Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tip of the Day: 32bpp BackBuffers in XNA

Here's a tip: by default, XNA uses a 16-bit R5G6B5 back buffer format. This causes horrific banding if you use lots of gradients in your game. You can fix this by manually telling XNA to use a 32-bit backbuffer format.

In you Game class's constructor, add this line:

graphics.PreparingDeviceSettings += PreparingDeviceSettingsEventHandler;

And somewhere in your Game class, add this method:

void PreparingDeviceSettingsEventHandler(object sender, PreparingDeviceSettingsEventArgs e)
    var pp = e.GraphicsDeviceInformation.PresentationParameters;
    pp.BackBufferFormat = SurfaceFormat.Color;

The difference won't show up in the emulator. But on an actual device, it'll vastly increase your image quality by getting rid of a lot of your banding.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SatView for Windows Phone 7 Released!

I'm happy to announce that SatView is now available on the Windows Phone 7 marketplace!

This'll be my entry to the DevVsDev competition. SatView is a satellite tracker and orbit predictor that allows you to track one of 1300+ different satellites as they orbit the Earth. Here's the marketing spiel from my site:

SatView is a realtime satellite tracker and orbit predictor. Track satellite positions, determine visibility, and calculate coordinates of over 1300 different satellites.

Included with SatView are both 2D and 3D viewing modes, allowing you to view the orbital trajectories of satellies from space or projected onto a map. SatView can also use your phone's GPS system to determine visibility and to calculate satellite passes over your location. SatView is ideal for budding astronomers and amateurs alike.


  • 1300+ different trackable satellites
  • Orbit prediction with adjustable time controls
  • GPS and location services support
  • Determine all visible satellites from your current location
  • Calculate next visible passes of a chosen satellite over your location
  • Search function for finding satellites by name or catalog number
  • 2D and 3D orbit viewing modes
  • Topographic and geocentric coordinates
  • Automatic updates for latest satellite orbital data

I'll admit that this is a pretty niche app. But still, I think it's cool. :) And remember, if you don't already know, DevVsDev closes in just a few weeks, so you'd better submit fast!

only US$1.29

Download for Windows Phone 7
Zune client software required.

More information at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Super-secret projects

Apparently I suck at pressing "publish post". I pressed "save" instead of "publish" on that last post, so it's a few days late. Luckily, Blogger lets you arbitrarily set dates on your blog posts. :P

Over the past few weeks I've been working on my entry to the Microsoft DevVsDev competition. DevVsDev is a Windows Phone 7 application development contest run by Microsoft for Australian developers. Basically the gist of it is this: write an app for WP7. Submit it. Best app wins a trip to MIX11 in Las Vegas valued at $10k, and the next 5 runners up get free Windows Phone 7's. Entries close 28th February 2011, which is in just a couple of weeks. If you want to enter, you'd better act fast!

Today, I submitted my application to marketplace. Once it passes certification, I'll be entering it into DevVsDev. What is my app? Well, I'll reveal more once it hits marketplace. Is it good enough to win? Heck, I dunno. It's just something I've been working on in my free time, and I have no idea what my competition is. But seeing as the developer tools have been downloaded over 1 million times, I expect to see some pretty amazing apps in DevVsDev.

Regardless of whether I win anything or not, developing for WP7 is just plain fun. If you haven't already considered it, I would highly recommend submitting an entry and having a chance at one of 6 fabulous prizes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Microsoft Student Partner Summit 2011

Now that the MSP bootcamp is over, I guess I can officially call myself a Microsoft Student Partner. :D

Yesterday, I got back from the MSP 2011 Bootcamp. This is my first time as a Microsoft Student Partner, and the experience was certainly one to remember.

On Monday Microsoft flew us all to Sydney for a 3-day summit at their North Ryde Headquarters. 38 MSPs from all over Australia were there, representing 28 universities. I got to meet a lot of awesome fellow MSPs, as well as a bunch of equally awesome Microsofties.

Throughout the three days were a bunch of introductions, presentations, workshops, activities, and fun to be had all round. Oh, and free stuff. Lots of it. But maybe that's a post for another day.

Before the bootcamp, I was excited to be an MSP. Now? I'm PUMPED. I won't reveal just yet what's planned, but it's going to be an amazing year. I look forward to it!