Microsoft shows pre-release XNA Framework

Microsoft delivered a pre-release version of its XNA toolkit at the Game Developers Conference today. XNA is a set of tools designed to streamline game development and allow for the easier creation of games for the PC and Xbox 360. It contains a custom implementation of the .NET Framework, new game-development-specific libraries, and enables the use of the C# programming language to build cross-platform games. The Microsoft press release quotes Chris Butcher, a programming lead at Bungie:
"We've been writing games for the last 15 years as monolithic, single code bases that are growing unwieldy and complex," said Chris Butcher, lead developer at Bungie Studios. "C# on Xbox 360 lets us think about new modes of programming. It lets us get back to creating a game rather than wresting with code, while maintaining the real-time performance that we need."
The XNA Community Technology Preview lets developers get their hands on the new framework and deliver feedback to Microsoft. It also includes a pre-release version of XNA Build, which Microsoft says contains "mechanisms for orchestrating, debugging and optimizing the game build pipeline."

Increasing development costs and the attractiveness of a locked hardware spec have some fearing that developers will forsake the PC in favor of console-only titles. However, XNA should allow game makers to more easily bring Xbox 360 titles to PC audiences.

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