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Microsoft Announces XNA


kelley
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Microsoft today annouced a huge game dev. process called XNA. The goal of this program is to make the game dev. process "easier" on the Xbox and PC. The plan to roll it out in 3 phases. Two interesting tid bits of information are:

 

1) Xbox and PC will share a common controller that you can use on either.

2) Live is coming to the PC in all its glory.

 

Read IGN's interview with J.Allard and Dean Lester here.

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As I'm sure you know, the current Xbox controllers are USB using a non-standard connector. Making the connector a regular USB port would potentially take away a chunk of change from Microsoft & retailers if any off the shelf USB controller could be used.

 

I'd imagine it's more a way to sell a PC specific controller & a Xbox specific controller that look identical but have different connectors on them...

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Can someone translate this into non-marketing-speak? Are they saying that they will deploy one set of tools to develop games for Windows and Xbox? If this is the case, what of the apparent move to a completely different CPU architecture for the Xbox2? That seems perfectly counter-productive to these ends.

 

Does this mean that Xbox live will have a high-level API, and maybe a coherent interface (as opposed to many developers doing things differently)?

 

I got the impression from the article that they are trying to revive PC gaming by borrowing some of the Xbox's thunder.

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I got the impression from the article that they are trying to revive PC gaming by borrowing some of the Xbox's thunder.
Yeah, it does seem slanted to the PC, other than bringing HLSL to the console & the fact that Xbox may or may not finally see force-feedback controllers.
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These ideas certainly need to be fleshed out by the gaming media/press, there is a whole wide open "what the hell are they really getting at" feel to this revelations. Another spin is, these announcements tend to raise more questions than they answer.

 

We've only been given a crumb of information, it'll be fun to see how IGN and the like try to disect this little amount of information and read into it. And to be continued,....

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Just read a bunch of sites and the interview. Its about time someone did something like this. Live on the PC sounds sweet, and the ability to be able to contact your friends when your playing a xbox game and they are on a PC is terrific. I really cannot wait to see the first thing to try using the PC and Xbox together. Also good that games can be made faster and better. Hope they release some more info

 

capt

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Are they saying that they will deploy one set of tools to develop games for Windows and Xbox?

 

No, I don't think that's it, from what I can understand they are trying to make it so that all the different tools that the developers use will be able to work together easier without having to re-write huge chunks of code to get it to do what they want. Sort of like with DirectX how you're supposed to be able to just write your games to use DirectX calls for your video rendering, networking, sound, input devices, and then DX talks to the hardware drivers which are written to communicate with DX, so the developers don't have to rewrite their code to talk to each video card, sound card, and input device individually.

 

As I'm not a game developer, or even a programmer, I think it's pretty hard to fully understand what this intitiative is really about. Hopefully a few developers will be able to chime in somewhere and help us to understand what this is really all about.

 

In the end though, I think this will be something to help the developers create their games easier, and will have no real impact on us as consumers and gamers.... except for perhaps, the release of more quality games (we'll see).

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I dont think we will see more then 16 players on X-box games. Except if they use something they do in a few games in which you can only hear the two people closer to ya. Maybe next generation we may see it. But i dont think we will this one

 

capt

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2) Live is coming to the PC in all its glory.

 

That sucks.

I'm not going to pay to play online on the PC. Will my Xbox Live account work on the PC or will I need a new account? I'm certain Microsoft will have a rough time convincing PC users to pay to play online when they've been doing it for free for the last 10 years.

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From what I can tell, XNA is effectively a rebadging of DirectX with some added components expanding the "scale" of DirectX. As mentioned previously, DirectX is an abstraction layer on the PC (and Xbox) that hides some of the complexity of graphics programming whilst managing some of the mundane pipeline tasks for you. It does other stuff like sound, networking, input interfaces etc too. Your actual "game engine" sits on top of this to handle the actual models, logic, action etc.

 

They're expanding the network side to include modules/interfaces for interacting with a XBL-like server on the PC for game matching, friends list etc, effectively branching into the territory held by GameSpy & AllSeeingEye - this is really a seperate piece of the puzzle to the XNA announcement from what I can tell, though it's all part of a bigger picture.

 

The announcement was fairly hazy to be honest, and those vids they released are fairly pointless too in my opinion. Oooh pretty graphics without any background information. I'd hope for some more solid info once GDC is over.

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If I were still PC gaming regularly, I'd pay for Live online if the service was really good. Standardized tags, voice, and tourney/clan support that is universal would have been very welcome to me several years ago.

 

But I wouldn't pay $50 a year. Because of the free competition, I wouldn't pay more than $10-$20 a year for the PC.

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The announcement was fairly hazy to be honest, and those vids they released are fairly pointless too in my opinion. Oooh pretty graphics without any background information.

 

That's what I thought too. This isn't a hardware of even really a particular piece of technology, so how does a car crash video show that you can now make games quicker and easier? It's just something visual to show to make people Ooo and Ahhh.

 

It's times like this that I wish the .plan updates were used to the extent they were awhile ago, I'm sure we'd be getting some comments and info from there.

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  • 1 year later...

Microsoft has release some information on the XNA framework as well as the Xbox Live Server framework which will allow developers to run thier own backend servers alongside Xbox Live servers to create game content. This creates a bit more of an "open" environment for developers to work with. There's some more interesting reading about the XNA platform here:

 

http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/10507/Microsoft-Unveils-XNA-Framework-Opens-Xbox-Live-Server-Platform-to-Developers-and-Publishers/

 

The XNA Framework contains a custom implementation of the Microsoft. .NET Framework and new game-development-specific libraries designed to help game developers more easily create cross-platform games on Windows and Xbox 360 using the highly productive C# programming language. Using the XNA Framework, game developers will benefit from the ability to re-use code and game assets in developing multiplatform titles, without sacrificing performance or flexibility.

 

"We have been writing games for the last 15 years as monolithic, single code bases that are growing unwieldy and complex," said Chris Butcher, lead developer at Bungie Studios. "C# on Xbox 360 lets us think about new modes of programming. It lets us get back to creating a game rather than wresting with code, while maintaining the real-time performance that we need.

 

With millions of developers worldwide proficient in C#, the XNA Framework is designed to make game development significantly more approachable for independent and aspiring game developers, while enabling rapid prototyping and concept iteration.

 

In addition to XNA Studio, Microsoft today announced further enhancements for extending Xbox Live services with the Xbox Live Server Platform. Using this platform, developers can create their own back-end servers to run alongside Xbox Live. Developers will get firsthand experience with this update which provides easier-to-manage and more scalable technology on Xbox Live in the next Xbox Development Kit, expected in May. Microsoft Game Studios blockbuster Xbox 360 game, Project Gotham Racing 3, offers an early example of how these services can work; up to 30,000 gamers can easily watch other racers play in real time through Spectator Mode. More recently, in the stunning Burnout: Revenge from Electronic Arts Inc., the Live Revenge feature and the Save and Share feature were made possible by functionality that will now be distributed through the Xbox Live Server Platform.

 

By opening the Xbox Live Server Platform, Microsoft provides developers and publishers with the tools and environments they need to create all-new online game experiences, and delivers the benefits of an open platform for innovation while providing the solid foundation of the full-featured Xbox Live service. Developers will be able to tap into real-time Extensible Markup Language (XML) feeds to update things such as weather, rosters or other changing information. The Xbox Live Server Platform can also be used to support the creation of massively multiplayer online game worlds. In addition, it will serve as the enabling technology for game developers to unleash their creativity to bring a steady stream of fresh ideas to the Xbox Live gamer community.

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I just hope I won't have different sign-ons for different games from different manufacturers.

Well, in a way we already do. PlayOnline from Square requires a completely different logon to be able to play Final Fantasy XI for instance. I can see more MMO's doing the same to setup thier own billing systems more than likely. I do find it somewhat amusing that Blizzard mentioned the "closed" nature of Live being a roadblock to getting World of Warcraft on the 360. I don't think that's too much of an issue at this point.

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Well, in a way we already do. PlayOnline from Square requires a completely different logon to be able to play Final Fantasy XI for instance. I can see more MMO's doing the same to setup thier own billing systems more than likely. I do find it somewhat amusing that Blizzard mentioned the "closed" nature of Live being a roadblock to getting World of Warcraft on the 360. I don't think that's too much of an issue at this point.

 

Blizzard likes to have their own launcher apps, patchers, and APIs, and I think the 360, even with an open Live system as suggested above, is still too closed for them.

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