Microsoft has detailed the improvements in the Games Hub in Mango, and also made a passing reference to responding to invitations for multi-player games in the hub and mentioned it distinct from turn by turn games.
One of the first things youâ€™ll notice about the Games Hub in Mango is its new look: A cleaner and lighter design that emphasizes your game collection and Xbox LIVE infoâ€”the heart of the hub. Responding to your feedback, we also made tweaks to improve the overall performance and speed.
Finally, the Games Hub in Mango now comes with many of the features previously found in the popular Xbox LIVE Extras app, such as 3D avatars with fun animations, a new Collection view, and more. Hereâ€™s a rundown of the changes.
Improved Collection view
When you download a game from Marketplace, it shows up in the Collection view of the Games Hub. Large icons now dominate this view. But we found this design forces some users to memorize icons to identify a game. The layout also isnâ€™t currently consistent with the App list, located off the Start screen, where all your apps appear.
Since our guiding principle for Mango was making it easier for people to quickly and efficiently find the games they want to play, weâ€™ve made some improvements.
In Mango, games are neatly organized in the same familiar alphabetical list view as your appsâ€”icon on the left, name on the right. Once youâ€™ve amassed more than 20 gamesâ€”something that can happen pretty quickly on this Xbox-friendly phoneâ€”finding titles you play frequently can become a chore, requiring multiple swipes. Our customer research and your feedback told us people want to quickly and easily get back to recently-played games.
To fix that, in Mango weâ€™re introducing a new Recent category. When your collection exceeds 20 games, the last three titles youâ€™ve played now appear right up top, so you can get to favorites faster. (This has been very useful every time I find myself with a couple minutes to spare during the day!)
New 3D avatars with attitude
We know how much Xbox LIVE users love their avatars. In the current release of Windows Phone, the Games Hub displays avatars as a static 2D image. To flesh out your alter ego with an extra dimension, you need the free Xbox Live Extras app from Marketplace.
In the past few months weâ€™ve received a lot of feedback from people wishing 3D avatars would be the norm on the phone. Weâ€™ve heard you loud and clear! So youâ€™ll be happy to know that in Mango, weâ€™ve fully integrated 3D avatars into the Games Hub.
Avatars on the phone are also now more playful: They wave at you, yawn, and perform a host of other actions. Shake your phone and your avatar dancesâ€”or even faints. Bug your poor alter ego too much and it might lash out at you (I wonâ€™t spoil the surprise by saying what it does) or pull the Collection screen into view to hide behind (my personal favorite).
Better Xbox LIVE experience
Besides better avatars, all the features previously found in the Xbox LIVE Extras app are now built into the Games Hub. These include:
- Improved Xbox LIVE messaging: Read and reply to Xbox LIVE messages sent from another Windows Phone, a PC, or an Xbox console. Weâ€™ve also added more avatar delighters here. If a message contains certain emoticons (e.g. , ), youâ€™ll notice your avatarâ€™s expression change to reflect that emotion! (If a sender overloads a message with conflicting emoticons, your avatar will look bewildered.)
- Connect with Xbox LIVE friends: Find out if your Xbox LIVE friends are currently online through the friend status view. You can also search, browse, initiate, and respond to friend requests right from your Windows Phone 7.
- Integrated achievements and new comparison views: See the recent games your friends have been playing, and compare gamerscores and achievements for all Xbox LIVE games played on the phone, console, or PC.
- Edit your profile: Moved to a new city? Have a new motto in life? Now you can update your name, bio, motto, and location right from the phone.
- Improved Spotlight content: Weâ€™ve improved the news and info delivered to you via Spotlight in the Games Hub. Your window to the Xbox LIVE community will now be complemented with rich and vibrant images!
- Improved game request notifications: In Mango, youâ€™ll receive notifications for multiplayer game or turn requests and can track them in the Requests section of the Games Hub.
I cant wait for real multi-player games to hit Marketplace, and I am sure I am not the only one.
Read more at the Windows Team Blog here.