Only a handful of rudimentary games were demonstrated during our appointment with XNA's Michael Klucher and Xbox Live's Ron Pessner. We're talking: crude prototypes crafted by Microsoft and a couple of prolific XNA developers. Still, despite the simplicity of these demos, it's easy to see exactly what Microsoft is attempting to accomplish with Windows Phone 7 devices.
The first game I sampled was a simple, asynchronous checkers title. The gameplay itself wasn't particularly noteworthy (it's a lot like, um, checkers), though it did a great job of showing off the device's social gaming potential. Which is important, since -- as you've probably already heard -- the Windows Phone 7 doesn't support "real-time" multiplayer, either ad-hoc or over Wi-Fi.
This is a pretty big detriment for the device -- however, it handles turn-based gameplay with style. Not only could we view the intense checkers bouts we were currently embroiled in via an in-game menu, but a special "Requests" pane of the device's game hub allows you to see when its your turn to move in a multiplayer title. These menus are gussied up by displays showing your friends' Xbox Live Avatars, appended to their Gamertags and other relevant information associated with your Live profile.
I next got a look at Harvest
, a 3D action title developed by mobile studio Luma Arcade. Again, the game was exceedingly elementary -- from a top-down perspective, I watched as the protagonist ran around, shooting horribly mutated, waist-high spiders. The visuals were pretty sharp -- aided by Windows Phone 7's crisp, 480x800 display. Should XNA developers choose to port their pre-made titles from Xbox 360 to WP7, it doesn't look like they'll have to suffer much visual depreciation along the way.