GDC: The return of the bedroom coder

Following the official launch of Microsoft’s XNA independent developer tool for Xbox 360 at GDC this week, comes the news that the first batch of independently-developed 360 games are immediately available to download. XNA Studio developers will also be able to use Microsoft’s Zune as a wireless mobile gaming platform.

Initial reports from GDC suggest it'll only be possible to develop XNA games for second gen Zunes making use of the device’s touchpad (the cunningly named Zunepad) and that the first batch of development tools will be made available later this spring.

Microsoft has made no official announcement about a release date or pricing for Zune in the UK, though TechRadar is confident that we should see a release before the end of the year. We will bring you further updates on that as soon as we get them.

The return of the bedroom coder

"Now we have another entry point, which is games made by people in their bedrooms," John Schappert, vice president of the Xbox Live online platform, said at GDC, when announcing the 360 XNA service this week.

"We've seen the democratization of game development, but it will also take something new, the democratization of game distribution," added Schappert.

The first batch of seven XNA-based games are available to download now via Xbox Live, though you will need to download the XNA Launcher before downloading the individual title that takes your fancy. The first batch of 360 XNA games are as follows:

  • JellyCar from Walaber - drive a squishy car through squishy worlds
  • Little Gamers by Loic Dansart - a 2D high definition action side-scroller based on the web comic
  • The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai by James Silva - a 2-D action platform game
  • TriLinea by Edison S. Prata Jr., Renato Pelizzari da Silva and Davi da Silva Prata from Brazil - fast-paced action/ strategy
  • RocketBall by Tyler Wanlass, Patrick Murty and Todd Barrons - a variation on dodgeball
  • ProximityHD by Brian Cable - simple strategy
  • Culture Created by Hidden Path Entertainment - puzzler

Nintendo announces WiiWare

Nintendo also announced at GDC yesterday that it’s ‘WiiWare’ service would be available later this May.

Andy Robinson over on games site explained to us today the essential difference between Nintendo's WiiWare offering and Microsoft's XNA toolset:

"Wii Ware is Nintendo's long-delayed answer to Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, which to be fair has quite a few impressive games lined-up including a new Final Fantasy from Square Enix.

"Xbox Live Community Games, however, is much more exciting to us. This new service lets wanabe game developers - read: blokes in their pants coding - make their own games and offer them to over 10 million Xbox Live members for download.

"For the average gamer, it means even more games to download - even if they're not quite up to par with Geometry Wars - but for the Xbox 360 as a whole its a pretty exciting way of expanding the community to new and even bigger areas."

Adam Hartley