I had a buddy in my game development course at Auburn who had just starting working at Microsoft Campus Partner and was pushing a program they were running for students in March called App Madness where they gave a $100 gift card to students who submitted 'sufficiently unique' apps to the store during the month.

I knew that you could use HTML5 and JavaScript to create apps and games in Windows 8 and had already upgraded my Dell Studio XPS laptop to Windows 8 when it came out, so I was totally down to aim for one of those gift cards. I had also been curious how easily you could porting over to Windows 8 would be for an existing browser based game built with one of the popular HTML5 Canvas JavaScript frameworks such as EaselJS or KineticJS.

I had previously posted about my first game with KineticJS, it turned out pretty well so I decided to try to port it over as a Windows 8 app that could be submitted to the Windows 8 store for this App Madness challenge. The game may look familiar if you've ever eaten at Cracker Barrel. The source is on GitHub and you can also play the demo in your browser anytime.

Porting the game over was easy, I used the basic HTML5 template, created a container div for my KineticJS stage and was all set. The only change I had to make to get my JavaScript code working with WinJS was to replace my game over message code which used a basic JavaScript alert:


This is not supported when using WinJS and alert will return as undefined. In order to fix this you can replace your calls to alert with the following:

var gameOverDialog = new Windows.UI.Popups.MessageDialog(msg);

However, if you have multiple calls it would probably be better to create your own alias to alert like so:

var alert = function (msg) {
    var gameOverDialog = new Windows.UI.Popups.MessageDialog(msg);

I am not sure why WinJS doesn't just include aliases like the above to make it easier for porting browser-based games to the Windows 8 platform. Would seem like a no-brainer thing to do for me, however, I guess it's easy enough to add the code above and all of your original alert calls should continue working normally.

I created an App Package using Visual Studio 2012 and ran the new Windows App Certification Kit. This is a piece of software which Microsoft released in order to allow you to run which is supposed to tell you if there is anything obviously wrong with your app package before you submit it to the Windows Store. However, I don't think it's a coincidence the acronym for this thing is WACK. It's nice, except for the fact that it doesn't pick up on everything it could.

I tried to submit my app for all markets to get my app in as many different countries as possible. The WACK passed, but then during actual certification for the Store it failed because games cannot be submitted to some markets without a rating certficiation. This is something that should be checked by the automated WACK. Also at the end it will give you a link to the results at the end as well as a link to submit the package to the store if it passes. If you are runnning Chrome as your default browser then the entire WACK will utterly crash when you click one of them. Don't worry everything is fine, your package you need to upload is within your project folder under the directory AppPackages. You just need to log into your Windows Development Dashboard to upload it. However, you have no way of knowing what happened or what to do next when it crashes.

In the end my game was listed in the Windows Store, and it's taken about two days for each release that I've done since. Overall I'd say it was a pretty painless process. Microsoft's Windows Store has the surprising policy of OSI approved open source licenses trumping their standard license. Because of these reasons I am hoping to see lots of open source browser based HTML5 games ported to the Windows Store in the future.


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