Tuesday, February 14, 2017
By: Matthew Doucette
Just a story and some thoughts:
Today I heard back from my bank that some "Telephone Transfer" payments were not from Sony as I thought, for our Score Rush Extended PS4 title, but were actually from Microsoft, for our Xbox LIVE Indie Game (XBLIG) titles: Decimation X/X3 & Score Rush.
I have a feeling this is the last payment to be made to Xona Games from Microsoft on behalf of XBLIG.
I am nostalgic. I have sat here exploring why this means so much to me, on my third snow day in a row. One thing for sure, it is more than money.
XBLIG was our first professional release platform. We have been making games since we were 7 years old, back on the TI-99/4A. And, for a while, we had stepped away from gaming. I owned no consoles between the Sega Genesis and the original Xbox. I hardly played the original Xbox. I recall it being confusing. Even being someone into technology, games had become notably more complicated.
We eventually bought an Xbox 360 and the complexity of console gaming increased with internet connectivity. I could see it had turned some gamers away, mostly those not interested in tinkering with technology. Anyways, I recall telling Jason that we should make games for the Xbox 360. I pitched that Xbox LIVE Arcade was finally our chance to enter the gaming industry with the reemergence of retro gaming. And... we did! In a sense! That's what XBLIG did for us. It's actually amazing. We owe a lot to XBLIG. We got our feet into the industry on this platform.
(A little known story is that we also landed an Xbox LIVE Arcade contract. Something we did not release to the public at the time.)
It is about dreams. We had dreams of making our own games since grade 2, and it felt like the sun, moon, and stars all got in the way. Life does that. School too. Throw in homework as well. It just gets in the way of doing what you want to do.
Back to the point, it is about dreams. XBLIG was our first era, and it is now closing. With it, all our dreams on that platform have to close to. We had huge aspiration with many things we wished to accomplish. We wanted to make all the games we could not make in elementary school until college and university.
You may remember our first title, Duality ZF, which was never released, despite winning impressive awards. It is sad to look back upon that game. With the development of XBLIG shut down, I can no longer play this (protoype) game on my Xbox 360. I tried it this last holiday season. That version of the game is now gone forever.
Duality ZF contains many of our early errors. I believe the final version of that game to be about v2.5, meaning that we could have released a v1.x and a v2.x, and we are half way done creating a v3.x. Why didn't we release it? We had community and devleoper support. We had trailers getting 40,000+ views. We were just naive to how to develop and finish and ship software. Shipping is difficult. Releasing your work is difficult. We had no money. We were working on the side to make money to keep going. We have lots of excuses. We learned a lot. We now have grand respect for anyone who ships their works of art.
(P.S. Duality ZF was the game that landed an Xbox LIVE Arcade contract.)
Back to XBLIG. Back to today.
Even the XBLIG storefront is littered with broken images:
(P.S. You can still purchase existing XBLIG games as of today. If there are any you want, grab them now.)
It is also about community. We made a lot of friends through XBLIG. This is something missing since the next-gen consoles arrived: Xbox One and PS4. I have released a PS4 title, however the community surrounding me does not seem to exist. I suppose a lot of indie game studios simply did not make it to the next phase. Some of my friends I have looked back upon have broken websites and unused Twitter accounts. It is sad in a number of ways.
On XBLIG we had fans who were game developers aspiring to become as successful as we were, while we likewise aspired the same to those above us. On PS4, there was none of that. We were the bottom and the AAA and ultra-successful indies were all above us. There was nobody below us ("behind us" might be better wording) and it felt like there was nobody equal to us. No fan base. No support. No excitement. Not from fellow developers. Not like on XBLIG. This is how it felt. It is amazing how much this matters. (This is not a rip on all of our true fans out there. This is also why we appreciate you all so much.)
So, here's a shout-out to XBLIG. Thank you for everything. Thank you to my friends in the industry. And I wish you all the best looking forward. Feel free to stay in touch!
That is all.
About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $180,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.