I was speaking to my older son, Anthony, on the phone the other day. I was reminiscing with him about his younger days when I was a school teacher at the Hyde Community in Bath, Maine. I spent from 1986, the year we all were exposed to the 60 Minutes experience for an intense period of time, to 1993 on the Hyde Campus with my children.
One of the things Anthony loved was playing video games. At the time, I honestly loved them as well. Enter a little known programming language called Visual Basic 3.0 and my son and I were off and running. We spent a few weeks building space invaders forever and his love of computers was born there.
Wikipedia says this about Space Invaders. ‘Space Invaders is an arcade video game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in the United States by the Midway division of Bally.’
I remember the hours Anthony and I spent, and the later hours I spent learning how to build side-scrolling, platform and ultimately 3D shooters in Visual Basic 6.0. If those terms don’t hit you as familiar then things like BitBlitting, hidden screen flicker removal, the gosh darned key hang problem in the Windows event driven environment and any number of challenges that Visual Basic programmers, and Basic programmers have faced since the inception of Computer Science as an established entity. Like many people who were Basic Programmers, including Bill Gates, we always felt the sting of the ‘technological haves’ and the ‘technological have-nots’.
I can remember being Anthony’s hero over video game programming for a long time. I think there are still days that I miss how easily impressed he was in those days. By the time 3D graphics were in full swing, Visual Basic was literally left in the dust.
It was Anthony, a few years later who introduced me to Flash. I remember how he meticulously laid out vector based demo’s and was very proud of his work. Today, Flash is used by some of the largest social network games found on Facebook. They are clean, elegant, isometric and simply integrate within the Facebook Environment. They also generate massive amounts of traffic and actually earn money every day through paypal for people who pay to upgrade and buy extra bonuses for tokens.
I always felt cheated in many ways. I had all these great skills and, at best, I could build games that other Visual Basic Developers would download and give me kudos on. Every few years I would hold my breath, waiting for Microsoft to live up to the Bill Gates dream that every basic programmer could compete on the same level that he did.
The largest drawbacks were always the huge downloads, versions of frameworks and the complete inability to just build a single file that you could upload and everyone, everywhere, regardless of the system they were on could engage through the environment. I was frustrated, feeling like a stereotypical internet geek and just when I thought it would never happen I woke in a world where my skills were competitive, necessary and sought after.
Enter Microsoft Silverlight 4.o and the Silverlight 5.0 Beta program. Everything I always wanted in a Visual Studio environment and more. Suddenly, flash quality integration with WordPress, Facebook and any browser system was at my fingertips.
It took me a few hours to find some decent sample source code that worked with the SilverLight Version 4.0 system, but I was able to finally locate a simple version of Breakout. The original breakout for silverlight code and compiled executable is located here and was programmed by Ysaser Azeem as a hobby project. After some configuration research and other tactics I will show you in a video tomorrow, I was able to adapt, compile, modify and deploy a Silverlight Application on this site.
I had a blast from the past when I found that I could write Silverlight applications using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. In late 2009, when I began my twitter experience, I also wrote a persistent browser based game (PBBG) that was similar to mafia wars for the Facebook FBML Environment. With the technology below, Microsoft faithful developers can finally start taking their place among the top competing social network development experts in the world.
- Press Start to play
- Press the space key to release the ball.
- Use the left and right arrow keys to move.
- Note the delay in the key handling.