Important: Xen future (or how I no longer have free time)

Feb 2, 2011 at 12:53 AM
Edited Feb 2, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Hi guys.

Please don't panic.
This is a difficult post to write, but it's absolutely clear I need to do something for the future of this project.

Story short:
I can no longer devote the time needed to maintain this project.

The long version, with some back story:
To be more exact, I often want to work on xen, but simply as a hobby. But the scope of the project is so large now that supporting it all is overwhelming, to the point where after a long day at work I simply ignore it.

Before I started Xen, I was working for a small casual game developer in New Zealand. The job was very creative, but had fairly low technical depth. XNA was brand new, and if I'm honest, rather crap in places.
I messed around with a number of ideas. It was all a bit of a mess, but it had promise. Jump ahead 9 months and these little experiments were merging.. Forming what would become Xen.
It was a nice sideline to my day job. A technical outlet to match my creative outlet.

Fast foward to today; as some of you are aware I now work full time for Sony. Currently I am a graphics programmer on an unannounced first party Playstation game. Needless to say, the work is much better, significantly harder and an order of magnitude more technical. At the end of the day I'm mentally spent. The absolute last thing I want to do is write more software.

Also, some may be aware I was on holiday all of december. This was fantastic. And I did do some work on Xen. However, the problem is I lost almost all of that work. My only backup was made before leaving. I had been working on a nice surprise for the full Xen 2.0 release; that being a full deferred renderer. Sadly, that work is almost entirely gone now, all that remains is a very early prototype (With the codename Xen.Lx).

This code loss depressed me pretty badly. However it also allowed me to reflect on what I was doing: I was coding while on holiday. And when I really thought about it, it became obvious I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was no longer doing it for fun, or for interest (I've written more than enough deferred renderers before). No, I was doing this to compete. XNA 4 is a hell of a lot better now, and the only reason I was creating such a massive new project was as a bullet point. A one-up, so to speak.
And I can't do that anymore.

I can't drive myself to work on this project like that. It's not healthy, it's not productive. And ultimately, it's not good for the project.

So what does this mean?

Well, in short, it means I want to distance myself from this project - at least at an obligation level. I don't want the subtle, but constant pressure of support (that I cannot possibly provide) and I can no longer find the energy to advance the project in any meaningful way. It's a bad situation, and (if I'm honest) one I've been in for at least 6 months now. I cannot force myself to be active here, and believe me I've tried.

Needless to say, I don't want to shut the project down. It's very valuable - I actually use it for prototyping at work!
I am open to suggestions. In fact, I want you guys to tell me what to do. I am quite happy to put someone else fully in charge, but be aware the demands and challenges such a job requires. Or I can simply lock it down.


I think I'll leave it at that. I've said my bit,
When starting xen I never ever anticipated this project would still be around 3 years later. Let alone with 13,000 downloads and 180,000 page views.
I absolutely thank everyone who has contacted me (and I greatly appologize if I didn't reply), everyone who has posted here and everyone who has found the project useful.

Thank you

Feb 2, 2011 at 2:22 AM
Edited Feb 2, 2011 at 2:24 AM

Totally understandable.

Ditto on the value of Xen-- speaking on behalf of all of us who have benefited from your freely shared knowledge and experience, I say thank you so much! You are a delight to converse with and kind to a fault.


No one can really answer for you, but I think that stepping away from the project is a good idea. Vacations are there for a reason. :)


All the best!



Feb 2, 2011 at 2:28 AM
Edited Feb 2, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Seems like you're on the right track in life and you got your heart in the right place and that's good to hear mate! 

Been alot of fun and a bless to work with XEN, we're up for release in a few days(hours?). This project would've been

scrapped and not earned us the success and experience we've managed to get so far without XEN so on behalf of the

Square Eyed Vision team we thank you for what you've given with the deepest respect in whatever you choose to do!

Oh and by the by you said you liked to see projects so...


I introduce you too, Abzolium. Developed by a team of 10 students at The University of Gotland  as a part of a 10 week project course with music from 2 students at the

local composer-school and we're now finishing it up for the xbox indie market. The trailer is courtesy of a CGA student working with our animations and this 

trailer. Without further ado, the trailer!


PS. Forgot to mention my admiration of your earlier support and dedication for this project and how people could get

proper guidance and help in a fast manner. It's not really a one-man job but you pulled it off with a internet-smile(IRL grin? ^^)

Glad you got new perspective on things tough, think this way is better for ya :)

Feb 14, 2011 at 3:25 AM

Are the key words:  " least at an obligation level..." by any change?  (hope, hope)

Feb 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Well. Funny you say that.

I've decided that I don't want to leave things hanging with a slightly buggy beat. Afterall it's still useful code.
I want to release a final, stable version of 2.0. I've been fixing up the bugs I know of / have found (including the bastard particle system bug).

I've pretty much got the code sorted out, but it's a slow process. Even with that done, I've still got to run it through all the various tests needed, proof-read the tuts, update the docs (building the chms takes *ages*), strip out all the unrelated stuff to make the final zip release (usually takes 4 or 5 goes each time), test that again, upload it, update the SVN repo (if I can, it hasn't worked for a while), then update the site.

It's a really slow process so you can understand it takes a while. :-)



So yeah. After all that I'll update the site to reflect that the project is no longer being actively developed. I think that'll be the best option. I'd hope to have that all sorted by this time next week, but we'll see.

Feb 15, 2011 at 9:36 PM

I'm excited to hear that.  I was really bummed thinking 2.0 was going to be left in the state it was in.  Sorry you don't have to to work on this project anymore, but such as life.  I am really glad you started this project and shared it with everyone, I've learned so much from it.


Thanks again,


Feb 15, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Edited Feb 15, 2011 at 11:37 PM

Cheers :-)

It won't be radically different from the beta - just a number of bug fixes, very minor features and a proper menu for selecting tutorials on the xbox (instead of having to change the code each time).

The two big bugs are the xbox particle system bug (which was due to a floating point rounding error for particles on the top half of the particle texture.. arg), and also one dealing with bizarre method access exceptions in the shader system. Turns out there is a bug in the CF, where if two methods have the same name, one is protected and one is an implicit interface implementation - well, it can very randomly crash. Great :-) The work around was renaming the internal protected methods. Simple, but not terribly obvious.

Otherwise I'm actually very happy with xen, and happy to call it 'done'.

Feb 20, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Well. It took longer than I wanted, but I'm pretty much done on the code for 2.0.

I'll package it up over the next few days.

Feb 23, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Edited Feb 23, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Download is up. I've run it through my usual battery of tests, so it should be good to go.
Please let me know if something goes wrong


I'll sort out the documentation and website later

Feb 23, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Great News, Thanks for all your effort!

Feb 24, 2011 at 2:54 AM

Awesome!! Thanks for all your hard work. 

Feb 26, 2011 at 2:47 PM

 Just heard today that 2.0 was out, couldn't believe it.. Awesome news!

A very BIG thank you!
 Not just for this release, but for all the work you've put into Xen and to the community.

Just hope someday I can return all the help you've given.

Nelson Filipe 


Feb 26, 2011 at 10:47 PM

XenGuy (that's the name we call you around here) you are the best.

Once again you saved the day by pulling this one out (Xen 2.0).

Thanks for everything,


Feb 26, 2011 at 11:04 PM

Thanks guys :-)

Ohh and check this out:

Feb 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Your framework is unbelievable! It's the most complete XNA product in my opinion. Thank you So much for putting in the time and effort on this.

Can you add one feature to this framework (texture scrolling on mesh) and provide a easy to use solution. For example to do flowing lava and water or attack effects. Currently I don't think any tutorial or project has something like this for XNA.

I'm a slave driver arent I   :P

Again - Thank you so much for what you have done already. If you don't want to do this feature no biggie - just taught I'd ask because I haven't seen much documentation on this on for XNA 4.0 yet.

Feb 27, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Thanks, but no, I won't be doing that.

It'd actually be a very simple shader - just add a value to the texture coordinate in the vertex shader. Set the value to something like Vector2(Time, 0) - and you'd be scrolling the UVs based on time.

Feb 28, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Alright - just taught I'd ask. Thank you again for the framework - it's a huge help to the community!