Easiest way for artist types to learn XNA

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Easiest way for artist types to learn XNA // Game Development

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Post by JimB // Aug 10, 2008, 10:44pm

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Even though I have licenses for a few low cost Game engines I would like to have a basic understanding of XNA,can anyone suggest the least painful route to achieving this?


Jim

Post by Daaark // Aug 10, 2008, 11:11pm

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Even though I have licenses for a few low cost Game engines I would like to have a basic understanding of XNA,can anyone suggest the least painful route to achieving this?



JimThere is no less painful route. XNA is a code library for C#. You have to learn C# programming, and then graphics and audio programming on top of that. XNA is not 'game creation software'. It's a programming library that lets you access DirectX 9 through C#.


You will have to pick up some C# books. Learn the language and how everything works. Then you can start learning to use XNA. You can't really learn XNA first, because it's just built on top of C#. You need to know how everything in C# works to get the most of it.


You can start by downloading Visual C# 2008 express and following along some easy C# tutorials just to get a feel for it. Here are some on the MSDN site: Click (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa288436.aspx).

Post by JimB // Aug 10, 2008, 11:15pm

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In that case I'll have to pass on XNA Gamestudio life I'm afraid is just too short,thanks anyway Daaark.


Jim

Post by Daaark // Aug 10, 2008, 11:33pm

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Jim, programming is not so hard, unless you make it that way. C# especially, is an easy, fun language, unlike C++ which can get complicated quickly. The basics of C# should be able to be picked up quickly. I wish I had C# to learn a decade ago instead of C++.


Don't be put off so quickly. Programming can be a lot of fun, and is a nice skill to have. The XNA site even has game examples you can download and compile yourself to see the code and modify it yourself.


There are some alternatives:


If you are a good artist, you might want to join someone else's game project. There are so many people out there who can program nice ideas, but have no artists. GameDev.net, and creators.xna.com is full of them. Just because you have no programming skills, doesn't mean that you can't use your 3D art to take another project to the next level.


Ever consider DXStudio (http://www.dxstudio.com/features.aspx)? It may be just what you are looking for. You can easily assemble scenes, and then use a scripting language to program your game into it.

Post by JimB // Aug 10, 2008, 11:41pm

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I will occasionally poke around with Xna Gamestudio other than completely dismiss it,what I was hoping for I suppose was a library of "code blocks" like this block does this etc that way learning by observation and tweaking. :)


Jim

Post by Daaark // Aug 10, 2008, 11:57pm

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I will occasionally poke around with Xna Gamestudio other than completely dismiss it,what I was hoping for I suppose was a library of "code blocks" like this block does this etc that way learning by observation and tweaking. :) That will never really work. You have to program to program.


Also note that, the more you abstract away the programming like that into 'blocks' as you put it, the more freedom is lost. That is why that idea has never taken off, especially for game programming, where programmers have been known to rely on crazy tricks to get things to work in the unique ways that their product requires.


DXStudio really looks to be a good 'middle man' between the other game makers and full on programming, there is even a free version. I may even find it useful to prototype some ideas before attempting to do the programming legwork to try them out in my own code. :D


What exactly are you looking to create?

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 12:13am

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What exactly are you looking to create?

I was looking at the possibility of getting TS76 models in to xna,however I have few licensed engines I will concentrate on instead.


Jim

Post by Daaark // Aug 11, 2008, 12:22am

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I was looking at the possibility of getting TS76 models in to xna,however I have few licensed engines I will concentrate on instead.



Jim I meant, what game did you want to create?


I just took a look around to see what you are capable off, and saw that stargate figure you made. You could definitely be an asset to a small team. You could even make some cash by supplying models for a team that is going to sell their game on Xbox Live Community Games next fall.

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 12:31am

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I meant, what game did you want to create?

Hi Daaark it is my intention to make short games probably a better description would be "mini games" of the first/third person and racing genres as you can appreciate achieving the art pipeline is none to easy.


Jim

Post by Daaark // Aug 11, 2008, 12:41am

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There is actually a racing game starter kit on the XNA site.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgChURF5fQE

http://creators.xna.com/education/starterkits/

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 12:45am

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Thanks Daaark I will take a look. :)


Jim

Post by jamesmc // Aug 11, 2008, 4:00am

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Programming is what turns me off in making games. Approaching my 6th decade, i don't want to spend the 'wee hours of the morning' trying to learn a programming language that will take me years to master - only to find out that writing game code is unique and requires years of experience in making things happen.

With that said, being older and financially settled, I can afford the toys that only the young can enjoy. :)

Post by TomG // Aug 11, 2008, 5:27am

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There are pros and cons to a "real programming" approach to game making. One con is that it is harder to learn. The pros though are you have more control and freedom with your game, and you have a generic skill that applies to more than games too.


XNA has a lot of examples available, and you can simply open it up, grab the code, replace your models, and away you go. You can grab "code blocks" in the form of sub-routines and C# files that add needed functionality. You won't be starting from a blank screen having to type all the code in from scratch :)


There are Samples, which are small projects that show only one feature. Then there are the Starter Kits, which are complete frameworks for a game, eg Racing Game as mentioned, or Ship Game. These have all the routines for grabbing user input, applying that to a 3D model, loading and drawing an environment, triggering a fired bullet, detecting a hit, keeping score, etc.


You can then edit, grab, copy, reuse etc to build it into a game you would like.


I'd say with the examples provided, it is not too hard to pick up, and you can do exactly what you say - start with a working example and then look at it and see how it works, then edit and reuse.


Of course you can also use C# to make windows applications too. XNA is effectively Visual Studio for free, with extra libraries to give you the game related classes and commands.


HTH!

Tom

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 5:34am

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Thanks for clarifying Tom being that I am a wee bit older than jamesmc I too am concerned about time. :D


Jim

Post by TomG // Aug 11, 2008, 5:58am

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Yes, I won't say that picking up XNA will be easy, but it won't be as hard as learning a language from scratch by any means!


Also, most game dev kits / software have some sort of programming involved somewhere, so similar learning will be required elsewhere anyway. Personally, I find C# to be the best language I have used, it might just be the way I think, but I find it quite intuitive (I did like C++ before that too).


The best thing to do is study the examples, which will show all features, eg the language itself so you can gauge how hard it is, and the reusability of the code in the examples, and the quality of the examples, and let you judge just how tough or easy it might be for you to pick up compared to alternatives :)


HTH!

Tom

Post by Daaark // Aug 11, 2008, 8:59am

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Scripting languages, as you'd find in DXStudio are not that hard to pick up, they just look daunting to people who don't understand the basic concepts. When Neverwinter Nights included a C-like scripting language in their product to let people make their own adventures, lots of non programmers picked it up and made some cool things with it.


DXStudio seems to operate the same, where you throw models into it, and then attach scripts. It's also offers a free version.


Tom, I think you are over-estimating the ease of XNA. It's hard to cut and paste functions and modify them. These people don't even know what a semi-colon is for, let alone putting these functions in a class (C# is 100% OOP, no rogue functions without a class!) and giving it a namespace, and proper access qualifiers. You need at least a moderate understanding of C#, and then need to be able to read the SDK and understand what it means.


Either way, game programming now is infinitely more accessible than it was a decade ago. Especially with C#. I remember back in the day, you'd make a small typo and have the machine hang or reboot itself and you'd spend a week tracking it down. Unlike today, where the Visual Studio IDE will often underline a line of code in red and pop up a little box telling you what you wrote is probably not a good idea. :D


Learning OpenGL or Direct3D in C++ would require hundreds and hundreds of lines of code just to get a basic blank window to draw in. :D And then you'd need to handle input, loading of textures and meshes, error handling, etc... you could easily write over 10k lines before you had anything you could start programming on top of.


XNA already has that stuff in place, and you can focus more on your content and logic. C# can be picked up by going to your library and reading an introductory C# book.


There is also Panda3D. It runs off the Python programming language, which is also a good beginner language.

http://www.panda3d.org/



I don't understand the attitudes in this thread. It amounts to:


I want to make games,


BUT,


I don't want to devote any time to it,


I am going to ignore easier alternatives when brought up,


I'm going to give up easy.


Learning to program is no different than learning to do anything else you had to do in life. Crawling, walking, riding a bike, driving, etc... It seems hard and impossible at first, then it clicks, and you never look back.

Post by Eagle // Aug 11, 2008, 9:50am

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Hey Jim there is a really good book out right now on how to use the XNA engine, its called "Professional-XNA-Programming" I got it because I have entered that XNA contest. But its a really good book! Here is the URL:

http://www.amazon.com/Professional-XNA-Programming-Building-Windows/dp/0470261285


Hope this helps~


Always~

Vickie ;)

Post by Eagle // Aug 11, 2008, 9:52am

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This one is good too, I already ordered mine~

http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-XNA-Unleashed-Graphics-Programming/dp/0672329646/ref=pd_sim_b_1


Have fun~


Always~

Vickie ;)

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 10:14am

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Thanks Vickie looks like a book is the way to go,I'll check it out. :)


Jim

Post by ghost--scout // Aug 11, 2008, 12:49pm

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JimB, you could also downloed Visual C# Express 2005, and when registered it comes with a free ebook that runs you through the very very basics of programming and the c# language and has you build a few small programs to do various things. If for whatever reason the ebook isn't posted anymore give me a shout and I will make it available for you.

Post by dononeton // Aug 11, 2008, 1:13pm

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Check this out http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/x/ it was made with XNA. Something to help you get started.

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 8:05pm

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Check this out http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/x/ it was made with XNA. Something to help you get started.

Thanks dononeton I will take a look but unless it is super easy its unlikely I will be shelling out more money,I have already spent hundreds of dollars and I still dont have good art pipeline from TS as yet.


Jim

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 8:45pm

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Thanks ghost--scout but I am on the verge of just Uninstalling Xna game studio I dont think its for me. :)


Jim

Post by RichLevy // Aug 11, 2008, 10:29pm

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Jim, you really need to get tied together with some people that need artists...

One of the things that always bothered me about indie gaming, you would run into these very talented programmer's who had wonderful game ideas and vision. They unfortunately always felt the game content part was the easy end, something they could whip together themselves in a matter of days :) It ain't that way :D

It takes as much dedication, determination, drive and skill to accomplish what you do as it does for them...


You can still do your content... with the realtime capabilities of TS you can make your environments in TS, set up the simulations, animations and such and than use them to showcase your skills... Do what you are best at, creating the content. Create the worlds inside TS and than it is just a matter of transferring the content to other products.


I have been "slowly" working toward this goal myself. TS is finally becoming the vision that it was billed as a couple of years back. You can now put together some advanced scenes inside TS (look at many of the creations from Marcel as examples)...


Leave the programming to the programmer's :D


HTH


Rich

Post by JimB // Aug 11, 2008, 10:41pm

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Yeah you are right Rich I am spreading myself a bit thin lately,I do have certain fascination towards programming but as you say best leave it to the others.After taking a look at Mathew Collins "creating an interactive world" tutorial I can see that TS might be a good way to get some content in to action.

Thanks

Jim

Post by Eagle // Aug 12, 2008, 1:59pm

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Hey Jim, I bet you would have fun with the A7 engine :) I love to play with it.

Post by clintonman // Aug 12, 2008, 2:42pm

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Another option for learning xna and c# programming can be bought at www.3dbuzz.com You can also try before you buy because several low res versions of the videos are free.

Post by Daaark // Aug 12, 2008, 5:34pm

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Another option for learning xna and c# programming can be bought at www.3dbuzz.com You can also try before you buy because several low res versions of the videos are free. Waste of money. You'll never be a good programmer with these crash courses. Get a good book on C# instead and learn properly.


Also, the free C# tutorials I linked on the previous page from MSDN will also help you learn better. And then after that, Riemer's XNA tutorials (http://www.riemers.net/).

Post by TheLion36 // Aug 12, 2008, 11:37pm

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The big downside of XNA is that it requires a "high-end" graphics card to work. Which is why I don't consider it a viable option for my means yet. Not a big fan of C# either, being a C++ developer I prefer the freedom that it provides me. I do use C# for some tool development tho and its a nice RAD tool. Everyone their own taste tho.


If you are interested in XNA development and racing games check out the book:

Professional XNA Game Programming: For Xbox 360 and Windows

by Benjamin Nitschke

Wrox Press 2007

ISBN:9780470126776

He explains how to write a racing game in XNA. He does however consider you have at least a bit of a C#/C++ background.


If you just want to play around a bit and make some simple games check out DarkBasic or BlitzBasic, those packages are a bit more like what you mentioned, if you want a model you simply call a routine to load a model, want to load a level, you call a function to load the level.

http://darkbasic.thegamecreators.com/

Post by jamesmc // Aug 13, 2008, 1:00am

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I remember online games before there were graphics; used ascii characters and etc. :)

Programming seemed so simple back then. The AI wasn't complicated and the basic controlling moves and player interaction was relatively easy.

Anyone notice what has happened to HTML and the Web making pages now? Instead of going wysiwig, the powers to be went all retro and now use XHTML, CSS and other ungodly pieces of geek code just to display Sally's name on a Web page. I mean come on guys, this is the 21st century, why revert back to WordStar days of 'pocket protectors" and Snartly's guide to UNIX?

The same thing for making games. What was once the days of happy little sprites, dragging and dropping, using actions to make them spin, jump, hop, move,disappear has now turned into a Einsteinian nightmare of C language orgasms and machine language emetics!

I'm sure glad 3D graphics hasn't gone that way. You know I can just drag a shader...er wait, I need what node and need to dive down into what and apply some script to make it and afterwards put some sort of singing soprano script on it all because I want a mixed color of yellow? What the...

I was arrested last week while trying to operate my MicroWave. It appears that the manufacture accuses me of not reading the manual, not attending the institute of higher learning for microwave oven school of programming and not knowing the basics of class hiearchy and Hull Algorithms!

I said "huh?" and they slapped the cuffs on me!

I was going out for a drive today, but my car is stuck in garage. The reason is that my GPS navigator needs to be programmed with its place of origin, spatial orientation and integrated map surfacing.

I decided "what the heck" I'll walk. So I go to open my garage door with the opener, which is tied to the security system and some sort of dead bolt slide mechanism locks me in the garage because I did not enter the proper sequence of prime numbers utilizing the cartesian plane number order system or some such thing. Thank God for my teenage neighbor, he let me out with his palm computer by hacking into the security system (I really don't want to know how he did it.)

I would call you for help on my cell phone, but it is locked as I accidently pressed a MEM button and it wants some IPod code for re-inverting the communication matrix. Whatever the heck that is!!!

At the grocery store now. You know, one of those big chain stores with two human cashiers and 20 self help counters operated by scanners and keypad entry. Well, the power went out, the scanners don't work and the Grocery manager is having the bag boys making shuttle excursions to the feed store next door with shopping carts full of food so they can be rung up on their 1980s cash register. I think I'm #27 in line...

I'm pretty sure I will be in contempt of court for my microwave hearing. The standard sentencing is attaching an electronic ankle bracelet which comes with a manual. It requires the 'wearer' to attend a two week seminar on how not to activate the alarm and deadly electrical shocking system.

If you don't see me in a couple of weeks, I probably will have fried myself with the ankle bracelet or have starve to death, trapped in my garage.
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