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Microsoft's  LBP -Esque Game Construction Tool  Boku  Heading To Xbox 360?
Microsoft's LBP-Esque Game Construction Tool Boku Heading To Xbox 360?
November 3, 2008 | By Christian Nutt

November 3, 2008 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC

At its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft Research unveiled its project Boku, a PC and Xbox 360-based icon-driven tool designed to let users create their own games and using only an Xbox 360 controller.

The tool, which was itself created using XNA, appears to bridge the gulf between Microsoft's more complex XNA Game Studio language and the user-created content of games like Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation 3, which is governed by the game's stricter parameters.

Boku has been created to be compatible with both Xbox 360 and PC. Though it's not yet been announced when or how the project will be delivered to users, Gamasutra's sources have indicated that it's planned for an Xbox 360 release of some kind in 2009. (Coincidentally, Microsoft is about to open the Xbox Live Community Games download portal, which will showcase XNA-created titles of all kinds.)

Microsoft Research's page for the project says, "It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone." The programming language is completely icon-driven, with programs saved as logical lists of instructions -- in a manner that is vaguely reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII's Gambit system, which allowed for simple character A.I. programming.

However, Boku's rules will govern entire, original games, as it allows for more complex sets of rules -- for example, Boku has icons which cover concepts such as character movement and collision, item pick up, and control pad input.

A video presentation of Boku can be seen below:

The inspiration for the project was, according to a Seattle Times weblog post, Microsoft project manager Matthew MacLaurin's desire to bring the same fun he had writing games on his Commodore PET to the kids of today. "It was really this message in this moment that programming is actually a fun activity all on its own," MacLaurin said.

The program was originally demonstrated in a low-key manner in March 2007, and at the time, MacLaurin "said he was motivated to create the software by a desire to get kids away from passive TV-watching, and getting them to exercise their brains, in their very early, formative years."

According to Seattle Times' official inquiries, though the "specific roadmap" for the research-impelled product has not yet been decided, Microsoft has indicated that the product will have some form of trial in 2009.

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Mark Venturelli
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Oh my! This actually looks a lot more powerful than LBP, even though it's not nearly as charismatic. This was a surprise for me, looks very sharp.

Melvin Mckinney
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Will they ever lead the way on anything new or just keep mirroring Sony every move. I would cut the whole RD staff. They clearly don't have any imagination. It may or may not be more powerful than LBP but I'll still take LBP. One word..originally.

Mark Ludlow
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It's funny you should mention that Melvin, since Sony themselves are guilty of taking ideas from other sources, such as avatars in Home (Miis), the recent patent filing for a motion control device (Wii controllers), the whole dashboard thing (Who knows which of the three consoles came up with that first). I'm pretty sure the whole console and handheld thing was done before they came up with the PSP and PSX too... Pedantic and silly, yes, but the point is, to succeed in a business, you need to continually offer something better than or more desirable than your competitors so long as you don't explicitly infringe on copyright laws.

Anyway, from the sounds of it, they are simply building on what they already have in terms of XNA, and they are copying things like Game Maker and Flash (5 and earlier) more than LBP. I'm interested to see what they come up with though.

Michael Kamper
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Everybody steals from everybody else. There should be nothing surprising about this.

Melvin Mckinney
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Sony is not perfect but they will step out on limb to introduce something new verses saying hmm let's copy that idea and it our own. I think people are into 360 because it's not Sony with great games. If they wanted a PS3 and it's games they buy one. I just think there's alot of fear there even though they are doing very well. The more the copy the more I don't want it. No point.

Nikolaj Leischner
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"Stealing from one source is theft. Stealing from many is research."

I don't see an argument for any of the console vendors to be "worse" in that regard than the others. Copying and improving on the ideas of others is done all the time and it is the way most inventions and innovations happen.

Jason Bain
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With all due respect, Sony did not even innovate a title for their console ;)

PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP ...

Jake Romigh
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It will sell.

Christian Nutt
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This has nothing to do with LBP -- that's just a handy comparison to give people a frame of reference. It's actually a much different piece of software. It should be apparent from just reading the article or watching the video.

Mickey Mullasan
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I see a lego-like heightfield in all those demos. No love for platforms? What would be really cool is if instead of just a heightfield they let you do lego-like free volumes. With the right compression scheme for keeping the memory low when storing arbitrarily shaped volume like structures, it could go off pretty sweet.

Alan Rimkeit
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It will sell, but it will not sell consoles like LBP.