by Microsoft Evangelist Lee Stott

Developing high quality professional games can be costly. Developing games for multiple platforms can be complex, error prone, and even more costly. Many established game studios build tools and develop production technologies that make up their game development process or “pipeline.” These investments help studios leverage their game assets between different games and platforms. Rendering engines, user interface tool kits, visibility occlusion, physics simulators, audio video authoring, animation interpolation and artificial intelligence are just a few of the technology categories typically involved in game development.

Some gaming technologies can take many years to develop and fine-tune.Proprietary gaming frameworks are incredibly valuable and many studios consider their investments as strategic as the games they make. Not everyone can afford the time or cost of developing a pipeline however. Luckily, third-party vendors offer end-to-end game development pipelines or individual technology libraries that provide these capabilities. Since Windows 8 launched, many gaming middleware vendors have transitioned their offerings to the new Windows Store app model. Using these products will get your game in the Windows Store much faster and with much less risk. As time progresses, we expect more vendors to announce and ship products for Windows Store game development. The following (in alphabetical order) is a compilation of third-party gaming middleware vendors that (at the time of writing) have announced or delivered versions of their product that support Windows 8 game development.

•appMobi {!}
•Audiokinetic Wwise
•Autodesk Scaleform
•Epic Unreal Engine 3
• Exit Games Photon Server
•Fortumo Mobile Payments
•Firelight Technologies FMOD
•GameSalad Creator
•Havok Physics
•Havok Vision Engine
•Ogre Rendering Engine
•Scirra Construct 2
•Unigine Engine
•Unity 3d
•Yoyo Games GameMaker

Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio is a game development pipeline that targets the Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Windows 8. However, it’s not compatible with Windows Store game development, (although XNA games are supported as Windows 8’s desktop apps). DirectX development with Visual C++/CX borrows many patterns and practices from XNA, and shares many conceptual similarities. So many XNA game developers will find it relatively easy to transition to DirectX and C++ development than ever before. Alternatively, we have seen developers successfully use the open source MonoGame library that replicates many of the XNA Game Studio capabilities. Several articles have been written about leveraging assets created with XNA for games targeting the Windows Store.