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What's New in This Release

This topic describes new features and changes in XNA Game Studio.
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For a specific list of changes to the XNA Framework, see XNA Framework Changes in XNA Game Studio 2.0. Common migration scenarios are covered in Upgrade Guide: XNA Game Studio Express to XNA Game Studio 2.0.

Changes to the Development Environment and Tools

Expanded Support for Visual Studio 2005 Products

In addition to installing and running on Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, XNA Game Studio 2.0 also installs and runs on the following members of the Visual Studio 2005 product lines:

  • Visual Studio 2005 Standard
  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional
  • Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Architects
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Testers
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Database Professionals
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite

These products enable developers to take advantage of features such as:

  • Source code control.
  • Advanced debugging features, such as mixed-mode debugging and thread watch.
  • Visual Studio Add-ins.
  • Unit testing in the Software Developers, Software Testers, and Team Suite versions.

For more information, see the Required Software topic.

XNA Game Studio Device Center and Easier Xbox 360 Connectivity

XNA Game Studio 2.0 improves the Xbox 360 connectivity experience. To manage connections to Xbox 360 consoles, use the XNA Game Studio Device Center: click Start, then click Programs, click XNA Game Studio 2.0 and finally XNA Game Studio Device Center.

In addition, key generation has been moved to the XNA Game Studio Connect screen, where it is now easier to generate and test the connection key for Xbox 360 consoles.

For a step-by-step guide to connecting to an Xbox 360 console, see Connecting to Your Xbox 360 Console with XNA Game Studio 2.0. Previous XNA Game Studio Express users that have deployed games to their Xbox 360 using the XNA Game Launcher should see Upgrade Guide: XNA Game Studio Express to XNA Game Studio 2.0 for information on using XNA Game Studio Connect with the XNA Game Launcher.

Cross-Platform Game Project Converter

XNA Game Studio 2.0 provides a simple way to convert projects between Windows and Xbox 360 formats. See Cross-Platform Game Project Converter for instructions on using this utility.

Updated Game Project Format

Users of XNA Game Studio Express or XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh will need to update their projects for use with XNA Game Studio 2.0. A utility to assist in updating projects to the new XNA Game Studio 2.0 format is available on XNA Creators Club Online Web site. For a guide to updating your project, see Upgrade Guide: XNA Game Studio Express to XNA Game Studio 2.0.

Integrated Game Content Projects

Game projects in XNA Game Studio 2.0 now contain an integrated content project that holds all game assets. As part of the build process for the game project, the assets in the content project are built by the XNA Framework Content Pipeline. This new content project allows for easier debugging of custom importers and processors and allows game content to be built independently of code.

For an introduction to game content projects, see Game Content Project.

XNA Game Studio Package Utility

The XNA Game Studio Package Utility has been updated in XNA Game Studio 2.0. This new version unpacks game packages from XNA Game Studio 2.0 and XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh, but can only create packages that are compatible with XNA Game Studio 2.0. Packages created in XNA Game Studio 2.0 cannot be unpacked using XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh.

For more information on packaging your game, see Sharing and Distributing Your Game.

Microsoft Cross-Platform Audio Creation Tool (XACT)

A new version of XACT is included with XNA Game Studio 2.0. XACT projects created using the versions of XACT available in XNA Game Studio Express or XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh must be upgraded to the new version of XACT before they can be used in a XNA Game Studio 2.0 game project. If you have an existing XNA Game Studio Express or XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 Refresh XACT project (.xap file), open and save the project using the new version of XACT, then add this newly-saved file into the content project for your game.

Changes to the XNA Framework Content Pipeline

Parameterized Processors

XNA Game Studio 2.0 supports the use of parameters within Content Pipeline processors. Parameters allow values to be exposed and modified as properties in the Properties window. This way, a game developer can load content through the Content Pipeline, and change how the content is processed by modifying parameters through the Properties window.

The standard processors that are included in XNA Game Studio 2.0 now have associated parameters. See Parameterized Processors for more information. To learn how to implement parameters in your own custom content processor, see Developing with Parameterized Processors.

Expanded TextureProcessor Functionality

For XNA Game Studio 2.0, the functionality of the ModelTextureProcessor and SpriteTextureProcessor processors has been merged into the TextureProcessor processor, so the former processors are therefore obsolete. Use TextureProcessor to process all texture assets.

For a list of standard importers and processors available in XNA Game Studio 2.0, see Standard Importers and Processors.

Changes to the XNA Framework API

Networking Support

XNA Game Studio 2.0 adds networking support to the XNA Framework. Networking enables developers to create multiplayer games in which players on separate machines can compete with each other or play cooperatively. Networking in the XNA Framework supports both the Windows and Xbox 360 platforms. Multiplayer games can even work across the two platforms. The new functionality is in the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.GamerServices and Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Net namespaces.

For an introduction to networking functionality in XNA Game Studio 2.0, see Getting Started With Networked Games.

Guide

The Xbox Guide interface, which allows the user to input text and select storage devices, and which can be used to display text message boxes to the user, is now available through the Guide class.

Application Model

The Game class has been modified:

  • The template for the Game object, created when creating a new game project, automatically adds and initializes a SpriteBatch object.
  • The GraphicsDevice property has been added to allow for easy access to the game's GraphicsDevice object.
  • The Content property has been added to allow for easy access to the game's ContentManager object.
  • The ResetElapsedTime method has been added to support recovery from a slow-running state.

Graphics

XNA Game Studio 2.0 improves handling of loss of the GraphicsDevice. All resources with Automatic memory management (the default pool) are reloaded on device loss.

Multiple render targets and persistent render targets are now supported on both Windows-based and Xbox 360 game machines. Both features are enabled by default, but can be disabled. See Render Targets for more information.

XNA Game Studio 2.0 provides better support for dynamic content generation and display with the new DynamicVertexBuffer and DynamicIndexBuffer classes. For information about how to use these classes to generate dynamic geometry, see Dynamic Vertex Buffers in XNA.

Occlusion queries, which are used to determine whether pixels rendered end up on-screen, are now available using the OcclusionQuery class.

The SpriteFont class now supports kerning information when loading through the Content Pipeline.

Math

The Vector2.Reflect and Vector3.Reflect methods have been added to allow reflection of vectors against a specified normal.

The Matrix.CreateWorld method has been added to allow for easy creation of a World transformation matrix by passing in a position and orientation vector.

The BoundingSphere.Transform method has been added to allow for translating and scaling a bounding sphere.

Input

Taking text input using the Xbox Guide keyboard is now possible through the Guide class, and the associated BeginShowKeyboardInput method.

Keyboard.GetState now supports Chatpad input.

GamePadState now supports checking multiple button states by using the IsButtonUp and IsButtonDown methods.

The GamePadType enumeration has been expanded, allowing enumeration of additional controller types, such as guitar and flight-stick controllers, using the GetCapabilities method.

Audio

See "Changes to the Development Environment and Tools - Microsoft Cross-Platform Audio Creation Tool (XACT)" section above for more information about changes to XACT and the audio projects.

It is now possible to play a cue with 3D information using PlayCue.

Storage

Storage device selection is now possible using the Guide class, and the associated BeginShowStorageDeviceSelector method.

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