XNA Essentials

Game Programming for Xbox 360, PC + Windows Phone


XNA Game Studio 3.0 is coming

Spring 2008 is when the beta is supposed to be out ... Holiday 2008 is when it should be released.

I can't wait!

Some very exciting things are coming including:

Develop 2D games for the Zune



   Discussion Thread:


Deploy your Xbox 360 game to anyone on Xbox LIVE!



    Discussion Thread:


  General info on Game Studio 3.0


       Things to note is that VS2008 will be used.  I love VS2008, so this is great news.  I would love to be able to use some of the C# 3.5 language features, but it is unknown if any of that will be available yet.  Using LINQ to query a scene graph would be excellent fun!

Lots of information and as much as possible will be in my new book - Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed.  More details on that to follow ...

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!


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!


Forums "Added"

I wanted to announce that I look at Amazon's forums for this book.  So if there are any questions or comments, etc they can be directed there.

Amazon Forum for Microsoft XNA Unleashed

While I'm here, I should mention that I have been patiently waiting for another good review to come my way.  I have read good reviews on the web of the book, but none of those have made their way to Amazon.  A sampling of what I found ...






I am contemplating writing another book on a different subject as well as adding more content (tutorials) to this site and making a second edition of this book when the XNA Framework 2.0 comes out.  However, the last thing I want to do is provide a book that isn't valuable for the majority of people buying it.  If you enjoyed the book, would you consider writing a review on Amazon?  For that matter, if you didn't enjoy the book could you also write a review?  It would really help me determine if I should continue in the book authoring business or gracefully fade away ... Of course it would help others to know if they should separate with their hard earned money or not.

Happy Coding (and Reviewing)!


Gamefest 2007 - Day 2

Gamefest 2007 - Day 2 was good.  All of the big announcements happened on day 1, but it was very exciting to see the animation possibilities with the SOFTIMAGE|XSI Mod Tool.  The advanced debugging session was great!  I will probably create a tutorial on some of the advanced techniques discussed including one I didn't know about -- very cool.

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!

XNA Unleashed Shipping to Warehouses

This past Friday, the books were being completed at the printers and shipping out to the warehouses.  There were 'normal production delays' at the printers.  I later found out that the book was being printed at the same printer that printed the Harry Potter book.  What?  My XNA Unleashed title is held up due to a book with only 10 million back orders being printed?  What's up with that?! :)

The publisher got a small shipment in yesterday and overnighted me a copy.  So I am looking at the book now.  Hopefully Amazon will receive their copy soon and for the 10 million that have back ordered the book -- oh wait, wrong book -- well for the people who have pre-ordered this book, they should get their copy soon.

Shawn Hargreaves of the XNA Development team has posted a nice blurb about the book on his blog. Thanks Shawn!

Shawn did a fantastic job in being the technical editor of this book. Basically, if it is good - then it is because of Shawn. If it is bad, then it is because I ignored his advice! :)

If you haven't subscribed to this feed, well ... you should because it will have updates to the books as we find errors (what errors!?). Also, when any new demos or tutorials are added, this blog will have an update so you can be notified.

Happy Coding!


XNA Essentials Site Launched

Welcome to XNA Essentials!  This blog will be updated whenever the site is updated.  When new tutorials, updates to the book, downloads and other site information is updated, the blog will get an entry.  If you subscribe to the RSS feed then you can be notified when new content is available on this site.  I hope this site proves to be beneficial to the XNA Community!

Happy Coding!