Xbox 360 manufacturer and tech giant Microsoft has announced that it has delivered a pre-release version of its first XNA Studio tools, intended to help streamline the game development process. It has unveiled the XNA Framework to attendees of the Game Developers Conference 2006 in San Jose, in the form of a 'Microsoft XNA' March 2006 DVD which is given to all attendees.
This preview represents the first public opportunity for game developers to get their hands on key components of XNA Studio. Included on the DVD is a pre-release version of XNA Build, which delivers mechanisms for orchestrating, debugging and optimizing the game build pipeline. XNA Build includes a foundation that helps developers identify game asset relationships and dependency information to unlock benefits including incremental content builds and assistance in identifying orphaned or unused content.
The XNA Framework itself contains a custom implementation of the Microsoft .NET Framework and new game-development-specific libraries, designed to help game developers more easily create cross-platform games on Windows and Xbox 360 using the C# programming language. Using the XNA Framework, game developers will benefit from the ability to re-use code and game assets in developing multiplatform titles, according to Microsoft, which has previously indicated that XNA components could theoretically be used to export to non-Microsoft game platforms.
In addition, the company formally announced that it is opening its Xbox Live Server Platform to game developers and publishers, allowing them to extend the Xbox Live experience in their titles. This move was previously revealed on Gamasutra last week, and enables enhanced online features programmed by developers themselves, and constructed without Microsoft (which runs Xbox Live) having to work directly on them.
According to Microsoft, developers will be able to tap into real-time Extensible Markup Language (XML) feeds to update things such as weather, rosters or other changing information. The Xbox Live Server Platform can also be used to support the creation of massively multiplayer online game worlds. Titles such as EA's Burnout Revenge include enhanced online functionality such as the Live Revenge feature and the Save and Share feature, made possible by functionality that will now be distributed through the Xbox Live Server Platform.
Gamasutra will be covering more of Microsoft's announcements live from GDC in San Jose this week on our dedicated GDC 2006 page.