Global Game Industry News Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yes, Yes, XNA Express is Cool

This is an interesting discussion from the Microsoft camp about the differences between Sony's Home and XNA Express. There is also some interesting discussion about the differences in how MS and Sony approaches their developers. I certainly think MS has an edge in that respect.

Either way it's an interesting read and insight into the worlds of developers and those that make tools for them.

Microsoft on Lowering the Barriers of Creativity
With XNA Game Studio Express, it is a different approach. It's not just about modding a game that somebody's made; it's about making your own game. I definitely take your point [because] you need some skill to do it. Now I do think we've made it much easier with XNA Game Studio Express than it's ever been before, but when you add our partner products on top—like what we've done with Garage Games—then you actually have systems like Torque GameBuilder (TGB), which is drag and drop game development. You literally drag pieces in and you drop them. And then we have starter kits, so if you just want to mod an experience you can do that... So imagine if you take TGB and load up a pack and there's all the cool animated things—you just drag and drop them in, say what behavior you want and can start playing a game. And we actually licensed that from Garage Games so if you're a member of the Creator's Club in XNA you get that in your subscription.
And XNA is attracting a lot of professionals as well. A lot are doing this in their spare time because they're like, "I've got a great idea and I just want to make a real fun, simple game and I don't get to do that at work anymore." I think what you'll mostly see is lots of smaller games.
The thing that we do at Microsoft is we're a software and services company. We build tools to build software and we build software; that's at our core. We're very passionate about enabling developers and we've been working on things like visual studio for the last ten years... So I am very confident that we provide the very best tools in the industry, and if you talk to developers they will back that up. And we have the best services that we put around it – our consulting services and developer support services. I mean, when I used to do PS2 development I still used Microsoft technologies like for debugging and for the IDE for the compiler because it was the best you could use. It's great for developers that Sony is bringing these new components out, but we've already got that in our SDK. PIX, our profiling tool, is probably one of the most favored tools in the developer industry. So I feel very good [about our tools]. That's why now 3 out of 4 are leading on our platforms because it's just the most productive environment.
It's also questionable that in their keynote they spent about 30 seconds talking about their tools. It's like one slide; they're checking off a box.

The other thing is what we're doing with Game Studio and XNA Express is, no one else is doing in the industry – we are really, truly democratizing game development. 250,000 people have downloaded this, and there's only 20-25 thousand professional developers in the industry. So we're going well beyond that audience. And this is our commitment to the industry, with computer science enrollments being down, high-definition game development budgets rising, people needing more teams... that pipeline has to be filled. We want to make sure that the 15-year-old girls that are thinking about what they want to study, that they have programs where they can get involved in the sciences and gaming. It's an investment for us. The 'community arcade' ... We don't make any money off this. It's part of our responsibility to the industry.
There's nothing free about a $600 console. Once you've spent $600 the online is free, but you still have to spend $600 to get out of the gate, before you have any games.

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