Whatever Happened To The Swindle?

By Alec Meer on September 28th, 2012 at 2:01 pm.

The Swindle was the much-anticipated next game from Time Gentlemen, Please and Privates dev Size Five Games. Then things went quiet. Very, very quiet. But why? Wha’happened? Will we ever get to play this cyberpunk crime caper? Here, Size Five’s Dan Marshall reveals for the first time why the game went dark – a sad tale of Windows 8-based potential doom, leading to a Summer of fear and the difficult decision to start the game over from scratch. But, thank heavens, it’s a sad tale with a happy ending. Also, you can get your first glimpse at the game’s totes snazzy new look in its brand new engine in the top three (pre-alpha) screenshots in this post.

RPS: What happened? Sounds like you had a bad time.

Dan Marshall: I had a really awful summer. I’ve basically been a bit of a wreck. What happened was that the entirety of the Swindle was underpinned by XNA – all my code was XNA. All the physics, all the particles, all the lighting, all the sound, graphics, all that stuff was XNA. There had been rumours that XNA was going down the pan, that Microsoft weren’t supporting it anymore, all that sort of stuff. So at Develop [an annual games industry conference held in Brighton, UK this July] I went up to the guy on the Windows 8 stall and asked him to clear it up, I asked him to tell me whether or not my XNA game was going to run on Windows 8, because it was difficult to get a definitive answer.

He basically just looked at me and shook his head, and said ‘no, it won’t run.’ I said ‘at launch, or ever?’ And he said ‘ever.’

So that was a bit of worry. Rather than taking that one guy’s word for it I came away and Googled the shit out of the problem, and as far as I’m aware there’s still no official word from Microsoft on what the future of XNA is, how it’s all going to work on Windows 8, whether it’s going to work on Windows 8. So I’ve got this one guy who’s in the know telling me that the game I’ve worked on for the last year and a half isn’t going to be supported by Windows 8. And from that I can extrapolate that it won’t be supported on Windows 9, or 10, or any Xboxes or anything like that.

RPS: What was the noise you made when you first heard that?

Dan Marshall: God, I’ve no idea. I think I was probably quite unpleasant to him, poor man. I think I was probably quite stand offish. I don’t think I made a noise, but if I did it was probably not a nice one.

RPS: We can print obscenities on RPS, incidentally.

Dan Marshall: I don’t think I’ve got it in me to shout ‘fuck’ at a Microsoft employee. That doesn’t sound like me at all. But basically I felt like the world had crumbled beneath me. I’d put so much into the Swindle and I was now faced with it not running on people’s computers by the time I released it. Because it was still like another year away from release, so for all I knew everyone was going to go ‘turns out Windows 8 is amazing!’ and everyone installs it, and I’m fucked.


Click for embiggenation

RPS: I’m hilariously ignorant about this side of things – I know games made in XNA need the XNA redistributable thingy installed, but would Windows 8 actually block that from installing, or refuse to run the executable, or what?

Dan Marshall: Exactly. I’m disappointingly ignorant about that side of tech stuff too, I don’t really know, but as I understand it when you install an XNA game you have to install the .Net framework, and I assume there’s something going on there. Basically it sounds like an XNA .exe relies on a load of stuff that’s not going to be in the new Windows.

RPS: I guess someone might find a way to hack it back in, but that’s not the sort of thing you want to be reliant on your customers having to do…

Dan Marshall: Yeah, exactly. So that was bad. I basically felt like the world had crumbled and I was a wreck, completely lost and bewildered about what to do. So I spent some time looking into it and thinking around the problem, and I basically come to the conclusion that my only way out of it was to throw what little money I’d accrued over the years at the problem, and port it to Unity. But I didn’t know anything about Unity. So I’ve employed a very talented guy called Tim James to very kindly lay the basic foundations for me, recreating the XNA stuff in Unity. Which is going really well, he’s going an incredibly good job while I basically sit there and pick at Unity and work out how shit works.

RPS: But he’s doing it from the top right, there wasn’t much that could be carried straight across?

Dan Marshall: Completely from scratch. So whenever anyone used to mention porting, like a dodgy console port or something, I’d just presume it was basically copying and pasting to make it work on a different setup. But in this instance porting it has pretty much boiled down to rewriting it.


Click for embiggenation

RPS: You made a terrible mistake – everyone else just has this little box with four buttons saying ‘PC’, ‘Xbox’, ‘Playstation’ and ‘Nintendo.’ Didn’t you know about that?

Dan Marshall: Ah, shit. I should have got one of those. There’s probably just an option hidden in Visual Studio called ‘port.’ So I kept quiet about this, because I’m not the sort of person who grumbles and moans in public. I didn’t want to sit there and gripe about this until I’d found a solution and was feeling really positive about it again. Which is why I’ve finally got screenshots together and am talking about the XNA problem now, because I’m finally in a position where I can see that this whole horrible situation has finally proven to be a force for good. The game is a hundred times better for having moved over to Unity and gotten someone else to take over for me while I do the pretty bits and setup levels and some of the more basic designy stuff.

RPS: So perversely you’ve ended up being able to do more work on it, rather than less?

Dan Marshall. Perversely, yes. I mean it’s costing me money, a lot of money that I don’t really have, but I think in the long run it’s going to be the game’s benefits. It’s a fucking brilliant game – well, it was until I had to start again, rebuilding to that point again. But it’s a great game, I have no doubt it’s going to do really well, but it has gone a significant number of steps backwards.

Important note: all screenshots from hereon in are of the old, XNA-based Swindle, not the new fancy-pants Unity one.

RPS: Have you considered the paid alpha thing, like Introversion just did, using that XNA build you’ve got as a prototype to entice people right away?

Dan Marshall: I’ve thought about doing something, but I’ve always been sort of anti-Kickstarter, in that it’s not right for me while I’ve got the cash to self-fund. Getting money off people and having people influence the game design, that’s not for me. But over the Summer I seriously considered reversing my position…

RPS: Suddenly other people’s money looked quite good, eh?

Dan Marshall: Yeah, when you’re starting a project all over again. But it’d take me a fortnight just to get the XNA version up to a point where I’d be happy releasing it even as just a shitty alpha, God knows what state it was in, so I don’t think it’s really an option. It’s going to be about two to three months now until the Unity version is up to where the XNA one was. That’s with the two of us working on it, and obviously loads of the graphics and things had already been done, so there was some stuff that was salvageable, not a lot.

RPS: So how many months behind the original schedule do you expect to be – five?

Dan Marshall: Probably six, cos there was a month of running around crying, where nothing really got started. So probably about six months down the drain, but well worth it. If you compare screenshots of the two it’s looking and playing much better. There are a few little bits and pieces that, when you start again, you have the luxury of doing differently. I said to Tim I’d always liked the idea of putting bullet time in, but by the time I’d decided to do that in the XNA version it was going to be too much work to scale back and put it in. Then he send me about two lines of code [in the Unity version] and it was done. It’s one of those things where Unity has really come on. The last time I checked out Unity was about two years ago, and I immediately discounted it as not being right for me. So picking it up again was really weird. So much stuff that I had spent weeks writing code for in XNA was basically just drag and drop in Unity.

RPS: Does it feel like cheating?

Dan Marshall: It feels completely like cheating. All the really nitty-gritty stuff of it, collision detections, physics, game mechanics, that doesn’t feel like cheating, that’s proper programming, but quite a lot of making it look pretty and sound effects play, that’s just a dream. That’s just drag and drop.

That’s the other great thing about it – if there’s one thing that was worrying me massively about the XNA version, it was the level editor, which I’d had to program myself. It was pretty basic, I didn’t really need to care about the programming because I thought no-one else was ever going to use it. So I knocked it together and it was workable, but it was a pain in the arse to use. The great thing about Unity is that 50% of it is basically a ready-made level editor. So that whole worry that I had to rewrite that, that was a massive weight off my mind because it’s already done for me.

RPS: Why were you on XNA on the first place – was Privates using it?

Dan Marshall: Yeah, used it for Privates. And it’s a really lovely language, it’s a dream to use. Getting things looking nice and all that sort of stuff is brilliant, it’s such a shame that Microsoft seem to have shot in the face, or just don’t care about it. I don’t know what they’re thinking about it, if it’s a failed experiment or what.

RPS: They seem to be on a more generalised crusade to get rid of whatever people are used to at the moment.

Dan Marshall: It’s weird, but XNA is a triumph, it’s a brilliant beautiful language that should be widely used. It’s a great way of getting things up to speed really quickly, especially for idiots like me who are never going to really understand the nitty-gritty of DirectX. But they seem to have just fired it off into the wilderness and don’t really seem to care about who’s using it or why or what they can do to support those people.

RPS: You know, of course, that as soon as you finish doing Swindle in Unity they’ll announce XNA for Windows 8? And then you’ll kill yourself.

Dan Marshall: Yeah. But I can’t risk that, I can’t take that gamble, that in a year’s time they’ll suddenly go ‘surprise, XNA’s on Windows 8 now!’ because then I’d be two and a half years down and into an XNA game that might not work. The massive plus of Unity is that now I’m supporting Mac and Linux as well, and possibly console versions as well, but when I was tied to Microsoft it was increasingly shaky ground.

It’s weird, just after that Develop meeting when I was feeling my absolute worst was when Gabe Newell came out and said Windows 8 was looking like a catastrophe. I didn’t say anything about it on Twitter or anything like that, because I didn’t want to talk about this until I was ready, but it was a massive relief to me when he started saying things like that.

Tomorrow: what’s new in the Swindle since last we heard from it, how its storytelling works and how much of a comedy game it is.

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91 Comments »

  1. Jake Albano says:

    It’s a real shame he went to so much trouble porting it to Unity, because Monogame is an XNA implementation that works on Mac, Linux and Windows…including Metro under Windows 8.

    http://ximplosionx.com/blog/monogame-xna-for-metro-style-apps/

    • danthat says:

      Yes, I looked into Monogame. I basically totted up all the pros and cons of what to do very carefully, believe me. In the end, a port to Unity made the most sense. It was about a lot of things – not being tied to one platform, not having to rewrite the level editor, having more stability across setups, having access to Unity’s Asset Store to get some of my iffy code replaced, that sort of thing.

      There’s more info here, about why I took the decision I did: http://www.sizefivegames.com/2012/09/28/the-swindle-ported-to-unity/

      For what it’s worth, I’m now so pleased I took that leap, horrible though it was at the time. The game is already better as a result. Not an easy decision, but a brilliant one.

      • Jake Albano says:

        Well, I’m glad the decision worked out for you. :) There’s nothing worse than doing a ton of work only to find out that it wasn’t necessary and you have nothing to show for it.

  2. Zhugie says:

    To anyone else with this issue. Monogame’s a good option

    I had the same problem (Expect I had only spent about 6 months part-time on my game). Ported it over to Monogame in an evening. Admittedly I had no shaders or 3d or anything else to fancy. Pretty much drawing a procedural map and some sprites and that had to change slightly

    That being said Unity is a great choice as well. Solid engine all round and well supported

    Whatever the game’s made with it looks awesome. Can’t wait to see more

  3. Flukie says:

    I’m not really saying I know much more than a developer here but doesn’t Terraria work fine on Windows 8, that’s developed on XNA.

    :S

    • CartBlanche says:

      Terraria on Mac and Linux uses MonoGame, if I’m not mistaken, so does Bastion and ARMED!, which is a 3D game on the Windows 8 App Store.

  4. programmdude says:

    XNA is supported on Windows 8 (unless I am really, really mistaken), just not using the metro interface. And as an extension you can’t launch via the windows marketplace either.

    • Unaco says:

      Indeed. XNA runs fine with Windows 8… it’s just not compatible with the Metro interface.

      • Lev Astov says:

        I’ve read this before but it makes no sense to me. When you say it’s not compatible with the metro interface, what does that mean?

        Surely I can fire up a game written in XNA through the metro interface. And surely, within the game I could code it so that the games interface looks and feels exactly like the metro interface. What am I missing?

    • bakaohki says:

      It won’t run on the RT version (Metro/tablet), though it shall be okay with the x86/x86_64 world – but I just don’t get it; haven’t Dan installed Windows 8 and gave it a spin? What’s going on? There’s no magic in .NET, what the hell is he talking about? I’m not a dotnet guy, but I work all day long in a dotnet environment, and this is absurd.

      On the other hand Microsoft should lick a salty horse with their “clear communication strategy”.

  5. Hybrid says:

    Yet another case of Microsoft “supporting” PC games.

    • Cadence says:

      More like yet another case of bad communication from MS & some random guy at a stand.

      The big thing with Windows 8 from a developer’s standpoint is not the Metro interface – its WinRT. WinRT is a ‘sandbox environment’ that is supposed to protect against malware in the same manner as on smartphones (eg. no direct access to the filesystem etc). WinRT is not used for ‘Desktop’ Win8.

      XNA might not run on WinRT but that doesn’t mean it won’t run on Windows 8, just that it won’t be a Metro ‘App’.

  6. Merkoth says:

    This is… weird to say the least. XNA won’t be useable on the “Metro” interface, but it WILL work on the traditional desktop… But let’s say this isn’t acceptable. How is Unity any different? Granted, Unity doesn’t use .net nor XNA but it’s still a traditional native application and not a “Metro” one… How is that any better than XNA?

    And since when is XNA a “language”?

    • vonkrieger says:

      Knowing Unity there’ll be a specific Metro plugin for it made available that does all of the work for you.

      • Merkoth says:

        Most likely, but it hasn’t even been announced yet, and Windows 8 is already here. Seriously, I’m not an XNA expert, but I do write code for a living, and rewriting your game from scratch just because of a rumor sounds extremely silly.

        • Joe W-A says:

          This is utterly bizarre. Everything that runs on Windows 7 runs on Windows 8, including XNA games. Sure, it won’t be a Metro app, but it never was going to be, and probably won’t be on Unity either?

  7. trjp says:

    Why am I not surprised that MS cannot be bothered to support anything properly and constantly move the goalposts on people who’ve invested in their tech!?

    Worse still – why aren’t they willing to actually tell people the truth – people they absolutely and positively NEED to make their platform work.

    It’s amazing how invested people become in their dev tools too – as a creative/developer, moving to a new tool as a MASSIVE wrench because it not only changes how you work, it means all the stuff you’ve already written has to be reworked (and you’ll decide to make it better and there goes 7 months!!)

    I sort-of did that by moving from Android dev (Eclipse/Java/AndEngine) to HTML/CSS/JS but at least the core languages are the same (Javascript isn’t too far from Java and HTML Canvas is largely similar to Android Canvas and Box2D is the same everywhere and so on).

    This is why I always emphasise to people starting-out creating games that your initial choice of tool is SUPER important – do not choose the easiest or the cheapest, choose the one which works everywhere and has support (from users and the developers) which will last (e.g. I wouldn’t touch an MS toolset with yours…)

    Unity is super popular and not a bad choice if you’re making 3D games – if you’re making 2D games tho, it’s a bloody stupid idea :)

    • danthat says:

      Huh. I’ve found Unity does 2D incredibly well. Not had a single problem. Using tk2d and SmoothMoves from the Asset Store, and it all works a charm.

      • trjp says:

        In theory I could paint my house using a fire engine – it would work for sure but I’m not convinced it’s the right tool for the job and by the same measure, I’m not convinced there aren’t simpler, cheaper, easier options for 2D than Unity either ;)

        Unity is a 3D engine – everything it does is 3D – you’re paying for that in your licencing and in the size (arguably the bloat) of the executables and in the overheads and all that jazz.

        To give you an example – I coded a relatively simple Box2D ‘make things flying around the screen’ doodah for Android in native code/AndEngine and it was about 1.2Mb and ran beautifully on every handset I tried it on – the same thing built in Unity was 21Mb and wouldn’t work on half the handsets I tried…

        Might not be an issue for everyone but you’ve got a fire engine in there somewhere for sure.

        There are simply better tools for 2D – hell there’s HTML for starters, which works EVERYWHERE, is super-lightweight and you already know how to make it work if you’ve ever made a website…

        • vonkrieger says:

          Same thing is true if you use OpenGL, it’s primarily a 3D api that you can lock to 2 dimensions.

          I think the biggest mistake when you start making a game is underestimating the cost of tooling (level editor, sprite management and so on), Unity makes your game about a thousand times more likely to happen.

          • trjp says:

            The thing is that the ‘free’ thing at the front of Unity is such a tease – reality is that you won’t be able to get a game done ‘free’ without a lot of headbanging.

            It’s not just Unity licences – or the sneaky features they put into Pro – it’s the cost of the other stuff you’ll undoubtedly decide you need because it seems it will save you a tonne of time.

            I’m not against Unity – I think it’s a great tool once you get over the clunky stuff (and there’s a LOT of clunky stuff). It’s VASTLY simpler than UDK to learn (but then so is Swahili) – it’s just that people using it for absolutely-2D-and-nothing-else games are using the wrong tool IMO

            Unity are delighted to take your money and lock you into their stuff I’m sure – but there are better tools for that job.

          • Groove says:

            In that case, what IS a good engine for 2D?

          • trjp says:

            I knew someone would ask that – and the answer is “there are loads of them – pick the one which suits you best” really.

            I personally favour handwritten HTML(5) because that works pretty-much everywhere and I’m good with it but there are loads of alternatives which have the same enfpoints and loads of other alternatives which offer other benefits and downsides

            Off the top of my head – and this is just the stuff I’ve tried myself – there’s

            Stencyl
            Corona
            Yoyo Gamemaker
            ImpactJS

            more here
            http://www.pixelprospector.com/the-big-list-of-game-making-tools/

            and there’s more again than that too.

            To reiterate – Unity is great but it’s a 3D tool which makes 3D games and when you’re making a 2D one that’s going to have an effect on you (esp if you’re starting-off for the first time).

        • MarigoldFleur says:

          I’m making a 2D game in Unity as we speak. You talk about bloat and overhead and all that but, uh… my executable is checking in at about 30 megs + assets, rarely goes above 70 megs of memory usage on any platform I’m testing on outside of overload situations, and has run on just about everything I’ve thrown it at with no problems whatsoever. The engine scales to various levels really well and the only thing I’m missing out on is proper render-to-texture support so I can implement pixel-accurate mode-7 looking effects.

          As for the free thing being a lie? No, not really. I put about $30 into my game because I didn’t feel like coding my own tile placement system but the sprite-handling I hammered out in about an hour or two. You also seem to think that the people who are using it for just 2D stuff are somehow using the wrong tool but take a look at the App Store on any iOS device and you’ll quickly start to realise that a looot of 2D games are made with Unity. Why? Because it handles 2D really well and with nowhere near the overhead you think it does.

          • trjp says:

            Just for reference – until relatively recently there was a 20Mb cap on mobile App size (some devices still won’t handle larger apps – some older devices don’t have the memory even if they could install em)

            Elite was written inside 64Kb including screen memory…

            Just for reference ;)

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            what did Pong take?

          • MarigoldFleur says:

            Elite nearly crippled the original computers it ran on as well. It used every last bit of the of the Micro-B 64′s memory. I think using 70-90 megs of the available 1+ gigs of a modern computer and 60 megs of space out of the average 400+ gigs of storage space for a 2D game built on Unity is pretty reasonable.

          • Bobtree says:

            Pong is not technically a computer game because it’s logic was hardwired into the electronics.

    • Voronwer says:

      “Why am I not surprised that MS cannot be bothered to support anything properly and constantly move the goalposts on people who’ve invested in their tech!?”

      I might not be in game development, but I have been required to request support from MS with general Windows development and overall they have given excellent support. This has been in both ticket support as well as a general sanity checks of the application and getting info. /unpopularopinion

      That doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to Windows 8, though.

    • Sic says:

      Why am I not surprised that MS cannot be bothered to support anything properly and constantly move the goalposts on people who’ve invested in their tech!?

      Honestly, I have no idea why you’re “not surprised”.

      The main reason MS got into the position they did was backwards compatibility. Supporting pretty much every god damn thing they created near indefinitely.

      You can still upgrade to Windows 8 from a MS DOS 6.22 base (through all versions of DOS and Windows), if you are so inclined, and it will keep and run pretty much any application. Any application made for MS platforms since 1981.

      It’s not perfect, but it’s a damn far cry from pretty much anything else, barring select iterations of *NIX (which are mostly for completely different applications in any case, so it’s not really relevant).

  8. Lev Astov says:

    Please don’t ever say “totes” again unless referring to multiple bags.

  9. jonfitt says:

    Those new screenshots looks great. Love the look.
    Technologically it’s probably light-years past BTDT, so I expect there will be at least 4-5 frames of animation per character.

  10. Kaira- says:

    Referring to XNA as “language” really irritates the little programmer nazi in me. Framework, people, framework.

    That being said, it’s a really good and well designed framework. For some reason I wouldn’t be surprised if MS decided to kill it off – the later revisions of XNA have been part of the Windows Phone SDK.

    • trjp says:

      They won’t kill it – they’ll just change it in ways which are fundamentally shattering and make it pointless – and it will die like an underweight whale on a Northumberland beach…

  11. vonkrieger says:

    Relevant article from Joel’s blog: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html

    I would be so pissed if I was in their shoes, Microsoft are screwing over devs to make the job on their side easier.

  12. CartBlanche says:

    Hi Dan,
    If you still want to port Privates or any of your other XNA games, using the same code base via MonoGame, please get in contact. I know people who help XNA dev studios port their titles to MonoGame.

    In the new year the MonoGame team will be adding PlayStation Mobile, and as soon a we get onto the Windows Phone 8 beta, we hope to target that too.

    Swindle looks great. All the best with it and the Unity port.

  13. celozzip says:

    hmm… nobody gives two shits about windows 8. especially gamers.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      This is what I was thinking. Just release it for Win7, that’s what I’ll be using!

    • Shooop says:

      You do if you buy a new PC in the near future.

      • magikmw says:

        You don’t need to buy a PC with Windows pre-installed on it. Just sayin.

        • Gnoupi says:

          If you buy from the main assemblers (or buy a laptop), and depending on the country, you will have to, yes. Some countries (like France) find it perfectly acceptable to be forced to buy an OS with your computer.

      • Caiman says:

        WIndows 7 will be the new XP, being used by gamers worldwide for years after the release of Windows 8. They will probably start to switch over mid-way through the life of Windows 9 when people realise that it’s not as bad as Windows 8 was. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, never buy a Windows O/S revision following the really good one.

  14. Unaco says:

    Windows 8 is built very much on the Windows 7 foundations… Any app built for Win7 will run on the Win8 Desktop environment. That stands for XNA, Silverlight, .Net etc. An XNA app will work fine in Win8 Desktop, you’d just not have the Metro functionality, as many other commenters have commented.

  15. lizzardborn says:

    Microsoft don’t know in what kind of mess they are at the moment. When the developers can’t grasp the different parts of windows 8 (metro, desktop) and how it affects them and what runs on them … got this happened to me also – a game I was working on with managed directx in 2006, suddenly they dropped MDX and introduced XNA. The project failed. Badly.

    • Kleevah says:

      Oh man, I’m still cranky about MDX, so much work down the drain. Didn’t help that a lot of the stuff I was doing no longer was possible to do in the early XNA versions either. I learned to never lock my code down to MS ever again though, so something good came out of it…

    • Gap Gen says:

      Microsoft really do love shooting themselves in the testicles. I would love it this meant that everyone abandoned Windows, but then Ubuntu isn’t really ready for general consumers who never want to touch a terminal, and Macs obviously cost way too much.

  16. MarkovPolaroid says:

    Ah Microsoft … masters of planned obsolescence…discontinue support for perfectly good products to force the masses to upgrade,,,

    • Lev Astov says:

      Just wait until they throw USB on the chopping block. I can see why they’d want to simplify Windows, but some things are just really useful and should be kept.

  17. JamesEdSmith says:

    In my experience, XNA games have always needed you to include the framework in your installer for people to be able to run the game after installation (unless they just happened to have it installed already). This has been the case since Windows Vista… So what is this guys problem?

    What a weird article, he seems like a dumb ass, flailing his arms and yelling at microsoft because something he did didn’t work the way he thought it would so it must be SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT.

    • vonkrieger says:

      I actually got this impression too but I assume there’s something to the story we’re both missing. :)

      Why would somebody rewrite their game just to get onto the Windows 8 metro store? A store that, even if massively successful, will take years to attain extensive market penetration on the scale of the iPhone app store or even Steam.

      • trjp says:

        It’s not about Metro specifically – when you’re developing long-term projects you are SUPER sensitive to what’s happening to your tools/target platforms etc. etc.

        You’re investing massive amounts of time (and often money) and you need to know that it’s not going to be pulled from under you – and once you get that suspicion, you start seeking alternatives and sooner or later, you move.

        It’s funny what can ultimately tip you tho – I’d known I needed to write more portable stuff to get outside of ‘just Android’ for about 6 months but it took the appearance of “(C) Zynga” in the source code of my game engine to push me into finding something else

        In this case I don’t think it’s the “will it won’t it work” thing – it’s the fact that MS aren’t willing to give an honest or straight answer to the question – that alone tells you they don’t CARE about you and your work – and that is why you drop them like hot rocks.

    • trjp says:

      I’m not sure which article you read, but I was seriously impressed at the way he approached this sitation – he’s still very pro XNA and I’d not be in his shoes.

      I’ve been where he’s been more than twice, my first reaction is always to lash out and call everyone bastards from the top of every tower and then spend the rest of my life deterring people from every going near a related product ever again (don’t buy Honda cars – they suck oK?) :)

      XNA is odd tho – I’ve spoken to many people who use it and they are dead keen on sticking-with-it for a variety of reasons almost too long to list.

      They’re wrong – they need to get out of it ASAP – but they won’t go, it’s like their childhood or something :)

      • CartBlanche says:

        Why get out of XNA if there is a viable alternative… that is also FREE?

        • trjp says:

          Why get out of XNA?

          Because you’re leaving your balls in a vice with a company at the handle who are known for chopping stuff off in it’s prime??

          WIth almost every MS “solution” there comes a time when you’ll be left on a beach without a paddle or a decent lunch – it’s not “if” you leave it, it’s “when” :)

          XNA is well loved and there are third-parties willing to help you out but that’s just adding reliance on more third-parties when you want to add reliance on fewer (ideally none).

          • CartBlanche says:

            So if you have the opportunity to leverage your existing XNA codebase by moving to MonoGame, which is OpenSource and currently actively being worked on, and something you as a developer have control over, because you always have the source code…. how is that still having your balls in a vice.

            With MonoGame you have the opportunity to take your balls out of the any vices and take control of your own future, as an XNA developer.

            Use the source… Luke.

  18. Smashbox says:

    “Here’s our new proprietary runtime, developers developers developers, that you should use to develop games for our platforms. We’ll license it to you for cheap because we want a lot of people to use it. AND, you’ll be able to very easily develop for Windows and Xbox, though we may tie your hands when it comes to competing platforms! Don’t worry, it will be worth it! … Oh what’s that? You’re all using our technology now? Invested lots of time, money, and energy into our toolset? Fuck you, that’s cancelled. But we’ve got this new thing right over here… “

  19. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    in a couple of years I’m going to be very cynical and bored with Steampunk.

    Until then… bring it on!

  20. mrmalodor says:

    Just one more reason to avoid W8 like the plague.

  21. DOLBYdigital says:

    Hmm good article but I’m glad he got out of XNA. I don’t see any reason to stick with it just so you can have your game in a metro tile or the store? Screw that, I’d rather see ALL games available for as many platforms as possible. I hate this exclusivity crap so I’m glad he went with Unity which sounds like more people will be able to enjoy the game now. Sweet!

    I really don’t like the path that M$ and Apple (and other consoles) are going down. Way too much closed garden systems to try and force customers to buy every type of platform just to enjoy the games they want to play…. sigh

  22. stiffkittin says:

    Wowzers, me likey the art-style beaucoup! Can’t believe I’ve never heard about the game. The move to Unity was definitely the right one in the long term and the proof is in the pudding with those screenies. The second lot are nice and show what the art style was trying for but those first two really pop.

    Trackers deployed, target game on radar krschkkkkk!

  23. TechnicalBen says:

    Dan, I say this out of the depths of my heart for you, program in Java/flash or anything not tied down too much. I know they are rubbish programming languages, but darn, they don’t shut you down for rolling out a new “Emperors new cloths” to sell to the next bandwagon, while leaving the devs to starve.

  24. bp2008 says:

    Hold the presses!

    XNA 4.0 installs and works just fine on Windows 8. I just tried it. Granted, this is only in “legacy” desktop mode, but who here is going to spend any amount of time outside of desktop mode? Thats what I thought.

    This should be made more clear in the article.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Fuck any OS that considers the desktop to be the legacy mode, thus defaulting to a tablet overlay on a freakin’ PC.

  25. Artii says:

    I am sorry ,but most of this is incorrect …XNA will work fine on Windows 8 as it does now for example ,which would be evident to anyone who actually tried to run the installation on the preview system at least…The only downside is ,that it won’t be eligible to be sold through the Windows Store (but will be on say GoG,Steam) as it is not a metro app ,meaning it wont run say on the tablet(Windows RT) in full screen and stuff,but it will run on the xbox 360,windows phone and Windows 7 , 8 .All of which are here for a few years to come .It means that the XNA code cant be hosted inside the XAML with c#,basic or c++ or say even javascript and that is why it will not pass certification for the the store .This means you will loose target audience for tablets with Windows 8 .

    I am not saying porting to Unity was a bad choice ,it’s not my place to say such a thing ,but i just wanted to point out the factual incorrectness of most of the stuff around XNA atm,as it is a platform i love dearly and have been developing for a while now …including 3 months now on Windows 8

    • CartBlanche says:

      If you download the latest code from the develop3d branch of MonoGame, you will get Visual Studio project templates that support XAML UI overlays in your XNA/MonoGame game. Go New XamlGame and you are ready to go.

  26. zeroskill says:

    It’s time for someone to take Microsoft’s place.

    • CartBlanche says:

      That is what the MonoGame project aims to do. To take XNA to platforms that Microsoft no longer wants to. With enough XNA developers helping, it can be done and XNA will not disappear.

  27. Puckoidiot says:

    The game does look bloody brilliant though. I’m very much looking forward to it.

  28. dirtrobot says:

    FFS: Enough with the chicken little Win8 hearsay articles. What happened to the good journalism this site was founded on? These fear-mongering articles are starting to feel very kotaku. Yes, I said it. KOTAKU.

    • CartBlanche says:

      I stopped reading Kotaku a year ago, for that very reason. No longer journalism, but sensationalism.

    • Caiman says:

      So you don’t think we should read an interview with a dev who had to spend a lot of money and time porting his game to a different framework because a) Windows 8′s appears to have relegated that popular framework to “legacy” status and b) it has done a poor job communicating its plans for that framework? You don’t think that’s of interest given the direction that they appear to be taking their latest operation system? I’m not sure how you define “journalism” but it might be a little different to most people.

    • TariqOne says:

      In fairness to RPS, there’s been a significant trend upwards in quality and measured approach since they dumped Quintin Smith.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Yeah, the last thing I remember of his was the New Vegas review. That was just a bad piece of writing. Critique a game for its flaws, but don’t adopt a misleading or outwardly hostile stance.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s just an interview. This is obviously something the developer wants to talk about. Let him talk then if he’s wrong, correct him in the comments.

  29. mwoody says:

    I really don’t understand why anyone cares what will and won’t run on Windows 8. It’s the next Windows ME; I thought that was a given. It’ll be a sad little abortion of an OS, no one will buy it, and MS will go back to things as usual in a few years.

    • MarigoldFleur says:

      I’m about to blow your mind with this:

      The vast majority of Windows software penetration in the consumer space doesn’t come from people buying the OS, it comes from OEM sales. Not a lot of people actually build their own computers and this includes gamers. Instead, most people do end up buying prebuilt systems with the OS already installed on them and Microsoft offers special pricing incentives for offering the latest version of the software. In this case, that’s Windows 8.

  30. arosian says:

    I’m really confused by this article for multiple reasons. The person you’ve interviewed seems completely oblivious to many concepts that seem fundamental to game development.

    1) XNA works fine on Windows 8 (desktop mode). This was confirmed around Aug. / Sept. 2011.
    2) Do you really not know the dependencies of your game or how they work? You seem clueless about the .NET framework and refer to it as a “thing” that you need to make your game work. How could you possibly not understand these basics?
    3) XNA is not a language. Period.
    4) Windows 8 has been a running joke among gamers since Metro was announced. Windows 7 is the next XP.

    • MarigoldFleur says:

      1. Running in desktop legacy mode is not ideal in the slightest.
      2. He openly admits he doesn’t because he’s not technically minded.
      3. So what?
      4. It doesn’t matter if it’s a running joke among gamers. Most of Windows’ software penetration comes from OEM sales, not people upgrading their OS individually. A lot of people like to point to Windows XP’s marketshare without realising that the vast majority of that comes from major corporations that rely on extreme software compatibility that they’d lose if they upgraded. In fact, it took a full year before Windows 7 passed Windows Vista’s marketshare.

      This whole “no real gamer is going to use Windows 8″ thing is kinda illogical since you’re ignoring that the concept of a “gamer” isn’t just you and your friends, but pretty much a huge part of everyone between the ages of 14 and 40.

      • arosian says:

        The desktop is not “legacy mode”, it’s “using your computer without it looking like AOL Kids Club mode”. In fact, the only version of Windows 8 that he would be locked out of completely is the ARM (tablet) version because Microsoft has decided to make it impossible to install applications outside of the marketplace on that platform.

        And I’m not artistically inclined, but I don’t approach a creative problem without knowing what I’m getting into and what’s involved. To me it seems odd that one would tackle a problem and not at least attempt to understand the basics of the platform. And we’re not talking about something esoteric like internal compiler specifics or application profiling tweaks. We’re talking about the dependencies required to make an application work on the framework that he has chosen. Kind of a big deal.

        Your final comment was made without any citations, so I cannot attest to the accuracy of any of your claims. I’ll repeat again that even if people upgraded to Windows 8, they would still be able to play his game (unless they are using a tablet). He basically remade his entire game so that he could reach a marginal market. But hey, that’s fine. It’s his game and his time. I am mainly upset that he seems to be panicking about a situation that seems less disastrous than he claims.

  31. MagicalTimeBean says:

    Mr. Marshall: From developer to developer, my heart goes out to you. Your game looks incredible and I have a good sense of the work it took to get something like that together. I would be fine with them sunsetting XNA if they had an alternative–the new way to make games with managed code for Windows 8. But I’m researching games for Metro, and hearing about DirectX with managed wrappers. It’s like some kind of nightmare. How could this be the same company that gave us XNA and Visual Studio?

    Good luck to you going forward, hope your launch makes up for the pain of dealing with this so far!

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