Without much fanfare, independent video game developer Fantasy Lab Inc. introduces its Fantasy Engine, a game engine that features real-time global illumination system.
Global illumination algorithms, as used in 3D computer graphics, not only take into account a path directly from a light source (direct illumination), but also light which has undergone reflection from other surfaces (indirect illumination). The Fantasy Engine supports an environment where any surface can emit light (glow), reflect light and shadow any other surface in the environment. This means that images created using global illumination are more photorealistic and natural-looking than images lit with direct light only.
There were two Bill Gateses on stage on Wednesday at Stanford University: the philanthropist, and the hypercompetitive Microsoft co-founder and chairman.
While he spoke of prosperity not being a zero-sum game, he also espoused the need for Microsoft to outmanoeuvre rivals such as Apple, Google and Sony.
"We want to either be number one or on our way to being number one," Gates said while speaking at the third annual TechNet Innovation Summit, hosted by a membership of technology CEOs.
Gates, whose comments came during a taped interview with TV host Charlie Rose, showed he hasn't lost any gusto for Microsoft's leadership in technology, despite having announced plans to relinquish his day-to-day role with the company by 2008 to concentrate on philanthropy.
Gates, for example, characterised the success of the Apple iPod as "phenomenal, unbelievable, fantastic". But to put the Zune ahead, Microsoft built features into the media player that the iPod lacks. "We're doing connected entertainment analogous to the Xbox," he said, in the hopes of nabbing new customers and luring those ready to switch.
On Sony, Gates said that Microsoft has traded places with the PlayStation maker because it shipped the Xbox 360 a year earlier than Sony released its competing, and more expensive PlayStation 3, he said. (On its first try, with the original Xbox, Sony beat it to the punch with the PS2.)
This second beta of Microsoft XNA Game Studio Express makes creating great video games for Windows-based PC’s even easier with the inclusion of the content pipeline, full Windows functionality and Xbox 360 project system preview.
MICROSOFT KICKS IT UP ANOTHER NOTCH WITH XNA GAME STUDIO EXPRESS BETA 2
Upgraded software toolset available as a free download offers highly sought features that make game design even easier
Microsoft has released the second major iteration of its XNA Game Studio Express beta, upgraded with full functionality for Windows and third party toolset support, allowing hobbyists, academics and independent game developers to more easily integrate game content into their creations. The pioneering technology has already opened the doors of game development to numerous audiences, and promises to ratchet up indie game development yet another notch with an expanded set of features.
Whether you’ve been tinkering for just a short time with XNA Game Studio Express or are completely new to the software, today’s update maintains Microsoft’s goal to empower the masses through offering easy-to-use and affordable tools enabling them to bring their creativity to life by offering:
The addition of XNA Framework Content Pipeline, a feature set that makes it simpler and more straightforward for game developers to use 2D and 3D content in their game projects from third party digital content creation packages like Autodesk® 3ds Max®, Autodesk® Maya® and SOFTIMAGE®|XSI®.
New content importers for .X and Autodesk® FBX® 3D asset format in partnership with Autodesk.
Xbox 360 project system gives game developers the ability to preview game design specifically for the Xbox 360 and pre-compile games starting today, giving developers a head start in preparing their games for the XNA Creators Club availability in December.
Improved game component architecture updated with a simpler design, adding increased usability based on community feedback.
Overall performance improvements and optimizations – XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 is a near final version of the tool.
In addition, the release of XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 is occurring simultaneously today with a closed beta of GarageGames’ Torque X, a toolset designed specifically for XNA Game Studio Express that combines Torque Game Builder, Torque Game Engine and Torque Shader Engine into one package on top of the XNA platform, giving even non-programmers a great set of tools and technology to easily create games using drag-n-drop interfaces. More information on the Torque X beta can be found on the GarageGames website at http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/x/.
On top of these improved and added features, XNA Game Studio Express continues to gather a following among academics and hobbyists. The list of leading universities adopting XNA Game Studio Express into their curricula has grown to more than 30 worldwide. There have been 150,000 downloads of XNA Game Studio Express Beta 1, over 30 new XNA communities launched, 100 user generated tutorials shared online and more than 60 independent games already in development or completed.
The latest major adopter of XNA Game Studios Express is Giant Campus, a major provider of technology training, consulting, and staffing services to youth and education markets, the U.S. Armed Forces and the federal government. They will be featuring XNA Game Studio Express in their game design curriculum to be made available next summer.
Novice game creators can download the updated software today from http://msdn.com/xna to develop games for Windows, at no charge. Furthermore, games built using Windows can be migrated to Xbox 360 console systems when the final version of XNA Game Studio Express is released. The XNA Creators Club membership will launch simultaneously with XNA Game Studio Express and be available for purchase on Xbox Live Marketplace allowing users to activate their personal retail Xbox 360 console to create, test and play XNA games on Xbox 360. A one year membership is available for 99 € and a four-month trial is available for 49.00 €.
Look for the final version of XNA Game Studio Express to go live on December 11 of this year, with XNA Game Studio Professional available in summer of 2007
Click here to download the beta