I've been living in Juneau, Alaska for the past 7 years. I work in the IT field and recently got back into programming so I've been spending a lot of time futzing around with Microsoft's XNA Games initiative. I forgot that coding can be fun when you're not working on your umpteenth massive relational database.
I plan on trying to update this Blog at least weekly with XNA related posts. Since there isn't a lot of XNA news at this point a lot of it will be covering the issues I'm dealing with on my first attempt at making a game in XNA. Also, I'll be trying to review an XNA game on a semi regular basis once I have paid the $100 to be able to run XNA code on my 360.
This news is month old so it might be a little stale for those of you up to speed on whats up with XNA. For the uninitiated though there was a two part interview with Chris Satchell general manager of Microsoft’s game developer group on http://www.developmag.com the 2 part interview (Part 1 & Part 2) consisted of trying to open up Live! to allow there to be a section on it for all the XNA based games. Chris Satchell compared the idea to YouTube for XNA on Live! Sure it sounds like a great idea that I would love to have implemented on Live!, but it also opens up a whole series of questions.
Up to this point Microsoft has had the ultimate say of what can and can't be available on live. So if they try to create this XNA YouTube like idea is there going to be a submission or screening process and if there is it's most likely going to get even more bogged down than the XBLA certification process. There are some apps created by XNA coders like a ported NES emulator and a ported MAME emulator that smacks of copyright issues. Would something like that be available on the service, most likely not, but it sure would be fun.
Another issue is that up to this point to play any XNA games it required joining the XNA Creators Club at $100 (U.S.) per year. You were also required to compile the code yourself and then load it onto your 360. So would there be an option possibly with XNA 2.0 to create an executable that will run on the 360? Because right now if you want friends to test out (and hopefully enjoy) your games they either need to be part of the creators club (@ $100/year) or able to come over to your place to try out your game.
Finally there are the really obvious issues with XNA as YouTube on Live! While just about everyone can make video clips and upload them there is a very small fraction of people out there that can code in C#. So that already narrows down the potential user base of this initiative. The other issue, one that has made YouTube as big as it is today is that the submission process is totally open and free. You hear that Microsoft that dirty four letter F word is what makes YouTube, well... YouTube. Try not to forget that when you create you own XNA YouTube portal Microsoft.
Sorry, this first post is going to be about as interesting as that story your grandma told you at Thanksgiving dinner about catching the clap from that cute Navy guy on shore leave a week earlier. Yeah, I threw up in my mouth too when I heard the disturbing tale... but I'm already veering way off course here.
I've been avidly playing video games since my parents bought an Atari 2600 back in the Christmas of 1983. My father and I stayed up so late that first night playing rounds of Pac-Man on that magical POS known as the Atari 2600. At that point I was completely sold on video games. When I got into high school I took some programming classes and all the math and science courses I could. After graduating I went to the University of Fairbanks Alaska for programming. After a few years of taking programming classes and only being taught how to create my umpteenth massive relational database my excitement about programming had waned and I left Fairbanks.
Now almost 10 years later I hit a tipping point in my life. To make things simple we'll call it a pre-mid-life-crisis. I turned 30 this year and had 3 people very close to me die in the six weeks leading up to my 30th birthday. Turning 30 can be a mind fuck for a lot of people, but add onto that three people you are close to dieing and it made me become very, very introspective. You all know the standard rhetoric that creeps into your brain, "what am I doing with my life", "am I happy", "what is important to me", "If I could do anything I wanted what would it be?". So I began mulling over all my questions and one of the things that kept coming up was making video games.
Problem solving and puzzles have always been things I've loved and making a video game was the entire reason I took up Computer Science in college. I have a huge notebook that over the years I've filled with ideas and concepts as well as certain play mechanics and lots of physics equations. There's even a few notebooks where I fleshed out entire games including notes on A.I. and the intricacies of the play mechanics and the games various subsystems. So for about the past six months or so I've been hammering away on C# in the XNA framework. C# is the language that Microsoft choose to use for their XNA initiative which is a really nifty program. The idea was that average joe's (who knew a little programming) could use XNA to make games that are playable on the Xbox 360. So now I'm at the point where I've gone through most of their tutorials muddled around in the code base by myself for a while and now feel competent enough to try and begin building my first game from scratch in the XNA environment. Which leads me back to this blog on Destructoid. I'm saying right now that my first game is going to be complete ass. Rarely does anyone try to create something from scratch for the first time and end up with the Mona Lisa. The first game will be a learning process as well as a proof of concept where I can fill in the gaps of knowledge that I have in dealing with rendering graphics in a programming language and the pitfalls of trying to create A.I. and in game physics in C# which is a managed memory environment.
I plan to use this blog to talk about ideas and problems I'm having while coding my first game. I'll also be covering any news that deals with XNA. I'll be adding graphics and setting up this blog over the next week. So to anyone that stumbled upon this post and somehow managed to keep reading 'till this point thanks, and expect to start seeing regular updates here soon.