What I Learned at XNA

So, Microsoft and their DirectX team, being the geniuses that they are, have come up with a new product, XNA Studio Express which is rather good. I went to the launch event at Warwick uni thru the MSP programme. Here’s what I learnt.

1. XNA is a great technology
The demos that they showed were amazing. Literally, 5 lines of code got some components loaded and everything sorted for windows or Xbox 360 and you’ve got a spinning cube lit with phong shading. All this ease makes you able to focus on gameplay instead of fiddling around with rendering modes etc. Also, the ability to compile for either Xbox or windows with a few minor chanegs is amazing.

2. Peter Molenyeux is a great man
He really knows his onions. He’s a great speaker and has a clear vision. It’s all about positivity and drive. Playing about with something until its fun, concentrating on the gameplay rather than graphics or using the physics to make gameplay features.

3. If you want to develop games, you MUST know C++
Talking to the people at Rare, Microsoft and Peter, they all said, you’ll still need to know it for the next 5 years. XNA is great, C# is one of the easiest languages to learn ever, BUT, you can’t get all the hardware access (apparently, XNA is 95% of the XDK (Xbox dev toolkit. It’s currently missing the networking layer)) and pointers are essential if you’re really pushing the envelope of what it can do. Until the CLR is at 99% of C++ native performance and XNA allows full hardware access, people won’t change. Apparently, using XNA, the games at the moment are CPU limited rather than GPU limited. PPC cores were never really good for games 😀

4. Academics should not be allowed to be funny
They are not funny, the best joke had the punchline “why the long face”

5. I want an Xbox 360
But apparently, Santa can’t fit one in his sack. Lousy santa


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Steve Workman

Steve Workman is the Head of Web Engineering at Yell. He is also an organiser for London Web Standards is an occasional public speaker, talking about web performance and web standards

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