Hello Again, XNA, Long Time No Code!

After finishing Diver 2, I decided to step back and think about where I wanted to go next with my game development.  I still had a ton of ideas for what I thought would be interesting games, but at the time, from a platform standpoint, I was not sure which direction to go.

Originally, there were really only two options I was considering: Silverlight or Flash.

Silverlight:

I've already created 3 full games for Silverlight (Diver, Tire Storm, Diver 2), and various mini-games/demos (Water Demo, We Are Bugs, Keep Away).

I've  been a Microsoft developer professionally for about 10 years, so Silverlight, Visual Studio, and C# all just fit like a glove.  The development environment is a joy to work with.

The biggest downside of developing games with Silverlight is its current lack of any sort of game development ecosystem.  No major game portals support it (there are some up and comers however: www.mashooo.com, www.silverarcade.com), few forums exist for Silverlight game development, and only about 50% of the potential players have it already installed on their computer.  (This number is growing every day: www.riastats.com)

This all boils down to one very important thing. Right now, It's very difficult to monetize Silverlight games.  Counting all my games combined, I currently bring in about 20 to 50 dollars a month.  Pays for hosting, but not much else.

Flash:

I've had my eye on Flash ever since I started using Silverlight.  Flash is where I want Silverlight to be.  It has a massive game developer ecosystem.  All major online game portals: www.Kongregate.com, www.AddictingGames.com, www.ArmorGames.com, www.NewGrounds.com, etc.., specialize in Flash games. There are micro-payment systems that can be used to sell in-game goods,  there are API's for just about anything you want to do in a game (high scores, achievements, network play), advertising options are everywhere...  It's just busting with game development goodness.

It also has some very nice game engines that are very enticing.  One in particular, the Push Button Engine (PBE), with it's component based architecture intrigues me to no end. 

So, why not go with Flash?  Well, I actually did start down that road, but a couple things, very recently, drew me in a different direction... for now.

Enter XNA:

When I was just beginning to get more serious about game development the first version of XNA Game Studio was just coming out.

Needless to say, I jumped in with both feet.  With the promise of being able to eventually deploy games to the XBox 360 and the fact that I could use Visual Studio and C#, how could I pass it up?  At the time, I couldn’t and didn’t.

Shortly after developing and releasing the Farseer Physics Engine for XNA, Silverlight came out and Bill Reiss ported my physics engine over to it.  Long story short, Silverlight intrigued me enough to eventually pull my attention away from XNA. I eventually handed the Farseer Physics Engine development and community management off to Ian Qvist (genbox) who has been doing a stellar job with it ever since.

I kind of lost touch with XNA while working on my Silverlight games.  However, a few weeks ago I happened across a Gamer Bytes article discussing what some of the top XNA Indie games made in 2009.  Lets just say it piqued my interest.

Now I don’t have grand delusions of making it rich developing XBox 360 Indie games, but I have some good game ideas and I think the platform has great potential…. and did I mention I get to use Visual Studio and C#?

So I’ve officially decided to jump back into XNA and develop a game or two to see how thinks shake out.

I’ve already begun work on my first XBox 360 Indie title. I’m starting out simple in order to get a feel for the platform. and developing a fleshed out version of my We Are Bugs game, which was originally an entry for a Silverlight 10k coding contest.  I have some good ideas on how to expand the game.

After that, who  can say, but I’d love to try and bring something like Krashlander to the platform. Will need to prototype the controls though…

Well, this has been a monster post.  I’m looking forward to getting back into the XNA community.  Wish me luck!

-Jeff Weber