The Latest on Xbox Game Core

Posted on July 6, 2020 by Brad Sams in Games, Xbox, Xbox Series X with 3 Comments

With the next generation of the Xbox console, Microsoft is working on a new development environment called Game Core. The environment is now available to developers building titles for the series X and series S (Lockhart) but it’s not quite finished yet and won’t be finished before the release of the upcoming consoles.

Late last month, information pertaining to Lockhart showed up in the June release of the Game Development Kit, or GDK, and that same documentation has more information about Game Core’s current status.

The purpose of Game Core is two-fold, to make it easier to develop games for the two SKUs of series X/S and it is designed to make game development closer to that of building a traditional Windows 10 application.

Before diving into some of the technical aspects documented in the GDK June release, Microsoft is now telling developers that with this release, they can use the tool to start publishing games for release for the upcoming consoles. Meaning, the first games you play will likely be built with this release and also acknowledges that the company is becoming comfortable with the state of their development tools for launch titles.

This doesn’t mean that there will not be more updates arriving to the GDK before release, but it does mean that the June 2020 GDK will be the baseline for developing next-generation titles.

But back to Game Core, the GDK for June talks quite a bit about the development framework for next-gen titles and its current state. In fact, the document references it about two dozen times but most of it is quite technical. Meaning, it goes to the level of discussing how Game Core memory architecture has the kernel memory usage isolated from title memory usage – it’s technical and not consumer-grade material.

The big takeaway from Game Core, based on these documents, is that this is the mechanism that makes it easier to target “profiles” for the two different consoles. Specifically, the version of PIX that ships with the GDK supports the profiling of Game Core titles. And what are those profiles? The profiles are Anaconda and Lockhart – developers using the GDK can select the targeted device and then optimize their code for that specific platform.

In the latest release of the GDK, “profile guided optimization is available in Preview form in the June 2020 GDK”; the language is clear as day with Lockhart and Anaconda profiles being detailed for developers.

Considering Game Core is all new, not everything will be ready for the launch of the consoles. While developers can now use the June 2020 release for games that will head to retail, features like “Multi-process games in Game Core” will not arrive until after launch. There is a work-around for this in the current release, so fret not that this means games can’t be multi-threaded.

The takeaway here is that Microsoft’s Game Core is moving full-steam ahead and will be ready for launch later this year. But it’s not complete and there are quite a few bugs/optimization that need to be worked out before all the functionality meets the targeted spec sheet when the project was first started.

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