Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some thoughts on Xbox Live Indie Games Channel

Jump! is a fun game I found on XBLA's indie games channel. This is a great little game that brings back fond memories of classic old platformers and reminded me of an old love, Manic Miner. Totally worth the 240 pts.

Did some digging and found its by a small french indie developer called Arkedo. Impressively, the game was developed in only a month. The 3 man team are promising to deliver a new game a month, in fact the next one is already out on XBLA called Swap!.

I'm surprised not to see Jump! on PC and they don't seem to be doing much to push it (its not even mentioned on their website). It's a shame as I get the sense that the Indie channel remains a bit of a dead zone for gamers content.

I would love to see the Indie channel on XBLA really take off and things seem to be trending in the right direction. User rating for games on XBLA is a good step to helping the quality games get noticed. Yet its still hard to see these games getting more traction without a more comprehensive user review and viral marketing system.

I'd love to be able to post real reviews of games and have them viewable from the Xbox dashboard. One way you could do this is in partnership with Amazon. Amazon sells product codes for XBLA games now and people have gone on there and posted user reviews. MS could propogate the dashboard with these reviews and this would drive consumers to be more active in discussing/sharing the games they like and dislike.

I think the XBLA platform is also crying out to bring over some of the aspects that have made social games on Facebook successful. Can you post messages from your XBLA game to facebook? You should be able to. Start to get your friends to notice your latest high score in Trials HD. I would prefer this to the constant barrage of farmville posts I currently get.

Perhaps now that Facebook has come to XBLA, we will start to see more crossover between these devices. Anything that can help give more tools to the independant developer. XBLA is a great platform still in its infancy I'd like to see it be a viable way to provide a financial way of life for developers like Arkedo to keep doing what they are doing!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Art of the Pitch - advice for indies

Digital Distribution Summit - Sandra Sdraulig Opening & David Edery Keynote from Digital Distribution Summit on Vimeo.

Highly recommend this keynote from my buddy David Edery on how to pitch your indie game for funding.

Of particular note from David;
  • Be able to describe your game in one sentence.
  • Identify your target audience (don't just say everyone)
  • Do your research, make sure you have sized your market and are pitching for the right budget (current XBLA budgets are sub $1M for example)
  • tailor your pitch for the organization
  • Try and identify gaps in the organizations portfolio and move quickly to fill it.
  • make sure a prototype or video sells gameplay, don't over focus on story, tech or art (I've been guilty of this myself.
David is a super smart dude and formerly XBox Worldwide Portfolio Planner and has great advice. You can read his blog for more thoughts on the digital eco-sphere.

Also, kudos to Twisted Pixel for giving David permission to share their pitch material for 'Splosion Man. The gameplay video in particular sells the game instantly and is a perfect example of the right way to pitch your game.