Get to know your XNA MVPs Part 4: George Clingerman

In parts 2 and 3 of our Get to know your XNA MVPs feature, we welcomed and interviewed two of the most recent additions to the team, John Defenbaugh and Michael McLaughlin, and now we’re concluding the feature with one veteran. Recently I had the opportunity to interview veteran XNA MVP George Clingerman, perhaps better known as his Twitter handle, @ClingermanGW.

Clingerman has held the status of MVP since the tail end of 2007, and has remained an integral part of the community throughout that time. Reflecting on his commitment, he claimed “I had absolutely no idea what I had just gotten. I had never heard of the program before and had no idea what it meant.” In 2006 Microsoft announced XNA and detailed how they were becoming increasingly frustrated with large studios not taking risks with their games. In order to find someone who would, they turned the reigns over to the little guy – independent developers. Immediately Clingerman leaped at the opportunity and purchased the domain, where he offered, and still does, detailed tutorials, sprites, and other invaluable resources for the community.

Clingerman has a programming background, working at a company doing programming on accounting software. It wasn’t until he heard about Microsoft’s Gamefest in 2006, that he put his programming background to use for videogames. I’m sure you’ve found that most, if not all individuals in the gaming industry, share a passion for their work; Clingerman is no different. He said, “[I] always thought that game development was awesome and dreamed of doing it myself someday…however learning DirectX was extremely difficult and I really struggled to make anything I’d ever want to show anyone.” When asked about how he managed to find the resources of time and money to attend Gamefest, his response was surprising and ingenious, “Well, I wrote a proposal to my boss explaining how so many concepts in the game development world actually apply to accounting software packages and they agreed to send me and paid for everything.” And our mothers told us games would never get us anywhere…

As I mentioned earlier, Clingerman has remained an active and integral member of the XNA community since its inception. By performing simple tasks such as  continuing to answer questions on the XNA forums, which were at the time known as the XNA MDSN forums (that’s a mouthful), blogging, and developing tutorials, he has proven no duty is beneath him. On the professional front of the community, he has recently co-authored the book Professional Windows Phone 7 Game Development: Creating Games using XNA Game Studio 4.

A fan of open source software, Clingerman often uses such programs, including Audacity, GIMP, and InkScape, which he used to develop his latest title Kissy Poo, a vibrantly colored and beautiful children’s game that can be found on the Xbox Live Marketplace right now. These tools are useless without the knowledge to handle them, however, so he recommends that those who are looking to do the indie gig full time begin to learn a breadth of major programming languages, as well as having a deep understanding of the various platforms to release a title on. “At the very least you should be getting comfortable working with iOS and Android,” he informed me, as he preached about one of the most underutilized tools as well, continuing with “Right off the top of my head the one tool I see so many developers ignoring but in my opinion is absolutely one of the most critical is Source Control.” Knowledge of alternative engines such as Unity is next on Clingerman’s list of things to do as well, stating “I figure it’s important not only understand how the technologies work so I can compare them to my experience with .NET and XNA, but also how their whole process for release works and just what the marketplace experience is like.”

Like many in the independent gaming industry, programming isn’t Clingerman’s full-time gig, but before I was aware of that fact I asked him what he would be doing if he wasn’t working on XNA development full time. “I would be about the same place as I am now there, but in my personal life, I’d still be invested in some type of Microsoft technology. I was already heading that way with a variety of .NET technologies.” He cites other “inspiring geek heroes” such as Scott Hanselman, Rory Blyth, Jason Olsen, and XNA’s own Andy Dunn as his main reason for getting involved in the programming community. The continued success of their MSDN events and Code Camp talks allowed Clingerman to fully comprehend how vital it is to get involved, network, and communicate within a community. To say that he has been involved would be an understatement. Here’s to hoping he continues to contribute and that countless others follow his lead to promote a community of their own.

Well there you have it folks, the final part of our “Get To Know Your XNA MVPs” feature. If you enjoyed reading these articles and would like to see more of this in the future, let us know! Which other topics in gaming or the professional community would you like to see covered more in depth? It’s been a pleasure to get to know each of these community contributors on a more personal level and share their stories with other professionals and aspiring game developers alike.

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Features, Interviews

About Dave Voyles

Dave is located in Philadelphia, and works as a Tech Evangelist at Microsoft. He's coordinated the Indie Games Uprisings on Xbox Live, wrote the UnrealScript Game Programming Cookbook, Made an XBLIG game, and is currently doing JS / HTML5 dev for browser base games. You can follow him on Twitter, at @DaveVoyles