First, there’s this from Microsoft, via f13. Stephen Zepp of Garage Games has this to say in the comments:
Basically what it boils down to is that this version of the framework is not intended to make game developers money in the short term. You cannot sell your games via the Express version, and you cannot (currently) even distribute outside of the Live Arcade interface. the purpose behind this is to get the power and money of Microsoft behind a gaming industry grass roots movment back towards innovation and gameplay instead of sequels and multi-million dollar budgets.
This might be a big deal. And it might not. This isn’t a magical ap that allows you to build a game without coding. It is the magical ap that allows people who want to code the opportunity to share their joy with x-box users. It will allow the kid today who wants to be a game programmer the chance to show up for his first job interview with a portfolio in hand. It will probably allow the half-mad genius with the new spin on computer gaming the desperately needed opportunity to break into the mainstream.
I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good idea or not. It probably is. Mainstream computer games certainly need the shot in the arm.
And speaking of shots in the arm, two of my favorite computer game makers, Bioware and Simutronics, aren’t exactly teaming up, but do seem to be splashing in the same puddles here. (Via the Ziggurat of Doom!) I like that Bioware isn’t interested in spending resources reinventing the wheel. But we’ll have to see if this here HeroEngine thingy is what Bioware needs and if it’s stable enough and easy enough to use for it to actually be useful. Neither outfit is a bunch of young punks hacking code in a basement. So ease of use and stability are probably there. I’m very curious to see what Bioware, a company famous for the depth and story of their RPGs, does with a MMOG. I doubt it will be the online LARP I’m waiting for, but I’m hopeful.