Monday, March 20, 2006

[geek] w00t!

It was a w00t kind of day for me - pure, unadulterated, happy, geeky w00t dances all 'round. Why? I hear you ask with bated breath... (Okay, I don't hear you asking this at all, but dammit, it's my blog and I'll post what I friggin' want to. So there.) I won't prolong your agony of anticipation any longer: 2 software releases. ([Whaa!?] Yeah, whatever. As if you couldn't guess that a post titled 'w00t!' wouldn't be geeky...) First, Red Hat just released the latest version of their flavor of desktop Linux, Fedora Core 5. Who cares, right? Well, it's one of the first major Linux distros to include Mono pre-loaded. I know - more 'who cares?'. Screw all y'all - finish up your 2 drink minimum and get the hell out. But for those of you who're sticking around, Mono's importance is this: Mono is a multi-platform port of Microsoft's .NET environment. .NET is the core of Microsoft's current generation of development tools - in theory, because Mono has been coded to the standard Microsoft submitted to ECMA, pure .NET code should be relatively easy to port from OS to OS. Windows, OS X, Solaris, Unix, Linux: Mono installs on all of them and provides a consistent Application Programming Interface (API) against which to write programs. Unlike Java, where individual Java Virtual Machines for different operating systems might or might not have support for various features, Mono defines a core set of APIs that will always be present once Mono is installed. Trust me - this could be a Very Cool Thing. Yeah, yeah, SUSE was first to include Mono in their desktop distro, but a.) Novell owns both SUSE and Mono (and you'd expect them to eat their own dogfood) and b.) IIRC, more people use Fedora than SUSE, so I'm a lot more excited about Red Hat. Their decision to include Mono is an acknowlegement that Mono is a mature and stable product. That was w00t dance #1. w00t dance #2 actually came from the Beast of Redmond (yeah, I can hear the Open Source geeks leaving now - don't forget to tip the waitstaff on the way out, 'kay?). During today's sessions at the Game Developer's Conference 06 (GDC06), Microsoft began to roll out parts of their new XNA platform. XNA is a game development toolkit that should go a long way towards unifying and streamlining Xbox 360 and PC game development. It will also extend the .NET API to more readily perform common game-related tasks, as well as allow for a specialized version of the .NET environment to run on the Xbox 360. All this is cool in a (for me) geeky but abstract way - what really got me going, though, was the release of the XNA Build toolset. Games require lots of media, right? Images, video, sound, textures - lots and lots of media. Managing this media gets more and more cumbersome the further into a game's dev cycle you get - and many times, problems with the media content aren't discovered until late into the cycle. To this end, many game companies have rolled their own 'asset pipeline' tools - think version control mixed with content management, and you'll have a broad idea about what's involved. This weekend, I bought (and read) Ben Carter's The Game Asset Pipeline - on the one hand, I learned that there's a lot I don't know about developing games... But more importantly, I learned that there are, like, actually tools and methodologies out there for dealing with game assets. Going into the book, I had a hunch that many of the problems faced by our dev team with our media-rich software were not unheard of - and I was right. Asset management is one of the weak points in our development process right now, and Carter's book laid out both the scope of the problem as well as ways to address it. And then Microsoft stepped in today with XNA Build - an asset manager built on the .NET platform, designed to be integrated into Visual Studio. Guess what's installing on my laptop right now? w00t!

3 Comments:

Blogger Kristina said...

Geek.

:)

3/21/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

Yeah, but you like, stuck around to read the post and like, leave a comment.

So, uh - what does that say about you? Hmmmm...?

3/21/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Hrmph.

3/22/2006 10:09:00 PM  

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