I suppose it’s inevitable..

I would like to preface this post with the following disclaimer; I am not on the XNA team, nor have I been on the XNA team in almost two years. Do not mistake anything below for an “insider scoop” of anything because I do not know what their current plans are, nor do I know what their future plans are. Everything below relates to XNA version 1.0, and there are still folks who worked on later versions over in that organization. With that out of the way, I shall continue!

Shawn Hargreaves announced the other day he was leaving to move over to the Windows Phone team after six years working on XNA. I’m sure this isn’t a surprise to anyone who keeps even a rudimentary pulse on the XNA scene is subscribed to Shawn’s blog and has read it. However, for me it was a little bit bittersweet.

As the title of this post implies, I suppose it is inevitable. After all, as Shawn points out, he was working on XNA for over six years, and that’s a very long time to be doing one thing. However, with Shawn’s departure, from my recollection everyone that busted their asses to get the first version of XNA out the door has moved on from that team (not entirely true; there is still one person left in that organization who was there at the start of the XNA project, but he’s been on a different role now for quite a while).

The team that started XNA wasn’t very large to begin with, and we weren’t all “publicly popular” (such as Shawn, Kluch and myself), but the small group of us that were there from the start had a huge unknown challenge in front of us, not even sure if it would really work. We had a completely unrealistic release schedule (you want us done before the end of this year? right), were writing everything from scratch, and we had exactly zero customers.

I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished with that first release, and it was probably one of my favorite times at Microsoft. We almost felt like a bit of a startup within the company, and we were successful beyond our original ideas. By version two we had the concept of an “App Store” before Apple did (not to take anything away from Apple, there store is obviously more successful than XBLIG), and people were making money.

As often happens though, time goes on, new people are hired, other people leave. Inevitable. While I was there, we always prided ourselves on our ability to make good hires, so I’m sure the people that remain are top-notch, but it is still somewhat sad for me to look back and realize that everyone that made version one of XNA what it was has now moved on to other adventures in their career. I will always look back at those times fondly. Working with that group of people was a pleasure.

As for what line of code of mine that is executed the most, I can’t say actually since I had a hand in almost ever piece of the xna runtime. It’s impossible to run an XNA game without using some of my code, even now with me gone for a few years. In the runtime itself, it’s probably the graphics device creation still (even though that was changed in v4).. By now it could be the predicated tiling work or even the intro “XBLIG screen” that you see before every game. We should have collected metrics on this kind of stuff!

Books after NaNoWriMo

I’ve already written about why I love books and everything there still stands, but the truth is there’s more to it than that, as I’m sure most folks who enjoy writing will tell you.

Even when it’s unintentional, it also gives the writer the opportunity to make social commentary (for lack of a better word). While I doubt you would find anything most folks would call “social commentary” in my first book, it was intentionally morally ambiguous, leaving questions that as an individual you needed to ponder, applying your own social and moral values to the situation. I like that I get to ask deep (potentially thoughtful) questions, while at the same time unveiling my opinion on the subject, even if it is not necessarily directly apparent.

You see, the thing is I utterly despise people who make constant inane social commentary on the various social mediums I frequent. Most times, they’re delusional at best, following the latest in a long line of demagogues incapable of critical thinking on their own.  On the occasions that they are, they will find people who are not constantly arguing with them. I suppose some folks find the conversations intellectually stimulating (or perhaps they like trolling), but I for one do not, so the majority of the time I ignore them and go on about my day.

Were it public and up front, my social commentary would be brutal. I can’t understand how politicians can continue to get elected on a platform of “we want the other side to lose” rather than “we want to do what our voters need”. I can’t understand the hypocrisy that comes from all sides in government. Our country is falling apart before our eyes, and everyone is so blind trying to beat the other guy, everyone forgot there was a government to run. I can’t understand anyone who thinks the Republicans are 100% right on all issues, much like I can’t understand how anyone thinks the Democrats are either. I believe if our founding fathers saw the country we are right now, they would wonder what they ever fought the Revolutionary war for since we have basterdized the names of those that did. Don’t even get me started on organized religion.

Before I turn into the one of the folks I despise though, that last paragraph will be one of the very few times I outright give some of my views on social issues. Instead, they’re scattered in my writings. I had a particular topic I wanted to tackle during the NaNoWriMo time frame, and I’m really enjoying this story. It’s too long though, and even though it isn’t done yet, I know it has multiple climaxes, so I’ve decided to split it up.

So I suppose this is my announcement of my second fiction book, which will be part one of three (or four, depending on how detailed I want the backstory of one of the major characters to be, he deserves his own book if I get into it). Now, the genre will be the same as the last one, still a horror novel. It will certainly be less gruesome than the previous though, not that I particularly mind the gore, but I think some people latched onto that more than the message hidden beneath it.

My hope is to have each one done in just under three months, which would line up with part one out before January ends followed by part two before the end of April and part three by the time summer is making the days warm up here. I fully expect to be unusually busy at work this year though (working on secret games we haven’t announced yet of course) so I don’t have a great deal of confidence yet, but those are my goals.

I’m actually more excited about this series than I was about my first book, which is actually a bit of a surprise. I was super excited about that one.