Saturday 11 December 2010

Build a Windows Phone Game in 3 days – Day 1

After an unpromising start, Day 1 of my 3 day Build a Windows Phone 7 game challenge ended very satisfactorily. Here's how it unfolded:

9:16 - installed WP7 tools, downloaded XNA book, setup a BitBucket Mercurial repository, and created a Solution. We're off!

9:32 - trying to render my first 3D shape - found a great roadmap to XNA tutorials.

10:07 - Got a 3D spaceship animating on screen following this tutorial

11:12 - thrashing around a bit trying to find a modelling tool to build my own 3D shape. Tried TrueSpace and Autodesk's SoftImage Mod Tool. They all have such arcane and obtuse interfaces - might have spotted a gap in the market here! Found a tutorial on CodeProject about using Blender to create XNA models.

12:10 - at last, my own model bouncing around on screen. Created it using Wings3D - which isn't exactly an intuitive tool, but (to pay it a huge compliment) has the least difficult to use interface of any of the tools I've tried this morning. The results: WP7GamePic1Move over Electronic Arts!

14:16 - started researching how to extract the Mesh from my tile Model, so that I can combine them into Models representing shapes consisting of multiple tiles. Instead found a great insight from Sean Hargreaves: Models are archetypes: you only need one of each kind, and you can then draw it at multiple places with different transformations (I might have called them 3D Stencils, but I think "stencil" has a different meaning in the 3D community). With this guidance, created a Tile class with a reference to the Tile model, plus an Offset vector which can be used to generate a Translate transform to position the Model correctly when it is rendered on behalf of that Tile.

15:16– figured out how to transform shapes consisting of multiple tiles so that they move as a unit. It all boils down to Matrix multiplication. To position a particular Tile, first multiply together the matrices representing its own translations within the shape, then multiply the result by the matrix representing the transforms of the shape as a whole.  Or as one post in the forums very usefully put it:

Matrix Order = Scale x Local Translation x Local Rotation x World Translation x World Rotation

Isn’t Maths magic? Now look what I’ve got:


16:09 – Thanks to the Input.Touch namespace I now have the shape responding to gestures. It will flip and spin at the swipe of a finger! Only trouble is, when the gesture is a Drag, the shape flips, then keeps on flipping. Turns out the problem is that in each call to my Update method I’m only reading one gesture from TouchPanel.ReadGesture, and the other multiple gestures that are generated by that single swipe get queued up -  only to be interpreted by my Update method in subsequent calls as further gestures. From the examples in Charles Petzold’s book I learn that in each call to the Update method I should ReadGesture until IsGestureAvailable returns false

17:05 – feeling rather chuffed. Just implemented a simple Storyboard class that allows me to schedule a series of animations, then play them back at the appropriate point as time progresses. I’ve now got multiple Shapes doing a little dance on screen.


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