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Monday, August 14, 2006

XNA, 360 Development And You

In the 30 years of video game development, the art of making console games has been reserved for those with big projects, big budgets and the backing of big game labels. Now Microsoft is bringing this art to the masses with a revolutionary new set of tools, called XNA Game Studio Express, based on the XNA platform. XNA Game Studio Express will democratize game development by delivering the necessary tools to hobbyists, students, indie developers and studios alike to help them bring their creative game ideas to life while nurturing game development talent, collaboration and sharing that will benefit the entire industry.

During his keynote presentation at Gamefest 2006, a Microsoft game developer event hosted by Microsoft in Seattle, Chris Satchell, general manager of the Game Developer Group at Microsoft, announced details of the new technology, which will be broadly available this holiday season. XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows XP-based PC and will provide them with Microsoft’s next-generation platform for game development. By joining a “creators club” for an annual subscription fee of $99, users will be able to build, test and share their games on Xbox 360 and access a wealth of materials to help speed the game development progress.

This represents the first significant opportunity for novice developers to make a console game without a significant investment in resources. During his keynote, Satchell talked about academic institutions that are lining up to include XNA Game Studio Express in their course offerings. Also showcased was the work of key XNA supporters Autodesk Inc. and GarageGames. XNA Game Studio Express makes game development easier to accomplish for smaller projects, strongly increasing the chance for great game ideas to make it out of the concept stage and into the hands of gamers everywhere.
-- Create Your Own Xbox 360 Games at Ministry of Tech

This is quite possibly the most brilliant thing I've heard from Microsoft in a good long while.

It's not just an acknowledgement that hobbyist game developers exist, it openly embraces them in a fairly realistic way. It takes the 360 out of being a purely homebrew environment for amatuers who don't want to spend thousands on SDKs and licenses. If it's anywhere as good as it sounds, it could also provide fuel for Xbox Live Arcade for years to come.

If Sony and Nintendo don't wake up to this kind of thing, they could easily see the market share of people want to design, develop and play go to Microsoft. I'm going to do more digging on this, but this is the kind of thing that would put me much closer to getting a 360 (and upgrading rather than mothballing my PC).

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Patrick said...

At GDC I spoke to a representative of Freecell Inc. a Semiconductor producer, who have recently bought into game software and are producing an XNA-esque development framework for Nintendo for use on both Gamecube and Wii platforms, and perhaps DS. He said they're on track for '07. Just because the evil empire is offering a 100$ a month (right?) subscription to their circle jerk bathhouse doesn't mean I can't go to the rebel's equivilant, at they've have princess leia.

Josh said...

Very cool. I would actually prefer the Nintendo hardware to get something like that because ... well I prefer the Nintendo hardware I guess :)

Patrick said...

Its just like you'll keep using Flash or Inform 7, you just prefer platform compatability with an Apple for PC development, right? I think the real artists will prefer platforms that are designed around inclusivity, rather than digital hegemony.

Josh said...

Yeah ... and at the end of the day I've never fallen in love with any Microsoft tool/IDE. It's not that I'm enamored with XCode, mind you, but it's managed to annoy me far, far less than Vis Studio.