Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Publishes Free XBox Development Tools

Comments Filter:
  • Not quite free.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nullset (39850) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:30PM (#17203524)
    If you want to run the games on your own xbox, you need the "Creators Club" subscription...which costs $100/year.

    So it's not quite free. And you can't distribute the games to others....unless you distribute the source and they are also members of the creator's club.
    • by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:33PM (#17203554)
      It's a lot cheaper than a Gamecube, Wii, PS2, or PS3 dev kit. This is a major step forward. Indie developers can use it, even if it is $100 (which, let's face it, is not much money...two games worth) and if they create something worthwhile they can pay more to get it full licenced for release.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by asb (1909)

        if they create something worthwhile they can pay more to get it full licenced for release

        Let me rephrase that for you: "if they create something worthwhile they have to pay more to get it full licenced for release".

        Helpful, eh?

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:49PM (#17203672)
      freecode.c

      #include "creatorsclub.h"

    • Creator's Club (Score:4, Informative)

      by Z34107 (925136) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:05AM (#17204206)

      The press release says that they're working on removing the Creator's Club requirement for playing XNA games.

      The reason you need to be a member of the Creator's Club as of now is because of the XNA framework - a souped-up version of the .NET framework - that your games are built on top of. Your games won't run without it, which means anyone who wants to run your game needs it (i.e., be a member of the Creator's Club.)

      • Only on the xbox 360. you can code some regular old c# computer apps that use xna and there's a redistributable package that lets people run it. I think this whole thing has nothing to do with helping the xbox, or making money on the "creator's club" and a heck of a lot to do with pushing C#, .NET and XNA on the development market.
  • by Osty (16825) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:31PM (#17203530)

    The Creator's Club is only necessary if you want the extra content/samples/support or if you want to run XNA games on an Xbox 360 (for now you'll have to have a Creator's Club membership even if you only want to run others' code, but that should change in a future release). If you just want to build Windows games using XNA then there's no reason to get a Creator's Club subscription.

  • Xbox 360 only (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:35PM (#17203572) Homepage Journal
    Those of us who haven't upgraded should note that this is only for the 360, not the regular Xbox.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Osty (16825)

      Those of us who haven't upgraded should note that this is only for the 360, not the regular Xbox.

      That's okay. You can still use it to write Windows games for free, and if/when you do upgrade to a 360 it won't be much extra work to port your game to 360. At best it's just a matter of setting up a new project using the same source and building that; at worst you may have to change some code if you're doing something the 360 doesn't support.

    • Not that this matters, as there are already many ways to develop for the original Xbox. If you have one of a few specific games, a memory card, and a USB cable you don't mind hacking you can do it for free.
    • I wonder if anyone will ever attempt to use Mono to create a compatibility layer for these games to run on Linux/OSX or even on the original XBox. Presumably this would just be "a simple matter" of reimplementing the APIs used by this toolkit, since Mono is compatible with Microsoft's CLI already.

  • Who's gonna publish my game after I make it?
  • SNES (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:37PM (#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 edwdig (47888)
      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.

      SNES games were coded in assembly. They wouldn't gain much by opening that up.

      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.
      • by ivan256 (17499)
        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'm not sure what point you are trying to make. Almost no system is too underpowered to run compiled code, including the SNES. 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.

        SNES games were coded in assembly. They wouldn't gain muc
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by edwdig (47888)
          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 sys
          • by ivan256 (17499)
            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.

            I could imagine some puzzle or fighter type games being created by small teams. The amount of art and sound for those games could be very low and still be a fun and visually stunning game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Megane (129182)

        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,

    • I emailed Nintendo about the indie option. I don't think it's going to be a go any time soon. I was told the usual bit, about needing prior game(s) and of course be a corporation. Along with financial requirements et al.

      And I haven't seen anything announced to that effect so...
    • by modeless (978411)
      I don't see why anyone would want experience developing a SNES game, it wouldn't transfer well to modern consoles. If you just want to know how the SNES works, an open-source emulator is the ultimate documentation. If you want to develop an indie game, it's a no-brainer to do it on PC. A top-of-the-line PC is already far better than any console including PS3, and if the game is good enough to be released on a console, porting it will be cake compared to building it in the first place.
      • A SNES really isn't that far removed from a GBA or DS. The 2D capabilities of all 3 systems are quite similar. And interestingly enough, the sound processing on a DS is also quite similar. I wouldn't say that it's completely different.
    • Re:SNES (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Darkforge (28199) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:50PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by colmore (56499)
      It would be interesting, but I think you'd find programming for the SNES and modern game programming to be different beasts.

      Back then, with much smaller resources, a lot of work was still done in assembler and some pretty low level code that is now taken care of by libraries. There isn't the need to squeeze every last inch of functionality out of hardware any more, and the coding is a lot different.
    • I stopped off at the Sony exhibit at GDW in San Francisco, only to be told the complex method of developing for PS. I have to say that, Sony can go fuck themselves! As much as one can dis MS, and I've been an Apple user my entire life, they know how to create a development community. As a matter of fact, I have asked Apple about developing games for the iPod, receiving the same cold shoulder.

      Dear companies, not everything is going to make a million dollars, deserving an expensive subscription or development
  • Channel 9 Demo (Score:4, Informative)

    by dilbert627 (561671) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:38PM (#17203602)
    This video on Channel9 shows off running a game on the Xbox. Pretty cool stuff.
    http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=2612 54 [msdn.com]
  • Non commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:47PM (#17203658)
    It strictly allows only non commercial development and no distribution including free over the net. There's is another commercial version that'll be released early next year but you still face the Microsoft bottle neck. You can't release commercial games unless they approve of them and take a health chunk of the profits. It'll allow you to develope for the Xbox 360 at a much lower risk but there are no guarentees you'll be able to release the game on Xbox 360. Microsoft still retains the final approval and demands their pound 'O fleash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by east coast (590680)
      I'm not a game developer and I don't know much about it but what's the costs associated with developing for other consoles? MS offering educational stuff for free or damn close to it isn't that bad of a deal, from where I sit.

      MS put a lot of cash down to develop an entire platform, they stuck out their necks... if you're making cash from a venture involving their proprietary platform tell me where their cut comes from?
    • by SnprBoB86 (576143)
      You can, however, make commercial _Windows_ games using XNA.
  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:11PM (#17203816)
    I'll get right on working on a version of Open Office that runs on the Xbox :-D Then I can use that incredibly fast direction pad to type my documents. Ooh and I could bring in my Xbox for powerpoint presentations at school and have some fun when I'm not using it for that! The possibilities are endless! You may think that's a dumb idea but have you looked at the public domain roms made from scratch by people in their basements for earlier consoles like SNES, Genesis, and N64? THEY SUCK! Regular people aren't very good at console programming I guess. Office it is! :-D
    • by scribblej (195445)
      OpenOffice is already available for the Xbox, I imagine... but with only 64m of RAM, it's not going to be pretty.

      I run Xebian on my Xbox, and run mythtv-frontend from within there to watch my mythtv. It's just barely passable, the famerate is sometimes noticable. Anyhow, it's a full Debian system; I'm sure OpenOffice is in the package management.

  • 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).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Osty (16825)

      Here is some interesting code, using C# and the pixel shader which draws fractals 60 times a second 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.

      XNA is just the next version of DirectX's managed interface (it's changed quite a bit from DirectX 9's MDX interface). Anything you can do with DirectX, you can do w

    • Even more interesting is the XNA Racer game that renders at 1080p with 2x antialiasing and 30 fps. Granted, the environment is not incredibly detailed, but I was surprised to see managed code do that.
      • by 2megs (8751)
        Why surprised? Once a program says "draw this polygon" it's up to the graphics chip to render it. The graphics chip doesn't know or care whether the command came from managed or unmanaged or anything else. On the other hand, managed code is probably capable of saying "draw this polygon" a lot fewer times per second...leaving the graphics chip a lot more time per polygon to spend on those extra pixels.

    • by slapout (93640)
      I believe that C# can stand on it's own. It doesn't have to be compiled to managed code.
  • by Timbotronic (717458) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:18PM (#17203860)
    From the FAQ:
    Q: What does XNA stand for?
    A: XNA's Not Acronymed

    Seems even the Evil Empire has a sense of humour.
  • XNA is not bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maurice (114520) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:35PM (#17203996)
    I come from a low level graphics programming background. Having played around with the XNA betas that have been out for a while, I must say that XNA is probably the easiest way to get an amateur started with DirectX programming and game development. It seems almost like Microsoft is trying to get the grass roots hooked onto the platform so that the next generation of game programmers prefer the MS platform.

    Oh, and people who compare XNA to game engines like Ogre are missing the point. XNA is not a game engine, it's more of a development tool/platform. It does come with lots of library code, but it's not a full-fledged game engine.
    • Re:XNA is not bad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MelloDawg (180509) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:20AM (#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.

  • Very low level API (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sir Homer (549339)
    Don't think this is a game engine or anything, this is very close to being a wrapper around Direct X, execpt missing alot of features of DirectX including most of DirectInput. It's ok for making Xbox360 games, but there are MUCH MUCH better toolkits for free for PC development then XNA.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Osty (16825)

      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 the

  • by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:39AM (#17204386)
    I think that the "Developers" chair-throwing speech is exactly why MS is #1. Other companies (especially OSS companies) need to get just as excited about supporting developers if they want anywhere near that kind of success.
  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @01:26AM (#17204624) Homepage
    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.

    By applying the same principles to the Xbox 360 they might just find that more people use the system because of what they can do with it, not because of the numbers.

    The applications make the system useful, not the other way around.
    • by Viol8 (599362)
      "It's why there is a much larger number of applications written for windows than for Unix like systems."

      Its nothing to do with that. Unix/linux has as many if not more tools to develop code on than windows
      and besides which , the majority of unix coders are happy coding at the command line with "cc" and "make"
      if theres no GUI dev env available (some even prefer the cmd line , myself included). How many windows coders
      could work from a DOS prompt?

      The reason theres more windows than unix apps is simply that win
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sentry21 (8183)

      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

  • I can see how this would be a great way to bridge the gap between PC and Console games. The game that I'd really like to see the light of day is Shadowrun Online. A game like that has enough variation in character archtypes and abilities that you could easily break it out across multiple platforms. Although characters like mages and shamans might require a pretty keyboard intensive interface, some of the more simple characters likes street samurai's and physical adepts could be controlled with a gamepad
  • 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

  • It's just hours old:
    http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/x/ [garagegames.com]

    If you already have a Torque Game Builder license, you can also use Torque X to make games
    for the Xbox 360. I just discovered the release, so I dunno how similar this will be to TGB,
    but they use the same scripting language for all their products. I'm guessing only some minor
    porting is needed, and that gives you four platforms to make games for (Mac, Linux, Windows, 360).
  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @08:05AM (#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)
    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.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

Working...