Unified File Access:
All assets are now zipped up for published games, reducing the size and number of files. With regards to file formats, it's not even a case of working with the lowest common denominator, as there is no way of freely (i.e. without licensing issues, either by using mp3 or commercial libraries) using any two formats on all three target platforms. After a lot of trial and error and about half a dozen open source audio components, I've finally implemented a solution that satisfies all the requirements for the new integrated publishing system:
- XAGE can now play one piece of background music at a time, and any number of sound effects.
- Music is initially stored as Mp3s and sounds as Wav files. These are used when debugging on Windows (via SdlDotNet).
- For published windows games, the user is given the option of swapping the Mp3s for Ogg tracks to bypass any licensing issues. The Wav files are untouched.
- For Xbox games, the Wav files are automatically converted to Xnb via MSBUILD. The Mp3s are converted into Wma.
- As Silverlight cannot natively play Wav files, they are coverted into Wma and Mp3s are left untouched, covered by Silverlight/MS.
- All three platforms are capable of loading assets from the pre-prepared zip files (with the exception of the Xbox Music as it cannot stream a compressed Wma file).
What does this all mean? Well, after debugging a game via XAGE Editor it's possible to play the same game on the 360 and a Web Browser in a matter of seconds (minutes if you've made changes to the graphics or audio):
Xbox Live Indie Games:
Community Games has been rebranded by Microsoft to 'Indie Games', which seems like a sensible move. This coincides with the release of the Xna 3.1 framework, which from XAGE's point of view doesn't yet provide a compelling reason to update. The inclusion of Avatar support is a nice touch, though there are some strange guidelines regarding their use in games.
As DBP09 closes in August, I've taken the decision to wrap up any loose ends, release v0.4 and then see if I'm able to complete my game within the competition deadline. I'd essentially be submitting a demo (not that there is any chance of me winning anything), but it will be a good exercise in finally putting the engine through its paces and will give ideas on areas of improvement. The resulting 4 month Creator's Club access will be handy too, giving me time to take a proper stab at it before releasing to XBLIG.