Speaking XNA at conferences

About time I blogged about something other than running or ranting! 

In my many years at Microsoft I spoke to lots of different sized groups from 20 up to I think about 250 and those folk who have met me know that speaking in public isn't something that is too hard for me. During the Managed DirectX days I spoke at Seattle and Portland code camps about shaders to a small and confused audience and I did a slightly modified shader talk on MSDN too. So now that Managed DirectX is dead I have been trying to work out a way to get some more speaking opportunities with XNA and its not as easy as it sounds.

Why talk at all? Well firstly I need some real XNA jobs in 2008 otherwise I have to go and be a web dev to pay my mortgage and getting my face and name out there is a good way to increase visibility and reputation. Secondly it helps keep my MVP status. Finally, I like to go to conferences and travel and as a small business with no money those things are often too expensive for me to do.

If you are a SQL Server or Siliverlight community leader then its pretty simple to fit in because all the conferences have entire tracks devoted to you. Admittedly there is also a lot more competition but once you are established you will see the same folk at every conference. As long as you keep your talks refreshed with new material you can even reuse the talks at most conferences. For XNA Game Studio its much harder to find a slot. There is almost never a track so you have to fit into the Windows programming track. Don't forget you have to compete with the celebrity bloggers and book authors out there who get speaking slots and high ratings just because of who they are (though credit due - most are also very good speakers too).

The next obstacle is that most conferences are populated by people who are there for business purposes and swinging XNA GS as a business tool is pushing things a bit far. It used to be that (Managed) DirectX was the only way to do 3d graphics so you could target a business talk with 'High performance 3d for your windows applications' but with WPF now available on XP and Vista you have to point people there first. Sure WPF perf isn't as good and its not as flexible - no shaders etc. But for most business apps that need 3d its perfectly adequate.

I got my first big conference opportunity last month at DevTeach Vancouver. The initial contact came about because George had been contacted to speak and wasn't sure if he wanted to or not. They were having an XNA Game Development track as a bit of an experiment I think and I knew the track chair, Pat McGee, vaguely as I had talked to him about his XNA book. So I emailed and offered my services and I ended up doing 3 sessions alongside 3 from Shawn and 3 from Pat himself.

The talks went very well and we all got great feedback but as I suspected most of the attendees were there on their company dime and though many of them told me they wanted to attend out talks over lunch and beers many of them chose the .Net 3.5/SQL/VS08 sessions instead because that was valuable to their jobs. So we had less than 10 people in each session.

So now that I have one conference behind me I need to parlay that into some more.

DevTeach Toronto is May 12th-16th and Tech*Ed is June 3rd-6th. The deadline for Tech*Ed talks was December 31st so I took a gamble and proposed some XNA sessions with a slant that I hope will interest the non game developers.

Here are the abstracts I entered - for those of you who attend these conferences I would LOVE to know if you would attend and if not why not? Is there some other way I can interest business developers in XNA Game Studio? I need to do some similar abstracts for DevTeach soon so any feedback would be great. Leave a comment or drop me an email: zman@thezbuffer.com

High Performance Graphics for .Net applications
There are several Microsoft APIs for presenting graphics. For most applications taking the simplest development approach is often enough to give the performance that you want. However for solutions where the graphical output is on the critical performance path or the output needs to be of a specific quality the choice can make the difference between selling your application or not. This talk looks at all of the common Microsoft drawing APIs and compares their abilities, limitations and which would be the most performant for your particular scenario. Most of the talk will concentrate on Windows Forms solutions but Silverlight will be discussed for web presentation and Xbox 360 solutions with the XNA Framework which is suitable for rolling booth demos.

Introduction to XNA Game Studio for Serious Games and simulations
Game Development is not just about first person shooters - complex simulations and other 'serious' games are written using the same technology as your favourite Xbox titles. With the release of XNA Game Studio 2.0 the world of the game developer is open to managed developers and its simpler than ever. Learn how to write basic 3d real time graphics that are faster and more realistic than WPF graphics and use techniques from game programmers to enhance your simulations. See how to run the simulations on Windows and Xbox 360 - which may be a cheaper platform for your application.

Moving to 3D with WPF - Concepts and Math
With the release of WPF 3d graphics are becoming more in demand than ever but moving from a 2d to a 3d mindset is a large leap for developers. Suddenly your high school math seems so far away. What are these transformations and why do you have to worry about different coordinate systems. Learn the basic concepts of 3d from the exciting world of video games.
Published 04 January 2008 09:10 AM by zman
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