XNA Game Studio 3.1 was officially released today with a host of upgrades that members of the design community have been hollering for.
Changes include Avatar and LIVE Party support, enhanced audio and video playback, and a much-needed name change. That’s right; Xbox LIVE Community Games will be changed out for Xbox LIVE Indie Games in late July in order to better reflect the kind of content provided by the service.
Below you’ll find the statement released through the XNA’s official website:
You spoke and we listened! We’ve added a number of new and improved features to XNA Game Studio 3.1 enabling hobbyists, academics, and independent game developers to easily create video games for Xbox 360, Windows, and Zune digital media players by using optimized cross-platform gaming libraries based on the .NET Framework in the C# programming language. This release is incremental to Game Studio 3.0 and contains many new and improved features:
Avatar Support: Render and animate Avatars to use in your game to represent gamers and other characters within your game.
Xbox LIVE Party Support: Enabling gamers to communicate, even when each gamer is not playing the same game in the same multiplayer session. LIVE Party supports up to an eight-way group voice chat for gamers and keeps gamers connected before, during, and after a gameplay session, persisting across title switches.
Video Playback: XNA Game Studio now supports the ability to play back video that can be used for such purposes as opening splash and logo scenes, cut scenes, or in-game video displays. This set of XNA Framework APIs supports the following features:
Audio API: 3.1 has a new usage pattern of SoundEffect.Play. Sound instances created by Play calls are disposed automatically when playback ends, and SoundEffect.Play returns a Boolean to indicate success or failure.
Content Pipeline Enhancements: improvements making it much easier to add customer types (custom attributes for run-time of an object and run-time type version of an object, and the ability to determine if deserialization into an existing object is possible).
XACT3 Support: includes support for XACT3 with new features including the ability to enable a filter on every track, and support for the xWMA compression format.
Visual Studio Changes: XNA Game Studio 3.1 supports both 3.0 and 3.1 projects, and it includes support for upgrading projects from 3.0 to 3.1.
Submitting 3.1 Games
XNA Game Studio 3.1 games can be submitted to Xbox LIVE Community Games starting late July. Please note! Currently, if Premium Creators want to submit or service their game to Playtest and/or Peer Review, those games must remain XNA Game Studio 3.0 projects. On July 23rd, you can submit games upgraded or created as 3.1 projects to playtest and/or Peer Review, but they will not go live to consumers until we are able to upgrade Xbox LIVE Community Games Marketplace later this Summer.
For more details on using XNA Game Studio 3.1 with Xbox LIVE Community Games, check out this quick walkthrough!
We’ve got one last surprise for you today! Savvy Creators that carefully read the documentation for XNA Game Studio 3.1 will note one big change we’re making in direct response to your feedback. The launch of XNA Game Studio 3.1 begins the process of renaming Xbox LIVE Community Games to Xbox LIVE Indie Games. We’re starting the communication about this transition with you – our incredible Creators. With your help hopefully this name change (along with other new features such as User Ratings!) will increase understanding and discoverability of your games! Late July, when we update Creators Club Online, we will begin revealing the name change to the Consumer side of our business. We believe this name better represents the independent spirit of XNA Game Studio gaming and creations!