XNA Frequently Asked Questions
XNA Framework and XNA Game Studio Express Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is XNA Game Studio Express?
A: XNA Game Studio Express is a new offering, targeted at students and hobbyists for game development. XNA Game Studio is based on Visual C# Express 2005 and lets developers target both Windows and Xbox 360. XNA Game Studio Express contains the following:
* The XNA Framework, a set of managed code development libraries which will allow game developers to be more productive when creating games for Windows and the Xbox 360.
* The XNA Framework Content Pipeline which is a set of tools that allow developers to more easily incorporate 3D content into their games.
* XNA Game Studio Express also contains a full set of documentation, how-to’s and starter-kits that demonstrate how best to utilize the content pipeline and XNA Framework.
A beta of XNA Game Studio Express will be released on August 30. To receive a notification on when the Beta is available, please go to http://connect.microsoft.com and select "Available Connections." Then choose the XNA connection and follow the link to sign up for the XNA Game Studio Express Beta. (Note: A valid Windows Live ID is required, if you do not have one, you will be given the option of creating one.)
Q: What is the difference between XNA Game Studio Express and the XNA Framework
A: XNA Game Studio Express is a set of tools based on Visual C# Express 2005. The XNA Framework is included with XNA Game Studio Express and it is the set of managed (.NET) libraries based on the .NET Framework 2.0 that developers use.
Q: Can I use the XNA Game Studio Express or XNA Framework to build a commercial Xbox 360 game?
A: XNA Game Studio Express will enable you to create Windows and now Xbox 360 console games much more easily. These games are limited to non-commercial scenarios for 360 titles created with XNA Game Studio Express. However, XNA Game Studio Express may be used to create commercial games which target Windows. We will be releasing XNA Game Studio Professional next spring which will allow developers to create commercial games for Xbox addition to Windows.
Q: What if I have an 360 Developer Kit – can I use the XNA Framework with a title that I intend to send through certification?
A: We will be releasing XNA Game Studio Professional next spring which will support the creation of commercial games on the Xbox 360 using an Xbox 360 developer kit. Titles created with XNA Game Studio Professional by developers with approved titles will be able to be submitted for certification unlike games made using XNA Game Studio Express.
Q: How much will XNA Game Studio Express/XNA Framework cost?
A: The XNA Game Studio Express tools and runtime environment for Windows is completely free. To develop, debug and/or play games on the Xbox 360 you will be required to purchase a XNA “Creator’s Club” subscription on the Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Marketplace. The subscription is available in 2 options, $99 a year or $49 for 4 months.
Q: Is the XNA Framework running in emulation mode on the Xbox 360?
A: The XNA Framework makes use of a custom, native implementation of the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 CLR on the Xbox 360.
Q: Is the XNA Framework available on non-Microsoft platforms?
A: At this time, the XNA Framework will only be available on the Windows and Xbox 360 platforms.
Q: Isn’t managed code in the XNA Framework interpreted and therefore slow?
A: No, it is not interpreted. The IL is just-in-time (JIT) compiled into native code when it is initially loaded by a process, prior to execution. This allows hardware-specific optimizations unique to the PC and Xbox 360 architectures.
Q: Why isn’t there any Xbox 360 support in the beta?
A: Microsoft does not release beta software on the Xbox 360 for security reasons. Thanks to the design and implementation of the XNA Framework on both Windows and Xbox 360 however, games developed using the XNA Game Studio Express beta starting August 30th will be easily adapted to run against the Xbox 360 retail console upon availability of the finished tools later this holiday.
Q: What exactly is the XNA Framework?
A: The XNA Framework allows game developers to create modern games using the C# programming language and a rich set of development libraries. The XNA Framework provides its own content pipeline to make it easy to get rich content (3D, 2D, sound, etc.) from content creation sources into a game. The XNA Framework also provides a very high level of API unification across the Windows and 360 implementations, thus virtually eliminating the cost and effort required to port games between these two platforms.
Q: How is this different than the .NET Framework?
A: The Framework is the leading development stack for building general purpose Windows-based applications. The XNA Framework was designed to leverage many familiar elements of the Framework, such as core class libraries and a Common Language Runtime, but is optimized for game development and execution. The XNA Framework includes a custom set of cross-platform libraries built from the ground up specifically for game development.
Q: How exactly can I share my 360 game to other 360 users? Will my game only be available to people with the XNA “Creators Club” subscription? Will it be available to all 360 users that have an Xbox Live account?
A: There is currently no supported way to share binaries on the Xbox 360. Currently, there are four requirements that must be met in order to share a game targeting Xbox 360 which is developed with XNA Game Studio Express.
1. The individual you are planning to share the game with must be logged in to Xbox Live and have an active subscription to the XNA Creators Club
2. The receiving user must have downloaded the XNA Framework runtime environment for the Xbox 360
3. The receiving user must have XNA Game Studio Express installed on their own development PC
4. The game project, including all source and content assets, must be shared with the receiving user. The receiving user then compiles and deploys the game to their Xbox 360.
Q: Can I store my XNA Game Studio Express game on my memory card and share it with a friend?
A: No. Games developed using XNA Game Studio Express cannot be shared through a memory card at this time.
Q: Do I need a hard drive to run XNA-based games on my Xbox 360 console?
A: Yes. The XNA Framework runtime environment for Xbox 360 requires that a physical hard drive be present on your Xbox 360 retail console.
Q: Can I create non-gaming applications (such as a Media Center/Player) with XNA Game Studio Express?
A: On Windows this is possible, but the initial release on Xbox 360 is tuned to writing games. This is an area we are actively looking to the community for feedback on the types of applications they want to write for their Xbox 360.
Q: Will the XNA Framework require D3D9 hardware?
A: A Direct3D 9.0 card, capable of supporting Shader Model 1.1, is the minimum. The recommended level is a card that supports Shader Model 2.0, since most samples and starter kits will require a Shader Model 2.0-compliant card.
Q: Will the XNA Framework ship with the DirectX SDK?
A: Currently, the XNA Framework for Windows ships with XNA Game Studio Express and not the DirectX SDK. The XNA Framework for Xbox 360 is only available through Xbox Live Marketplace once a subscription to the XNA “Creators Club” has been purchased.
Q: What will be the support policy around the XNA Framework?
A: XNA Game Studio Express customers will be able to seek support in our XNA Framework and XNA Game Studio Express forums accessible through the Game Development forum links on our XNA Developer at http://msdn.com/xna/forums.
Q: D3DX has feature X. Will feature X be available on the XNA Framework?
A: We have implemented or refactored a large number of features from D3DX in the XNA Framework. We are actively investigating any additional functionality from D3DX that may be required by game developers that may have been missed. We will be taking feedback through the newsgroup forums as well as through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What does this all mean regarding Managed DirectX (MDX) 1.1?
A: MDX 1.1 is in sustained engineering mode, and will not have any new functionality added to it. If you have a gaming scenario that needs a specific feature found only in MDX 1.1, please let us know and we will consider it for the XNA Framework.
Q: How does the XNA Framework support audio?
A: The XNA Framework will provide support for audio playback through managed XACT.
Q: Does the XNA Framework support XINPUT or DirectInput?
A: The XNA Framework will provide support for input devices in games through managed XINPUT.
Q: Does the XNA Framework include the ability to use Xbox Live?
A: The initial release of the XNA Framework on the Xbox 360 will not have any support for networking. We realize this is a big area of interest for game developers and are actively working on a solution for the next release.
Q: How can you debug XNA-based games running on the Xbox 360?
A: Debugging on the console is supported through a remote debugging connection from a Windows desktop running XNA Game Studio Express.
Q: Which versions of Windows does XNA Game Studio Express support?
A: XNA Game Studio Express is currently limited to Windows XP SP2 only. Once Windows Vista is released, XNA Game Studio Express will be fully supported on that version of Windows.
Q: Does the XNA Framework replace my version of the Framework on my Windows desktop?
A: No. The XNA Framework will not replace or interfere with your existing Framework installation. The XNA Framework on Windows is a set of class libraries built against the .NET Framework 2.0.
Q: Does the XNA Framework support Windows and Pocket PC devices?
A: The XNA Framework currently does not support Windows Mobile or Pocket PC devices, but based on customer feedback this may be a direction we expand the XNA Framework in the future. We know that developing games for is a hot area of growth and one we would like to support in the future.
Q: When will there be a full-featured beta of the XNA Framework?
A: The XNA Framework beta will be available as part of the XNA Game Studio Express beta offering on August 30. If you are interested in being notified when the XNA Game Studio Express beta is available for download, go to http://connect.microsoft.com and select "Available Connections." Then choose the XNA connection and follow the link to sign up for the XNA Game Studio Express Beta. (Note: A valid Windows Live ID is required, if you do not have one, you will be given the option of creating one.)
Q: How will the XNA Framework be available to developers?
A: The XNA Framework will be made available to Windows game developers via a free download. In order to develop for the 360, developers will need to join the XNA “Creators Club” which includes everything a developer needs to build non-commercial games for an Xbox 360 retail console.
Q: How can I learn more about the XNA Framework?
A: We will continue to provide updates to the game development community via future events and our XNA website (http://msdn.com/xna). You can participate in community discussions at http://msdn.com/xna/forums. In addition, you can also email email@example.com if you have any questions, but we cannot guarantee a response to every email we receive.
Q:Is the XNA Game Studio Express subscription available for programmers worldwide? Are you planning on localizing the software?
A:XNA Game Studio Express development tools and environment for Windows will be available for download worldwide from http://msdn.com/xna. The XNA Game Studio Express subscription for Xbox 360 is available in nearly all countries currently shipping Xbox 360 retail consoles and with Xbox Live connectivity. The current version of the tool is available in English only.
Q: What’s the difference between XNA Game Studio Express, XNA Game Studio Pro and XNA Studio?
A: XNA Game Studio Express and XNA Game Studio Pro are related products targeting non-professional game developers and established professionals respectively. Both products integrate with Microsoft Visual Studio. XNA Game Studio Express is intended for the hobbyist/small development group and therefore designed to help create non-commercial games. XNA Game Studio Pro will include additional functionality such as libraries supporting Xbox Live (Achievements, Leaderboards, Multi-player) needed by professional game developers wishing to create commercial, signed titles. XNA Studio will implement enterprise wide solutions aimed at the production pipeline and process by which games are developed in large AAA studios.
Q: How exactly will I be able to run a game built with XNA Game Studio Express on my Xbox 360?
A: On Windows, you’ll be able to develop, test and distribute software created with XNA Game Studio Express for free. When you sign up for the nominally priced annual subscription to XNA Game Studio Express for Xbox 360, you’ll be able to write a game on Windows, then send it to your Xbox 360 to test and enjoy. Eventually, you’ll be able to distribute that code to other Xbox 360s, opening up a unique publishing avenue which will democratize game development on consoles.
Q: Will I be able to develop a game and run it on both Xbox 360 and Windows?
A: You will have to compile the game once for each platform. In this release, you will have to create a separate project for each platform, and compile them both. Our goal is to allow as much code as possible to be shared between those two projects, allowing you to use the same source files in both projects, but platform-specific code will need to be conditionally-compiled.
Q: Why doesn’t the XNA Framework Content Pipeline support my favorite content creation tool?
A: We feel we have chosen a robust set of file formats for the release of the content pipeline that allow you to work with a wide rage of available content creation tools. More importers supporting more content creation tools will become available in the future.
Q: What is the C# language?
A: C# is a modern, object-oriented programming language designed with developer productivity in mind. C# is used by millions of software developers worldwide and provides full access to building applications based on the .NET Framework, the Compact Framework, and ultimately the XNA Framework as well.
Q: What are the benefits of managed code?
A: The managed execution environment provided by the common language runtime provides developers with a wealth of productivity benefits. Such managed code benefits include garbage collection, hardware abstraction, thread management, and a sandboxed security model. For more information about the Common Language Runtime and the Framework please visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/netframework.
Q: How widely used is C# in the gaming industry?
A: The vast majority of game studios recognize the productivity benefits of C# and are already using it for creating internal tools within their studios. There are even a few great games for Windows written using C#. But before the advent of the XNA Framework, doing true cross-platform development with C# targeting both the Windows desktop and the Xbox 360 was not a reality. That’s why we believe the XNA Framework represents an exciting opportunity for game studios. Managed DirectX Q&A
Q: Is the XNA Framework different from Managed DirectX (MDX) 1.1 or MDX 2.0?
A: Yes. The XNA Framework is a completely different set of technologies targeted at game developers. It does share similarities based on the fact that the underlying technologies are still based on DirectX. The XNA Framework also leverages other technologies such as XACT and X/Input.
Q: Does the XNA Framework include Managed DirectX 2.0?
A: The XNA Framework will contain much of the functionality found in Managed DirectX 2.0 and will also provide much more functionality designed to help game developers write great games. It is important to note, however, that there will be some differences between what is available in the MDX2.0 beta and what is available in the XNA Framework. We will provide guidance to help customers migrate from MDX2.0 beta to the XNA Framework as early releases of the XNA Framework become available.
Q: Will there be any more improvements to Managed DirectX 2.0?
A: The current Managed DirectX 2.0 beta libraries have been unchanged since the April 2006 SDK release. There will be no further changes to MDX 2.0 beta, nor will MDX 2.0 ever release officially. The MDX 2.0 assemblies will be removed from the DirectX SDK once the XNA Framework beta is released.
Q: Does the XNA Framework replace Managed DirectX?
A: The XNA Framework will have a managed API for working with hardware on the Xbox 360 and Windows. This API will subsume functionality in MDX 2.0 beta today.
Q: Does MDX 1.1 support development with the .NET Framework 2.0?
A: MDX1.1 is fully compatible with the .NET Framework 2.0.
Q: Will my MDX 1.1 code run inside the XNA Framework?
A: We will provide a migration guide that describes how to migrate MDX 1.1 code to the XNA Framework.
Q: I’m a game studio and I have made a significant tools investment on MDX 1.1, does this mean Microsoft will not support MDX 1.1 anymore?
A: Microsoft will continue to support MDX 1.1 as per our standard support policy. Once the XNA Framework ships we will provide guidance on how to move from MDX 1.1 to the XNA Framework
Q: What does XNA stand for?
A: XNA’s Not Acronymed
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