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Tips and Tricks: Making Your First Console Game, Pt. II

As a marketing manager for ID@Xbox, 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 ID@Xbox 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 ID@Xbox 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 more developers about their games, their first console experience and advice they would give to creators working on their first console game.


Featured Developers

Planet of Lana, Pupperazzi, Sable, She Dreams Elsewhere, Solace State, Soup Pot


Planet of Lana

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.

 


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.

 


Sable

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.

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She Dreams Elsewhere

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."

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Solace State

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. 


Soup Pot

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.  


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 ID@Xbox Program. There's a wonderful team ready to work with you!

Check out Microsoft Game Stack to hear more stories from developers and about all things game development from Microsoft! 

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