Whether you’ve been tinkering for just a short time with XNA Game Studio Express or are completely new to the software, today’s update maintains Microsoft’s goal to empower the masses through offering easy-to-use and affordable tools enabling them to bring their creativity to life by offering:
- The addition of XNA Framework Content Pipeline, a feature set that makes it simpler and more straightforward for game developers to use 2D and 3D content in their game projects from third party digital content creation packages like Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and SOFTIMAGE|XSI.
- New content importers for .X and Autodesk FBX 3D asset format in partnership with Autodesk.
- Xbox 360 project system gives game developers the ability to preview game design specifically for the Xbox 360 and pre-compile games starting today, giving developers a head start in preparing their games for the XNA Creators Club availability in December.
- Improved game component architecture updated with a simpler design, adding increased usability based on community feedback.
- Overall performance improvements and optimizations – XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 is a near final version of the tool.
In addition, the release of XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 is occurring simultaneously today with a closed beta of GarageGames’ Torque X, a toolset designed specifically for XNA Game Studio Express that combines Torque Game Builder, Torque Game Engine and Torque Shader Engine into one package on top of the XNA platform, giving even non-programmers a great set of tools and technology to easily create games using drag-n-drop interfaces. More information on the Torque X beta can be found on the GarageGames website at http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/x/.
On top of these improved and added features, XNA Game Studio Express continues to gather a following among academics and hobbyists. The list of leading universities adopting XNA Game Studio Express into their curricula has grown to more than 30 worldwide. There have been 150,000 downloads of XNA Game Studio Express Beta 1, over 30 new XNA communities launched, 100 user generated tutorials shared online and more than 60 independent games already in development or completed.
Enthusiast game creators can download the updated software today from http://msdn.com/xna to develop games for Windows, at no charge. Furthermore, games built using Windows can be migrated to Xbox 360 console systems when the final version of XNA Game Studio Express is released. The XNA Creators Club membership will launch simultaneously with XNA Game Studio Express and be available for purchase on Xbox Live Marketplace. The XNA Creators Club membership allows users to develop and play XNA Framework games on their Xbox 360 consoles and gives access to exclusive content to make developing games quicker and easier. A one year membership is available for $99 USD and a four-month trial is available for $49 USD.
Look for the final version of XNA Game Studio Express to go live on December 11 of this year, with XNA Game Studio Professional available in summer of 2007.