XNA finally starting to deliver on the promise of game development for the masses.
At Gamefest 2006, Microsoft announced that it will release XNA Game Studio Express, a tool that gives Average Joes the ability to create their own Xbox 360 and Windows XP games. The tool will be available for free for PC development, and for a mere $99 users will also be able to build, test, and also share their games on the Xbox 360. How that will be done remains to be seen, but we're guessing a new area on Xbox Live will be created for user-created titles. The studio will also give access to a wealth of materials to help speed up the game development process, with the environment based on Visual Studio Express and .NET. A beta should be available on August 30th.
“XNA Game Studio Express will ignite innovation and accelerate prototyping, forever changing the way games are developed,” general manager of the Game Developer Group Chris Satchell said. “By unlocking retail Xbox 360 consoles for community-created games, we are ushering in a new era of cross-platform games based on the XNA platform. We are looking forward to the day when all the resulting talent-sharing and creativity transforms into a thriving community of user-created games on Xbox 360.”
Ten colleges have already integrated the tool into their curricula, and even GarageGames has migrated its Torque Shader Engine and Torque Game Builder 2-D to the platform.
“Great game ideas are incubating in the minds of students everywhere,” said Michael Zyda, director for Gamepipe Labs at the University of Southern California. “With XNA Game Studio Express, Microsoft is investing in these next-generation innovators, creating the canvas for dreamers to express their powerful game ideas. In incorporating XNA Game Studio Express and Xbox 360 consoles into our Gamepipe program, USC will be able to better provide game studios and publishers around the world with a newfound wellspring of talent and opportunity. It’s ingenious.”
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