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johnnyMakesGames

Is the era of C# for game programming gone?

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Is the era of C# for game programming gone?  I read XNA isn't going to be supported or improved anymore.  I know that's old news, but I was curious about the future of C# and game programming?  Should I skip C# and go to Java?  Move to C++?  Thanks for opinions.

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Funny you should ask this, aside from the other great libraries mentioned (personally I use SharpDX, it's a great wrapper for Direct3D...XNA is not the be all for C# graphics programming or game development). Microsoft has announced an interesting upcoming piece of technology called .NET native and their blog announcement. The gist is, write a C# application, then be able to compile it to native code ahead of time, rather than JIT it at runtime. While this has existed in the form of the NGen tool, it looks like they're taking native compilation a lot further with using (or using parts at least) of their C++ optimizer, among other things (watch the video on the first link, they go into detail of the compilation).

 

Of course, if Microsoft doesn't screw it up (their preview is geared for Windows Store apps). C# and .NET/Mono as it stands now is still great for graphics applications (whether they be games or not, and with or without XNA), but having the ability to essentially run as fast as a native app will make things very interesting.

Edited by Starnick
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Aww man. That means that Java will have it (or something like it) in Java 12 or something :(

 

Unless project Sumatra gets somewhere that is...

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I don't think I would call it an "era" for C# or any other language.  There are options for all of the languages to make games with.  Most of the graphics API's are natively accessible in C++, but there are lots of libraries that can interact with those API's from other languages.  In C#, SharpDX is the de facto standard.

 

So it is possible to use native and managed languages.  The real question is which language do you want to use?  If you are familiar with C++, then why not just stick with it?  If you know C#, use it!

 

If you want to use an engine, you could use Unreal Engine 4 in C++, or you can use Unity and use C#.  Of course there are many other options as well.  It just depends on what your capabilities are, and what the needs of your project are - there is no era starting or ending...

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Aww man. That means that Java will have it (or something like it) in Java 12 or something sad.png

 

Unless project Sumatra gets somewhere that is...

 

Unsigned integers first, please...

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And....apparently SIMD is coming to .NET:
 
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/clrcodegeneration/archive/2014/04/03/ryujit-ctp3-how-to-use-simd.aspx

 

This has me quite excited too!! I bet @xoofx will be happy also - I know he has been lobbying for this for a while now! And as already mentioned, SharpDX is a great option for developing games in C# either with the tool kit, or just through the raw Direct3D API access it provides.

Edited by spazzarama
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They also talked a bit about new native compilation for .net (C# initially), and it uses the C++ compiler back-end, so it gets many of the spiffy optimizations like automatic vectorization/parallelization of loops and such. I think that won't be released until near the middle or end of next year, but its a promising avenue to tighten the performance gap with C++. The design and semantics of C# require a more heavy-weight runtime than C++ requires, so you won't see complete performance parity, but its good news still. They also made passing mention of looking at ways to make accessing native libraries (like, say, DirectX) from natively-compiled .net programs less costly, so that would be grand too. It'd be great if p/Invoke et. al. could be mostly collapsed away.

 

XNA is dead, but one can dream of a successor to XNA based on native compilation, and a programming environment that takes full advantage of what Roslyn provides for productivity and machine-directed code assistance. Roslyn gives you "simple" things like rock-solid refactoring and code transforms, but its also my understanding that a platform like XNA could be Roslyn-enhanced so that it could actually suggest better use of the library for your code. That would be pretty amazing.

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It's not an official stance, but a microsoft dev was asked this at one of the //build/ talks, and the (again, unofficial) answer was something along the lines of "Yeah... we're not sure if it's best to throw out 'yet another gamedev library' at this point."  That's probably true, too.  The indie dev industry of today isn't the indie dev industry of 2005.  There's a huge abundance of available libraries at all abstraction levels.

 

Now, the question of "what will replace XNA on the Xbox One" is a bit more interesting, and without any insider knowledge whatsoever, I doubt even MS has an idea where to go with that yet.

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That question is basically the same as "what will replace XBLIG on Xbone" (the marketplace for selling XNA games, as opposed to licensed games).
On 360, big publishers could put games on XBLA, and hobbiests/XNA-users could put games on XBLIG.
Licensed developers (non-XNA games) had to sell their soul to a big publisher to get onto XBLA, and hobbiests were segregated into the separate XBLIG ghetto...

On Xbone, there is no hobbiest option yet, only licensed developers can get on there. However, it's no longer restricted to just the big publishers, so indie devs can sell their games on there directly, without being robbed by a publisher... That's already a huge positive change for the indie scene.

So:
• big publishers - still sell their own games just the same, but are no longer given a free pass to exploit indies.
• indies (licensed) - can actually get onto the xbox live store now!!
• hobbyists (unlicensed) - completely excluded, for now.

They've said that they don't want to create a segregated store, with the XBLA/XBLIG schism that the 360 has... So that means they want all developers to be licensed. They can make this easier for hobbiests to get on there by waiving he licensing fees, and letting people use retail Xbone kits as dev-kits... But shipping a licensed console game requires that you comply with about 50 pages of QA/TCR/TRC checklists, and doing the QA work to ensure your game is compliant will always cost about $10k... So unless MS gets rid of the compliance testing, hobbiests will continue to be excluded. The only way I can imagine that they would to this, is to create a segregated store, where licensed titles are on XBLA, and unlicensed/non-compliance-checked titles are in the XBLIG ghetto... So we'll have to see if they reverse their stance on that.
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C# has always been a huge time saver for me as an amateur with limited time. If something is invented that saves even more development time maybe I'll switch, but C++ isn't gonna be it. Eventually we will arrive either at C# or something better than C# and C++.

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C# is great for productivity, and Roslyn promises even more. Its true that C++ will probably never be as easy or fast to write as C# -- that's the price you pay for taking tighter control of how your program executes -- but its also worth noting that modern, idiomatic C++ (C++11 and upcoming C++14) style is not your grandfather's C++ -- its easier to read, write, and reason about and it requires a lot less code to do the same things you're used to without sacrificing its speed or flexibility. Done right, its much less scary or difficult than its ever been before.

 

But the most important thing is for you to use what you find productive and which gets the job done.

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