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XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming: Developing for Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360 (Developer's Library) Paperback – December 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Get Started Fast with XNA Game Studio 4.0–and Build Great Games for Both Windows® Phone 7 and Xbox 360®


This is the industry’s best reference and tutorial for all aspects of XNA Game Studio 4.0 programming on all supported platforms, from Xbox 360 to Windows Phone 7 and Windows PCs. The only game development book authored by Microsoft XNA development team members, it offers deep insider insights you won’t get anywhere else–including thorough coverage of new Windows Phone APIs for mobile game development.


You’ll quickly build simple games and get comfortable with Microsoft’s powerful XNA Game Studio 4.0 toolset. Next, you’ll drill down into every area of XNA, including graphics, input, audio, video, storage, GamerServices, and networking. Miller and Johnson present especially thorough coverage of 3D graphics, from Reach and HiDef to textures, effects, and avatars. Throughout, they introduce new concepts with downloadable code examples designed to help you jumpstart your own projects. Coverage includes


  • Downloading, installing, and getting started with XNA Game Studio 4
  • Building on capabilities provided in the default game template
  • Using 2D sprites, textures, sprite operations, blending, and SpriteFonts
  • Creating high-performance 3D graphics with XNA’s newly simplified APIs
  • Loading, generating, recording, and playing audio
  • Supporting keyboards, mice, Xbox 360 controllers, Touch, accelerometer, and GPS inputs
  • Managing all types of XNA storage
  • Using avatars as characters in your games
  • Utilizing gamer types, player profiles, presence information, and other GamerServices
  • Supporting Xbox LIVE and networked games
  • Creating higher-level input systems that seamlessly manage cross-platform issues


From Windows Phone 7 mobile gaming to Xbox 360, XNA Game Studio 4.0 creates huge new opportunities for experienced Microsoft developers. This book helps you build on skills you already have, to create the compelling games millions of users are searching for.


About the Author

Tom Miller has been with Microsoft for a full decade. He specializes in bringing together managed code and gaming. He wrote and supported Managed DirectX, and for the past few years, he has been largely responsible for implementing the framework (graphics, audio, input, storage, and other core features) included in XNA Game Studio products. He currently works for Microsoft Game Studios.


Dean Johnson joined Microsoft in 2006 and helped launch the XNA Creators Club pipeline allowing hobbyists and independent developers to release their games on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games Marketplace. He currently is a Lead Software Development Engineer working on the XNA Game Studio product team.


Both authors actively blog and participate in game development conferences.



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Product Details

  • Series: Developer's Library
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (December 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0672333457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0672333453
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom was grew up in in the Midwest reading many horror novels by authors such as Stephen King and John Saul. He was always fascinated by the worlds these authors created and dreamed of one day joining them, and creating worlds for others to enjoy. Along the way, he took his other love (video games), and turned that into a career at Microsoft where he invented several frameworks for others to create games.

His dream of becoming an author had never really left, and was reignited once more when publishers started approaching him to write technical articles and books on the frameworks he had developed. After releasing several well received technical books, he realized his passion still lies in the fictional worlds he wanted to create.

He now has combined his two childhood loves, making video games during the day, and writing fiction at night.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By TIMOTHY GLEN COWLEY on January 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't just an XNA manual with half-baked examples that cover the API: this is an aircraft carrier linear catapult to get you off the ground and making games.
I've been doing graphics programming since the DOS era, and have seen a lot of bad tutorials, and a lot of over-eager underachievers who write a "game programming" book to satisfy their need to accomplish something on a platform.
This is not one of those books: this is an accessible, clear, and purpose-driven course in games programming. It assumes only that you have a basic understanding of C#, and have at least seen a Dictionary<string,whatever> declaration before, but doesn't assume that you're a veteran D3D coder.
The coding examples are clear, thoroughly-explained, and ramp up quickly. Lots of best practices and gentle introduction of xna/winpho concepts, like game Components. The elements that are repeated are repeated in order to train you into them, and not just to pad out the book. This book doesn't fall into the Petzold trap of making an example for every member of every Enum, just to have one. There are a few typos here and there, but you'll catch them when you compile.

TL/DR; This book is worth purchasing for the skeletal animation code alone.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By cor2879 on April 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
It is unfortunate that the rating for this book has been lowered for not being a "beginner" text. This book is clearly not intended for the beginner audience, and there is a plethora of other texts (just about every other book written on XNA, in fact) that are geared towards the beginner. What makes XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming great and sets it apart is that it is ~not~ geared towards beginners. While it does not expect any prior game development experience, XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming assumes that the reader of this book is a fully competent C# developer and doesn't waste any time explaining the basics that all decent C# developers should be acquainted with. If you are the kind of developer who enjoys reading 'deeper' books like CLR Via C#, Advanced .Net Debugging, etc, AND you are interested in developing XNA apps, then this book is definitely for you. That's not to say this book is a deep dive on the kind of level that Clr Via C# is, but it could fit the bill of being the unofficial "XNA Handbook" and excels where every other XNA book I have ever tried to read has failed. Instead of providing cookie cutter examples of how the authors built some cool app, XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming describes the API in great detail and requires the reader to inject their own imagination and inginuity to realize what may be possible. For example, after reading the first chapter, I spent a few hours and was able to build a sample XNA app that could animate a 2D game entity across the screen based on player input.

If you want to cut throught the mumbo jumbo and read a book that explains the API and best practices, and don't want to feel like you are being talked down to or having some important detail skipped, then I can't recommend XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming enough.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gary D. Pollock on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This books is a lot of theory, and not much practical use. It helps you get into the head of the XNA architects, and understand the APIs, but it doesn't make the case why you should care. Don't get me wrong--you will need to know what's in this book if you want to be a successful XNA developer, but if this is the first book you read on XNA, it's going to seem like high school math. I made the mistake of reading this book first for XNA, and I wasted my time. My time wasn't wasted because the book was bad, but because this book was going into detail about its rendering system, while I was trying to figure out how to make a sprite jump when I pressed the "A" button. I'm not rating this book down, because nowhere does this book advertise itself as a tool for learning the system. I'm making sure people who want to program for Microsoft devices start in the right place to get the most use of their time and money.

The ideal audience for this book is someone who has some experience in making games with XNA, but wants to get more use out of the architecture. If you're starting out, I recommend the O'Reilly book. If you want to go further from there, maybe this would be the second or even third book you read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael on April 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
I don't write reviews but for this one I felt it was important. I don't mean to be rude, but unless you have never before in your life seen programming code or you have no will or motivation, this book is very good. Without knowing anything about XNA I picked it up and am moving along just fine. It uses code snippets as opposed to the entire source code (Which you can download from their website if you want). It has all of the assets (sprites, codes, images) there as well.

It progresses steadily building on things. Computer programming can be convoluted and some aspects seem almost counter-intuitive. The only way to truly understand why some things are done in the manner which is performed, would be to start at the beginning and see the progression and complications that required those needful changes. OOP and everything it entails can be daunting at first in and of itself.

What this book does is highlights key things that you are coding, gives you a brief description at first, and expands on it as you progress throughout. I appreciate this teaching method as I am a very kinetic learner and like to learn by doing. So if you see yourself as someone who can accept a concept without fully understanding all the hidden working mechanisms that lay beneath, but let them all connect in time, this book was written for you (And he reassures you when and where it will be expanded on).

One thing you might have trouble on is that sometimes where you need to insert the given code is not extremely clear. It's fairly obvious, but that may be me speaking from a somewhat experienced viewpoint. When I began programming (Book taught and all) I had to jump in. Knowing where to put the code was challenging enough that I had quit several books because of it.
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