2D Game Development Tutorial - Part 1 - Installing the Software
Friday, March 25, 2016
By: Matthew Doucette

Welcome to Part 1 of our 2D Game Development Tutorial. Here we will cover downloading and installing the software.



  • Windows-based PC.
  • Internet connection (expect large downloads upwards of ~700 MB).
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10 should work.

Contact us if you have any issues with earlier versions of Windows.



  • Xbox 360, Xbox One, or PC-compatible wired gaming controller -- helps to have a game pad for gaming!



Now you may begin the tutorial. Follow the steps below:


1) Download Visual C# 2010 Express:

Download Microsoft Visual Studio C# 2010 Express edition at the following link:

If link happens to die in the future, here is an alternate link for the same Microsoft Visual Studio C# 2010 Express download:

It downloads as a .ISO file.

(Note: If you are unfamiliar with .ISO files and wish to learn more, read about ISO Images on Wikipedia.)



2) Install Visual C# 2010 Express:

Install Microsoft Visual Studio C# 2010 Express as follows:

Mount the .ISO file in Windows by right-clicking the file and choosing "Mount". NOTE: If your Windows does not have the ability to mount .ISO files, then use WinRAR to extract the files to a new folder and open that folder.

You should be viewing the contents of the mounted .ISO file automatically. If not, you can enter the mounted .ISO file as it appears as a folder in Windows which you can open and view.

Begin the installation by viewing the mounted .ISO file and running the “Setup.hta” file by double-clicking it. (Note, this file may show up as "Setup", depending if your Windows system shows the extensions to known file types.)

During installation, choose the following options:

  • Choose Visual Studio C# 2010 Express.
  • Disable Microsoft Silverlight
  • Disable Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Service Pack 1 (x64)



3) Download Games for Windows Software Setup 3.5:

(Warning: If you do not install Games for Windows, then the following step of installing Microsoft XNA Game Studio 4.0 will fail with the error, “microsoft xna game studio 4.0 setup failed prematurely due to an error...”. For the curious of you, an explanation of the issue is here: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/astebner/2012/02/29/how-to-work-around-a-possible-xna-game-studio-or-windows-phone-sdk-install-failure-on-windows-8/.)

Download Games for Windows Software Setup 3.5 at the following link:

In case that link dies in at some point in the future, her is an alternative and direct link to Games for Windows Software Setup 3.5:

This will download a file named "gfwlivesetup.exe".



4) Install Games for Windows Software Setup 3.5:

Install by running “gfwlivesetup.exe” by double-clicking it.

During installation, choose the following options:

  • Do not bother launching when it asks at the end of the install; Just close it.



5) Download Microsoft XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh:

Download Microsoft XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh at the following link:

This will download a file called "XNAGS40_setup.exe".



6) Install XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh:

Begin the installation by running "XNAGS40_setup.exe" by double-clicking it.

During installation, choose the following options:

  • Allow the Windows Firewall rules:
  • Allow communication between a Xbox 360 and your computer on the local subnet.*
  • Allow the communication of network games build on the XNA Framework.
  • At the end of the install, when it asks, do not bother clicking to take you to the XNA Creators Club Online Website, it will take you to a borken link: http://create.msdn.com/home/getting_started. This is the updated link, which may or may not stay online after 2016: http://xbox.create.msdn.com/en-US/home/getting_started

*Xbox 360 services, such as being able to release a game on Xbox 360, is disabled by the end of 2016.

(Note: If this install fails, you perhaps missed the previous step. For those interested, reference this blog post: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/astebner/2012/02/29/how-to-work-around-a-possible-xna-game-studio-or-windows-phone-sdk-install-failure-on-windows-8/.)

Note: Installing XNA 4.0 to Visual Studio will upgrade any projects made in Visual Studio from version 10 to version 11, however it will not upgrade Visual Studio version 10 to 11, it will remain at version 10.

Question and Answer: What is XNA 4.0 versus XNA 4.0 Refresh? XNA 4.0 Refresh “updates XNA Game Studio 4.0 to fix bugs and add support for developing games that target Windows Phone OS 7.1 and developing games in Visual Basic.” Basically, it's the latest version of XNA 4.0!



7) Test Out Your Installation:

Run Microsoft Visual Studio C# 2010 Express. If you cannot find it, press the Windows key and start searching for it and it should pop up in the results.

Once loaded, check out the version by clicking on the “Help” menu, and select the “About Microsoft Visual Studio C# 2010 Express”. The version should be 10.0.30319.1.

Note: According to http://stackoverflow.com/questions/35164805/why-does-xna-upgrade-vs-2010-from-v-10-to-v-11 the version of the projects created will be version 11 not 10.



8) Enable Debug/Release Mode Options in Menu Bar:

Enable debug/release options, by doing the following steps:

  • Debug > Options & Settings -- enable "Show all settings"
  •  In the menu bar, by turning on the Expert Settings (Tools->Settings->Expert Settings).

This lets you change your game from debug mode (used to help catch errors, but slower) to release mode (used to release the game).



9) Start Coding a Game!

Now you are able to start coding a video game!

But, wait for part 2 to jump into some coding!


That is all, for now.



About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $180,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.

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