Scott Hanselman

Media Center Games

January 23, 2006 Comment on this post [2] Posted in Javascript | Speaking | PDC | Gaming
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MesudokuRussell Beattie has a interesting writeup on the whole "Casual Gaming" trend. Games delivered by browser are huge business. Last time I visited MSN Games site there were 200,000 people playing. Disney Channel has my niece and nephew captivated with cheesy, but free, Flash games.

Seems there would be great potential for games on Windows Media Center Edition. There's MCE Sudoku from at MediaCenterWare(KMS), and there's MCE Peaks from 10 Foot Games. BTW, KMS Software has released a number of nice titles for the Media Center.

Why aren't there more games for the Media Center PC? Perhaps ease of development? I poked around at the code for MCE Sudoku (review) and it's pretty hairy stuff. To be clear, it's a very nice implementation that was clearly written by folks who know and enjoy the game. However, the code involved, ActiveX controls, 22 javascript libraries - Media Center Development is AJAX. Sure, AJAX is cool, but let's be serious. It's hard. It's 1997. It's MacGyver Development at it's best, except instead of bailing wire and paper clips we use ActiveX controls and Javascript.

One of the surprises of the Xbox 360 has been the Xbox Live Arcade service. It, along with it's clever implementation of micro-payments and the often-updated blurs the usefulness of the slightly-less-often-updated Online Spotlight within the Media Center PC. 

My conclusion: If there isn't an equivalent service like Xbox Live Arcade for the Media Center PC crowd, gems like MCE Sudoku are going to get lost in the shuffle. I'm actually a little surprised that MSN Games hasn't worked out a deal to create and distribute 10-foot versions of the myriad games available at MSN. They're mostly Flash, why isn't the Media Center an attractive option? Why write MCE applications in MC-HTML when I could port existing scalable Flash apps? I'd love to have a pile of Disney games for the kids to play, not to mention the strictly educational market.

Casey's got it right, what will happen is that there will be a lull (that's where we are now) then folks will start writing apps for the Media Center using WPF/WinFX and WinFX XAML Browser Applications and things will really take off. Until that day comes later this year, I will continue to enjoy Charlie's PDC Presentation that I sadly can't view via my Xbox 360 (I tried.) I'll get around to installing the February CTP and see how it goes.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 24, 2006 21:09
don't forget the controller. they need to get the wireless XBox 360 controller to work with MCE PC. on the other hand, they need to get the MCE keyboard to work with the XBox 360.
February 03, 2006 19:54
I would like to seem more party games for Media Center, KMS have a trivia game for Media Center that was great fun over Christmas with the family.
A proper Karaoke application would be good too.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.