XNA tools create eye-popping demos
Over at the Shack, they're hosting three new videos showing off the capabilities of Microsoft's next-generation game development toolkit, XNA, that will enable game development across Microsoft platforms, from the next Xbox to Windows to mobile devices. These demos illustrate vividly the possibilities when good tools meet DirectX 9-class graphics hardware, things not likely to show up in the next round of PCs games—perhaps in late 2005.
Film Noir demonstrates a range of cinematic effects, including stylistic lighting, procedural smoke, and the ever popular use-vertex-shaders-to-make-sexy-ladies trick, which generally gets better with time. Xenomorph also shows off the startlingly realistic possibilites for character movement with good use of vertex shaders, plus some Really Great Fur on an apelike character. Crash starts out much like ATI's old Car Paint demo for the Radeon 9700, with pixel shaders enabling a nice glossy finish, but then it kicks into a dramatic series of crash scenes that seem to employ a combination of physics modeling and graphical effects rolled seamlessly together. The car slams into a barrier repeatedly at various angles, each time meeting a very real-looking fate. Go download the movies yourself and have a look.
XNA should form the basis for gobs of game development in the next couple of years (before Microsoft goes and renames it.) With Microsoft's High Level Shading Language being ported back to the Xbox, developers writing Xbox games should be able to spice up their PC ports without too much extra effort. Let's hope the tools catch up with the GPUs, or at least with last year's GPUs, before long.