Things you might not know about me. I’m fluent in Algol 68. I know the George III Operating System (and its amazing editor) really well. If you ever need a VMS System Manager, I’m your man. I can write Modular II and Coral 66 programs, use Forth and Turbo Pascal with aplomb and and perform low level programming of the 6522 PIA (Programmable Interface Adapter chip) in 6502 machine code, should you ever need someone to do that.
Of course these skills are pretty much useless these days, as the above technologies are well past their sell by date. The good news, for me at least, is that all of these skills translate into useful ones using today’s technology. I know about operating systems, programming languages and low level interfacing. And although the relentless march of change has forced me to pick up new skills over the years, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that working with computers is just taking a machine that can do stuff and making it useful.
Today Microsoft formally started to pull the shutters on XNA. I was there at the start and I’ve followed the technology ever since. I’ve loved making games with it, and loved what other people have made with it. When Version 4.0 came out I remember thinking that they had put so much into it that the only way was down. My big concern was that they would keep on adding things until it became too complex and cumbersome to be useful.
XNA has done great things for programming and we’ve used it to good effect at Hull for many years. In reality it is not going away, it will still be possible to make XNA programs and distribute them, and the folks at MonoGame will take the XNA torch and carry it on to great things. However XNA will no longer have the seal of Microsoft support. It’s sad that Microsoft have moved on, but I think it was kind of inevitable. From a business point of view I never really understood how it could make a profit for the company, and in these tough times that probably spelt the end for the technology as a Microsoft product.
However, I don’t think that anyone who has built up a skill set in XNA has wasted their time. All games work in fundamentally the same way and all game developers need to address the same problems irrespective of the platform they are using. You just need to take a leaf out of my book (which I’ve had a while) and move the things you have learnt into a shiny new context. Take a look at Unity for some very interesting new directions. And find out more about MonoGame, which I think is wonderful.