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[XNA] Downloadable content packs

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In my head i'm kicking around an idea for a game, however as part of this I'd like to be able to make the game 'extendable' so that myself, or a 3rd party, could add maps to it later. Now, on the PC side of things this would be no problem, just have the game scan for resources on startup and job done. On the 360 however I don't know how, or even if, this would be possible. For a full commerical game there is always DLCs to add things to the games, so does anything like that exist for XNA to allow data updates/additions? or does anyone know if this is planned in the future? Or would it be a case of redeploy a new version and wait for the community review system to pass it all as ok?

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I've helped a bit on DLC for a commercial game, so I have a bit of insight on how it works and what the difficulties are, but not specifically for XNA.

The flow for commercial DLC works like this:

1. Make your engine able to support adding/removing content on the fly.
2. Use a tool to package each content pack.
3. Upload it to Microsoft and let them put it on the marketplace.
4. Provide an interface in-game to pop up the marketplace blade.
5. Handle an API notification that lets you know when the download is done.
6. Open the DLC file using the storage device API.

As far as I know, XNA is missing steps 2, 3 and 5. I haven't looked at all of the XNA 3.0 features IN DETAIL yet though.


The commercial TCRs for DLC are pretty simple, too, if your game doesn't have strange architectural issues like ours did:

- Content packs cannot require that the EXE be updated. You're allowed to provide 'plug-in' style DLLs in DLC though.

- Content packs can't depend on other content packs. i.e. The user should be able to use DLC #2 without DLC #1.

- The game must gracefully deal with missing content packs (i.e. the user played the game with a content pack and then deleted the pack later to free up space). This usually means that you have to store a bitfield of required content packs inside saved games so that you don't try to load a level that no longer exists.

- Graceful handling of the removal of memory cards that have the DLC pack installed on them. This was a bitch to deal with in our engine.

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