Program Manger - XNA Community Game Platform
One of the biggest features in the upcoming release of XNA Game Studio is the ability to create networked games over Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows® - LIVE. We thought we'd take some time to explain what you can do and what you need to do it. Before we dive into exactly what you can do with networking, let's define a couple of commonly used terms:
- System Link: This form of networking uses your local subnet to find and join other game sessions and can use local profiles (not Xbox LIVE gamertags) to accomplish this.
- Xbox LIVE/Games for Windows - LIVE: This form of networking uses Xbox LIVE matchmaking to find and join other game sessions and uses your Xbox LIVE gamertag to accomplish this.
Let's take a look at the common things you might want to do:
"I want to create a game that uses networking between my computer and my Xbox 360 console."
This requirement is no different from what need to run an XNA Framework game on the Xbox 360. All you'll need is a LIVE Silver Membership and an XNA Creators Club Membership. On your computer use a local System Link profile, while on your Xbox 360 console use the System Link option when creating and searching for game sessions.
"I want to create a game that uses networking between two of my Xbox 360 consoles."
This would require that you have two LIVE Silver Memberships and two XNA Creator Club Memberships. Again, this is no different from what is required to run a non-networked game on multiple Xbox 360 consoles at once. As above, use the System Link option when creating and searching for game sessions.
"I want to create a game that uses networking between my Xbox 360 console and my friends’ Xbox 360s consoles."
This scenario has slightly different requirements. Because you are now using Xbox LIVE to connect your console and your friends’ consoles, you must both have LIVE Gold Memberships. This is the same requirement for any multiplayer Xbox LIVE game on the Xbox 360 today. In addition, you and your friend both need to have XNA Creators Club Memberships. You can use the Player Match option to create and find game sessions.
"I want to create a game that uses networking between two of my Windows-based computers."
First, note that you would need two computers to do this, as we do not support simultaneous instances of a networked game on a single development computer. No membership of any kind would be required for this. Just create a Local Profile on each computer and you can run your multiplayer game! Use the System Link option when creating and searching for game sessions.
"I want to create a game that uses networking between my Windows-based computer and my friend’s Windows-based computer."
If you plan on using any of the Xbox LIVE functionality, you need an XNA Creators Club Membership on a gamertag on your computer. In this scenario, you and your friend need the same memberships as you would for the Xbox 360 console to Xbox 360 console scenario. That is, LIVE Gold Membership plus an XNA Creators Club Membership.
You may be wondering why we don't allow users to use Games for Windows - LIVE without having an XNA Creators Club membership? We have a strict requirement to keep the servers both secure and make sure that XNA Framework games aren't preventing other users from enjoying all that LIVE has to offer. If we allowed everyone to use the Games for Windows - LIVE servers, we would compromise the quality of service for those who use it with Game for Windows LIVE titles.
Hopefully, from the scenarios above you can see that almost everything has the same requirements as it did before. We did a lot of work to make sure that the most common method (computer to Xbox 360) works without you needing additional LIVE Memberships or XNA Creators Club Memberships.
For more information about your options around networking over Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows – LIVE, check out the XNA Game Studio documentation, where we continue to expand our coverage. If you have a concern or question, leave a comment and we'll try to address it.