Well the big announcement is out. XNA Express is a great new development environment that lets ordinary programmers write games for the Xbox 360. For as long as there have been dedicated boxes for game programming it has required a lot in the way to resources to write game programs for them. Generally it requires special hardware and very special and very expensive software to develop games for PSP, Game Cube, the origional Xbox and well you name it. In fact not only to you have to have the money for all this stuff you have to have developed a successful commercial game before most companies will even sell you the stuff you need. But now XNA Express changes all of that.
And yes this does have academic applicability. From the press release:
From students at colleges, universities and high schools of the future to the proverbial “guys in the garage,” Microsoft XNA Game Studio Express will liberate anyone with a great game idea to create titles for Xbox 360 and Windows XP simultaneously. More than 10 universities and their game development schools — including University of Southern California, Georgia Tech College of Computing and Southern Methodist University Guildhall — have already pledged to integrate console game development and XNA Game Studio Express into their curricula for the first time, and Xbox 360 will be the only console at the center of all coursework.
The XNA Express package will be a free download and will require Visual C# Express. Right "out of the box" you will be able to develop software for the PC (one reason I own an Xbox 360 controller even though I haven't bought an Xbox 360 yet). For $99 one gets tools, tutorials, and other resources to extend that to the Xbox 360.
This is going to change the way people think about game programming and dedicated game boxes.
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