Microsoft XNA

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XNA Logo.
The orange part stands for XNA in Morse code : -..- means X and also NA (-. and .-).
Developed by Microsoft
Latest release 3.0 / October 30, 2008
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Zune
Type Application framework
License EULA
Website XNA Homepage

Microsoft XNA ('XNA's Not Acronymed' [1]) is a set of tools with a managed runtime environment provided by Microsoft that facilitates computer game development and management. XNA attempts to free game developers from writing "repetitive boilerplate code"[1] and bring different aspects of game production into a single system. [2] The XNA toolset was announced March 24, 2004, at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California. A first Community Technology Preview of XNA Build was released on March 14, 2006. XNA Game Studio 2.0 was released in December of 2007, followed by XNA Game Studio 3.0 on October 30, 2008.

At GDC 2008, Microsoft announced plans to enable a community publishing pipeline for the Xbox 360 and Zune in the next version of XNA, version 3.0.[3]


[edit] Overview

[edit] XNA Framework

The XNA Framework is based on the native implementation of .NET Compact Framework 2.0 for Xbox 360 development and .NET Framework 2.0 on Windows. It includes an extensive set of class libraries, specific to game development, to promote maximum code reuse across target platforms. The framework runs on a version of the Common Language Runtime that is optimized for gaming to provide a managed execution environment. The runtime is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Xbox 360. Since XNA games are written for the runtime, they can run on any platform that supports the XNA Framework with minimal or no modification. Games that run on the framework can technically be written in any .NET-compliant language, but only C# and XNA Game Studio Express IDE and all versions of Visual Studio 2005 are officially supported. [4]

The XNA Framework thus encapsulates low-level technological details involved in coding a game, making sure that the framework itself takes care of the difference between platforms when games are ported from one compatible platform to another, and thereby allowing game developers to focus more on the content and gaming experience. The XNA Framework integrates with a number of tools, such as XACT, to aid in content creation. The XNA Framework provides support for both 2D and 3D game creation and allows use of the Xbox 360 controllers and vibrations. XNA framework games that target the Xbox platform can currently only be distributed to members of the Microsoft XNA Creator's Club which carries a $99/year subscription fee.[4] Desktop applications can be distributed free of charge under Microsoft's current licensing.

[edit] XNA Build

XNA Build is a set of game asset pipeline management tools, which help by defining, maintaining, debugging, and optimizing the game asset pipeline of individual game development efforts. A game asset pipeline describes the process by which game content, such as textures and 3D models, are modified to a form suitable for use by the gaming engine. XNA Build helps identify the pipeline dependencies, and also provides API access to enable further processing of the dependency data. The dependency data can be analyzed to help reduce the size of a game by finding content that is not actually used. For example, XNA Build analysis revealed that 40% of the textures that shipped with MechCommander 2 were unused and could have been omitted. [5]

[edit] XNA Game Studio

XNA Game Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for development of games. [6]. Five revisions have been released so far.

[edit] XNA Game Studio Professional

XNA Game Studio Professional was a planned version of the XNA IDE targeted for professional game developers. [6] Based on Visual Studio 2005 Team System, XNA Studio provides a structure for collaboration between content creators, programmers, management, and testers. Project management tasks, such as asset management, defect tracking, project automation, and work item lists, are somewhat automated by XNA Studio.

XNA Game Studio Professional is no longer under active development.

[edit] XNA Game Studio Express

XNA Game Studio Express is intended for students, hobbyist, and independent (and homebrew) game developers. [4] It is available as a free download. Express will provide basic "starter kits" for rapid development of specific genres of games, such as platform, real-time strategy, and first-person shooters. Developers can create Windows games for free with the XNA Framework, but to run their games on the Xbox 360 they will have to pay an annual fee of US$99 (or a four-month fee of US$49) for admission to the Microsoft XNA Creator's Club/XNA "Creator's Club". The initial release had no way of shipping precompiled binaries to other Xbox 360 players, but this was changed in "XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh"; it is now possible to compile Xbox 360 binaries and share them with other Microsoft XNA Creator's Club/Creator's Club members.

The first beta version of XNA Game Studio Express was released for download on August 30, 2006, followed by a second version on November 1, 2006. Microsoft released the final version on December 11, 2006. [7]

On April 24, 2007, Microsoft released an update called XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh. [8]

[edit] XNA Game Studio 2.0

XNA Game Studio 2.0 was released on December 13, 2007. [9] XNA Game Studio 2.0 features the ability to be used with all versions of Visual Studio 2005 (including the free Visual C# 2005 Express Edition), a networking API using Xbox Live on both Windows and Xbox 360 and better device handling. [10] It is also available to download free on the XNA Creator Club website.

[edit] XNA Game Studio 3.0

XNA Game Studio 3.0 (for Visual Studio 2008 or the free Visual C# 2008 Express Edition) allows production of games targeting the Zune platform and adds Xbox Live community support. A beta of the toolset was released in September 2008[11]. The final release was released on 30 October 2008. XNA Game Studio 3.0 now supports C# 3.0, LINQ and most versions of Visual Studio 2008. There are several more new features of XNA Game Studio 3.0 also, such as a trial Mode added to XNA Game Studio 3.0 that will enable creators to easily add the required trial feature to their games, Xbox LIVE multi-player features like in-game invites, create cross-platform games that work on Windows, Xbox 360 and Zune. This version of the software is available for students to download as part of Microsoft's DreamSpark program.

[edit] XNA Game Studio 3.1

XNA Game Studio 3.1 was announced at the Game Developers Conference in San Fransico on March 24, 2009. The API is to include support for video playback, a revised audio API, Xbox LIVE Party system and support for games to use the Xbox 360 Avatars.[12]

[edit] XNA Framework Content Pipeline

The XNA Framework Content Pipeline is a set of tools that allows Visual Studio and XNA Studio "as the key design point around organizing and consuming 3D content". [6][13] This means that XNA Game Studio can still be used to develop commercial games and other programs for the Windows platform, although Microsoft's networking support code for Xbox/Windows Live cannot be used. Self-developed network code can still be used inside your XNA project.

Games created using XNA Game studio may now be distributed via Xbox Live Community Games.[14][15] The software may also be used to create commercial games which target Windows.

[edit] XNA Community Games

Xbox 360 games written in XNA Game Studio can be submitted to the Creators Club community, for which premium membership is required, this costs US$49 for 4 months or US$99/year. All games submitted to the community are subjected to peer review by other creators. If the game passes review then it is listed on Xbox Live Marketplace. Creators can set a price of 200, 400 or 800 points for their game. The creator is paid 70% of the total revenue from their game sales as a baseline. Microsoft originally took an additional percentage of revenue if the game was promoted or marketed on the Xbox 360 dashboard, but this policy was rescinded in March 2009, leaving the flat rate intact regardless of promotion.[16]

Microsoft also distributes "trial accounts" for educational establishments through their DreamSpark program. These accounts allow students to develop games for the Xbox 360, but a premium account is still required to submit the game for the Marketplace.

[edit] Alternative implementations

A project called Mono.XNA was formed to port XNA to the open source and cross-platform Mono framework. However, there has been no progress on this project since July 2007. [17]

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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