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Microsoft Research's new Boku project is an icon-driven construction program designed to let children -- and people of all ages -- create their own games using only a game controller, and Gamasutra has heard the LittleBigPlanet-esque tool ma

Christian Nutt, Contributor

November 3, 2008

2 Min Read

At its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft Research unveiled its project Boku, a PC and Xbox 360-based icon-driven tool designed to let users create their own games and using only an Xbox 360 controller. The tool, which was itself created using XNA, appears to bridge the gulf between Microsoft's more complex XNA Game Studio language and the user-created content of games like Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation 3, which is governed by the game's stricter parameters. Boku has been created to be compatible with both Xbox 360 and PC. Though it's not yet been announced when or how the project will be delivered to users, Gamasutra's sources have indicated that it's planned for an Xbox 360 release of some kind in 2009. (Coincidentally, Microsoft is about to open the Xbox Live Community Games download portal, which will showcase XNA-created titles of all kinds.) Microsoft Research's page for the project says, "It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone." The programming language is completely icon-driven, with programs saved as logical lists of instructions -- in a manner that is vaguely reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII's Gambit system, which allowed for simple character A.I. programming. However, Boku's rules will govern entire, original games, as it allows for more complex sets of rules -- for example, Boku has icons which cover concepts such as character movement and collision, item pick up, and control pad input. A video presentation of Boku can be seen below: The inspiration for the project was, according to a Seattle Times weblog post, Microsoft project manager Matthew MacLaurin's desire to bring the same fun he had writing games on his Commodore PET to the kids of today. "It was really this message in this moment that programming is actually a fun activity all on its own," MacLaurin said. The program was originally demonstrated in a low-key manner in March 2007, and at the time, MacLaurin "said he was motivated to create the software by a desire to get kids away from passive TV-watching, and getting them to exercise their brains, in their very early, formative years." According to Seattle Times' official inquiries, though the "specific roadmap" for the research-impelled product has not yet been decided, Microsoft has indicated that the product will have some form of trial in 2009.

About the Author(s)

Christian Nutt


Christian Nutt is the former Blog Director of Gamasutra. Prior to joining the Gamasutra team in 2007, he contributed to numerous video game publications such as GamesRadar, Electronic Gaming Monthly, The Official Xbox Magazine, GameSpy and more.

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