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Connecting to Your Xbox 360 Console with XNA Game Studio Express

XNA Game Studio Express
This article provides the steps necessary to connect and deploy a game to your Xbox 360 console by using XNA Game Studio Express.

XNA Game Studio Express allows you to easily create games for both your Windows computer and your Xbox 360 console. By simply downloading XNA Game Studio Express, you can begin developing for your Windows computer. To begin developing for Xbox 360, follow these additional steps.

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This guide assumes you have already downloaded Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and XNA Game Studio Express. These products must be installed before connecting to an Xbox 360 console. For information about installing these products, see Setup and System Requirements.

Step 1: Sign In to Xbox LIVE

Turn on your Xbox 360 console and sign in to Xbox LIVE. You will need at least a Silver Xbox LIVE membership and a hard drive for your Xbox 360 console to be able to develop games for Xbox 360 using XNA Game Studio Express. While you are in XNA Game Launcher or playing an XNA Game Studio Express game, you must remain connected to Xbox LIVE.

Step 2: Download XNA Game Launcher

Once you are signed in to Xbox LIVE, you can access Xbox LIVE Marketplace to download XNA Game Launcher and join the XNA Creators Club. This will allow you to begin developing for Xbox 360.

  1. Navigate to Xbox LIVE Marketplace and press A.
  2. Select Games and press A.
  3. Select All Game Downloads and press A.
  4. Select XNA Creators Club.

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    If you do not see the XNA Creators Club category, please return to the Xbox 360 Dashboard and navigate to Family Settings, then Console Controls, and finally Game Ratings. Select Allow All Games. This will allow you to see the XNA Creators Club category in Xbox LIVE Marketplace and download XNA Game Launcher. Once you have downloaded XNA Game Launcher and have joined the XNA Creators Club, you may activate any restrictions you choose in the Game Ratings screen.

    At this point, you will be presented with a menu of download options for XNA Game Studio Express. You will need to download XNA Game Launcher, and join the XNA Creators Club.

  5. From the menu, select XNA Game Launcher and press A.

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    The following warning message may appear: "You can only use this item with the full retail version of this game. Do you want to continue downloading this item?" If you encounter this message, dismiss the message by selecting Continue and pressing A.
  6. Select Confirm Download and press A. Wait for the download to complete and then select Continue and press A.
  7. You will see a check mark next to XNA Game Launcher indicating it has been successfully downloaded.
  8. From the menu, select Memberships and press A.
  9. A list of membership options for XNA Creators Club is displayed. Select the option you wish to purchase, and press A. Confirm your payment choice when asked. You will see a check mark next to the membership choice you have selected. This mark indicates that you have been enrolled in the XNA Creators Club.

Once you have downloaded XNA Game Launcher and joined the XNA Creators Club, you can start XNA Game Launcher on your Xbox 360 console and connect to your Windows computer to begin developing games.

Step 3: Connect Your Xbox 360 Console and Windows Computer

When you develop games for Xbox 360, you develop them on your Windows computer, then transfer them over your home network to your Xbox 360 console. This requires that your Windows computer and Xbox 360 console share the same subnet. Most home networking layouts support this configuration; if your console and Windows computer share a router or hub, it is likely that the computers share the same subnet.

With your Windows computer and console on the same subnet, follow these steps to set up a connection between your Windows computer and your console.

Step 3A. On your Xbox 360 console:

  1. From the Xbox Dashboard, select the Games tab.
  2. Select Demos and More from the item list and press the A controller button.
  3. Select XNA Game Launcher and press the A controller button.
  4. Select Launch and press the A controller button.

    This displays XNA Game Launcher screen.

  5. Select Settings and press the A controller button.
  6. Select Generate Connection Key and press the A controller button.
  7. Carefully write down the generated key in case you make a mistake copying it into XNA Game Studio Express. It can be somewhat hard to read the key on a standard television screen, so be sure to distinguish between numbers and letters that are easy to confuse.

    • The number "1" has a small tick at its top left, whereas the capital letter "I" does not.
    • The number "8" does not have a straight side at the left, whereas the capital letter "B" does.
    • The number "3" has no straight side at the left, whereas the capital letter "B" does.

Step 3B. On your computer:

  1. Open XNA Game Studio Express.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  3. If XNA Game Studio Express is not visible at the bottom of the left-hand pane in the Options dialog box, check the Show All Settings check box.
  4. Select Xbox 360 under XNA Game Studio Express.
  5. Click Add in the option page that appears in the right pane of the dialog box.

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  6. In the Xbox 360 Name text box, enter a friendly name to identify the console associated with the connection key. This name is for your convenience and does not need to match any information on the Xbox 360 console.
  7. Carefully type the connection key from the Xbox 360 console into the Connection Key text box, and check to make sure that the key exactly matches the one displayed on your console screen.

    WAIT! Don't press the Test Connection button yet.

Step 3C. On your Xbox 360 console:

  1. Once you are sure that the two keys exactly match, select Accept new key on the console and press the A controller button.
  2. Press B to return to the main XNA Game Launcher screen.
  3. Select Connect to Computer and press the A controller button. The console will go into a Waiting for connection mode.

Step 3D. On your computer:

  1. Now, once the console is "Waiting for a connection," press the Test Connection button in the Add Xbox 360 dialog box. If the connection is established properly, the dialog box displays a short message telling you so, and the Ok button is enabled. Click the Ok button, and from now on your computer and your console can connect to each other easily.
  2. If more than one console is now listed, select the one you want to use next for deploying a game and click the Active button.

If the connection fails, make a careful note of the error message displayed at the bottom of the Add Xbox 360 dialog box. The most common connection problem results from copying the key incorrectly from the console to XNA Game Studio Express, but firewall and other network problems can also cause a connection to fail. Making note of the message displayed at the bottom of the Add Xbox 360 dialog box can help you or a technician diagnose the cause of the connection failure, if it did not result from mismatching keys. For more information about troubleshooting a failed connection, see the troubleshooting section below.

You're ready now to deploy a game. You do not have to generate another connection key every time you want to deploy a game; the connection between your computer and your Xbox 360 console is saved, even if you turn the console off or shut down your computer.

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The connection key generated by XNA Game Studio Express allows one computer to communicate with one signed-in Xbox LIVE profile on a single Xbox 360 console. If you are using multiple Xbox 360 consoles or multiple computers, see the "Connection Troubleshooting" section in XNA Game Studio Express Xbox 360 Options Page.

Step 4: Create and Deploy an Xbox 360 Project

Try out the Xbox 360 console by deploying a simple, blank XNA Game Studio Express game to it.

  1. On your Windows computer, at the main Visual C# 2005 Express Edition screen, click the File menu, and then click New Project.
  2. From the list of templates displayed, click Xbox 360 Game. Type a name for the project and a path, then click OK. The project will be generated and the game code will appear on the screen.

    At this point, you must prepare the Xbox 360 console to receive content from the Windows computer.

  3. On your console, at the main screen of XNA Game Launcher, select the Connect to Computer option and press A. A screen will appear noting that the console is waiting for a connection from your Windows computer.

    Now return to your computer for the final step.

  4. On your Windows computer, with your new project open, press the F5 key. The project will build, deploy necessary files to the Xbox 360 console, and run.

    At this point, you should see a simple display on your console, just a blue screen. If you see this screen, you have successfully deployed a game to your Xbox 360 console. You can now deploy and play any game you create on your console!

  5. To stop the game and return to the main screen of XNA Game Launcher, either press the BACK button on your Xbox 360 gamepad, or stop debugging on your computer by pressing SHIFT+F5.

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    If the deployment fails, you may need to check your network settings. See the "Deployment Troubleshooting" section in Deploying an Xbox 360 Game, and Third-Party Firewall Settings for more information.

What's Next?

You have successfully deployed your first Xbox 360 game. This game, like every game you deploy, will now appear in the My Games section of XNA Game Launcher on your Xbox 360 console. Using XNA Game Launcher, you can play any of the games you have deployed to your Xbox 360 console. From XNA Game Launcher, you can also delete games you do not want to keep.

A good next step would be to try some of the tutorials. The code used in the tutorials works on both Windows and Xbox 360, so you can try either platform to get a feel for how to develop for both. Start with Tutorial 1: Displaying a 3D Model on the Screen for your first taste of game development.

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