XNA Essentials

Game Programming for Xbox 360, PC + Windows Phone


Academic Trial Memberships

There was a press release on December 12th that discussed three main topics:

1. XNA Game Studio 2.0 Supports Xbox LIVE.

2. Microsoft will provide a free trial membership in the XNA Creators Club beginning in January, allowing faculty members and students to use XNA Game Studio 2.0 and Xbox 360 for instructional purposes.

3. Another Dream-Build-Play Warm-Up challenge is underway.


The piece that is new is number 2 above.  Here is the excerpt from the press release:

Academic Trial Memberships
Since its release last December, XNA Game Studio has been an incredible success, with 750,000 downloads, adoption by more than 300 universities worldwide and at least nine textbooks on the tools in development. In subjects from computer science to fine arts, introductory courses to graduate and research projects—XNA Game Studio is helping faculty members and students explore the boundaries of applied gaming technology in education.

Along with XNA Game Studio 2.0, Microsoft will also provide a free academic trial membership in the XNA Creators Club beginning in January, allowing faculty members and students to use XNA Game Studio 2.0 and Xbox 360 for instructional purposes.


There are a couple of universities and community colleges that either have picked up my XNA Unleashed book or are going to this coming semester.  There has been some discussion about providing some extra material to help instructors.  If you are thinking of adopting my book and are interested in any supplemental material, leave a message on the Amazon forum for the book.

Happy Learning!


XNA Game Studio 2.0 Released Today

The XNA Team made the announcement that XNA Game Studio 2.0 has been released.  The Net Rumble starter kit is a good place to see the most anticipated added feature of networking in place.

Some tips if you try to upgrade any of your 1.0 code to 2.0:

1. Make sure you have the Project Upgrade Wizard installed.

2. If you have sound in your project, you will want to open the project with the new XACT tool and then save it under the newer version.

3. If you use Render Targets you should read this local help page.

4. This doesn't require immediate change, but the LoadGraphicsContent and UnloadGraphicsContent methods are now obsolete.  LoadContent and UnloadContent should be used instead.  Shawn has an excellent post about this.

In general, read this local help page (available after installing XNA Game Studio 2.0).

Happy Coding!


Dream Build Play 2008 Warm-Up Challenge Announced

Dream Build Play 2008 Warm-Up Challenge has just been announced.


Make sure you visit the page for all official rules.  They are looking for a game with excellent AI.  In fact, the winner could possibly get an internship with the Microsoft Research guys.  I met a couple of these guys at Gamefest 2007 -- they are some very smart guys!

Here is a small blurb about the judging criteria ... while the chapter in my book on Artificial Intellegence will not be enough to make your game win - it will definitely help get you there. 

Judging criteria
Contest entries will be evaluated by 3 standards:

  • Game A.I. (60%) – Game A.I. will be evaluated based on how it serves the game design, and how it contributes to the game experience. Novelty and originality of the AI is appreciated but not required: a novel use of an existing state-of-the AI method is in itself considered to be innovative. General applicability of the AI concepts/techniques is also valued
  • Fun Factor (20%) - The fun factor will be evaluated based on how the game design creates a positive user experience. This may include how intellectually challenging, relaxing, stimulating or satisfying the game is. A key indicator for the fun factor will be the desire to keep playing.
  • Production Quality (20%) – Make your game world as polished as possible and hook your judges with exciting, entertaining action. Production quality will be evaluated based on how seamless the overall game play is, the quality of the assets used, and the structure, readability and level of documentation of the code.

Entry requirements
To take part in the Silicon Minds Warm-Up Challenge, you must:

  • Be 16 years or older.
  • Live in an eligible country/region. (For full eligibility requirements, see the Official Rules.)
  • Create and submit your game in English.
  • Game size limit: Single uploaded .zip file should not be more than 200MB

Happy Coding!