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March 20, 2006

Microsoft unveils XNA Framework, Xbox Live Server Platform

Posted by David Hunter at 12:11 PM ET.

Press release:

In the face of escalating game development costs, expanding teams and ever more complex hardware technologies, Microsoft Corp. today delivered a pre-release version of the first XNA™ Studio tools and unveiled the XNA Framework to attendees of the Game Developers Conference 2006 in San Jose. Microsoft also announced that the company is opening its Xbox Live® Server Platform to game developers and publishers, allowing them to innovate and extend the Xbox Live experience in their titles.

XNA Studio represents a set of tools and technologies Microsoft is building to help streamline and optimize the game development process.

This community technology preview (CTP) represents the first public opportunity for game developers to get their hands on key components of XNA Studio.

The XNA Framework 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 highly productive C# programming language.

In addition to XNA Studio, Microsoft today announced further enhancements for extending Xbox Live services with the Xbox Live Server Platform. Using this platform, developers can create their own back-end servers to run alongside Xbox Live. Developers will get firsthand experience with this update — which provides easier-to-manage and more scalable technology on Xbox Live — in the next Xbox Development Kit, expected in May. Microsoft Game Studios’ blockbuster Xbox 360 game, “Project Gotham Racing® 3,” offers an early example of how these services can work; up to 30,000 gamers can easily watch other racers play in real time through Spectator Mode. More recently, in the stunning “Burnout: Revenge” from Electronic Arts Inc., the Live Revenge feature and the Save and Share feature were made possible by functionality that will now be distributed through the Xbox Live Server Platform.

Just to be completely clear, “cross-platform” or “multiplatform” in the XNA context only means Windows PC and Xbox 360 games which isn’t unexpected and is useful. I do wonder though how many game developers will really use C# for any significant portion of their code. The Xbox Live Server Platform looks like an interesting idea.

Filed under Beta and CTP, Microsoft, Tools, XNA, Xbox

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