Wow, it’s been months since my last update! Figured I better post a quick update on some of the things I’ve been working on for the last few months. I’ve been really busy between school, job, and this Dream Build Play entry. Whatever spare time I’ve had I’ve been tinkering away at getting this new XNA game up to snuff to submit to Dream Build Play with two other team mates. With less than a month left before the deadline it is going to be one hell of a tight schedule. In the next week or so going to probably hold some closed beta tests (since it is an online multiplayer game).

What is the game you ask? Well it’s Gunstyle. An original 2D multiplayer sidescroller. For those thinking “WTF that sounds familiar” you’d be right. If you’ve ever been over to our showcase site, www.enddream.com, you’ll see a version of Gunstyle for the PC available for download. That version was an early prototype of the game that was made in a different API and on a much older version of DirectX (in fact the game doesn’t even run correctly on Vista for me), and unfortunately isn’t supported any longer as this version will be replacing it. The current Gunstyle we are developing is using GarageGame’s new XNA engine, TorqueX. The overall concept is essentially the same, play as a team or alone and take on enemies in classic death match or capture the flag; but, a lot of the game mechanics have been improved, new weapons created, visuals have been greatly improved, and many other features to be added. So stay tuned, as in the next couple of weeks I’m sure we’ll have some more information and media to share :).

This is the biggest project I’ve had in XNA yet, and so far I’m loving XNA…for the most part. The two biggest issues I have with XNA deal with the content pipeline and Audio (again). It may be from ignorance as I haven’t fiddled with all of the settings, but I don’t appreciate how XNA bloats all of the in-game assets to ridiculous file sizes. For example, I can take 16MB of png images for a game and XNA will increase that to around 270MB once built through the content pipeline. Our game is for PC only so we aren’t concerned with Xbox360 compatbility yet, but would like to keep it an option for the future. We’re using TorqueX, which uses the pipeline throughout it’s resource management layer, so it’s not as easy as turning ‘XNA content pipeline processor' to ‘off'. With our time schedule I don’t have time to alter TX to allow for none-pipeline content, but after the contest I’m sure this’ll be high on the list of ‘things to do' to see if we can decrease the physical space this game takes up on the hard drive without hurting load times too much.

The new 3D audio in 1.0 refresh of XNA is nice and we are employing those new features, but geez… only wav format?! In Wildboarders, the audio made up 80% if not more of the file size for the download because it had to be in wav. And it’s looking like it’ll be the same thing for this new game. May have to use a hybrid solution and see if we can use any .NET libraries for playing ogg files for background music and using the XACT just for normal sound FX.

Ok, I’m done venting on XNA. Other than those two issues (which I’m sure will be resolved soon), XNA is awesome. Right now, we’re all working to get the game to a state where it’s fully playable and robust enough to be deemed as an early beta. After the contest we’ll finally have some breather time. Soon after, we’ll buckle down on getting Gunstyle much more polished.