I helped ship XNA Game Studio 4.0

Allow me to be a bit nostalgic here for a post.

It’s December 2006 and I’m a college kid in Grand Rapids, Michigan. XNA Game Studio Express was just released and promised the opportunity to make games more easily with C# and an API built for rapid creation of games. Beyond that, XNA GSE allowed, for the first time ever, the chance to create games for the Xbox 360 console. I was ecstatic. I could make games without the hassle of C++ and DirectX and make them for the Xbox 360? I was hooked.

The next year I received an MVP Award in the XNA/DirectX category for my contributions to the forums and overall community. I wrote tutorials, made open source projects, and answered questions on the forums. It was all voluntary and I made no income from it; I just loved the product and the ideas so much that I couldn’t not want to help others make their games.

Fast forward a bit to March 2009. I’ve relocated to Seattle to get a fresh start on adult life and I have a contract employment working with Microsoft to produce games for the Zune HD leveraging XNA Game Studio. I had made it, in some small way, into the games industry. I loved every minute of it. I came to work and wrote games using the same technology I had been using for fun the last couple of years. I didn’t really think it could get much better.

At the end of 2009, I was approached and interviewed for a position on the XNA Development Platform team, the “Dream Team” that made my favorite game development environment. I barely even cared what position they were offering; I was just excited to be helping build a product that I had so much passion around. In January 2010, I started working for Microsoft building what would become XNA Game Studio 4.0.

It’s very strange to me, sitting at my desk here in Redmond, to think that just four years ago I was sitting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, reading about this XNA Game Studio Express and thinking about how cool it would be to make games for the Xbox 360 using managed code. And now I’m out in Redmond, Washington working to bring that same excitement to others as we expand our platform support to the very exciting Windows Phone 7. Just goes to show how much can change in a few short years. 🙂

Comments (12)

  1. SeanJenkin says:

    Super glad you were able to be part of the team Nick… it's great fun watching all the programming and games you're still doing for fun too 😉

  2. Nick,

    I have followed your developments and your career closely and I have to say, congratulations! You deserve every single minute of the enjoyment you are feeling now.

    You are truly an inspiration to us all!

  3. Jeff Weber says:

    Wow, that is so cool.

    I remember when XNA first started… I remember seeing all your forum posts. Great to see you were rewarded for you efforts!

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Hey Nick,

    Great to hear your success story :). Now stop making us jealous ;).

    Nah just kidding, love!

  5. Chris Hill says:


    Hard work dedication and passion do not go unnoticed. You were a natural fit, and will continue to pave the way forward into the future. I wager in 5-10 years indie development will really come into its own. In the meantime it is still the place to go and look for tomorrow's game developers, today.

    Glad to have you man. =)

  6. Barnaby Smith says:

    It's a strange feeling moving from the outside in, I'll grant you, I've worked in the industry for over a year now after 12 years as a bedroom coder, still not used to it 😀 Congrats anyway.

  7. George Clingerman says:

    Congratulations Nick! It's been fun watching you rock the XNA world these last 4 years. Was sad when you weren't a fellow XNA MVP anymore but so happy when you became part of the XNA Dream Team! And congratulations on 4.0 shipping as well. Lots of cool things are going to happen with this release!

  8. Frode Aarebrot says:

    Congrats Nick.

    I've been using the beta of 4.0 since it came out and you guys (and gals?) have done a great job! I've always dreamt of making games, even just as a hobby for fun. As someone who does C# and SharePoint as his everyday bread and butter, XNA really is a dream come true. I don't have the patience or time to sit down and learn C++ or DirectX and because of XNA I don't have to. I can use managed code which I'm already familiar with.

    I think your story is the prime example that dedication pays off. A big thank you for being passionate and a big thank you for helping create something that allows the rest of us to make _our_ dreams come true.

  9. Allan Chaney says:

    My huge congrats as well to you!  My game Acid Rain exists on XBLIG marketplace in large part due to your instruction and code.  Your TileMap video series got me started and your EasyStorage solution made the unbelievably complicated 360 storage system accessible to beginning hobbyists.

    My ultimate dream would be to see MS merge the XBLIG marketplace with the WP7 marketplace. It's just my opinion that having two seperate business models, review models, pricing models makes things very confusing for developers and problematic for digital game distribution on MS platforms.  Just passing my dream onto you since you are now in a position of power and authority.  🙂  

    Really though keep up the great work!


  10. Uditha says:

    Congrats Nick !

    Keep Up the good work.



    XNA/DirectX MVP


  11. Bob Billings says:

    Great job!  Nice to see that some dreams can come true!

  12. Aidin says:


    Your old blog is still my major gold mine of knowledge about XNA !

    wish you could answer questions about it 🙁