Introducing XNA Game Studio Express
XNA Game Studio Express provides a faster and easier way to create games. While several frameworks already exist to help facilitate creating games, XNA Game Studio Express lets you create games for Windows and for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. After a quick introduction of XNA Game Studio Express, I’ll show you how to make your own simple 2D game using XNA Game Studio Express.
If you have ever dreamed of being a game developer (honestly, who among us has not toyed with the idea at least a little?), this is your time in the sun. With the release of XNA Game Studio Express in December of 2006, Microsoft has begun a steady march on a mission to change the game development industry.
Microsoft released XNA Game Studio Express as a beta in early August 2006, followed up with a second beta a few months later in November, and then officially released version 1.0 in December of 2006 to much excitement in the game development community. The initial audience to embrace XNA Game Studio Express has been game development hobbyists and small independent game shops, but it is clear that the game development community as a whole has its eye on XNA Game Studio Express and where it is not only going but also where it is taking the game industry.
It Is Good to Be Free
One of the most attractive features of XNA Game Studio Express is its price. Everything you need to make a game with XNA Game Studio Express is free. Developers who want to use XNA Game Studio Express use C# Express, giving them the power and speed of developing with managed code in a free development environment. The only cost to game developer hopefuls is the art and sound assets, which in many cases they can find for free or create with free tools. It is pretty hard to argue with a price like that.
If you can afford the price (Did I mention it was all free?) you should make sure that your computer can actually handle developing with XNA Game Studio Express. Hardware requirements primarily consist of not having an older video card. You need a Direct3D 9.0 video card capable of at least Shader Model 1.1. You can purchase cards that meet this minimum requirement fairly inexpensively from most major computer electronic retailers. This may be a hurdle for people with older laptops, but most users won’t have trouble meeting the minimum requirements for XNA Game Studio Express.
Getting started with XNA Game Studio Express starts with learning C#. While you don’t need to be a C# expert to learn to use XNA Game Studio Express, you will need to have a basic understanding of the syntax and the initial concepts of object-oriented programming.
If you are pretty familiar with C# and you have some old experience with DirectX development, you may wonder where the tutorial and sample code are that show how to set up a graphic device and display that first black screen. Talking to the graphics device and getting a good blank slate is always a good first step game project and with DirectX this was quite an arduous task where you might set aside a few frustrating hours. Anyone who has developed with DirectX, both managed or unmanaged, knows that first project of figuring out how to set up resolutions, switching between full screen and windowed modes, and finally getting everything to a point that you can just have a simple black screen is an exercise in patience and a night of frustration, especially for newcomers.
By: George W. Clingerman
George is relatively new to the development scene. He took a short course in BASIC on Apple IIgs in high school and did not re-visit the computer world again until his freshman year of college in 1996. A lot had changed.
George managed to catch up (some) and graduated with a math/computer science major in 2000. He has worked as a software developer ever since and continues to refine his development skills and play catch up with all these "old school" developers.
Currently, George is a business developer by day working with Visual Basic, ASP.NET, and SQL building Windows Forms and Web software for the construction industry.
At night, George likes to dabble with game development. With the release of XNA Game Studio Express, this hobby has become less frustration and changing the colors of triangles and more "Wow! Did you make that Dad?"
George runs an XNA community site, XNADevelopment.com, where he creates tutorials for beginning 2D game development with XNA Game Studio Express and tries to help out the best he can in the MSDN forums for XNA. For this and other contributions to the XNA community, George was awarded a Microsoft MVP award for XNA.
George feels a bit weird about writing about himself but his lovely wife and three wonderful sons have assured him that he did ok.
What does XNA stand for? It’s a recursive acronym that stands for “XNA’s Not Acronymed”. Aren’t developers fun?