Lots of people who program computers also play games on them. I’m one of them. I think for us the pleasure of a game is multiplied by an understanding of the intricacy and elegance that is running under the skin. Most people who program computers and play games on them have at some point wanted to create a game of their own. I’m one of those people, too. I actually did write and publish a shareware game called MVP Backgammon back in the early 1990’s, along with my collaborators Marc Ringuette and Justin Boyan. Dave Snyder of MVP Software has recently released an updated version of this game. The original game was fairly popular, and one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever done, but it didn’t satisfy my desire to create virtual worlds.
A family and a career got in the way of that, but now that Microsoft has released their XNA toolkit for creating XBox games, I’m tempted to have another go. Unfortunately I don’t own an XBox, and I’m not really into console games. I’m certainly going to take a look at this toolkit, though, and maybe I will have to pick up a console for the second time. My last one was a Nintendo in 1989 or so. Microsoft’s is not the first attempt to enable independent creative types to create computer games. I recall messing around with Mark Welch and David Malmberg’s Adventure Game Toolkit back in the 1980’s, when I was an avid participant on Compuserve’s GAMERS and GAMEDEV forums. Since that time the work of art and audio production has become a huge component of game development, and I wonder how and whether the Microsoft toolkit will make that easier. I’ll post more when I’ve had a look at it.