- [As mentioned before, 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. We're doing the Dobbs Challenge game competition, and the First Month deadline is coming up - might be a good chance for GSW readers to do some neat code and/or art hacking and win out!]

GameSetWatch sister site Dr Dobb's Journal has announced that the $1,000 First Month Challenge, an initial prize for the best game produced by modding the Dr. Dobbs Challenge game within a month, is to close April 14th.

The First Month Challenge is the first prize category in the inaugural Dobbs Challenge (a special game competition brought to you in association with Dr. Dobb's Journal and Microsoft) and The Dobbs Challenge organizers have noted that “work-in-progress” games are completely eligible for the First Month Challenge prize.

All entrants are free to continue to developing their project for the final deadline (for all prizes) on June 13th -- 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.

To participate, interested parties can firstly download the specially created 'Dr. Dobb's Challenge' games for either Windows and Windows Mobile. Then they can win from a prize pool of $10,000 by modifying the games using a trial version of Visual Studio 2008, in association with competition sponsor Microsoft.

Full source code and art for the games are freely provided for programmers and artists to 'mod' the results and win prizes, and all you need to know to participate is available on the official website.

The Dobbs Challenge organizers have also unveiled their first “Editor’s Choice” mod (the submitted mods that have most impressed the judges so far) with Georg Rottensteiner’s expansion to Dr. Dobbs Challenge, which features a level editor, new art, sound and scrolling levels.

Georg explained his choice to include a level editor as “a needed add-on: while text based levels are nice for casual editing, in the long run an in-game editor is better; you see exactly what you're doing and what's it going to look like. And it lets me create new stages faster!”

He also included tips for people wanting to create graphics in the style of the original game (“I cheated a bit; painted new tiles in twice the resolution and simply scaled them down”) and creating sound effects:

“I've been using DrPetter's sfxr sound tool for additional sound effects. It's an awesome tool that lets you create random 8-bit style sound effects and play with the parameters. Highly recommended.”