The Visual Studio 3D StarterKit consists of a variety of sample objects that enable you to develop a base game for Windows Store using a Visual Studio 2012 project. It also comes with a kit that supports the use of runtime resources created by the Visual Studio tools and includes loading and rendering resources such as meshes, textures and shaders.

3D StarterKit Visual Studio

JP Duplessis, Principal Development Lead and Roberto Sonnino, Software Development Engineer on the Visual Studio team at Microsoft, recently demonstrated how the Starter Kit works using a Visual Studio 2012 C++ project in a video created for Microsoft’s Channel 9.

The video shows how to use common features in 3D applications and games for the Windows Store, such as loading textures, models, and shaders. You will also learn how to use camera class, XAML with DirectX, model and image viewer, shader designer including creating 3D scenes.

Visual Studio 3D StarterKit is available on the Visual Studio developer code samples for all versions of Visual Studio 2012 including Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8.

In an exclusive interview with InfoQ, Duplessis and Roberto share their views on various aspects of the Visual Studio 3D StarterKit. (You can see the original interview by clicking on the link below)

Question: Can you tell us about the core features of the Visual Studio 3D StarterKit?

“The Visual Studio 3D StarterKit is an example that shows how to use the Visual Studio 2012 tools to simplify some common DirectX 3D development tasks for the Windows Store. The example shows how to import a mesh, use pixel shaders created with the Visual Studio Shader Designer, use pixel shaders created with the Visual Studio Shader Designer, create and load fallback shaders for ARM devices and older graphics cards, and display meshes with bone animations.

Visual Studio 2012 includes support for DirectX. So what do you need for the 3D StarterKit?

“We developed the Visual Studio 3D StarterKit to demonstrate how to create games for Windows 8. The knowledge you need to create a 3D game for Windows 8 can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never used DirectX before. To help developers get started with game projects, we wanted to provide some sample code that you can learn from and adapt for use in your own game. The StarterKit contains a header (VSD3DStarter.h) with several help classes and methods as well as a GameBase class (.h and .cpp), which makes this work much easier.

The StarterKit project also contains real examples of graphic objects such as images and meshes, so you can experiment with the Visual Studio graphics tools in a real project without having to find separate asset files. For example, if you use the 3D Asset Pipeline to prepare your meshes, textures, and shaders at runtime, you still need to learn how to load them into your app. The StarterKit is an example.

Visual Studio 2012 Support for DirectX consists of 6 main features in total:

  • Visual Studio Graphics Debugger
  • Shader designer
  • Image processing editor
  • Model Editor
  • 3D Asset Pipeline
  • Support for HLSL IDE and MSBuild

The StarterKit provides you with a complete project so that you can learn how to use these tools in a real project for the Windows Store”.

Is it possible to use the kit with all .Net framework languages like C# and VB?

“The StarterKit only works with C++. It is important to note that the Visual Studio tools can still be used in other projects e.g. to compile HLSL files when creating or to convert images to DDS format for use in 3D applications“.

Is it possible to work with the StarterKit on Windows 7 and Visual Studio 2010?

” The StarterKit is an example tailored for Windows Store applications (Windows 8 only). The VS graphics tools can be used to develop Windows Desktop DirectX applications on Windows 7/8, but are only included in Visual Studio 2012″.

Is it possible to create 3D applications for Windows Phone with the kit?

“The kit can be a good starting point for creating applications for the Windows Phone because the programming model is very similar to the Windows 8 model”.

Is it possible to develop 3D applications for ASP.Net?

“The kit is designed to show how to create standalone Windows 8 applications. It’s not intended for other platforms.”

Do you know a product or application from the real world that was created entirely with Visual Studio 2012 3D StarterKit?

“Since the kit is very new, we have not seen a real-world product created entirely with the 3D StarterKit.

Does Microsoft have plans to integrate the 3D Kit into Visual Studio 2012?

“At this point, it’s too early to comment on what the future might hold for the integration of the 3D Kit into Visual Studio 2012. We look forward to hearing from the community about how they are using the current 3D Kit, about suggestions on how it can be improved. Based on this, we will certainly find ways to further improve the software”.

Can you define the future roadmap of the StarterKit?

“User feedback motivated us to add our latest update, support for the fallback shaders, the vertex shader and the display of meshes with bone animations. We welcome additional feedback that we will consider for possible future updates of the StarterKit”.

We hope that the interview gave you a good overview of the 3D StarterKit from Visual Studio. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment below.

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