Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ready, set, go: Create games

Microsoft has released the first public beta of its XNA Game Studio Express I told you about yesterday.

The software allows anyone to create videogames for XBox 360 and the Windows PC environments.

Novice game creators can download the tool today at no charge. The games built on Windows PCs can be migrated to the Xbox 360 console system starting this holiday season as part of the XNA Creators Club subscription for $99 a year, or a four-month trial cost of $49, opening up retail console game development to anyone for the first time.

Already, more than 100 schools have requested information on how they can incorporate XNA Game Studio Express into their curricula, including Southern Methodist University’s Guildhall and the University of Southern California’s GamePipe, Microsoft announced additional support from DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington, a leader in the field of digital interactive entertainment education.

Through its ProjectFUN software running on XNA Game Studio Express and summer workshops starting in 2007, DigiPen will bring Xbox 360 console game development for the first time ever to thousands of children ages 10 through 16.

“XNA Game Studio Express is an incredibly accessible tool for making games for Microsoft’s game platforms and will provide our university students with modern tools and console development experience,” said Claude Comair, founder and chairman of the board at DigiPen Institute of Technology. “And now with our ProjectFun for XNA Game Studio Express, we’re eager to extend our educational offerings on Windows and Xbox 360 to include young children.”

The final version of XNA Game Studio Express launches in time for Christmas with a professional version launching in spring 2007.

-- Ubisoft has announced release of Brothers In Arms D-Day, a World War II squad-based action game developed specifically for the PSP system. Players will experience the intensity of WWII through the stories of Sergeants Baker and Hartsock and their squad of paratroopers during the Normandy invasion.

-- Gamer’s Gate announced release of Bad day L.A, a cinematic satire that plays off the “fear culture” of modern America by plunging players into a storyline where the city of Los Angeles is barraged with disasters. The game combines comedy, chaos management gameplay, a unique art style created by Kozyndan, an over-the-top ironic story and a cast of characters that find themselves in goofy, often surreal missions.

-- Capcom's Dead Rising, the company’s first game for Xbox 360, has shipped more than 500,000 units within the first two weeks of its launch. Dead Rising is an M-rated, action horror game that follows the harrowing tale of Frank West, an overly zealous freelance photojournalist in pursuit of the story of a lifetime. What he finds is a small suburban town completely overrun by zombies. He seeks refuge in the local shopping mall, but soon learns it is far from the safe haven he had thought.

-- Konami has shipped Bomberman: Act Zero for the Xbox 360. In the game, players are challenged to survive through 99 stages as they try to escape an experimental underground facility and destroy their opponents to fight for survival in a terrifying industrial future. Zero features a breakthrough “FPB” (First Person Bomber) mode that gives players complete control over the camera, allowing for a tight over the shoulder view of the action or a birds-eye perspective of the entire battlefield.

-- The latest official Oblivion plug-in, Spell Tomes, will be available for download on Xbox Live and at Thursday.

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