Microsoft Windows 8 Launch Games
I helped to oversee some other Windows 8 launch games: Microsoft Minesweeper, Microsoft Mahjong, and Taptiles.
My role as Manager of Game Programming on these three titles was more of an advisory and leadership role, rather than my role as Lead Programmer on Microsoft Solitaire Collection. The initial architecture of these three games mimicked that of Solitaire, as we started them after Solitaire was already under heavy development (and after we already knew we were shipping on Windows 8). One of the best things we did during early-to-mid development of these games was to consolidate shared feature development to a core team. Some parts, like the DirectX game engine itself, had always been implemented by a core team, but now we were able to consolidate higher-level components like Xaml menus, Xbox LIVE networking, live tiles, sharing, and other cool Windows 8 features into a library of shared components that all games could use.
Partway through these projects we decided to begin regular cross-project code reviews. Core team members would review individual game team code to verify proper use of core features, and the game teams and I would review each others' code, partly to make suggestions and partly just to be exposed to more game code and learn. We used Team Foundation Server's built-in facility for code reviews, which turned out to be an enormously powerful tool for this purpose, especially with its integration into the development environment.
As part of overseeing the game teams, I had weekly (or more) one-on-one meetings with lead developers, to discuss plans, blockers, questions, and issues. This was crucial because development was split between two geographically separate offices (with a seven hour time difference); clear communication was important, and my video-conference calls with remote developers turned out to be very productive, especially when we would go over parts of code line-by-line on a shared screen.
Being involved in these projects from a higher level was a very different experience than the hands-on work I did on Solitaire, and was rewarding in different ways. When you work with several teams and everyone finally "gets it" all at once, it's a really good feeling, and nothing beats seeing team members learn and grow, watching their projects succeed, and knowing that you had a hand in it.
Microsoft Minesweeper, Microsoft Mahjong, and Taptiles were developed by Arkadium. They were published on the Windows 8 Store by Microsoft Game Studios.