Hello everybody and welcome to the XNA Team Blog. This is an exciting time for myself and everyone else on the team as we finally get to go public tomorrow morning at Gamefest with the “Big Thing” we’ve been working on. I’m pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t been leaked and expect there to be excitement out there as the implications of what we are doing become apparent.I’ll talk more about the big announcement after it happens tomorrow. Until then, let me tell you a little about the strange/fun journey which as been XNA.XNA was announced with much fanfare at GDC in March 2004. For many reasons the first XNA announcement was louder than it should have been. Everyone wanted to talk about the Xbox 360, which wasn’t going to be announced, or even confirmed, until E3 in May. Next generation graphics were the thing and we knew we had to show some of it.The real XNA message was supposed to be about solving the deeper problems in the game industry. Most people don’t realize this but games are a tough business. As the graphics quality bar rises, so does the art costs. Many games are better looking than they are fun and their sales suffer while the costs soar. Most games lose money while a few make lots. Hopefully, the ones that make money make enough to cover all of the ones that lose.This creates a situation where the industry is afraid to try anything really innovative. Certain game play styles and genres sell in a “predictable” sort of way and, thus, appear to have less financial risk associated with them. This is why we see so many sequels on the market, so many copycat games, and so few real innovations.To throw more fuel on the fire: making games is hard (we hope to fix that). In addition to the technology being hard, game studios have been fast and loose in their development process creating poor practices and controls around how things get done. This leads to delays, overruns, and games that are unplayable when they ship and require a big patch to finish them. It isn’t fun for the people making the games who work long hours, and the turnover in the industry is crippling. There just aren’t enough educated and talented new people coming in to meet demand.The big XNA announce at GDC in 2004 was really about a project to fix some of the deep issues in the industry, although most people thought it was about the Xbox 360 which we couldn’t talk about yet. Some people thought we were going to make a game engine, and some thought it was all a big joke as then things went quiet for a few years. None of those were true.Just over two years ago, I was the Development Manager for Xbox Live. I must have done a good enough job helping to define and build that service that they asked me to run the new XNA team. The offer felt a lot like the beginning of XBL as there was a lot of opportunity, big meaty problems, and very little clear direction. The task was: given the outline I just described above, go figure out, build and ship whatever XNA should be. And don’t take too long either.I quickly made a few key hires and got a small, but talented team together. We then talked to a lot of people in the industry. The idea was to not only listen to their complaints, but actually watch what they do and see what bothers them the most.Here is a sample of issues we found:
Boyd MultererProduct Unit Manager - XNA
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