Thursday, March 26, 2009


The cat is out of the bag, finally!

A new version of XNA Game Studio (3.1) has been announced -along with other relevant info like the next DBP compo- during this year's GDC.

No date has been published yet for its release, but in the meantime you can read the first quick notes about the new features that will be included in 3.1.

I guess in the next few days/weeks we'll see more official words with details on each topic.

In this sense, Shawn has recently blogged about one of these features: automatic serialization of content binaries (XNB). So, check it out!

See ya!

> Link to Spanish version.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


[ If you deem this article as helpful, please consider downloading my game "Just Survive XP" on the Appstore (free for a limited time):

=> ]

Yesterday, I wanted to watch a video on Youtube when suddenly, to my surprise, I just found the following message, instead:

Hello, you either have JavaScript turned off or an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.

Since Javascript was enabled, in order to check whether this was a problem of Youtube's site only, I browse to other sites that I know use flash tech to find that I was really unable to watch any Flash content. They all prompted me to download and install the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

So I visited Adobe's site and tried to get the latest Flash Player online. The key thing is that after installing the add-on, the movie clip that always appear on the site saying that your installation was successful didn't appear at all. Strangely, by refreshing the page -by hitting the F5 key- it did appear. Weird.

So I said, maybe this was just a minor glitch, and opened the video page on Youtube. Unluckily, that nasty message appeared again.

This time, I opened the "Tools" menu of IE8, and selected the "Manage Add-Ons" section. There, I found that the "Shockwave Flash Object" add-on was in fact installed and the version was correct, so I tried to "reset" it by disabling the component, closing the browser, re-open it and finally enable the add-on. No luck!

One final desperate move: just in case, I just opened the following menu on my browser:

"Tools -> Internet Options -> General -> Delete"

and deleted everything. Then, I downloaded the offline installer of Adobe Flash Player from the following link:

And finally, I closed the browser and executed the installer (btw, since the offline installer does the task of uninstalling any previous version of the add-on, I skipped that part and let it do it for me).

When the process ended, I just reopened IE8, visited Youtube again to find this time that everything simply worked just fine!

I don't know if this workaround will work for you, but if you happen to experience a similar situation then just give it a try.

Well, that's it for today. I hope you find this post useful.

Stay tuned,

> Link to Spanish version.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Yesterday I was installing the final version of Internet Explorer 8 on my Windows Vista Business machine and everything went fine until the OS prompted me to reboot.

As this is generally a usual request for new installations of IE, I just pressed the "Reboot" button with confidence.

Here was the inflexion point of my installation experience: after the machine rebooted, and the POST checks succeeded, the monitor's screen got completely blank and the main hard drive just stopped working!!! Not sound, no flashing lead, nothing.

Meaning, the OS was unable to boot; and trust me on this: turning the machine off and on after a while, didn't help at all.

If this happens to you, just don't panic. For some unknown reason -at least, for us mere mortals- the "Master Boot Record" (MBR) of your HDD may have been somehow overwritten during IE8's installation.

Maybe using the installation disks of your OS could work, by selecting the "Repair" option and then let the tool do its magic. But in my case, I used a shorter path.

I cannot assure the method I will describe will work for you; I can only state that it did work for me, therefore USE THE METHOD AT YOUR OWN RISK!

You have been warned now, so read on:

To solve this situation you don't have to reinstall your windows OS (since it's still there on the hard drive); the only thing that you have to do is find a way to write the proper MBR again to your HDD.

To accomplish this task, I searched for an old tool called Max Blast, which I used to execute when I wanted to prepare a HDD (Maxtor or Seagate) for a new Win OS installation or "sort of" repair a faulty disk. In this particular case, my main HDD was a Samsung one but I tried my luck, anyway.

I found on my archives an old Floppy Disk with version 4 of Max Blast, so I used this disk to try to reboot the system.

Then, when Max Blast executed I entered the section named "Maintenance Tools" of the main menu and then selected the option "Update MBR". After choosing the target HDD and waiting for the process to end, I finally rebooted my machine to witness that it fully worked!!!

Windows Vista was booting up again and IE8 was completely installed. Everything just got back to normal. And it only took me like 3 minutes or so to fix.

Well, this is it. I hope you find this post useful ... if you ever happen to find your-self in a situation like this :(

'till next time!

> Link to Spanish version.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


There's no official word out yet but, according to the links posted on the site Next Best Geek, the first beta version of the upcoming Silverlight 3 (Runtime, SDK and Tools) has been released by MSFT.

I have yet no idea what new features are available in this beta but I cannot wait to see what's in it.

Downloading ...


> Link to Spanish version.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Well, after almost two weeks I've finally returned to Montevideo (Uruguay).

I've spent the last few days catching up to get back on track a.s.a.p. So I guess next Monday will be the new beginning of normal working days.

My first MVP Summit was really something and visiting Vancouver is always great. Thus, I hope to repeat the experience next year.


-> Link to Spanish version.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Hey guys! I know I told I wouldn't post new articles until I had returned to Montevideo. The thing is that something popped up during one of the talks with the XNA Team in the summit that imvho really needs to be clarified once and for all: the proper way to use each available sumission features in the Creators site (the "main" features).

So this time I`ll be blogging about the guidelines you should follow when submitting a game to the creators club for both, peer review and play-testing. Consider them as part of a brief list of do`s and dont`s or kinda checklist to use before pressing the 'Submit' button.

But first, let`s see the reasons behind these "rules", ok?

First and foremost, act as a serious entrepreneur. In many cases, you deal inter-alia with finances, marketing and even human-resource management so get used to the best practices of entrepreneurship. Thus, even though the word "Community" is used to separate this channel from XBLA, this is still serious business. Period.

When you`re just about to submit a game for the XLCG, you`ll have to honestly answer a few general questions in order to properly assess whether you`re in the right path or not:

  • Is my game ready for commercialization?
  • If I weren`t the author, would I buy this game?
  • What price should I set?

The most difficult part is usually being objective enough. I know, it`s your baby. But you`ll have to make the effort and think over these questions seriously before going any further.

To help you answer those questions, let`s organize the topics a little bit as follows: (I) Type of Submission, (II) Game Description, and (III) Pricing.

I. Type of Submission

Let's go straight into the point: what's "Peer Review" for? I will clarify in what follows what is NOT for: playtesting!!!

Seriously, don't use peer review as means of testing your game in the final market. Not only you will make your peers unhappy about this but also you will lose credibility with your potential and current buyers. A game badly tested may end up in a reduced rate of conversion.

Peer review is meant for games thouroughly tested. The idea behind it is to check whether you self-rated it appropriately or not. It has nothing to do with peers like your game or not. If your game sucks but still, you comply with the rules of submission and rate it correctly according to the reviewers, it will be approved. Simple.

Avoid abusing peer review by testing your games through playtest option. Here`s a great opportunity to test your betas and RCs with the community of peers. Bear in mind that a game submitted for playtesting won`t make it to the XLCG market. One thing though: be reasonable and don`t submit a game for testing when there is nothing relevant to test; meaning, avoid submitting alpha versions. Don`t waste peers` time.

One important note as stated in the creators site: "To help insure the stability and seriousness of the Peer Review step of the Xbox LIVE Community Games process we’re instituting a seven day waiting period for rejected or cancelled games."

Finally, please do not reply/post things like "Who the heck do you think you are to review my game ... ?". Be respectful. Always listen carefully to what a peer has to say: maybe you really learn something helpful. There's no harm intended, believe me.

II. Game Description

There are currently three ways to describe your game: a text description, 4 screenshots and a video.

In order to get the most of these, try to use them all in a proper manner. Think like a pro in marketing. A perfect combo attracks more people to download the demo of your game.

Describe your game in a way that attracks gamers' attention. Tell them in a few words what the game is about. Avoid unnecesary lines like "Best game ever" or "This game will rock your world". Just write down useful info.

Once you get a description worth reading, then enter the screenshots. There's 4 of them, have you noticed that? Use them all. Don't be lame. Screenshots are a convinient way to support your text description, so pick 4 screenshots that really show-off (the most) interesting parts of your game.

Btw, be careful when you create screenshots with too much dark colors in it, since the thumbnails could turned out to lose details. I mean, try to make colors distiguishable for the key areas of the picture and you'll do good.

Don't waste the opportunity to show off how cool your game really is by adding a video. Deem is as a game trailer. Choose its content wisely. Be creative. Make the gamers say "Wow! I need to get this game! Let's buy it now!".

Think as a director creating a tv-spot or a film trailer. Be consice. Present what you're game is about in a way that captures the eyes of the viewer during the lenght of the video.

Just balance the timing. A 5-minute video: way too long; a 1-minute video: not even a news flash. And don't go off-topic. This is a promotional video. It's not interesting for a gamer to see how you created the videogame. Neither it is to show how to complete a whole level.

Finally, there is no way to record a video using XNA in the 360 right now, so in order to avoid using a video camera and center its focus on your screen, you may use programs like FRAPS and grab the action from your PC version of the game. It's a second best, but it could do the trick just fine.

III. Pricing

Tough one. Setting a price for a game is always tricky. Unfortunately, experience in this regard is something that you learn along the way. But there's a few thoughts that you can use:

  • Try set 800 points only if your game is really outstanding,
  • Set 200 points if you believe that is the only price customers will pay for your game, and
  • 400 points is usually ok for the rest of the cases.

One important thing to notice: once a price is stablished, you won`t be able to change it for the following 90 days! So, think twice before taking a final decision here. It could affect your results and figures.

To sum up, here`s a brief checklist for your consideration when submitting a game to XBCG:


  • Always use this feature thouroughly before submitting for peer review,
  • Debug and test alpha versions of your game, locally. Playtesting doesn`t release you from that responsibility/duty/task. Thus, try to submit versions of your game that you consider a beta or a release candidate,
  • Releasing new versions to the market even every 7 days could get into the nervs of your current and potential customers. That`s why testing is vital.

Peer Review

  • Don't abuse it!!! This feature is only for games that have been already fully tested and that are ready for commercialization. Otherwise, use playtesting,
  • Think Before Sumit: if your game is rejected or you cancel the sumission, you'll have to wait 7 days before being able to re-submit it. So be careful here,
  • Consider what peers say. Behave. Be respectful.

  • Don't be a lazybones: submit all of the 4 requested screenshots,
  • Watch the colors of each picture: if too dark, then its visibility gets compromised with auto-generated thumbnails,
  • Choose 4 screenshots that really show off your game -specially if you're not submitting a video- as well as complement your text description of it.
Game Trailer

  • Be smart. Think as if you were the director of a tv-commercial when creating your trailer,
  • Watch the lenght of the video: balance the timing,
  • Mind the content of the video: be concise and please don't go "off-topic".

Game Demo

  • Let gamers play a level that really shows off how great your game is,
  • Don`t fill the demo with "Buy-This-Game" screens; bear in mind that if a gamer really wants to buy your game, he/she will buy it, regardless the number of times you make that screen pop up,
  • Also remember that if a gamer has gone through the effort of reading the description of your game, watching the screenshots and your game trailer, and now downloading the demo, this is the crucial time to get a new customer. So give them the best demo they can get.

  • Choose the price of your game with care since once stablished it will last for 90 days,
  • Be cautious when considering a change in the price of your game,
  • Remember that this is serious business.

Well, this is it. I hope you`ll find this info useful. As usual comments and suggestions are welcome.

Watch this space!

-> Link to Spanish version.


Well guys, latest times have been really fun and useful.

The MVP summit was awesome: met a lot of people, had lots of fun and a big yes here: got relevant info of what`s comming next.

I cannot tell you what`s next in the XNA world but believe me when I tell you that interesting things lay ahead. Just stay tuned to Kathleen announcements.

In the meantime, you can watch some nice pictures taken during one of the days in the Summit and or the latest XNA Round-Up.

Till next time,

-> Link to Spanish version.