Today Microsoft launched their XNA game development technology. This lets anyone write C# games programs on their PC and then download them into an XBOX 360 console. To celebrate this Microsoft hosted an academic launch event at Warwick University. Rob Miles from the department took a bus full of students down to the launch, at which he also presented a session.
Rob's session was all about the use of XNA to make it more fun to learn how to program. He is well experienced in this, having set game development projects for the introductory programming course for the last four years. In his session he told the delegates how students on his course will be using XNA in January next year to further develop a "snake" game that they have been developing this semester. This is the first time in the world that XNA has been used in a first year programming course. You can find the presentation slides, and the sample programs Rob showed off, here.
After Rob's talk there was a presentation by Peter Molyneux, a legendary game designer responsible for ground breaking game titles such as Populus and Dungeon Keeper. His session was excellent. The most important thing that came out of his talk was the emphasis that he places on communication skills. You should be good at your part of the game production process. You should be brave enough to take your ideas and champion them passionately. But you also need people skills. If you can't persuade, argue, admit when you are wrong and keep as many people happy as possible during the rollercoaster ride that is game development then you are going to have a hard time. That was very good to hear. At Hull we push those aspects of professional development very hard indeed, and it was good to hear one of the best game creators in the business say the same things.
The whole event even made the BBC News.
Then it was time for the trip home.