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The Future of XNA Game Studio and Windows 8

Games built on Microsoft's toolset will work on Windows 8, but there's a catch.

Fez has been in development for nearly five years, all thanks to XNA Game Studio.

We're all looking forward to Fez, right?

Phil Fish's mind bender was built on XNA Game Studio, Microsoft's widely applauded development toolset. Every game that's published within Xbox Live's Indie Games store was created using XNA.

Microsoft started rolling out details on the next iteration of Windows 8 this week, the latest update to its operating system. Tested's Will Smith has a detailed writeup of an early build that's surprisingly promising, but game developers became vocal on Twitter this week over word coming down that XNA wouldn't work in Windows 8--at all.

That's only partially true. Here the statement Microsoft provided to me:

“XNA Game Studio remains the premier tool for developing compelling games for both Xbox LIVE Indie Games and Windows Phone 7; more than 70 Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone and more than 2000 published Xbox LIVE Indie Games have used this technology. While the XNA Game Studio framework will not be compatible with Metro style games, Windows 8 offers game developers the choice to develop games in the language they are most comfortable with and at the complexity level they desire. If you want to program in managed C#, you can. If you want to write directly to DirectX in C++, you can. Or if you want the ease of use, flexibility, and broad reach of HTML and Javascript, you can use that as well. Additionally, the Windows 8 Store offers the same experience as the current App Hub marketplace for XNA Game Studio, providing a large distribution base for independent and community game developers around the world.”

Here's what that means: XNA cannot be used to create "Metro" style software, so anything built on XNA cannot be sold in the "Metro" application store rolling out alongside Windows 8. It's still an unfortunate turn of events, as the new "Metro" layout is the centerpiece of Windows 8 and epitomizes Microsoft's big push to spin its new interface across multiple platforms.

"Metro" applications are not meant to as ambitious as traditional applications--more focused, directed. And as Microsoft points out, there is still a marketplace for their wares, in addition to the regular ol' Internet.

If developers want to continue working with XNA, those games will play just fine within Windows 8, but if they'd like to be part of the "Metro" storefront, they'll have to turn towards other options. It's not the best scenario, but it's not the worst, either.

To get a better sense of Windows 8 and Microsoft's new "Metro" layout, watch Tested's hands-on.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Fez has been in development for nearly five years, all thanks to XNA Game Studio.

We're all looking forward to Fez, right?

Phil Fish's mind bender was built on XNA Game Studio, Microsoft's widely applauded development toolset. Every game that's published within Xbox Live's Indie Games store was created using XNA.

Microsoft started rolling out details on the next iteration of Windows 8 this week, the latest update to its operating system. Tested's Will Smith has a detailed writeup of an early build that's surprisingly promising, but game developers became vocal on Twitter this week over word coming down that XNA wouldn't work in Windows 8--at all.

That's only partially true. Here the statement Microsoft provided to me:

“XNA Game Studio remains the premier tool for developing compelling games for both Xbox LIVE Indie Games and Windows Phone 7; more than 70 Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone and more than 2000 published Xbox LIVE Indie Games have used this technology. While the XNA Game Studio framework will not be compatible with Metro style games, Windows 8 offers game developers the choice to develop games in the language they are most comfortable with and at the complexity level they desire. If you want to program in managed C#, you can. If you want to write directly to DirectX in C++, you can. Or if you want the ease of use, flexibility, and broad reach of HTML and Javascript, you can use that as well. Additionally, the Windows 8 Store offers the same experience as the current App Hub marketplace for XNA Game Studio, providing a large distribution base for independent and community game developers around the world.”

Here's what that means: XNA cannot be used to create "Metro" style software, so anything built on XNA cannot be sold in the "Metro" application store rolling out alongside Windows 8. It's still an unfortunate turn of events, as the new "Metro" layout is the centerpiece of Windows 8 and epitomizes Microsoft's big push to spin its new interface across multiple platforms.

"Metro" applications are not meant to as ambitious as traditional applications--more focused, directed. And as Microsoft points out, there is still a marketplace for their wares, in addition to the regular ol' Internet.

If developers want to continue working with XNA, those games will play just fine within Windows 8, but if they'd like to be part of the "Metro" storefront, they'll have to turn towards other options. It's not the best scenario, but it's not the worst, either.

To get a better sense of Windows 8 and Microsoft's new "Metro" layout, watch Tested's hands-on.

Staff Online
Posted by PerryVandell

I still need to take a closer look at Windows 8.

Posted by Grimluck343

Kinda sucks.

Posted by Clubvodka

Hmm as if Microsoft wasn't shafting XNA/Indie game developers enough already. Developers who make XNA games (despite 90% being total shit) have my deepest respect.

Posted by takua108

Well, it makes sense... XNA is for making games, and C#/XAML and HTML5/CSS/JavaScript are for making Metro apps. It does kind of suck that you can't sell your XNA games in the store, but there's always Steam, and, y'know, your own website.

Posted by Origina1Penguin

But are the people who are enthusiastic about Metro even the same people that would be buying XBL Indie Games in the first place? I like the interface and all, but I don't see launching a desktop application outside of the Metro start screen as a problem in the slightest if I'm looking to buy/play these games.

Posted by Falconer
"...so anything built on XNA cannot be sold in the "Metro" application store rolling out alongside Windows 8"

"...but if they'd like to be part of the "Metro" storefront, they'll have to turn towards other options"

That's not true at all. Anything can be sold in the Windows Store (both legacy applications and Metro-style apps). The only difference is that Microsoft may take a cut from sales (similar to Apple) with legacy applications, but they will not take any cut from Metro apps.

Posted by astonish

This isn't a big deal. XNA apps, like any app, could theoretically be listed in the store, you just can't directly buy, install and patch them through that store. But you also can't do that with quicken, photoshop, etc... Although it is more powerful than what im about to describe, the metro stuff I saw at the build conference this week essentially boils down to a super start menu with embedded widgets. Games, and hardcore apps like photoshop, office, programming tools, etc will still use the traditional desktop and this is where games will reside as well...

Posted by Odog4ever

I think it needs to be keep in mind that the "Windows Store" will also sale non-Metro style applications. The way it was demonstrated at the BUILD keynote it that those apps will have a listing but link to an external site. So basically somebody browsing the store can still find apps that aren't provided by the store. I think the example they uses was Quicken or some other business-type app.

With XBL coming to Windows 8 and I'd be shocked if there wasn't some sort of game discoverablity / purchasing options although I haven't seen it yet.

Posted by SoundChaser

It's stupid that Microsoft is basically shoehorning their own technology like that. Especially the fact that you can develop Metro apps with C# but not with XNA is really strange, as XNA is just a C# framework. XNA is a great framework that makes programming games a lot easier, so why would they limit themselves like that?

Posted by groin

@takua108: XNA uses C# so that is not Metro exclusive. One can write a Metro app in C++, HTML/Javascript, or any of the .NET languages. Microsoft is trying to give programmers a clean slate in Windows 8 by forcing all Metro apps to use their WinRT (WinRT demystified: http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2011/Sep-15.html). Miguel de Icaza states "Microsoft has created a cool new UI library called WinRT and they have made it easy to consume from .NET, Javascript and C++ and if you adhere by their guidelines, they will publish the app on their appstore."

Posted by zebwinz

Only took 20 minutes to install Windows 8. Spent 10 minutes looking for the off button (Not because I didn't like it, I just couldn't find the damned thing!)

Posted by Cybexx

XNA was always more of a Xbox Indie development platform so this makes sense. At least Windows 8 should come with a .Net framework capable of running XNA games which theoretically makes installing XNA games on Windows less painful.

Posted by warmonked

I'm guessing APIs to get your programs into the W8 store will eventually find their way to XNA tools. I'm not worried.

Posted by arnavdesai

Actually its not true that only Metro apps will be sold via the store. All traditional applications based on XNA(which is C# based) & even C++ apps will be sold Via the store i.e. MS wont host the files(i.e. games in this case) but will provide a link to which to download from. This allows them to recieve the recognition most of them deserve but MS does not charge a cut as they are not hosting the files which only seems fair.

Also, by integrating Xbox Live service & UI(as an app) they could potentially open up XNA games to even more folks ( this is my guess & nothing I know has been announced along those lines)

Posted by Protonguy

@zebwinz said:

Only took 20 minutes to install Windows 8. Spent 10 minutes looking for the off button (Not because I didn't like it, I just couldn't find the damned thing!)

lol had that problem too.

Took me a few minutes to figure out how to leave a fullscreen app other than hitting ctrl-esc as well (had no idea there was a hidden menu bottom left). Not everything is super intuitive for a mouse and keyboard yet ;).

Posted by TheGanjaKing

Ugh, I want to play Fez so bad. Does anybody have a more specific idea when that game is actually coming out?

Posted by Th3dz

It's pretty sad. I've been developing with xna for almost 4 years now. Kind of breaks my heart a little. The community is great and the developers using xna are great people. Maybe this is the start of the end of xna, maybe not. Still sad...

Posted by Rhythm

Not sure I follow. XNA can be used to develop WP7 games, which are then sold in the Metro-themed WP7 Marketplace. What's changed for them to sever links between the two initiatives?

Posted by devoninja

@Rhythm: The WinPhone7 UI is not Metro UI. They are already separate but Metro UI takes cues from the WinPhone7 UI.

Posted by ProfessorEss

From the responses, I'm not convinced most of you even understand what's being said. 

Posted by tourgen

Microsoft rolls out and then marginalizes APIs and "platforms" so frequently I can't take them seriously anymore.

Posted by Enigma777

@ProfessorEss said:

From the responses, I'm not convinced most of you even understand what's being said.

Doesn't mean we can't grumble and bitch!

Fuck M$! Fuck potatoes! Fuck the president of French Guiana!

Posted by dcgc

Yeah, so the devs wont be able to use Metro API to the XNA development of their games... I really don't see Windows 8, along with the Metro-like App's that it has, being that promising has people are saying it could be or it is. At least for home-PC's, I don't really see the OS fitting in it. It's just not the right OS philosophy for this kind of hardware. But then again, in the future, maybe Desktop PC's for casual use could be a minority. On the tablet side of things, it could be the opposite. 
 
If developers would want to develop their games optimized for tablet control and release their games on a tablet OS such as Windows 8, this is bad because the Metro App is the main attraction. In my opinion, it won't affect in anyway the development of games with XNA for Windows 8 (meaning it, the game's success or failure)...

Posted by Brackynews

Reminds me of a quote from West Wing (no video sorry).

"Not the best, not the worst, juuuuust what we're stuck with."

Posted by Palaeomerus

Uggh. 2nd gen touch-tablet-media-device oriented Windows supplanting "real" windows. I hate it.

Edited by Cubical

What the fuck is this Tablet and console noob Xbox crap doing in fucking windows 8? I don't want this crap I already got a fucking Android based tablet phone that is not wha tI buy fucking windows for.

Where in the fuck is the real standard desktop? Fuck you microsoft I am not upgrading and I am using linux and your old ass windows 7 I bought like 3 years ago and your even older ass windows xp.

No start menu WHAT the fuck are they doing?

Posted by bio595

I don't see anything that says that games using the XNA framework won't be able to be run in the desktop environment.

From what I saw from tested, and doing a tiny bit of research, I'd guess that either there is a conflict in the fundamental way Metro Apps run and the way XNA works.

Or

Microsoft has a way of doing things for Metro that they think is pretty cool, and they want people to actually use it.

I think that maybe its a bit of both.

Posted by clstirens

@Cubical said:

What the fuck is this Tablet and console noob Xbox crap doing in fucking windows 8? I don't want this crap I already got a fucking Android based tablet phone that is not wha tI buy fucking windows for.

Where in the fuck is the real standard desktop? Fuck you microsoft I am not upgrading and I am using linux and your old ass windows 7 I bought like 3 years ago and your even older ass windows xp.

No start menu WHAT the fuck are they doing?

I honestly cannot believe someone is freaking out this much... I mean, this is a gaming site, so I'm used to seeing completely idiotic levels of hatred and stupidity, but you're taking it too far man...

Don't like windows 7? Fine, you can even tell us you don't use it, but there are ways to say that without using the word "fuck." Don't agree with the changes in windows 8? That's great! Come tell us all about it! But you don't have to be such a vile pit of hatred, loathing, and unending disgust.

You prefer linux, and that's fantastic. Could you avoid spitting such lethal amounts of venom into our comments section?

Posted by CartBlanche

This is indeed a kick in the teeth to those who have worked so hard with XNA. Luckily MonoGame is trying to create an OpenSource with OpenGL alternative to XNA, while still aiming for XNA 4.0 compatibility. I'm sure they could use some expert XNA help.

Posted by mlarrabee

Microsoft has done a good deal more than appropriate, and a very great deal more than expected regarding independent game development. This news is disappointing and - considering the amount of push they've given XNA - it sounds like a poor business maneuver. But this is not the end of their support for indie game developers. Platforms must move forward, and as much as it pressures small development teams this progress must and will come.

@clstirens: Well said, sir.

Posted by Tan

Yeesh, this is all of kinds of weird. More reason to never leave steam.

Posted by Moonshadow101

Anyone who has been keeping up with the development of both Windows 8 and XNA should read this and say "Of course not." If integration between XNA and Windows 8 Metro does happen, it would have to be in the context of a major XNA release, not in the context of this upcoming Windows release. That's just silly.

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

@Tan said:

Yeesh, this is all of kinds of weird. More reason to never leave steam.

That type of thinking usually harms game developers. You should be a big boss man. ;)

Posted by AlbinoJerk

So it will still be supported, but it will be marginalized in the interface?  kind of a bummer still. 

Posted by subyman

Not a big deal. XNA is for desktop and console games, metro is targeting the tablet scene. The needs are different. MS will most likely provide either extensions or a new dev suite in the future, but as of this moment it is not supported.

Posted by GoodKn1ght

@Cubical said:

What the fuck is this Tablet and console noob Xbox crap doing in fucking windows 8? I don't want this crap I already got a fucking Android based tablet phone that is not wha tI buy fucking windows for.

Where in the fuck is the real standard desktop? Fuck you microsoft I am not upgrading and I am using linux and your old ass windows 7 I bought like 3 years ago and your even older ass windows xp.

No start menu WHAT the fuck are they doing?

It's people like you that just need to not exist. Not saying I want you to die, just to never have been born at all. Like really look at your former posts

"Console noobs don't have PC that can run Ultima 4 and they should not even try and if for some magic reason they did have one they can not handle it. and if they cant handle playing it they should not try to play it."

"Oh in other words they mean the real PC games not that fucking suck ass console noob versions that looked like ass and dumb down the controls and gameplay."

"Fuck this game they turned syndicate into a console noob FPS for call of crap noobs who don't even know what a fucking decent FPS even is."

"He has only done one halo game and never finshed it. in other words He wanted to fuck with the games and make something insane and microsoft said no so he had a hissy fit and left. IF i only I could have that power I get fucked over my company makes me make crap for a fucking worthless Apple products like the Ipad and we used to work on the fucking PC engine and xbox unreal engine. Not that I care about fucking halo and console noob shooters, thank god when we make one of those that is when I quit or they force us to make crap like gears of war."

Seriously, you're an ass. You do not deserve your first amendment right. It should be stripped from you then shoved up your ass because, frankly, you deserve it. I really hope for your sake and the sake of anyone that has the unfortunate displeasure to call you their friend or co worker that you are only like this on the internet, because if this is how you acted in real life I pity anyone you ever come in contact with and pray to god that our paths never cross.

Posted by Scribbly

@GoodKn1ght said:

Seriously, you're an ass. You do not deserve your first amendment right. It should be stripped from you then shoved up your ass because, frankly, you deserve it. I really hope for your sake and the sake of anyone that has the unfortunate displeasure to call you their friend or co worker that you are only like this on the internet, because if this is how you acted in real life I pity anyone you ever come in contact with and pray to god that our paths never cross.

A-fucking-men.

Posted by hi_im_rob

Microsoft needs to hire Phil Fish and get cracking on the Fez UI for Windows 9.

Ever wonder what a spreadsheet look like from side? Well you're gonna find out soon, bitch.

Posted by ch3burashka

Nice passive-aggressive tone, there, Microsoft. "Sure, you can be an asshole and code in C++, or you can join the cool kids' table and start using some fucking HTML. You pussy."

Posted by Shivoa

"While the XNA Game Studio framework will not be compatible with Metro style games, Windows 8 offers game developers the choice to develop games in the language they are most comfortable with and at the complexity level they desire. If you want to program in managed C#, you can. If you want to write directly to DirectX in C++, you can."

Erm, so we get XNA locked off in the legacy app world (this is obvious for XNA 1-4) but I read that as no plans to update GS with a 5.0 release for Win8/WinRT/Metro, maybe taking the thing to DX11.1. I know XNA GS got rebranded as 'WinPho7' when they launched that extension but I expected that to be a limited time promotion of the new device supported rather than MS throwing in the towel on the PC and giving up on getting past DX9. So no XNA on xbox 720 / DX11? Are they going to leave it as a WinPho7/360 IG platform and take the lessons in a new direction with a new API (first on PC, then xbox 720, then finally WinPho 8-9 depending how the GPU market matures - DX11.1 has hooks for announcing a tile based rendering GPU which seems aimed at when mobile GPU get to DX11 support level in a few years in ARM tablets)?

On the more interesting side, C# is still promoted in the above quote (not surprising as it is MS's major .Net platform and where all the VB coders were migrated to in business) so maybe they're planning on resurrecting the Managed DirectX brand for a new DX11.1/WinRT API that XNA users will migrate to if they want 3D access and MetroUI. Not calling it XNA 5 will allow them to be compatibility breaking without providing migration tools for existing XNA projects, which lies in with a major redesign of the system. I really hope they don't just drop DirectX support from XNA (although the likes of SlimDX provide 3rd party support for those who want it and may find extra support from the more experienced coders if they see XNA's death coming with no obvious replacement beyond moving to C++).

Posted by mnzy

It's 2011 and HTML and Javascript is King of the Hill in Windows 8? We are living in a 1999s programmers nightmare.

Online
Posted by lightsoda

Had me worried there, I'll just get back to development now. Carry on.

Posted by eXists

All this hype about HTML5 and JavaScript, fine for applications but not gaming for gamers. Angry birds is fun for a few minutes and that's it! And that's pretty much the max u'll be able to do using this tech.

Mass market yep but mass boring for gamers that belong to this site

My 0.02

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@ProfessorEss said:

From the responses, I'm not convinced most of you even understand what's being said.

Indeed. This is really poor on MS's part. They are literally saying that XNA games will be discouraged on Windows 8.

Edited by Dredlockz
@lightsoda

Had me worried there, I'll just get back to development now. Carry on.

Same. Seriously, who give's a shit about microsoft's shitty new app store?
I wasn't planning on publishing anything on it anyway. Rather go indie all the way and Steam maybe.
Posted by Fobwashed

I'm currently mid developing an XNA title myself and my two cents is that I don't really care whether or not the game I'm making will play nice with the new boxy Windows. I'm not sure that I'd want to release it in Microsoft's app store over hopefully releasing on Steam anyway.

Pretty much, everything will still run, it's just not going to be integrated into the super boxy touchy feely format.

Online
Posted by ProfessorEss

@SeriouslyNow said:

@ProfessorEss said:

From the responses, I'm not convinced most of you even understand what's being said.

Indeed. This is really poor on MS's part. They are literally saying that XNA games will be discouraged on Windows 8.

Maybe, and yes MS is terrible about communicating what's going on but I have my suspicions that Metro is going to turn out to be more of a portal/syncing area for one's mobile devices - almost in the same vein that Mac games aren't advertised in the App store because they don't work with the current device (or in this case section of the OS) that you're currently browsing with.

That make any sense? That the only things that will be shown in Metro are things that have been made for Metro devices.

Obviously I don't know anything I'm just not convinced this is the outragable snowjob that it's being made out to be. Though I will admit, MS's history - anything is possible.

Posted by MeatSim

That's kind of a downer still even if it's not the worst thing possible.

Posted by spartan1017

hell yeah i'm looking forward to Fez!

now to read the rest of the article...

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