Creating a video game for the Xbox 360 is just a "wouldn't it be cool if" dream for some college students. But three interns spent last...
Creating a video game for the Xbox 360 is just a “wouldn’t it be cool if” dream for some college students. But three interns spent last summer doing just that, and their game debuts Wednesday on the Xbox Live service.
The game, “Aegis Wing,” is the result of three months of intense work for Scott Brodie, Danny Dyer and Matt Monson. Working in one cramped office at Microsoft, they came up with the game’s concept, then designed and built it.
The interns said the experience was an unusual one at Microsoft. Many interns work on parts of projects at the company, but it’s rare for them to be completely in charge of one.
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Microsoft must have been pleased with their work, because Brodie and Monson have landed full-time jobs there, and Dyer is returning this summer for another internship.
“That’s sort of been my goal throughout college, to find a job in games,” said Dyer, 21. “That internship really helped and finally got me in the door.”
It all started when Monson sent an e-mail in 2005 to J Allard, who at the time was a top Xbox executive. Monson, then an intern in a Windows group, suggested to Allard that the company free up some interns to do a video-game project.
An unusual internship
College: Texas A&M University, graduated last week
Major: Computer science
Status: Starts full-time job at Microsoft this month
College: Michigan State University, graduated in December
Major: Computer science
Status: Started full-time job at Microsoft in January
College: Texas A&M University, graduates next December 7
Major: Computer science
Status: Interning at Microsoft this summer
Allard, who now heads design and development in Microsoft’s entertainment division, liked the idea. It continued to pick up steam even after Monson went back to school at Texas A&M University.
A year later, he returned to work on the project and was joined by Dyer, who also attended Texas A &M, and Brodie, a student at Michigan State University. All three were computer-science majors.
The interns began working on a game for Xbox Live Arcade, a service that sells downloadable games for the Xbox 360 console. The service specializes in so-called “casual” games that are easy to download and play, and can cost between $5 and $15.
The three students decided on a space-shooter game, where players working together could combine their ships to fight alien villains. The idea was inspired partly by television shows from childhood, such as “Voltron: Defender of the Universe,” Dyer said.
The interns worked closely with Carbonated Games, an internal studio that develops casual games for a number of Microsoft platforms.
Carbonated was created about three years ago when MSN’s games division wanted to update a few of its most popular classic online games, such as backgammon, checkers and hearts.
The studio began creating original games about two years ago, said Joshua Howard, Carbonated’s head of production. Now it has 35 employees in Redmond and full-time workers in China and India. It has about 34 games, including “Hexic” and “7 Hand Poker.”
The three interns worked on “Aegis Wing” as much as they could. When they left last fall, Carbonated finished the development.
Microsoft is making “Aegis Wing” available for free on Xbox Live Arcade, which Howard said will give the game and studio broad exposure.
“It does a good job of being that action shooter game, which is not something Carbonated has done much of in the past,” Howard said. “It really added a piece to our portfolio.”
“Aegis Wing” was also a stepping stone to a Microsoft career for the interns. Brodie, 23, graduated in December and began working at Carbonated in January.
Monson graduated last week. This week, he’s driving from Texas to Redmond to begin a full-time job at Turn 10 Studios, a Microsoft group that develops racing games such as “Forza Motorsport.”
Dyer, still in school, is an intern at Turn 10 this summer.
“The best thing, especially with this project, is that if you have a good idea, you can talk to people and they’ll listen to you,” said Monson about working at Microsoft.
“And if it’s a good idea it’ll get done.”
Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or email@example.com