Today at the Game Developers Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced new XNA software that will enable enhanced collaboration between content creators, programmers, management and quality-assurance staff members to speed the game production process. Based on the Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2005 Team System, the latest innovation of the company’s flagship development platform, XNA Studio is an integrated, team-based development environment tailored for game production.
Demand for high-definition content and richer, more involved game worlds will bring increased complexity to the process of creating next-generation games. Game teams are already wrestling with the challenges of growing content requirements, larger and more specialized teams, and globally distributed resources. XNA Studio will address these workflow challenges by delivering an advanced build framework driven by a unified file format. The build framework is partnered with an integrated tool suite to optimize the game production process for all team members.
“The productivity gain from Microsoft’s collaboration and build tools has already been proved for programmers, so the opportunity to bring the same process and technology to content creation is huge,” said Marc Petit, vice president of product development for Discreet, a division of Autodesk Inc. “XNA Studio can have a clear impact on the business of making games and will likely emerge as a differentiating force in game development.”
Integration of Content and Code
Today the content build and integration process is largely ad hoc, fragile and inefficient. The result is that teams spend a considerable amount of time fighting with their build processes, rather than adding new content to their games. XNA Studio puts content at the core of the game development process by delivering reliable, controllable and reusable methods for managing and building content in synchronization with the game code.
“Skyrocketing consumer expectations are putting tremendous pressure on game development teams,” said Chris Satchell, general manager of XNA at Microsoft. “New hardware will be required to deliver the experiences consumers crave, but the real challenge is integrating the whole development process to allow fast iteration of game content and code with minimal rework. This allows developers to realize their visions and deliver higher-quality games more quickly.”
Collaboration Drives Creativity
The next generation of game development will require collaboration across diverse and distributed teams with an environment that is tightly integrated, highly scalable and optimized for content production.
XNA Studio will provide robust versions of key production tools such as asset management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists. These tools will work together seamlessly to automate common development tasks and present interfaces tailored to the different functions within the team. XNA Studio will allow team members to collaborate quickly and effectively using familiar techniques and tools, even when elements of the team are distributed geographically. This all adds up to more developer time generating unique content and less time running the content process.
Key gaming middleware partners continue to support the XNA software development platform and have joined Microsoft in recognizing the need to bring stability and consistency to the game development process. Companies such as AGEIA Technologies Inc; Alias Systems Corp.; Discreet; Havok; and Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology Inc., see the value in the XNA Studio development environment.