May 9, 2011 7:28 PM | Michael Rose
The May issue's exclusive postmortem focuses on five acclaimed Xbox Live Indie Titles, in which the games' creators describe some of their achievements, as well as the hardships they endured working on Microsoft's independent games platform.
Mommy's Best Games' Nathan Fouts, for instance, explains how he ensured his indie shmup Shoot 1UP included support for disabled players.
He writes, "I worked with accessibility organizations Able Gamers and One Switch to hone the menus and controls for the game to support as many options as possible for handicapped and non-handicapped gamers alike."
"It was relatively easy to support button remapping, and it greatly increases the game's flexibility and audience. We also gave gamers the option to control the overall gameplay speed, which made it much easier for frightened newbs or old-timers chastened by brutal shooters of the past," he continues.
After his game released however, he realized his price point was a mismatch for his game: "Shoot 1UP is only a dollar, which undervalues the game and others like it. I have no crystal ball to see if we could have made the same money, but I often wonder if we should have priced it at the next point ($3) instead. But our success here does set us up to release a new, more expensive shooter of higher quality."
Also featured in the Xbox Live Indie Games postmortem, Zeboyd Games' Robert Boyd reflects on how the concept fueling its retro RPG Cthulhu Saves The World helped the game appeal to a specific niche audience.
He writes, "When you have a strong concept, it makes development so much easier. We had a wealth of material from Lovecraft's fiction to work with, which gave us plenty of great monsters and locations right from the start. Writing amusing dialogue was relatively easy since the concept was so strong. And since the internet is filled with Lovecraft and Cthulhu fans, getting people excited about the game was easier than it might have been otherwise."
Even with the game's pre-release buzz, the team found budget constraints to be one of the game's largest obstacles: "This was a direct result of our failure to plan appropriately. We were expecting a new source of income once Cthulhu Saves The World came out after four months of development, but since the game's release date kept getting pushed back, the new revenue stream was delayed as well. I had to borrow money and find work elsewhere during development just to keep things going. Thanks to the game's eventual release and a Kickstarter fundraiser that we did soon after, Zeboyd Games has enough funds for the time being."
Other Xbox Live Indie titles featured in the postmortem include Eyehook's Epic Dungeon, Ska Studios' ZP2KX, and MagicalTimeBean's Soulcaster II, all of which offer insight into challenges developers face when working on the console-based indie platform.
This May issue also features Game Developer magazine's Game Engine Survey, which asked developers to note their most frequently-used development tools, outlining the benefits of a wide range of popular game engines.
In addition, the issue includes a feature titled "Game Dev Heroes," which celebrates the previously unsung heroes of game development. The piece showcases the developers who helped save projects, streamline development, introduce innovative new concepts, and more.
As usual, the issue features our regular columnists and special guests from the forefront of the games industry, including Steve Theodore, Damion Schubert, Jesse Harlin, David Edery, and Matthew Wasteland, who all contribute detailed and important pieces on various areas of game development.
Worldwide paper-based subscriptions to Game Developer magazine are currently available at the official magazine website, and the Game Developer Digital version of the issue is also now available, with the site offering six-month and one-year subscriptions, alongside access to back issues and PDF downloads of all issues, all for a reduced price. There is now also an opportunity to buy the digital version of May 2011's magazine as a single issue.