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GDC2011 XBLIG success stories

Pre-Note: because it was brought up in a thread on neogaf.com.  Yes, I was attempting to summarize and transcribe this as I was sitting there in the room.  I'm not the fastest typist, especially on an iPad's tiny keyboard, and it was kind of difficult keeping up when everyone kept switching back and forth.  I captured as much of the info as I could, and when they were talking too fast or over each other I tried to capture what I felt was most pertinent at the time.

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XBLIG success stories - how to make the best of Microsoft's self-publishing service

Brandon Sheffield, Ian Stocker, James Silva, Nathan Fouts, Robert Boyd

Sitting left to right Brandon, Nathan, Robert, Ian, James

Ska studios,  3 people now
What time do you change from coffee to booze
Everyone shows up in basement and normal workday

Ian does it all
Wake up shower, coffee shop for 2-5 hours per day
Don't push too hard, crunch only at the end
Text file in project folder with list of tasks
All small, draw 1 sprite, reproduce this one bug
Break it down to useful starting points
Have a defined scope of what will and won't be in

Nathan
Takes breaks, let your mind think and rest

Robert
Douglas Adams -love to set deadlines because like e sound of them whooshing bye
2 people
Was teacher working on games part time, now going full-time
Setting goals daily and weekly

Nathan
Play with kids in morning, work 10  - 6 unless crunching
2 in office, work with others remotely and contracts

All full-time now


Brandon - how to get people into xblig store, marketing
Winter uprising

Robert
Many people don't do any marketing and rely on Microsoft's top list, new releases, etc
Games coming out every day
Have a websites, gives legitimacy to game and co
Have a trailer, give people something to see
Did winter uprising because there was a lot of anger in the community, it was hidden in menus
Got covered in a lot of big sites that now continue to review xblig

James
Don't blame Microsoft, this promo showed the opposite, microsoft moved it up in the dashboard and promoted

Nathan
Put out a trailer, help yourself

James
No one picked up press release for I made a game

Nathan 
But it didn't hurt

Brandon
Once people started playing, the press release gave people something to refer to

Do you all feel it is worth releasing on xblig as first game vs apple, android

Nathan
Absolutely
And get in the community and on forums, it helps others and helps you
-explains peer review-

James
I get emails asking if I get paid in MS points
(no, and not with DLC either)

Robert
Talk to people, go to different forums, consumers like talking with devs and feel connected
We have to rely on word of mouth and being open with your audience

Ian
Twitter really helps too
XNA forums gives great feedback

Nathan
Be good on the forums

Brandon
Ratings, there's genre and letter, but really only separated is in ratings
Do you like them, how to get more people to submit them

James
I like ratings, doesn't sell a lot but it does help some

Nathan
Top rated is full, really hard to get into it now
Point a friend at top rated

Ian
Don't need to be $1 to be in top rated, some higher priced there too
Pricing psychology can play into it
Will have to be $1 to be top selling until they add a top grossing

Brandon
People may feel higher price is better, but like app store they just don't want to pay it
Do you feel you undercut yourself on zp2kx

James
Yeah, maybe

Robert
Now the list is pretty solidified, so james cant even beat himself
Would like to see a current top rated
Having difficulty getting back into top rated with their games

Brandon
Any kind of deck or naming tricks you can use

James
I think 0 comes first

Brandon
James, any tips for implementing multiplayer

James
Just follow the docs, easy compared to pc
Live implementation is easy
Would have to completely re-implement for pc and not worth it
Only big issue, you have to have many creators club accounts for testing
Has 4-5 accounts

Brandon

Ian
Don't really like nag screens
Need to have good content in demo

James
Can't make games where you kill Nazis, we grew up on that


Brandon
How about selling extra stuff like music alongside game on website

Ian
I have soundtrack via pay pal, sold a few
Even if you don't sell a lot, builds a brand

Nathan
Makes you seem more serious about supporting and growing your game

James
A fan got I made a game with zombies in it in rock band, had more downloads than third eye blind

Audience q&a

Patches, sales versus other marketplaces

Robert
Patches are pretty easy, but cant do short term sales

Nathan
Don't make bugs, but easy to get patches in, try not to introduce more
Follows standard peer review process

Audience
Does xblig count towards resume, getting into major industry

Nathan
Absolutely, whether pc or xbox just get it done, it shows you care about your work and can finish

Audience
New types of lists, digg style

Ian
Would like to see them, recent top rated, definitely in favor

Audience
Average sales of single game at price points

Nathan
All over the place and totally depends on your product
If you have something they can't get anywhere else, will do well, otherwise it needs to be really well done and different

Audience
What does panel think of using xna to leap from xbox to pc

Nathan
Taking explosionade, doing much more with pc version to charge more
Have to deal with more hardware types, but not difficult

Audience
Talking about lists, if you have a large task how do you break it down

Nathan
If you dont know how to do it, check forums, someone else has already done it

Ian
Break it down to tasks smaller than 1 day

James
I'll put it off until one day I wake up and say, I know how to do it

Ian
Have different types of tasks to move around through, programming, design, art so you don't get bored

Brandon
Don't put off least favorite to the end, then you have to Domitian during crunch and double miserable

Audience
Robert, what made you switch from education, consider educational games

Robert
Wanted to make games as a kid, not making a lot, saw xna and started messing around
It would be cool to make educational games, but not sure how
Most make education first and not good games, need to make game and have education second because kids are smart and know when they are in school

Brandon
What do you wish you had known before starting

Nathan
When top downloads are going to crash

Robert
Make good tools before starting on game, will save a lot of time
Prepare plan before hand

Ian
Share your ideas, no one will rip it off, but will share good ideas to help make yours better

--Tom Ogburn

posted on Sunday, March 06, 2011 11:44 AM by TOgburn

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