Welcome to the (partially) new XNAResources with Updated Tutorials

For several years now, I've been using a blogging platform that, while great when I started with it, has showed some issues over the years. It has been very difficulty to revise existing content because it doesn't handle embedded code very well (less than and greater than signs really mess it up). In order to update my content for XNA 4.0, I decided that I first needed to update the backend of XNAResources, so this is that new site. I know it doesn't look very different right now... a visual makeover is on the way as well, but isn't completed yet. Here is a rundown if the major changes right now:
  • Updated Backend - While mostly invisible, the updated backend makes it much easier to work on new and updated content.
  • Message Forum - As part of the new back end, there is now a MegaBBS forum attached to the site. I haven't done a lot of skinning on the forum as of yet, as I am waiting for the new visual design of the main site to be completed before skinning the forum to match. I have create a few discussion areas, and I will try to answer as many questions as possible related to content on XNAResources.
  • Links Area Removed - The old Links section (which was managed by the blogging platform indicated above) has been removed for now, and replaced by the forums link. I will work on building a list of links to good XNA and game development resources to replace the previous links page.
  • Placeholder Pages - A few of the buttons at the top of the page lead to placeholder pages for now, as I work on deciding what direction to go with them. For example, the On-Screen Keyboard component which was on the components pages was written for pre-1.0 XNA, and isn't needed any longer since the Guide class provides an on-screen keyboard for you.
  • RSS Feed - The RSS feed is currently down, but I will be writing a replacement RSS generator in the next day or so, so it will be back shortly.
  • Comments - I wrote a C# program to transfer all of the news articles over from the old site, but I didn't get a chance to transfer the comments. The new comments are based on forum responses to news posts, so there wasn't an easy way to transfer them to the new site.
The Star Defense and Sprite Engine tutorials have been updated for XNA 4.0, and a new (revamped) Tile Engine Tutorial series is in the works (I have a few parts finished and will link them in the near future). Other pieces of the old content (color key picking, and the Zune tutorials) will be brought back/updated over the next few weeks.

Update: The problem that was preventing the tutorials from displaying properly has been fixed... Spelling plus Cut 'n Paste will get you every time!

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My XNA Game Development Book

Update: Packt Publishing has put up a sample chapter from the book which can be found at https://www.packtpub.com/sites/default/files/0669-chapter-02-flood-control-underwater-puzzling.pdf. Additionally, the book is now available on Amazon as well as other book sites.
 
Over the past several months, I've mentioned a couple of times a "special project" that I have been working on. Late last week, that was all wrapped up, and I'm happy to announce that my first book has officially been published by Packt Publishing.

XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example : Beginner's Guide is now available, and you can find more details about the book here.

Those who have worked through the Star Defense tutorial series will find the approach of the book familiar. I look at building four different 2D games throughout the course of the book, covering topics such as sprite animation, sound effects, drawing text, path finding with A*, platform physics, particle-based explosions, integrating XNA with Windows Forms, and more.

The four games covered in the book are (Click on the images for full sized screenshots):

Flood Control Flood Control - A puzzle style game, where users race against the ever-increasing water level to build continuous trails of pipes from the left side of the board to the right. In addition to basic sprite animation (rotation, movement, and alpha-based fading), Flood Control looks at recursive logic and game structure, building increasingly difficult levels into the game, and the basics of drawing text.
Asteroid Belt Assault Asteroid Belt Assault - A space shooter which places the player into a chaotic asteroid field, fighting waves of enemy ships which fly through the game area along a set of way points. Asteroid Belt Assault introduces frame-based sprite animation, elastic collisions, sound effects, and particle-based explosions.
Robot Rampage Robot Rampage - Play as a tank with either the XBox controller or the keyboard as you fight enemy tanks intent on your destruction. Two different weapon upgrades are available to the player as you try to survive while disabling the computer terminals that spawn the enemy robots. Levels are generated automatically, and both level object placement and enemy AI utilizes the A* path finding algorithm.
Gemstone Hunter - A classic style platform game, utilizing a multi-layered tile engine in which the player gathers gem stones while attempting to either avoid or crush zombies. In addition to building the game, the Gemstone Hunter project also introduces creating a Game Library project to isolate the tile engine from the game code, and using that library to build a Windows Forms based map editor in which to create levels for the game.

 



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XNA 4.0 and Windows Phone Tools Released

The RTM version of the Windows Phone Development Tools package was released yesterday, including XNA 4.0.
 
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be updating the tutorials on the site for XNA 4.0 (I've been working with the beta quite a bit). Also, I really will get the square/iso/hex tile engine system uploaded "soon"... I've been working on a project for a number of months that has occupied most of my free time. That should all be wrapped up this weekend.
 
Jason and I are looking at doing Windows Phone 7 development as well, and have begun working on a couple of simple apps to experiment with the system.


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XNA Game Studio 4.0 hits Beta

XNA 4.0, along with the rest of the Windows Phone Deveopment Tools, has reached the Beta stage. You can download the installation package here: http://creators.xna.com/en-US/launchcenter



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Games by Lance Zimmerman in XNA - Star Defense Spinoff

It is always nice to see someone pick up one of our tutorials and share their own work with the community, and Lance Zimmerman contacted me last week to share a project called Base Defender that he has been working on using the XNA Resources Star Defense tutorial as a basis for an extended game.  He has added a radar at the bottom of the screen, terrain features and buildings, new enemies, and is working on different kinds of enemy AI behavior.
 
The source code for Lance's evolving project, as well as his project page, is up at https://sites.google.com/site/gamesbylancezimmermaninxna/ Have a look!


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What I've Been Up To...

Ok, so the Steam Holiday Sale (http://www.steampowered.com) hit my free time pretty hard :)  I picked up a number of games, and have been enjoying Dragon Age, Borderlands and The Witcher quite a bit since the holidays.
 
That said, I haven't been completely idle on the XNA front.  I've got another mini tutorial almost ready to go, and I've been working on a brand spankin' new Tile Engine that supports square, hex, and isometric tile maps.  No real timeframe on that, as I still have the upcoming Mass Effect 2 to deal with :)


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Zune Text File Viewer Tutorial

Better late than never!  :)
 
This has actually been hanging around on my hard drive for quite a while, but with upgrading my PC to Windows 7 and other various things that have cropped up over the last few months, I haven't had time to get it properly formatted and posted up as a tutorial.
 
But now here it is.  This is the second of my "mini tutorials", and covers a quick project I put together to experiment with both my Text Handling class, and doing things on the Zune.  Fair warning: There isn't much of a practical use to this project as is.  The tutorial takes you through building an app for the Zune (works on Windows as well... and no real reason it wouldn't work on the XBox) that lets you browse through text files on your Zune device.  Due to the restrictions associated with the Zune, however, the only way to get text files on the device is to include them as content objects in your project.
 
That said, there are some useful things covered here, including building a Visual Studio solution that contains a project for both Windows (for testing purposes) and a project for the Zune (for deployment purposes).  We do things like add a scroll bar to indicate how far along in the text we are, and save the location we were last at in a file so we can come back to it later using Storage Containers.
 
You can find the tutorial here.
 
On a side note, I've gotten a couple of e-mail questions about tile engines and the like.  I do have some newer material on this front, and hope to put some of it together in the near future.


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Zune and New Tutorial On the Way

I finally decided to pick up a Zune, and grabbed the Zune 120, with 3.2in screen and 120gb hard drive.  I've been playing around with transfering some of my XNA projects to the Zune, and it's kinda fun to see my games running on the portable device.
 
Jason and I have been playing around with a few different projects, including a 3D conversion of Star Defense (which won't run on the Zune, as the Zune supports 2D graphics only) and a tile-based RPG engine that I've been playing with as a PC project.  I added a few lines to resize the display and compiled the project for the Zune and it works fine without further changes.
 
I've also been putting together a small new tutorial on building a class to make handling text with XNA a bit easier.  The class and tutorial write-up are finished, I just need to reformat the Word document to the format the site uses, so expect it to show up in the next few days.


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XNA 3.0 TextHandler Class

I noted in my entry earlier today that a new tutorial was in the works, and I had some time this evening to do the formatting, so it is up faster than I had expected! :)
 
This code comes from a project I have been working on, for which I decided that I needed a simpler way to handle text output, and especially needed a way to change the font/color of text being output at arbitrary points in the string without using a bunch of different calls to SpriteBatch.Draw().  This tutorial walks through building a C# static class to automate some of the work in drawing text to the screen in XNA, and includes a couple of nifty features like rudimentary formatting codes, a "console"-type printing mode, word wrapping, and automatic font loading.
 
You can find the link on the Tutorials page, or jump there directly
 
This class should work on Windows, the XBox 360, and the Zune without changes, and is really just the basics of what this class could be expanded to do.


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Good Read : Learning XNA 3.0 by Aaron Reed

Learning XNA 3.0Recently I decided that I really wanted to delve into 3D with XNA, so I started looking for reading material on the subject.  There are a number of good XNA books out there now, but I've had trouble following many of them when trying to work with 3D graphics because they jump right in and start talking about Quaternions and such before giving a good introduction to the concepts involved.  (Maybe I'm just dense, but the whole 3D math thing has always made my head hurt).
 
Not so with Learning XNA 3.0 by Aaron Reed.  The author teaches game programming using XNA, and the book itself is set up much like a class you would take to learn how to develop games using XNA.  There is a measured, built up approach to the concepts that I found very easy to follow while demystifying the arcana of 3D graphics programming.
 
The book starts out covering the basics of 2D rendering with SpriteBatch (ok, I'll admit I skipped those chapters) and then moves on to develop a 3D game throughout most of the chapters.  The game includes moving 3D models, a 3D camera, particle explosions, sound effects and music, and combining 3D with 2D overlays and text display.
 
Overall, I found the book to be a great introduction to 3D game programming.  So much so that I have started reworking a certain 2D game that appears as a 12 part tutorial on this site in to a 3D game, using 3D models for the objects and particles for the special effects.  If you are looking to get your feet wet with 3D graphics in XNA, Learning XNA 3.0 is a great place to start.


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