As many programmers I got into computers because of games. Now I am getting older and I just want to write games on the side.

I have a lot of experience in C#, and understand the language.

What is the best way for an experience developer to get started in XNA?

Which is the best book?

Which version should I start with?

Any advice to the first 'game' I should write?

9 accepted

Ziggyware has some really cool tutorials. They sponsor contests, too, which draw quite a bit of creative tutorials from the contributors, so it's not all just "Here's how to draw a triangle!"


You might want to get yourself a copy of XNA Game Studio Express first.

You may also want to look at game programming with C++ on Visual Studio; resources can be found here:



There are tutorials, sample models, and other resources available from the Creators' Club. You should also be able to download the latest version from there.


This site helped me out when i was first messing around with the XNA studio



I wholeheartedly endorse starting with XNA :-) then read through this article as it gives a really balanced ramp up path on how to get started ... including what games you could tackle first (and second, third, etc.)



Microsoft's XNA Creator's Club is definitely an amazing reference for anyone with some modest C# skills. While I personally don't care for the video tutorials or the way they package their code samples (everything is downloaded as a zip instead of viewable directly on the web) the quality and diversity is there to get you started. There are also some starter kits up there that make for a nice jumping off point if you're the experimental coding type.

Everything you need to get started is there, too. I'd recommend downloading C# express edition and XNA Game Studio 2.0 for now, but 3.0 should be out shortly. You can get both of these from the creator's club download page.

If you're looking for book-reading, there are 2 books I'd recommend:

For those who are newer to programming or C#, check out Microsoft XNA Game Studio 2.0: Learn Programming Now!. Its relatively short and an easy read, but don't expect it to get into too much detail on advanced game development topics.

If you're more experienced with programming, C#, or even XNA, XNA Game Studio Express: Developing Games for Windows and the Xbox 360 is a great reference. Its a much longer book and the language is a lot more dry and math-based, but both the breadth and depth of the book are greater than the other one. There are a lot of case studies which make it nice, too. Note briefly that this book is based off of GSE 1.0, while 3.0 is just around the corner.

For your first game, you have a lot of options. You could take a starter kit and just mod it out, or do a game from one of the books. Personally, I had a lot of fun taking a simple game form xbla and making it from scratch by myself. The advantage I found with that is that you don't need to spend a lot of time dreaming up game concepts, you can concentrate on just implementation.


XNA Development.com is a great site to get started with. George's tutorials are easy to follow and will get you familiar with the 2D aspects of XNA quickly.


I highly recommend the video series XNA Xtreme. They have a lot of preview clips that give a good idea of what to expect. The videos that come on the disc are encoded in XviD and are excellent quality. It's hours and hours of content.

One weird thing is that you can purchase Volume 1 from 3D Buzz through Amazon at a cheaper price then from their site directly.


If you're looking to get started with the XNA framework, then I would highly recommend starting with the "Help! I'm new!" FAQ found on the XNA Creator's Website. It will help you target your current skill level and point you in the direction you need to get going to learn both the XNA framework API and game development in general.


O'Reilly will be releasing Learning XNA in November, which will cover all parts of the XNA Framework and demonstrate how to make games for all three platforms for XNA: PC, Xbox360, and the Zune.


I'd like to note that while it wasn't intuitive to get all the components of the new XNA Game Studio 4.0 up and running, and while I didn't care for the apparent emphasis on phone emulator/apps, all the free/express stuff is a really great way to get your feet wet in the game programming world.

To acknowledge detractors, part of my own difficulties have been a) still being on XP, and b) trying to find relevant 4.0 documentation or kb articles or sample code, as it isn't very well segregated from past versions and the latest version is seemingly documented least. 4.0 breaks compatibility with prior versions, so older samples aren't much help. However, the blog by Shawn Hargreaves (of Microsoft) blog is so extremely helpful that it almost nullifies the above issues.


This question is really too subjective for StackOverflow, and rather vague (wildly varying questions)..

May I suggest actually starting with some basic tutorials and then coming back to StackOverflow when you have a clearer picture of what you want?