From games to telephones

After six years working on XNA, I decided it was time to take on a new challenge.  I am moving to the Windows Phone team, where I will be working on things I’m not sure how much I can say about here  (leaking future business plans on MSDN might not be the best way to endear myself to my new boss 🙂

Writing this post is a bittersweet moment for me.  I’m excited by what the future holds for Windows Phone, and looking forward to my chance to be part of that, but also sad to leave a team and product that have given me so much satisfaction.  There’ll be no going back once I hit that Publish button a few minutes from now…

I feel an urge to wax nostalgic about some of my favorite times with XNA:

  • Staying up all night to watch Michael purchase the first ever Creators Club subscription.

  • The first Dream Build Play competition, when we got to see the first actual games made with our technology  (Dishwasher FTW!)

  • On stage with Mitch at Gamefest, where I wrote a network game ‘from scratch’  (if you ignore some minor snippet cheating :-)  in less than an hour.  I’m still blown away by the fact that our APIs were simple enough to make this possible.  Also amazed that the demo actually worked, considering what an unstable early build we were using!  Unfortunately there is no video of this, and the slides don’t do it justice since the whole point was the live coding demo.

  • On stage once more at MIX, demonstrating XNA graphics on the new Windows Phone with a frighteningly last minute demo cobbled together just a few days earlier using a hot-off-the-presses build of XNA on an even more experimental frankenbuild of the phone OS.  Then rushing back to my hotel room to blog about the new features coming in XNA 4.0  (which, modesty aside, I still think is some of the best design work I have done to date).

  • Trying to decide, of all the lines of code I have written in my life, which one has been executed the most times?  I think it must be the default SpriteBatch pixel shader.

  • Last but not least, spending time with y’all on forums and this blog, where I got to know so many great people and see the amazing things you create.

I’m not yet sure what this means for my blog.  I want to keep writing, but will probably cover more general graphics and game development topics, and will obviously no longer have inside scoop on XNA implementation details.  I’m also not sure how much time I will have for writing, especially in the early months as I settle into the new job, but I will do my best.

Ok, I’m off now to meet some new people and learn my way around a whole new product.

<nervously excited>

Comments (44)

  1. Steve Williams says:

    Nice work on XNA, Shawn, and these blogs.  I refer people from the AppHub forums to your blogs so many times I have lost count.

    I'm hoping you will enjoy your time on Windows Phone and have a good impact on the future of those wonderful devices.

  2. neilg says:

    best of luck Shawn!

  3. Michael C. Neel says:

    Thanks Shawn for these many years of great posts and support of XNA, best of luck in the new role!

  4. Steve Hazen says:

    It's been a pleasure experiencing what you have created Shawn. You've been a great inspiration for me.

    Thank you, very sincerely.

  5. Thank you Shawn for an excellent library and all the excellent behind-the-scenes information you've given us over the years! We'll miss you 🙂

  6. Mac says:

    Yeah, totally saw this one coming.

    And this is why I stopped working on my Xbox-only XNA game.

    Maybe some new MS platform will attract me in a few years, but phones? No thanks.

  7. Vikram says:

    Shawn, Good luck with your future endeavors. You've been a great inspiration to me and the rest of us @ Creators Club.. forever grateful.

  8. uditha bandara says:

    Wish you best of luck Shawn!


    Uditha Bandara.

    South East Asia`s First XNA/DirectX MVP

    (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional)

  9. MikeBMcL says:

    Looking forward to hearing more of whatever it is you're moving on to sometime in the future. For now, for XNA, it's been fun and you will be missed!

  10. Roland "Glatzemann" Rosenkranz says:

    Good luck for your new job, Shawn.

    The XNA community will miss you 🙁

  11. DSebJ says:

    All the best, sad to see such an awesome pillar of the XNA ecosystem move on.

    Good luck.

  12. Ronzan says:

    Thanks for an excellent framework and many informative write-ups.

    Best of luck.

  13. Maximinus says:

    Thank you Shawn for your work on the great XNA framework. Your 'blog index' webpage is so amazing : it has so many answers for game development specific problems.

    Too bad you're leaving for windows phone development. Maybe in a few years there'll be many phones sold, and it will be attractive for developers.

  14. Bane says:

    Thanks for all the contribution you did with XNA! What this means for XNA? Does it have a future or is it a secret?

  15. Paul Cunningham says:

    Not to do any of your colleagues a disservice but for many of us, you were XNA. All the best!

  16. Vicente Cartas says:

    Good luck Shawn! And great work on XNA, I hope we can continue seeing you at least for 5 mins in the Summit 🙂

  17. Ultrahead says:

    Good luck, Shawn! And thanks for your hard and great work in XNA.

  18. Chad says:

    Congratulations Shawn!

    Thanks again for agreeing to be the techincal editor for my first book.  You went above and beyond and I really appreciate it.

    I was at that Gamefest talk where you coded the networking demo from scratch.  I was jotting down notes like crazy.  It took me about 5 chapters in the second book to try and capture what you did that hour.

    Looking forward to hearing what all you are into (that you can share) later on.  Again, congratulations!

  19. Lck says:

    Congratulations Shawn, thank you for your great work and everything you shared! Looking forward to hearing from the Windows Phone side of the fence. 🙂

  20. Gary Dahl says:

    Good luck, and one more "thanks again" for all of your help and hard work over the years!

  21. Barnaby "mvi" Smith says:

    Best of luck Shawn, thanks for all your articles over the years.

  22. Sharky says:

    Congrats Shawn!

    Your blogs have been the single most useful gamedev resource I've found, and written so even I can understand them. I've learned gamedev tricks & best practice from you more than any other source.

    I've bookmarked so much stuff here, and every time I go back and reread them I still pick up new things.  I hope you can keep the blogs going, even if unrelated to XNA. Maybe you could archive all your posts somewhere perminent (special section on the App Hub perhaps?)

    Best of luck Shawn.


  23. Nick says:

    Best of luck and all that, don't want to be too morose about it but can't help but feel it's slightly emblematic of the slow decline of MS interest in XNA generally, if that's not too melodramatic a statement.

  24. Glenn WIlson says:

    Good luck with your next project, it was great to meet you and I hope you won't become a stranger…

  25. Stewie22112 says:

    Thanks for all your work on the framework, on your blog(s) and the forums. You'll really be missed. Thanks for teaching me so much! Best of everything for the new job! Cheers

  26. Simon Windmill says:

    I think this is great news for WP!

  27. Rob (Da Voodoochief) says:

    Good luck in ya new job matey. It was a pleasure working with ya in the past on the Xbox and chatting in the forums. Maybe it will happen again in the future who knows.

  28. Davidcm says:

    Good luck.

    Great news!! I'm sure I will learn WP7 from you a lot, like I learned XNA.

  29. Darks1de says:

    Best wishes for the future and here's hoping your enthusiasm for a platform really lends itself well to the Phone Team.

    Look forward to your phone blog 😀

  30. Dean Dodrill says:

    Congrats and best of luck with the new position!  Your help and articles has been invaluable over the years, and while I will miss you on this end, I know you'll be a great asset over there!

  31. Eclectus says:

    Best of luck Sean – you will be missed!

  32. Goodbye Shawn, you will be greatly missed. But the new opportunity does sound thrilling!

  33. David says:

    Good Luck!

  34. Programmdude says:

    I have been a silent reader here for about a year, reading a few of your articles/blog posts before that. I will miss your XNA knowledge, you have helped me become a better programmer. I will miss your XNA related articles and hope you continue this blog with little bits of information about Windows Phone 7.

  35. default_ex says:

    Sad to see ya leave the XNA team, as much as I've openly disagreed with path XNA has taken, there is far more about it that I really liked (else I wouldn't be using it). If it wasn't for your work on XNA and your dissection of various techniques, it's very likely I'd never have learned as much as I have about rendering tech, which is my passion (or obsession). You have my heartfelt thanks for sticking with XNA for so long, and best of luck with your new endeavors.

  36. Fish says:

    Good luck Shawn (not that you'll need it), the Phone team will benefit immensely by having you on board.

  37. RiemerG says:

    Shawn, thanks a lot for your contributions. You've done a remarkable effort giving us all some glimpses of the inner workings of the framework, the hard-to-find information that links all the pieces of the puzzle together.

  38. jason at novaleaf says:

    hope we still get the remainder of "temporal anti-aliasing" (motion blur) that you were leading up to in your prior blog entry! 😉

  39. Michael Hansen says:

    i will miss you shawn

    you are number one here allways helping out people out with there problems

    we are sadly allso swicting to android the othere to member of my team whant this becourse we can not see the future phone and tablets

    and it is impossible for a small part time team to maintain 3 different code base aka c++ – c# custom shaders – c# no custom shaders

    so i have to follow or else i can not bring my dreams to life sorry

    i have ask the otheres about hand over a little demo of "the shawn effect xbox 360" and it is comming to you starting 2012 as a go away present

    Best of luck


  40. XNA Meeting Point says:

    Thanks for the great job you did on XNA.

    For the presentations and advice.

    Wish you all the best!

  41. Dan Colasanti says:

    It's good to know that someone on the Windows Phone team will have an XNA & DirectX gaming perspective rather than just a Silverlight business-apps perspective.  Look forward to using whatever it is that you create!  Good luck!

  42. An anon says:

    Congratulations, Shawn. As someone who discovered the world of graphics back in the days of Allegro 3.x, I can only wish you the best of luck with your endeavours!

  43. Apeman says:

    Oh no…I just read a load of horror stories about MS dropping XNA for Win Phone 8 and now find out that the go to source / blog on XNA dev team has left for Win Phone 8 (which i hear uses native c++/dx for metro). I fear the last few years of my spare time have been wasted as my game engine and first game are almost ready 🙁 ahhhhhhhhhhh. i know it'll run on win phone 8 (as xna apps supported), but still another tech ive invested time into that might dissapear. say it isnt so!

  44. Steve Hazen says:

    LOL! Unequivocal proof that these last few months Shawn has actually joined Google X!…/how-many-digita.php