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Dave Haylett

Which development kit to use for my new project?

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Hi there, I'm new to this forum but I've been programming on and off for many years now. I'm thinking about starting a new project which is a kind of a Windows front-end with lots of 2D bitmap activity, and am uncertain which development kit to use. I did use XNA4.0 and C# last year to start a bitmap game, but found that it didn't let me tinker with bitmaps as much as I wanted to (I wanted to do some fancy masking but I don't think it would let me create off-page workspaces - it was quite rigid in only letting me have one screenspace which I found quite limiting).
 
Anyway, back to the present day. My project will be Windows-only, because once the user clicks something it will parameter-pass and launch a Windows executable. It involves the user scrolling through a list of items and clicking a couple of things and having a play around. I did write this with VS2003 Express way back when, and the project was quite successful however it was very Windows-like if you know what I mean (list box, drop-down list, click button). Unfortunately I lost the source code and have decided to write a more graphical front-end.
 
I've been browsing dev kits like Cocos2D and realise there's quite a selection so I thought I'd ask around first to see if anyone could recommend a kit based on what I am trying to achieve. As with when I was using XNA I'm happier writing C# into Visual Studio as opposed to using a 'construction kit' smile.png
 
I have attached a quick Paint mock-up of what it'll look like. My main concern is that there will be a tall scrollable listbox with about 3000 entries which can be either text, or text and animated thumbnail, or just larger animated thumbnails. Basically a Windows Listbox won't cut it. I may have to pre-write 3,000 lines of scrollable text and graphic into a workspace somewhere, and manually copy a portion of it across as the user scrolls through the list.
 
Here are some of my requirements of the dev kit:
  • Able to parameter-pass and launch an .exe file
  • Play .wav files
  • Query an MS Access database via SQL
  • Ability to load in a binary file, manipulate it, and save it to HDD.
  • Freedom to load in packaged bitmaps (say made with TexturePacker) and copy-and-paste to my heart's content wherever and whenever I want.
  • Control of z-ordering and/or page-flipping so I can draw stuff off-screen and then copy across. Basically I want to be able to copy graphics both above and below the UI controls without re-draw flickering.
  • Be able to do things like copy part of a library bitmap to an off-screen workspace, then blend it with another bitmap, then copy it somewhere else off-screen, then copy it to the screen. Sounds weird but I'm trying to demonstrate how free I'd like to be able to handle bitmaps, instead of the dev kit just saying: you can have source libraries and the visible screen, and that's it.
Thanks in advance for any guidance anyone is able to provide.
 
[attachment=30160:Design v0.1.png]
Edited by EvoluZion3

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I've been browsing dev kits like Cocos2D

The topic and post contents were confusing as a result of your terminology.
A PC running Windows® is your “dev kit”. You should never use the term “dev kit” to refer to anything but specialized hardware and related development tools—this means Xbox One™, PlayStation® 4, and Nintendo® Wii U™, and loosely iOS and Android™.
Cocos2D is your “game engine”.
Windows® is your “platform”.

I don’t use game engines (etc.) and have no further advice.


L. Spiro

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You should never use the term “dev kit” to refer to anything but specialized hardware and related development tools

 

Well, Wikipedia says the following about SDKs: "A software development kit (SDK or "devkit") is typically a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar development platform." I don't agree that devkit necessarily means hardware.

 

Anyway, that's beside the point. Like Nypyren said, sounds like you are better off using an API such as winforms (or wpf) for what you have in mind. The database connection is easy enough with an ADO.net connector and you can still hook into the GPU if you want to use the hardware for bitmap manipulation with something like SharpDX. As for rendering, in my level editor I am drawing using DirectX into a winforms panel and it works like a charm. It can then obviously be used like any other winforms control.

 

Hope that helps.

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Thanks Nypyren and GuyWithBeard. I decided to crack on with WPF and see how I got on. I got some basic graphics going in the way I want them to, SQL communication to database and shell out to executable so I feel fairly happy with the choice. The WritableBitmapEx extension to WritableBitmap is a real help as well. I need to read up on threads and the like though because it won't let me draw graphics on the timer, saying the resource belongs to a different thread (i.e. the main one). First wall :/

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If you're using C# 5.0 or higher (you probably are), read up about the 'async' and 'await' keywords. in WinForms and WPF apps they can simplify some of the 'do stuff on a thread and then let the UI thread finish' process.

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