Welcome to this first feature as part of the Microsoft XNA portal at
Gamasutra. XNA is Microsoft's collection of software and services
designed to assist all types of developers in creating games for an
expanding set of platforms. That definition covers a lot of ground,
but these days, so does XNA itself.
XNA was first announced at GDC 2004 in
San Jose, CA. J Allard introduced XNA as an initiative to create a
common set of development tools across Xbox and Windows. The
announcement was accompanied by a great deal of excitement and some
Meanwhile, the .NET Compact Framework
(NetCF) team had succeeded in porting the NetCF to the Xbox 360
console. Having the NetCF on Xbox 360 opened up the possibility of
managed-code and specifically community-built games on the console
due to the protected sandbox environment the console provided.
When the XNA Team found out about the
NetCF port, they saw that managed-code could radically simplify the
game-development process and make it accessible to people who
otherwise would never be able to develop viable games in today's
market. XNA was no longer only about solving the common issues faced
by game developers. XNA was about redefining who could be a
In Fall of 2006, the team released XNA
Game Studio Express 1.0. The response from the community was
tremendous; we had hit on something big. At the time of writing,
we’ve had over 750,000 downloads of XNA Game Studio Express and the
number continues to rise steadily. An even more pleasant surprise was
the response from the academic world: students are hungry to learn
game development. There are now more than 300 universities worldwide
that incorporate XNA Game Studio Express in their curricula.
Because of the success of XNA Game
Studio Express, many people now consider XNA to be synonymous with
managed-code and community game development. However, the greater
part of XNA is actually focused on ensuring that professional
developers have the very best support and most productive development
tools to create amazing native-code games for Xbox and
Windows. The folks in the XNA group create the Xbox 360 Development
Kit and the DirectX SDK, which include tools like PIX, and the C++
and HLSL compilers for Xbox.
Just like the XNA Game Studio team, this
side of XNA is passionate about enabling developers and justifiably
proud that their technologies and tools are far-and-away the leading
choice for professional game developers. This work is as much a part
of XNA as is managed-code; XNA encompasses the entire continuum of
game development: platforms (Windows, Xbox 360, mobile), languages
(managed-code, native-code), and developers (students, hobbyists,
independents, and professionals).
This site is about XNA, all of XNA.
We'll bring you articles that are focused entirely on native-code
development techniques, written by the XNA team members who assist in
the development of AAA titles, such as Halo 3 and Gears of
War. You can also expect to see articles that discuss Xbox 360
architecture and development considerations. And of course, we'll
have lots of information about XNA Game Studio as well.
Speaking of XNA Game Studio, we have
just released XNA Game Studio 2.0. This is a big step forward for us in
democratizing the game development process. With XNA Game Studio 1.0,
we opened up the console to the community. The 2.0 release sees us
open up the LIVE service on both Xbox and Windows, and early next
year we will have some big news on the third and final step toward
truly empowering the community. This month, Frank Savage, development
manager for XNA Game Studio, will discuss what’s new in XNA Game
Studio 2.0 and how we’ve evolved the product to suit the needs of
professional developers as well as hobbyists. Take it away, Frank.
Chris Satchell, General Manager