We've tracked down eight of the faces behind some of the most exciting prospects coming through the programme - from bona fide industry legends to first-time creators - to get their perspectives on their work, their industry and their future. It's a snapshot of a service that welcomes the full breadth of today's development scene, giving games creators the opportunity to make console titles without the impediments and creative distractions of big-business publishing. But first, we talked to the man behind it all, director of ID@Xbox, Chris Charla.
An average day? There is no average day. We do a lot on behalf of the developers. Of course in terms of making their game, that's up to them, but in terms of the part where they need to come through certification, set up Achievements, that kind of stuff, we just work to make that as smooth as possible for them. And that work is ongoing. That's part of the day. Another part is working directly with developers, answering questions, getting to meet new developers, getting to see their games - that's always super-fun. And what else? There's always lunch.
For ID@Xbox we took the best of Xbox Live Indie Games in terms of being a really open programme, and the best of Xbox Live Arcade in terms of full access to all the platform features, and just built that into a programme that is as close as we can get to what independent developers want from a console development programme.
Well it's really interesting, because there's no splash screen that says "ID@Xbox" at the start of a game in the way there was for XBLA. On Xbox One, we're really serious about "a game is a game is a game". That said, what we've found is that sophisticated, engaged consumers have asked us, "Where can I find all the ID games really quickly?" They know that the kind of games that are coming through the independent programme are interesting and cool, and so we're taking on that feedback.
I talk to a lot of developers that are not necessarily on ID@Xbox, but just reach out. We really want developers to be successful, and that might even mean not developing first for Xbox One if it's their first game. We take it really seriously when a developer, someone just out of school, sends an email asking to grab lunch or something. To me, that's a huge compliment that they would ask you for that kind of advice. Giving developers the best chance to be sustainable in the way they run their businesses, we take that super-seriously and offer as much advice as we can.
I really like text adventures, and they're underrepresented on Xbox One - I just haven't advised anyone to make one for us yet.
A text adventure! No, I think if I was doing a game, I'd be trying to do something that was really social in an asynchronous way - it's something you couldn't do on previous generations of consoles.
Yeah - ideally, we want a market where there's huge variety and great games sell really well. When I was just getting out of school, the best way make games was to move to California. Today, independent developers out there can live a bit of a vagabond lifestyle, because they can work anywhere. They can work in Argentina for three months, then couch surf in Europe, all while working on their game and getting the input of different people in different communities - I think that's fantastic. We're starting to see regional themes form, where an LA independent game has a bit of a flavour as compared to Chicago games. That helps games overall, and we can help foster that and support it by being a great place for developers to reach an audience.
I do! I think that one of the great things about independent development is that developers typically have a lot more freedom to pursue what might be risky or experimental ideas, and because of that you do get these flavours. I do think there's a little bit of something analogous to music scenes springing up, where maybe a lot of devs in LA are exploring one kind of thing and devs in Chicago are looking at something else, and I think that's cool. As a big fan and student of videogames, it's been fascinating to see the indie movement growing.
Exactly. Those Chicago guys are tough, too. We don't want any game dev beefs.
I have the benefit of knowing a little bit of what's happening in the future, and some of the stuff that hasn't been announced. I get to work at 06.30 every morning because I'm just excited to get started, and I hope players will be equally as excited about the stuff that we're going to be bringing in the next year and beyond. You know, I'll just say it: world-changing games are going to ship.
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