GameFest 2007: Mission Complete

I’m back from GameFest 2007 and I can start to take back parts of my life. The last 3 months have possibly been the busiest and most stressful of my entire life. The rewards have been incredible though, and I’m still glowing about the fantastic reception to the XNA Game Studio track.

For those of you unfamiliar with the GameFest conference, the details can be found at http://www.xnagamefest.com/ . True to the XNA branding of all Microsoft gaming development, XNA GameFest is primarily an event for seasoned industry professionals that want to get the most out of Microsoft platforms. I like to think of it as a “Game Programming Gems for Microsoft Platforms”.

I volunteered to be the XNA Game Studio content coordinator for GameFest 2007. As a result I’ve managed to add about 50% more responsibilities to my usual engineering support workload. Couple that with the unprecedented lineup of holiday Windows and Xbox 360 titles, and I haven’t had a lot of “outside time” this summer. I managed to get Shader Series 4 our the door as well, which is an exciting landmark in a series of whitepapers and samples I've wanted to do since last summer. Back then the CGP team was working hard to get http://creators.xna.com off the ground and there were no Game Studio samples at all. The XNA CGP team has come a long way, and they have produced a marvelous community developer portal.

I have probably 50 man-hours of post-GameFest responsibilities, but these will be distributed over the next few weeks. I should be getting back to a normal schedule just in time for the Seattle Rainy Season. And that means I’ll be back to working on my leasure game projects.

 

River’s End has been stalled all summer for the above reasons. During that time I’ve also managed to shift my support responsibilities so that I’m now a primary source for Xbox 360 GPU support. I’ve learned an incredible amount in a very short time, and I have nothing but new ideas for how to convert River’s End from a pretty game into a jaw dropping graphics showcase.

Not that I’ve forgotten the gameplay. I’ve been jotting notes about level ideas and new gameplay mechanics all summer. I’ve also taken inspiration from the incredible work done by the top Dream-Build-Play entries which we displayed at GameFest. These games are stunning, and many times they’ve been completed entirely by one talented developer. They’ve given me the confidence to persue very aggressive design goals for my hobby game projects.

I’ve also got some great ideas for more developer education content. Things that have come to mind recently have been about project management and scaling for teams. The upcoming Game Studio 2.0 features should enable some really interesting project management techniques that will make working with artists, managing content builds, and dealing with multiple platform targets into a highly streamlined experience. It’ll take some research though, so I’m going to factor in these techniques into my leisure-time work on River’s End. 

 

Be sure to check out the games at http://www.dreambuildplay.com/main/default.aspx . They’re all awesome in their own way. I probably shouldn’t say this, but my fave was Shuggy. I love 2D gameplay concepts and Shuggy helped convince me that we’ve still only scratched the surface of what great gameplay can be had on a 2D plane.