Getting ready for Microsoft Gamefest

I arrived in Seattle today. The airports weren’t bad at all; they weren’t too bad Friday evening either, when I returned to San Francisco from Los Angeles. It is aggravating to have to leave fluids behind, as it makes carting around contact lens fluid in those lousy flip-top containers pretty much impossible. In San Francisco I saw a tour group of young chinese girls forced to leave behind many hundreds of dollars worth of perfumes and lotions. No doubt they were pretty frustrated, too.
I’m in Seattle a few days for the Microsoft Gamefest, and then meetings. This is my first time at a Microsoft event, and I’ll admit it, it feels WEIRD. I’ve seen the game industry from the Nintendo side, and from the Sony side, and of course several times as an impartial party. But overwhelmingly I’ve always had Microsoft as the “other”, so to attend one of their conferences just feels a little odd. They have a great slate of talks, and a huge number of middleware vendors – I’m sure it’ll be a great conference. I’m enjoying getting used to be impartial again, and worrying instead about just making great games.
If news on the Internet is accurate, one of the things Microsoft will talk about tomorrow is XNA Game Studio Express. I’m not completely clear what this is, but if it follows on from the excellent Visual Studio Express products (free compilers and debugging environments for Windows), I have no doubt it’ll be great. The description in the CNet news article describes it as a way for developers to create games for the Xbox Live Arcade service, among other things. I suspect it’s really just an “Express” version of the XNA suite, which I haven’t seen anyone use yet. But frankly I haven’t quite sorted out what the XNA suite is, so maybe I’ll figure that part out first. In any case, this is being pitched to the press as something akin to Sony’s Net Yaroze project, which enabled developers to create games for PlayStation using a mostly-complete development kit. If Xbox is first to the line this generation with a solution for hobbyist developers to program Xbox360, that’ll be another feather in their cap. It would be amazing to see a day where hobbyists can advertise their games in a channel on Xbox Live Marketplace, and receive points for sales to their friends. Can it happen? One can hope.
I’ve been sick for about a week and so this post is perhaps not the most coherent ever. 🙂 Lots to do, lots to think about lately. Which is really nice, I must admit!
If you’re here in Seattle for Gamefest, I hope to see you over the next few days!