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Microsoft XBox (Games)

Microsoft Publishes Free XBox Development Tools 221

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

    by nullset ( 39850 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:30PM (#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 Osty ( 16825 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:31PM (#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.

  • Re:Is it just me... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:35PM (#17203566)
    Unless you can run the linux kernel on top of the .NET Common Language Runtime.
    Oh and someone would need to port it to C# too.
  • Xbox 360 only (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:35PM (#17203572) Homepage Journal
    Those of us who haven't upgraded should note that this is only for the 360, not the regular Xbox.
  • Channel 9 Demo (Score:4, Informative)

    by dilbert627 ( 561671 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:38PM (#17203602)
    This video on Channel9 shows off running a game on the Xbox. Pretty cool stuff. 54 []
  • Re:Xbox 360 only (Score:2, Informative)

    by Osty ( 16825 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:46PM (#17203656)

    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.

  • by acidrain ( 35064 ) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:50PM (#17203692)
    The ps2 linux kit had device drivers instead of direct access to the graphics hardware, which made it useless for developing competitive console games.
  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:28AM (#17203952)

    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 with XNA.

    As for "games written in .NET", here [] is a video of the XBLA Marble Blast Ultra (built using the native-code Torque engine) converted over to XNA and .NET. You might not be able to build the next Gears of War or Halo 3 using XNA, but there's no reason why you couldn't build Marble Blast Ultra or Geometry Wars.

  • XNA is not bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maurice ( 114520 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:35AM (#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.
  • by SScorpio ( 595836 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:36AM (#17204006)
    The PS2 Linux kit came with PDFs of the documentation that came with the professional very expensive Linux kit. I believe you receive 6 out of the 7 documents or something like that. I know they just didn't include one, though I don't remember which one it was.
  • Re:Non commercial (Score:5, Informative)

    by Osty ( 16825 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:48AM (#17204082)

    A lot of people are going "holy cow! xbox programming! yay!" and ignoring that they're giving us tools that have existed in the pc world for decades. Microsoft isn't giving anyone anything.. they're seeing how much we'll pay for what we can get for free.

    There are two possible answers to this:

    1. When was the last time a company gave you a very inexpensive way to develop games for a console system? The last I can think of was Sony's Net Yaroze [] (essentially a limited PS1 dev kit), but that was quite a bit more expensive than XNA currently is (at $100/year, it'll take 7.5 years for a Creator's Club subscription to equal the cost of a Net Yaroze). PS2 Linux doesn't count as it was seriously hindered in its capabilities, and PS3 Linux won't count until you can fully utilize the GPU. GBADev [] and DSDev [] don't count because they're not official development tools provided by Nintendo and rely on hacks to allow you to run your code on the handhelds directly.
    2. What other frameworks allow you to build games for both PC (windows) and console (xbox 360) at the same time (there are a few minor differences you need to take into account, but if you write a game for Windows using XNA it's mostly trivial to re-build that for 360, with maybe a few shader tweaks here and there)? Do those frameworks allow you to load your game onto the console in a "legal" (non-modchip, non-hack) way? A framework like Torque doesn't count becase you still have to be able to get a 360 dev kit to be able to run your game (dev kits cost upwards of $10K, and getting one requires you to jump through a bunch of hoops proving that you're a competent software developer with a high likelihood of actually being able to ship your game in a timely manner among many other things).

    That tools like this have existed on the PC for a while is a red herring, because tools like this for consoles generally have not. If you want to stick with PC development, that's fine, but it's orthogonal to the discussion at hand.

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

    by Sir Homer ( 549339 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:51AM (#17204116)
    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.
  • Creator's Club (Score:4, Informative)

    by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @01:05AM (#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.)

  • Re:SNES (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <oarigogirdor>> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @01:52AM (#17204472) Homepage
    Not exactelly. Here's more wikitrivia for you: the CPU of the SNES was a Ricoh 5A22, which was based on the CMD/GTE 65c816, itself a version of the WDC 65C816. Now, the WDC 65816 was also the CPU of the Apple IIGS, and that is why the Apple IIGS was used as an early SNES devkit. Also, some SNES games had a built-in processor, the Nintendo SA-1, which was also based on the 65816.
  • by Sir Homer ( 549339 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @03:11AM (#17204812) [] [] []
  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @10:12AM (#17207100) Homepage
    Even in the X-Box, you're talking to device drivers, not the hardware directly. That IS what you do with DirectX- it's call that because it bypassed many of the software layers in Windows so you could write games. That's supposed to be the big selling point of the X-Box lines is that you can write for XP and do a minimal amount of work to make a console port to the X-Box or X-Box360. Talking to the hardware directly means poking values into the registers on the GPU, etc. Something few of the developers do- and none on the X-Box/X-Box 360 They typically go through a library or device driver on all the consoles to begin with. You might have done development under a console target, so your mileage may vary- but what I know of things differs from what you just said by a lot.
  • by ericlondaits ( 32714 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @10:30AM (#17207352) Homepage
    You can use Visual Studio Express 2005, which is free (as in beer). In fact, according to this page: ame-Studio-Express_2C00_-C_2300_-and-Visual-C_2300 _-2005-Express-Edition.aspx []

    the only version of Visual Studio you can use at the moment is the free one.

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