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One of the things I have learned from Robert Scoble is that transparency between Microsoft and outside developers *is a good thing*. Is it time yet to extend that transparency now to the DirectX community?

Hello all, welcome back once again to the clueless Jason Olson show, and I am your host, Mr. Clueless himself, Jason Olson!!! (QUE: applause)

Thank you! Thank you! Anyways, enough fun.........

First off, this isn't a rant. I am presenting this because I think there is a potential resource that Microsoft could tap. They currently have the faucet on, but only allow a trickle of water through. If Microsoft only opened the spout all the way and let the water flow freely, I think the game development communities would be better for it, and we would have another awesome resource at our fingertips. The best part would be that the resource would be straight from the horse's mouth. One need only look at how successful the new developer centers are on Microsoft to realize the potential a developer center really has.

With that said, I think (obviously) that the Developer Centers on MSDN are an awesome resource. In fact, I think it has largely “spoiled” me as a developer. There are always good articles, numerous resources, and a closer perceived tie between the Microsoft employees and the users of their technologies, us developers. Being spoiled to that extent though, where are the resources for DirectX (let alone Managed DirectX)? If Microsoft were wanting Managed DirectX to be the “future trend“, why the apparent lack of resources for it. I will admit that the documentation for Managed DirectX has improved drastically with the release of the 2004 Summer Update. But in my opinion, it still doesn't come close to meeting the standard that Microsoft has set with it's documentation of the .NET Framework.

I understand there *is* a developer center. However, the outdatedness of its information makes me silently weep. For example, when looking at the technical articles in the navigation on the left, here are the dates of the *newest* articles that have been released for the core areas:

Direct3D: March 2001

DirectInput: October 2001

DirectMusic: November 2001

DirectPlay: May 2001

DirectX HLSL: July 2003 (this is expected since HLSL is a new development)

DirectX Audio: January 2000

DirectX (general): July 2003 (an article in MSDN magazine. The next article after that is June 2001, and then November 2000)

That seems pretty outdated to me. There is one technical column called “Driving DirectX” but the latest installment on that column was October 14, 2003. In picking through the navigation on the left, the most gaping I whole I can find is Managed DirectX. There is a technical article that you don't have to dig for dealing with Managed DirectX. Does this seem shocking to anybody else? Do I have to accept the fact that DirectX is considered noticeably lower on the food chain than FoxPro or J#?

Perhaps I'm the only one, and I know that DirectX API is a pretty “niche” market dealing with game developers. However, since Microsoft is starting to talk about XNA and a unifying game architecture, I only wish Microsoft already had a presence in the game development community. I've heard talk about how important the developer community is to Microsoft. Unfortunately, from my perspective, it is just talk. You can't just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk also. Microsoft is starting to do a wonderful job of providing to the developer communities on sites like Channel9 and the new developer centers on MSDN. If only the drive towards these communities could be applied to the DirectX developer community. Granted, we did get Managed DirectX which is *awesome* (in my opinion). But providing the API is only one step towards the community. Without the other actions that follow, you're only part-way across the bridge.

What I've noticed is that a lot of the game developers I know go to a couple of places when they are looking for something (at least here in the US): GameDev, FlipCode, and Gamasutra. Not a single Microsoft resource there. I would *love* to see developers go first to the Microsoft DirectX Developer Center. In my mind, there is endless potential for the developer center to grow. There are almost countless useful articles I could see being posted there. Why not take advantage of the resources that have already been produced (Microsoft Flight Simulator (or even educational resources like Terrarium)). Off the top of my head, you could have game development articles by bloggers like David Weller, Justin Rogers, Sebastian St. Laurent, or even Tom Miller.

I only bring this up because I see such amazing potential that could come out of the DirectX developer center. It could one of *the* resources to go to if you want to learn and use DirectX (or perhaps even learn advanced topics dealing with shaders, optimizations, and such). Why not combine the resources of the Patterns & Practices Group with the resources of game development and talk about architecture as it applies to game development? What are the architectural issues we face when developing engines? How 'bout realistic sounds within games? How to achieve total immersion via DirectX technologies?

P.S. - I understand how Microsoft doesn't have all the development resources in the world so you have to prioritize a bit. But are there enough resources to provide a community like this, like they provide for their other technologies? Please, please forward this to people you know. Do you see the potential here? Am I alone? Perhaps I am just new to game development and I don't see that this isn't really needed? On the other hand, perhaps it is my newness to game development that makes my opinion valid? I would *love* to hear from someone at Microsoft that actually knows something about this (rather than me who doesn't really know anything).


Posted on Monday, September 6, 2004 6:46 PM Game Development | Back to top

Comments on this post: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?

# re: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?
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It would be great if microsoft had better information flow to game devs. The thing I don't like about and to a lesser extent is that a great deal of the info is geared to people new to game programming. There are a few old hands there but you have to sift through a whole lot of "Which is better, DX or OGL" posts. It would be nice if microsoft provided better access and was more proactive in distributing info than the game algo and directx mailing lists.
Left by Richard Nienhuis on Sep 06, 2004 10:14 PM

# re: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?
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I agree totally Richard. (well of course I agree, since you read my post :P). You can find quite a bit of stuff on GameDev tutorial-wise but it seems to be dying down entirely. The most advantageous part of GameDev are the forums where you can ask any question and usually get it answered. I would love to see "advanced" articles via MSDN on DirectX since most advanced topics you have to find a book out on the internet (even though there is a complete lack of quality books dealing with Managed DirectX and advanced topics (although there a *couple*)).

Even when we aren't talking about "advanced" topics, the only tutorials really out there for game devs are "how to setup a Direct3D device" and such. There is nothing like "Implementing a BSP loader in C#" or "Building Your Own .pk4 Manager In .NET" that I can really find out there. Those kinds of things. Of course you can find a couple examples on Code Project, but the level of coding on that site isn't exactly "desireable". And I think the DirectX developer center would be the perfect fit for this kind of stuff. I would love to see MSDN lead the way by providing *the* site to go to if you want to use Managed DirectX. Perhaps I'm just shooting for the moon here :$.
Left by Jason Olson on Sep 06, 2004 11:00 PM

# re: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?
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Why not turn your articles into some MSDN articles for DirectX beginners? I found the last lot very helpful.
Left by Geoff Stockham on Sep 07, 2004 5:26 AM

# Re: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?
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Great post, and I don't think it's much of a rant. I'd love to see the same thing myself (as a non-Redmond person). The power that is in DirectX is amazing, and the community wants to take advantage of it, but there is not single source of information.

Specifically, around Managed DirectX. I know that this is not the prime time choice for hardcore game designers/developers, but in speaking with folks that work in some pretty big game shops, there's a lot of stuff they are already doing, and want to do, specifically using ManagedDX in some parts of their games and in their tools, as well as things like VC8, where great information would help them incredibly...

Anyways, I'm with you :)
Left by on Sep 07, 2004 2:10 PM

# re: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?
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Geoff -

I would love to... eventually. But I don't wish to do so now because I feel it would almost be like throwing the articles into a deep abyss, never to be heard by or touched by any mortal soul on the face of this Earth (okay, that is *great* exaggeration (and for the soul purpose of humor, so don't read into it too much :) )). If the DirectX developer center were to be used more and if Microsoft showed a visual effort to make it a useful developer center, then I would probably make the effort.
Left by Jason Olson on Sep 07, 2004 5:15 PM

# re: Developer Centers - Is DirectX Dead?
Requesting Gravatar...
Adam -

Thanks. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. I only wish I had more "blogger influence" in order for this to get heard. It is something that I am really passionate about and I really wish was available to us. Perhaps it is time for a nice little letter to Robert Scoble :)?
Left by Jason Olson on Sep 07, 2004 5:16 PM

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