MS offers deals to four XNA devs

Two winners and two runners-up of Dream-Build-Play indie Xbox 360 development contest offered chance to publish their games on Live Arcade.

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Blazing Birds shared top honors with Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.
Blazing Birds shared top honors with Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.

In March, Microsoft began accepting submissions for its Dream-Build-Play promotion, a contest that challenged independent developers to create their own Xbox 360 games using the XNA Game Studio software. The winner of first prize was to receive a prize package including an Xbox Live Arcade publishing contract.

Microsoft today announced the results of the Dream-Build-Play contest at its Gamefest 2007 Game Technology Conference, and the publishing giant is actually doling out not one, but four separate contracts to developers of submitted games. The company said more than 4,500 people from more than 100 countries enrolled in the contest, and the number of quality entrants was such that four contestants would be given the opportunity to publish their games on Xbox Live Arcade.

The cowinners of the contest were Blazing Birds by David Flook of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai by James Silva of Marcy, New York. Flook's Blazing Birds is a futuristic 2D twist on badminton, with robotic spheres hurling power shots at one another across a neon net. The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a side-scrolling action game featuring over-the-top violence and a main character that uses an array of blades and guns to mow down adversaries.

The runners-up were Gravitron Ultra from Steve Olofsson of Stockholm, Sweden, and Yo Ho Kablammo! by Daniel McGuire of Huddersfield, UK. Gravitron Ultra is a multiplayer-focused space shooter in which players attempt to protect their home bases from black holes by attaching gravity orbs to them. In Yo Ho Kablammo!, players sail around a number of islands collecting treasure, priming mines, and attempting to sink other players' ships with cannon fire.

Microsoft also took the opportunity to show off Schizoid, the first XNA Game Studio game set to be released on Xbox Live Arcade. Billed as "the ultimate co-op game," Schizoid is for two players, one in control of a red ship, and the other in control of a blue ship. Each ship can destroy enemies of its own color and is vulnerable to enemies of the opposing color, so players must work together to clear waves of enemies while keeping each other safe. Developed by Bellevue, Washington-based Torpex Games, Schizoid is set for release later this year.

Finally, the company detailed new game content usage rules designed to give people more creative freedom in how they use footage from Microsoft games. Essentially designed to allow people to legally create machinima films based on Microsoft games (like the Halo-derivative Red vs. Blue), the new rules still retain a number of caveats, most notably that the content can only be used for noncommercial purposes, and that soundtracks and audio effects are off limits. The full text of the new rules is available on Microsoft's Web site.

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