Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Microsoft Knows What It's Doing

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Nintendo changing the video games industry and opening up new demographics, but I just finished listening to the Gamefest Keynote where Microsoft made the XNA Express announcement and it is very clear that they really know what they are doing.

They know very well that by making game development more accessible they are going to be opening doors, start to fill the skills gap in the industry and give a lot of gamers exactly what they have wanted for years. Microsoft has yet to prove itself on wither it can deliver in bringing game development to the motivated and my main concern is with the documentation because that is where I have failed when I have repeatedly tried to get to grips with DirectX previously.

My favourite part of the presentation is where the Garage Games guy (Mark Frohnmayer) talked about their experience with porting Marble Blast Ultra to C# and their amazement that there wasn't much slowdown. I love this because this is a developer standing on stage saying to other developers that there is another way than Assembler and C++.

Code written in Assembler is faster than code written in C++, which is faster than code written in C# and other .Net languages, but considering that .Net code takes less time to create (always), it gives more time for work on bug fixing and performance tweaks. For this reason I think that within a year there will be some game or tech demo out that is written in C# running on XNA that looks just as good, if not better than the best looking AAA title on the 360 written in C++ and assembler.

Nintendo might be rolling the dice with changing the industry by developing quirky new hardware, but on Microsoft's part it is a firm concerted effort.