I've spent the past two days at GameFest, presenting some tips and tricks for the Visual C++ IDE and talking to game developers. The conference was based in Bellevue (so no fancy traveling this time) and, as I mentioned before, it is geared mainly towards Xbox developers. It's really quite nice for us, as members of the C++ team, to see so many consumers (or is that producers?) of good ol' native code. It sure seems like game programming and system programming are the last bastions of *real* C++ usage. I found that all the things they wanted to see in the IDE that aren't yet present were features I would also personally want to see. In other words, for all the attendees that asked me for features, if you are reading this, look out for some of those improvements in the future.
After that preamble, let me expand on my previous note relating to Epic. Indeed, we were blessed with the presence of none other than Tim Sweeney, the head of Epic Games, who has been building amazing game engines for 14 years now. If the name doesn't ring a bell than perhaps their flagship, the Unreal Engine, does (if not, you fail the gamer test!). The talk he gave on Tuesday evening was highly attended, as everyone was excited to see what he would demo. In fact, the majority of the presentation was successive demos. He showed off a *real* demo (no pre-rendered crap) of their upcoming game called Gears of War and all I can say is wow. Let me clarify, although I don't believe the graphics of the Xbox 360 and PS3 era will be as mind-blowing as some may insinuate, they will clearly be awesome. On that note, AnandTech has a decent article describing the overall architectures of both systems (although you'll want to hit Ars Technica for the real in-depth stuff).
On Wednesday morning (today for me), I gave my talk about unlocking the hidden power of the Visual C++ IDE! Okay, so it didn't sound that fancy, but I presented a bunch of lesser known tips and tricks, some of which really resonate with game developers (e.g. how to improve build time!). The room was filled to the brim even though it was the first talk of the day and the feedback I got was awesome. It was obvious they were dedicated users who really want Visual C++ to be as great as possible. Luckily, I feel the same way :) Watch in the next couple of days as I put up some of the tips I presented, some of the ones I omitted and some of the stuff I created just to show off...