Seattle - Microsoft Corp. is bringing the art of game development to the masses with a new set of tools, called XNA Game Studio Express, based on the XNA platform. XNA Game Studio Express is intended to democratize game development by delivering the necessary tools to hobbyists, students, indie developers, and studios to bring their game ideas to life while nurturing game development talent, collaboration, and sharing that will benefit the entire industry.
During his keynote presentation at Gamefest 2006, a Microsoft game developer event hosted by Microsoft in Seattle, Chris Satchell, general manager of the Game Developer Group at Microsoft, announced details of the new technology, which will be broadly available this holiday season.
XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows XP-based PC and will provide them with Microsoft's next-generation platform for game development. By joining a "creators club" for an annual subscription fee of $99, users will be able to build, test, and share their games on Xbox 360 and access materials to help speed the game-development progress.
During his keynote, Satchell talked about academic institutions that are lining up to include XNA Game Studio Express in their course offerings. Also showcased was the work of key XNA supporters Autodesk Inc. and GarageGames. Through the Microsoft XNA relationship with Autodesk, game developers and enthusiasts can more easily incorporate content into XNA Game Studio Express via Autodesk's FBX file exchange format. Joining Satchell on stage was Mark Frohnmayer, president of GarageGames, who showcased ports of its next-generation Torque tools and technology over to the XNA Game Studio Express platform.
XNA Game Studio Express makes game development easier to accomplish for smaller projects by providing an integrated, seamless development environment based on Visual Studio Express and .NET.
The XNA Game Studio Express beta will be available August 30, 2006, as a free download on Windows XP, for development on the Windows XP platform. The final version of XNA Game Studio Express will be available this holiday season.
"XNA Game Studio Express will ignite innovation and accelerate prototyping, forever changing the way games are developed," Satchell says. "By unlocking retail Xbox 360 consoles for community-created games, we are ushering in a new era of cross-platform games based on the XNA platform. We are looking forward to the day when all the resulting talent-sharing and creativity transforms into a thriving community of user-created games on Xbox 360."
A second XNA toolset geared toward game-development professionals is scheduled to be available in spring 2007, fundamentally changing the way commercial games are developed.
GarageGames, technology provider and developer of one of the most successful Xbox Live Arcade titles, has migrated both its Torque Shader Engine and new Torque Game Builder 2D visual game designer over to the XNA Game Studio Express platform.