Microsoft unveils XNA Game Studio

Microsoft unveils XNA Game Studio
by Cian Ginty

Microsoft’s XNA games tools were showcased to Irish developers using Xbox 360, Guitar Hero and Wii controllers at the Irish Microsoft Technologies Conference.

Microsoft was continuing in its attempts to entice game developers with its cross-platform games coding system XNA. A slightly unorthodox XNA presentation showed Guitar Hero and Wii controllers in use with Windows Vista in Dublin late last week.

Held at Cineworld in Dublin city centre, the Irish Microsoft Technologies Conference attracted around 500 developers and IT professionals, according to the organisers. Robert Burke of Microsoft Ireland demonstrated XNA, which is aimed at both amateur and professional developers.

Noting the Xbox 360 Guitar Hero plastic guitar controller was ‘just a controller’ Burke showed the attendees how XNA could be used to adapt controllers to games. Burke’s demonstration was later wound up using a simple self-developed game featuring the Guitar Hero controller and a version of the Irish rugby song ‘Ireland’s Call’ recorded from a recent Croke Park match.

The central feature of XNA allows games studios to develop games for both PC and Xbox 360 without much of the effort traditionally associated with creating games for multiply formats. Xbox 360 controllers that use Bluetooth for wireless, or standard USB ports for wired, can be used on PC games.

At the demonstration Burke also showed a working example of how developers could make the controller of the Wii — made by rival console maker Nintendo — work with Windows games with the addition of just a simple Bluetooth receiver. Although this trick will not work with Xbox 360.

XNA has a low entry barrier for amateur developers; XNA Game Studio Express can be downloaded free from Microsoft’s MSDN website. There is a premium edition and publishing games to Xbox requires a licence.

Responding to some criticisms of XNA and developing for Xbox, Burke said developers cannot tap into the Xbox Live network code or the video camera for the console.

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