I’ve had one or two ideas for games on the phone, but being a LOB developer from 9 to 5, I had no idea about that world and figured that it would be too much to get into. Boy, was I wrong! Game development on the phone is so much easier that I’d have ever imagined.
There are a couple of things that you’ll want to keep in mind that are different in XNA development from Silverlight app building. The first is that there is a different execution model. I’m used to event driving development where my app is waiting to react to input from the user or other sources of interaction, but with XNA, the development works with a game loop which is constantly going at a speed of 30 cycles per second. That is important to remember as you will have to add checks and balances to your app or your game will simply be too fast to play. The game loop allows you to change screen elements, intercept touch input, and provides a timeline for game play.
There are two main components of the game loop, the Update and the Draw methods. In the Update, you place your game logic and intercept user input in the form of Touches or by using the Accelerometer or both! In this game logic, you will often assign placement of on-screen elements and deal with interactions (intercepts) between items on-screen. The other main component is the Draw method. This sets the elements on the screen and it is incredibly easy to do.
I was able to make my first Marketplace-ready game in 1 + 1/2 hours! I would have never believed it if someone had told me, but I seriously was able to make the graphics, design the logic, and create the game all within a 90 minute session before work on Friday. I know what you are saying, 90 minutes to create the game logic and graphics??? Yes!!! While, I will admit that my game was a fairly standard game, it is incredibly versatile and it follows the key tenements of mobile game development: Keep It Simple, Keep it Quick, and Make It Fun! I explored the games that I play most often and they tend to be the kind you can spin up in a couple of seconds, play for a few minutes, smile and then get back to your day.
You have to check out XNA for the Windows Phone, it is simply incredible!!! You can find quick-start videos on Channel 9 here and get the FREE tools to get started here. If you need some help, let me know, I’ll be happy to help. if you post a game to the marketplace, let me know! I will check it out for sure!