XNA Essentials

Game Programming for Xbox 360, PC + Windows Phone


Microsoft MVP Awarded July 1st

I’m pretty late to be announcing this. I can’t believe it has already been two months since I’ve received the award, but on July 1st, 2009 I received the Microsoft MVP Award in the area of XNA/DirectX.

MVP_Horizontal_FullColorI’m honored to have been awarded this. The main reason why someone is given the MVP award (less than 5,000 world wide currently have this award) is because of the work they do in their community.

Speaking in User Groups and Code Camps are the types of things that help someone get the award. Helping out with the local user group is a big plus. Even doing things like making sure the venue facilities are returned back to the way the group found them can be helpful. Finding a good place to meet monthly is challenging. The last thing the group wants to do is lose their facility. My local .NET User Group currently meets at Advanced Home Care, which is a great location. We meet the first Tuesday of every month. We will be meeting tonight, September 1st at 6:00PM. If you are near Greensboro definitely drop by. The great thing about User Groups and Code Camps is that they are absolutely FREE to attend. Yes, the folks that give their time to run the user groups and organize the code camps find sponsors who pay for the food, swag and everything else that goes into putting on these events.

Besides being active in my local user group and speaking there, I’ve spoken at a few other places including Burton Center for Arts & Technology near my hometown of Roanoke, VA. I gave three lectures one day to some middle schoolers and some high schoolers. It was an enjoyable day and the students seemed to enjoy the fact that games could be written for the Xbox 360 console.

Several years ago, I spent a lot of time in SecondLife. I created a few games in there and used to sell them. There is a .NET User Group in SecondLife where I’ve gave an XNA talk earlier this year.

While the PDC event was taking place last year, Chris Love, Rachel Appel  (who are both MVPs themselves) and a few others started up NotAtPDC. I was able to give an XNA talk using LiveMeeting. Giving talks online is definitely challenging because you can’t see the audience. You have no idea if you are connecting with them or not. Either way, I’ve enjoyed both and will probably do these types of events again.

Since you are on this site, you most likely know I’ve written a book on XNA game programming using XNA Game Studio. This also played a big part in me getting the MVP award I’m sure. There are some that think getting the award because you wrote a book is cheating because you already got compensated for the book. Typically (and my book is no exception) technical books do not bring the authors much money. But it can be argued that any money is still compensation and community work has no monetary rewards. Some don’t see any difference in putting time into a book that helps others, versus time into a website with Ads. Sometimes ads have made more money for folks than royalties from a technical book. Others tend to think that if work was done and you can be awarded for it multiple times then more power to you. That said, having the book alone wouldn’t have been enough. In fact, this was my second book. So having two books alone wouldn’t have been enough to be awarded with the MVP Award. It was the activity with the local user group and code camps and the speaking engagements.

On a side note, I found out last week that a college professor of mine (who taught several of my Computer Science courses including Graphics Programming) is using my Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed book this year for that class. There are other colleges and universities that use my book in different courses, but to have your old college professor use your book to teach a class he taught you is pretty surreal.

So here is the call to action for you my dear readers – yes both of you – you need to get plugged into some community activity. A great way to become a better developer is to surround yourself with better developers. A good way to do that is to attend user groups and code camps. Of course the other events like PDC, Mix, GDC and GameFest are good too – but there is usually travel costs plus the actual event cost which can make it prohibitive for some. With user groups and code camps which are free for the attendees there is no reason not to get out there and meet other developers and learn new things.

Happy Networking and Learning!


XNA Essentials Web Site Upgraded - Hello Real Forums

I finally was able to spend some time this weekend to give this website the attention it deserved. I have installed Community Server 2008.5 SP2 and am now running the site with that. I have configured the site to only utilize a single blog. The biggest pain was trying to make sure all my old links still worked in the new site. The bits that took the longest were making sure the links at the root level still worked. Fortunately, it seems everything is working just fine.

We now have Forums! No longer are people required to use the Amazon forums. It seems that really wasn't ideal because of the different countries. This should work much better.

The blog entries actually have comments. Currently the two tutorials I have on the site are custom pages, but I think I will either convert those into a blog entry or into forum posts so there can be comments on them. The original website did not have anyway for the users to communicate to me or each other. Community Server corrects this.

Hopefully there aren't any outstanding issues, but if so I'll try and correct them as soon as possible.

Happy surfing!


Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed Book Has Arrived

My second book, Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed has just left the printers. I received a copy of the book yesterday. It is available for purchase from Amazon and other retailers. This book includes 9 new chapters in 3 new sections. These include chapters on creating games for the Zune, creating multiplayer games and best practices to sell games on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

More information about the book can be found in the Unleashed section of the site. The errata for the book has been started and can be found here.

I will be revamping this site and will include forums directly on this site so we do not have to use the Amazon forums. I realized recently that the Amazon forums were country dependant and there were posts I didn't see from the UK. Having the forums on my server should help with that. I'm working diligently to get them up soon.

Happy Coding!


XNA Essentials Site Launched

Welcome to XNA Essentials!  This blog will be updated whenever the site is updated.  When new tutorials, updates to the book, downloads and other site information is updated, the blog will get an entry.  If you subscribe to the RSS feed then you can be notified when new content is available on this site.  I hope this site proves to be beneficial to the XNA Community!

Happy Coding!