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SoCoder -> Blogs Home -> Blogs

Created : 15 May 2007

XNA - so what?

I have been following the recent hype about the new XNA API from Microsoft and I really wonder what it is all about? Because basically it's just a higher-level managed DirectX with a better content pipeline. But nevertheless it's still not more than a API!
You still need to code your own engine to make proper use of it (that means: more than just some 2D games and 3D demos). To put it on your 360 you also need to pay Microsoft. $99 per year, is it really worth it? Who pays $99 just to see a homebrew game on a console (let alone the fact that 90% of the hobby game developers never finish anything).
Yesterday I was thinking of dismissing all of my current tools to give C# and XNA a go. But I realized that I've got 3 tools that will be enough for any game development needs I have: PureBasic, Leadwerks engine and Cobra. Do I really need more? Is XNA even worth more? Is it worth the time you need to spend to learn that Microsoft marketing API together with the Microsoft version of Java?
I don't think so! XNA might be cool for the homebrew scene and certain indie developers that are experienced enough to target the console market. The rest should first finish some projects on their PC (most of them won't even finish Tetris).



Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 07:34
Just like a lump of cheese, XNA will mature with age.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 07:47
Just because someone has a fancy graphics engine, doesn't mean their any more likely to finish a game.

Although I haven't used XNA, I have been learning Managed DirectX. I have to say it's easier to get into then OpenGL, and reportedly simpler then DirectX. With OpenGL a common choice for many hobbyists to use, XNA then has it's place as something simpler. It also doesn't suffer from problems I had caused by the cross-platform and cross-language design of OpenGL.

Also, is this opinion not a little biased by your dislike of object-oriented languages? I know my support for Managed DirectX is, because of my preference of them.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 08:33
It's not biased by my (as you name it) "dislike" of oo languages. It's simply fact that it's more easy to finish a project with an engine than with an API. Point. That's why engines are sold. That's why Epic generates lots and lots of money from Unreal Engine 3. Before Leadwerks engine was official released I did include files for .Net languages. Yes, I like languages more if you're not forced to use objects (C++ is an exception, I just think it's a very bad extension to C) but that doesn't mean I dislike oo programing in general. Please note that this blog entry wasn't about comparing XNA to other APIs. I really think it can be a good choice for engine programers that used DirectX in the past. But I can't see why every little hobby coder is so excited about it. One could think Microsoft would be giving out an next gen engine for free.

@steve: that won't help XNA being more than just a API like DirectX (in fact you could say it's the successor to Managed DirectX).
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 08:41
power mousey
no hard feelings steve
no hard feelings Diablo
no hard feelings f4ktor

but I'll stay with Blitz3d.
and go Nuclear soon. Nuclear Basic.
and a few other things coming up..
in the fuuuuuture.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 08:55
@ f4ktor...
Correct, yes it will be the successor to MDX, but it is still a good way of getting onto to "Pro languages" ladder. BTW, XNA is not only for the little hobby coder. On one forum/blog, I saw a thread that said even Pro software houses are getting interested, and starting in 2008/2009 it's going to go Pro. When it does go Pro, it will generate a lot of revenenue for the coders that know how to use it. That's why I'm learning XNA/C# now, while it is still in it's infancy. If people start to learn XNA now, they will be able to use it to it's full potential by the time it does go Pro.

@ Diablo...
If you are interested in XNA, all I can say is "Go For It !" . XNA is quite easy to learn. Just a couple of months ago, I knew nothing about C#, or OOP, but now I'm learning quite a lot of stuff that I never knew before.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 08:58
@ The great squeeky one...

Don't worry Bro, I'm not going to abandon Blitz3D .
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 09:55
@steve: XNA will go pro. In terms that new engines will have an XNA layer for better 360 porting. How many different "pro" engines do you know that are popular? I know 4 and they take up nearly 90% of the engine market. So how many coders will have advantages when XNA goes pro? Right, 4 at least, 12-20 at max. Did you took a look at the usercount of the XNA forums? Most of the XNA users will have no advantage or better chances to go pro with XNA. Instead C# and XNA development takes a lot longer to learn than picking up a halfway decent engine and coding that. I really think if you want to go pro: learn LUA, C script or Unreal script (which is BASIC). That'll really help you!
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 10:02

I understand your views, but the message that I'm trying to get across is... The more people that play around with XNA, the more chance there is of a demand for console manufacturers to let the indies have a slice of the cake.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 10:32
That's right for sure! I also didn't want to rant about XNA. I just think there should be less tutorials on how to code XNA and more engines using XNA so the programers can use XNA without having to directly code in it.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 10:53
f4ktor ...with a better content pipeline.

Not really, actually. XNA is aimed towards hobbyists, and there is no hobbyist that wants a content pipeline. It forces eventual artists to download Visual Studio and compile the project in order to test any changes they make to the graphics. That doesn't make any sense, does it?

Also, I don't like XNA either, but you should really stop being that angry and cool down a bit.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 11:55
What if people do want to code in it? I was bringing in OpenGL to the debate to try to show how XNA can have a place with hobbyists, since so many use OpenGL. Nehe and the Blitz Max section of the forums Blitz forums as two pieces of evidence. XNA being easier then OpenGL, with more stuff, gives it a place.

With C#, an easy garbage collected language makes it simpler to learn and use then DirectX.

At the very least all those hobbyists who don't finish a project will learn something new from using a different graphics API. That is a good thing if you want to get into the industry. So is completing projects, but showing you know how to program using a lower-level API is also good.

XNA is also in programming terms, very new. I'd wait a while before you make any judgements. Maybe the XNA graphics engine is in development as we speak, and just around the corner. Maybe not, but it was only 6 months ago that it was in Beta.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 13:04
Yeah, just like Microsoft developed the DirectX engine
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 14:19
power mousey
wow, keep it coming guys.

this is all good and informative reads.

all with various and differing opinions,statements
and with a cool attitude of 'agree to agree' and
'agree to disagree'.
Maybe...I'll another look over at both C# and also XNA.
And also look into this LeadWerks engine too.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 15:08
I think the main issue, here, is that this is Yet Another new set of commands and bits of structure from MS.
Surely it isn't that hard to get a bit of normality to all of this, so that it's not essential to keep relearning everything.
I mean, I can jump from Amiga Blitz to PC BB to B3D and up to Max without learning that much new stuff, and that's a huge 12-ish years worth of improvements.

Or, even better.. Surely it's about time MS came up with a nice simple easy to use Basic again.

But otherwise, yes. Finally allowing real hardware coding, for homebrew developers is a step in the right direction.
But charging $99 "Per Year" to do it... .. A one-off "Homebrew Unlock" key might be better. Or even better still, having it unlocked already, and giving people a set maximum for coding within. Like a 15Mb limit per game. (so you couldn't possibly start pirating games using the limit)
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 16:55
It does not really bother me if XNA dont succeed. I've still been having lots of fun trying to learn it .
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 16:57
Ere f4ktor... Why dont you learn XNA, and then make a game engine to use with it .
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 18:36
Because I've got a decent OpenGl game engine already that runs without XNA and .Net frameworks installed on my customers computer. It's called "Leadwerks engine".
Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 19:05
Yeah cool... But does Leadwerks run on XBOX 360 ?. And just for curiosity, is Leadwerks easy to learn ?. I'm willing to have a crack at that too if it is.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 02:29
power mousey
hey, steve.

Lets see if the the Lead werks.

Lets both have a go at it. True.

power mousey
Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 02:41
The engine is very easy to learn. You can either use the BlitzMax module or the build in scripting language which basically is almost the same as Blitz BASIC. There will be a DLL version in the future to interface with nearly every language. I will do the PureBasic include and maybe even the Visual Basic 2005 one. There is a demo version, you should check it out.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 03:17
power mousey
thank you, f4ktor.
very much too. True!

I thought there was a Pure Basic DLL or interface.
wow!!, I didn't know you were going to write it.
Nor the fact that there will be a DLL version to
interface with almost all languages.

Definitely, check it out.
If you say so and recommend it..
then I certainly check it out.

Coming from you, thank you bro.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 06:11
Well, it's not that "wow" to write the PureBasic interface file (but thanks ^^), since I have seen and written a few DLL interfaces for PureBasic already =)
Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 08:56
power mousey
I haven't used Pure Basic in such a long time.
And....I have not really gone into much depth with it.
So I don't know how to make or create DLLs with
the Pure.

so, its a wow and wonder to me. <.V.>

by the way....88 percent downloaded of demo of LeadWerks too.

|edit| 100 percent of Lead downloaded. Now will try out the Werks. But this coming friday, probably. Now back to sleep I go. The Bedlam of Breeze. God bless and good night, all. |edit|