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Microsoft XBox (Games)

Microsoft Publishes Free XBox Development Tools 221

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the compile-once-crash-twice dept.
prostoalex writes "Microsoft announced the release of free XNA Game Studio Express tools for developing C# games that run on both Windows and XBox. They're also selling XNA Creators Club subscriptions, which, similar to MSDN subscriptions, offer access to sample code and additional documentation. Also, Microsoft is explicitly aiming towards uniting the Windows and XBox development platforms: 'You will have to compile the game once for each platform. In this release simply create a separate project for each platform and then compile them both. Our goal is to allow as much code as possible to be shared between those two projects, allowing you to use the same source files in both projects, but platform-specific code will need to be conditionally-compiled.'"
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Microsoft Publishes Free XBox Development Tools

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  • Is it just me... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Programmerangel (882072) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:33PM (#17203548)
    Is it just me, or would this speed up the development of Linux on the XBox 360?
  • SNES (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:37PM (#17203594) Homepage Journal
    I would love to see Nintendo do something like this. I think allowing development using the SNES dev kit would allow those who want to get into console game development somewhere to start, yet not compromise what they are charging for their professional kit.
  • by jeswin (981808) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:17AM (#17203852) Homepage
    Here is some interesting code, using C# and the pixel shader which draws fractals 60 times a second [msdn.com] using the XBox GPU. Initially I was skeptical about coding games with managed code (like C#), but it looks like we will see some games written in .Net. The drawing underneath still gets done natively, but you will be insulated to some extent.

    Interestingly, Mono is planning to bring XNA to other platforms [taoframework.com]. Hopefully we will see PS3 running XNA sometime soon (quite possible, since PS3 already runs Mono).
  • by ticklish2day (575989) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:37AM (#17204018)
    Humor, the hallmark of yet another J. Allard [microsoft.com] led group.
  • Re:SNES (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkforge (28199) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:50AM (#17204104) Homepage
    Hmm, thought I'd hit submit, but the post disappeared.

    Aaanyway. Nintendo has done you one better by providing Flash support in the Opera browser included in every Wii. That means that you can play games developed in Flash on your Wii using the Wiimote.

    Opera is already installed on every Wii (it's used to power the Wii Shop Channel), but to access other websites you have to use DNS redirection hacks... Once Opera is properly "released" you'll be able to use it freely. Meanwhile, wiicade.com [wiicade.com] is a website dedicated to developing/promoting Flash games explicitly designed to be played on the Wii.
  • by Osty (16825) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @01:02AM (#17204190)

    this is very close to being a wrapper around Direct X, execpt missing alot of features of DirectX including most of DirectInput.

    Absolutely correct. Think of XNA as MDX (Managed DirectX) version 2.0. Oh, and DirectInput is missing because that's being replaced by XInput [wikipedia.org]. It's easier to work with, and will be the way of the future (DirectInput will still be supported in DirectX, of course, since DirectX strives hard to be backwards compatible across versions).

    It's ok for making Xbox360 games, but there are MUCH MUCH better toolkits for free for PC development then XNA.

    Which of those other toolkits can target Xbox 360? Which ones support .NET code (aside from Managed DirectX, which is superseded by XNA)? Of course toolkits exist for the PC. That has nothing at all to do with XNA.

  • Re:XNA is not bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MelloDawg (180509) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @01:20AM (#17204276)
    I attended the XNA Open House [msdn.com] this evening. The first demo consisted of downloading a model from TurboSquid [turbosquid.com], adding it to a XNA Game project, writing about 15 lines of code ... and boom -- there was a rendered ship that was lit, spining and was controlable by the 360 controller. Ridiculously easy.

    The entry barrier has been lowered significant. I forsee alot people taking advantage of this platform.

  • Re:SNES (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Megane (129182) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @02:35AM (#17204672) Homepage

    GBA is the sweet spot - powerful enough to code in C/C++, but weak enough that a team of a couple people can max out the power of the system.

    I'd say Sega Genesis is a sweet spot, too. 68K, large address space (4 megabytes in a cartridge with no bank switching), good C compilers (people have supposedly used MPW C with it), decent graphics/sprite support, less colors than SNES, but still a decent selection, and the original Sega documentation is out there. You won't be doing 3D on it, but it's a darn good 2D system. Used consoles are easy to find, cartridges are relatively easy to make, and it's supported for Wii download games.

    The Sega CD, on the other hand, is extremely under-documented (just try finding out about its BIOS calls--there are only about a dozen basic ones I've found references to), and it requires synchronizing two CPUs running at different speeds, in addition to having to swap parts of the game in and out all the time. And it's hard enough to fill up 4 megabytes without getting a couple of artists and musicians, but 650 megabytes is really hard to fill without cramming in FMV or CD audio.

  • by bensch128 (563853) <bensch128@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:38AM (#17205816)
    Duh. M$ is leveraging their desktop operating system monopoly to gain an advantage (cross-subsidizing from their monopoly) in console gaming. That may be illegal.

    Perhapse. Mostly, I see it as a ploy to get kids to beg their parents "Oh, I can build games for the 360. Buy me a 360, please!!!!"
    If Sony was smart, they would go to a major games developer (EA?) and try the same thing for PS3.
    Or just wait for Mono to be ported to PS3 and then write drivers for it.

    I too think this is an innovative thing because hopefully, M$ will develop a decent UI for managing small-scaled 3D games ala flash.
    It would be interesting to see their interface.

    On the other hand, I can (and will) build games for my ipod on linux because
    1) I can (gcc toolchain for arm is free and the tool C++ is standard)
    2) no one is blocking me from doing so.

    Cheers
    Ben
  • by bigmammoth (526309) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @07:08AM (#17205954) Homepage
    Microsoft is positioning themselves to capitalize on the participation & creativity of their user-base. Being a producer is the new consumer v2.0 ;)

    We can see this transformation across corporate culture with the flood of web 2.0 software and services. It simply far more profitable to have your consumers produce the content that you service that it is to make content your self. This also shapes the traditional big budget game productions look at what EA is trying to do with Spore or the popularity of EverQuest like MMORPGs where participants produce experiences with each other under the domain of corporate context provider. These experiences are enriched by this appropriation and therefore accumulate social capital, and whats important to remember about capital is that is transferable.

    Its only logical that microsoft will try to capitalize on the home-brew game community. When those high up in the corporate hierarchy were shown a moded xbox and the home-brew software library, their question was not how do we stomp this out rather it was how do we appropriate this into our business model.

    The tragedy of corporate appropriation is the tendency to make things suck. For example by shifting around generated social capital (ie your coolness becomes our brand) Your youtube videos are 1.6 billion for a few people at the top and free hosting for those at the bottom.

    As the service model integrates the qualities/coolness of free & user generated software with open APIs, customizable interfaces and in this case low cost "development kits", the qualities that made free software so desirable are appropriated and generally potentially crippled as generated social capital is siphoned off to disproportionately support the (relatively minor) contributions of a few at the top.

    So we see the rise of free service models wikipedia, creative commons, participatory culture foundation, the linux platform etc. (they are still appropriated and ofcourse people profit disproportionate to their contributions but at least there are some structural qualities in place that limit the disproportional profitability such as the GPL, open platforms, copyleft etc. We should probably chose to participate in those spaces if possible or given circumstance and specific goals you decide to make content for microsoft/google/sony, that fine as long as you think about it first ;)

  • Re:SNES (Score:3, Interesting)

    by edwdig (47888) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @08:18AM (#17206288)
    I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. Almost no system is too underpowered to run compiled code, including the SNES.

    Obviously you can run compiled code on the SNES. You're just not going to get very good performance out of it. You have 3 general purpose registers on the SNES CPU. Compilers don't create very good code when they're that register starved. You can certainly code an average game in C, but if you're trying to do anything impressive, you won't get the performance you need.

    There is no system available on the planet right now that cannot be maxed out by one or two people... Even the most advanced renderers can be implemented by a very small number of people.

    A renderer isn't a complete game. You also need artists to create the art. You could try creating a commercial grade Xbox 360 title using 3 or 4 people, but by the time your artists finish their work, we'll be well into the life of the next Xbox at least. Also don't forget the time to create all the sound effects necessary. With a GBA game, a few people can create a finished title of commercial quality.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @09:05AM (#17206506)
    Although I personally am not interested in this, I know lots of other people are.
    I dont see the "you need to buy the subscription thing to play games on your 360" or the "you need to compile from source" or the "managed code only" as that serious.
    To me, the 2 biggest lacks is:
    C# only. No managed C++ or other languages.
    and the real big one: Programs written for the XBOX 360 cannot communicate with the outside world at all (i.e. no networking period). This is by far the biggest limitation of XNA Game Studio 360 IMO.
  • by derekned (1007699) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @09:13AM (#17206574) Homepage
    Since we're on the topic, I have a web site - www.threesixbox.com [threesixbox.com] - dedicated to XNA projects. It already has a good number of user-submitted projects for you to try out, many of which have the source code that you can study and learn from. Currently all the projects a PC-based, so you don't need to be a member of the Creator's Club to try them out.
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @09:44AM (#17206822)
    The only reason behind the $100 charge per year is the same reason they charge for approving drivers, or they charge for Xbox Live:

    To keep the riff-raff out.

    If you're paying $100 a year, you're likely a responsible enough adult that you'll not constantly submit Xbox Live Arcade games that completely suck, have no chance at being published, and waste a lot of Microsoft's time. (They charge for driver certification so they driver makers don't start using Microsoft as a free QA service. Similar concept. They charge for Xbox Live subscriptions so assholes don't make 30 of them to dodge bans.)

    It's a valid practice. $100 a year is NOTHING to anybody actually interested in game development, the only one is hurts are little kids who would produce crap games anyway. (And even THEN, they can produce as many crap games on PC as they want; the $100 only applies if you want to run it on an Xbox.)

    I like the insane leaps of logic required to make giving free dev tools away to the public look like a bad thing. While you're making up anti-Microsoft bullshit, remember that releasing stuff like this is what is going to give Microsoft a huge lead in console gaming and leave Sony in the dust.
  • by Sentry21 (8183) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @09:52AM (#17206918) Journal
    The one thing that Microsoft does extremely well is document and provide tools to develop software for windows.(free tools such as visual c# express offer non-commercial developers a cheap IDE). It's why there is a much larger number of applications written for windows than for Unix like systems.


    You must be new here. Until very recently, even the entry-level development tools were expensive and cumbersome to use. The vast majority of people who created apps for MS OSes when I was in school could only afford it because they pirated it, or (for a legit software developer friend) picked up the educational discount.

    Microsoft documentation has always been necessary because their APIs are ludicrously complex and ridiculously cumbersome. One function call from the Win16 API is identical in Win32, except for subtle differences in one or two parameters, requiring developers migrating up to study the documentation like the bible to figure out where things are going wrong and why.

    Microsoft is finally getting it right, and I applaud them for that, but they'd be a shining beacon of hope and joy in the world if that policy had been there for any length of time. As it is, they're just starting to get it right, but they're not there yet - after all, I can write any OS X app I like without buying any extra software to get extra features, and likewise on *NIX.

    The reason there are more apps for Windows is that there's a bigger market, nothing more.

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