Managed Games? Of course!

You may remember me talking about Koios Works before.  They wrote one of the first retail games using Managed DirectX.  They have an entirely new 3D game out now called Panzer Command: Operation Winterstorm

Not only are they still using Managed DirectX and having a full 3d game going, they won first prize in a contest sponsored by Intel with a nice chunk of change reward!

I wonder if and when they’ll be moving over the Xna Game Studio Express? =)

MDX1 or MDX2.. That is the question..

At least, it’s been the question people have been asking me quite a bit.  Given we haven’t announced the availability of the XNA Framework yet, but we have announced that MDX2 is a “technology preview”, but will never ship in a “released” mode, the answer seems relatively straight forward to me.

If you are shipping something that needs to be “released” by a particular date, you’ll probably want to be using MDX1, as it is already released and available.  If you have a project that isn’t tied to any strong dates and you can wait for us to ship the XNA Framework, you can stick with whatever you’re using right now, be it MDX1 or MDX2.

The question is somewhat more complicated if you fall into the former, but the “particular date” is say a year out.  Then it becomes more of a business decision for you.  “Can I risk sticking with MDX2/XNA Framework with no guarantees it would be out within a year.”  If you can’t, then you should probably be using MDX1..

Managed DirectX 2.0, Xna and Me…

One of the Program Managers for the Xna Framework recently started his first blog.  Unless you have the main RSS feed of this site subscribed, you probably didn’t notice his first post, which talks about a lot.

You may have also seen the ‘official’ press release announcing the Xna Framework.

If you haven’t read Al’s post yet, I suggest you go do that first.  It’s ok, i’ll wait for you to get done..

(Yup, i’m still waiting)

(You haven’t forgotten about me have you?)

Great, you’re back!  Anyway, there’s so much stuff I want to talk about and say, but I’m probably going to start rambling and forget mentioning things..  C’est la vie..

So anyways, like I mentioned last week, I’ve moved over to the XBox team and the Xna team specifically.  If you’re @ GDC this week, you might have the chance to see some of the demos we have written entirely in managed code running on both Windows as well as the XBox 360.  People have been asking me for what seems like forever if there would be managed support for the Xbox, and I guess we’ve finally answered that.

Of course, i’ve also had people tell me numerous times over the last 3 to 4 years that it is essentially impossible to write a game in managed code.  I have no idea why people think that, but obviously we disagree, and our demo’s are starting to show that (even considering the early nature of the work we’ve done).

So what about MDX2 though?  As I’m sure you’re now aware (since you *did* go read Al’s post), what is now called Managed DirectX 2 will be folded into the Xna Framework.  The assembly itself will still ship (in non-release ‘beta’ form) until we are ready to ship a pre-release version of the Xna Framework, but in it’s current form, it will never be officially “released.”

We’re working feverishly to get a preview of the Xna Framework out as soon as possible, and I’m quite excited about the work we’re doing, and the excitement people will have when they see it.  It’s also quite refreshing to have an entire team supporting in these efforts.

I look forward to talking more about some of the exciting things we’re doing in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

Busy busy busy!!

Lots of changes been going on over here recently which have been keeping me quite busy (well, more busy than usual).  I’ve recently switched groups over to the Xbox team (and the XNA team specifically), and I’m quite excited about the stuff we’re working on.

Don’t think this means I’ve “forgotten” about MDX though, believe me, I haven’t.  While i’m thinking about it though, it would be great if the people who are using MDX2 right now could contact me and give me some ideas on what you’re working on, and when you hope to ship.  I may not be able to get a chance to reply to everyone, but I’ll read them all.

This is quite the ‘exciting’ (yet overwhelmingly busy) time for me..  Like I said a few blog posts ago, we’re starting the revolution of managed code in gaming.

Koios Works, at it again..

So amongst the other mails I got today, i also got one from Marshall Belew from Koiois Works.  You may remember them from my posts way back since they were one of the first commercial MDX games out.

I’m sure you can guess that since i’m blogging about it now, that game #3 is coming soon.  It’s called “Panzer Command: Operation Winterstorm” and the engine they’ve done has come a *long* way since the first Tin Soldiers game..  I’m quite impressed with the screenshots i’ve seen thus far.

You can see some of said screenshots in this forum post from Matrix Games (the publisher of the 3 games).  There is also a public forum for the game here.

One of the best quotes I have from Marshall which pretty much sums up my feelings on MDX and managed code in gaming?

“We continue to be complemented by our peers in the industry for what we have accomplished with the time and budget of our games.”

I posted about the first game they did in October 2004.  It’s now Feb 2006, a mere 17 months later, and not only have they published a second game, this is going to be the third.  Big congrats to those guys.  It’s looking great.

February 2006 SDK Available..

I’m always the last person to announce these things, but.. Hey.. Did you hear?  The February SDK is out!

While the MDX2 assembly is still in beta form for this release, it’s still pretty exciting for me currently.  The time in which it will be in release mode is rapidly approaching, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m quite excited about the future.

For this release, there was more of the same as the last release.  Missing functionality implemented (you can actually save your textures/surfaces again!)  Bug fixes, performance improvements, the majority of the D3D samples were ported to MDX2 as well.

Obviously I can’t promise anything right now, but we’re hard at work trying to get this up to the quality required to be called “released”, and I’m confident of our ability to get it done. Everyone’s on board, the documentation is coming along nicely, and things are moving at a nice pace.  I’m excited because it seems to me that soon, we’ll be starting the revolution of managed code in gaming.

As always, please provide any feedback in the API you feel needs more polish.  I believe David has been deleting/locking posts in the public forums on the beta, so make sure you post them in the beta newsgroups. I try to monitor that relatively often (and when I forget, David’s there to remind me).  I’d recommend getting any suggestions/comments/feedback/bugs/anything else in quickly though. Time’s a-tickin!

Managed DirectX – It’s not just games..

So here at Microsoft, we have this thing called a ‘buddy program’ which you can read more about at  I’m signed up for this program and have a ‘buddy’ who works for a company (I assume in Germany) doing Managed DirectX work (amongst other things).  (Sorry, I only have time for one ISV buddy, so don’t go signing up hoping to get assigned me unfortunately).

Anyway, my buddy has sent me a link of some of the things they’ve been working on using MDX:

The site itself is in German, so if you don’t speak that, google’s translater seems to do an adequate job.  The third video is the most relevant to MDX.