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30. March 2016

 

Twin announcements today from the MS Build conference that will have a direct affect on indie developers.  The first is that UWP (Universal Windows Platform) applications can now be run on Xbox One.  The second, anyone can turn their Xbox One into a devkit (warning... big big big disclaimer attached!).

 

Partial announcement from the Windows Blog:

Gaming gets better with the Windows 10 Anniversary update, including background music and Cortana coming to Xbox One. Cortana can become your personal gaming assistant and help you find great new games, new challenges or tips and tricks. On Xbox One, we’re continuing to deliver on top fan-requested features like support for multiple GPUs and the ability to turn off v-sync. Game developers have access to a fully open ecosystem with the Universal Windows Platform, making it easy to bring the games people love to both Xbox One and other Windows 10 devices. With the Anniversary Update, any Xbox One can be a developer kit with Xbox Dev Mode, enabling anyone to develop for the living room. And, the Windows Store will offer a unified store experience for all developers, creating new opportunities to reach millions of new customers.

 

Polygon however have a great deal more details, including the gotcha I mentioned above.

While the preview of Dev Mode is available to anyone now, Charla stressed that most people should wait until its full release later this summer.

"You might run into issues now," he said.

The preview only offers access to 448 MB of the Xbox One's 8 GB of RAM. When Dev Mode comes out of preview, Charla said, developers will have access to the full 1 GB of RAM supported for UWP Xbox games.

"It's also a preview," he added. "And we want to be able to test things still in the preview."

[Snip]

First, a user has to download the Dev Mode activation app from the Xbox Games Store. Launching the app kicks off a welcome screen and a link to documentation that details what to expect when you switch over from retail to a dev kit, as well as the requirements.

The requirements include that you:

  • Join the Windows Insider Program
  • Are running Windows 10 on your PC
  • Have a wired connection to your PC from your Xbox One
  • Install the latest Visual Studio 2015 and Windows builds
  • Have at least 30 GB of storage free on your console

The introduction also warns that once you've converted your console over, you may occasionally run into issues running retail games. In addition, the introduction says, leaving Dev Mode will require resetting your console to its factory settings and uninstalling all of your games, apps and content.

Upon agreeing, you're given a code that can be entered on your computer once you sign into your Dev Center account. The activation can take awhile and usually requires updating your console. Once it's complete, the console restarts and returns you to your standard startup screen.

"It doesn't take a lot of time to switch to Dev Mode," Charla said as he took me through the process on Microsoft's remote console.

After setting up Dev Mode, a user simply pairs their Xbox One with Visual Studio, which sees the console as a Windows 10 machine to which it can deploy content directly through a wired connection.

"When a UWP app is running, it doesn't know it's running on an Xbox," Charla said. "It just knows it's a Windows 10 device."

 

So tread carefully!  Be sure to head on over to Polygon to read the full article.  While this has been in the works for 3 years, it’s nice to see that development has finally come to the Xbox One.  Considering Microsoft absolutely owned this segment when they release XNA, I am somewhat staggered it took this long.  Did you try it out?  If so, how much of an impact did it have on your retail games?

GameDev News ,

16. March 2016

 

MonoGame, the popular open source implementation of the XNA game framework, just release version 3.5.  If you are interested in learning more, we have a pretty solid introductory tutorial available here.

Details from this release:

  • Content Pipeline Integration for Xamarin Studio and MonoDevleop on Mac and Linux.
  • Automatic inclusion of XNBs into your final project on Mac and Linux.
  • Improved Mac and Linux installers.
  • Assemblies are now installed locally on Mac and Linux just like they are on Windows.
  • New cross-platform “Desktop” project where same binary and content will work on Windows, Linux and Mac desktops.
  • Better Support for Xamarin.Mac and Xam.Mac.
  • Apple TV support (requires to be built from source at the moment).
  • Various sound system fixes.
  • New GraphicsMetrics API.
  • Optimizations to SpriteBatch performance and garbage generation.
  • Many improvements to the Pipeline tool: added toolbar, new filtered output view, new templates, drag and drop, and more.
  • New GamePad support for UWP.
  • Mac and Linux now support Vorbis compressed music.
  • Major refactor of texture support in content pipeline.
  • Added 151 new unit tests.
  • Big improvements to FBX and model content processing.
  • Various fixes to XML serialization.
  • MediaLibrary implementation for Windows platforms.
  • Removed PlayStation Mobile platform.
  • Added content pipeline extension template project.
  • Support for binding multiple vertex buffers in a draw call.
  • Fixed deadzone issues in GamePad support.
  • OcclusionQuery support for DX platforms.
  • Fixed incorrect z depth in SpriteBatch.
  • Lots of OpenTK backend fixes.
  • Much improved font processing.
  • Added new VertexPosition vertex format.
  • Better VS project template installation under Windows.

GameDev News ,

24. February 2016

 

I love C#, probably my favourite general purpose programming language at the end of the day.  In the early days however, C# was heavily tied to Microsoft’s ecosystem.  Then a little company named Ximian created a Mono, an open source implementation of C#.  At first the relationship between Microsoft and Ximian (and Microsoft and Open source in general… ) was not… great.

 

Since then, a ton has happened…  Microsoft became more open source friendly.  Ximian was acquired by Novell, then eventually spun off as an independent known as Xamarin and Mono has gone on to become the technology powering basically every single C# powered non-Microsoft title, including being the runtime behind the popular Unity game engine.  For years I’ve assumed Microsoft would buy Xamarin, especially as their relationships became cosier and cosier.  Heck I last mentioned an MSFT buyout when Xamarin bought RoboVM.  It just made so much sense to happen…

 

And it finally did!  From Scott Gu’s blog announcement:

As the role of mobile devices in people's lives expands even further, mobile app developers have become a driving force for software innovation. At Microsoft, we are working to enable even greater developer innovation by providing the best experiences to all developers, on any device, with powerful tools, an open platform and a global cloud.

As part of this commitment I am pleased to announce today that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development.

In conjunction with Visual Studio, Xamarin provides a rich mobile development offering that enables developers to build mobile apps using C# and deliver fully native mobile app experiences to all major devices – including iOS, Android, and Windows. Xamarin’s approach enables developers to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET to build mobile apps, and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each device platform. This enables developers to easily share common app code across their iOS, Android and Windows apps while still delivering fully native experiences for each of the platforms. Xamarin’s unique solution has fueled amazing growth for more than four years.

Xamarin has more than 15,000 customers in 120 countries, including more than one hundred Fortune 500 companies - and more than 1.3 million unique developers have taken advantage of their offering. Top enterprises such as Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola Bottling, Thermo Fisher, Honeywell and JetBlue use Xamarin, as do gaming companies like SuperGiant Games and Gummy Drop. Through Xamarin Test Cloud, all types of mobile developers—C#, Objective-C, Java and hybrid app builders —can also test and improve the quality of apps using thousands of cloud-hosted phones and devices. Xamarin was recently named one of the top startups that help run the Internet.

Microsoft has had a longstanding partnership with Xamarin, and have jointly built Xamarin integration into Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our Enterprise Mobility Suite to provide developers with an end-to-end workflow for native, secure apps across platforms. We have also worked closely together to offer the training, tools, services and workflows developers need to succeed.

With today’s acquisition announcement we will be taking this work much further to make our world class developer tools and services even better with deeper integration and enable seamless mobile app dev experiences. The combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services, and Azure delivers a complete mobile app dev solution that provides everything a developer needs to develop, test, deliver and instrument mobile apps for every device. We are really excited to see what you build with it.

We are looking forward to providing more information about our plans in the near future – starting at the Microsoft //Build conference coming up in a few weeks, followed by Xamarin Evolve in late April. Be sure to watch my Build keynote and get a front row seat at Evolve to learn more!

 

This announcement is huge.  Expect Xamarin technology to quickly become free and fully integrated in Visual Studio.  Expect Unity to eventually get a version of C# that isn’t from the stone age.  Put simply, expect the usage to C#, especially in the mobile space, to absolutely explode!

 

I’ve been waiting a decade for this news!  I look forward to seeing exactly how all of this plays out.

GameDev News, Programming , ,

21. December 2015

 

FNA began life as a MonoGame port to SDL2.  Since then it has been used to port nearly 40 games to Mac and Linux including Axiom Verge, Terraria and Dust.  Today the first formal release was announced.  The follow excerpt from the formal press release:

Details: After three years of development and dozens of commercially-released ports, developer Ethan "flibitijibibo" Lee is announcing the first official release of the FNA project.

FNA is a brand new open source reimplementation of the Microsoft XNA 4.0 Refresh runtime libraries for Windows, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux. Originating as a rewrite of MonoGame's desktop platform, FNA features a complete reimplementation of the graphics and audio subsystems in addition to a dramatic increase in portability on the desktop. With a single FNA binary, it is possible to ship for Windows/Mac/Linux without having to recompile for each individual target.

FNA is also a complementary library to the MonoGame project; while MonoGame intends to succeed XNA 4.0, FNA intends to preserve XNA 4.0 with accuracy and preservation as the project's top priorities. With XNA-compliant code and content, a game can be running under FNA with nothing more than a new project file.

Demonstrated as production-ready through over three dozen released titles, FNA has enabled critically-acclaimed titles such as Axiom Verge, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Hacknet, Rogue Legacy, Apotheon, Terraria, and more to be deployed across desktop platforms with confidence. Along with XNA games, a handful of MonoGame titles have also made the move to FNA, including Wyv and Keep, Bleed, Wizorb, and the upcoming 1.12 update for FEZ.

HIGHLIGHTS:

- FNA is now officially released
- A free, open source reimplementation of XNA 4.0
- Windows, Mac, and Linux support with a single binary
- Already ships in dozens of games for Windows/Mac/Linux
- Developed by professional video game porter Ethan Lee

 

FNA source is now available on Github or binaries can be downloaded here. A much longer release blog is available here.

GameDev News ,

8. September 2015

 

Over the past couple months I have been working on a series of posts covering MonoGame with the intention of compiling them into an e-book when finished.  There have been a few preview builds of the book available to Patreon supporters (thanks by the way!).  Now however I consider the series to be complete so I am making the book available to all.  I will eventually be creating a more complete and formal homepage for the title but this one should work in the meantime.

 

Truth of the matter is, I had intended to cover a great deal more on the subject, but the level of traffic simply doesn’t justify the further expenditure of time.  That said, I leave the book at a state I think it should prove useful for anyone getting started in XNA or MonoGame game development, it is as comprehensive as any beginner XNA book currently available.  The book is composed of seven chapters:

 

Chapter One

An Introduction and Brief History


Book Cover

Chapter Two

Getting Started with MonoGame on Windows


Chapter Three

Getting Started with MonoGame on MacOS


Chapter Four

Creating an Application


Chapter Five

2D Graphics


Chapter Six

Audio Programming


Chapter Seven

3D Graphics 

 

 

 

Of course, the tutorials based here on GameFromScratch are still going to be available in addition to this PDF.  There is also a complete video tutorial series to go along with each chapter in the book available here.

 

With today’s release of the book, I also have published a github repository containing all of the source code used in the book.  This is a single Visual Studio solution containing each example as a separate project.  For some reason I don’t quite understand, all of the chapters are mismatched by one.  So for example the code in Chapter 8 on Github actually corresponds with Chapter 7 in the book.  Oops.

 

Alright, enough blathering, here is the book in PDF format.  I can make it available in other e-reader formats if requested.

EDIT: Here is an untested epub version of the book.

EDIT2: Now it has been posted on Smashwords as well, which should ultimately make it available from a number of sources.

 

If you enjoyed this free e-book and would like to see more similar free books, or would like access to books in development, please consider supporting GameFromScratch on Patreon.

 

 

Cheers!

Mike

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