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Microsoft Programming Entertainment Games IT Technology

XNA Game Studio Express Beta Now Available 24

d.3.l.t.r.3.3 writes "The long awaited XNA Game Studio Express public Beta is finally here. Despite some high claims by Microsoft, the Game Studio remains a code-only experience, with a more coherent and less fragmented feature set than the old DirectX 9 SDK. As I describe in this review, XNA has successfully streamlined many dull tasks of game development (helped a bit by the new game-supportive features of Windows Vista). It's also, unfortunately, kept too many frustrating pieces and bugs (especially when it comes to cross platform input handling and audio) to be successfully considered a real multi-platform game developing tool."
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XNA Game Studio Express Beta Now Available

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  • I have to say I think this is a really good idea for Developers. To help reduce cost, it's only a question of how cross-platform it really will be.
    • Cross platform as in PC/XBox 360 or cross platform as in PC/Mac/Linux.

      I think you can pretty much count out the latter. Unless there is a cross platform DirectX that no one knows about.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bangenge ( 514660 ) []this baby's just for windows. i would assume though, that eventually, they can port to the xbox360 with little fuss.

        of course, being MS, they can create a whole lot of fuss about something so simple.

        i was shocked reading TFA:

        The shortcoming is evident if you run the sample included, a modern version of Spacewar. The game defaults on the joypad and you have to #define (yes, #define) a flag (USE_KEYBOARD) to allow the use of a Keyboard instead of a Joypad, crippling the "
        • This is the biggest issue with XNA that I can see so far. You MUST use C# to write code for it - pretty much eliminating years of experience writing games with C++

          So every developer has to rewrite whatever engine they were working on for other platforms to work on the MS platforms.

          You can write managed code in C++ without problems, this decision can ONLY be designed to try and force indies to support their platform only. Typical MS decision
      • It's the former (Score:3, Insightful)

        by everphilski ( 877346 )
        PC/XBox360. But still, that's a big thing.

        If you want to do cross platform computers do OpenGL/(some windowing toolkit) ... but you will still have inconsistencies between each platform. Unfortunately.
      • by grumbel ( 592662 )
        Unless there is a cross platform DirectX that no one knows about.

        There is, its called Wine and works suprisingly well.

  • Impressions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Corngood ( 736783 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:52AM (#16023617)
    This is a copy of a post I made on evil avatar. I figure people here might actually care. :)

    I found it a little bit disappointing so far (I know it's a beta).

    The biggest problem is that there is no content pipeline. Apparently this was due to be included, but got delayed until the next version. This would be less of a problem if they still had support for D3DX meshes, but they've removed all that stuff without replacing it. Since the content tools are coming soon (hopefully) I'm really not inclined to build my own temporary pipeline, and I seriously doubt people who are new to game programming want to mess about making pipeline tools when the whole point of this thing is to let them focus on making games.

    You should be able to fire up the spacewar example and easily replace the ships with some .x files you've created and exported with an exporter provided with XNA (or using .fbx, which they plan to support). As it stands, the models are all in an undocumented bespoke format, for which there are no tools, so you'd have to follow the loading code and write your own converter, or write a bunch of code to support another format.

    The documentation references DxTex and XACT, tools you need for all but simple textures, and for any kind of audio respectively, but they aren't included (as far as I can tell), so to get them, you need to get the full DirectX SDK as well. I can see DxTex being replaced by the content pipeline, but why isn't XACT included? Perhaps I'm missing the point, but I saw this thing as being an alternative to the full SDK, not complementary to it.

    They call it 'XNA Game Studio', so I was expecting some IDE integration, with GPU debugging, or PIX integration, or anything DirectX related. Unfortunately it just seems to have added some new project wizards, and that's it.

    The framework is pretty much the same as previous versions of Managed DirectX, with a whole lot of stuff ripped out, some new helper classes, and the rest cleaned up nicely.

    I'm still excited about the XNA Framework and XNA GSE, and I can't fault the direction they are taking with this stuff. My main problem is that there's barely anything here that you can't do just as well with the old version of managed DirectX and the same copy of VC#, and with that you can at least use the .x stuff to get some content in your game. Anyway, I look forward to checking out the next release, especially the content pipeline, which sounds very cool from what I've read about it.
    • Well, it's good to know that I'm not the only one to think that the project is highly limited or still largely incomplete.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:54AM (#16023632)
    Too many people are complaining that XNA is not easy enough, not visual enough. I just tried it and compared to the C++ implementation and even Managed DirectX in C# and all I have to say is that it is much cleaner and simpler to make anything.

    Non-programmers are currently trying it expecting something that would work like a drag and drop interface. They have been the loudest to complain because they cannot be bothered to learn to code a little C#.
    • They have been the loudest to complain because they cannot be bothered to learn to code a little C#.

      It seems to me that the complaint isn't so much that it's not "drag & drop" 'enough', it's that people new to game development (for whom it was understood that this kit would be developed for) have no idea how to write the necessary 'plumbing code' to make trivial tasks, well... trivial.
      Please correct me if this isn't the case
    • I'd have to agree with that assessment. I think people were thinking on the lines of Lego Mindstorms-like drag and drog interface, and this is clearly not that, nor is it intended to be such a development tool. I have to admit, its a lot of fun using the Mindstorms, but it was very limiting. This is intended for people who already know C# (or something like it) and have ideas for games, or those learning C# and are looking for a good outlet on which to practice. As far as those two goals go, this is likely
    • There's no such thing as "a little code" even for us actual coders, much less in any gaming project, much less anything XNA-related.

      A non-programmer shouldn't touch this stuff with a 12 meter (that's 39 and a half feet for us non-British people) pole.
  • I'm a little annoyed this simply just RIPPED out the 3-D mesh stuff for this Beta but so far...

    SWEET! I wrote a simple bounce-ball w/ paddle in a couple hours. Most of that was learning how to use the API. In terms of coding time, I'd say it took me less than an hour. The API docs included is almost useless, but I can only hope MS gets a basic idea: enable amatuer developers. This is how MS built up its developer base in the first place with GW-Basic and QuickBasic. Think how many developers got start
  • C'mon... Microsoft has completely NO desire to allow you to easily make things cross-platform
    for their consoles and whatnot.

    They want you as locked in as they can get you- if you want cross-platform (Considering the
    overall interest in the game dev space MS has, you'd do well to consider this- everywhere
    else they've had an "interest" in, they've either muscled the company out (Netscape, Stac...)
    or pressured it almost out of existence (Borland, Intuit...). Do you HONESTLY think they're
    NOT going to do the sa
    • Hey, come on, they've given you THREE platforms buddy! Xbox, XP, Vista. Don't get greedy! But seriously, I played around with the samples and whatnot, and it seems pretty interesting. I'll be interested in the final version and to see what comes out, along with the professional version (which will supposedly be supported along side VC++ as a standard Xenon development platform.) What I'm wondering is whether or not MS supports a Mono build of this stuff. You have to wonder what's more valuable in the
  • The idea behind XNA is excellent even if the start is a little rocky - here's hoping all of the next gen platforms open up development in similar ways.

    All of them can benefit greatly from it too by allowing some games to be sold through the online portals that each console is providing... What will be really interesting is to see if any revenue goes back to the creator. If so, it could spawn a great wave of people that are focuses on making small but innovative games to help offset the path of games today
  • I thought that this bit from the FAQ [] was kinda interesting:

    Q: How exactly can I share my 360 game to other 360 users? Will my game only be available to people with the XNA "Creators Club" subscription? Will it be available to all 360 users that have an Xbox Live account?

    A: There is currently no supported way to share binaries on the Xbox 360. Currently, there are four requirements that must be met in order to share a game targeting Xbox 360 which is developed with XNA Game Studio Express.

    1. The individ

  • "The long awaited XNA Game Studio Express public Beta is finally here."

    So now I guess the question is, "Long awaited by whom?"

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.