My next project: A Windows Phone 8 children's app

Windows Phone 8

Now that I have some idle time on my hands after I’ve finished writing the book on UnrealScript and am awaiting edits, I want to get my hands dirty on my next project. After watching Windows Phone MVP Nick Landry (@ActiveNick) give his “What’s New in Windows Phone 8 for developers” talk  at last week’s NYC mobile .NET developers meetup, he sparked my interest in wanting to create a WP8 app.

I’ve been itching to get my hands back into creating a game since my first dive into C# with my XBLIG Piz-ong, but I wanted to make something simple. After reading a great article about “failing fast” in last month’s Game Developer Magazine, I’ve been wanting to quickly create and iterate on small programs as an effective means of learning. With this in mind, I’ve put a somewhat flexible time frame on my project. I’d like to have it complete within the next three months.

The game

Simplicity is key. I’d like to create a game geared towards children ages 4-6 which teaches them how to read. Using one image for each letter of the alphabet, the goal is to have the player click on an image, such as an apple, then have the word spoken through the Windows 8 phone, using the text-to-speech API.

Furthermore, I’d like to have the children be able to pronounce the word as well, based on the the text they see beneath the image. WP8 has excellent speech detection which can be taught to listen for specific words at a given time (namely, after the apple button has been pressed).

This does three things:

1) It teaches the player what an apple looks like

2) How it is pronounced

3) How it is spelled

Simple? Absolutely, and that’s how I intend to keep it.

The next three months

As an Xbox MVP, I’ve received copies of Visual Studio 2012 and Win8; both of which are require for Win8 or WP8 development. I’ve finally installed full version of both and have begun to learn the Win8 API.

Furthering my education, Microsoft’s Channel9 offers a plethora of tutorials to get started. Specifically, I’ve been watching Bob Tabor’s Windows Store Apps for Absolute Beginners with C# series. Previously, I’ve subscribed to his site, LearnVisualStudio.net and found it to be an credible resource for when I was starting off earlier in the year.

Moreover, I’ve begun to pick apart the sample code for the WP8 microphone and text-to-speech samples. These will prove to be invaluable to the app.

If you’ve got any suggestions regarding educational material, visual studio plugins, or other areas I should consider, please let me know! I plan on updating this blog as I move along, so be sure to follow as well.

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