This is a small resource for those participating in Global Game Jam, interested in adding cloud features to their game.
Your first stop should be Azure.net, where you can get the latest tools and setup an account.
Azure has official support for the following languages/frameworks:
- .NET (C#)
IF you don’t want to use the above, we also have support for C++ or even just accessing the Azure APIs using the REST interface. (An example of Mongoose running in Azure: http://blog.smarx.com/posts/tutorial-running-the-mongoose-web-server-in-windows-azure)
For all options, check out http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/overview/ for details on developing for Azure, or check out the couple of suggestions below for ideas on how you can apply the cloud to your game.
Leaderboards & More
For leaderboards you want responsive database access to insert and read data, and for this you need go no further than Azure Mobile Services, or AMS for short.
AMS offers three big features that you can take advantage of:
- Easy Table Storage
- Easy Authentication via Microsoft, Twitter or Facebook accounts
- Built in Push Notifications
With table storage you can easily access database/table stored data from your application, and add server side scripts to perform validation or data retrieval. Dynamic Schemas allow you to define your tables in code, and simply push data to the service to create or update the table structure. You can easily get started storing data online within minutes. (I’ve tried this, and do recommend it)
We also offer directly integrated authentication using the Microsoft Account service, Twitter or Facebook. You can offer your players the choice of using any of these systems for Single Sign On, or don’t, this isn’t required to use the other features.
Azure Mobile Services are designed for use on phones and tablets, so push notifications are built right in. You can easily trigger a push notification based on data operations, or scheduled scripts.
AMS offers APIs for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and iOS.
Whether you just want to make a site for your game, or host a Unity Web Player instance online, Azure Websites allows you to get up and running quickly. Best of all it supports direct git deployments so you can quickly and easily push changes to the site or game without having to work through the web interface.
One of the big things being added to platforms like Xbox LIVE, Steam and PSN is the ability to save your games in the cloud, allowing access from anywhere. (or even any device) Using Azure Storage Services you can easily upload and download files so you can offer these services (or others) to your players.
http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/home/features/data-management/ (See BLOB Storage)
Azure also allows you to create virtual machines online, in case you need to host a server or some other custom code and want much more control than the above options provide. Azure offers Windows and Linux VMs, which give you all the flexibility you need.
Got an idea for a way to use the cloud that isn’t covered here? Visit the Windows Azure Developer Overview and get any of the tools you’ll need.