April 2007 - Posts

How to become an MVP

Lots of people ask me how they can become an MVP well here for the first time I am going to reveal my secret. Know how to search on the internet.. Yes that's all there is to it. You see if you spend a lot of time in the MSDN forums or the XNA forums and you answer a lot of questions well you are almost assured of getting an MVP nomination. But how to get those great answers. Well firstly you have to understand that in general people are lazy. However for some odd reason they think its faster to type a question into a forum - often several paragraphs long - and wait for a few hours than simply typing a couple of words into google. Even worse is when the forum in question actual has its own search facility or even an FAQ. Still the lazy folk of the world would rather have me do the searching for them. I think about 50% of the answers in the forums can be solved by typing 2 of the words from the original post into a search engine.

Yes it's been a rough day in the forums today!

No 50k for The Zman

Someone asked me if I was still doing the ultra 50k - sadly no. The event was last weekend (Sunday 22nd April) and though my leg injury is better the doctors didn't think that running 31 miles was a good way to recover. Seems they are probably right as I am still having a few issues.

I went to the event to support my team and after watching some of the back markers I just felt frustrated not to be running - I'm sure I would have looked better than some of them.

So forward looking - thanks to my swimming I may be able to do a triathlon over the summer and then back to marathons in the fall as well as a big birthday event for me in January next year. If all goes to plan this time next year I should be ready for the 50k or maybe I'll just jumped right to the 50 miler... yeah you heard me !

Posted 25 April 2007 12:59 AM by zman | 1 comment(s)
Filed under:
ZBuffer Games LLC, 2006 (and some 2007) summary

Craig asked for an update so here goes....

My original plan was based on having enough budget to survive a year from August 1st 2005 to July 31st 2006 before having to look for a proper job. My original guess of spending a month or so getting back up to programming speed after years of being a manager was horribly naive. However by December I was feeling some of the magic come back. However I still didn't have a plan to make money. My main idea was to do some game demos and then apply for a job somewhere when the money ran out. But then due to good timing, good contacts and being in the right place at the right time I landed a Microsoft job converting Hexic to managed code as one of the first XNA demos. The game was shown on the stand at GDC which I was very happy about.

I followed that up with some simple GDI games for a Visual Studio Express promotion.

So now I had some money to extend the time doing my own things and with the XNA framework coming out surely I could do some cool demos with that to get me a job. I didn't have to worry - another phone call from Microsoft meant I got paid to write a demo. Could Microsoft have gone with people with far more experience than me - sure - but I suspect it looked better to have someone in their target audience do the game. The original plan was for SpaceWar to be a demo for the gamefest conference but a week or so into development they asked if I thought the code was clean enough for a public release. Thankfully it was and eventually SpaceWar became the starter kit that shipped with XNA beta and RTM. The code I originally wrote was before the content pipeline was available and before xbox deployment so Microsoft have made some changes to the code including some bug fixes (I'm not perfect) and some perf issues that only appeared on the xbox.

Pretty soon after this the idea for the creators club was talked about and the need for more starter kits. I got to do the really low level entry level one called Marblets which didn't appear on the website for a long long time.

During this time I had met the guys from KPL (now Phrogram) at a conference. I knew of them through my work on Coding4Fun. They had a decent 3d engine written which I helped them move to Managed DirectX 2.0 and then back again after it got cancelled. Since the product was free I just contributed small amounts here and there to help them out. When they changed the product to Phrogram and started charging I took over the 3d code full time and we are currently working on an XNA Framework port which at some point in the future will mean that you can run Phrograms on windows and Xbox 360.

In summary (this sounds like Bridget Jones diary which a friend of mine made me watch the other day):

  • Games finished - 3 (plus 3 very simple ones)
  • Games shown at conferences - 2
  • Games in USA today - 1
  • Marathons run - 3
  • Money made - not nearly as much as I made full time at Microsoft but the quality of life was great.
  • MVP renewed
  • #1 poster on the DX forums on MSDN and now slowly picking up on the XNA.com forums

Things I should have done better:

  • Keeping ZBuffer up to date - due to the work jobs, my procrastination and some real life issues this kind of got lost at times. There's a lot more competition in the community sites for XNA and I really need to get back on top of things.
  • Procrastination - my biggest problem.. if I could fix this I would probably rule the world by now. Without managers sitting in the office next door plus working at home its far too easy to do other things.

In a month or so I will be looking for some more paid gigs - so if you need an XNA guy then email me at zman@thezbuffer.com

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