The talk by Bill Dugan entitled Torpex’s Schizoid was part of the Indie Games Summit, and was done on Tueday afternoon. I took down quite a few quick notes from it, since it detailed how to make a game using XNA/C#, through the process and on a shoestring budget.
Part One XNA studio
- C#, HLSL, VS2005 tools
- XNA creators club – $99 per person
- XBLA process:
- Pitch meeting XBLA team
- Green light meeting
- “code complete”
- “content complete”
- “international content complete”
- …and some more final stuff, including the final release and certification (if his slides are released, it’ll have them on)
- Recommend XNA GS? (XNA Game Studio)
- Maybe. It was good for Schizoid
- Early speed for development!
- Test kits are expensive – some should still use PC’s to test
- Cons of XNA GS (some pros above, others are detailed later):
- Optimisation takes a while
- garbage collector problems (solved with reusing objects to stop garbage collector running)
- Switching between kernel and user mode
- No external DLL’s
- Not got all 360 API present – like downloadable content (and other bits, but most are minor)
- C# Express – not so good since it hasn’t got thread debugging (and you can’t use the pro version)
- Optimisation takes a while
- Wii? PS3?
- CPU bound? do C++
- Is there an off the shelf engine to use?
Can be good for prototypes.
Part two: How to save cash
#1 reason: Royalties (based on gross revenue) and not for cash
XNA test kits are less costly then XDK’s
NUnit for unit tests, parabuild for the autobuild machine
PC’s for designers + audio (don’t need proper dev kits)
No office – 10AM conference calls every day instead (recommendation: don’t use Xbox live for this 😉 )
- Telecommuters – yes
- Rent an office though! If he went back to do it, they’d at least have a place to meet producers/publishers rather then someones house. Would keep the telecommuters though.
Full time QA is important
Localisation: 8 languages – use a localisation company (cost is per word).
Part time PR person! (They still don’t have a full time one).
- SF preview tour is good to do
- Talk to all websites (all PR is good, any mention on MS sites is a few more people – all adds up)
- PR person should know how to phrase game hooks (the developers know the hook, but not how to say it well)
- Independent contract agreement
- Review at start and end at least
- Might want to try relative arrangement
- Don’t tell them anything
- Trail used
- Faster (?) feedback
- Kleenex testers (throw away)
TCR’s – 30-35% of programmer time (certification things needed – like Xbox profile usage, localisation, etc)
- Catch early?
- Can try and waive less important ones, only a few!
- Example was Xbox 360 profiles – tried to do a “Not signed in” profile – don’t do this! it has a ton of odd cases (trying to log in if they previously used the “Not logged in” account for instance). Easier not to do it to start with.
On prototyping – apart from C#, alternatives?
- Managed DirectX
- C++ even