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Microsoft Publishes Free XBox Development Tools

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the compile-once-crash-twice dept.

Microsoft 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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Not quite free.... (5, Informative)

nullset (39850) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not quite free.... (5, Insightful)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Not quite free.... (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203666)

PS2 had a Linux-based product called PS2Linux which was only, I think, $250. Came with 40GB hard drive, keyboard (nice keyboard), mouse, VGA cable, ethernet adapter, Linux software. No subscription needed. Not sure if you'd qualify it as a "dev kit" though.

Re:Not quite free.... (4, Informative)

acidrain (35064) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

thopkins (70408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203706)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure you can't do 3d acceleration with that, meaning no real games.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203792)

I'm pretty sure you had access to all the VUs, DMA, GS, and what-nots, which would allow for hardware rendering.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203880)

With documentation? Having access to the hardware and being able to use it can be two very different things.

Re:Not quite free.... (2, Informative)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Not quite free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203886)

correct, you just didn't have access to the IOP...
no optical drive or IO processcor hacking for you!

which seems almost entirely reversed from linux on the ps3, where you get no gpu power and can do a little more real playing with the optical drive [ps2 linux can only read signed ps2 discs].

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

RabidOverYou (596396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204434)

I can't believe you actually called out that it was a 'nice keyboard'. Slashdotites have more keyboards than fingers. Ooh, how good was the VGA cable?

Here's the free code (4, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203672)

freecode.c

#include "creatorsclub.h"

Re:Not quite free.... (1, Troll)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203718)

oh, please. STFU already. $99 is about the cost 2 of any PS3/Wii/360 games. if MS give their product away, you'll be crying like a little girl about how MS is abusing their powers.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203732)

So you're argueing that $99 is free? Cheap - yes, but you can't argue that that is free, right?

Re:Not quite free.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204406)

Actually, jt2377 never stated $99=free. Jt2377 actually stated if microsoft actually gave their product away instead of charging a monthly fee, you still would be bitching that Microsft is abusing their monopoly. No matter what a good number of /.ers would bitch about anything Microsoft does unless they went out of business.

Re:Not quite free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204420)

Actually, the last sentence should be "No matter what, a good number of /.ers would bitch about what Microsoft does, that is unless they went out of business."

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204020)

All the $99 gets you is the ability to compile the code for you 360 and run it. You can freely develop on a PC and you don't have to pay the annual $99 fee. Sure it's not a tone of money, but it's not exactly cheap.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204078)

Yeah but a PC isn't an XBox, nor is it a game console. The last system that let you do homebrew on a game console was the Playstation Yaroze, and that was $800. You can also do some dev on systems like the Dreamcast and the GBA, but thats using unnoficial tools.

If you look at it that way, $99 is a pretty good deal. Yeah you can develop games for your PC for free, but the people who are going to be paying that want to develop on a console.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204108)

uh, i don't see how charging you a $99 fee that provides you with nothing that you haven't already paid for is a good deal. i'd say it's LESS OF A RIP OFF then other console platforms, but i wouldn't label it a good deal.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204204)

It might not be free, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than Trolltech charges.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204720)

wrong. trolltech 's stuff is free under gpl. next please.

Re:Not quite free.... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204458)

You're forgetting the PS2 Linux kit and Linux on the PS3. Officially supported.

Even if you don't want to do 3D, you could do things with python, pygame and SDL

Re:Not quite free.... (2, Insightful)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204762)

I feel my soul being sucked out as I say this but...

M$ actually got something right for a change.

Now before you start flaming away @ this, hear me out. I am a longtime Linux user myself (Slack 11.0 as of this writing) and am as big a M$ hater as they come. This time, though, M$ actually has a good idea.

GASP...HORROR!!!!

One of the biggest draws for me to PCs and PC gaming was the indie game development. I got tired first of platformers, then of FPS's, now of third person sneak arounds. The PC seemed the ideal platform for me because of the fact that anyone could download a compiler and design a game however they saw fit. I knew that someone, somewhere, would eventually start designing, or had already designed, something I would enjoy. And in the rare cases where that didn't happen, I could always do it myself. This is also what attracted me to FOSS in the first place. Not only did we have the power of the compiler, but a ready made development team around the world. w00t!!!
What M$ is doing is trying to break into that market and bring that into the console world. Imagine that an indie game, spread across the internet, could be brought to the console world? Its a sad fact that most gamers today are moving towards the consoles. This might actually help breathe new life into the PC gaming world. Double w00t!!
Now, granted, M$ is doing this in its usual bloated, monopolizing fashion. But we can't expect miracles, now can we?
I'm done now, so flame on!!

"I think we might actually crash this time"-Mal Reynolds, Serenity

Re:Not quite free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203840)

Uh oh. Something good from Microsoft. Shit. Now what do I do? I can't admit that Microsoft did something good. Yet I also don't want to just shut the hell up because god knows I'm not happy unless I'm shooting my mouth off. Wait a second... I got it! I'll bitch that the poster fucked up the title! Yeah, it's not ACTUALLY free. Forget that other dev kits cost tens of thousands of dollars. This is Micro$hit. It must be bad.

Re:Not quite free.... (1, Insightful)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204110)

So it's not quite free.

I disagree. It's more like "the first hit is free", a popular Microsoft strategy. They give away free, cut-down versions of stuff (Visual Studio, their virtualization thing), or sell things at a discount (PCs preloaded with Windows + cheap Office, education discounts). This way, people get trapped in their tangled web of "interoperability".

I can imagine that Sony and Nintendo are none to amused at this, so I'll just sit back and wait for them to file antitrust complaints.

Re:Not quite free.... (5, Insightful)

ribond (149811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204536)

Way to fail to own it. They gave you something free (yes, there are caveats) or at worst dirt-cheap, that others sell for much more. You can now choose -- your wallet or your "must-irrationaly-hate-ms" reflex?

God help you if the indians get close to you with a few "gimme" rounds of texas hold'em. You'll never break free.

...you see where I'm going with this?

it's almost like this truly vicious practice that many shareware vendors have (wolves in sheeps clothing, these guys). They offer you up a fantastic game as a trial version and then ask you to pay for it if you love it.

bastards.

I can imagine that Sony and Nintendo are none to amused at this, so I'll just sit back and wait for them to file antitrust complaints.
...yeah. but it's MS that stifles innovation. What antitrust issue do you see here? The 2nd place player in a field tries to gain an advantage by giving things away... I'd come up with an analogy but they seem to obvious. I'll let you run with it.

Re:Not quite free.... (-1, Flamebait)

bit01 (644603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204768)

Look everybody, a lying M$ astroturfer [wikipedia.org] fraudulently misrepresenting themselves as an objective third party using "bold face" for "emphasis" and emotionally loaded terminology to distract people from the fact that they don't actually have anything factual to say.

What antitrust issue do you see here?

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.

You pretending not to know that is telling. And a typical example of why many people don't trust M$. M$ reaps what it sows.

---

The majority of modern marketing is nothing more than an arms race to get mind share. Everybody loses except the parasitic marketing "industry".

Abuse of Monopoly (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204658)

I can imagine that Sony and Nintendo are none to amused at this, so I'll just sit back and wait for them to file antitrust complaints.

This was at the bottom of your post. I think it should be more prominent, since this is an excellent point: Windows is a monopoly; getting developers to prefer XBOX to other consoles because of Windows-interoperability is using a monopoly to gain an advantage in another field.

This is no different than if Office had some 'special hooks' into Windows (before Office was a monopoly as well), or things along those lines.

Creator's Club (3, Informative)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.)

Creator's club not necessary to use XNA (5, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Creator's club not necessary to use XNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204142)

(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)


What are you basing that on?

Re:Creator's club not necessary to use XNA (2)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204240)

What are you basing that on?

My own assumption based on comments from the XNA development team and community comments during the beta (XNA has been available in beta form since August). Right now, to be able to play XNA games on an Xbox 360 you need to have a Creator's Club subscription. This allows you to build and deploy your own games. The majority of the Xbox userbase has no interest in building games and would rather just play games instead. That's fine, but $100/year to be able to play indie games is a very steep entry fee. XNA is currently V1, and there are a lot of things that the XNA team has said weren't able to make it into this version and are under consideration for V2 or later. I expect the ability to download games in some manner (whether through a cheaper subscription, or by downloading the games from Marketplace, or by some other mechanism, I don't know) is very high on their priority list for the next version. Of course, that goal conflicts directly with the XBLA revenue stream, so they'll have to figure out how to protect the existing Marketplace while still allowing for indie games to be downloaded (for free? for pay?). That will be their biggest hurdle.

Is it just me... (1, Interesting)

Programmerangel (882072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203548)

Is it just me, or would this speed up the development of Linux on the XBox 360?

Re:Is it just me... (2, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203720)

There must be some exploitable part that can be used to gain access to the hypervisor... It is Microsoft we are talking about.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203882)

There must be some exploitable part that can be used to gain access to the hypervisor... It is Microsoft we are talking about.

No games have been found to be exploitable yet, and they're mostly written by third-party companies that aren't as familiar with the Xbox 360 as Microsoft is. Why would you think that Microsoft would suddenly screw up on something as important as the .NET framework runtime?

Say what you will about Microsoft and security, but from all indications it looks like Microsoft got it "right" this time around (where "right" means "nobody's hacked it after more than a year, and no that DVD-ROM firmware hack doesn't count," which may conflict with the Slashdot "it runs linux" definition of "right").

Re:Is it just me... (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204026)

That argument works both ways. The third-party developers only develop against the "sanctioned" (or at least, documented) interfaces. The documented interfaces are the ones well tested (and designed, and hardened). The MSFT internal game devs dont necessarily have the same documents. (Or only the same documents). Or they have only the official docs, but when they run into problems they go down the hall to the kernel hackers and say "WTF, dude?", and get back "Oh, ya. That doesn't work. What you need to do is XYZZY-A-B-A-B-UP-DOWN-LEFT-RIGHT, and you get right in. Beer me!"

Re:Is it just me... (2, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203596)

Is it just me, or would this speed up the development of Linux on the XBox 360?

It's just you. I guess it might be technically possible to build a virtual machine on top of the .NET Framework Compact Edition which could then run Linux, but that's not anywhere near the same as running Linux on the Xbox 360.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

stevenm86 (780116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204718)

Unless you can somehow find a hole in the .NET framework that can be exploited to run native unsigned code. Then you can put in a bootloader and natively run the kernel. But this is likely to be quickly fixed.

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204068)

That sentence makes about as much sense as "Is it just me or what time is it"? If you start with "is it just me", you have to move on to ask something about somebody else. Sorry, pet peeve...

(my other peeve is people who HAVE to say:
"[blah blah blah]. Having said that, [more blah blah blah]..."
or
"[blah blah blah]. That being said, [moreblah blah blah]...".

Yes I KNOW you just said it, and I can see you have more to say, just say it!

Xbox 360 only (5, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203572)

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

Re:Xbox 360 only (2, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Xbox 360 only (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203664)

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.

So I make a vijeo game for XBOX360 (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203582)

Who's gonna publish my game after I make it?

Re:So I make a vijeo game for XBOX360 (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203624)

Who's gonna publish my game after I make it?

For now, you are. Your potential market consists of other users who have subscribed to the Creator's Club. Keep in mind that this is a "free" V1 product that has the potential compete with an existing monetary stream (XBLA games). Microsoft will eventually sort out a plan for how to properly distribute XNA games, but nobody knows when that will happen.

Re:So I make a vijeo game for XBOX360 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203762)

It would be published on the marketplace.

Burger King ! (4, Funny)

up2ng (110551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203894)

Just find a way to murderlize the King and they'll sell it for $3.99 with a meal

SNES (4, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203594)

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.

Re:SNES (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203616)

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.

Re:SNES (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203730)

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 much by opening that up.

There are compiled language tools available for SNES development. There are compilers for pretty much any language that was available at the time for the 6502 (The main CPU in the SNES). I seriously doubt you could produce credible documentation that no SNES games used any compiled code. I'm sure that a large number of them used some, and many were likely mostly compiled.

Re:SNES (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204172)

"There are compiled language tools available for SNES development. There are compilers for pretty much any language that was available at the time for the 6502 (The main CPU in the SNES). I seriously doubt you could produce credible documentation that no SNES games used any compiled code. I'm sure that a large number of them used some, and many were likely mostly compiled."

Just a bit of a note, the 6502 was the NES processor. The SNES had a 65816, which, admittedly, was technically backward compatible with the 6502. I think some games written for the SNES commercially were compiled in C. So it's not impossible, nor improbable.

Re:SNES (3, Informative)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204472)

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.

Re:SNES (2, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204672)

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.

Re:SNES (1)

jarrettwold2002 (601633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203790)

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...

Re:SNES (1)

modeless (978411) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203864)

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.

Re:SNES (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204626)

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 (5, Interesting)

Darkforge (28199) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204104)

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:SNES (2, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204270)

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.

PSP As well... (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204298)

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 tools. not everything is needs expensive or complex development tools. I develop educational products... Microsoft should create a consistent platform across mobile, gaming, and desktop platforms, kicking the crap out of Nokia/nGage. I'm pretty damn sure they're the only ones listening.

Non commercial (5, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Non commercial (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203696)

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?

Re:Non commercial (0, Troll)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203848)

Because you could download and use pygame, crystal space, irrlicht, ogre, sdl, whatever for free (both beer and speech) and be able distribute the game however you want. The only thing using this Microsoft download earns you is the ability to run the code on the 360.. which Microsoft is already making money on.

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.

Re:Non commercial (5, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 [wikipedia.org] (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 [gbadev.org] and DSDev [dsdev.org] 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.

Re:Non commercial (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204144)

The only thing using this Microsoft download earns you is the ability to run the code on the 360.. which Microsoft is already making money on.

Really? I wasn't aware that MS was making money off the 360 in terms of either hardware sales or you running your own code off of their unit.

Re:Non commercial (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204212)

A lot of people find the prospect of developing for consoles to be more exciting or fun, and there is also the fact that consoles remain the same in terms of power. You have what you have, and can't require your end user need anything else, nor need to worry about your game running too slowly on any percentage of the user base.

I like that environment, personally.

Re:Non commercial (1)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204558)

Microsoft isn't giving anyone anything.. they're seeing how much we'll pay for what we can get for free.


What are you talking about? A consumer/indie console sdk is a dream come true for anywone who's wanted to develop on a console. Show my any pygame app deployed on any console that comes anywhere close to looking like XNA Racer.

Re:Non commercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203906)

Presumably, hardware sales. But they decided against that strategy.

Re:Non commercial (1)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203744)

uh...like you don't give a big chunk of money to Sony/Nintendo for your PS3/Wii games and Sony/Nintendo still retain the final approval and deman their pound 'O fleash.

Why am i even bothering to reply? this is Slashdot where we must bash on every MS news/product.

Re:Non commercial (1)

SnprBoB86 (576143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204300)

You can, however, make commercial _Windows_ games using XNA.

Re:Non commercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204674)

And C#, what this be? C++++?

yeehaw! I'm gonna write me a program! (3, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#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

Sample code with XNA: Madelbrot at 60fps (2, Interesting)

jeswin (981808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17203852)

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:Sample code with XNA: Madelbrot at 60fps (2, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 [youtube.com] 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.

Re:Sample code with XNA: Madelbrot at 60fps (1)

AArmadillo (660847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204038)

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.

Re:Sample code with XNA: Madelbrot at 60fps (1)

2megs (8751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204218)

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.

Re:Sample code with XNA: Madelbrot at 60fps (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204040)

I believe that C# can stand on it's own. It doesn't have to be compiled to managed code.

Take that Stallman! (5, Funny)

Timbotronic (717458) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Take that Stallman! (2, Interesting)

ticklish2day (575989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204018)

Humor, the hallmark of yet another J. Allard [microsoft.com] led group.

Re:Take that Stallman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204772)

Given the allusion to GNU, I guess the translation is:

XNA
XNA's Not Acronymed
XNA's Not GNU
XNA's Not Free

I'm drunk (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17203994)

and slashdot isn't. so ha-ha!

XNA is not bad (5, Informative)

Maurice (114520) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

MelloDawg (180509) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:XNA is not bad (1)

ggy (773554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204630)

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.
Well, neither is Ogre.

From Ogres about page: ( http://www.ogre3d.org/index.php?option=com_content &task=view&id=19&Itemid=79 [ogre3d.org] )
"Is OGRE A Game Engine?
No. OGRE can be (and indeed has been) used to make games, but OGRE is deliberately designed to provide just a world-class graphics solution; for other features like sound, networking, AI, collision, physics etc, you will need to integrate it with other libraries, something several frameworks have done, and we have a collision / physics reference integration library as an example in our distribution."

Free?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204090)

System Requirements and Prerequisites

        * Only supported on Microsoft® Windows® XP SP2 (all editions) at this time. Windows Vista will be available only in a future beta release of XNA Game Studio Express.

Very low level API (1, Informative)

Sir Homer (549339) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Very low level API (1)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204158)

Like what? Honestly what is a better toolkit for developing games on the PC?

Re:Very low level API (2, Interesting)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Very low level API (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204260)

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).
AFAIK, XInput has the ridiculous requirement of needing the 360 PC Controller to function at all. That may have changed since I first looked into it at it's release (times change after all...) but if it hasn't, it's really nowhere near a good replacement for DirectInput.

Re:Very low level API (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204340)

AFAIK, XInput has the ridiculous requirement of needing the 360 PC Controller to function at all. That may have changed since I first looked into it at it's release (times change after all...) but if it hasn't, it's really nowhere near a good replacement for DirectInput.

XInput works with keyboards and mice as well (for example, see the Spacewars demo game that's included with XNA Game Studio Express for keyboard support). As for joysticks/gamepads/other controllers, that's up to the developers. They should be able to write their own XInput drivers. Xbox 360 controllers already have a driver [microsoft.com] available that should work with the Xbox 360 wired controller (also called the Xbox 360 PC controller, exact same product with different packaging), any third-party wired 360 controllers (I haven't tested this, mostly because 99% of third-party controllers suck), and now also the 360 wireless controllers with the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver [xbox.com] (good luck finding one in stores, as they're currently relatively rare).

Re:Very low level API (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204346)

The starter kit game that comes with the package seems to use the keyboard just fine.

Re:Very low level API (1)

ravyne (858869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204694)

In addition to Osty's very good points, I'll give you another one: Standardization.

The largest headache with DirectInput was that it supported every device under the sun and there was absolutely no standard as to which Buttons/D-pads/Sticks/Triggers on the physical device mapped to which logical button/axis. Which is to say that "button 1" might very well be the 6 o'clock face button on one device, and it might be the secondary left shoulder button on another. Even ignoring that, the sheer breadth of devices was a nightmare. Things ranged from very simple digital D-pad + 4 buttons, to full flight-sim gear with 4+ axis and many tens of buttons. All of this through a single interface. It was overly complex for 99% of everything it was ever used for and for the 1% that benefitted from such a bewildering array of options, was still increadibly obtuse.

Ignoring the API (Which is joke-easy by the way; I implimented an Xinput interface through my own abstract control interface in 30 minutes, never having seen a single line of XInput code before.) what XInput does is provide a standard for the controler's physical layout. In XInput, "Button 1" is always the six o'clock face button, and the primary X/Y axis is always mapped to the left thumbstick for example. Other manufacturers are free to make XInput devices of there own (and many already do in the form of 3rd party 360 controllers) and its the biggest god-send to PC input since the industry adoption of the computer mouse.

Besides all that, I've never met a PC gamepad that I liked better than the 360 gamepads.

is XNA worth the bits it's made of? (1)

dosboot (973832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204384)

It's nice that XNA is free as long as you only care about the PC... but Microsoft was already giving us free PC programming tools. I'd be curious if someone who actually knows this stuff can tell me if using XNA to develop for the PC is any better than the free SDK's and what not that was out there before?

Developers, developers, developers! (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Developers, developers, developers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204574)

Damn, I want to think that's sarcasm. I can't believe you would be serious. I've been reading too many MS fanboys lately, though.

Sony tried that 10 years ago (1)

moco (222985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204464)

Sony did this with the yaroze [wikipedia.org] play station, 10 years ago. In my opinion it failed miserably because the conflicting goals of having a closed platform and a community of people developing for it.

I have lost interest in game consoles since then so i don't know how the PS2 w/linux did. Does anyone know?

Re:Sony tried that 10 years ago (1)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204544)

This is a little different. For example, I have never yeard of yaroze play station, but I have heard of XBOX360, and a little thing called Windows that these tools will work on.

Using Other Developers To Profit (3, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204624)

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.

XBMC in the offing? (1)

rlanctot (310750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17204788)

I wonder if this will open the door for legalizing the XBMC (Xbox Media Center). I sure hope so, it looks pretty useful imo.

Dawn of the XNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17204804)

"When there's no more room in hell, the astroturfers will post on slashdot."
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