Rich Internet Application (RIA) development has, until recently, largely been the preserve of the Adobe Flash/Flex or Ajax developer. So if you were a specialist in .NET development, moving into this arena involved you learning a completely new toolset and language, which in all probability meant that you didn’t bother; after all, there’s plenty of work for a good .NET developer to get their teeth into as it is.
The introduction of Silverlight 2, though, changes this position considerably. Silverlight 2 brings RIA development to the .NET developer, enabling you to leverage your existing skills and experience. Thus you can now create a RIA using C# or Visual Basic, whilst working with a class library and technologies that you’re already familiar with. All in all, this means that RIA development is now something that you can freely participate in without having to go through a lengthy re-skilling process.
One of the more interesting sub-genres of RIA is the Web-based game, and Silverlight 2 is a very capable platform for writing these games. So in this article I want to share with you a dozen or so tips that will help you to get started writing Web-based games.
So what is a Web-based game?
Web-based games deploy in the browser, requiring little or no client installation; they often have rudimentary graphics, tinny soundtracks and simplistic game play – expect no Far Cry or World of WarCraft here – but they are nevertheless often highly addictive. Their main appeal is the sense of immediacy about them that enables you to get into the game and start enjoying yourself straight away, without waiting for long installations to complete, which means that you can find yourself wasting an hour or two without realising it. They appear all over the Web (check out Free Video Games Online or MiniClip for some examples), and in keeping with the modern Web 2.0 philosophy, links to good games spread quickly via email or IM. Consequently, this phenomenon has not been lost on marketing departments the world over, who have realised that placing a (typically) Flash-based advertorial game on the Web can keep their organisation’s logo or product firmly embedded in the minds of users, driving increased traffic to their Web site.
When all is said and done, though, the key to a successful Web-based game is that it installs quickly and is fun to play. So without further ado let’s dive in and look at the first tip: managing the installation experience.