The Windows 8 Games Studio team wants you to know how awesome it is to be a game designer. We recently met with them to get a preview of what it’ll be like for winners of the Ultimate Experience contest to go backstage with the team as they work.
Haven’t heard of the Windows 8 Game Studios team? You’re in for a treat: The group plays a big role in creating innovative games for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the Xbox service. You love game design, they love game design—perfect match.
Here’s Jeremy, Frank, Paul and Kevin. A minute with them and they spilled career advice for developers, tips for developing on new touch-based devices, and insight into what technology we should all be excited about. We left with a slightly more severe gaming addiction, and some great insight into the current and future state of game design.
Meet Kevin: The Designer
Kevin is one of those lucky people that knew exactly what he wanted to do for a career when he was 10 years old. “I saw Pac Man at an arcade and I knew that I wanted to make things like that.”
A few years and a degree in Computer Science later, Kevin pretty much nailed it. These days, he spends his time figuring out how to make games fun: “My goal is to make game mechanics really cool.”
Based on the rest of our chat, I learned that “really cool” generally means excellent on touch, targeted to a specific audience, and addicting. Need some examples of Kevin’s principles in action? Take a look at the recently released Adera an episodic adventure game uses a tablet’s accelerometer and immerses the player in a stunning visual environment.
Kevin wants you to know: Touch-based devices are simultaneously creating exciting opportunities and huge challenges for people who want to push technology to create the most interesting possible experience. That means taking advantage of an accelerometer and doing more than just making an experience enabled for touch—it needs to be superb. “Touch-based tablets are taking off right now, but soon everyone is going to have them,” Kevin says.
Dreaming up an experience you think is cool is the easy part. To take the next step, Kevin suggests really honing in on your target audience: “The first question I ask is ‘Who is this for?’” The more specific you can be the better chance you have of building a great experience.”
Meet Jeremy: The Developer
To get the vibe of the developer side of the house, we talked to Jeremy, who has worked on a lot of projects for Windows, Xbox, and Game Studio. “I thrive on ‘v1’ projects. It’s extremely challenging and equally satisfying.”
If you get the chance to meet Jeremy, make sure you pick his brain. He’s helped shape everything from the apps Marketplace to mobile apps and data visualization tools. His favorite project to date: getting software ready for the Surface.
Jeremy wants you to know: With Windows 8, there is no shortage of work making applications amazing for touch. “The touch interface and new form factors are letting us re-design everything. It’s a really cool time.”
Advice for developers? “If you’re just getting your feet wet, don’t get overly concerned with monetizing right away. Go through the process of building and publishing smaller apps first and go from there.”
Start Your App Adventure
Enter the Ultimate Experience contest and win a chance to spend the day hanging out at Microsoft Game Studios. Join a coding session with the people who build games for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the Xbox service. We’re not competitive or anything, but if you’re the winner, just remember: We met them first.