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Programming board games on Xbox 360

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larienna
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My girlfirend bought an Xbox 1 month ago and after some research, I found that there are community games on Xbox 360 that you can buy which are produced by "normal people".

Apparently, all the games are developed with "XNA development". It's some sort of framework called the "XNA framework" that requires a tool called XNA Game Studio Express. Apparently this frameworks is coded in C# which is a programming language I never heard before. So I tried getting a few information about C# (which is pronounced C-Sharp) and it looks like: the syntax C++, plus the features of Java, plus some ideas of Visual Basic, minus the annoyances of C++.

One of the good things, is afher you game is done, since the code is machine independent (like in java), it can also run on Windows and Xbox.

So I was just wondering if it could be a good idea to implement some of our board game on Xbox which would probably be seen by more people than it implemented in board game systems like Vassal and Zuntsu?

Another things I thought is if it could be possible to make a code library for managing common elements found in board games: for example, A hand and deck of cards. This way, the development of new games could be faster to do.

It has been a while since I programmed and the thing that scares me the most is the amount of time to put in the programming. I remember spending 2 years of my life to make a video game that never reached the end. Even if C# is more programmer friendly, there is still a lot of work to do behind video games. The worst part that scares me is artificial intelligence programming which I really don't want to do.

At least in "Thousands parsec" (a space conquest game engine) you seemed to have AI modules that you could plug in to your game.

Any comments?

InvisibleJon
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Wikipedia has some interesting info...

From the Wikipedia article on "Microsoft XNA": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_XNA

"Xbox 360 games written in XNA Game Studio can be submitted to the Creators Club community, for which premium membership is required, this costs US$49 for 4 months or US$99/year. All games submitted to the community are subjected to peer review by other creators. If the game passes review then it is listed on Xbox Live Marketplace. Creators can set a price of 200, 400 or 800 points for their game. The creator is paid 70% of the total revenue from their game sales as a baseline. Microsoft originally planned to take an additional percentage of revenue if they provided additional marketing for a game, but this policy was rescinded in March 2009, leaving the flat rate intact regardless of promotion.

"Microsoft also distributes 'trial accounts' for educational establishments through their DreamSpark program. These accounts allow students to develop games for the Xbox 360, but a premium account is still required to submit the game for the Marketplace."

I know I have a few games that could be more fun with a computer to handle all the fiddly bits and bookkeeping. There's one game in particular that I think would be better as a 3-D, real-time, simultaneous action game.

Now I need to think about getting it all set up and learning C#. Hmmmnnn...

(...about 40 minutes later...)

Wow, I just went down the rabbit hole. I've been reading all about games and XNA at the XNA Creators Club ( http://creators.xna.com/en-US/ ). Most recently, I checked out the offerings in the Board & Card, Family, Educational, and Strategy games sections. Calling it sparse may be disingenuous, but it's certainly fair to say that it looks like the field is wide open. Now it's all a matter of figuring out how hard it is to make a game on the XNA platform...

larienna
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Effectively, there is not

Effectively, there is not that much games in the board game category.

Of course, it depends on the power of the XNA library. I have used allegro before and the more powerful the library is the more you can do in less time. Of course it would have been better to have a library specifically for board game. Example: have a procedure to roll any die you want and make the die roll animation anywhere you want on the screen.

As for the member ship fees and royalty income, it is comparable to other print and play website where you have a setup fee and a 65%-75% income. The only difference is that it is not an monthly fee. I am also not sure that if you stop your subscription, do they remove the game from the site or can you still continue to sell copies. 50$ a month can be a lot but considering that you game is ready to play ( compared to PDF print and play) and that everybody who has an Xbox can see your game, you would probably make much more sales than with a PDF print and play game.

The only drawback so far is the development time which adds up to the whole game development and the artificial intelligence. Maybe if you make a board game and it really sell well, you could then anticipate to make a Video game out of it.

Of course making a video game right away can sometimes make the game design faster because you can place an almost unlimited amount of information in the game and you can resolve many things using a math formula. While in a real board game, you must make sure that all this information can be represented with components and rules.

simpson
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I brought this subject up

I brought this subject up about a year ago and got a fair amount of flak from "traditional" board game designers. Most complaints were that board games wouldn't be able to compete with more in-depth media rich games being pushed out by AAA game companies. I indie-designed a few games for mobile platforms and found it simply not true.

People want to play good games regardless of production roots.

Now that casual games have the limelight with Xbox Live Arcade, players are looking to play anything new with a low-cost. Low production games like Settlers and Carcassonne do well and easily sets a benchmark for future board game translations.

simpson

MatthewF
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simpson wrote:I brought this

simpson wrote:
I brought this subject up about a year ago and got a fair amount of flak from "traditional" board game designers. Most complaints were that board games wouldn't be able to compete with more in-depth media rich games being pushed out by AAA game companies.

I'm really surprised by this. Several board game designers, including Reiner Knizia and Klaus Teuber, are publicly very excited and positive about electronic versions, and another large group of "big name" eurogame-type designers that I know are allowing electronic versions of their games to be programmed (including at least one very high-ranking game on the Geek that just isn't public info yet).

Boardgames, despite the paucity, have done pretty well on videogame platforms so far. I'm not sure what the people you heard from were thinking.

InvisibleJon
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A sincere and serious proposal...

XNA is C# oriented. My programming skills are archaic. I'm slowly ramping myself up to speed again, but I'm not going to be able to code well enough to develop a game in C# for a long time yet.

If there's anyone here who's C# literate and would like to partner with me to bring several board games to the XBox community marketplace, I'm interested. I'm serious and ready to follow this all the way through to release.

(I know. Odds are you'd prefer to implement your own stuff. However, it never hurts to ask.)

Zzzzz
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Last time I checked there was

Last time I checked there was a huge cost factor in being *allowed* to submit/release a game for the XBox. If I recall correctly I remember something about a $25k cost for becoming a XBox developer.... though I dont know what it is these days.

SiddGames
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I believe you're thinking of

I believe you're thinking of the "traditional" game development route for Xbox. The XNA Creators Club is like the "indie" route to publishing on Xbox. It is only via Xbox Live Arcade and is subject to peer review and does not receive the same kind of marketing as traditional games, but it lets you get games out there. I've even tried a few of the ones that have been published in the past.

InvisibleJon
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A few questions...

SiddGames wrote:
I've even tried a few of the ones that have been published in the past.

What did you think of them?

How much did they cost?

Did you feel you got a good cost-to-experience ratio?

simpson
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Quote:I'm really surprised by

Quote:
I'm really surprised by this.

I was too.

Especially considering that video games produced now are typically prototyped in board game form to make sure the game play works without having to invest in an expensive work environment.

simpson

larienna
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Quote:Especially considering

Quote:
Especially considering that video games produced now are typically prototyped in board game form to make sure the game play works without having to invest in an expensive work environment.

I am not sure about this. From what I heard, they almost do not play test the design at all (they playtest programming bugs, for sure). They generally have a design idea, try to get funds and then develop the game with few chances to change the path of their design since changing direction means it cost more money.

So this is why many video game design are flawed.

SiddGames
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I didn't actually buy the

I didn't actually buy the full version of any, just downloaded and tried the trial versions. I'm not sure if the XNA CC games require trial versions or not (regular Arcade titles MUST have trial versions). A lot of them sounded "generic" in concept, so I mainly tried out some unusual ones, like a Robotron-type game that plays music off your hard drive, and the beat of the music alters the mob spawns.

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