Microsoft to show off new graphics tools in next Visual Studio at Gamefest 2011

Microsoft's upcoming Gamefest conference is largely about Kinect, but also looks to offer glimpses at the next Visual Studio and upcoming SDKs for Xbox 360.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's annual Gamefest conference kicks off in London in mid-July with (unsurprisingly) lots of sessions focused around developing and certifying games that take advantage of the Kinect sensor.

But there are some other notable non-Kinect-centric sessions on the agenda, including a few focused on the next version of Visual Studio (currently known internally at Microsoft as Visual Studio 2012 and externally as Visual Studio vNext) -- and C++ in particular. (Yes, I've been on a C++ kick lately, as Microsoft itself seems to be.)

Gamefest happens first in London on July 14, then moves to Tokyo on July 29, and finally ends up in Seattle on August 22. The content at the three venues seems largely the same, but I did notice there are a few sessions on the Seattle agenda that are not on the London one.) Here are some of the non-Kinect-specific ones that caught my eye: Visual Studio Tools for Graphics Developers

The next version of Visual Studio brings the most significant set of improvements for developing graphics-intensive applications in over a decade. Whether you are just getting started with 2D/3D games or a self-proclaimed "guru," there's something for you to like. This isn't some re-hash of old content! We will unveil for the first time in public a slew of tools integrated into VS that should make your life better. (Italics mine)

Agile C++ Game Development with Visual Studio

Productivity in the era of agile development no longer is something we can count with lines of code. Visual Studio brings together a slew of lifecycle management tools—from architecture analysis to unit testing—that dramatically improve the productivity of C++ developers everywhere. Come learn how the next version Visual Studio will help you embrace agile methodologies like never before!

Modern C++(0x) Programming with Visual Studio With a new standard (C++0x) almost complete, the largest in over a decade, C++ is poised for renewed importance. C++0x brings improvements in expressiveness and performance that are too numerous to cover. In this talk, we'll highlight mind-bending examples on the bleeding edge that give you an insight into the unique capabilities of C++ in the twenty-first century. Language geeks: join us for a lively conversation about the most ubiquitous game programming language in the world.

(For more tidbits on C++ 0x, check out this interview with Microsoft's Herb Sutter on The Register.)

Avatars Anywhere with Windows Phone

We have lived with avatars in our living rooms, but how about we can take them around in our pockets. Come explore what you can do today with avatars on your phone and also see future of avatars might look like when avatar gets powered by mobile.

(I wonder if this means Avatar Kinect willfinally have launched by then?)

It sounds as if there are some changes coming to future versions of the Xbox 360 software development kit, as well:

Look Ma, No XLSP: The Future of Connecting to Web Resources from Your Xbox 360 Console

Today’s Xbox 360 titles must use the Xbox LIVE Server Platform technology set to connect to services outside of Xbox LIVE. In upcoming versions of the Xbox 360 SDK, Microsoft is providing new technology to enable HTTP and HTTPS communications to web servers. In this talk, we will review this exciting new feature, including the scenarios it will enable and the limits on its use.

One final observation: I'm starting to wonder whether Microsoft may be moving toward rebranding Xbox Live as plain-old Live. I noticed one high-ranking Microsoft exec recently used Live when referring to Xbox Live services that are moving to Microsoft platforms beyond the gaming console. There's another Live-only mention in the Gamefest session listings: "This year, the LIVE service offers several new features and enhancements such as social integration, matchmaking techniques, user generated content, providing a scalable title storage service, and more. LIVE encompasses a wide variety of experiences for drawing players together from around the world."

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