Microsoft Unifies Game Development Under XNA

Move over DirectX, Microsoft is unifying game development under XNA. XNA is Redmond's solution to the growing complexity and cost of game development triggered by advances in hardware design and the pervasiveness of broadband Internet access.

With XNA, Microsoft is encouraging the gaming industry to adopt a system of interchangeable, interoperable software tools and technologies. From DirectX to middleware to game developers, XNA promises to create a common environment for development tasks across all Microsoft platforms.

Once the XNA initiative takes hold, Microsoft will begin to consolidate disparate sets of technologies resulting from its entrance into the game console market. Windows game developers will receive Xbox Live development tools and other utilities previously available only for Xbox, such as PIX and XACT.

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On the flipside, Windows High-Level Shader Language will soon be coming to Xbox. Visual Studio and DirectX will remain the foundation of both environments.

Microsoft is also seeking to develop a common controller reference design to enable the production of cross-platform input devices by standardizing APIs and button controls.

"Because it's software, we can add new and improved XNA tools consistently, spurring continuous innovation in games. Developers won't have to wait for new silicon to enjoy the latest advances," said Dean Lester, general manager of Windows Graphics and Gaming Technologies at Microsoft.

So far, over 20 middleware and game developers have signed onto the XNA strategy. Windows, Xbox and mobile games will all be developed in Microsoft's new ecosystem. Microsoft's J Allard, XNA's primary architect, will oversee and drive XNA adoption throughout the company.

"The benefit to gamers will be dramatic leaps in production quality and gameplay for the next-generation Xbox and the next generation of Windows," said Lester.

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