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PETLab - XNA Research Paper

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					PETLab - XNA Research Paper
Introduction This paper summarizes the research conducted in the Fall of 2007 for PETLab in the field of development of game-based curriculums using Microsoft Xbox. The goal of this research was to understand the requirements for developing games for Xbox. This means to acquire adequate knowledge in the field to be able to develop game prototypes using the Xbox in the immediate future. Xbox Development - XNA and Torque Microsoft Developer’s Network (msdn)[4] says, “Microsoft XNA is composed of industry-leading software, services, resources, and communities focused on enabling game developers to be successful on Microsoft gaming platforms.” The XNA Framework is based on the native implementation of .NET Compact Framework 2.0 for Xbox 360 development and .NET Framework 2.0 on Windows. Games that run on the framework can technically be written in any .NET-compliant language, but only C# and XNA Game Studio Express IDE and all versions of Visual Studio 2005 are officially supported. [1] Torque X, created by GarageGames is an engine designed from the bottom up to harness the power of XNA. It is written entirely in C# and includes many of the best features of other Torque Technologies. [2] XNA XNA Game Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for development of games. It includes the XNA framework, a game-focused application programming interface (API) that simplifies development for the Windows and Xbox 360 platforms, and the XNA Framework Content Pipeline, which provides an easy and flexible way to import two dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) models, textures, sounds, and other assets into the game. Currently, the XNA game studio is available as Game Studio 2.0, Game Studio Professional and Game Studio Pro. The Professional caters to hobbyists and students while the Pro is for big game studios like EA games. XNA transforms the way a game developer works to a great extent. In traditional video game development, in order to transform data formats found in content files into a format that the game can use at run time, a programmer must build a content loading system from scratch and also write importers that consume 3D and 2D assets. Then he has to write processors that turn those imported formats into code objects that other programmers can manipulate to make the models display and interact properly in the game. In XNA Game Studio Express, however, the XNA Framework Content Pipeline does much of this work. XNA Framework Content Pipeline is a highly extensible and customizable content processing framework managed in C# Express. It gets involved as soon as a piece of

content is dropped into the API. It saves the hassle of trying to build the game infrastructure as an amateur game developer before any actual game making happens. Now with the knowledge of C# language, a game designer can fully enjoy the game making aspect of the game development without being concerned with most low-end issues like working with different graphic cards and trying to maximizing the rendering qualities. The article, “The XNA Game Development Studio for Xbox 360 and PC” by Jeremy Reimer [5], which can be found in the references, addresses this in detail. Two of our researchers got to attend a XNA workshop in LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City led by Microsoft Developer Evangelist Lindsay Rutter on November 14, 2007. This was a very valuable experience and aided our research in understanding the possibilities and limitations of XNA and Game Studio. To summarize the workshop, XNA can be used to make 3D as well as 2D games, First Person Shooters (FPS), Realtime strategy games (RTS) and Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMO) using SQLserver express. In order to develop with XNA, one needs to possess skills or have a good understanding in the following areas – Mathematics, 2D & 3D coordinate systems, Data Structures, vectors and matrices, C# Programming and .Net platform. XNA comes with well-documented learning materials and example code. The Assets that can be created externally and used with Game Studio express are graphics, models, textures, animations, audio, ambient sounds, music, event sounds (like explosions), etc. Torque X Torque X can be seen as the successor of Torque game engine, a modified version of a 3D computer game engine originally developed by Dynamix for the 2001 First-PersonShooter (FPS) game Tribes 2. Shortly after the release of Tribes 2, many members of the Dynamix team left to create their own company, GarageGames. They negotiated a deal with Vivendi Universal to buy the Tribes 2 game engine. After extensive modification, the Torque Game Engine was created. This engine has been popular ever since and this led to Torque X for the Xbox development. On top of the Torque X game engine there is the game builder, Torque X builder (TXB). TXB is an IDE that allows game developers to create games based on Torque X engine. It provides a friendly and intuitive GUI to work with. Minimum coding is required to work in TXB because most of the objects are pre-written and ready to go. Loading a character image and having it display on the screen is as easy as a drag-and-drop. After the character is on the stage, simply tweaking the parameters helps in achieving the desired behavior from the character. Now in less then ten minutes, we can have a wallbouncing, coin-collecting, and bullet-shooting character. It is a very popular game development tool kit today. Many of the games in Gamelab [7] are developed using Torque technologies. The only thing that may be inconvenient to the user is that TXB is not a stand-alone application to build a PC or Xbox 360 game. To start a Torque X project, one has to open the XNA Game Studio Express first and creates a new Torque X project there. Once the new project is created and saved, XNA is closed and the project is opened in Torque X

for further development. The steps are reversed when the game developer wants to test it on the Xbox. Since the deployment to Xbox 360 has to be done through XNA no matter what, there is going to be a lot of application hopping in the course of game production. GarageGames came up with a converter add-on recently that allows the developer to create a PC game first which can be tested on their own PC only to be converted for the Xbox 360 later. However, there will be a difference of graphic quality between PC and Xbox 360 when it comes to High Definition. Hardware and Software Requirements The requirements to develop for the Xbox are a Windows PC, Xbox 360, XNA game studio express, Membership to XNA creator’s club (this is required to rum the game on Xbox 360), Torque X and Torque X Builder. Conclusion Xbox development for PETLab in the first phase concentrates primarily on game prototyping. Developing these games using Torque X seems to be the best approach since it will utilize the skills of the game designers in a Design environment such as Parsons the new school for Design to the maximum extent. It works to our advantage that Torque X does not require much programming and this presents us with a work environment that provides a medium for skillful visual designers and designers with some programming expertise to work together and optimize the results achieved. References [1] XNA http://www.xna.com/ [2] Torque X http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/x/ [3] XNA Creators Club http://creators.xna.com/ [4] MSDN http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx [5] “The XNA Game Development Studio for Xbox 360 and PC” by Jeremy Reimer http://arstechnica.com/articles/xna.ars [6] “Introduction to Video Game Programming”, MSDN http://www.academicresourcecenter.net/curriculum/pfv.aspx?ID=6878 [7] Gamelab http://www.gamelab.com/


				
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