I spent some time last night and today playing around in Silverlight to make a final decision on whether or not I will use it in my PBBG Perenthia. I had already started building out a Flash UI but just keep running into the same issues with Flash; the IDE sucks and I keep having to rebuild C# classes in ActionScript. So, I decided to dig a little more into Silverlight to see if using the 1.1 version would be feasible. The word from MS is that the beta 2 with a go live license should be available sometime later this year. That might work out pretty well for me and my current timeline. I have most of the server functionality for Perenthia complete but just can't find a UI combination that gives me what I want and keeps the overhead down. Anyway, I am going to spend the next few days playing around with a Silverlight UI and see if I can come up with something I can use in place of Flash.
Here is a screenshot of the UI (user interface) that I am building in Flash for my PBBG Perenthia. I am converting the AJAX/HTML elements to Flash so it it somewhat incomplete but does give you the overall feel of the interface. The place where that gray square is will be the map and next to the map will be displayed the name of the place/room you are in and a listing of other players, NPCs, etc. in that place/room.
I am going to do a write up with my findings in regards to the Perenthia PBBG UI using AJAX, Flash and Silverlight. Might do that sometime later today.
I've decided to use Flash to provide the UI for my persistent browser based game Perenthia. I went back and forth between Flash and AJAX and even looked into Silverlight a little and Flash just has the maturity needed for a good PBBG interface. I originally had the main game UI written using AJAX but found it to be a little cumbersome when a lot of activity was occuring on the back end, just too much traffic generated for one user. I looked into Silverlight a little but I am going to wait until the 1.1 version is released so I can program in C# on the backend. Flash seems to be able to provide me with what I need and I wrote custom ASHX handlers on the ASP.NET side to handle commands from the Flash UI. The UI is basically just an advanced MUD client, in that the primary output is text based. However, with Flash I will be able to provide a better map and add some additional graphical features later on down the road. Since the command handler is a custom ASHX handler in .NET I could really allow any type of client to connect, as long as that client can send XML as an HTTP POST and receive the and parse the XML response from the page.
I will post a screen shot of the UI in the next day or so.
I created a Visual Studio 2008 ItemTemplate for Silverlight 1.0 JS. The template creates a Page.xml and Page.js files for creating Silverlight 1.0 JS pages in an existing web project. I built this template for adding Silverlight 1.0 XAML pages to an existing ASP.NET project I am building using Visual Studio 2008. The web project is a 2.0 project so I can't reference the 3.5 JScriptSilverlightPage Item Template.
I am hoping to release Perenthia around the end of August. Everything is mostly complete and ready to go, I have a few UI element issues to work out and then the game will go live with a public beta.
I downloaded and installed the Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 and I am really liking it. Aside from the new .NET 3.5 features the IDE itself is awesome. Visual Studio remains one of the best IDEs out there. If you want some good articles on VS 2008 check out Scott Gu's blog post on VS 2008.
I've been doing a lot of note taking lately, I've been trying to write out all the ideas that keep floating around in my head for various persistent browser based games and even a few that are more in the direction of casual games. I have a tablet PC so I tend to scribble my notes throughout the day, while working, at home while watching tv, etc. Now, if I could just find an army of free programmers to build the games. 🙂