XNA Game Studio 3.1 Released

A new version of XNA Game Studio has been released.  I installed it last night and it took a while.  I had to uninstall 3.0 and then reboot.  The project upgrade wizard took my 3.0 project and upgraded it to 3.1 just fine.  Note that this version of Game Studio does not force upgrades and you can actually develop 3.0 and 3.1 projects independently.  I think all of this must center around the new XACT3 tool.  3.1 uses a new version of XACT (the DirectX Cross-Platform Audio Creation Tool).  The documentation says that 3.0 (XACT2) .xap files are incompatible with 3.1.  The remedy is to open your XACT2 .xap in XACT3 and then just do a save on it to convert it to the new format.

Some new features that have come out with 3.1:

  • Avatar support – load and use avatar 3D models in your games.
  • XBox LIVE Party support – gives some support to parties that allow up to 8 gamers to talk and interact with each other simultaneously.
  • Video playback – now you can play videos in games or even render video to textures to display on 3D quads.
  • Automatic content pipeline read/write – the serialization of content objects can be handled automatically by default using .NET attributes.
  • Audio – a new XACT version and SoundEffect usage.  XACT3 uses a new and improved audio compression scheme (xWMA) to encode music and sound effects.

Perhaps one of the most surprising announcements was the name of the consumer platform from XBox LIVE Community Games to XBox LIVE Indie Games.  I guess this is part of Microsoft’s strategy to improve visibility of Creator’s Club games.  Anything that attempts to market this service better is ok in my book — we really need it.

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