Xbox

Xbox Welcomes Developers Making Their First Console Game

Today, we showcased a bunch of great developers during our second /twitchgaming Showcase featuring [email protected]. As a marketing manager for [email protected], I get a small glimpse into the hard work that goes into game development and no two experiences are alike. From single dev projects to multiple studio teams, the [email protected] program runs the gamut and it can be hard trying to figure out the right approach for bringing your game to console platforms.

That’s why our team at [email protected] is here to help and we decided to put together some tips and tricks from developers going through the same experience to share their collective knowledge. Without further ado, let’s stop hearing from the marketing guy and hear directly from developers about their games, their first console experience and advice they would give to creators working on their first console game.

Featured Developers


Anvil


Anvil Key Art
Wonho Son, Producer

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
Working on console for the first time was very difficult, but it was something that I have always wanted to do, so I am very happy to be working on this project. I love shooter games and roguelike games. I love to play with friends. I think it is a blessing that I get to develop something that I love.

What do you hope people get from your game?
I’d love for players to have a blast. I hope it will be a fun and pleasant experience, not a difficult and troublesome experience. I hope players will regret, swear(?), and laugh, all the while playing Anvil. Anvil is a shooter that is faithful to its original gameplay, and we’ve added roguelike and multiplayer co-op into the equation. We now have a game that anyone can enjoy in a stable environment.

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
I don’t think I’m in the position to give out any advises. If Anvil is a success, then I’d be more than happy to give out hundreds of advises.

Back to top


Button City


Shandiin Yazzie Woodward, Co-Founder and Art Director

Shandiin Yazzie Woodward, Co-Founder and Art Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
With our first console release, it feels like the studio is taking a major step forward. We’ve enjoyed the challenge of upping the polish in our game to meet the level of quality that’s expected from a console release. It’s also exciting to think that we’ll be on a platform next to large franchises that I grew up playing.

What do you hope people get from your game?
With Button City, we want players to have a cute and wholesome experience about friendship and community. We created a cast of lovable characters that we hope players can connect with to explore deeper concepts like family dynamics, gender norms, disability, and mental illness. The game also uses humor and colorful visuals to create an optimistic coming of age story where players can feel like a kid again.

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to get a game ready for a console release. The entire process is more than getting your game to use the controller and run on the system. You have to account for the time you spend communicating with the platform holders, reading documentation, creating content for your storefront, and tons of unexpected tasks that all add up.

Back to top


Inkulinati


Inkulianti
Dorota Halicka, Art Director

Dorota Halicka, Art Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
Amazing! We’ve been playing games for so looong, and to finally see one of our own appear on a console feels a bit surreal. We can’t wait to see what players world-wide will say about our game once it’s out in the real world. The prospect of that is both exciting and frightening all at the same time. It’s a good feeling though. One of a kind!

What do you hope people get from your game?
Well, apart from the usual things you want people to get, i.e. be it laughter, entertainment and good times, we also hope that people will see that the medieval times were not always that serious! Our game is inspired by 700-year-old drawings on medieval manuscripts. And those that drew them had one-heck of an imagination and sense of humor! Our ancestors were hilarious, and although times change, bum jokes are timeless. There’s something beautiful about that…

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
The best advice we can give is speak to the lovely people at Xbox and see if you can work on something together. Don’t release your hard-made trailer all by yourself. Speak to the Xbox people and see if they can post it for you on their sites too. Speak to them well in advance, and great things can happen. Doing things last minute always leads to unnecessary stress and heartbreak, and no one wants that!

Back to top


Lightyear Frontier


ID@Xbox Crop

Joakim Hedström, CEO of Frame Break

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
Very exciting and a little bit scary. Anyone can put their game online but releasing on console means you’ve passed through various quality checks and approvals. It’s a mark of quality and encouraging, at the same time it means we have high expectations to fulfil.

What do you hope people get from your game?
In one word: Satisfaction. Like any farming game, it’s satisfying to expand your farm and watch your work come to fruition. However, we also want the gameplay itself to feel satisfying. Too often in this genre, the gameplay is just a means to an end, very simplistic and noninteractive (e.g. “press A to water plant”). With Farmech, we want every part of the farming process to feel engaging and fulfilling. The first time you press the triggers to spray water in an arc over your crops, you’ll get what I mean.

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
It’s not hard to make a game technically work with a controller. However, getting it to feel good by making the best use of the button layout is a slow and iterative process. There are always setups that will make the game feel more intuitive and snappy, you just have to keep playtesting to find them.

Back to top


Loot River


Loot River
Miro Straka, Developer

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
It’s very nice and very scary. I have never worked on anything this ambitious before. Luckily I have great people working with me, Superhot Presents helping us, and a family that supports me.

What do you hope people get from your game?
Ideally, it would teach people a little bit of spatial thinking, through a painless playful process, and perhaps give them a hope that they can, in real life, shape and transform the world around them.

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
I am not sure it’s appropriate for me to give advice about this, as I haven’t shipped the game yet, but maybe one thing that feels very different to my previous experiences and took quite some getting used to: Don’t be afraid to ask the Xbox team for help. They are really great, and more than anything they want you to succeed in building the best version of your game and will help you in any way they can. Also you can switch your ID devkit to retail mode and play video games on it, which is really nice.

Back to top


Mad Streets


Mad Streets
ID@Xbox Crop

Dennis Opel, Creative Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
It was always my dream to make games my way, so its an incredible feeling knowing that I was able to accomplish this and also have people believe in myself as well as the concept. I wanted to do it about 10 years in the industry but it wasn’t my time. But the struggle has been far harder than I thought it would be. But since I’m older and wiser, I approached it carefully and over a long period of time instead of rushing things!

What do you hope people get from your game?
I hope they just pick up and play and experience what we have been putting together. I’m actually super critical with my work and what I show people. But I’m happy to say it also cracks a smile on my face and I still burst out in laugher when playing. That’s all I want everyone else to experience…. if they find it as funny that is 🙂

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had?
Plan well but be flexible. I was married to the concept and ideas at first, but over time I let it become what it wanted to become. True story. I tried so hard to mold the game into something that felt unattainable because of the new physics system we created. In the end, we didn’t fight the system we created, but instead accepted what it was and where its strengths were lying so the goal was help it shine more, even if it meant a change in the game’s own heart.

The other thing is get a small community, and pass them builds. There’s about a dozen people who really support us with some of the best feedback we get. And these are coming from a consumer’s point of view. And they know what’s the best to bring out of the project, alot of times even more than us developers. I hold this value super high now and am grateful I woke up to it instead of clinching the project too close to my chest!

Back to top


Planet of Lana


Adam Stjärnljus, Creative Director

Adam Stjärnljus, Creative Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
This is actually also our first game as a studio and the whole team is eager to show the world all the hard work and passion that’s gone into Planet of Lana. Having the game on console as well is huge for us since it means it will bring the experience we’re creating into more homes and naturally creates more awareness for the game which feels amazing. We just want as many as possible to experience the world we’re creating.

What do you hope people get from your game?
Usually, the first thing people say when they see Planet of Lana is something like: “Oh I love the art style”. And of course, so do we. But at the end of the day when the credits roll, we really just hope (and believe) that people will be left sitting, holding the controller with a sense that they just experienced something special beyond the superficial. That they’ve really been on this journey with Lana and Mui.

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
Hmm, maybe to not be intimidated as an indie developer and then go for a PC only release. If you think your game will make sense on a console you should go for it.

Back to top


Project Wingman


Project Wingman
Abi Rahmani, Lead Developer

Abi Rahmani, Lead Developer

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
Wow, just wow. We’ve never realized Project Wingman would ever reach this stage ever. To this day it still feels surreal that it has reached this far in development. We’ve had such great support from everyone involved in the project along with Kickstarter backers all the way to Microsoft and Humble with the additional support to push the game onto this stage. Thank you so much!

What do you hope people get from your game?
We hope that the amount of hard work we’ve put in to Project Wingman really shows. And I hope people gain an appreciation of the genre I’ve come to love and inspire further works.

Any advice for other creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously.
Honestly, if you think your game will ever make it on to this stage. Start thinking about it what needs to happen quite early. Not only that it will help your game in the long run, it will also make the process much more seamless and painless. While we weren’t sure back then to what extent Project Wingman will go to back upon the creation of the game, having the early thought of controller support and framework on how a console game typically operates certainly made the process easier.

Back to top


Pupperazzi


Isobel Shasha, Designer

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
It’s great! I’ve played games on consoles my whole life, and it’s really special to see our game heading there.

What do you hope people get from your game?
I hope that Pupperazzi offers players a peaceful and playful experience- it can be really healing to just spend time petting and playing fetch with the dogs in between creative photography!

Any advice? 
I’m just starting the process now, so, I’m looking forward to learning a lot from it. I heard it’s easier and easier these past couple of console generations, so, I’m glad more gamers can enjoy games like Pupperazzi and other smaller indie titles.

Back to top


Sable


Sable
Greg Kythreotis, Creative Director & Daniel Fineberg, Technical Director

Greg Kythreotis, Creative Director & Daniel Fineberg, Technical Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
It’s exciting, it definitely feels like something special, having grown up playing console games and not really understanding anything about how the process of getting a game on consoles worked. You’re always aware there is a lot of technical considerations to be made with stuff like optimization, as well as making sure we get through certification in a timely manner plus design considerations like achievements, but I don’t really have a set up where I can play PC games on my TV so being able to see the game on a big screen is always satisfying. It’s also exciting because it’s an easier platform to tell friends and family to try the game on who maybe only play games on consoles at home.

What do you hope people get from your game?
We hope that people get a feeling of wanderlust and that the game really encourages their sense of curiosity and urge to explore the world we have built. That they want to see more of it, and that the experience of the game – the art, the music and the characters and places they discover – will stay with them.

Any advice for other Creators who are working on their first console games?
Things you wish you had known previously? Obviously don’t do something as foolish as make an open world game! Besides that very, very obvious trap, that nobody with sense could possibly fall into it’s definitely worth making sure you’re up to speed or have someone else on the team who has experience with getting a game through certification and all that requires. If we didn’t have people helping us with that, I can’t begin to imagine how daunting some of the submission process and pitfalls would be. Making sure you give yourself buffers for things like a failed cert application, making sure you’ve been able to design in achievements and you’re hitting every requirement needed is a process that can be easy to miss details on without an experienced eye.

Back to top


She Dreams Elsewhere


She Dreams Elseware
Davionne Gooden, Creative Director

Davionne Gooden, Creative Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
It’s a bit surreal, to be honest! I grew up playing the original Xbox; it was one of the first gaming systems I had, but I never thought that a game of my own would end up on the same platform only a few years later, let alone that game being my very first. Even when I first started developing She Dreams Elsewhere five years ago, it always seemed like a far off pipe dream (no pun intended), something that wouldn’t happen until a few games later if I was lucky… and yet, here we are. It’s funny how life works out that way, no? I’m sure ten-year-old me would be losing his mind if he could see where I am now… In any case, I’m extremely excited to bring the game to consoles, and I can’t wait for players to finally get their hands on it!

What do you hope people get from your game?
That it’s okay to not be okay. We’re all dealing with our own personal battles, and you never know what someone else could be going through, even more so after this past year. Hopefully with this game, players can realize that they’re not alone in whatever they’re feeling, and that it’s okay to reach out, be vulnerable, and be that much more empathetic to others.

Any advice for other Creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
Please, I’m begging you… don’t go at it alone. Game development can be hard, tiring, and pretty intimidating, especially for a first release. Don’t be afraid to reach out to veteran devs and external partners who have gone through the process before, as they can be both hugely helpful and great moral support. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to platform holders themselves! They might seem like big, scary corporations, but in reality, they’re all people too and they want you to make the best game you possibly can! Never be afraid to reach out like that. As my Nana would always say, “closed mouths don’t get fed.”

Back to top


Solace State


Solace State
Tanya Kan, Executive Producer and Director

Tanya Kan, Executive Producer and Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
Very exciting! We celebrate that Xbox emphasizes accessible gaming for all and has many diversity initiatives and events for developers. This is a very supportive ecosystem for us to bring games to audiences who we believe will deeply resonate with our games. We are very excited to be among such incredible titles that Xbox has curated on its platform, over generations of games.

What do you hope people get from your game?
Solace State is a game about hope despite a society undergoing an aggressive biotech revolution that seems to have forgotten the rights of many of its people. We hope that we can start conversations about partaking of diverse communities and finding your positive social impact. We hope that the dramatic storytelling in our game about finding connections and love while advocating for a more equitable world resonates with people’s hearts. We hope that it sparks curiosity and creativity, with our really unique visual art style!

Any advice for other Creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
There are many great marketing opportunities, and it’s sometimes difficult for a solo game studio owner who also works on the dev and studio management side to balance all these aspects of game making!  It’s crucial for us to understand how our team’s strengths can work cohesively together early on, to measure our pipelines, while being adaptive to schedule and budget changes. We practice being mindful everyday of everyone’s dependencies in their parts on the project. Solace State’s Project Manager Jayme Last is key to managing and encouraging this process. Additionally, talking to our console porting partner early to get the systems in place and make the port easier can help mitigate unexpected snags. 

Back to top


Soup Pot


Soup Pot Key Art
LeeYing Foo, User Interface and Experience Director

LeeYing Foo, User Interface and Experience Director

How does it feel to be making your first console game?
It is both daunting and super exciting! There are lots of uncharted territories and different design elements that we needed to take in consideration especially in user experience and interface as this is our first time designing for consoles. Accessibility is also something we’re focusing on. It is definitely an added challenge to our work on top of working on consoles for the first time, but it is important to us to be inclusive from the food we choose to showcase to the people who are able to play our game. And it’s wonderful that Xbox is prioritizing accessibility! Suffices to say there’s a lot of excitement for us to be learning new things but also no pressure ha-ha.

What do you hope people get from your game?
We hope people discover our cultures through food especially from our region here in Southeast Asia. The phrase “have you eaten? / kumakain ka na ba?/ dah makan ke?” is such a common saying in Asian culture. We just want to spread the love for food of different origin to the people who play the game. The game also encourages people to support their local farmer’s markets and organic ingredients, so we hope that’s one of the takeaways from playing our game too.

Any advice for other Creators who are working on their first console games? Things you wish you had known previously?
To know and to scope your game well, of course you can’t foresee everything but make sure to have buffer time for the approval process before your release dates. And also, to have fun. We’re in the business of making games to bring joy to people, making games is not easy but it is a rewarding one.  

Back to top


Thank you to everyone who contributed to this article. For all the first-time developers out there I hope this helps you on your journey and for those looking to bring their first game to Xbox please apply to our [email protected] Program. There’s a wonderful team ready to work with you!



Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button