SAN FRANCISCO, March 7, 2005 — Today at the Game Developers Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced new XNA (TM) software that will enable enhanced collaboration between content creators, programmers, management and quality-assurance staff members to speed the game production process. Based on the Microsoft® Visual Studio®
2005 Team System, the latest innovation of the company’s flagship development platform, XNA Studio is an integrated, team-based development environment tailored for game production.
Demand for high-definition content and richer, more involved game worlds will bring increased complexity to the process of creating next-generation games. Game teams are already wrestling with the challenges of growing content requirements, larger and more specialized teams, and globally distributed resources. XNA Studio will address these workflow challenges by delivering an advanced build framework driven by a unified file format. The build framework is partnered with an integrated tool suite to optimize the game production process for all team members.
“The productivity gain from Microsoft’s collaboration and build tools has already been proved for programmers, so the opportunity to bring the same process and technology to content creation is huge,” said Marc Petit, vice president of product development for Discreet, a division of Autodesk Inc. “XNA Studio can have a clear impact on the business of making games and will likely emerge as a differentiating force in game development.”
Integration of Content and Code
Today the content build and integration process is largely ad hoc, fragile and inefficient. The result is that teams spend a considerable amount of time fighting with their build processes, rather than adding new content to their games. XNA Studio puts content at the core of the game development process by delivering reliable, controllable and reusable methods for managing and building content in synchronization with the game code.
“Skyrocketing consumer expectations are putting tremendous pressure on game development teams,” said Chris Satchell, general manager of XNA at Microsoft. “New hardware will be required to deliver the experiences consumers crave, but the real challenge is integrating the whole development process to allow fast iteration of game content and code with minimal rework. This allows developers to realize their visions and deliver higher-quality games more quickly.”
Collaboration Drives Creativity
The next generation of game development will require collaboration across diverse and distributed teams with an environment that is tightly integrated, highly scalable and optimized for content production.
XNA Studio will provide robust versions of key production tools such as asset management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists. These tools will work together seamlessly to automate common development tasks and present interfaces tailored to the different functions within the team. XNA Studio will allow team members to collaborate quickly and effectively using familiar techniques and tools, even when elements of the team are distributed geographically. This all adds up to more developer time generating unique content and less time running the content process.
Key gaming middleware partners continue to support the XNA software development platform and have joined Microsoft in recognizing the need to bring stability and consistency to the game development process. Companies such as AGEIA Technologies Inc; Alias Systems Corp.; Discreet; Havok; and Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology Inc., see the value in the XNA Studio development environment.
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Industry Partners Support XNA Studio
“XNA Studio brings a unifying workflow foundation to help games artists and programmers drive advanced physics content more effectively into their games though standardization of tools interfaces.”
— Manju Hegde, CEO, AGEIA Technologies
“The increased complexity in game development pipelines takes many forms, so developers need a wide range of weapons to contain risk. We are dedicated to bringing solutions that will contribute to solving this challenge and are making sure that the Alias product line will integrate seamlessly with XNA Studio.”
— Geoff Foulds, Global Industry Manager, Games, Alias
“The game industry is incredibly creative and competitive, and 3-D artists are continually driven to deliver richer visual content in less time. Industry collaboration is key to empowering studios to focus on creative concerns rather than on infrastructure and efficiently deliver compelling next-generation titles. At Softimage, working closely with our partners to ensure that developers can easily integrate SOFTIMAGE|XSI software into game development pipelines is a key area of investment.”
— Gareth Morgan, Senior Product Manager, Avid/Softimage
“With 3ds max software established as the content development tool of choice for game developers, and as the demand for high-resolution, next-generation game content increases, we are excited to be working with Microsoft to help integrate the great technology of 3ds max software with Microsoft’s XNA Studio. The advances of both Discreet 3ds max software and Microsoft XNA Studio will help game developers collaborate and stay efficient as their team sizes increase — and help them deliver thrilling entertainment titles for the future of gaming.”
— Marc Petit, Vice President, Product Development, Discreet
“Clear separation between content tools and game engine components and the management of asset lifecycles and team workflow are critical aspects of next-generation game production. Microsoft’s strategy of leveraging the Visual Studio infrastructure for content and code is a clear next step in the evolution of the game development process, and in the support of modular, cross-platform middleware solutions like Havok Complete. We are excited to see these important steps being taken and have been preparing to take full advantage of this infrastructure in our products.”
— Dr. Steve Collins, CTO, Havok
“We are pleased to be a strategic audio tools and middleware partner of choice for Microsoft’s XNA platform, working with it to bring developers and publishers the very best in cross-platform game audio support.”
— George Thorn, Director of Developer Relations, Creative Labs Inc.