XNA Game Studio Express - This is how you reinvigorate developers!
Am at the GameFest event in the Washington State Convention Center and just came out of the keynote. How do I feel? Very excited. Why? cause I'm a developer at heart, and most of your fellow developers would understand, Game Development is the Holy Grail of software development. We all look up to game developers, we all have built a game in one form or fashion at least once in our lives, we all aspire to code games, and very few of us get to do it full time.
As Chris Satchell, the General Manager for the Game Developer Group in Microsoft said this morning, Game Development has always been a "Country Club", opportunity to build games for the XBOX 360 was open only to the Top game developers in the country. They've listened and they've learned.
Today, Microsoft announced XNA Game Studio Express (read press release here), a development tool, platform and ecosystem for ANYONE who has a retail XBOX 360 console at their home. All you have to do is to pay a small annual subscription fee of USD99 and you can be part of this community of game developers, designers and testers. Once you join, you'll have the ability to develop games on the PC, deploy them onto your XBOX 360 retail console and test and play PLUS the ability to share code with others in the community.
The other impressive thing they showed during the keynote was GarageGames' Torque X tool. A fully featured Game development tool that is built entirely on Managed C# and on the XNA Framework. The best part of the presentation was when Mark Frohnmayer, President of Garage Games stood on stage and said that when Microsoft first approached them to work on XNA, he cringed at the though of using C# and Managed code to build a game. All game developers shun managed code. He stood on stage and showed us all, a game that his company is building on Torque X, built using C#, ported to Windows from the console in 3 weeks using all manner of 3D effects, shaders, shadows etc. It ran exceptionally well and I would say, I couldn't tell the difference. Here's a screenshot (from the team blog) :
Managed game development for the XBOX 360 retail. What else could a developer want.
Argh, looks like I have to forget my plans to buy a Bike (part of my weight loss plan) and get an XBOX 360, Diet Coke and lots of chips!
Checkout the XNA Team's blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/xna/