XNA Game Studio 2.0 supports the “up-level” versions of Visual Studio 2005. This was the number-one request we received from the community. Visual C# 2005 Express Edition is still available as an option, but now XNA Game Studio 2.0 works with all the other versions of Visual Studio 2005 as well.
In fact, the Setup program will install XNA Game Studio 2.0 into both the Express and the non-Express versions of Visual Studio 2005 automatically. Now all of the functionality available in Visual Studio 2005 is available to XNA Game Studio 2.0, ranging from source control to multithread debugging to third-party add-ons.
The XNA Game Studio 2.0 Content Pipeline has numerous improvements as well. First, content now resides in its own project inside Visual Studio 2005. This allows you to set the references to the Content Pipeline DLLs specific to your content. If you have created your own Content Pipeline DLLs, these references can be set using the familiar references dialog box instead of having to set them in an unrelated project properties screen. We have included a new project template for C# that sets up everything you need to create your own Content Pipeline importers and processors, including the initial code and classes.
We’ve also added the capability to pass parameters to Content Pipeline processors. These parameters correspond to individual properties on individual pieces of content. This allows you to create, for example, a single texture format processor and specify the individual formats for each of your textures in the properties associated with the texture content entries in Visual Studio 2005. In XNA Game Studio Express, you would have had to write a separate processor for each texture type you wanted to create and manually changed the processor for each texture in Visual Studio 2005.
Visual Studio 2005 now understands the differences between the Xbox 360 and Windows platforms. We provide a tool to help convert projects between Windows and Xbox 360, and a single solution can now contain both a Windows project and an Xbox 360 project. The platform drop-down menu in Visual Studio 2005 shows you which platform you are currently targeting, which helps remove any ambiguity.
For XNA Game Studio 2.0 projects, there is also a new toolbar element that allows you to manage multiple Xbox 360 consoles for debugging and deployment. The Device Manager shows you all of the Xbox 360 consoles available for debugging or deployment from that Windows computer.
The Device Manager is available outside of Visual Studio 2005 as well; you can run the Device Manager from the Windows Start Menu entry for XNA Game Studio 2.0 and pick the Xbox 360 console to deploy a .ccgame file to without running Visual Studio 2005 at all! It can also resolve key exchanges, making it even easier to associate an Xbox 360 console with a given computer.
All of the above features mentioned for Visual Studio 2005 work in both the Express and “up-level” SKUs.