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Microsoft showcases Windows Phone middleware partnerships at GDC, we go hands-on (video)

Myriam Joire, @tnkgrl
March 28, 2013
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Building on yesterday's announcement that Temple Run and several other games are coming to Windows Phone, Microsoft's been actively courting developers at GDC 2013. To that end, the company's booth showcases several games that highlight cross-platform development and middleware. Now that WP8 and Windows 8 share the same NT kernel, DirectX APIs and tools, it's easier than ever to write games that use the same code base for both platforms. Microsoft is sweetening the deal with a few significant middleware partnerships -- Unity, Marmalade and Havok, to be specific. We talked with Larry Lieberman, Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone development, who was kind enough to explain what these partnerships mean for developers and to give us a tour of the games. Hit the break for our hands-on video.

Gallery: Windows Phone middleware demo at GDC 2013 | 10 Photos

First up was a demo of Drift Mania Championship 2, a racing game built using Unity that's available for Android, WP8 and Windows 8. In addition to being cross-platform, this game supports peer-to-peer racing via WiFi and the MOGA Pro Bluetooth-powered gaming controller. Sixth Planet and Propel Man are examples of games made with Marmalade -- the former reminds us of the arcade classic Lunar Lander and is also available for PlayBook and BlackBerry 10, while the latter was originally launched on iOS. Next was a Havok technology demo which showed the popular console middleware running smoothly on an HTC 8X. Finally there was Galactic Reign, a turn-based strategy game that lets you design spaceships, send them to battle and watch a rendered movie of the result. This is a native game that shares the same code base on both platforms (we played it on a Lumia 920 and Surface Pro). It's clear that Microsoft's working hard to lure more developers into writing games for Windows Phone, and based on what we saw, it sure looks like the company's off to a good start.

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