Friday, June 26, 2009


The "tech" day of CUMUY has already become a monthly Classic in Montevideo, Uruguay.

This time the following topics will be presented:

  1. Silverlight 3 (Ingacio Cativelli), and
  2. G.A.T. (Gonzalo Laguna).

This is a free-pass event, so: "Don't say that we didn't let you know!".

See ya,

> Link to Spanish version.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


For those of you who do not know Windows 7 yet, those who doubt about its virtues and even those who have already installed the Release Candidate and want to find out more, I recommend a lot that you watch a series of videos (in Spanish) about its goodness:

Usually I'm not a developer that installs testing versions of a OS in a production environment, but, when Windows 7 RC version was out and having witnessed that the previous beta version worked with roominess in "aged" notebooks, I decided to walk away from Windows Vista and give Windows 7 a try.

I must confess that, after I took that decision, results have been quite comforting! Windows 7 RC behaves like a charm and performs superiorly to its ancestors.

I have installed its 64-bit version with only 2GB of memory on my PC desktop and it actually flies! (note: on Windows Vista, it is recommended that you have 4GB to achieve an acceptable output).

Not to mention the features of its own that make the UX indeed enjoyable.

Thus, as I said at the beginning, my advice is that you visit "Windows 7x7", watch the series of demo videos, and if you can, decide to finally install and try out Windows 7 RC.


> Link to Spanish version.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This year, Microsoft has turned it-self into a box of nice surprises since it announced 2 new products that have recently generated some buzz: Zune HD and Project Natal.

Let's start with the Zune HD. This mobile wonder will have a larger screen with both, touch and OLED technology, point-to-zoom functionality, a built-in accelerometer, and touchscreen QWERTY keyboard.

I'm really excited with the news of OLED display: more vivid colors, higher contrast levels and less energy consumption But I'm more excited with the recent confirmation that it will also include a Tegra GPU, which means no more no less than: gfx hardware acceleration!!!

Now the question is: does this mean it will include a mobile version of D3D? No one outside Microsoft knows. Time will tell, but I'd love to see a built-in 3D support in this upcoming line of devices. Don't you?

So, let's hope MSFT hear our prayers and lets us create (and sell) some outstanding 3D XNA-based games for the Zune HD market.

Now, what's "Project Natal"?

Well, during E3 MSFT presented a new device as means of controlling 360's games without using a gamepad nor any other standard input controller. Just a stereoscopic camera, your body and your voice.

Don't you believe me? Then watch this video:

Fantastic! On the PC business, OS & touchable screens will accompany this trend and to some extent all standard controllers will tremble, in special the old mouse and the traditional keyboard hardware.

In a way, it's like taking the first steps to enter the tech-era of the film "Minority Report". Which is great! The challenge: as usual, learning-curve easiness vs. heavily-established users' customs.

This will indeed require a lot of fresh creativity to ease the transition in the UX towards a real gain in motion richness and more intuitive control.

Can you imagine playing an FPS game with just your body & voice? It won't be easy but eventually we all will, hard-core and casual gamers.

I guess at first it will be kinda blind search until developers find "a pattern" accepted by most gamers, not to mention the efforts and futuristic gadgets to bring back the always welcome force feedback in Natal'ed games. But I also guess it will be great to combine sports and games: "Do some fitness as you play".

Ok, enough small talk. Let's concentrate on the rumors around this incredible device.

As soon as the first images, videos and live demos of "Project Natal" were shown during Microsoft's conference on the past E3, many sites started to speculate on the release of a successor console from 2010 and on with an upgraded internal hardware.

This rumor was reinforced when a change in the hardware of the XBox 360 Arcade edition console was finally confirmed (an increase of the built-in memory module from 256 to 512MB).

Hold your horses! Some sites have been spreading the word that MSFT execs have confirmed mainly two things:

  1. First, "Project Natal" will work on existing 360 consoles, and
  2. Second, the 360 is half-way far from reaching the end of its lifecycle.

So, let's cut with this speculation trend and wait for it either in solo or bundled offers ... One thing to note though, this recent post on TeamXBox's twitter: addition to built-in Natal tech, a key feature of the next Xbox would be full HD stereoscopic 3D visuals similar to 3D movie theatres.

HD stereoscopic 3D visuals ... Wow! But wait, "... of the next Xbox would be ...". Ok guys, please make up your minds ... humm ...

No release dates (nor prices) have been officially announced for both products, the Zune HD and the "Project Natal", but a few sites claim that Amazon is listing the Zune HD for September 2009.

Regarding Project Natal's release date, no word or hint, unless the latin word "Natal" not only was chosen because it means (related to) "Birth", but also taking into account its additional meaning: Christmas! Wouldn't be great to receive such a present this December'09? I'm really shooting at random here, but I really hope so ...


> Link to Spanish version.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Due to the success of the last donation drive, our good friend Ziggy is hosting a new XNA-based article compo at Ziggyware with quite amazing prizes: "Ziggyware Summer 2009 XNA Article Contest".

How about a 120 GB XBox 360 with Wireless Remote (USA NTSC) for the winner? Cool, uh? And this is just a one of the prizes!!!

As usual, check the rules and mark the deadline in your calendar: September 1st., 2009.

Happy writing!

> Link to Spanish version.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


One of the cool new features included in the now available 3.1 version of the XNA Framework, is the support for "Avatars".

But what is an "avatar" anyway?

During the 4th quarter of 2008 the XBox 360 User eXperience (UX) was enhanced with an awesome change in the look'n'feel of the Dashboard.

As part of this "extreme make-over", quite really cool 3D-animated characters were added to the system to represent gamers.

How come? Well, once a user is logged in, she/he can customize how her/his avatar looks: body, cloths, apparels and so on. And if the user has a XBox Live account, that avatar description will be also available on the Xbox Live servers when sined-in, representing her/him with other friends.

You may wonder: "Ok, I got my avatar but, can I use it in a 360 game?" The answer is: "Yes, as long as the game supports the use of avatars".

The video below shows the use of avatars in the 360 game called "Uno Rush".

Now, going back to the XNA Framework 3.1, what is it supported, exactly? And how can we properly use these avatars in our XNA-based games?

  • To start with, avatars are only available on the XBox 360. Meaning that "Games For Windows - Live!" does not support it,
  • Read carefully the guidelines: "Avatars: What Can You Do?",
  • Visit Dean Johnson’s blog -developer in charge of implementing avatars support in 3.1- for more in-depth info about this feature,
  • The skeleton is not available for the public yet but it was mentioned that a Maya skeleton rig will be published sometime in the future (no dates posted though), and
  • Right now, there is only support for built-in animations, so once the skeleton gets released, and unless an official sample is provided when that happens, you will have to create your own "CustomAnimation" class to handle your own animations. Again, more information will be provided by the XNA Team in the future.

Any code snippets? Fortunately, there are great official and unofficial samples and articles out there explaining "How-To":

Next week I'm going to post an example showing how to create, render and process a transition out from one animation to the next one, as a slightly different approach to the method included in one of the samples of the XNA Team.

So, stay tuned!

> Link to Spanish version.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Excellent news! XNA Game Studio 3.1 is almost here! ... "almost" = the download link will be available any time soon :)

A few things to note regarding the release:

  • In order to test 3.1 games on the XBox360, the XNA GS Connect must be updated, as explained by Michael Klucher,
  • 3.1-based Games cannot be submitted for playtesting a/o peer review until 23rd, July,
  • And from that date on, 3.1-based games won't reach the market until the Marketplace gets updated, and
  • You can convert 3.0 projects to 3.1, following this walkthrough.

But this ain't all ... XBox Live Community Games is in the process of being renamed to XBox Live "Indie" Games!!! This is an additional nice surprise.

But wait! There is more ... during the week of the E3, the XNA Team announced that a new feature is comming to the Marketplace: User Ratings!

Wow! Interesting times will come for us XNA'ers, don't you think? Great news, indeed.


> Link to Spanish version.

Friday, June 05, 2009


You may already know this by now, but results are in for Ziggyware's "Spring 2009 XNA Article Contest":

Congratulations for the winners!

Ok, those are the results but why there's a "donations" word in the title of this post? Well ... Ziggyware needs you!

Once in a while, our friend Ziggy call for donations to support his site. In Ziggy's words:

It has been two years since I have had a donation drive to support Ziggyware. I would like to thank all who have donated in the past, helping to keep Ziggyware alive and well. I am currently looking into expanding the site's features and support future XNA contests with great prizes.

Question: how can we donate? Ziggy?

You can donate via Paypal as well as by purchasing by clicking an Amazon product link on this site and then purchasing the product you desire.

So c'mon! Do your good action for the day, be an outstanding XNA'er and support this great XNA Community site!

Watch this space,

> Link to Spanish version.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


For those who don't know it yet, Karvonite is a project hosted in the MSDN Code Gallery, available under the term and conditions of the Microsoft Public License.

But, what is Karvonite? From the homepage's overview:

Karvonite is an object persistence framework for the .NET platform. Karvonite's goal is to relieve the developer from all serialization related programming tasks in a non-invasive way. It can save you from writing a lot of boring and thus error-prone code for moving the in-memory objects to and from the data storage. The Karvonite API is very simple and provides a gradual learning curve with a very low entry point.

Despite the fact that .NET serialization and XML files are ideal for storing data easily and effectively, in several cases they are not a viable replacement for a data engine. In contrast, not all applications require the horsepower and the excessive functionality and optimization of an enterprise database or a SQL engine; databases are a skill unto themselves and the learning curve is not as fast as expected.

Benefits? Read on ...

  • Transparently save/load .NET objects,
  • Non-invasive (no interfaces, base classes or special attributes required.),
  • Automatically handles object graphs and references (shared and circular),
  • Easy to use and deploy, and
  • Supports .NET Framework 3.5, XNA 3.0 (Windows, XBox360, Zune) and .NET Compact Framework 3.5.

To use this solution you will need two main components: a tool called "Persistence Model Designer" and the framework assembly named "Karvonite.dll", having both a relatively fast learning curve.

The authors of Karvonite are open to comments and suggestions, and really want to refine the solution to meet all XNA requirements. So, if your are an XNA'er go ahead and let them know the features you'd want to see in future versions of Karvonite.

Service Pack 2 for the April CTP has been released today, thus if you want to try this persistence framework go and get it here.

For further news and notifications of future releases, you can also subscribe to Karvonite's blog.


> Link to Spanish version.


After being very busy last month I can finally "take a breath" and write some posts again. Things are not back to normal yet to be honest, but I guess it's time to resume my usual blogging activities.

What is "run 09"? It's a one-day IT event to be held tomorrow in Uruguay, where three topics will be covered during the whole day in different talks and keynotes, focusing mainly on what awaits on 2010 and beyond.

The topics are:

  • Cloud Computing,
  • Model-Driven Dev, and
  • User eXperience.

To get a detail view of the event, the speakers and or register, click here.

See ya,

> Link to Spanish version.