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XBox (Games) Games

Devs Finally Finding Success With Xbox Indie Games 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the slowly-and-surly dept.
McBacon writes with this excerpt from Wired.co.uk: "Often dismissed as a failed venture, the Xbox Indie Games programme has earned successful man-and-his-dog developers tens of thousands of pounds from sales of their homebrew games. Wired explores the success stories of this hidden marketplace. ... now, more than a year since its launch, the Xbox Indie Games are seeing something of a revival. Microsoft has made huge strides to improve the service, games are beginning to be taken more seriously and success stories are becoming more and more common. Especially for [James] Silva, a New York-based developer, who became an impromptu Indie celebrity after his game The Dishwasher won Microsoft's Dream-Build-Play competition. He says he's 'absolutely thrilled' to have seen I Maed a Gam3 w1th Zomb1es!!!1 — his latest game — become a cult hit, for gamers to flock to it in record numbers and to have sold over 200,000 copies."
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Devs Finally Finding Success With Xbox Indie Games

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  • by rgraneru (1748928) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:56AM (#31519678)
    The X-box equivalent for PSN is Xbox Live Arcade. Does Sony have a Xbox Indie Games equivalent? Comparing PSN with with Xbox Indie Games is not really "fair". But I guess all is fair in oven war.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:59AM (#31519692)

    About 95% of the game look like tests (___'s Pong!), rehashed crap (Super Deluxe Vibrator!), poorly cloned crap (Geometry Wars - now with less geometry!), or weird Japanese crap (dating sims, tetris with anime wizard girls, etc.). It's really difficult to get through to the good stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:12AM (#31519754)
    Quite the opposite, PS3 charges an arm and 3 legs for devkits, MS provides them for almost no charge, if anything sony are still way way behind here.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Osty (16825) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:16AM (#31519774)

    And how long have PS3 Dev's been prospering off the excellent indie games on PSN?

    You can't compare PSN to XBLIG. Don't confuse Indie Games (XBLIG) with Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA). PSN is Sony's equivalent to XBLA, which dev kit investment, certification, timed deployments, etc. Those are for bigger studios that can invest in full development. Indie Games are free for anybody to write (costs $100/year to put it on Xbox, though), are peer-reviewed rather than certified by Microsoft, and are posted as they clear the peer review queue rather than being limited to one or two at a time.

    For comparison, The Dishwasher and I Made a Game With Zombies In It were both written by the same guy, but The Dishwasher is an XBLA game (grand prize for winning Dream-Build-Play several years ago) and Zombies is an Indie game.

    Sony and Nintendo have no comparable program to Microsoft's XLBIG, where hobby developers can write games with very little up-front costs and get them published on the console.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:53AM (#31519904)

    Disclaimer: James is an acquaintance of mine from a brief time spent at SUNY Albany, so I may be a bit prejudiced. Hopefully he sees this and can reply on his own; most likely he's far too busy with an actual life.

    His success is due to insane amounts of effort. I would say that anyone could do it, but in all honesty, most can't. His early games were models of non-programmer programming -- they did what they needed to, not elegantly, not provably, but damn, they worked. (I've seen some of the old sources)

    When I say "insane amounts of effort," I mean of Sisyphean magnitude. *Every single asset* in his (old?) games is under his copyright control: as in, he played all the music, he drew all the sprites, he wrote all the code. The only part that isn't his is internationalization, and there is good reason for that.

    This extends to his own bone system (and 3D modeling software thereupon) for a game that I don't even remember being released.

    Now, I'd wager he's a pretty mean coder as he's a CS professor at SUNY's flagship IT school. He still does insane amounts of work -- I don't think he sleeps, or eats -- but he's probably a lot more productive coding now.

    So yeah, James is the man, but I don't know how well his success will translate to other "indies."

    PS -- "I Maed a Gam3 w1th Zomb1es!!!1" is a classic, but if you really want to see awesome, go find a copy of his game "Survival Crisis Z" and play the arcade mode.

    And Jim, you're (still) the f'in man, keep it up.

  • by Xest (935314) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:34AM (#31520058)

    Where did you get the idea it's one person? Did you only really the summary but still manage to miss the fact it said "Devs" as in plural?

    A handful of people have made over £100,000 out of this in about a year, tons have made tens of thousands. Your assumption that it's a single person is simply wrong. People are making money on things they would struggle to otherwise be able to make money from, often because it means putting a lot of time, effort and money into support, distribution and marketing- all problems that XBL Indie games basically solves for you to a decent extent (although additional marketing never hurts).

    What stands out with XBox Indie Games is that it's probably one of the easiest ways to build a game and publish it. Nothing matches the combination of Visual Studio .NET, C#, and XNA in terms of ease and speed of game development whilst retaining the ability to build solid, professional grade games.

    You do need an XNA subscription to publish, but you only need a 4 month one to publish to the Xbox 360, and that's hardly going to break the bank at $49. You can still release on Windows for free. Once that's done, the whole process of submission for peer review, eventual publishing if in a fit state for release and payment is so well automated and simple. The subscription gives you the opportunity to play through other games people have released as part of the peer review process too.

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:37AM (#31520316)

    Well, have you seen Kongregate.com? Most games that get uploaded there also are crap. But that does not matter, since Kongregate is designed in a way, that you will usually only get in touch with good games. But you can go to the “new games” page if you want.
    They simply use a rating system. And the users are quite demanding in their ratings. From 3 stars on, it’s worth a try. And from 4 stars on, developers get to use the achievements API, so they can add achievements. Which makes the whole site some kind of role playing metagame. Plus, every 4 star game gets its time on the front page.

    You can also give tips to the developers. Apart from having a successful game on the site giving you massive points in the metagame.
    And on top of that, the site owners are no anonymous body, but if you write them, you get a real answer and a real communication. Something that I think is worth more than most other things.

    I wish this site would be seen as a role model for such communities. I play there, even though I always get the latest and greatest games for free... go figure...

  • Re:Marketing (Score:2, Informative)

    by mlk (18543) <michael.lloyd.le ... @ g m a i l .com> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:57AM (#31522976) Homepage Journal

    you first have to pay $100 a year subscription to be able to download games ...Especially not when most people already pay $60 a year for an XBox Live Gold subscription

    The $100 on top of Live Gold is to develop games on the 360.
    All you need to download an Indy game to a 360 is a 360, a free Xbox account and broadband connection.

  • by Mortlath (780961) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:58AM (#31522990)
    That's only partially, true, and the sound is issue is being resolved:

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.

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