Developers Corner
Behind the Scenes with PlayXpert's Dev Team

Suzie Ford | 8 Dec 2008 11:32
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PlayXpert's in-game overlay system is arguably one of the more innovative programs currently on the market for MMO fans. With the high interest among players to stay on the cutting edge of technology, PlayXpert CEO Charles Manning will be offering a series of developer journals. Check out the first installment below:


Thanks for the opportunity to share more about PlayXpert from a developer perspective. As you mentioned, we believe we are building what is fundamentally a game-changing technology in the industry. When we first started the company, we set out to build a next-generation in-game overlay platform. In doing this, we came upon a few driving mantras: 1) "Think In-Game Operating System"; 2) "It's a Service, not a Product"; and 3) "We are Swiss Glue." At face value, these phrases may not make a lot of sense, but as you unpack their meanings, our purpose and vision start to become more understandable - especially in the context of widget development.

"Think In-Game Operating System." We built PlayXpert to be a universal in-game overlay platform. We did this so that anyone could build cool, useful tools and deliver them in-game to players. The challenge of bringing innovation to gamers is that at the end of the day, you have to deliver it in-game in order to really hit a home run. So, our vision has been to be the standard in-game operating system for any tools (those we build and those that others may build) that players want. To truly be a platform, you have to think about things differently. You can't build things as a one-off; you have to consider the technology as a base framework (not a singular tool), and you have to make it easy for developers to innovate on your platform. Finally, you must have a solid piece of technology. For example, we have a full-blown windowing manager for our overlay system; we have a compositor engine that seamlessly interlaces our UI's into the DX command stream to minimize the work on the GPU for painting into game scenes; we have specific invalidation logic that allows us to handle things like z-order so that players can never obstruct their views by layering multiple widgets on each other. The road to success for us has been marked with multiple opportunities to take an "easy route" or a harder, but more platform-centric one. To think "In-game Operating System," we had to constantly think about what it meant to provide stable consistent behavior for our players like a standard OS and make it easy for developers to leverage our tech without having to know about its complexity.


"It's a Service, not a Product." When you write software, you can easily be confused into believing that you're building a product. This is a common challenge for game developers as well. Because of the significant online dimension to game play, and the standard assertion that all things are inter-connected via broadband, our demographic of players demands PlayXpert to act more like a service and less like simple software. As a result, we built our widget framework so that each widget could inter-connect, in a federated way, to various different online resources (not just our walled garden of servers) while centralizing its UI into a common overlay environment that is player-centric. This delivers a mash-up for the player but relies technically on the distributed, online nature of software as a service.

"We are Swiss Glue." This is the oddest named mantra - but one of the most important. To be Swiss Glue, PlayXpert is both "enemy to no one: (Switzerland), as well as the glue that interconnects various un-connected tools. A common misconception of the industry is that in order to deliver value to a player, a company or entity needs to own the entire value-chain (do everything). We want to do one thing - and one thing really well. That environment enables other companies and technologies to flourish in serving common users. We don't build voice tools, we have widgets for that. We don't build music players, we have widgets for that. If we focus on being the Swiss Glue, we'll be providing a healthy Petri dish for widget developers to innovate and thrive in our ecosystem and we don't compete in areas that we have no business in serving.

We look forward to the next few months as we will highlight the various attributes of our widget architecture and showcase specific widget developers and their creations to serve the gaming community. Instead of simply showcasing the value of these widgets to players, we also want to tease out the technologies used and approaches that the partners took to illustrate how PlayXpert's driving mantras weave their way into the fabric of community built widgets.

For more information, visit

WarCry will be featuring a developer journal from the PlayXpert team every month.

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