Motivated by the recent arrival of Professional XNA Game Programming: For Xbox 360 and Windows, I’ve spent more time learning and practicing with C#. XNA is very, very attractive: it looks to be about as easy to get into as SDL but has hooks to Direct X and is native to C#. Programming against SDL isn’t hard, but setting up the system for development and at runtime tends to be more complicated where installing DLLs on Win32 or OS X is the least of my problems: look into making sure it runs well on older or non-Red Hat/non-Debian Linux systems with extra third party libraries and see how long it takes you to throw up your hands. XNA looks mighty attractive after spending several days fighting with Amazon’s RHEL 3 development desktop.
So far, I’ve built a simple testing harness in C# for simulating combat, including the basic classes that represent the game’s object model. I can plug my ideas into the harness, tweak it, and run simulated combat to see how accurate my design was. No, it doesn’t “simulate fun,” but it will show if I’m out of line in some parts of the design, especially DPS over time and the length of combat. Later, I can add more abilities or attacks and a little logic to test more complicated combat. (See also, Applying Risk Analysis to Play-Balance RPGs (requires login) for examples of using risk analysis to model combat systems.)
Slightly off-topic, I don’t think activeCollab really works the way I want it to. I think it would be more suitable for projects I’ve had in the past, such as the SCM conversion at Fifth-Third Bank or even the work my team is doing on Amazon Daily. It’s not a good code repository, at least in how I have it configured, and Savane may be closer to what I had in mind for project tracking.