San Jose (CA) - Microsoft today unveiled a pre-release version of the first its XNA Studio tools and framework which is designed to create a common development platform for Windows and Xbox 360 games. There will be also a common controller which will allow PC users to play against console gamers.
The first community technology preview (CTP) released at the Game Developers Conference 2006 arrives two years after Bill Gates revealed at GDC 2004 that Microsoft is working on a technology that would bring a "powerful next-generation software development platform." XNA promises to streamline several development steps and, according to Microsoft, "XNA lets developers focus on game design, instead of writing mundane, repetitive boilerplate code."
The CTP includes "key components" of XNA Studio and Framework. In this first stage, Microsoft plans to expose game developers to its new idea and intends to gather "as much feedback as possible." The company promises developers that Studio will provide a "more efficient" way to create new games with more features, by reducing the time to develop maintaining an internal tools infrastructure. The XNA Framework represents a custom implementation of the .NET Framework with new libraries to develop cross-platform games for Windows and Xbox 360.
While developers are expected to crank out more games in less time, users may be seeing benefits of XNA in the not too distant future. The technology will decrease the amount of differences between PC and console games and will enable PC users to play against Xbox 360 owners in online multiplayer games. Microsoft also announced the addition of the "Xbox Live Server Platform" to its Xbox Live services. Using this platform, developers can create their own back-end servers to run alongside Xbox Live. According to the company, the service will offer new capabilities, such as a "spectator mode" for up to 30,000 users in games such as the upcoming Project Gotham Racing 3.