Thursday, November 30, 2006


Yeap! December is comming ... sales, presents, christmas, XBOX360, PS3, Wii, XNA, TorqueX, Visual3D.Net ... phewww! Everything accelerates as we approach the year-end.

For us, "indies", it is a very important month as we are waiting for the final release of XNA GSE and with it, the parallel releases of TorqueX and Visual3D.Net.

Developers post questions over and over in every forum asking for CTPs, betas, demos, screenshots and such, as if they were children traveling in a car with their parents and continuously asking them: "Are we there yet?".

Patience. Even if they need some extra time to finish the products it will benefit us in the end: more stability, less bugs, more fun.

In the meantime, check "HeroEngine", it seems quite interesting. Unfortunately, neither demos nor prices are available in the site so I cannot comment about it (I don't know about the engine itself but the tools seem to be .NET-based). If someone has more information about this framework please drop me some lines.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Checking my RSS subscriptions I have found two interesting articles:
  1. Securing High-Score Games: an article of the latest "Casual Games Quarterly" publication (by the IGDA) which talks about the different ways to set up online secure high-score tables, and
  2. Indies Will Lead The Way In Next-Gen Development: an article published by where it is pointed out that small teams will spread innovation.
Ah, yeah: don't forget to pay a visit to AniBoom's site and try to find my "crappy" 3d-animation. Remember that I said I had created it with v2.5 of a very well-known 3D-animation package. What are you waiting for? Just go and start searching for it ... it will amaze you ... ;)

Well, that's all for today.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I have received an email from the creative director of "Aniboom", a new website dedicated to host and share animations, inviting me to pay a visit and check the site out.

Although the site is currently in a beta phase -it works better with IE than Firefox, let me tell you that I have really found some high-quality videos, cut-scenes, 2d/3d animations and demo reels.

But the interesting thing is that these guys are carrying out a competition for a total of $50k in prizes: five categories, $5k for the winner of each category, and $25k for the "grand prize" winner.

Check the rules, choose a category and upload your creation. There's still time for new entries, so hurry up!!!

Who knows? Maybe I decide to submit a 5-minute sci-fi animation I created back in my old days as a student of 3D animation by using 3DS Max 2.5 ... and yeah, you've just read it right, I said v2.5, so imagine how astonishing it could be ... you have no opportunity against my demo reel ... whooooooahahahahaha ... ;)

I'll leave you with this very funny entry:

[BTW, thanks Einat for your kind words about my blog!]

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Where were we? Ah, yes ... "Will I succeed by using XNA GSE?".

Let's face it: like everything in life, time will tell. Time will prove you were right or wrong but, is it worth trying? Straight answer: yes, provided you are able and capable of facing and breaking through a tight membrane formed of strong competition.

Like you, everyone is competing to get community, market, publishers and or employers' attention. No matter how shared in common a colleague may behave along the road, it all summarizes to a simple fact: in the end, to some extent, everyone is thinking "that prize has to be mine!". C'mon let me hear "not me". Anyone? (don't panic, just continue reading, ok?)

So, what could make one stand out from the rest? That's the key point.

A combination of skills, dedication, commitment and perseverance (not to mention finance resources to live on day by day).

"How could XNA GSE help me achieve my goals?" Interesting question. Personally speaking, for the first time I feel someone is providing a well-designed framework for game development with great potential.

Many companies offer many solutions to developers but you always find a catch: you have to learn a new language (either for hard-coding and or scripting), the language lacks a professional GUI and or IDE or even it is not an object-oriented one, there is no way you can extend the given framework, it lacks the proper tools, it does not provide the features you need, it does not handle with key aspects of game creation as expected, plenty of bugs, poor support, and so on.

Now we have a framework that plugs into VS2005, and thus to be used with .NET languages (in the case of XNA GSE it plugs into C# Express) which offers a set of tools and features (please read part I) designed from scratch to facilitate the process of creating a game from an object-oriented perspective and last but not least, with strong support. What is more, new tools are being created on top of XNA as TorqueX or will support XNA as Visual3D.NET and I believe we will soon see more coming.

But there is one more factor that XNA GSE is trying to impose which opposses to the fact that we are all competing in the end: a community of developers that really collaborate by sharing experience and knowledge. It's like saying "Ok, we are all trying to cross the finish line first but unless we help each other it's likely that none of us will even get there!". So far, MS is achieving this goal: code snippets, solutions, implementations and complete games are being shared by and to the XNA's community and there is no indication that it will stop. A lot of people, including me, is excited about this whole thing and participates in good mood, what in turn is a lot to say (I can list a bunch of forums where members try to tear each others apart, and newbies, are fiercely bounced and discouraged).

To sum up, this time one cannot complain that "we" do not have the framework and or tools needed (ok, an implementation of one of the "big" physics libraries for .NET/XNA would be welcome, like Havok's or Ageia's) or that there is no support (either from the developer or the community), meaning, now it is really up to each of us -or our teams- to create a game that catches everyone's attention.

So let's go for it!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


There is an interesting article that discusses the topic of intelectual property rights of games created and shared by community users of XNA Game Studio Express.

Also, you will find another article regarding user-created content and the PS3 (Shhht! Apparently this is a secret).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


As we are approaching to the release date for XNA Game Studio Express v1, the following first question may come to one's mind: how successful will it be?

First of all let us consider one simple fact: if you want to program games using DirectX and C# then bear in mind that XNA is the successor of MDX, so unless you decide to implement your own wrappers to DirectX dlls (what would be like re-inventing the wheel) or try native-proned languages (like C++), you will end up using it, anyway.

Ok, but what is it with GSE? It is a framework based on XNA and mounted as an add-on for C# Express which provides a set of tools and implementations that let you program your games with ease. GSE takes advantage of XNA's content pipeline, brings a basic implementation to manage the rendering process (i.e.: initializes and sets the devices for you, handles the calls to update and draw functions, among other tasks) and let you deploy your game to XBOX360!

You may ask: where's the catch? You want it, so here you are. According to the XNA FAQ:
  • In order to develop, debug, deploy and play your games on XBOX360 you will have to join the "Creators Club" for a fee of USD 99 for a year or USD 49 for 4 months.
  • You cannot produce a commercial game for XBOX360 with the express version.
  • When you deploy the game to the XBOX360, and want to share it with other members of the club you will also share all your content and source code.
The good news is that all of the above does not apply when referring to the PC platform. Meaning? You can produce a commercial game for PC, without paying any royalties or fees, and without sharing your source code and or content.

So? Well, Microsoft has decided to catch a larger marketshare in the consoles industry by providing developers with handy, simple and inexpensive tools to build and deploy games for the 360. What is more, by doing so, contrary to what its main competitors do (that is, Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii) MS is bringing to its equation a new relevant factor: "indies".

Being and "indie", go and try to produce a game -either commercial or not- for PS3 and or Wii and come back later for further talk. Just by calculating how much it would imply to do so would discourage you in the split of a second. It is hard to start an independent project and or small enterprise in the software industry, and it is harder in the game's one.

MS has noticed those facts as well as other two main things:
  1. The number of indies has increased in later years at a growing rate.
  2. Many of them use managed languages (like C#) to create their applications and games.
Moreover, some serious tools and frameworks are being developed and fine tunned to work along with XNA, either now or in the near future, like "TorqueX" and "Visual3D.Net".

Thus, will XNA GSE succeed? My guess is YES.

So the question becomes: will one succed by using XNA GSE? I will let that question unanswered until later posts ... ;)


According to xeonx the close beta program for Visual3d.NET has started.

Check the forum's thread for more information.

Friday, November 10, 2006


The guys from 360 Homebrew have posted some interesting information regarding the versions, price and release date for TorqueX.
  • TorqueX Engine Binary: free (for direct coding through .NET).
  • TorqueX Pro: USD 150,oo (will include source code).
Ok. That is cool for developers -like me- that love coding with C#. Now, what if you desperately need a level editor right now? Well, fear not. You will be able to use Torque Game Builder tool with TorqueX upon release of the latter.

When it is going to be released? Good you asked. According to what has been posted TorqueX will be released the same day XNA GSE is officially released.

So go ahead and check the demo of TGB.

Ahh! And don't forget the "XNA Homebrew Development Contest", where you may win some prizes from GarageGames, like TorqueX Pro and TGB -if you win the compo.

Hurry up!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The XNA Team has released a new video featuring games created with XNA.

In the video you will find games developed by members of the XNA community like Blobbit Dash, Sharky's Air Legends, and Particle Wars. Also, you will get a sneak preview of upcoming starter kits like "Pocket Jongg" and the superb "XNA Racer".


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


As announced, beta 2 version of XNA is out so for those of us who want to use C# to program videogames these will be interesting times.

Also, I have received an email message by GarageGame's postmaster announcing the closed beta program for TorqueX and at almost the same time RightRiot has confirmed that Visual3D.Net is coming towards the public beta release this month.

On the console fields, I have read an article published by Gamasutra where it is commented that Sony will be take more into account "indies" for game development for PS3 since, among other reasons, they deem XBox360 as its main direct competitor, mostly in the US market.

Thus, as said, everything is set for interesting times which will likely mean "opportunity".

The fun is about to start: many tests, assessment and decisions shall be done to choose the right framework but in the end, I guess we -"indie" developers- will be the winners.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


So far it's no more than a rumor, but it has been said -don't ask where just do a Google search- that beta 2 version of XNA GSE would be released later today.

In the meantime, you can read David Weller's "How To" comments regarding migration to beta 2.

'till next time.