Microsoft Game Dev Blog
Meet Mandy Lowry, a game developer, coder, and co-founder
As a game developer, coder, and co-founder of Black Hive Media since 2009, Mandy has experience with countless tools, engines, and programming languages. She also has extensive experience with Visual Studio, GitHub, PlayFab, and more. As a talented, self-taught programmer that recently launched a new game, Mandy Lowry is a fantastic addition to the Game Dev community.
What got you into game development?
My biggest champion has been my husband! He's the one who suggested I learn a programming language, and he's been my cheer squad from the beginning. Before I got into game development, I was working in the finance industry climbing the ladder and working the daily 9-to-5 grind. It was the career I thought I wanted—but ended up hating more each day. My husband was working at a local game studio as the graphic artist at the time and he suggested that if I learned how to code that we could make games together! Since it was the early days of iOS, I dove into Obj-C and started reverse engineering code samples, reading books, and browsing through forums. We founded our indie game company that same year, in 2009. We've transitioned from making the simplest of mobile games to launching games for clients and most recently, our own self-published Xbox game.
What game development project are you proudest of?
Honestly, I think the answer is always going to be the most recent one, which right now is our Xbox game called AlphaLink. With every game I work on, I learn more and grow as both a software engineer and a game developer. We put so much heart, time, and effort into this game and I feel like what we accomplished with just the two of us (and me being the only programmer on the project) was quite the task!
How would you like to contribute to the community?
I love sharing my knowledge and game development journey with others in the form of how-to articles, talking at events/conferences, writing useful blog posts, and just chatting one-on-one with other developers to share and compare notes.
What are you doing right now game development-wise?
I am helping a local game company with an original Unreal game. I'm also working on updating our Unity game, AlphaLink, with new features, fixing bugs, and improving the all-around user experience with community feedback as we receive it.
What is one of your favorite MS Game Dev features or tools?
This is a tough question! I would not want to live without Visual Studio. However, PlayFab also made AlphaLink possible in the timeline that we made it. Then to top that off, having Xbox Services has made our Xbox game possible at all! But I'd have to say Visual Studio with the Unity Plug-Ins is my daily go-to. It's what I spend all day working in and my flow there has become so streamlined.
What are you most looking forward to in this program? What do you hope to do as an ambassador?
I would love to see more women involved in this side of the game industry. Seeing more women on the frontline can definitely inspire that, as it's hard to be what you cannot see! So, I look forward to fostering that and helping build an inclusive community around Microsoft Game Dev tools.
How has your voice impacted the community, and how do you envision your future impact?
I'd like to believe that through my articles, blogging on social media, and being involved in other developer communities over the years, I have shown that a self-taught programmer can make strides in this space. I'd like to stay on this path of growing in game development and sharing these useful experiences with folks in this community to pave the way for others like me.
What skills or resources made you a great fit for this program?
You know—nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills. All kidding aside, I love advocating for tools that have made my life easier. I also enjoy writing, so I tend to write about the tools I use on social media, different forums, and with articles on sites like Medium. I've also worked with other developer communities before and have seen those communities change and improve, so I feel like I can take that experience and apply it with the Game Dev Ambassadors program.
What is one of your favorite game development platforms/communities, and why?
While not a gaming-specific community, the Flutterista community was full of amazing women in programming who had supportive personalities and worked closely with the DevRel team at Google. In the gaming world, I enjoyed the Women in Gaming community that Microsoft was fostering up until coronavirus hit. Joining in that weekly stream to see what other women were playing, or hearing the inspiring guests talk about their journey in the game industry was comforting, in a way. Who do I have to politely pester to get that back?
What are you most excited about in the community's future?
I know it's very obvious, but I am excited to see this community grow and meet more developers that are working in the same toolset. I look forward to meeting those developers in the Game Dev Community as well as the devs working on the toolsets at future events and conferences when it is safe to do so.
Mandy's recent launch of AlphaLink is close to her heart, too. It took 18 months of grueling development, a time that included being laid off during a global pandemic and adopting her first child. However, leveraging these tools to create an Xbox-exclusive game made AlphaLink possible, even during challenging times.
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