The RPS Xbox Indie Outreach Program

By Lewie Procter on July 15th, 2011 at 11:41 am.


Photo by Jeff Kubina

It’s seems that early indications for Zeboyd Games, the latest in a series of developers to make the leap from Xbox to PC, are “tremendous success” on the mighty grey tower. This got me thinking: What other upcoming Xbox Indie games could end up coming to PC too? If you’re developing an XBLIG, and have intentions to release it on PC, we want to hear from you. This is the RPS Xbox Indie Outreach Program.

For those not in the know, Xbox Live Indie games is Microsoft’s service for indie game releases on the Xbox 360. Developers fork out $99 for a xna creators club license, then they are allowed to sell their games to Xbox users, and Microsoft get a cut of every transaction. Don’t stop reading, I’m going to stop saying Xbox in a bit.

One problem that has seemed to emerge for the XBLIG market is that more ambitious games that want to charge more than the baseline 80 MS price (about $1) find that it’s limiting their market. XBLIGs are also only available in certain regions.

An ideal solution to these problems would be to also sell your game in a different market. Perhaps one with millions of gamers around the globe, who are open minded to all different types of games at all sorts of different prices. Perhaps one without any regional restrictions. How about the PC?

Several canny XBLIG developers have already taken advantage of the fact that it’s relatively trivial (I wouldn’t know the first thing about it, mind) to port XNA games designed for the Xbox to the PC. There’s Flotilla from Blendo Games, Beat Hazard from Cold Beam Games, QuadSmash from Creative Patterns and Defy Gravity from Fish Factory Games. But we want more. Always more.

If you are a developer of an XNA game for Xbox, but have plans to release your game on the PC, please get in touch. Email us here, and please include a description of your game, screenshots and video if possible. We love having a nosy at videos. A playable build of some form is the best thing of all, however. Then we can have an opinion. This is an absolute must: You must include real details of your real plans for a real PC release. Even the best game in the world is useless for our purposes if it’s only going to be on the Xbox.

In a couple of week’s time I’ll put together a roundup of what is on the horizon, and we’ll be sure to keep a close watch on the more promising games.

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84 Comments »

  1. mcwill says:

    Gonna release our failed XBLA title on XBLIG at some point, but it really does need analogue trigger controls, which is why we’ve never been considering PC for it. Can’t rely on every player to have a joypad, really…
    Next project is for PC & phones, though, and rest assured you guys will be getting a shiny video as soon as there’s one worth watching.

    • Meat Circus says:

      You can do what Super Meat Boy did: simply mock people at startup for not having a controller, and hope the peer pressure shames them into doing the right thing.

    • Theoban says:

      It’s why I bought an Xbox controller, I couldn’t bear it, always laughing, laughing, looking at me and judging

    • MadTinkerer says:

      More and more of us are biting the bullet and getting console-style controllers. First of all, proper not-crappy controllers have been standardized and affordable for a while now. Secondly, more and more games are offering proper controller support, whether they’re ports or not. (I’m still a little annoyed that VVVVVV stubbornly refuses to include controller support, considering it would have been expected to have standard joystick support if was actually from the early 80s. But I digress.)

      Many games assume you’re using an Ecksbawx 360 controller, but we have Playstation style dual-stick controllers and they work just fine. Heck of a lot cheaper, and they work just as well.

    • mcwill says:

      I hate to admit, but I’ve never actually played SMB on PC…

      pleasedon’thurtme

    • Dominic White says:

      A USB wired Xbox 360 controller (the most widely supported out there, and much less problematic than the wireless version, which suffers from Microsoft writing incompatible FIRST PARTY drivers for it) will set you back £18 and last you a good few years. Unless you’re obsessive about playing with mouse and keyboard all the time, it’s the way to go.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      “will set you back £18″
      Just under £15 on Amazon right now, in fact:
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wired-Gamepad-Black-Xbox-360/dp/B003VD56KW/

    • Diziet Sma says:

      I’ve never had problems with my wireless one and the official microsoft dongle thingy. I keep a white xbox 360 controller paired to my PC and the black ones for the 360. It’s made playing Dirt 3 on the PC a dream as well as making games like Trials 2 far more playable.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s a few games that just plain refuse to work with the wireless controller. Dead Rising 2 springs to mind as the latest culprit. It’s fine for most things, but there are known compatibility issues with the wireless version.

    • Arclight says:

      Er there are alternatives, which are frankly better. I have a Saitek pad that’s recognised as a 360 controller and has worked flawless with any game supporting, but it is also fully programmable and cheaper to boot.

      Don’t just buy a MS 360 controller, have a look at what’s available. This is PC, not a console, remember?

    • Gnoupi says:

      The advantage of an article by Lewie: instant “best price possible around” link for all your needs!

      Besides, the Xbox pad has become a regular peripheral for my PC as well. It’s well-built, not really expensive, durable, feels good in hands, and it’s recognized flawlessly by all recent games (based on xinput).

    • Binary77 says:

      I was also a bit miffed to find that Dead Rising 2 inexplicably doesn’t support wireless controllers, but luckily i’ve got an old wired one too.

      To be honest i’ve actually got three Xbox controllers in total (and i’ve only ever been a PC gamer) – one wired & two wireless. One modded with a trackball replacing the right thumbstick, which is BLISS for FPS games.

      So i guess it shows how times are changing…

    • DrGonzo says:

      But.. Super Meat Boy was really bad with a standard 360 pad. The joystick makes for vague controls on such a precise game and the dpad on the 360 pad is abysmal. I stuck with the keyboard for most of the game until I picked up a Street Fighter pad for xbox which has a lovely dpad and works wonderfully with SMB. Would always choose a keyboard over the standard 360 pad though, fallen off too many ledges due to that bloody joystick.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      There are a lot of games that play better with a controller. For instance: Batman:AA, Alpha Protocol, Dungeon Siege 3, SMB, Lara Croft: GOL, etc. Mentioning this on Reddit around PC gamers tend to get you downvoted right fast though, by the angry internet men.

    • Waltorious says:

      Another voice in support of a Saitek pad. They’re cheaper and better (in my opinion) than an Xbox 360 pad, and they have incredible programming options. I was able to easily create some rather complex programming profiles for various indie games that lacked native pad support.

      Also, please be careful with the “X game is better with a pad” statements… these things come down to the individual preference of each player. Just look at the comment threads about Super Meat Boy on RPS and elsewhere for evidence.

    • bilharzia says:

      Er there are alternatives, which are frankly better. I have a Saitek pad that’s recognised as a 360 controller and has worked flawless with any game supporting, but it is also fully programmable and cheaper to boot.

      Don’t just buy a MS 360 controller

      DO just buy a MS 360 controller. If you want to torture yourself programming yet another sodding set of controls for a new game then go ahead and get a something else. PC games assume you have a 360 controller if anything, and if you do have one there’s zero configuration to do; anything else and it’s hellish. Never again.

    • somini says:

      http://code.google.com/p/x360ce/

      ANY gamepad can work. DON’T buy a MS pad, buy a better/cheaper one.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      In the past 5 years I’ve bought a wired X360 Pad, 2 different comparable Logitech pads (one with rumble and one without) and the comparable Saitek pad and the only one that didn’t break within a few months of usage has been the MS pad. I hate to give MS credit, but I’ve had much better reliability with all of their USB gaming peripherals (Sidewinder Wheel, Sidewinder Stick, Wired 360 Pad) than I have with anything else I’ve purchased besides the Logi G25, which is built like a tank. Their wheels were phenomenal; after almost 10 years of use the potentiometers were still rock solid and I only ended up replacing the wheel after the throttle spring finally snapped.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I’m no fan of the D-Pad on the 360 controller, but the build quality in general is exceptional. The thing is built to last.

      For pure digital games, such as fighting games, arcade games and the occasonal pure-retro platformer like Super Meat Boy, I tend to go with my USB Sega Saturn controller, though. Again, very tough build, and fantastic response.

    • Phydaux says:

      For those games that have little or no controller support there is XPadder. It lets you bind mouse movements and keyboard keys to different buttons/sticks/triggers on your gamepad.

    • Cooper says:

      For those who do not like the design of XBox controllers, or don;t like it that MS push their hardware even on the PC, you can get the Logitech F310.
      http://www.logitech.com/en-gb/gaming/controllers/devices/7360

      It’s Dual-Shock style but uses XInput – the main reson XBox pads have become so ubiquitous on PC – XInput replaced DirectInput, but was only useable with XBox controllers (hence why, for many games, only XBox controllers work and not any others.)

  2. Srekel says:

    At some point I’d like to remake Ragu and release it properly. It’s a fun game as it is, but it needs a lot more content, and stuffs. Being built in XNA, it runs on both the 360 and on the PC, though I haven’t uploaded it to XBLIG yet.
    Video of said game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yb2GansiCs

    Oh, and if anyone wants to test it, it’s available here:
    http://srekel.net/files/index.php?dir=games/&file=Ragu.zip

    I think you need XNA redist 3.1 or something like that for it to run. And you’ll need to be at least two players, but it’s best in with at least three players (it supports up to six on the same screen iirc).

    • Bats says:

      I dunno why but I dig the way those bees look, the eyes do it for me I think. But it looks like it’d be a fun game to play. Is it co-op oriented? Would also like to see you get it released.

  3. Oryon says:

    Insanely Twisted Shadow Planeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

    Where aaaare youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?!

    • Dominic White says:

      That’s Xbox Live Arcade, though – those games actually get promoted and sold. Xbox Live Indies is Microsofts half-assed attempt at letting non-corporate-sponsored developers make games. They’ve done all but bury it.

    • mcwill says:

      In fairness, if they did promote it at all even slightly, the big publishers would walk from XBLA en masse.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      YES, GIVE ME I.T.S.P. ON PC.

      NOW.

      “NOW” I SAID.

    • The Sentinel says:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=975Zw8BJ3Vg
      Ok, cynical me was watching that thinking “Ohfer…do we really need ANOTHER side-scrolling shooty explorer thing???”

      ..and then the video kept playing. And I watched. And I was impressed. VERY impressed. Yes, this would be nice on PC, Mr Developers. Very nice indeed. Prettypleasewithcherries?

    • Dominic White says:

      @mcwill – And this is why all the major publishers have abandoned Steam… No, wait, what?

    • mcwill says:

      @Dominic – Steam’s “indie” section is not completely filled with massage games and rubbish quizzes that would be considered poorly-made on Kongregate. From the minute the first wave of XBLIG trash showed up, it was obvious MS were going to treat it as a dirty secret to avoid the publishers going apeshit.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous gems on XBLIG. But much like the Android Market, it can be hard to find them in amongst the total and utter crap.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s countless mountains of crap on the iPhone app store too. Hasn’t done anything to scare off the major producers/publishers, though. I mean, if Microsoft DID promote their indie games sections, what would companies do? Suddenly drop the 360 as a platform? Yeah, that’d be suicide.

    • Splynter says:

      Wow, that game looks absolutely beautiful. I would definitely pick this one up.

    • RobF says:

      Yeah, it’s nothing to do with the big publishers.

      It’s MS having a great initiative then like so many other things they touch, it becomes something that gradually gets chipped away at, less people working there know what it’s for as teams shift round, people leave and stuff, different departments pull in different directions and all the time there’s that question of “how do we monetize this shit?” so it becomes a compromised version of the original announcements and vision for the service.

      That it even exists is fucking superb. Even in its crippled and neglected state, it’s a massively important thing to have happened. This has been MS saying yes, you can develop for consoles and you can do it easily (ish).

      That it fell on its arse after that and that some people took it upon themselves to shit on the service not once, twice, three times or four but fucking constantly and probably will until the day it closes or someone shoots them in the cock, well, they’re just things.

      This is the generation that could write a game for a mainstream console and get it under folks noses. Ok, it took a little bit too much work to promote something that 90% of users wouldn’t know about but fuck that, they could do it.

      And if MS were kowtowing to the publishers, it wouldn’t be there. At all. And saying that if MS did push XBLIG, pubs would walk away from another entirely different premium service is bonkers, sorry.

      If that were the case, MS would just nuke it. They wouldn’t run and promote DreamBuildPlay, they wouldn’t have adjusted the dash when they really shat things up, they wouldn’t be slowly and cautiously mixing XBLIG up with Arcade stuff in promotions. None of this would be happening if MS or anyone else in the entire universe thought “oh, best not, the publishers will walk away”.

    • Torgen says:

      I’ve never heard of shooting people in the cock being used as a means to improve their attitude. Remind me to not sign up for those medical trials.

  4. MartinNr5 says:

    Well, when I do get my multi-platform (PC, XBOX, WP) game out of the gates there’d be no higher award than being featured on RPS.

    Still, I’m only in the design phase (aren’t we all?) so not an iota to show you yet. No worries though, I’ll bug the hell out of you when I do have something to show. :)

  5. Richard Beer says:

    Is a manky old zombie hand really the appropriate image for an attractive out-reach program for game developers?

    Oh. Never mind.

  6. DeanLearner says:

    I am remaking my game Ninjah ( http://chrismingay.co.uk/ninjah/ ) for XBLIG and I intend on releasing it for PC as well. Luckily the controls translate quite easily to keyboard and mouse so the conversion process shouldn’t be too tricky.

    Yay RPS!

    • lhzr says:

      hey, i loved ninjah!
      i remember playing it quite a lot a couple of years ago. i also remember it having an excellent techno soundtrack.

      any screens from the new version ? and an estimate for the release date?

    • DeanLearner says:

      Hey thanks for your comments :)

      There are some screenshots here – http://blog.chrismingay.co.uk/ – but nothing too note worthy at this time! It’s been on hold for the last few weeks because of a bug in the language I am using ( Monkey ) causing too much garbage for it to run smoothly on the Xbox but I am trying something new tonight which is apparently a fix to this.

      The optimist within says releasing it with the next month. *nervous laughter and tugs at collar*

    • lhzr says:

      cool, looking forward to it! also make sure to give rps a bump when you do release it :)

      edit: i mean cool about the release not being far away, not about the xna bugs..

      edit2: i mean monkey, not xna. damn heat!

  7. Evil Otto says:

    Come here Fez. It’s nice here. We want you.

  8. Out Reach says:

    My name made it into a news article title!

    I demands 10%.

    I’m not quite sure of what though….

  9. InternetBatman says:

    Toki Tori and Ares also used XNA I believe. There’s a few more too. I find it a little surprising that MS could make such a widely used development tool and then throw money away by not supporting them on the PC.

    • Ricc says:

      Other ones I know of are Magicka, Capsized, and Plain Sight. I’m sure there are more.

    • mcwill says:

      Man, it’s kind of crazy how much of an afterthought the XNA PC support is. As an example, the development tools for XNA give you access to Live for multiplayer and game identity purposes, which works fine on PC. But any published PC version strips that from the runtime, forcing you to use another library for MP purposes.
      No problem on XBox, of course, you just can’t have it on PC.

    • The Sentinel says:

      It’s no surprise to anyone – meaning just about everyone – who understands that Microsoft HATES the PC as a gaming platform. In their eyes PCs are business machines, purely for selling to corporations to run Windows on and Homes to run lesser versions of Windows on (for ‘Home Productivity’ purposes).

    • Pike says:

      I believe Terraria uses XNA.

    • BitLooter says:

      It does, I know this because I set up a server earlier this week and had to install giant-ass .Net & XNA runtimes.

  10. Joe Duck says:

    Indies, come back to the PC. You should have never left, here we really love you.

    • The Sentinel says:

      This is true, Indies. Ignore how we treat Cliffski. Oh, and Derek Smart; he’s unique. We generally love everyone else. We’d love youuuuuu! :)

    • Unaco says:

      Cliffski IS a jerk though. I read that in an article once, from some lesser establishment than this.

  11. kwyjibo says:

    Don’t just stick to xblig. Be bold, and extend it to xbla exclusives too.

    Those games may not be on pc due to the financial risk necessary to port them. With a kickstarter style project, we can mitigate that risk.

  12. johnpeat says:

    Solar 2 is an XNA title I believe…

    I know that Beat Hazard started in XNA but I’m pretty sure Starg recoded it for PC (and what a fucking glorious job!!)

  13. johnpeat says:

    XBLIG is dying on it’s arse anyway – the recent ‘vote rigging’ scandal has driven more of the ‘semi serious’ developers away and so it’s filling-up with massage games again… :(

    MS’s attitude to it has stunk for eons – sales are poor and the bad behaviour which some developers have indulged in has hastened it’s end – I suspect it will be gone within a year UNLESS MS wake-up and change stuff.

    Good News is that brings Luke (Radian) over to PC quite soon with Super Crossfire 2 :)

  14. The Sentinel says:

    I’d be happy with a port of Jenova Chen’s PS3 version of Flow.

  15. fuggles says:

    SCOTT PILGRIM! I have a gamepad, I’m not enough of a douche to fiddle whilst rome burns. Now – bring me scott pilgrim.

  16. Frapple says:

    Can we have a Double Fine out reach program?

    I wanna play Costume Quest, Stacking & Trenched!

  17. Handsome Dead says:

    don’t do it pc gamers are wankers

    • The Sentinel says:

      I’ll thank you to leave my daily masturbatory habits out of this.

  18. Zeewolf says:

    As someone who lives in a region unsupported by XBLIG I wholeheartedly support this program.

    (and as I’ve done with a number of XBLIG to PC games already, I’m fully prepared to vote with my wallet)

    • Wunce says:

      The first time I heard about XBLIG was about 10 minutes ago when I started reading this article. Is Australia a supported region? If it is I have no idea how I missed all of these great titles.

    • shaydeeadi says:

      Pretty Certain it isn’t available many places outside USA and UK for whatever reason.

  19. bowl of snakes says:

    the radiangames series is amazing

  20. shoptroll says:

    Excellent idea Lewie!

    That said, I don’t know of any XBLIG I’d like to see on the PC, but I know of several XBLA games.

    With all the stories that have come from a bunch of the XBLA and XBLIG devs, I’m still surprised some of them sign exclusivity contracts. Zeno Clash didn’t sell nearly as well on the XBLA, Super Meat Boy was outsold 2:1 (PC:XBox) and Zeboyd is ecstatic over their reception. Monday Night Combat seems to have done well enough on PC, I don’t think I’ve seen much about the XBLA version in a while.

    At PAX East, there were a bunch of XBLA titles on display like Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Trenched that would do very well on the PC, except for the whole exclusivity deal or the devs not wanting to bother with the PC. Saddening, really.

  21. sidneymcdanger says:

    I would love for everyone to learn how wonderful the XBOX Indie title “Storage Inc.” is for your soul. I had a backlog of titles that cost actual money, but all my friends and I wanted to play was this beautiful gem. Typically, we called it “Forklifts,” but only because it’s a funnier name, when shouted. I recommend working on your Brooklyn accent (or whatever mode of speech is short-hand for blue collar in your region) and discovering which button honks the horn as top priorities. Best played with four people.

  22. bluebomberman says:

    Funny you should mention Xbox Live Indie games: Ars Technica last week wrote about how relatively poorly they’re doing.

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/07/xblig-feature.ars

    More developers are going to port to PC just trying to break even, I bet.

    Personally, I find myself having a hard time caring because none of these games ever get ported to Mac. (Yeah, yeah, I know, technical reasons.)

    • The Sentinel says:

      Prospective PC devs, I’ve highlighted (in bold) a key phrase from the Arstech article for you. You know, to help you with your decision making:

      “Zeboyd managed to raise nearly $7,000 to support development of the PC versions of the games, and is hoping that the much larger PC user base will be a more financially viable platform for the studio’s games.”

    • D3xter says:

      Yes, apparently Cthulhu Saves the World did a lot better on the PC if you check that news or the Twitter Feed he has, and especially the back-and-forth conversations between Boyd and the guys at GasLamp or the Carpe Fulgur CEO (SpaceDrakeCG) e.g. “Welcome to the Big Time, my man. You are going to be amused by those Steam numbers in a little bit.”

      There’s a lot of other examples though, like Super Meat Boy, Zeno Clash, Darwinia and more that sold more on the PC, hell the last GDC was pretty much dedicated to how XBLA/IG isn’t profitable, I don’t know why they don’t take the hint already :P

  23. ColOfNature says:

    XBLIG has to be one of the most ungainly initialisms I’ve ever seen.

  24. phenom_x8 says:

    I remember this http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/07/xblig-feature.ars about indie dev that dont make a money by releasing their game at XBLIG because of some of them not well promoted by Xbox and or console kid judge it from their graphic only. Sad though, PC are the place for all of you,folks!

    Edit : ups, someone above got it 1st!

  25. RobF says:

    There’s an absolute ruck of fab XBLIG games that I’d love to see reach a wider audience (there’s also a couple that seem to leak out onto PC with barely a whimper, which is interesting) so yeah, I support this initiative wholesale and then some.

    Lasercat, Apple Jack, all Luke’s Radian stuff, Score Rush, Decimation X/X3, Break Limit, Aah Impossible Rescue/Little Atlantis, Tempura Of The Dead, the Platformance games, Nathan Fout’s games, Hypership Out Of Control, Juggle, You Will Die and oh, you get the idea. There’s lots of genuinely great games on there.

    They’re just either unavailable in your region or crippled by being drowned out by a certain bunch of twats who just flood the service with shit. Most of those tatty games people slag XBLIG off for? They’re the same people making them.

    • Matt says:

      Silver Dollar Games really need to take a flying leap.

    • mcwill says:

      TBH half the titles you mention there I thought were complete arse, but horses for courses.

  26. Agrona says:

    It is in fact quite trivial to get an (XNA, which I believe all XBLIGs are) Xbox game onto the PC, assuming you weren’t totally insane about handling input and UI.

    Going the other way is the hard[er] part.

  27. DragonSix says:

    I wonder how well my current project would do on PC once finished: http://vimeo.com/25610928

    Porting to PC is not so easy as it seems. On xbox you can easily do some ugly shortcuts, as you know it will run the same everywhere. On PC you have to be more careful about that; and it takes quite a bit more time to test it.

    But, yeah, coming to PC is definitely something I think about doing soon after the xblig release. Even though my game is best played on a pad. If batman and the witcher 2 can do it alright, why can’t we?

  28. rocketman71 says:

    Bomberman Live is SCREAMING for a PC release.

    Kidnap whoever you need to kidnap to make this happen. We’re tired of using Atomic Bomberman, working through the IPX problems and squeezing 10 people in 5 machines.

  29. aircool says:

    Moar PC games for us to love.

  30. Axyl says:

    Castle Crashers!
    Would <3 to see that on PC.

    Kill Team as well, but i don't think that counts as an indie game. ;)