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Managed DirectX 2.0, Xna and Me...

Managed DirectX 2.0, Xna and Me...

  • Comments 29

One of the Program Managers for the Xna Framework recently started his first blog.  Unless you have the main RSS feed of this site subscribed, you probably didn't notice his first post, which talks about a lot.

You may have also seen the 'official' press release announcing the Xna Framework.

If you haven't read Al's post yet, I suggest you go do that first.  It's ok, i'll wait for you to get done..

(Yup, i'm still waiting)

(You haven't forgotten about me have you?)

Great, you're back!  Anyway, there's so much stuff I want to talk about and say, but I'm probably going to start rambling and forget mentioning things..  C'est la vie.. 

So anyways, like I mentioned last week, I've moved over to the XBox team and the Xna team specifically.  If you're @ GDC this week, you might have the chance to see some of the demos we have written entirely in managed code running on both Windows as well as the XBox 360.  People have been asking me for what seems like forever if there would be managed support for the Xbox, and I guess we've finally answered that.

Of course, i've also had people tell me numerous times over the last 3 to 4 years that it is essentially impossible to write a game in managed code.  I have no idea why people think that, but obviously we disagree, and our demo's are starting to show that (even considering the early nature of the work we've done).

So what about MDX2 though?  As I'm sure you're now aware (since you *did* go read Al's post), what is now called Managed DirectX 2 will be folded into the Xna Framework.  The assembly itself will still ship (in non-release 'beta' form) until we are ready to ship a pre-release version of the Xna Framework, but in it's current form, it will never be officially "released."

We're working feverishly to get a preview of the Xna Framework out as soon as possible, and I'm quite excited about the work we're doing, and the excitement people will have when they see it.  It's also quite refreshing to have an entire team supporting in these efforts.

I look forward to talking more about some of the exciting things we're doing in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

  • That's really exciting to hear someone like the XNA PM saying, "we need a CLR on the XBox". That is awesome, really exciting.

    Looking forward to the future! Will be interesting to see what XNA will do for the industry.
  • Hey Tom, I was wondering something. Has there been discussion as to whether the XNA Framework is going to be released as a free download like Managed DirectX or are we going to have to purchase XNA Studio? I would hate to see this move take hobbyist development back a step :).
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  • We were already speculating on this in David Weller's thread on GameDev, so this is just great, great news! :D

    The only damper on all of this joy could be that MDX2.0 might only be available through the non-free XNA studio... On the other hand, normal DirectX is also still a free download and I presume you can make enough money from XBox 360 dev kits, so I'll keep my hopes up that MDX2 remains freely available and maybe even an XNA Studio Express might come along.

    Some info on this would be much appreciated though :)
  • Please finish/release/support MDX2 for .NET 2.0/XP/Vista prior to trimming it down (i.e., removing DirectSound, DirectInput/keyboard/mouse, some D3DX, etc.) for the XNA framework (which will likely take yet another 4-6 months).  You seem to be so close to wrapping it up.  It is time to get some "kinetic energy" out of MDX in addition to the "exponential potential".
  • We haven't announced anything on distribution, release vehicles, pricing, or anything of that nature.  However, we do realize that MDX is currently a free download for the Windows platform.  I think the people currently using that won't have much to worry about after upgrading.
  • .NET on XBOX 360 is the best thing we can dream! Now please, allow EVERYBODY to develop homebrew software for it.
  • X-box - will be DirectX-box! It's great!;)
  • If MDX is moving to this new platform, will there be similar MDX releases for the compact framework, or is this the end of the road?
  • After playing around with MDX 1.1 for a while I've moved over to the MDX 2.0 beta and I'm finding it great. I'm just worried about your comments "what is now called Managed DirectX 2 will be folded into the Xna Framework" and Wikipedia's XNA entry ( which kinda imply that MDX 2 is only gonna be available for Vista and the XBox 360.

    I'm presuming that the Wikipedia entry is just misleading me, but I use Windows 2003 for development and there are a lot of people out there that use XP and are gonna be for a long time. Is MDX2/XNA going to be available for those platforms, or is it just Vista/XBox 360?
  • We're not ignoring versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista I can assure you.
  • Will XNA support WinForms (e.g., for tool development)?
  • While this is all very interesting (not to mention extremely impressive).  And it all sounds really great, and honestly there's only one grey-area point that I feel needs to be addressed regarding a final release of XNA (even if it's 100 years from now, by then I'll be sleeping soundly and this won't matter).

    I got into reading about all of this after reading a post from some guy from Microsoft asking for feedback about MDX and XNA from developers.  

    Here's my take (and I'm ONLY referring to the Managed DX portion here, not the rest of the XNA architecture.  That is, if there -is- a point of seperation):

    I'm aware that you haven't outright stated that there'd be a charge for the MDX portions, and you allude that there wouldn't be, however, until I see the words in big flashing red letters on my screen saying "THE MDX PORTIONS WILL STILL BE FREE TO DOWNLOAD, NOW AND FOREVER" I'll continue think the worst (that way I can't possibly be disappointed :))

    IF it's not free, I think it'll drive a LOT of people away.  Not because people think all software should be free (don't get me started on those that do), but because after years and years of being able to write DX apps using a free SDK, to be charged for it would be rediculous, even if it's like $50-$100 (extremely cheap in comparison).  But with alternatives like OpenGL (and its .NET bindings) out there for free, why buy a DX SDK?  Yes, yes, OpenGL is for 3D only, but really, what's the most commonly used component of DX?  Right, D3D, so there's no valid reason there in my opinion (please, no holy war crap about OpenGL vs. D3D, it's been done to death).  I'm a hobbyist when it comes to this stuff, I can take it or leave it, but I'm certainly not going to throw down money on something that's been readily accessible to the public for so long.  Anyway, I think it'd be horrid to start charging for the DX components of the XNA framework.  And that's my opinion, take it for what it's worth.

    Yeah, I'm probably being paranoid, but you guys want opinions/suggestions/feedback/etc... from developers, and that's feedback/opinion on the matter from a paranoid developer with too much time on his hands.  
  • Hi Tom,

    Great post, and great news! This is incredible - I can't believe Microsoft has a whole team devoted to improving managed game development and cross-platform code with the 360!

    My only concern is the talk of "custom versions of the .NET framework". YIKES! Two versions of .NET installed on the same box sounds like a huge potential for DLL Hell 2.0. Not to mention compatibility issues with the huge existing framework, or the inevetable "delay" in releases (ie/ the "normal" framework team releases version 3.0 and a ton of new APIs, while the "gaming" framework team need to port them all over again, resulting in a 9-12 month delay).

    Then there is the issue with WinForms - clearly an API ported to the XBox 360 wouldn't support that.

    Wouldn't it be better to use one framework per platform and extend the class libraries instead? (Microsoft.Gaming namespaces). The existing .NET api documentation could document if a class is available on the 360 or not, similar to how the "compact framework" is today.

    Hopefully it's just wires crossed and confusion in the final press release and what they really meant to say is that the new framework is just the 360 version, not a branched mscorwks.dll on Windows!

    The poster/commented named "John" mentioned WinForms support - I think I need to bring up the issue as well - the ability to host a D3D device on a WinForm is going to be *critical* for tool development.
  • I have to agree with the others here, (those asking you to release MDX2 final, before moving on).

    I've spent the last 6 months working on an engine in MDX. I have also shifted the large majority of my code over to the beta (yeah, may be a bad idea in retrospect). But there are some pretty huge performance gains in MDX2 over 1.1. You are so close to wrapping it up. I for one am not fussed either way whether I can get my application working on an XBox 360. It is really not an issue for many developers. There should be a clear distinction between MDX and XNA, but both should still exist. It seems crazy to kill off MDX2.

    Rob - disapointed :(
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