08:30 PM


"There is a lot of news circulating today about some rumors of the new Zune HD using the NVIDIA Tegra processor. Several websites have been following the rumor, that started at donanimhaber.com, but apparently no one can confirm whether or not Microsoft's latest portable media player does indeed use NVIDIA's system-on-a-chip design. Well PC Perspective can: the Zune HD does in fact use NVIDIA's Tegra processor. I actually learned this fact from some NVIDIA staffers over at Computex in early June but I guess I just didn't realize how "news worthy" the information was. No longer do you have to worry about "rumors" on the subject - Tegra has its first major design win."

After what seems like ages of speculation, we now have what appears to be a somewhat convincing report from PC Perspective that the new Zune HD will be powered by NVIDIA's awesome Tegra processor. Putting the pieces together, it really does make sense. The Tegra chip is supposed to serve as the base chasis in upcoming Windows Mobile 7 hardware and the demos of what is possible with Tegra are astounding. I don't know of another chip on the market which can support amazng transitions and HD video out all while keeping the power consumption to a minimum. Fudzilla notes:

"Nvidia's Tegra is a great platform and it needs only 150mW to decode a video stream and only 20mW to play audio which makes it a perfect candidate for such players like Zune HD. Nvidia already showed some netbook and tablet products based on Tegra at Computex. These were probably all based on Tegra 650, the high end Tegra part as Nvidia likes to call it, while Zune HD will probably based on the mid-range Tegra 600."

Now bear in mind this is all speculation until we get confirmation that doesn't come in the form of "some guy heard it from some anonymous guy at a press event." But until then I'll continue to ooh and ahh at the demos and dream about the prospects of mobile gaming on this thing. I can't wait to see how it'll turn out.

UPDATE: Matt Aikers, via the ZuneInsider Podcast has confirmed that the chip is in fact a Tegra. Guess we don't need those scare quotes anymore! (Thanks Alber1690).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Zune as Xbox360 Storage Device? Not Quite...

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Content Creation & Management" @ 03:30 PM


"The most recent installment of the Zune newsletter includes a survey question that hints at the possibility of the Zune being used as additional Xbox 360 storage. After selecting "Yes" to the first question, readers are asked "Have you ever connected your Zune to your Xbox to do any of the following?" The first response to the question is "Use my Zune hard drive for extra Xbox 360 storage." One could interpret this as meaning that Microsoft is considering making the Zune official backup storage for saved games, Marketplace downloads, etc. Yes, that would be a great reason to buy a Zune, but keep in mind that the question could refer to using the Zune simply as a means to upload pictures and audio tracks to the 360 (although that would be ridiculous because nobody would give a damn). And, of course, it may mean nothing at all. We shall have to wait and see if Microsoft does the smart thing here."

While I'd like to believe something like this is a sign of what's to come, I just don't see it happening. Why would I want game content on my Zune if I can't do anything with it? What purpose does it serve to carry around my Halo 3 stats with me everywhere? Even if I could, I doubt I'd beam my gamerscore to a buddy the same way I would with a new track. I think, and as Christopher Price points out, that the question itself was just poorly worded:

"What the question meant to ask was “Are you storing pictures and video on your Zune, because your Xbox 360 hard drive is full from game and marketplace content?” When you realize that’s what they were asking… you can see how the rumor got started. Microsoft does want to know that this is an issue, because over on the PlayStation 3, people can use all kinds of storage options… it takes only a few minutes to upgrade the hard drive with one of your own (and not pay Microsoft’s six-times-cost markup for their puny 120 GB hard drive). If the PS3 is luring away savvy customers over being able to have unbounded storage options… Microsoft needs to tackle that issue (with more than the obnoxious-highway-robbery of their hard drives, of which, I refuse to pay… and use my Xbox 360 less because of it)."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Zune App: Stable Fluid

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 09:00 PM


Check out this cool Zune app by Jos Stam Skeel Lee based on an algorithm written by Jos Stam, which emulates an interactive Lava Lamp on your device. Rubbing your finger along the Zune Pad pushes the "fluid" around the screen, and makes for some really cool visualizations. Apps like these showcase all the cool things developers can do with XNA and the Zune device, but at the moment all this functionality is limited by the lack of an official Zune game store. If there's one thing I'd like to see in the next big update it's a well thought-out distribution chain for developers and consumers alike, without the need to jump through complicated technical hurdles to get the games and programs we want on our devices. So what are you waiting for, Zune Team? Get on it!

UPDATE: Clarified app authorship. Sorry Skeel!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Got 8 Minutes? Get Games On Your Zune

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 12:12 AM


"Uncertain how to get games loaded on your Zune player? Games are in beta, so at present it's a quasi-technical exercise. But if you're willing to do it, Spidermonkey6719 has posted a video tutorial. In eight minutes, he walks you real-time through the steps involved in installing games on your Zune player. Click the vid below to see the steps."

Not surprisingly, there's a lot of buzz about games on the Zune - but because it's essentially all still in the developer's preview phase, the steps involved are a bit convoluted. Any Zune Thoughts readers tried this yet? I haven't, frankly because I don't need/want games on my Zune enough to jump through all the hoops. But surely some of you are more adventurous than I am - share your stories!

Tags: games

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Zune Games in Action!

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 07:00 AM

There’s definitely a lot of excitement over the upcoming Zune games that will be released later this year. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of adding games to the Zune but I have to admit, Microsoft has completely surprised me with the whole XNA integration. They really took what I felt would be a gimmick and made it something impressive. I Started Something has linked a video of the gameplay in action and after seeing what the Zune is going to be capable of, I am really looking forward to this. I think this will really give people a reason to consider the Zune. Check out this awesome video!

Tags: video, games

Friday, April 27, 2007

PC, Windows Mobile, Xbox 360, and Zune in Connected Gaming?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:00 AM


"A gaming system including handheld devices and console devices has variable functionality and processing performance as determined by the number of components in the system. Gaming components can be combined wirelessly, by wired connections (e.g., via a docking station), or a combination thereof. The processing capabilities and functionality of each gaming component in a combination are augmented by the processing capabilities and functionality of other gaming components in the combination. To take advantage of another gaming components processing capabilities and memory capacity, each gaming component is capable of utilizing another gaming component to process gaming applications. Further, each gaming component is capable of rendering audio and/or video information provided by another gaming component. Also, a gaming component is capable of utilizing another gaming component as an adjunct processor."

This patent filed by Microsoft isn't a reference to Live Anywhere, but something much more. It suggests that one hardware component of a gaming ecosystem can utilize the processing capabilities of another connected component to fulfill a task. Imagine using your Pocket PC as a display or your Zune as a controller for your Xbox 360. Of course, all this is highly theoretical, and patents should always be taken with a grain of salt - at least, until they materialize. Your thoughts on the whole thing?

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