XNA Game Studio Express is Microsoft's game developer kit for homebrew and hobbyist developers and is available as a free download. (Learn more about XNA Game Studio.) Express includes a basic "starter kit" for rapid development of specific genres of games. It was released with a space shooter. In the future there will be kits for platform, real-time strategy, and first-person shooters.
Developers can create Windows games for free with the XNA Framework--a separate download. To run games on the Xbox 360 you will have to pay an annual fee of $99 for admission to the XNA "Creators Club". There is also a 4-month $49 subscription as well.
1. GET C# Express!
You need the C# developer kit environment to start using the XNA Game Studio. Download and install this first if you don't already have it.
2. GET XNA Game Studio Express!
Next download and install XNA. This will add new features to your C# environment.
3. Download the XNA Framework
Get this to test and run games on your windows computer.
4. Learn C#!
C# is an object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft as part of their .NET initiative. C# has a procedural, object-oriented syntax based on C++ that includes aspects of several other programming languages including Delphi, Visual Basic, and Java. XNA works with the C# programming language. If you don't know it, it's time to start learning.
- Online videos are so hot right now! Why not use them to learn C#? MSDN has a whole video series to get you up and running on C#. It's over 10 hours of training! Click here to check it out.
- If you are more traditional, it's time to crack some books. Check out this FREE eBook from Programmer's Heaven. It will give you the basics on C# programming like classes and objects, arrays, strings, windows applications and file systems.
5. Check out the sample programs!
After you have some basics under your belt, you might as well crack open the XNA and see what it's capable of doing. That's why MS has provided us with Space War. That's also why XNASpot has provided us with a tutorial on messing around with the code to give us an intro on working on games in XNA.
6. Learn XNA!
Alright, we've seen what it can do, but all we can do is adjust the speed of missles in a prefab game. In order to launch that MMORPG idea that we've got, we'd better learn how to use this thing. Onward to…more video tutorials! At XNATutorials, they've got a number of—and growing—tutorials to get you started programming in the XNA environment.
7. Learn more XNA!
Tutorials are starting to pop up everywhere, but not all of them are very complete. Reimer's website has a pretty good tutorial that will launch you right into XNA and a graphical game. By page 3 you will already be drawing stuff to the screen. Continue on to the second tutorial for some even more advanced stuff! (The nav bar is on the right hand menu if you get confused about continuing the tutorial.)
Another great place to start is at More Than I Can Chew; they too have a bunch of game based tutorials via podcasts and screen casts to check out. You learn sprites, gravity, boundaries and such. Look for Episode 1.
8. Make Pong!
After having you mess with Space War, XNASpot also has a great tutorial on building Pong from the ground up.
9. Look at sample code!
There are plenty of sites with sample code out there. Look them over and see how people are implementing their games. The only way to answer "Gee, how'd they do that?" is to dig through their code. Find samples at xnaspot.com, xbox360homebrew.com and xnaresources.com.
10. Join the Creator Club to get your game onto the xBOX!