New program allows everyone to design video games

AS VEGAS — Budding designers will soon have an easier way to create their own video games using the Xbox 360.

For more than a year, garage programmers have been able to use Microsoft's XNA Game Studio to create video games. But that still requires some knowledge of actual programming.

A new Microsoft game creation software program called Kodu, scheduled to be released on Xbox Live later this spring (no price set), will give children — and their parents — the ability to pick up a controller and make a game in minutes.

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Kodu gives users control of powerful programming tools using simple image-based creation commands. Players can bring to life a variety of Kodu characters and items. About any as 20 are planned, including the stylized floating Pac-Man-like Kodu main character as well as flying saucers, submarines, motorcycles. They can inhabit worlds that fledgling designers create from scratch or customize from several pre-loaded levels.

Simple programming "wheels" let users direct their creations to do specific actions when certain instances arise. For instance, when a Kodu character sees an object or enemy it can collect or shoot it. Combine dozens of these commands and you have a simple game.

He decided to create a simple game creation program that "you could sit down and start creating right away and play in half an hour have something that is really fun to play with," he says.

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