To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to Xbox Live Community Games. They are all games that have been made by people who are not connected to major publishers. Although the community games have been made from scratch, some of them resemble free flash games; some are just plain awkward such as a virtual fireplace, rumble massage with the controller’s vibration motors and a paint program. XBLCG is still fairly new and like many new things, will evolve into something bigger and better; there was a time when I thought that Xbox Live Arcade would be nothing but arcade ports and I’m glad to see that people are taking advantage of it, creating new downloadable games such as Braid and Castle Crashers.
All XBLGCs have been developed with Microsoft’s XNA platform which uses their C# language; in a way it deters people from modifying their consoles for homebrew development. Developers can create games that run on both Windows and Xbox 360. XNA is free and works with Visual Studio Express.
A long time ago, Mr. Brian started working on a port of Star Control II using XNA. It supported both the keyboard and Xbox 360 controller. There was also an arcade mode, which is 4-player super-melee. There were even challenges such as destroying a couple of Ur-Quan ships using a few Shofixti Scouts.
After showing off some videos and screenshots of his work, he wrote about a prototype he’s been working on and some things he’s learning about related to programming. A few days ago, he finally announced his project: Puzzwords, an Xbox Live Community Game that combines Scrabble and Columns. He will take advantage of Xbox Live and have weekly, monthly and all-time scoreboards and support 31-player matches! That’s right, 31! Puzzwords will be reviewed by community developers before it is available to Xbox 360 owners.
As a result, the XNA port of Star Control II is at a stand-still and its precious source code is still online for everyone to see:
Essentially the project finally ran out of steam. Factors include: making it onto XBLCG would be complicated since its Toys For Bobs IP, there being a ton of work remaining just to get it to a finished state(not to mention my old code is not very efficient and doesnt run well on the XBOX), and not much interest on my part to pursue making a PC only version.
I’m glad that Mr. Brian took the time to develop a prototype and create something for Xbox Live Community Games; one could say that his passion for Star Control motivated him to learn XNA and use that experience to create something else on his own. I’m definitely going to be watching out for this game; if any events ever come up where his game can be voted for, I’ll definitely vote for him.
Mr. Brian, I wish you good luck with Puzzwords; it looks fun and we’ll be supporting you need us. Maybe slipping in a few Star Control words before the final version is made public? 500 points for FWIFFO! Woo hoo! ;)