Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Want to design videogames for Microsoft?

You've been around the pool, at the mall, or in your best friend's living room -- spanking him in Halo -- and you've thought, "I can design a game this good."

I know you have, or at least some of you have (judging from my emails).

Now, Microsoft has created a way for you to create your own XBox 360 or PC titles with its new XNA Game Studio Express. The company says it will "democratize game development by delivering the necessary tools to hobbyists, students, indie developers and studios alike to help them bring their creative game ideas to life while nurturing game development talent, collaboration and sharing that will benefit the entire industry."

Sounds interesting.

The development tools drop in time for Christmas and will be free to anyone with a Windows-based PC.

By joining a "creators club" for an annual subscription fee of $99, users will be able to build, test and share 360 games and download materials to speed up the development process.

The XNA Game Studio Express beta will be available Aug. 30 as a free download on Windows XP, for development on the Windows XP platform.

Of course, there's always the chance that you'll create the next big thing and your title will be bought by Microsoft. I think it's a good move that -- like American Idol -- may deliver some new stars from unexpected places. Better yet, it may give us the groundbreaking games we've craved as well as present some new ideas to make current games better.

-- Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson is the cover boy for EA Sports' upcoming NFL Street 3, due in November.

“This is a big honor to be selected for the cover since street football was the first step to learning our moves for our pro careers,” said Johnson, now sporting a blonde mohawk. “I really like this game and it is so much fun to play with all the new airborne moves you can do now.”

Johnson, a member of the Bengals since 2001, is widely regarded as one of NFL’s elite wideouts, leading the AFC in receptions and receiving yards in 2005-06 and has earned three straight Pro Bowl selections.

In the new game, players can now jump into the air to collect items and game modifiers that exist above the playing field which can change the way the game is played. Once airborne, players can pull off style moves that rack up even more points. Also new to the game is the ability to control the Gamebreakers and pull off extreme power moves that are available to both the offense and the defense.

-- The technology Paris Hilton used to instantly upload her video to YouTube is called ShoZu. ShoZu has given various Warner Brothers artists ShoZu enabled cell phones that instantly upload pictures and video to a wide assortment of photo sharing and viral video sites.

No longer is there a time delay and need to upload content from a PC, with ShoZu it is done straight from the phone with the click of a single button. The technology also lets the user add comments, tags and will notify them once somebody posts comments on the website creating a totally interactive experience strait from the cell phone.

-- DISH Network subs will have on-demand access to Warner Bros. current and catalog titles on the satellite net's video on demand service and its pay-per-view services, including HD.

DISH Network's On Demand service gives customers the power to enjoy movies and other programs whenever they want and is currently available on the DISH Player-DVR 508, DISH Player-DVR 510, DISH Player-DVR 625 and ViP622 DVR receivers.

"Warner Bros. is a great addition to both DISH On Demand and Pay-Per-View," said Susan Arnold, vice president of Programming for EchoStar. "Hit movies such as "V for Vendetta" greatly enhance the variety of movie titles available to our customers."

-- In the Xbox Live marketplace this week, you can play a demo of the new Madden game. You play 1 minute quarters, Pittsburgh against Seattle.

-- Electronic Arts selected the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, Memphis Grizzlies’ Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker and Phoenix Suns’ Boris Diaw to join the Houston Rockets’ Tracy McGrady on the NBA LIVE 07 All-Star team as worldwide cover athletes and spokespersons.

Scheduled for release September 25, NBA LIVE 07 introduces a new, more intuitive AI system, advancements to fan-favorite features like All-Star Weekend and Dynasty Mode, and for the first time ESPN Motion and streaming ESPN radio podcasts.

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