Thursday, May 3, 2012

Create Games for Windows 8 using Physamajig!

The next update of Physamajig will allow users to create their own "Mini-Games" - without writing code! This new version will be released after the June 2012 Windows 8 Release Preview. Like the current release of Physamajig, you just draw out elements on the screen to create physics objects - but in the new version, you can add Behaviors to your objects to add much more interactivity.

So what kind of games wil l Physamjig allow you to create without using code? This video shows a few examples:

My inspiration for the no-code approach came from Behaviors and Triggers inside Expression Blend, which I used for previous versions of the Physics Helper Library. Inside Expression Blend, you just drag/drop Behaviors onto elements to add runtime logic to them. It was a great way to encapsulate complex logic and allow designers to add interactivity to their creations without needing to write code.

Since Behaviors and Triggers are not (yet) present in WinRT Metro, I had to create my own custom implementation of them. A Trigger is generally an event, such as the user making a gesture on the screen, a collision, or an object being destroyed. A Behavior is what happens in response to the trigger, such as applying force to an object, playing a sound, or destroying an object. In Physamajig, the designer for adding Behaviors looks like this:

If this designer looks familiar to you, it might be because you've seen the cool Project Mayhem from Microsoft Research which was another source of inspiration for me. Project Mayhem calls them "Events" and "Reactions," but really these are the same as Triggers and Behaviors. In Mayhem, the designer looks like this:

So is there really such a thing as the "no code scenario?" Will it ever be possible to put together complex, custom solutions using a simple UI to snap together various logic? I am not a believer yet, but I am convinced that adding Behaviors/Triggers (aka Reactions/Events) in a solution can greatly increase productivity and customization in many solutions.

Let me know what you think, and I'll leave you with one last teaser video, this one with extra cheesiness!