Battlestations Pacific Gadget

Previously, I discussed the creation of the NVIDIA Status Gadget that I’d created back around the time of the Windows Vista launch. I recently finished up a project to create another Windows Vista Sidebar gadget, this time for EIDOS Interactive

This new gadget is essentially an electronic version of a printed calendar that EIDOS created as a marketing tie-in for their new game Battlestations: Pacific.  This calendar featured a variety of WWII-style pinup girls in various poses, as were commonly seen painted on the nose of Allied aircraft during the war.  In the BSP game, you can apply the pinups to the aircraft you fly.

Compared to the NVIDIA Status Gadget, the BSP gadget was a much more design-intense project.  The creative team at EIDOS had already created a printed version of their calendar and the gadget had to closely match the same design. There were dozens of pieces of artwork that needed to be prepared and precisely positioned.

Furthermore, the BSP gadget was much more interactive.  The NVIDIA gadget simply displayed the status information and provided a single link to their website.  In comparison, the new BSP gadget had to allow the user to step back and forth from month to month, as well as step back and forth through the available pinup pictures.  Additionally, there were popup information boxes and a variety of web links to manage.

However, unlike the NVIDIA gadget, the BSP gadget did not require any special access to things like video drivers, so there were no special Active-X objects to create this time around.

Gadget Viewer

The one special requirement we did have for this project was that EIDOS wanted the gadget to run on Windows XP as well as Vista.   Since Windows XP doesn’t natively support Sidebar gadgets, this meant creating a special viewer application that would host the gadget on XP.

In the HTML file for the gadget, the changes were minimal.  All I really had to do was change the places where the System.Gadget object was accessed.  This was really just a few places that checked the docked/undocked status.  Once I did this, the code ran just fine in the regular Internet Explorer browser when I double-clicked the main HTML file.

For the viewer application, I created a .NET C# project.  All I needed was a blank window and the Internet Explorer browser control.  The rest was a matter of making it load the right files and react to the button event that would toggle the size between “docked” and “undocked” (i.e. small and big). 

Ultimately, the main difference with the XP version is that it has a standard Windows title bar and an extra button in the body of the window.