The rest of this entry is going to focus on some of my own personal thoughts. We recently had a "GameDev.net Community Challenge" in our forum at https://www.gamedev.net/topic/601519-gamedevnet-community-challenge/ . The contest itself was started by Zer0wolf, one of our GDNet+ members, and took place over a weekend. The theme for this particular contest was "U Cant Touch This". What an awesome concept for a competition and I thought it was great to see such a huge amount of participation. I'd love to see these kind of things done more regularly and perhaps we can find a way to make sure the whole community is aware of the latest contest.
It's also pretty close to summer, which means we have a lot of college students with free time on their hands. We're looking to kick off our own contest starting in early June - and it should be one that gives everyone pretty free reign to just make something that looks awesome and is fun to play. The contest itself will probably be pretty low-key and won't involve a lot of huge sponsors, which should ease some of the pressure on people to feel like they have to be a professional in order to compete.
I'm also personally very interested in talking with those people who have developed art and music assets for their own game projects that are either abandoned or have lived beyond their shelf life. At GameDev.net we need a way to put a lot more reasonably priced game art in the hands of indie developers who don't have huge budgets.. and we especially want to make sure the beginners out there have a way to get started with developing games that doesn't involve illegally ripping assets from other commercial games. If anybody has some thoughts or likes this idea, let me know. I think it would be worthwhile to develop a nice library of work.. and it shouldn't require a huge time commitment from the developers to make their work available.
XNA has been at the top of my mind lately since I'm teaching my students how to develop games with Game Studio 4.0. One of the things I think we also need in a big way at GameDev.net is some dedicated "focused" areas of the site for particular hot topics like XNA. XNA is pretty awesome for the beginner and can still be pretty powerful for those who are experienced and want to quickly get into developing games for the XBox 360. In order for us to start making these smaller communities we're going to definitely need to overhaul the way we deal with articles - because right now our article system makes it incredibly tough to find articles that are archived. But we are working on getting to a point that in June we can begin to transition away from our 8 million nested category system from the old GameDev.net to an approach that uses far fewer categories and relies largely on tagging for content. Then on my end it's just a matter of getting the tools into your hands to make it easy to contribute to a section on XNA and pitch in and add your own links to interesting tutorials you find. Anything that we can do to centralize a set of resources is going to make it easier for people to use our site. It's rough when you have to search around the site to find things or what is even worse is if we have it and you don't realize it and leave.
So in short, May is our setup month. We have a lot of work we are doing internally to transition to our next big overhaul of the site so stay tuned.. things are going to get much better. =)