This week several members of Team XNA got to attend Casual Connect in Seattle. This conference gathers experts in the casual gaming field with the goal of sharing insights and experience. Our own superstar space brain, Michael Klucher held a session on “Developing Games for Windows Phone 7 with XNA Game Studio 4.0.” Recordings from this session and others will be provided through their website later on.
The sessions I attended had some fantastic advice for all developers, but a few of the tips I think are especially great for Xbox LIVE Indie Game Creators.
Interestingly, a session with the developers behind PlayStation Network and PC game Shatter had some great insights. Shatter benefited a great deal from cross-platform distribution and non-conventional avenues of promotion. Sidhe set out to keep their retro-inspired brick-breaking game small, under 25MB, but made the choice to make a larger game so they could include a pretty killer soundtrack. The soundtrack became so popular that they were able to release it as a stand-alone product which added a new conduit for income and new players.
Digital distribution on consoles hold great potential, but the Shatter developers also warned against underestimating console submission logistics and risk. Some Creators have felt frustrated with our Peer Review system, but it holds true that most any certification process can be difficult when you’re not prepared.
Like many of the developers echoed throughout the conference, prototyping early and getting it into playtest was key to their success. They took time to incorporate the feedback from usability testing and put the extra effort at the end to really polish the game.
When you’re designing your next Xbox LIVE Indie Game keep some of these lessons in mind. Remember, we provide a simple method to submit your game for playtest; but it requires all Creators to take an active role. Next time you’re waiting for someone to give you feedback on your hard work ask yourself when the last time you took a look at someone else’s game. Our system only works because you help it to work!
XNA Community Manager