It’s been really exciting seeing all the news articles and blog discussion since we announced XNA Game Studio Express last week.
Actually that’s a lie. I went hiking in the Olympic Peninsula right after our announcement at GameFest. Many incredible trees in the rainforest, but no internet access, so I’m only now getting a chance to catch up on all the coverage we’ve been getting.
But it is still exciting.
This truly feels like the project I was always meant to work on, and takes me back to how I got involved in programming in the first place.
Once upon a time I was a spotty teenager who had never used a computer. We didn’t even have a TV in my house through most of my childhood, so I spent all my time doing creative things like playing music and running naked through the woods (ok, the naked thing may be a slight exaggeration).
Then my cousin gave me an old Oric computer that she didn’t want any more. She didn’t want it because it was boring and had no interesting games, but for me that was a good thing. I wasn’t interested in just sitting there and being fed entertainment: I wanted to create my own!
The Oric booted directly into a BASIC interpreter, and came with a BASIC manual, so it was trivial to start interacting with it and making things move around the screen. My first game was lost when my brother accidentally knocked out the power cable before I had a chance to save it, but I was too busy writing more to care all that much.
I never looked back from there. While in college I developed a free 2D game library, and experienced first hand what an amazing thing the student and hobbyist developer community can be. After that I worked on commercial games and tools, and experienced first hand how simultaneously exhilarating and soul-destroying the commercial game industry can be [insert the usual anecdotes about long hours, unbridled creativity, cancelled projects, stifled creativity, rave reviews, deathmarch projects, etc: you’ve heard it all before by now].
Something felt wrong. Writing games just wasn’t fun any more. But the Oric used to be fun. What was missing? And without it, how were new generations ever going to be inspired to take those first steps toward creating their own games? Could I really be the last of a dying breed?
That’s why XNA exists. That’s why I moved from Brighton, England, to Seattle, and joined Microsoft last year. That’s why I’m so excited about what we’re doing here.
It’s time to put the fun back where it belongs.