Tag Archives : Xbox 360

Delivering the XNA Vision

Shortly after posting today’s morning coffee, I notice two “blogging advisories” in my inbox from the XNA team. They’re announcing two things: XNA Game Studio 3.0 and Xbox LIVE Community Games.

Given that there was an XNA Game Studio 1.0 and 2.0, news that there will be a 3.0 version releasing this holiday season isn’t what veteran bloggers like myself call “a surprise”. However, the news that XNA GS 3.0 is going to support development of Zune based games was quite a surprise. Rumors of a Microsoft hand held gaming device crop up every few months, but there’s never been any substance to them. The Zune isn’t really a handheld gaming device like the DS or PSP – the FAQ points out that it will take “creative thinking” to build a game for a device with a 240×320 display that’s designed for one hand use. Furthermore, Cesar “Zune Insider” Menendez points out that “Zune is a wireless music and video player first and foremost”.

Still, it’s pretty cool to think about what a Zune based game experience would be like. So far we know it’ll be 2D only and it have full access to any non-DRM music on the device. Also, it will be social – Zune XNA games will support wireless multiplayer with up to 8 players, though it doesn’t support cross-platform networking with Xbox and Windows. I can’t wait to see what the community does with this capability. I’ll definitely be getting a Zune now.

As for the Xbox LIVE Community Games, it’s something the XNA folks have been hinting at since last year. This is the announcement the XNA folks have been building towards since day one when they called XNA the “YouTube for videogames“. Very much unlike the retail or arcade Xbox channels, Community Games will be peer-reviewed by XNA Creators Club community members instead of Microsoft (though unsurprisingly, MS “reserves the right to reactively take down a game without prior notification”). You’ll even be able to sell your games, though details on that won’t be available until later in the year.

Like XNA GS 3.0, Community Games will be available “during the holiday 2008 season.” However, for the next month, Microsoft is offering a preview of Community Games, offering seven community developed games for free, including last year’s DreamBuildPlay co-winnerThe Dishwasher: Dead Samurai“. I can’t wait to get home and try them out.

IMO, this is a huge announcement. But what’s most impressive to me is how much they’ve accomplished in a fairly short time. XNA was only announced two and a half years ago. That’s amazing progress for a pretty small team. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Morning Coffee 147

  • My son Patrick turns five today. The big treat was his cousin Jack coming up for a visit. Here’s a picture of the two of them at Patrick’s party on Saturday. My wife has all the details on her blog. Update: My wife just posted a whole slew of Early Patrick Pictures.
  • If my son is five, it means this blog is also five – I started this blog about a month before Patrick was born. I never remember to mark the occasion until Paddy boy’s big day comes around.
  • Major props to the House of Representatives for growing a backbone and not caving to President 30% Approval on telecom immunity…yet. Personally, I’d like to see the House bury the measure completely, though I’m not holding my breath. But given that even the right-wing Washington Times reports “Analysts say FISA will suffice“, maybe the House Dems will do the right thing.
  • After tearing it up since Thanksgiving, the Caps have gone a little cold. 5-4-1 in their last ten and 2-2-1 in their last five. In the month of February, they’re 1-3-1 against SE division opponents. Good news is that they’re still even with Carolina (two points behind with two games in hand), half a game up on Atlanta, a game and a half up on Florida and two and a half games up on Tampa Bay.
  • Bill Gates announced a new program called DreamSpark to provide college students access to all of Microsoft’s developer and designer tools, including Visual Studio, Expression, SQL Server, Windows Server and XNA Creators Club membership. This looks like an outgrowth of the MSDN Academic Alliance program. I think it’s a great idea. Update: Looks like high-school students will be able to access the DreamSpark program too. However, since they’re minors, they have to get the software via their teachers. (via LiveSide)
  • The winners of the XNA Silicon Minds contest have been announced. Of the five winners, Specimen looks the coolest to me. I wish I had more time to get into game development. (Via LetsKillDave)
  • Speaking of game development, this week is the Game Development Conference, so be on the lookout for lots of game-related news. Xbox Live VP John Schappert is giving a keynote on “Unleashing the Creative Community”. XNA GM Chris Satchell said last year they would “announce full details on, and … vision for, opening XNA creations to the community” sometime this year. I’m guessing this is said announcement.
  • Speaking of Xbox, there’s a rumor that Microsoft and Netflix will announce this week that Netflix is bringing their Watch Instantly service to Xbox 360. If true, sign me up!
  • Grigori Melnik announces the GAX/GAT February 2008 final release. Key feature is VS08 support. Is it just me, or does calling it the “final release” make it sound like they won’t be upgrading GAX/GAT further?
  • Speaking of p&p, Grigori also announces the Feb 2008 CTP of Unity, p&p’s new IoC container. I’ve seem lots of folks echoing the announcement, but not much in the way of specifics on Unity itself. For example, Chris Brandsma describes IoC and mentions Unity, but he doesn’t cover any Unity specifics. :(
  • MSIT EA Nilesh Bhide has started blogging. His first post is on Customer perception of Service Quality in S+S/SaaS. I’ve worked closely with Nilesh in the past two years, so I’m excited to see him take to the blogosphere. (via Nick Malik)
  • I don’t know how I missed it, but the MSDN Code Gallery launched last month. As Charlie Calvert explained, this is logical successor to GotDotNet’s user samples area. Between Code Gallery and CodePlex, GotDotNet has finally been shuttered for good.
  • Telligent, makers of the very popular Community Server, have released Graffiti CMS, which looks like a more flexible content platform than Community Server. (via DNK)
  • In somewhat unexpected news (at least, unexpected by me) Microsoft has released specs for the Office binary file formats. I’m not sure why this is happening now, rather than say when we released the specs for the Open Office XML file formats. (via DNK)

Morning Coffee 144

  • I finished Mass Effect last night. I definitely need to play thru that one again, though I’ll probably wait until the new Bring Down the Sky DLC ships next month.
  • Caps won again last night, improving to 20-10-4 since changing coaches at Thanksgiving. They’re now at 57 points, taking the lead in the SE division with a full game on Carolina, Atlanta and Florida. Still a ways to go – 27 games left in the regular season – and things are far from “sewn up” but we’re a damn sight better off than we were in November.
  • Speaking of a horserace, looks like Clinton and Obama are in one after Super Tuesday. Their estimated delegate counts are basically tied. On the other side of the aisle, McCain opened up what is probably insurmountable lead – even though he has the right-wing media stars and Christian leaders against him. Money quote of the day:

“The real story of the night, when you look at their rallies and their turn-out numbers, is that the Dems have two strong candidates either of whom could lead a united party to victory. Forget the gaseous platitudes: in Dem terms, their choice on Super Duper Tuesday was deciding which candidate was Super Duper and which was merely Super. Over on the GOP side, it was a choice between Weak & Divisive or Weaker & Unacceptable. Doesn’t bode well for November.”
- Mark Steyn, National Review 
(via Carpetbagger Report, lest you think I regularly read National Review)

  • Charlie Calvert is starting a new series on the future of C#. First up: Dynamic Lookup. Probably most interesting is the news that the DLR “will be the infrastructure on which the C# team implements dynamic lookup”. Does this mean C# will target the DLR? Sure sounds like it. I think it’s a good addition, but I’m not a fan of the proposed syntax. (via Bitter Coder)
  • Brian McNamara saw me present @ LangNET and sent me a link to his blog. He’s building up a monadic parser combinator library in C# 3.0. This is basically the same concept that FParsec implements, though C#’s syntax is much less attractive than F#’s for this kind of code. However, Brian does a very good job explaining why monadic parser combinators are useful and making the idea accessible to the C# programmer (i.e. you don’t have to learn F# or Haskell to understand what he’s talking about). He also points to Luke Hoban’s C# 3.0 monadic parser implementation.

Morning Coffee 143

  • I’ve been sick for three days, hence the lack of posting around here.
  • As a Redskins fan, it’s hard to root for any other NFC East team. On the other hand, it sure was easy to root against the Patriots. Congrats to the Giants on their Super Bowl victory. Favorite headline: 18 and uh-oh!
  • Sounds like there’s cause for optimism regarding the writer’s strike. But is it already too late? Will the 9% drop in viewers ever come back? Personally, I think the studios have hastened their own irrelevance.
  • With last night’s win, the Caps are one game above .500. In and of itself, that’s nothing to be proud of – Coach Boudreau remarked when we reached .500 that the Caps had “officially reached mediocrity”. However, the Caps are the only team in the SE conference that’s above .500. If hockey used baseball standings, Carolina, Atlanta and Florida would each be 1/2 game back of the Caps. It’s going to be a fight to the finish.
  • In fairly big managed Ruby news, Wayne Kelly has decided to contribute to the IronRuby effort, effectively walking away from the Ruby.NET which helped get off the ground. One the one hand, obviously this is great for IronRuby. On the other hand, I liked the idea of multiple managed implementations of Ruby, so here’s hoping Ruby.NET doesn’t fade away.
  • Speaking of the DLR, I know I mentioned Martin Maly’s blog in my Lang.NET Morning Coffee Post, but I didn’t actually get to read his posts on targeting the DLR until I unexpectedly had several days off sick. If you are at all interested in writing your own language for the .NET platform: Go. Read. Now. You should also check out Tomas Restrepo’s blog, he has also started writing about targeting the DLR.
  • Larry O’Brien’s blog is currently offline, but he commented that he doubted my ToyScript F# parser would be more than 600 lines of code. Currently, the parser is clocking in at 287 lines of code plus about 50 more for the AST. It’s not done yet – see earlier statement about being sick – but I’m fixing bugs not writing additional code at this point. To be completely accurate, that’s 287 lines of FParsec code. It’s taken me a little bit to learn FParsec, but so far I’m pretty happy with it.
  • Scott Hanselman points to the new MS Deploy project, a tool for managing content and configuration on web servers. I’ve never understood why this wasn’t a standard part of IIS. It seems every hosting company I’ve used has rolled their own web-based management tool like DotNetPanel.
  • Oh yeah, Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 shipped Monday. Congrats!
  • I fired up Inside Xbox the other day, and there was a page about the new Disney Channel show “Phineas and Ferb“. Of course, with two kids under five, anything new on the Disney Channel is notable in my house. What made this blog-worthy is the fact that it’s directed and written by Dan Povenmire, who I knew from my USC days. I used to go see his band Keep Left and groan loudly at the bad puns in their song “PSA”. Dan, if you found this searching for yourself online: Awesome work, my kids love the show!

Morning Coffee 139

  • Big news on the WGA strike front: the AMPTP reached a deal with the Directors Guild last weeks. Initial reaction from United Hollywood is mixed, but I’m hopeful this will at least get the AMPTP / WGA talks started again.
  • Speaking of new media, Xbox 360 Fanboy has a rundown of 45 short films from Sundance that are getting released on Xbox Live Marketplace. That’s pretty a-typical content for XBLM. Typically, new content on XBLM has been from “Hollywood Heavyweights“. I’m pretty excited to see them branch out content wise.
  • Speaking of Xbox 360, seems they had a good year. Congrats!
  • Still speaking of Xbox 360, everyone gets a free copy of Undertow this week.
  • Scott Guthrie announces the availability of the .NET Framework Source Code. Shawn Burke has instructions for how to use it with VS08. So far, they’ve made the core base class libraries, ASP.NET, Windows Forms, WPF, ADO.NET and XML available. LINQ, WCF and WF are expected to become available “in the weeks and months ahead”.
  • Ted Neward wonders if Java is “Done” like the Patriots, or “Done” like the Dolphins? If you want my opinion (I’m guessing yes, since you’re reading my blog), definitely done like the Dolphins. OpenJDK was a desperation move to make Java “cool” again, but it won’t work. People who want an open source stack are using LAMP and language wonks who saw Java as mainstream SmallTalk have moved on to Ruby. The question will be if Sun buying MySQL will make Sun cool or MySQL uncool by association. I’m guessing the latter.
  • Speaking of Ted, he’s got a great post about the relevance of game programming to the mainstream or enterprise developer.
  • Speaking of game development, David Weller points to all the new XNA GS 2.0 content up on Creators Club Online.
  • There’s a new version ( of F# out, but no announcement from Don regarding what’s new. I reviewed the release notes, seems like this is primarily a bug-fix release with only very minor feature additions.
  • Speaking of F#, Don points to Greg Neverov’s implementation of Software Transactional Memory in F#. This immediately reminded me of Tim Sweeney’s Next Mainstream Programming Language talk. Tim suggested said language would need to support a combination of side-effect free functional code and software transactional memory. F# is looking to be closer to that language all the time.
  • Still speaking of F#, Don Syme’s Expert F# book is out. I read the draft version – it rocks – but I’m still going to get my own real copy. You should too.
  • With their win Saturday, the Caps are back to .500 for the first time since late October. Since Thanksgiving, the Caps are 15-7-4. Only four teams in the league have a better record over that time span. We play one of them tonight – the Penguins – and it’s on Versus, so I’ll even get to see it. In HD no less.