XNA Essentials

Game Programming for Xbox 360, PC + Windows Phone


Dream Build Play 2009 Challenge Submissions Due Today

Make sure that you get your XNA Game Studio 3.1 game submitted to the contest today. Show Microsoft what you have been working on for the last 4 months or more. Grand prize is $40,000. Do not wait until the last moment to try and upload your game. Head over to http://www.dreambuildplay.com/ and submit your game now!

Hope everyone does well!

If you submitted your game to the DBP competition and want to show off your work, feel free to post in the forums. The forum is also for any XNA work that has been done. Make sure to read the Showcase Guidelines before posting.

Happy Sharing!


Dream Build Play 2009 Challenge

Registration opened today for DBP 2009. Team registrations will open later in April.

If you have a game on Xbox LIVE Marketplace and you can still enter it into the competition. One of the winners of the first DBP competition, James Silva, just recently had his game published on Xbox LIVE Arcade. The title of the game is The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Go download and a trial and give it a whirl.

Get working on your own entry to win a huge amount of cash. Not only that, you can sell your game on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace as soon as it is ready!

Happy Coding!


XNA Game Studio 3.0 Beta

Hello XNA Game Studio 3.0 Beta! I'm excited that this is here.

Right on the heals of the Zune 3.0 software and firmware update today.

XNA GS 3.0 Beta allows us to develop games for our Zunes.  With the CTP that was released in the spring, the Zune device had to reboot anytime a game was closed.  Fortunately, they have made it so closing a game now doesn't require the device to reset itself.  I'm very happy about this, but I really wasn't expecting it.  I am sure it wasn't easy to make sure that no game was hogging up resources after it was closed. UPDATE: I was incorrect in the above praise. It seems the two games that were installed with the Zune 3.0 update (Texas Hold'em and Hexic) do not require a reboot, but normal XNA games do.

You can write code for the Xbox 360, but you can't deploy to it in the beta. We can compile our code for the Xbox 360 and that is helpful, but we can't deploy.

That reminds me ... the Dream Build Play contest is winding up.  Submissions have to be in by September 23rd.  As a reward for just submitting an entry, Microsoft is giving away a 4 month premium creators club membership.  That is $49 value - just for submitting an entry.

Again, to submit a game for DBP it needs to be an Xbox 360 project which means it needs to be compiled with XNA Game Studio 2.0.

So get a game submitted!

Free 1 Year XNA Creators Club Subscription

Well technically it is a Trial subscription, but it allows you to deploy games to your Xbox 360.  This is not a premium subscription, so you won't be able to submit games to the current beta site (for XNA Game Studio 3.0 CTP) or review other's games and you won't be able to download premium content like the Ship starter kit.  But, being able to deploy a game to your Xbox 360 for free is definitely a good thing!

How do you get this free subscription?  Easy - just sign up to be a part of the Dream Build Play competition.  The competition is only for Xbox 360 games (this is why Microsoft is giving away the subscription trials).  The grand prize winner will get $40,000!  That is a nice chunk of change.  The winner may also get to sign a deal with Xbox LIVE Arcade much like some winners from last year's competition.

So don't just stand there ... get the free subscription while it is available and start working on your entry!

Happy Coding!


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!


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!


Gamefest 2007 - Day 1

Gamefest 2007 - Day 1 was great!  Highlights of some of the things announced today are as follows:

  1. XNA Game Studio 2.0 is the only sku (no longer Express and never will be a Pro).
  2. XNA Game Studio 2.0 sits on top of all Visual Studio skus (Visual C# Express, VS 2005, etc)
  3. XNA Game Studio 2.0 will support networking via Xbox Live.  Certain things will not be available like Acheivements, Leaderboards and Matchmaking.  However, being able to network the Xbox 360 and Windows together in the same game is amazing.  Also, being able to easily setup code to either run a system link network game or over Xbox Live (and of course local multiplayer) is excellent.
  4. XNA Game Studio 2.0 includes Gamer Services (Gamer tags, gamer card, game defaults, privledges, etc)

Day 1 was great.  The top 20 of the Dream Build Play entries were absolutely awesome!  The XNA Framework simply rocks.  Go write great games!