Xbox Takes Game Development to the Masses

Microsoft has made good on its promise to deliver to enthusiasts a basic development platform for aspiring game makers to produce their own games for the Xbox 360 system. In addition, it launched tools on Xbox Live that it hopes would make the process as easy as possible.

The Redmond company first announced its intentions to deliver the application in August. A Windows XP application, XNA Game Studio Express will allow anyone to try his or her hand at game development.

Microsoft says this is a boon for the industry - providing developers with a development option that does not require a large initial investment. While the application itself is free, a suscripton the XNA Creators Club would cost $49 USD for a four-month subscription, and $99 USD for one year.

Joining the Creators Club holds benefits to the developer: he or she would gain access to thousands of gaming code snippets from Microsoft and support from Microsoft's industry partners as well. Also included are white papers, starter kits, technical documentation and samples.

"When it comes to encouraging development on XNA Game Studio Express and through the XNA Creators Club, the limits are truly endless," Microsoft Game Developer Group general Manager Chris Satchell said. "What users will see today is just the beginning of the plans we have to revolutionize game development one creative game idea at a time."

XNA Game Studio Express is based on Visual C# and the .NET Framework. Other companies are also launching applications based on XNA; GarageGames' Torque X will allow for drag-and-drop development on XNA based games and is available in open beta.

To spur development using the application, Microsoft plans to hold a contest for the best game made on the platform. The winner will be published on Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft said.

"Xbox Live Arcade has opened up a wealth of new publishing opportunities for established and independent developers alike, so it made perfect sense to also extend this privilege to hobbyists and amateur programmers," Xbox Live Arcade group manager Greg Canessa said.

More information on the XNA platform is available from the MSDN Web site. XNA Game Studio Express is available for download from FileForum.

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