My First 3D “game”

As you might already know, XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 was released this Monday. I am really excited about all the opportunities this platform provides for casual and semi-serious gamers like me.

Please download and unzip the attached “game” (in quotes because it’s not exactly worth anything). The controls are fairly basic. Use the cursor keys to move the 3D ship in a 2D space. Press “R” to reset the ship back to its origin. As of now, it’s based on the XNA framework tutorial that comes with the GSE. It lacks basic exception handling.
I am excited! I am seriously thinking about starting a section or even a web site to chronicle my DirectX/XNA learning adventures.

Cheers!

DOWNLOAD LINK: MyFirst3dXnaGame
To run the program, unzip the archive, and then doubleclick the MyFirstXna3dGame.exe file inside the “XNA Game” folder.

ADDENDUM: You’ll need to install the Microsoft XNA Framework Runtime to be able to run the program.

My latest online social networking story

As you can tell, I am an avid gamer, and love my Xbox 360. It is a phenomenal gaming platform. Micro-soft has managed to make a huge community around it as well. The forums are abuzz 24/7 with interesting discussions ranging from the future of video gaming to the latest 360 accessory out in the market. Xbox Live is a phenomenal online gaming service, growing at a very fast rate. In fact, I was recently chosen as an official Xbox Ambassador to help new gamers that speak Hindi, Urdu, and English feel at home while using the service to play online with others from all over the world.

One aspect of the service is voice communication. I rarely use my headset to talk online with other gamers, mostly because I find it somewhat weird to have vocal conversations with strangers I have never met. Now, every Xbox 360 game has a set of locked achievements that give you a set number of points once unlocked. Some of these achievements require a certain level of online multiplayer participation. One of the games I am currently playing requires you to join a virtual club made by someone on your friends list, and then have some inter-club competitions. The problem was that none of the people on my list played that game. So, I went to the official Xbox forums online and saw a few people that were looking to expand their clubs. I sent a friends request to one of them, and within minutes I had the achievement unlocked.

This person was a South Carolina resident. I started talking to them, and in a matter of a few minutes we were talking like we knew each other for a long time. I think the person covered everything from their new home, pet dogs and cats, last few trips/vacations, married life, the HDTV on their Christmas shopping list, and their profession to the current weather. I never knew it could be so interesting to talk to people on Live.

Up until now, I had only used online social networking to research things or to connect with other people in my field of interest, but this “gamer networking” looks promising.

Now, if only people started buying Xboxes in India!

A smart Google investment

I just registered my profile at dodgeball.com. It’s a pretty unique service that lets you take the whole online social networking thing offline. You can tell all your friends about your current whereabouts by simply sending a text message from your cellphone to DODGE. Not only that, the service allows you to broadcast simple messages like party reminders/invitations. It is integrated fairly well with Google Maps and Google Local, giving you the option to add reviews about places you go to through your cellphone.

The service is limited to very few cities at present, and luckily Minneapolis/St. Paul is one of them. Not to be taken lightly, the service also offers a romance angle in that you can admit a crush on your friend or even their friends, and then get the option to review their current whereabouts if they so choose to reveal! Everything is handled through text messages. I can finally see myself fully utilizing the monthly text message allowance on my cellphone. All I need is some friends!

The website was started by two graduate students a few years ago, and bought by Google early last year for an undisclosed amount of money. I think this service makes perfect sense for them as it allows them to integrate 4 of their services – Maps, Local, Mobile, and Orkut, to bring out a better user experience.

If you’re in the twin cities and reading this, feel free to send me an email to be added as my friend!