Microsoft MVP for Another Year!

On October 1st, 2010 I was awarded Microsoft MVP status for another year of helping developers with Microsoft’s 3D related technologies of DirectX and XNA, although mostly DirectX. This marks the 9th consecutive year in which I’ve been awarded MVP status. In these past 9 years we’ve watched the PC’s graphics card make the transition from something that might not have hardware accelerated vertex processing to the array of parallel processors in the current generation of graphics cards. Besides the obvious addition of more shader cores on the GPU, what will the next 9 years hold for the PC’s graphics card? Will image-based and video-based rendering become commonplace and mainstream? Will 3D finally penetrate into the display, removing that pesky Z divide in the projection matrix? Its hard to say, but as always, it will be interesting to find out!

XNA Game Studio 4.0 Released

Download. Now you can get the Xbox 360 and Windows version as well as the version for Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools Beta

Microsoft released the Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools Beta yesterday. Be sure to read the release notes as lots of things have changed since the April Community Technology Preview release.

Windows Phone Developer Tools for VS 2010 RTM

The Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP has been refreshed to work with the released version of Visual Studio 2010. You can read about additional updates to the tool suite on the linked page. Remember to uninstall the previous version of the developer tools first before installing the new version. (RTM is Redmond-speak for the version of a product released to manufacturing.)

EAE Demo Day and Machinimafest ’10: April 30th, 2010

The following events will take place on April 30th, 2010 at the University of Utah:

Time Location Event
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM WEB 130 (map) EAE Demo Day
3:15 PM – 5:00 PM Dumke Auditorium,
Utah Museum of Fine Arts,
Marcia and John Price Museum Building (map)
Machinimafest ‘10

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From the XnaTouch project web site on CodePlex:

XnaTouch is a free implementation of the XNA Framework for MonoTouch. Your goal is help the port of Windows Phone 7 Series and Zune HD games for the IPhone / Ipod Touch (and vice versa).

Spring 2010 Utah Code Camp Schedule

Utah Code Camp on March 27th, 2010

At this Spring’s Utah Code Camp on March 27th, 2010 I will be presenting the following sessions:

  • What’s New in XNA Game Studio 4.0
  • Developing for Windows Phone 7 Series
  • Red, Green, Refactor: Learn Test-Driven Development in Two Hours (with Zhon Johansen)

Check the Utah Code Camp website for more information.

Code Camps are always free.

Breaking changes in XNA Game Studio 4.0

Shawn Hargreaves from the XNA team writes about the Breaking changes in XNA Game Studio 4.0.

Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP

Microsoft has released for download the Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP.

Microsoft Extends XNA Game Studio to Mobile Phones

Today at GDC, Microsoft announced that XNA Game Studio 4.0 will support application development for Windows Phone 7 Series.

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Nick Gravelyn on SunBurn

XNA Game Studio 3.0 Released

On October 30th, Microsoft released XNA Game Studio 3.0 for download.

If you are unfamiliar with what’s new in the 3.0 release, check out the GameFest 2008 presentation What’s New in XNA Game Studio 3.0.

“Professional XNA Game Programming” by Benjamin Nitschke

Overall I liked this book. Like most books that are “first” on a subject there are a few small errors that reflect how the XNA Framework changed between early betas and the final release. This is just the facts of life when you buy the “first” book on a new technology given the lead times on books. Its just not feasible to rework a book extensively based on the final code and have the book come out “first”. Even with that disclaimer, this is still a good book for the game developer that wants to learn about the XNA Framework and write a single set of source that runs on Windows and on the Xbox 360. This book covers XNA Game Studio Express 1.0

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Gamefest 2007: Pre-Mortem: Torpex Games’ Schizoid

by Jamie Fristrom, Technical Director [blog]
Bull Dugan, President
Torpex Games

Schizoid is a project that started out as an experiment in XNA Game Studio Express.  The game is collaborative between two players and it looked pretty fun on the big screen.  A single programmer, Jamie, prototyped the game in 4 days and obtained approval for making it a real game.  Two months of refinement later and they had a prototype that was approved by Microsoft.  The potential of the prototype attracted high quality artistic and engineering collaborators that improved the game continuously during development.  Interestingly enough, the collaborators edited C# source code directly, entering in tabular data for various assets.

They wrote unit tests in NUnit for the game play and the behavior.  The automated build was created with msbuild and runs NUnit tests automatically.  Jamie generally wrote the test first, but they didn’t impose any rules on the other developers.  About 10% of their bugs were found and fixed on the first day they were introduced, when they are least expensive to eliminate.  They used rapid prototyping to test out various ideas and experiment to select which ideas worked best, instead of endless opinionated discussion about various alternatives.  Instead of arguing about it, they just tried it and took the one that worked best.  Changes were made to the game immediately after watching play testers and put into the next build for the play testers brought in the next day.

They did encounter some performance issues on the Xbox 360 under XNA Game Studio Express.  This is mostly because Game Studio Express is built on top of a modified version of the .NET Compact Framework.  Its likely that some of these performance issues will improve in GSE 2.0.  In my opinion, its unlikely that Microsoft will address every performance issue, but they will address a few of the most eggregious ones.  Its all speculation until GSE 2.0 hits beta.  The performance issues on Schizoid caused some schedule slip as they brought the playability of the Xbox 360 version up to par with the PC version.  Perhaps the lesson learned here is to play test on the 360 early and often so that the necessary refactoring for performance can be done early before it affects too much code.

Microsoft Gamefest 2007

I went to my first Microsoft Gamefest on Monday and Tuesday of this week and met up again with a few of the other DirectX MVPs.  I was mostly interested in the graphics track, but the XNA track was also of interest to me.  The sessions I attended were:

  • Xbox 360 GPU Performance Update
  • Pre-Mortem: Torpex Games’ Schizoid
  • Picture Perfect: Gamma through the rendering pipeline
  • Mapping the Dark Corners: Creating a flexible Framework for Dynamic Shadowing
  • GPU Data Structures and Advanced Lighting: State-of-the-Art Techniques from Microsoft Research
  • Graphics Futures: Direct3D 11 and Beyond
  • Developing 3D Games on the XNA Framework Using TorqueX
  • Advanced Debugging in Managed Code
  • Windows Vista Graphcis Development Drilldown: Direct3D 10 and 10.1
  • Windows to Reality: Getting the Most out of Direct3D 10 Graphics in Your Games
  • GPU Font/Vector Rendering and Approximating Catmull-Clark Subdivision Surfaces with Bicubic Patches
  • Performance Considerations for Graphics on Windows

I’ll be posting blog entries on these sessions as I get my notes together.

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XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh

An updated version of the XNA Game Studio Express framework was just released.  ZMan has written up a summary of the additions to the API.  Since this is a completely backwards compatible release, all the changes resulted in additions to the API and not changes to any method signatures or removal of any methods.  So far, it looks like one of the nice things you get is better font support.