CES 2009: Kodu Demo and XNA interview with video

by: Dan -
After the announcement of Kodu during the Ballmer Keynote at CES, I was looking forward to our appointment with Matthew MacLaurin who would be providing us with a demo of the title. As we progressed through, it dawned on me that the depth of Kodu was far greater than just a way to make small games to have fun with. For someone with young children, I was impressed with the simplicity in which the programming has been made. I could easily see myself working with my kids to use their creativity and imagination to come up with some fun little games and actions. In essence, it is a title that should promote family fun and togetherness as well as someone who simply wants to set down and let their inner child go wild.

At the end of Matthew’s demo, we talked with  Lisa Sikora, who is the Group Product Manager for the XNA Community Game Platform. And yes, we did touch on the non-gaming fireplace application that found its way onto Xbox Live Marketplace in December. As for the demo itself, the easiest way to formulate some impressions is to watch the below video, as what you will see is exactly what Sean and I experienced in the meeting.
Unleash Your Inner Creator with Microsoft's New Xbox LIVE Community Game "Kodu"

Microsoft announced today that it will turn Xbox 360 players into creators with the release of their new game, “Kodu”. Launching on the Xbox LIVE Community Games Channel, “Kodu’s” easy to use game creation techniques will make building personal playgrounds simple for anyone, with the help of an Xbox 360 controller. During a keynote speech at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, 12-year-old student, Sparrow joined Microsoft’s President of the Entertainment and Devices Division, Robbie Bach on stage to demonstrate the intuitive game that lets players choose from a variety of visual building blocks in order to develop their own unique creation.

This spring, “Kodu” will find its home among some of the freshest, most diverse and creatively independent games showcased on the Xbox LIVE Community Games Channel. “Kodu” is a pick-up-and-create game where anyone can build their own unique world in just minutes using a simple image-based creator menu that makes game creation simple for anyone, from ages seven to 70. “Kodu” created playgrounds are expressed in physical action-reaction terms, using basic concepts like vision, hearing and time to control your character’s behavior. Players can start their own unique “Kodu” created playgrounds from scratch or, if they aren’t in the mood to create, they can choose from several pre-loaded levels for quick play. With almost 200 different game-creation building blocks to choose from, the opportunities are endless.

“We’ve done everything possible to make sure that creating a “Kodu” playground is not only easy, but that it is also fun and engaging for people of all ages and backgrounds,” principal program manager for Microsoft Research and lead “Kodu” designer, Matt MacLaurin said. “Since ‘Kodu's’ interface is intuitive and prevents common programming mistakes, we’re making it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of game creation.”
Originally designed by Microsoft Research as a learning tool for young kids, “Kodu” is the newest game to keep minds of all ages sharp by developing logic, problem-solving and creative thinking skills. In fact, in 2006, Microsoft Research teamed up with Girls Inc. and the University of Santa Barbara to create an after school “Kodu” program to accurately measure the influence educational games have in the fields of math, science, and comprehension. The team logged hundreds of hours of “Kodu” research with creators from ages five to 45 to ensure that it is easy for beginners, but maintains a depth of content for those who are more advanced.
“What I love about “Kodu” is that I can do everything myself,” Sparrow, who demoed the game, said. “It’s fast to build and different from the other games I play. I can do cool, silly things in it!”

“Kodu” will join a host of family-friendly and casual games already on the Xbox LIVE Community Games Channel. Since its launch in November, the Xbox LIVE Community Games Channel has seen a lot of enthusiasm from both game-makers and consumers, where there are currently more than 100 independent, community-created games available for download.

More detailed information about “Kodu” and Community Games can be found by visiting http://creators.xna.com.
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