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XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

Last post 7/21/2012 3:33 AM by OnekSoft Games. 22 replies.
  • 2/9/2012 5:03 AM

    XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Hi all,

    I have been through many books and tutorials, but never found a basic starter kit that has everything you need to get a game through the approval process.

    I've seen games in Playtest and Review with:
    * safe-area violations (this will fail review)
    * no pause menu (nice to have)
    * no "Unlock Full Game" (makes a difference in sales ratio)
    * playerIndex issues (this will also fail review)
    * device-selection crashes (definitely a fail)
    .. etc. etc. 

    Unless someone else already built such a starter kit, I've started to build this starter kit for my next game.
    * Started with Microsoft's Game State Management sample
    * Added Nick Gravelyn's EasyStorage as references in both Windows and Xbox versions
    * Added safe-area code (modified from MSDN blog post)

    I'll continue to add:
    * Unlock Full Game menu option that hides unlock option after purchase
    * sprite classes and animation (there are varying tutorials on this)
    * customizable HUD elements (within safe area, of course!)

    My new game is a 2.5D sidescrolling action brawler (like Streets of Rage or Final Fight), so I'm also adding a stitched scrolling background. I learned some techniques from Sapumal's Blog about animations and from George Clingerman's blog about scrolling backgrounds, and already started creating a sidescroller. But I decide to put together this "starter kit" from scratch for a cleaner approach.

    I will add in more structured code for the scrolling background, but won't put it in the "barebones" kit, so that you can create your own type of game.

    Let me know what you guys think, and definitely let me know if it's already been done.

    Thanks!

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 2/9/2012 5:20 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    p.s. I tweeted about this thread just now, and it's already been RT'd a couple of times :-)

    Please feel free to RT if you would like to spread the word, thanks!

  • 2/9/2012 7:14 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Hi OneKSoft,

    I think its a great idea, why should new devs have to keep 're inventing the wheel' trying to produce their own code to satisfy all the peer approval criteria when the codes probably already been written a thousand times before.

    Obviously it would also make the approval process quicker and less painful for all I would have thought - just concentrate on actual game content which is surely the primary goal?

    Just one concern would be making first timers aware of this.

    My route was learning XNA from books and using the web as backup to assist with each new bit I had learnt.

    The problem with that way is that you then end up with quite a bit of code that is 'almost' usable but probably too advanced to throw out and start again once you realise that something like a 'starter' package already exists when you finally stumble across it on the web - so good exposure of your idea up front would certainly help.


    All the best with this, J

  • 2/9/2012 1:32 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Sounds perfect!
    Looking forward to check it out.
  • 2/9/2012 5:19 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    This could turn out to be a killer alternative project template to the rather basic "New XNA Game Studio Game," or whatever it's called these days...
  • 2/10/2012 12:40 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Thanks guys... my responses are inline below:

    jofan:
    Hi OneKSoft,
    I think its a great idea...

    Thanks, I'm glad to see that I'm getting such support on Twitter and on the App Hub forums! :-)

    jofan:
    Just one concern would be making first timers aware of this.

    I was thinking of putting it on the OnekSoftLabs.com website, which is already visited by published developers who use the XBLIG Sales Data Analyzer (SDA). Putting up the XNA Basic Starter Kit (XNA BS Kit?) would also entice new developers or give established developers a quick start for their next project.

    Diablob Games:
    Sounds perfect!
    Looking forward to check it out.

    Thanks, I'll post an update on the forum and on Twitter when the first usable version is ready.


    Factory Eight:
    This could turn out to be a killer alternative project template to the rather basic "New XNA Game Studio Game," or whatever it's called these days...

    Yep, that's my intention. The GSM sample is too light, and the Starter Kits are to far into a game without covering basic Checklist issues.

    Thanks again for all your support. Don't forget to check out the SDA while you're waiting for the XNA BS Kit! ;-)

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 2/10/2012 1:41 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    The only thing that I'm hesitant about is how absurdly complicated the GameState sample is for new developers. I'd think about simplifying it if you go through with this. I tried to figure it out a while ago and gave up. Even having since written my own system and understanding the idea, I still think the GSM sample is overkill.
  • 2/10/2012 1:55 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Factory Eight:
    The only thing that I'm hesitant about is how absurdly complicated the GameState sample is for new developers. I'd think about simplifying it if you go through with this. I tried to figure it out a while ago and gave up. Even having since written my own system and understanding the idea, I still think the GSM sample is overkill.

    HiFactory Eight,

    For me personally, I always felt that the GSM made it super-easy to quickly add on screens and menus with minimal effort. But I see your point, and I agree that further abstraction will help new developers get started quickly.

    That being said, my first version of this Starter Kit is meant for both new developers and existing developers who actually do want to use the GSM, but get bogged down with too many Evil Checklist items.

    Incidentally, I did start out with trying to encapsulate the GSM into a re-usable DLL. I wanted to expose only minimal things for an easier experience, but quickly found that it was easier for me to use the GSM as is, with its code in my project.

    I'll do what I can, as I have to finish this kit, my next game projects, and of course, the Analyzer. After my family and day job, of course. :-)

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 2/12/2012 8:16 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    Good news!

    I found a DrawingHelper reference library online for drawing primitives in XNA. Initially, it was only made for Windows, since the original author doesn't have an Xbox. But, I contacted the author and he compiled an Xbox version and emailed it to me! :-)

    Initial tests show that the Xbox version of the DLL works well in some sample tests, so I plan on including this DrawingHelper reference in my starter kit, if everything goes well with it.

    On a side note: 

    I have the initial HUD code working, and it will be a customizable HUD with components that can be placed on the left/right/center.

    I hope to have the initial working version of the kit ready in the weeks ahead, and will keep you guys posted.

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 2/13/2012 8:36 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    To maximize exposure, I suggest you make an visual studio extension and upload it to the visual studio gallery.
    Although this may not be the place where people look first, I still think it's a good place to put it. I know you probably feel that your web site will be up forever, but it has happened in the past that valuable resources have vanished due to loss of interest and motivation by their owner. The visual studio gallery should be up for at least as long as XNA lives on.
    A VS extension also makes it look very professional and easy to use.

    I have done a number of extensions for F# and XNA on Xbox and WP7. It was a while, but if you have questions I might still be able to help.

    Actually, a vs extension might be more than what's needed. A project template should do it. They are easy to make, and I think you can host them on the vs gallery too.
  • 2/13/2012 1:49 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    What! My website won't be up forever? ;-)

    Thanks for the tips, CleverRake, I will definitely look into the extension option.

    I was thinking of hosting it on some open-source hosted service, but the gallery sounds like a good place as well.

    I'm sure people will have feedback on it, so I plan on tweaking it further as time permits.

    Thanks
    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 2/16/2012 5:42 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    Hey guys,

    I've completed the initial basic features, and updated the list and video clip on the website:

    Please let me know if you have any additional quick requests for this initial release, otherwise I will go ahead and publish the project source code as is.

    Thanks,
    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 2/27/2012 2:16 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    QUICK UPDATE:

    I've published the early version of the XNA Basic Starter Kit, (v0.0.1) now available for download!


    Thanks again for all your support via the forums, Twitter and private messages.

    Keep sending me your requests as I continue to make updates.

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 3/15/2012 2:48 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    Just published v0.0.3, with sprite/animation classes and DrawingHelper samples.

    Up next: collision detection and multiple-controller support, to make way for BS Kit Tutorials! :-)

    ~OnekSoft Games
  • 3/15/2012 5:08 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Feel free to make use of my peer review checklist as a guide for behaviours to help developers avoid: http://www.bobtacoindustries.com/Content/Devs/Samples/XNAPeerReviewChecklist.txt .
  • 3/15/2012 11:41 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Bob Taco Industries:
    Feel free to make use of my peer review checklist as a guide for behaviours to help developers avoid: http://www.bobtacoindustries.com/Content/Devs/Samples/XNAPeerReviewChecklist.txt .

    Good idea, I have been using the actual checklists and personal experience to build my starter kit.

    I also want to make a 1-page web form to let reviewers literally check off what they tested, and submit their report during the review process.

    Your detailed page will definitely come in handy! :-)

    I also got some additional feedback on Twitter today, an offer to integrate 2D skeletal animation from an open-source project by a fellow XNA developer :-)

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 3/27/2012 2:15 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    * Changed the versioning scheme so that there are less decimal points.

    * This week's update is v0.4 and includes tile-grid menu selection, built on top of the existing GSM menu system.

    * Adding a graphic to any menu item will allow it to be tiled across multiple columns, in a 2-dimensional grid of menu tiles.

    * I left out the graphic from the last menu item, so that it functions as a regular "Back" menu item

    * I added new input handing for left-right (in addition to the existing up-down) movements. However, the left-right movement does the same thing as the up-down movement at this time. I'll change it soon, so that it's more intuitive with movements in all 4 directions

    More info at the same place:

    FYI, Dave Voyles (of Summer Uprising fame) from ArmlessOctopus.com is experimenting with the kit, and I've been getting some great feedback from him about the BS Kit. Feel free to send me your feedback in private or on the forums.

    Thanks,
    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 3/27/2012 12:07 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    I've been using this for the last few days, and it has helped out exponentially!

    I was originally looking for a statemanagement framework and found the one supplied by Microsoft, but figured I would be better suited grabbing one which had a number of other features in there. I had a bit of an issue getting some of these things working on their own (Nick Gravelyn's EasyStorage, but couldn't it going on my own. Fortunately this has it bundled within it.

    Furthermore, Shahed has been extremely helpful in getting me started with the framework. I'm glad I hopped in on this when I did, and look forward to seeing what it can lead to. I plan on keeping a journal of my experience with learning XNA and using his framework. Your best bet to follow along is at the XNALastDance site, hosted by the guys at GameMarx.
  • 3/27/2012 10:20 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    Dave Voyles:
    I've been using this for the last few days, and it has helped out exponentially!
    ...

    Cool, glad to hear that you found it useful! :-)

    Dave Voyles:
    ...
    Furthermore, Shahed has been extremely helpful in getting me started with the framework. I'm glad I hopped in on this when I did, and look forward to seeing what it can lead to.
    ..

    No problem, I look forward to your finished product! :-D

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .

    p.s. for those of you wondering who this "Shahed" person is, that's me--> http://OnekSoftLabs.com/about
  • 4/6/2012 1:38 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release


    Thanks to Dave Voyles for publicly using the XNA Basic Starter Kit and talking about the experience, and thanks to everyone else who gave me direct feedback via email, Twitter and Facebook.

    The XNA Basic Starter Kit is now at v1.0 !!! :-)


    Enjoy,
    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 5/11/2012 12:01 PM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    You should consider putting this on CodePlex or somewhere. I've found some things that I would recommend changing, and it would make tracking them easier.
  • 5/13/2012 12:14 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Great idea, I was just thinking of doing just that! :-)

    I was looking through XNA projects on CodePlex yesterday, and thought that it would be a good idea to share my Kit on CodePlex.

    I'll post here when it's up, and look forward to your recommendations!

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
  • 7/21/2012 3:33 AM In reply to

    Re: XNA basic starter kit prepped for release

    Jim Perry:
    You should consider putting this on CodePlex or somewhere. I've found some things that I would recommend changing, and it would make tracking them easier.

    Hi Jim,

    The XNA Basic Starter Kit is now on CodePlex: http://xnabasicstarterkit.codeplex.com/

    Feel free to share your input.

    ~OnekSoft Games
    .
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