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 ... ;)

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