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1. March 2017

 

Today at GDC 17, Microsoft announced the preview launch of Xbox Live Creators Program.  This is a new SDK and developer program that enables anyone to quickly publish their title to Xbox One or Windows 10 after a quick certification process.  Similar in many was to the ID@Xbox program, the following chart breaks down the key differences.

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More details of the new program from the announcement:

Xbox Live will soon be open to all developers via the Xbox Live Creators Program – no concept approval required! You will be able to rapidly publish your game to Xbox One or Windows 10 through a short and simplified certification process.

Integrate Xbox Live social experiences such as sign-in, presence, leaderboards, and more into your title, with minimal development time. Xbox Live social features are designed to organically grow your audience, spreading awareness to over 55 million active gamers. The full set of Xbox Live capabilities is available via the ID@Xbox program and a table comparing the features is below.

Using tools you already use, and your existing Xbox One retail console, you can easily create or leverage existing code to develop your title. Supported game engines include Construct 2, MonoGame, Unity, and Xenko. We anticipate more game engines and tools to support Xbox Live Creators Program over time. Please check with your preferred game engine for their support of the Creators Program.

On Xbox One, which offers gamers a curated store experience, games published through the Xbox Live Creators Program will be available in the new, "Creator games section" within the store. On Windows 10 PC, games in Xbox Live Creators Program will be visible with the other games in the Windows Store.

 

Wouldn’t have been great if Microsoft never gave up on XNA in the first place?  Still one of their most idiotic moves historically.  It is my belief that this program will live or die on the quality of the curation.  This does however offer a new and interesting avenue for indie developers, so could be a great new opportunity.

GameDev News

1. March 2017

 

MonoGame is a popular open source port of Microsoft’s now defunct XNA game framework.  They just announced the release of version 3.6 containing several improvements and fixes.  If you are interested in learning MonoGame, be sure to check out our complete tutorial series available here.  MonoGame has been used to create several of the biggest indie games on the market, including Stardew Valley, Braid and many more.

 

Details of the release from the changelog:

3.6 Release - 2/28/2017

  • Fixed XML deserialization of Curve type. #5494
  • Fix #5498 Pipeline Tool template loading on MacOS. #5501
  • Fix typo in the exclude.addins which cause warnings when installing the Addin in XS. #5500
  • Added support for arbitrary defines passed to the Effect compiler. #5496
  • Fixed GraphicsDevice.Present() to check for current render target. #5389
  • Custom texture compression for SpriteFonts. #5299
  • Performance improvements to SpriteBatch.DrawString(). #5226
  • Removed the OUYA platform #5194
  • Dispose of all graphical resources in unit tests. #5133
  • Throw NoSuitableGraphicsDeviceException if graphics device creation fails. #5130
  • Optimized and added additional constructors to Color. #5117
  • Added SamplerState.TextureFilterMode to correctly support comparison filtering. #5112
  • Fixed Apply3D() on stereo SoundEffect. #5099
  • Fixed Effect.OnApply to return void to match XNA. #5090
  • Fix crash when DynamicSoundEffectInstance not disposed. #5075
  • Texture2D.FromStream now correctly throws on null arguments. #5050
  • Implemented GraphicsAdapter for DirectX platforms. #5024
  • Fixed initialization of GameComponent when created within another GameComponent. #5020
  • Improved SoundEffect internal platform extendability. #5006
  • Refactored audio processing for platform extensibility. #5001
  • Refactored texture processing for platform extensibility. #4996
  • Refactor ShaderProfile to allow for pipeline extensibility. #4992
  • Removed unnessasary dictionary lookup for user index buffers for DirectX platforms. #4988
  • New SetRenderTargets() method which allows for variable target count. #4987
  • Added support for XACT reverb and filter effects. #4974
  • Remove array in GamePadDPad constructor. #4970
  • Updated to the latest version of Protobuild. #4964
  • Fixed static VBs and IBs on UWP on XB1. #4955
  • Updated to the latest version of Protobuild. #4950
  • Update Xamarin Studio addin for latest platform changes. #4926
  • Replace OpenTK with custom OpenGL bindings #4874
  • Fix Mouse updating when moving the Window. #4924
  • Fix incorrect use of startIndex in Texture2D.GetData DX. #4833
  • Cleanup of AssemblyInfo for framework assembly. #4810
  • New SDL2 backend for desktop GL platforms. #4428
  • Two MaterialProcessor properties fixed. #4746
  • Fixed thumbstick virtual buttons to always use independent axes. #4742
  • Fixed back buffer MSAA on DirectX platforms. #4739
  • Added new CHANGELOG.md to project. #4732
  • Added obsolete attribute and updated documentation. #4731
  • Fixed layout of UWP windows in VS template to ignore window chrome. #4727
  • Remove support for reading raw assets through ContentManager. #4726
  • Implemented DynamicSoundEffectInstance for DirectX and OpenAL platforms. #4715
  • Removed unused Yeti Mp3 compressor. #4713
  • MonoGame Portable Assemblies. #4712
  • Fixed RGBA64 packing and added unit tests. #4683
  • Fix Gamepad crash when platform doesn't support the amount. #4677
  • Fixed Song stopping before they are finished on Windows. #4668
  • Removed the Linux .deb installer. #4665
  • OpenAssetImporter is now automatically selected for all the formats it supports. #4663
  • Fixed broken unit tests under Linux. #4614
  • Split out Title Container into partial classes. #4590
  • Added Rider Support to Linux installer. #4589
  • Implement vertexStride in VertexBuffer.SetData for OpenGL. #4568
  • Performance improvement to SpriteBatch vertex generation. #4547
  • Optimization of indices initialization in SpriteBatcher. #4546
  • Optimized ContentReader to decode LZ4 compressed streams directly. #4522
  • TitleContainer partial class cleanup. #4520
  • Remove raw asset support from ContentManager. #4489
  • Initial implementation of RenderTargetCube for OpenGL. #4488
  • Removed unnecessary platform differences in MGFX. #4486
  • SoundEffect fixes and tests. #4469
  • Cleanup FX syntax for shader compiler. #4462
  • General Improvements to Pipeline Gtk implementation. #4459
  • ShaderProfile Refactor. #4438
  • GraphicsDeviceManager partial class refactor. #4425
  • Remove legacy Storage classes. #4320
  • Added mipmap generation for DirectX render targets. #4189

In related MonoGame news, Nintendo Switch support was recently announced via Twitter:

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GameDev News

1. March 2017

 

Kotlin is a new programming language created by JetBrains, the folks behind such great developer tools as IntelliJ, WebStorm and Resharper.  It is a statically typed language the runs in the JVM, on Android and as of this release, compiled to JavaScript.  Kotlin was designed to be a lot more concise than Java, one of the biggest pain points people have with the language.  It is also meant to be 100% interoperable with existing Java code and frameworks.  Today’s release also brings JavaScript support out of “experimental” status, now enabling Kotlin to compile down to JavaScript much like other languages such as TypeScript and Dart.  This release also brings CoRoutine support for easier async programming.

 

From the announcement blog post:

Our vision for Kotlin is to enable the use of a single expressive, performant, strongly typed language across all components of a modern application. Kotlin 1.1 makes two major steps towards this goal.

First, the JavaScript target is no longer experimental, and supports all Kotlin language features, a large part of the standard library, as well as JavaScript interoperability. This allows you to migrate the browser frontend of your applications to Kotlin, while continuing to use modern JavaScript development frameworks such as React.

Second, we’re introducing support for coroutines. As a lightweight alternative to threads, coroutines enable much more scalable application backends, supporting massive workloads on a single JVM instance. In addition to that, coroutines are a very expressive tool for implementing asynchronous behavior, which is important for building responsive user interfaces on all platforms.

Below we describe these two changes further. In other news: we’ve added type aliases, bound callable references, destructuring in lambdas and more. See the details in our What’s new page (check out the runnable examples!).

 

Kotlin is available as a plugin for IntelliJ IDEA, NetBeans and Eclipse.

GameDev News

1. March 2017

 

Unity have just released another patch for the older 5.4 branch of Unity.  Composed primarily of fixes, this patch also introduced ogg vorbis support on tvOS as well as the addition of ShaderVariantCollections, described in the release notes below.

Improvements
  • Asset Bundles: Introduced the ability to use ShaderVariantCollection to ensure Shader variants are built when packing the Shader with ShaderVariantCollection separate from the Material using the Shader.
  • Audio: Add support for streaming oggvorbis on tvOS.
Fixes
  • (861178) - Analytics: Fix adds Internet permission on Android when Analytics service is used.
  • (877407, 867093, 877210) - DX11: Fixed D3D11 Device creation failures on Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems without DX11.1 runtime.
  • (857117) - Editor: Fixed a rare issue where building the player and saving the project after could cause the Editor to lock up.
  • (878784) - Editor: Fixed Assertion failed error in console: '(sharedData.instructionCount == 0) || sharedData.combinedBounds.IsValid()'.
  • (799748) - Global Illumination: Fixed a rare issue where spawning external processes (such as GI Baking) could fail or cause a deadlock.
  • (849079) - Graphics: Fixed a crash in some circumstances if object disables renderer when culling updates visibility.
  • (847494) - iOS: Don't strip alpha channel out of launch screens.
  • (852360) - Scripting: Fix issue with StopCoroutine not stopping IEnumerator and CustomYieldInstruction based coroutines.
  • (852993) - Scripting: Fixed a rare failure when building players.
  • (none) - VCS: Fixed an issue which was trying to add files from ProjectSettings folder to Version Control even if they were already under Version Control.
  • (none) - Windows: Fixed -hideWindow briefly showing the window before hiding it on standalone players.

 

As always, the patch is available for download here.

GameDev News

28. February 2017

 

Today Unity had their GDC keynote presentation (available embedded below) and announced details of the final 5.x release, version 5.6 which is schedule to be released on March 31st.  Details of the 5.6 release:

Here’s a brief rundown of the key 5.6 features talked about in the keynote:

Physically Based Rendering and Global Illumination: Enables virtual objects that look and behave like they would in the real world.

Progressive Lightmapper: Gives you immediate feedback when trying out different lighting scenarios, with selective baking, super fast iteration, and debugging.

Vulkan: Our friends at Infinite Dreams came on stage with Skyforce Reloaded to demonstrate how to maximize performance and reduce battery usage.

To learn how to get the most from Vulkan in Unity, be sure to attend the GDC session presented by ARM on Thursday, 10AM – Room 3022 West Hall.

Metal: Apple Metal graphics API gives you access to the raw power of the chipsets on your devices. Now, available directly in the editor on MacOS, you can view scenes in editor as it will appear when you deploy on a device. Unity 5.5 added instancing, the ability to write native Metal shaders — 5.6 brings Metal Compute. Developer nWay got on stage with their upcoming game Power Rangers: Legacy Wars to show off the full potential of Metal. Thank you to surprise special guests Ludi Lin and Jason David Frank of Power Rangers fame for joining us on stage!

2D Tools: Unity 5.6 is adding CompositeCollider2D, an outline editor, 2D physics contacts API and more.

New NavMesh: Adding AI and Pathfinding to more easily control character navigation through giant game worlds.

Unity Collaborate: A simple way for teams to save, share, and sync their Unity project — all Cloud hosted! Unity Collaborate has entered open beta so be sure to sign up now!

Performance Reporting: Unity Performance Reporting automatically collects errors across various devices and platforms making it easier for you to find and fix issues in real time. Additionally, Performance Reporting for Unity 5.6 beta will capture and report crashes recorded for iOS games. With 5.6, you can expect support for even more platforms. There’s no code required, simply click the On switch for “Performance Reporting” in the Services window.

TextMesh Pro: We’re happy to announce that one of the top performing tools on the Unity Asset Store, used to deliver substantial visual quality to text styling and texturing in games via advanced text rendering, will now be available for free to users of 5.3+ and natively integrated into Unity in the future.

Visit the Unity Asset Store to get TextMesh Pro now.

VR platforms: 5.6 will ship with Google Cardboard/Daydream support, including for iOS.

 

They also discussed Unity 2017, which will enter beta in April.

Upcoming features include:

  • Timeline, a track-based sequencing tool that applies a “drag and drop” approach to choreograph animations, sounds, events, videos and more, will make it easier for storytellers to compose stunning cinematics.
  • New scriptable rendering pipeline that will allow developers to customize and extend render loops for mobile, HD and VR/AR.

We can’t wait to share these new tools to support content creators. You can check out the preview build of Timeline now.

 

The Unity Keynote Video

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