- [So, as part of my work with Gamasutra and Game Developer, I also manage Dr. Dobb's Journal, the seminal programming website/magazine - founded in 1975! - which provides awesome hardcore coding info. We've just launched two big websites based around Dobbs - Dobbs Code Talk, which is a blog/forum destination for coders, but more pertinently to GSW, the Dobbs Challenge game competition. Here's what it's all about.]

Think Services is pleased to announce the launch of the first ever Dobbs Challenge, a special game competition brought to you in association with the world-renowned Dr. Dobb's Journal for software developers, and Microsoft.

To participate, firstly download the specially created 'Dr. Dobb's Challenge' games for either Windows and Windows Mobile. Then you can win from a prize pool of $10,000 by modifying the games using a trial version of Visual Studio 2008.

The games star the first-ever personification of Dr. Dobbs, alongside the characters from Microsoft's 'Defy All Challenges' machinima videos, as you battle to collect Visual Studio icons and complete the levels. Full source code and art for the games are freely provided for programmers and artists to 'mod' the results and win prizes. Here's all you need to know to participate.

Some notes for indie developers interested in participating. Firstly, the Windows version of the game (which is fun to play even if you don't know how to mod it, actually) was created by the folks at Grubby Games, the makers of IGF finalist Professor Fizzwizzle. The whole thing is really well commented in code, and there are also tutorials on the site.

- The Grubby folks designed the fun SD-style cartoonization of Dr. Dobbs and Microsoft's 'Defy All Challenges' machinima characters - who are featured in this video, in case you wondered who they are. The game itself lets you pick from the main characters and has somewhat of a 'time attack' feeling to it - you can also use the mouse to grab icons from far away.

In addition, there's a different Windows Mobile version of the game designed by the folks from indie PocketPC developer B3Team, and there's actually a conventional Windows executable version of that game in the Windows Mobile download package, if you want to check it out. It has slightly different, more 'oldschool' gameplay and specially designed pixel art of the main characters from Adam Saltsman.

As for deadlines and other info, there's a $1,000 'First Month Challenge' that closes on April 14th, and the other $9,000 of prizes have a June 13th deadline - including Best Windows Game ($4,000), Best Windows Mobile Game ($2,000), Best One Button Game ($1,000), Best Game Starring Dr Dobbs And The Defy All Challenges Crew ($1,000, and Best Total Conversion ($1,000) - for making something that's completely different in genre/style from the original Dr. Dobbs Challenge, but still keeps 'collect Visual Studio icons' as the mechanic and starts from the same codebase.

Finally, I know independent game developers care about what they can do with games after they've made them. So we are intending to allow games that use the source code to be released elsewhere by the creator - if they desire - after the competition is finished. This will probably be by licensing the underlying code itself under a BSD license at that point, though you would obviously need to remove any Microsoft/Dobbs character assets if wanting to release it elsewhere - watch this space.