In the fifth Microsoft-sponsored article on Gamasutra's XNA-themed microsite, Microsoft's Frank Savage, development manager for the XNA Game Studio Express team, summarizes the capabilities of running XNA Framework games on its Zune portable music player.
at Microsoft's GDC keynote, the latest forthcoming version of XNA Game Studio will give developers cross-platform compatibility between PC, Xbox 360 and Zune, "with a couple of notable exceptions," says Savage:
"Probably the most obvious is that Zune doesn’t have a 3D hardware accelerator built into it. This makes most of the 3D graphics APIs less valuable since, without hardware acceleration, there isn’t enough CPU performance on even the fastest Windows computers to emulate what a 3D graphics processor can accomplish. However, the 2D SpriteBatch APIs are available, and Zune is quite capable of rendering a lot of 2D sprites, even with alpha blending turned on."
He continues: "You can create alpha edges on the sprites and get free antialiasing of the sprites to any background, which makes the sprites much more seamless. Also, z-ordering is still available, so you can use the sprite system to render the sprites in the right order as long you put in the correct depth information. SpriteBatch sorts them correctly and draws them in the right order regardless of the order of the original draw calls. Again, that being said, the more work you do up front, the easier you make it for the processor, which is pulling double duty as both the rasterization engine and the processor running all your C# code!
When you consider that the Zune device initially was not designed with game play and game development in mind, Zune’s overall performance is indeed a pleasant surprise!"
You can now read the full feature
, with more from Savage on what opportunities the Zune will bring for game designers as an audio player, and details of its networking functionality for local multiplayer games.