Alongside its latest update to XNA Game Studio, Microsoft reveals a name change for Xbox Live Community Games: Aiming to increase "understanding and discoverability" of titles on the service, it'll now call it Xbox Live Indie Games.
The name change will appear on the consumer side of Xbox Live sometime after late July, according to official Microsoft statements on its official XNACG website
Microsoft also revealed
that, in response to user feedback, it would add user ratings to both community games and "much of the Xbox Live marketplace content", including Xbox Live Arcade and game add-ons. Ultimately, the company will add the ability for users to sort content by rating.
The company also says that it's also incorporated user feedback into its decision to upgrade the whole Xbox Live service for performance and stability, enhanced friends sorting and improved matchmaking support.
These additions and the User Ratings update have no set release date, but Microsoft says they're expected some time in the Fall.
Getting into technical specifics, XNA Game Studio 3.1 adds several new features to the community-oriented game creation toolset, including support for Xbox Live avatars, eight-way Xbox Live Party group chat and video playback in games.
Notably, you will now be able to "render and animate Avatars to use in your game to represent gamers and other characters within your game", according to Microsoft. (This feature was previously reserved only for retail and Xbox Live Arcade games.)
In addition, Xbox Live Indie Games will now support Xbox Live Party, which "...enables gamers to communicate, even when each gamer is not playing the same game in the same multiplayer session."
Video can be used for splash and logo scenes, cut scenes or in-game video, and the feature's new XNA Framework APIs support fullscreen playback, video playback to simple textures, start-stop playback control, and more.
A full list of updates to XNA Game Studio 3.1 is available on Microsoft's official 'What's New?' website
for the application, which is free to download but requires a $99 yearly Creators Club Online subscription to upload games to Xbox 360.