Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I don't know about you guys but the sessions of the first day were really great! So many info shared, previews, experiences, images, demos, videos, and so on. And the webcast itself was loud and clear ... I eperienced only one glitch and it was on my side (too many webpages opened).

I know it was announced that only the first day would be webcasted but, given the importance of the sessions and the fact that many of us couldn't attend the gamefest this year, let's hope the XNA Team decides -of course, if within possibilities- to webcast today's XNA sessions.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, August 13, 2007


Finally! The last webcast of the day has ended.

Frank Savage reminded us what's the current state and features of XNA GSE, what XNA "GS" 2 will bring, and what to expect for the first half of 2008.

I'm tired so I won't comment on the current status of GSE. What will come on v2 was already covered. So the juice is on 2008. Why? Because even though there are not further details on how they will implement it yet -meaning it's still under discussion- these guys are working on a way to help us reach the XBox Live Arcade market more easily (and then the Xbox360 retail disk distribution).

The final round of questions seemed pretty exhausting since everybody start asking and asking, even questions that had nothing to do with what this guys were supposed to talk about!

Some interesting Q&A:

  • Will we worthwhile building a game for the 360 in 2008 given the advances in technology which could make the 360 an obsolete console? Yes.
  • How can one convince any publisher that managed code & XNA can create a "blockbuster" game? The answer is simple, just convince them that your game is fun and sellable. they don't even care what technology you use to create the proof of concept, prototype or even the game itself.
  • How much does it cost to get a certificate? I think the first time you get in is free and after that you pay by submittion.

Well, that's all folks! I hope my comments on the webcasts help those unable to watch them because of bandwith restriction, bad connections, and so on.



The one we all were probably waiting for ... and is comming along nicely!

Some features we will find:

  • Reliable UDP, ordering, etc.
    Packages can be sent to a specific player and to all players on the session.
    360 players can join Windows sessions and viceversa.
    Player-to-player voice.
    "Lobby" management so as to sync games (isReady and isEveryoneReady properties).
    and much more.

Some we don't by now: Game invites, Leaderboards, etc.

Some we probably won't (or at least in the middle run):

  • Ranked matchmaking.
  • Achievements.
  • Raw sockets.

A couple of great questions:

  • ¿Dead Reckoning? Nope. This version will provide basic functionality, so you should build upon it by yourself.
  • ¿Beta Public Release? Maybe in a couple of months (more good news!).
  • Didn't get the answer about the kind of suscription to play networked games (silver or gold), maybe gold? Sorry about htis one.

Btw, if after building the game you try to host/join a session but get an unhandled exception, just recompile your code and try again ... :)


Man! I really need to get Shawn' slides ... very useful info and tips to program game using XNA GSE, both for Windows and the 360. He covered many areas, like graphics, math, threading and profilin tools.

Hereunder you will find some bullets:

  • Graphics: Shawn mentioned things like the spritebatch, then shaders, materials and effects, and finally renderstates. Some conclusions: use the GPU the most you can, don't forget to set SpriteSetMode, undesrtand the 360 system's calls and avoid the use of states blocks.
  • Math: is incredible how one can gain some performance by passing structs by reference and inline some computation. About the latter, constructs can be manually inlined (an example was provided). Those of us who have experienced .NET Framework 3 and 3.5 do know that the way this is handled in those versions of the .NET framework is quite handy.
  • Threading: a must! To take advantage of this feature on the 360 one have to understand how the cores and threads per core are organized as well as the fact that one must manually assign threads to the 360's cores (this is not done automatically for you). Also take due note that the Content Manager is not thread-safe and input handling is not threadable on windows (meaning, it has to run on the main thread, always).
  • Profiling Tools: there is not much help on the 360 to identify bottlenecks, thus, profile on windows and do some inference (of course, remember the way the compact framework deals with the GC and generations).

There were more points to mention about Shawn's presentation plus plenty of smart questions, but you'll have to watch the webcast later to get all of them ... ;)

Phew! ... a 30 minutes brake. Thanks so much! I need some rest ...


"... measure, measure, ... , and measure". Yeap, that was what Rico Mariani said during the fourth webcast. The sooner you diagnose, the better.

The spirit associated to the above-mentioned "axiom" is driving your application to pay the costs of using managed code at the proper time, where and when you can afford those costs.

All the slides where quite interesting, and many relevant things were stated like:

  • "not all the dots are created equal" (this is related to "inlining").
  • structs are not as weel handled as reference types (although structs are sometimes preferable).
  • exception handling constrains optimization, and
  • many more.

Finally, there was a great comment, the proof for non-believers that managed code is suitable for game design are all the games that were created for the 360 using managed code (through XNA GSE, of course).

Well, now is Shawn's turn, so gotta go again.


What an interesting webcast this is: Jamie Fristrom & Bill Dugan (from Torpex Games) are commenting on their whole experience to bring Schizoid to the XBox Live! Arcade.

I do agree to what they have said about C#:
  • the C# vs. C++ discussion for game development is like "C++ vs. Assembly" many years ago. With C# you forget about pointers, and that alone says a lot. Plus, performance, speed, etc. is becoming less and less an issue as many games, demos and samples demonstrates, and
  • you don't need to use external languages for scripting (of course, you can do it if you want to), since you can use c# itself as a scripting language (as I said on this blog and on others' blogs).

In short, C# will rule (read my first posts).

What I don't agree -at least, partially: and I know Benny is also gonna hate me for this, is that Test-Driven Development is great for creating "proof-of-concepts" and prototypes -so as to bring your ideas close to the "real" thing quickly (and get some nasty bugs on the initial stages), but from a design viewpoint, relying only on tests to write the "final" implementation/output from scratch could be messy for the final stages and as a base for future projects (one could deem it as a "too aggressive" way of programming, again, only the final product, not the proptotypes).

I mean, you may find yourself in the need of changing many places to get the final product as well as to create future products (like "this class should be responsible for rendering this and that" -instead of the original class- and things like that) . And that could worsen, the bigger the game project, IMHO, of course.

With this I'm not saying "this approach is better than those", "don't use a rapid approach" or things like that. Instead, I'm saying "balance" is the key to a well-designed software. One should find its own approach -mostly if you're going solo, ... the one that you are most comfortable with, but it doesn't mean you have to use one and only one approach. In fact, your way of designing and programming games could be a mixture of methodologies derived from the type of project, available resources (including staff), time/stage/deadlines, and budget (estimated and current costs and ditto for funding).

Why "balance"? Because as these guys' just said (non-textual quote) "if you plan and discuss too much you face the risk that your project gets cancelled ..." (it doesn't matter whether you were implementing it or not), to what I must add, "... but if you plan too little you face the risk of having to redesign a lot of code at later stages."; both extremes could complicate things up in the end. So get the balance, optimus, equilibrium ("sounds" like a yoga class).

Now, I want to listen the round of questions, so bye ... for now!


The second presentation has finished and many interesting things came out. You can find some of the upcomingfeatures on the XNA Team Blog. Again, what happened to the "Express" word? Simpe. Everything lays now on a common ground!

The news ... there's new content available on the creators site:

You can check it out all here.

Also, you can watch a video of the first Xbox Live Arcade created all the way with XNA GSE: Schizoid (presented on the first webcast by the producers/developers of the game -Torpex Games- and is the focus of the third webcast, which is going to start in a couple of minutes).

Well, in fact I see the guys preparing the third webcast -images and sound is being transmitted- so, again, gotta go ... stay tuned!


Have you watched the first webcast? A great intro by Chris Satchell with plenty of info about the future of XNA v2.0 (first surprise: get to the part about the "pro" version), expected numbers on the XBox Live market (growing very fast), XBOX Live Arcade and ... drums please ... the winners of the Dream.Build.Play compo of this year:

  1. First Place: two games will share this place, both getting all the prizes: "Blazing Birds" and the "The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai" ... btw, Chris, how cruel of you! ... :)
  2. Second Place: my connection went bad at this time but I guess this place is also shared ... please correct me if I'm wrong, but the games getting the second place are "Gravitron Ultra" and "Yo Ho Kablammo!" (the sound went bad but the pictures shown a Live Arcade image among the prizes, so I guess they also getting the opportunity for a publishing/distribution deal? If so, more congrats!)
  3. Third Place: the remaining finalists ... I can bet and hope that many-to-all of you will also get some interest deals and offers from distributors/publishers/etc. in the split of a second ... ;)

Congrats to all of you!

Also, there were shown great demos, in particular, I was amazed with the one presented by the guy of XSI (in fact, the procedural-textured terrain looked awesome).

Ah, yes, before the second webcast begins, in sync with Chris' presentation, Michael Klucher was also announcing XNA GS 2.0 at the XNA Team Blog ... what no "Express" term inthere? Mmmm ... just watch what Chris says about the "pro" version ...

Opps! gotta go ... Michael's presentation has started ...

Friday, August 03, 2007


At last! Dave Mitchell has announced the top 20 finalist of the Dream-Build-Play contest ...

So, go ahead and direct your browser to the contest's site to meet the finalists.

Congrats to all the ones who created/submitted a game, and special congrats to the finalists .. and good luck in the final round!