I'm a professional game developer from Wakefield, England, working for TickTock Games.
I'm married with four children and I am also the director and lead programmer of Retroburn Game Studios.
Martin 'Bytrix' Caine
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Sunday, April 10th 2011 / XNA

My first XNA UK UserGroup meeting

Last Wednesday I finally managed to get down to Coventry to attend my first ever XNA UK UserGroup meeting and had a great time.

The meetings are held in Kenilworth, just a few miles south of Coventry and take place on the first Wednesday of each month (the next meeting is Wednesday May the 4th).

Since I'm stuck up here in Yorkshire and don't (yet) drive I caught the train down to Coventry and booked myself into a little B&B for the night (trains back from Coventry are useless, latest one I can catch to get home is before 9PM). The info on the XNA UK site about finding the place is pretty accurate but since I caught a bus from Coventry to Kenilworth I was a little lost and turned out the place (Kenilworth Community Centre) was just behind some shops I was standing next to.

As the new web developer for the XNA UK UH I'm going to try and make it as clear as possible for potential attendees to find the place and make it obvious when and where the meetings are. It'd be great to build a larger community of UK based XNA developers and get to meet up more often with eachother.

Charles Humphrey kicked off giving a little talk about a new generic HUD container he's been working on. It's an interesting idea and allows you to create HUD containers in to which you stuff all of your controls. Each control has associated callbacks and listens for events that change it's own value. The class looks pretty nice but in my own projects I usually end up making specific UI designs and controls depending on the game so don't use standard buttons, sliders and checkboxes that often.

Then, Pizza arrived! Yes, Ed (Edward Powell, the man behind the XNA UK UserGroup) orders Pizza in for the half-time break (the actual talks usually take place between 7PM and 9PM). It was good to chat to some of the guys that attended about my projects and the things they're working on (while eating Pizza).

Ed asked me to talk to everyone and let them know a little about me and what I'm doing with XNA. I told them about Retroburn, building a team of talented people and managing development of a whole load of games over the past two and a half years. My little 'talk' went pretty quickly and I'm looking forward to perhaps giving more technical talks in the future.

Next, Ed gave a talk on particle effects. Showing us a demo of his with a range of effects including realistic looking smoke, space-ship thrusters, space dust and lasers! I think Ed was surprised that most of the people there had already written a particle emitter at some point but it was still good to see how Ed had written his and there were some interesting aspects such as recycling particles at the end of their lifespan automatically.

With the talks over it was time for the pub, we packed up and headed to the nearby bar (just across the carpark). At the bar I had a pretty lengthy chat with Simon P Stevens about my own background and projects and the work he's doing. He's been very active within the XNA UK UserGroup and is in the process of starting up his own business as a Software Consultant (good luck with that again Simon ;-)).

Pub time was good and we all had a good chat. It's interesting to see people from a wide range of backgrounds getting involved in the UserGroup and using XNA for their personal projects. It was good to meet everyone that attended (most of which I believe are regulars (sorry for not mentioning you all by name)) and I look forward to attending more in the future.

Again, the next meeting will be held on Wednesday May the 4th (More details and detailed instructions on how to find Kenilworth Community Centre will be going on the XNA UK UserGroup site soon). There's talk of a Curry next time, perhaps just having an hours worth of talks then off for something to eat. Sounds good to me!

If you'd like to attend please check out the XNA UK UserGroup site.

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