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Artificial Intelligence: Article

XNA, Game Development for Everyone

Writing games sure isn't what it used to be

Maybe some of you remember a time when we created a sprite on a piece of graph paper and afterwards hacked zeroes and ones in so we could see something eventually move on a TV screen. I have to admit that those days have been gone for a long time and a lot of things have happened in IT since I developed simple games on my C64. And one of these new things is XNA Game Studio (the current version is 2.0).

Is this something for you? Well, maybe you have a good idea for a computer game, but don't know how to do it. In the past game development was very hard, but it's become easier (I wouldn't call it easy now, but it's a lot easier than it used to be). And wouldn't it be great if you could deploy your game not only to your PC, but also to an Xbox 360 and play with or against a friend on his own PC or Xbox 360 over the network? Ah, I see I've got your attention.

What Is XNA Game Studio
Microsoft defines XNA as everything a game developer needs to build industry-leading software, including the services, resources, and communities, to be successful on Microsoft gaming platforms (the PC world and, in my opinion, the best next-generation console - the Xbox 360). XNA Game Studio is only a subset of this whole industry (just have a look at the Xbox 360 marketplace or your Xbox Live gamer score to get a picture of what the other parts are), but for a developer the most exciting part is the API to write games. Using it we have easy access to input devices like the game pad (on a PC keyboard and mouse), the graphics hardware and audio and since XNA Game Studio 2.0 networking through the Xbox Live technology.

Xbox 360 or PC Game?
XNA lets us write games for the Xbox 360, but an Xbox 360 isn't needed to use XNA. We can write games strictly for the PC. However, if we want to write games we can play on our Xbox 360 and have others play the game we wrote on their consoles, we need to buy an XNA Creators Club subscription. This will let us play other community games (that other developers create) on our Xbox 360 and get additional content from the XNA development team.

More Stories By Berndt Hamboeck

Berndt Hamboeck is a senior consultant for BHITCON ( He's a CSI, SCAPC8, EASAC, SCJP2, and started his Sybase development using PB5. You can reach him under [email protected]

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