Build a Yuletide Game for your family and friends!  It's that time of year for many cultures that thoughts turn to family, friends and exchanging gifts!

Winter has descended upon my family here in Southern California (SoCal as I like to think of it) and with the lengthening of the night and bitter cold, my thoughts have turned to the Yuletide. (Ok, in SoCal, we don’t really have bitter cold, but I do have to wear shoes most of the time this time of year.)

With the economy being the way it is these days, a lot of people think about making Christmas gifts for their friends and family. Some people knit tea cozies; others make things out of paper or wood. But what about making a fun game that can be played on the Xbox, Windows? Wouldn’t that be a way to use your skills on the computer to give others a gift that shows that you are thinking of them?  XNA is a cool way to build interesting games that work on Windows XP, Vista and XBox 360.

To build a really cool game without using existing code takes time, there are advantages:

  • You understand the code better
  • Can fix problems faster

The disadvantages are that you have to take the time to write the code and understand XNA, which you should do, but sometimes it is better start with existing software to build game present.

Let’s get started, first of all, make sure you have downloaded and installed one of the versions of Visual Studio 2008, the Visual Studio 2008 C# Express is the way to go since it is free and XNA is free. When you download it is very IMPORTANT that you register, there is a free online book that tells you all about how to program, but you can get only if you register your C# Express. If you have another version of Visual Studio 2008, then you have don’t have to load C# 2008 Express, but it is handy.  If you are a student you may qualify for Dreamspark and gain the ability to transfer the program to the XBox using the Dreamspark or MSDNAA program.

Use existing utilities to build fun games to give away as a gift to others.

To start building a Yuletide game, we will need to make sure your computer can handle the requirements to run XNA, the problem occurs when you have an older video card, there are some work around's for certain cards, you will need to do research and determine if there is a solution.  My assumption is that you are using Visual Studio C# 2008, if you are using a professional version than I assume that you can translate between the two versions.  Now, let's do the test:

Open Visual Studio C# Express 2008

  • Select File-New Project then from the dialog box select XNA Game Studio Projects and then Windows Game (3.0)
  • Press F5, a blue form should display
  • If a blue form appeared, then your hardware will likely do what we need to do
  • If an error message appears, you will need to upgrade your video card, but before you do check the XNA forums for help on solving this problem, the forums are a great resource.

Now to get used to building games, use the Pong game in my archives to implement a simple game, don't worry about the theory, what everything means, it is more important that you get used to writing programs.

Once you have gotten the Pong Game working, we will move on to building a flashing light display using XNA.