In this tutorial, we will look at one of the three basic ways of distributing your XNA game that were brought up in the Publishing your Game tutorial. We will look at how to package your game for your friends who have XNA Game Studio.
Packaging your Game for Other XNA Users
In this tutorial we are going to look at is packaging your game for other XNA users. Using this, you can give your game to your friends who are using XNA. Using this method is very easy, but this method doesn't allow you to give it to everyone in the world, since they already need to have XNA Game Studio on their computer. We'll look at that problem in the Independent Publishing section below. This method, however, is ideal if you want to give the game to your friends who have XNA, to get feedback.
To do this, simply go to the Build menu, and choose Package <ProjectName> as XNA Creators Club Game, as shown in the image below.
This will package your game and will make it easy to distribute, as we will see in a minute. You will know when it is done by looking at the bottom left corner of the XNA Game Studio window, and you will see a message that says "Finished packaging XNA Creators Club Game", as shown in the image below.
You can now go locate the packaged game in your file system. Browse to your project's directory. The file should be located in the /bin/x86/Debug/ directory, if you haven't changed project settings. The file you are looking for will be called <ProjectName>.ccgame, as shown in the image below. If you do not find this file here, you may need to look around in other directories of your project directory.
The .ccgame extension is for Creators Club Games. This file is a compressed version of your game. It does not contain any source code or original art assets, just the executable program and compiled resources. You can now give this file to your friends who have XNA Game Studio already created.
Unpackaging a Game
To unpackage a game from a friend is pretty easy. All you need to do is take the .ccgame file and double click on it. This will open up a warning dialog that essentially asks you if you are sure you want to run the game, as shown below. If you are sure you know the program doesn't contain a virus or anything, go ahead and click on Unpack.
Clicking on Unpack will copy files onto your computer and open up Windows Explorer to that directory. To run the program, click on the project's .exe file, and the game will run.
This method of packaging your game is extremely easy to do, both for you and for your friend on the receiving end. If you are just giving a game to a friend to get feedback, this is by far the best method. However, if you want your friend to be able to review your source code, take a look at the tutorial for Packaging your Source Code for other XNA Users. Also, this method doesn't work if the people you are trying to give it to don't have XNA Game Studio. If you want to do this, look at the tutorial about Using ClickOnce to Distribute your Game or the tutorial about Other Ways to Distribute your XNA Game.
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