No, not a typo – it’s not even a particularly funny joke. No, I’m talking about Microsoft’s new games development effort, XNA. In particular, the beta of XNA Express Edition which came out late yesterday afternoon (BST).
If you haven’t heard about XNA, then you should probably mozee on down to the XNA Developer Centre and the XNA Team Blog and read up on it. Basically, it’s what Managed DirectX evolved into, and the XNA Framework allows you to develop games for both Windows and XBOX 360 in one full swoop. With XNA, Microsoft’s actually made DirectX development a lot simpler but still as powerful, and this first beta of the Express Edition (which will allow anybody to try out games they’ve written with it on their own XBOX 360 for about $99 a year, or just on Windows for free – a better explanation can be found here) is actually looking very impressive.
The full release of Express Edition isn’t due until later this year, and this beta is for now missing the Content Pipeline which when it appears, should make it very easy to bring in various graphic assets (of particular interest to me is the use of the FBX format), but the beta is still well worth a play. All the coding for now is done with a little help of C#, a language Microsoft sees as being the one many will migrate to from C++ in the coming years, but I can live with that - there are plans to extend support in the future to other languages .
Microsoft appears to be taking games development very seriously (in a fun sort of way obviously), being able to develop for a console in this way is something that’s bound to be now worrying Sony and Nintendo. In fact, all this talk of XNA is almost enough to make me want to buy an XBOX 360. Oh no wait, crap – it IS enough .