You’ve been yammered at before about the possibility of console development, but a recent innovation may just interest you even more than those ramblings about XNA, coding, and all that related madness. In fact, this one is touted as being aimed at complete beginners (even children) so there’s really no excuse for you to cross your arms and complain that it’s too difficult.
The name is Kodu. Its job: to be a fully-fledged game creation lab for the Xbox 360, allowing practically anybody to generate their own awesome project in a matter of minutes, using only the Xbox and a handy controller. And it costs the equivalent of just five US buckaroos.
Described by Destructoid as easier to use than even Game Maker, Kodu Game Lab is promoted by its colourful, family-friendly (and noob-comprehensible) interface that’s based on icons and “when/do” event interactions rather than codes or scripts. In fact, if you DO somehow manage to find any code that’s not cleverly disguised by some sort of cutesy interface, you should write in to the devs now to claim your medal, because the rest of us have certainly overlooked it.
Kodu itself is built on the XNA framework, and affords users both power and flexibility – or at least, it does the best job that it can given the limited controls and the necessity for simplicity. Kotaku had issues with the interface at times, but also praised the tool for its versatility and wide array of options. That, and its inherent cuteness, scored it a few extra points.
As far as distribution is concerned, Kodu allows you to share your games with your friends on Xbox Live and let them play through your creations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t extend far beyond that (one can assume that people universally sharing every single Kodu project out there would be a tad overwhelming) but as a beginner you’ll probably just want to keep your work amongst your buddies, rather than subject them to the ogrish stupidity of the broader gaming population anyway.
So, in a nutshell: is Kodu any good? Well, if you’re used to more powerful game creation tools and don’t mind digging into code, general consensus is that this tool isn’t necessary and will probably just feel limiting. But if you need to dip your toes into the shallow end of the game development pool (or know somebody who does) then here’s a great way to do it. It has already been met with hearty praise in classrooms and after-school projects.
Kodu is arguably the simplest and easiest game creation tool in the existence of everything ever, and is available from Xbox Community Games for 400 MS points. If you own an Xbox and are completely green when it comes to game development, give this a go. It could be just the springboard you were always looking for.