Xbox LIVE Indie Games - The December 2011 Thread

Congrats on the placement. That's great news and will hopefully result in some sales.

Gaspode, I hope they do drop the price of Escape Goat (which looks likely given the content of the link you posted) because it should result in more sales. I want that game to sell as much as possible, and 240 points is looking like a kiss of death if your game's title doesn't end in '-craft' or '-miner'.

As for what's been up in my XBLIG life, I had people over on Xmas and my one friend decided it would be funny to purchase the full version of Cassie's Corner Episode 3 on my account with my points. I can safely say that it is not a game. It's a half-an-hour recording about the actress rambling about her life, her mistakes and her job, set to a slideshow of horribly photoshopped Facebook pictures and Windows desktop themes. There's enough personal information that you could probably hack into her Hotmail account with enough effort.

Also, there's one of those "snowing screensavers" included as well. Obviously, don't buy this.
If the last two days of the current Xbox Live Sale is as bad as it was until now, I will definitely will put my money towards Escape Goat. I've purchased Soulcaster after the price drop - he deserves it and a lot of other indie games as well. Its a shame that the mountain of sholeware is giving a bad image to XBLIG and gems like this just die if they are not priced at 80 points. Which is really a sweet spot, I have no regrets paying 80 points for everything that looks interesting - worths spending time with.

On an other note, I don't know if it has been posted already, but from that article I got to this page which provides funny reviews of XBLIG games:

http://xnareview.wordpress.com/
 
When I did the free giveaway for Hypership iOS, the following day I sold around 35 copies above average. There is value in getting your game out to more and more people, gets more people talking about it and sharing it with their friends.
As long as your game doesn't require a server, then it's fine. I heard complaints from iOS developers after Amazon put their game up for free for 24 hours (you know, they do that promo every now and then). The problem was that this game (I can't remember which ones) required server access, and the flood of thousands of new people required more servers, which obviously these people couldn't afford because they had never received additional money for the game.


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The XBLIG marketplace could be flourishing if MS took a bit of time to work on it. I'm not sure where the top games list today came from. I looks like it is top sales (is this confirmed?), but even so, it continues to promote games which are already on top, instead of quality titles which aren't selling like hot cakes.

I had a conversation with Arthur Geiss of Joystiq about this the other day. He was saying something along the lines of "Maybe no one wants to play XBLIG games made by people in their basements." To that I responded "Well it seems like people do, based on how sales greatly increase when devs port to other platforms (ex: steam)"
 

SapientWolf

Trucker Sexologist
As long as your game doesn't require a server, then it's fine. I heard complaints from iOS developers after Amazon put their game up for free for 24 hours (you know, they do that promo every now and then). The problem was that this game (I can't remember which ones) required server access, and the flood of thousands of new people required more servers, which obviously these people couldn't afford because they had never received additional money for the game.


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The XBLIG marketplace could be flourishing if MS took a bit of time to work on it. I'm not sure where the top games list today came from. I looks like it is top sales (is this confirmed?), but even so, it continues to promote games which are already on top, instead of quality titles which aren't selling like hot cakes.

I had a conversation with Arthur Geiss of Joystiq about this the other day. He was saying something along the lines of "Maybe no one wants to play XBLIG games made by people in their basements." To that I responded "Well it seems like people do, based on how sales greatly increase when devs port to other platforms (ex: steam)"
Steam is a curated platform though.
 
That's complicated, I think there was a few XBLA releases this year that seemed to have leaderboards less than 2000...if you count the fact that publisher is taking a cut of your money then it's not really a sure thing, actually people are probably losing money in the process when games bomb on XBLA (MS included) because of all the $ spent on cert or translation or whatever.

I think you have to realize that putting a game on 360 means you put it in the same exact place that Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3 and other AAA games are dominating (also Netflix), so you really are kind of competiting for a random gamer's time. So I have always thought games need to find a niche of people who want to play that game rather than some retail game. If they want to play mining games on their big HDTV, what's the problem? Maybe they are 13 years old and Minecraft is too hard for them. It's hard to make assumptions.

There would certainly be more demand by default for 'simple' games on phone platforms or touch tablets which is why I keep mentioning that. When I sit down at my 360, I have 100 XBLIG to choose from to play but often I choose Skyrim, I mean, just last night I walked up to some frozen land, into a deep tomb, battled ghosts and liches, it gives me goose bumps just to think about how much I like Skyrim. Some gamers are the same with FPS like MW3 or Halo Reach. The things I usually want to play on XBLIG are essentially to cool down from being frustrated on retail games, but that's just me.
 
what are the best places on the internet to connect with other xblig developers. i'm aware of the official app hub forums, but i am not aware of any other places...
 
what are the best places on the internet to connect with other xblig developers. i'm aware of the official app hub forums, but i am not aware of any other places...

Twitter. Everyone is on Twitter if they are a xblig dev.

I agree with Gasplode. However XBLA had a pretty bad year. Outside of Bastion and Torchlight I was pretty disappointed in Arcade games taking root this year. I still think Section 8 Prejudice is one of the best of the year but I don't think it found a sizable audience. Renegade Ops was lovely too but why are people walking away from certain XBLA games? Has XBLA become an art based platform?
 
Twitter. Everyone is on Twitter if they are a xblig dev.

I agree with Gasplode. However XBLA had a pretty bad year. Outside of Bastion and Torchlight I was pretty disappointed in Arcade games taking root this year. I still think Section 8 Prejudice is one of the best of the year but I don't think it found a sizable audience. Renegade Ops was lovely too but why are people walking away from certain XBLA games? Has XBLA become an art based platform?
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet was also great. But yeah, I echo the sentiments in this thread that XBLA is going through a weird time in terms of sales right now
 
Twitter. Everyone is on Twitter if they are a xblig dev.

I agree with Gasplode. However XBLA had a pretty bad year. Outside of Bastion and Torchlight I was pretty disappointed in Arcade games taking root this year. I still think Section 8 Prejudice is one of the best of the year but I don't think it found a sizable audience. Renegade Ops was lovely too but why are people walking away from certain XBLA games? Has XBLA become an art based platform?
huh. i guess i'll have to check that out. i have no idea how twitter works.

i don't think xbla has become an art based platform. i think, like you already alluded to, this year's offerings were underwhelming. i can't, off of the top of my head, think of one original xbla title that i got really excited about this year (and that's the first time in years). admittedly, i still need to play insanely twisted shadow planet, but nothing else grabbed me (this includes favorites like bastion, unfortunately).

maybe 2012 will be a stronger year for the platform in terms of offerings and, as a result, sales.
 
Yeah, it is just a matter of branding. If Orbitron dropped in XBLA for $5 it would have sold far better.
You hit the nail on the head, it is absolutely about branding, and how people perceive it.

what are the best places on the internet to connect with other xblig developers. i'm aware of the official app hub forums, but i am not aware of any other places...
Yup, everyone is on Twitter. I prefer conversation on there at times because it is more dynamic. I also don't always have the opportunity to hop on the forums here. @DaveVoyles

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet was also great. But yeah, I echo the sentiments in this thread that XBLA is going through a weird time in terms of sales right now
Absolutely. Aside from Steam [I'm a PC gamer at heart :)], XBLA is my favorite platform. Then again I'm a bit odd in my gaming habits and much prefer to play older titles, especially Sega's library from the 90's, and the Saturn in particular. It was a great year for me! Daytona USA, Guardian Heroes (yesssss), SF III, Sonic CD, etc......

XBLA is very diverse at the moment, filled with 90's remakes, triple-A's making bit-sized content and even smaller indie studios. I think they need one clear message.

In regards to publishing and losing money on XBLA, I -believe- it costs $25k each time you submit a title for certification to launch. If MS' internal team finds any bugs or a reason they can't launch, they hand it back, and you are then charged another fee to resubmit. At least that's the way an XBLA dev explained it to me about a year ago.
 
In regards to publishing and losing money on XBLA, I -believe- it costs $25k each time you submit a title for certification to launch. If MS' internal team finds any bugs or a reason they can't launch, they hand it back, and you are then charged another fee to resubmit. At least that's the way an XBLA dev explained it to me about a year ago.
Holy shit -- $25K?! That's an insane amount of money. Now it makes sense that indies can't make the jump to XBLA easily.
 
Wow, Microsoft. Really? You decide to spotlight on the Indie channel by picking the best ten games of the year and this is the list you come up with?

http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Promotion/best-of-2011-indi-games

College Lacrosse 2011
Total Miner: Forge
Avatar Adventurers Online
CastleMiner
Techno Kitten Adventure!
Flight Adventure 2
CastleMiner Z
FortressCraft Chapter 1
NLL 11
Avatar Legends
Source: http://indiegames.com/2011/12/microsoft_honors_minecraft_clo.html

Apparently the games were chosen by first week sales.

My question: Do those games really need a promo given how successful they already are?

Grats to BakersCrest for Avatar Legends' placement though.
 
You guys might want to edit out any information about certification cost as that isn't public information...and attaching anyones name to it's release is bad news.

Edit: This post this is not confirmation of the correctness of this information.

Grats to BakersCrest for Avatar Legends' placement though.
THANKS!!! The game has done really well.

Not all gross is it??? ;-)
 
Thing is, does that come out of your immediate funds or your backend payment?
He said it was your immediate out of pocket cost. The reason it is in place is to prevent people from constantly resubmitting builds. Imagine how much time and money it costs to have testers (or whoever MS outsources the work to) to tear the game apart.

But I distinctly remember him saying "Yeah, that's why you had better make sure the game is flawless before you release it." I thought the same thing: "Holy shit."
 
DaveVoyles said:
In regards to publishing and losing money on XBLA, I -believe- it costs $25k each time you submit a title for certification to launch.
Fuck. That.

When you factor in development costs, there's probably a good chance your game could end up losing you money. Does anyone know what PSN charges, if anything?
 
Everything is under NDA, so many of the details of XBLA release process are mysterious. I've heard though you can expect to spend in the neighborhood of $100,000 just to get your game out there.

I actually tried to get Hypership on there but was turned down. Considering all the costs, negotiations, etc of getting on XBLA, I haven't bothered trying again. Seems Steam would be a better, cheaper, and more likely option for my games.
 
It may be on a dev by dev basis, or change throughout the year, who knows.

I wouldn't doubt that other services have a similar cost structure. You need to pay project and portfolio managers, etc. one way or another.
 
Some guy's Top Ten of 2011 list: http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/ma...soft-s-best-of-2011-indie-games--218690.phtml

Anyone have any other lists to close out this month's thread? Or is someone working on the January thread already?

It's easy to be brought down by Debbie Downers of XBLIG Worlds but I'm seeing waaaaaay better games than ever and there is a world of difference in between 2010 XBLIG and 2011 XBLIG.

As for future of XBLIG I'm getting a little tired of arguing with certain people who don't want to listen to reason, I wish I could explain in detail of exactly what is going on behind the scenes but unfortunately it's not my place at all to do so - but it's not really rocket science...running a business is like a game of allocating finite resources to different projects, the resources are WAAAAAAY more finite than people seem to think and even projects like Windows 8 and Windows Phone are demanding attention from most of the company, because it's critical to make these things successful. That's not exactly explaining the situation, but in a nutshell the critical strategies of the Xbox division are in fact being executed with brutal precision, whether or not people like Kinect, Media Ball and Metro UI is sort of a different problem...

I do know there are lots of people here aware of XBLIG because I personally keep reminding them about it and writing letters about it, even though I have absolutely nothing to do with it :p I looked back at some of the letters I wrote more than a year ago and I was totally naive about certain things, the changes I'm proposing lately are much more realistic so I hope that some of them take hook with the people who can make change.
 
I'm on this month's thread. Dark Octave was going to head it up but he had something come up so I had to take over.

Gaspode, I'm sure Microsoft has bigger fish to fry than making XBLIG a bigger feature. It makes all the sense in the world that things like Windows 8 would trump our beloved service in terms of effort. But I don't get the reasoning for why they selected the top 10 Best Of for the indies the way they did. I guess they have their reasons. But I feel like any one of us could have picked a higher quality and more diverse list.

I don't expect a lot from Microsoft when it comes to this channel. I wish I could expect more promotion or care, and hopefully your proposals will change that. We'll see I guess.
 
It's nothing I've announced before. I'll do a trailer once I get the music for it.

I didn't plan to do anything new so quickly, I was hoping that Volchaos sales would be enough to finance my next bigger project. In light of the poor sales though, I've instead put together something quickly (which is good I assure you) that I had considered doing before but never had.

At this point I'm not going to do any big new XBLIG projects but I'll still do things here and there that I can complete in a few weeks. As it sits now, my new game is pretty much done. I'm just waiting on music (and whether or not my current music guy can do it in time, may need to hire someone else).
 
It's nothing I've announced before. I'll do a trailer once I get the music for it.

I didn't plan to do anything new so quickly, I was hoping that Volchaos sales would be enough to finance my next bigger project. In light of the poor sales though, I've instead put together something quickly (which is good I assure you) that I had considered doing before but never had.

At this point I'm not going to do any big new XBLIG projects but I'll still do things here and there that I can complete in a few weeks. As it sits now, my new game is pretty much done. I'm just waiting on music (and whether or not my current music guy can do it in time, may need to hire someone else).
What kind of music are you looking for?
 
Well I honestly didn't have as bad of an impression of that list, like someone said if they did it by top rated it would have a bunch of zombie games and games released 2 or 3 years ago. Most of those games give a good impression for the channel 'oh wow I didn't know the indie channel had mining games, let me go see what else it has'

Demographics! Xbox platform users are hot blooded and male. This shouldn't be any surprise with the insane sales of FPS games on Xbox.

Oh wait, but Kinect came out, and lots of people are buying it for kids now. So there's some sort of opportunity to expand XBLIG beyond zombies and boobs, but it will be challenging to do since everything is unrated and the parent would probably go into some sort of muscle spasm if they tried to browse through indie games.

I just realized recently though that many Xbox owners might literally not care about cute 2D games that I love, it kind of depresses me to think about it but those gamers are gamers too so I am accepting of their zombie fetish in the way that one might accept a NeoGAF's My Little Pony brony. I just wish more of the gamers who like XBLA games etc would wander into the indie channel and drop bucks (but unfortunately that's probably only a percentage of the # of Xbox Live users, so total potential market for XBLIG is limited unless you specialize to Xbox demographic of Zombies/Boobs OR Kinect Users :p )
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
It's easy to be brought down by Debbie Downers of XBLIG Worlds but I'm seeing waaaaaay better games than ever and there is a world of difference in between 2010 XBLIG and 2011 XBLIG.
2010 for me:
Plucky's 3d Adventure - Amazing looking, gameplay wasn't quite there.
Shoot 1up - Shmups aren't my genre so I can't tell if this was good or not, but it was definitely $1 good.
Breath of Death VII - Loved it.
Apple Jack - (Bought in 2011) Loved it.
Ophidian Wars - I bought this because I liked it a lot when I was playing the trial, but I'm not sure I played it again after that, so this may have been an error.
Platformance: Castle Pain - Wonderful, amazing!
Epic Dungeon - Lots of fun.
Cthulhu Saves the World - Unfortunately barely played it on XBLIG.

2011 for me:
Oozi Earth Adventure: Episode 1 - Not bad.
Platformance: Temple Death - Wonderful, amazing.
T.E.C. 3001 - Not bad.
Aron's Journey to Dreamland - Not bad.
DLC Quest - Funny and short.
Escape Goat - Wonderful, amazing!
Oozi: Earth Adventure Chapter 2 - Not bad.
Volchaos - Loved it.

So I'd say both years were about equal for me. I buy less than many of the people in the thread do.
 
That's true that 2010 had a lot of gems, I think one thing you can say about this year is that many of the games brought some sort of technogical maturity - P2P is in most of the mining games, I feel like more games have online scoreboards now, Avatar Legends Alien Jelly have map sharing, there is a MMORPG style game (Avatar Adventures Online), games like Orbitron and Hacotama are pushing the graphics side of things (although technically we did have games like Prismatic Solid before...).

It's true that increments to XNA or changes to the pricing structure / marketplace would encourage even more change though. I hope for changes to the latter at least to happen sooner than later, because devs need flexibility to control price of their game in the way they can do so on mobile open marketplaces.
 
DarkOctave: I do some, I've been learning the ins and outs of Famitracker lately and it's a super interesting program.

Gaspode: There are so many good games that came out in 2011 on the Indie channel that, mixed in, could have helped diversify the list.

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes for people who hate themselves
Blocks That Matter is a super high quality game that uses crafting elements
Dead Pixels is a good game that will capture the zombie base
Escape Goat for the puzzle/platforming pixel junkie
Hidden In Plain Sight is good for multiplayer hijinks
Orbitron: Revolution is highly sophisticated from a graphical point of view and should grab people who crave flash
Sequence is a creative take on rhythm action and has high production values
Volchaos is great and accessible and could use a sales kick in the pants

There are seven games right there that could have easily been included over redundant entries. Cutting out the repetition opens the door for more variety. Even stuff mentioned by Stump like TEC and Oozi might do well.
 
Yeah, it really looks like the list wasn't picked by hand, even if it was there were more than the num of spots on that ad thing than games we are listing up...maybe they need to rotate the Kotaku's Favorites thing into the rotating ad space that we all hate, I wish they would just list all the games they have ever picked because it is a decent list (just list them In reverse chronological order)...I am also happy that Contest Finalists has 2011 games in it now
 
Nice Interview Kris.

Yeah I don't know where MS gets the lists from sometimes. I wish they would at least ask community members for feedback from time to time.

2010 and 2011 certainly weren't bad years for XBLIG. I'm going to sit down at some point today and start putting together lists as well
 
So I'm going to bust my ass to get the thread for tomorrow ready tonight and tomorrow morning, hopefully it'll be up before the afternoon. I found it was a rough month when I played through everything. So much completely insulting crap was released.

If anyone has lists they'd like posted in the OP, for like best-of 2011 or something, please do them and I'll feature them in the OP

I actually just got the first version of the song yesterday so I'm good on music for now. Thanks for the offer though.
No prob man. I'll keep building my skills, and maybe someday I'll send you a track I'm particularly proud of.
 
Well, I tried to float the ideas that Xona Games were proposing (making default view more like Digg or something for Indie Games) but the thing that stuck was Picks area which honestly is providing pretty awesome indie picks for me and it changes every few days or at least once a week it seems. So in either case the problem is people can release whatever they want, just because there is a lot of crap being released shouldn't drag down the good games with it (I mean, it's unfair to think that way...lots of crap is being released for Android and iOS too, you just don't notice it as much)

I really don't think people ever go into App Store -> New Releases, the first thing they look at is likely New and Noteworthy which are hand picked/highlights ... so comparable zone on XBLIG would be the view with Kotaku's Faves/Contest Finalists...unfortunately the entry points/etc and the Game Type thing is kind of messed up but I hope they are going to fix it...
 
I really don't think people ever go into App Store -> New Releases, the first thing they look at is likely New and Noteworthy which are hand picked/highlights ... so comparable zone on XBLIG would be the view with Kotaku's Faves/Contest Finalists...unfortunately the entry points/etc and the Game Type thing is kind of messed up but I hope they are going to fix it...
Google doesn't even have a new releases section in the Android Market anymore. Just "top new" sections.
 
I am just reading a bunch of devs posting that they are getting lots of sales out of the blue for older games, hope it keeps up like that...lots is a relative term of course
 
I am just reading a bunch of devs posting that they are getting lots of sales out of the blue for older games, hope it keeps up like that...lots is a relative term of course
That's awesome to read. It's starting to look like the new dash might actually be helping the indie channel, oddly enough.
 
So I'm going to bust my ass to get the thread for tomorrow ready tonight and tomorrow morning, hopefully it'll be up before the afternoon. I found it was a rough month when I played through everything. So much completely insulting crap was released.

If anyone has lists they'd like posted in the OP, for like best-of 2011 or something, please do them and I'll feature them in the OP



No prob man. I'll keep building my skills, and maybe someday I'll send you a track I'm particularly proud of.
I did a list.

Top 5 Favourite XBLIG Games of 2011:

1. Bloody Checkers
I don't think I have ever played checkers for more than 5 minutes but this is just awesome - addicting, nicely done.

2. Escape Goat
It seems that I instantly fall in love with everything made by MagicalTimeBean because the first single EG screenshot was enough for me to know that I must have this game. And boy, it is pure genius!

3. Sequence
I don't think I have ever saw a better written game on XBLIG (maybe the Zeboyd Games') and the gameplay is just pure genius, combining different genres.

4. Wizorb
Simple, not really original gameplay with beautiful graphics.

5. Cursed Loot
Roguelike RPG at its best.

Yet to be played by me:

Oozi
Blocks That Matter
Alien Jelly
 
I did a list.

Top 5 Favourite XBLIG Games of 2011:

4. Wizorb
Simple, not really original gameplay with beautiful graphics.

Blocks That Matter
You're not the first one with this opinion on Wizorb and it makes me wonder...
Where are all those other block breaker games with an RPG twist if this one is not original? Direct me to them because Wizorb was, to me, one of those RARE original twist to the block breaker genre.

And don't hesitate with Blocks That Matter. I tried the trial "just because" and I've been hooked. Sorta was the game I was waiting for: Some platformer involving digging in a good way that isn't just taken from Minecraft. The game is alot of fun and there's some pretty good (although geeky) humor in there.
 
You're not the first one with this opinion on Wizorb and it makes me wonder...
Where are all those other block breaker games with an RPG twist if this one is not original? Direct me to them because Wizorb was, to me, one of those RARE original twist to the block breaker genre.

And don't hesitate with Blocks That Matter. I tried the trial "just because" and I've been hooked. Sorta was the game I was waiting for: Some platformer involving digging in a good way that isn't just taken from Minecraft. The game is alot of fun and there's some pretty good (although geeky) humor in there.
It wasn't meant to be offensive: it's a great, beautiful game, but most of the gameplay is Arkanoid. I absolutely don't have a problem with that and its true that everything is just a copy of a previous game. Wizorb is a must have title.

Blocks That Matter is a strange thing for me, I have tried the trial several time since it has been released but i just can't seem to like it. I haven't given up, it has happened before a lot of times and I am sure that one day, soon, I will like it. Maybe after I bought it, I have a really long list of games I must buy and because of the dreadful thing Microsoft called Holiday Sale, I have a lot of MS points left on my account.