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XNA GameCamp 06


Yesterday I went to the Microsoft’s GameCamp 06, a session on programming Xbox360 games with XNA, and I’ve promissed to write about it for those unable to attend. This is it, read on.

“This one time at game camp…” (from the free t-shirt)

I have previously mentioned that the event was going to be packed, and it was. Arriving there at 9:00 am, there was already a lineup for the registration table. By the start at 9:30, the auditorium was filled up to the fire-code limit. I have managed to locate my peers from Waterloo, but I appologize if anyone else was looking for me in that crowd.

The sessions did not exactly follow the provided outline (and I no longer have the actual session titles as they were taken away with a ballot for Xbox360 give-away.. no, I didn’t win), but the theme was close enough. The 7 hour seminar went something as follows:

    Torque X demo

  • XNA Overview – It’s a framework for C# to assist with game programming. Compile project to Windows – ok. Compile project to Xbox – technical difficulties. The presenter did not seem very prepared, and this was arguably the worst session. Maybe it was just early in the morning.
  • In a mini-presentation, Davey teases the audience with the Torque X engine. More on that later.
  • In the next session, Chris (actually he has longer, and French-er name) jumped into the details of game development. Exposing all the steps involved, and associated difficulties, he showed how the XNA framework addresses most of the issues found in coding from scratch. Quite informative. XNA lets you concentrate on content and game logic, while covering everything else ether implicitly, or under its abstraction layer.
  • Lunch time. Ran out of pizza.
  • Chris goes on to demonstrate XNA with actual code. C#/XNA Pong. Seems as easy as writing it in Turing, but Object Oriented and runs on Windows and Xbox360 without complaining about hardware differences. Excellent.
  • More pizza arrives.
  • XNA Spacewars

  • The first presenter’s game finally loads to the Xbox (he seems to have forgotten the order of steps involved). It’s the original Spacewars (first ever video game) turned 3D. Kind of like Evasive Maneuvers.
  • Davey returns to talk more about Torque X and game programming in general. My favourite presenter by far, he was right on the target, enforcing strong computer science background, practice, and above all passion required to succeed as a game developer. Demonstrated some nifty looking demos, I couldn’t stop watching the animations running in the background.
  • The day ended with some Gears of War play on the projector screen. Sweet!

The entire day was filmed on video, and was promised to be made available as some type of webcast. My guess is that it will eventually end up on the Microsoft’s Game Developer Presentations website.

The next such even that I will be attending is going to be at Waterloo, though the dates are still tennative, possibly in January. The theme will be “Show off your game programming”, and will be a great venue to present the demo of that dream game you’ve been working on, and get some feedback. Adam – you’ve got to speed up that Forces port, I want to show your XNA demo!

I am quite eager to try all of this out for myself. If anything, I want to just see the source code behind games, to get a gaming advantage over my brother. It’s pretty easy to jump in, all you’ll need to develop are:

  • C# Express – free download
  • XNA Studio Express – free download
  • This is enough to get you started

  • “creators club” subscription – $99/year, required to actually upload the games to your Xbox360 (play only in Windows otherwise)
  • Torque X – optional, free binary engine, or $150 for Pro source-code version (thx Davey for clearing this up)

Torque X geometry wars clone

Speaking of Torque X, no actual code was shown in the presentation, but the concept is nifty. Building on top of XNA, this is another layer/engine that enchances what XNA has to offer. Very good looking demos. The featured Geometry Wars clone (right) was apparently made in about 2 weeks. Torque X is in a closed, limited beta right now, but I think I’ll check out the trial of the Torque Game Builder meanwhile.

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  1. Posted by Davey Jackson | November 13, 2006, 7:17 pm

    Hi Tony-

    Thank you for the kind words on my presentation! I wanted to make a quick correction on your price break down.

    The binary of the Torque X Engine is FREE!

    The source code for Torque X is $150USD.

    The Torque Game Builder tool set (including GUI Tools) is $100USD and exports to BOTH XNA and C++.

    I know this was a little confusing in my presentation but a full explanation is here (http://www.garagegames.com/mg/snapshot/view.php?qid=1320)

    A link to my blog http://www.garagegames.com/blogs/54612/11251

    Thanks for comming to GameCamp.

    PS. I’m wearing my “This One Time at Game Camp…” shirt today. LOL.

    Reply to comment

  2. Posted by Tony | November 13, 2006, 7:51 pm

    Ah, I must have been thinking of the Torque Game Builder. Thank you for commenting and clearing things up :)

    I’ll be playing with the TGB trial until Torque X comes out.

    Reply to comment

  3. Posted by Eric | November 13, 2006, 11:14 pm


    Thanks for the link. I signed up but I’m waiting on the moderator to get me approved. Hotmail is preventing the activation from coming through… or maybe it is just incredibly delayed.

    Great summary given above!

    Reply to comment

  4. Posted by Tony | November 13, 2006, 11:57 pm

    Thx Eric,

    I’m not sure what’s going on with the delayed confirmation mail, but your account should now be active reguardless.

    If you have any questions, feel free to PM me over the forums, or leave a comment somewhere!

    Reply to comment

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