I was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri. Compared to where I am now, my childhood was pretty rough. My father left before I started school, and I spent the majority of my childhood on welfare. Shortly after High School graduation I joined the Air Force. I spent a few years in the Air Force (in San Antonio Texas) doing medical database programming and being annoyed I had to shave and get up early. While I was in basic training for the Air Force my son Lucas was born (although I didn’t actually know that at the time)! Lucas and his mother came and moved in with me in Texas once I got settled in. A few months before leaving Texas, Tanya became pregnant once more.
In 1997, I left the Air Force and joined Microsoft as a contingent staff employee (ie, contractor) working on a variety of internal projects. Barely a month after we arrived up here our daughter Samantha was born (I suppose that was pretty good timing). In early late 1997 I joined the Visual Basic team and helped ship Visual Basic 6.0. Tanya and I got married in early 1998 as well! From there I joined the Office team as a FTE (full time employee) of Microsoft for the first time! However, my job in the Office team was not quite what I thought it was going to be, and after a short while I decided to leave Microsoft, and did so in September 1998. From there, we moved back to St. Louis and I took a job as a contractor working as a programmer for a coal company. Was probably the most horrible experience of my life! Definitely a huge mistake to leave.
It didn’t take much to realize that though, and a scant few months later in January 1999 I was back up in the Redmond area working at Microsoft as a contingent staff again on more internal projects. Towards the middle of that year I moved over to the DirectX team and began working on what would be DirectX for Visual Basic as part of DirectX7. At the end of that year I converted back to a FTE staying in the same role I had already been doing. For the next release I took ownership of that project and did the bulk of the work for DirectX8.
It was around then that I began to hear rumblings of this thing called “.NET” and “managed code”. In my spare time I wrote what I was calling (at the time) DirectX.NET, and we showed a very early prototype off at the Game Developers Conference in 2002. While everyone loved what they had seen, it was pretty apparent that my little prototype needed a lot of work, and that’s what I began working on in earnest. After a rename to the cooler sounding “Managed DirectX” it was finally released to the public in DirectX9. Aside from a few brief periods where I was reassigned, I worked on MDX until the end of 2005.
That’s when I was approached with an intriguing opportunity. Turns out there was another group in the company who liked the work I was doing and wanted to leverage it for something new, namely the Xbox 360. Given that was always one of my goals, I jumped at the opportunity and in early 2006 I switched over to the Xbox organization and began working on this mysterious thing called XNA. My MDX work was swallowed into that work, and a few short months later (the end of 2006) the first version of XNA Game Studio was released. I can’t even begin to describe how much work went into that release, but it was a great time. Over the next several years we kept evolving the product, adding new platforms, and opening up the console and phone to all developers. Anyone could make games for our platforms and make money.
Having scratched that particular itch and accomplishing everything I had hoped to back in 2001 when I started MDX, I left the XNA team in June 2010 to join Microsoft Game Studios. After spending 10 years helping others make games, it was finally time to make some myself.
So here we are now!