World of Goo Creator: "XBLA's Health Is Actually Flagging"

World of Goo Creator: "XBLA's Health Is Actually Flagging"

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Ron Carmel, co-creator of the indie hit World of Goo offers up some grim statistics regarding Xbox Live Arcade developers.

According to his blog, nearly half of the hundred-or-so indie developers Carmel questioned described working with Microsoft as "excruciating." Not just "difficult," you understand. "Excruciating," a word typically used to describe a shattered knee-cap, or particularly long episodes of Songs of Praise. Considering that "ease of working with the platform owner" was voted the most important factor in terms of platform choice by the same respondents, that doesn't bode well. Carmel suggests that Microsoft's notoriously non-developer-friendly policies are the reason indie developers are defecting to competing services such as PSN, Steam and the iTunes App store, and that this loss of talent is weakening the service.

The developers who responded to Carmel's census are only responsible for 33 of XBLA's 400-plus games, but Carmel argues that they represent the cream of the crop. The developers surveyed are responsible for three of the top five highest rated XBLA titles, 76% of their games have a Metascore of 75 or higher compared to only 31% of the non-polled developers' games, and, on average, games from these developers sell around 4.6 times as well as their non-polled counterparts. Yet, despite their success on the platform, Microsoft is losing these developers to PSN, as demonstrated by the very exciting graph in the top right there, which shows how many of the polled developers are developing games for each platform.

Carmel goes onto highlight the issues he believes are driving these developers away. He called Microsoft's boilerplate distribution contract for XBLA the "most exploitative, one-sided distribution contract [he']s seen," and points out that "we [the developers] each waste months of our time and Microsoft's time negotiating the same stuff out of the contract, over, and over again." He then blasts Microsoft's Technical Certification Requirements, arguing that they make releasing, often vital, game updates difficult and time consuming. He also argues that the current Xbox Live layout does not make it readily apparent where users can buy the games in question.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. Carmel notes that XBLA played a pivotal role in the popularization of independent games and that, with a few adjustments to the XBLA development process, namely more automation, removal of the content certification process and dropping ESRB certification in favor of a self-administered rating system - bringing XBLA more in line with the iTunes App store - could breathe new life into Microsoft's indie library.

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Source of error: Developers are more likely to say something about who they're working with if their toes are getting stepped on.

But other than that, it seems that Microsoft is using monopolistic practices. Because they know they have a larger customer base than Sony does. So Microsoft can do whatever they please and people will still want to develop for it.

The certification process is an interesting problem. I'm not sure how much QC there really is, and it seems to delay indie games far more than larger titles.

Uh, what does that graph actually say? I can't actually tell, from the looks of it, Sony plans to have higher numbers than Microsoft in 2012, but I don't know what the numbers mean or represent!

So what I've learned recently is that indie developers who develop for more than one platform hate developing for the 360, but if they only develop for the 360, they love it. It's the best thing ever, a land of magic, happiness and rainbows!

A bit strange.

orangeban:
Uh, what does that graph actually say? I can't actually tell, from the looks of it, Sony plans to have higher numbers than Microsoft in 2012, but I don't know what the numbers mean or represent!

It is clear in the original article but not the recap here. Basically it is the number of developers developing games for a specific platform. The data shows PSN catching up and eventually passing XBLA meaning more PSN exclusive developers (or at least exclusive against XBLA).

Frostbite3789:
So what I've learned recently is that indie developers who develop for more than one platform hate developing for the 360, but if they only develop for the 360, they love it. It's the best thing ever, a land of magic, happiness and rainbows!

A bit strange.

Ignorance is bliss.

orangeban:
Uh, what does that graph actually say? I can't actually tell, from the looks of it, Sony plans to have higher numbers than Microsoft in 2012, but I don't know what the numbers mean or represent!

The estimations for 2012 run off the current average trend.

Given the current trends is is estimated that 360 will be on the decline and PS3 will be on the incline.

Is this true? Probably not, most guesswork is shit, otherwise the market wouldn't end up crushing so many people all the time :p.

theultimateend:
Snip

Edit: I think I misunderstood your post and took it as abrasive instead of agreeing.

Frostbite3789:

theultimateend:
Snip

Edit: I think I misunderstood your post and took it as abrasive instead of agreeing.

Kinda of Ironic.

I was talking about the developers. They only develop for the 360, so they are ignorant of how much better it is outside of that world of development.

But whatever, good luck looking for a fight. I'm not interested.

Frostbite3789:

theultimateend:
Snip

Just what a response. So insightful. I feel like I understand your point now. Thanks for that. A thinly veiled insult and call it a day, eh?

where exactly did he insult you? Ignorance is bliss sums up why multiplatform indies hate ms and exclusives don't. Since exclusives are used to the supposed shit toss of ms then to them its a land of rainbows since they've never known anything else.

twistedheat15:

Frostbite3789:

theultimateend:
Snip

Just what a response. So insightful. I feel like I understand your point now. Thanks for that. A thinly veiled insult and call it a day, eh?

where exactly did he insult you? Ignorance is bliss sums up why multiplatform indies hate ms and exclusives don't. Since exclusives are used to the supposed shit toss of ms then to them its a land of rainbows since they've never known anything else.

Yeah, I screwed that one up. Misunderstood his meaning. Thought it was "You don't know what it's like. etc."

countzero1234:

orangeban:
Uh, what does that graph actually say? I can't actually tell, from the looks of it, Sony plans to have higher numbers than Microsoft in 2012, but I don't know what the numbers mean or represent!

It is clear in the original article but not the recap here. Basically it is the number of developers developing games for a specific platform. The data shows PSN catching up and eventually passing XBLA meaning more PSN exclusive developers (or at least exclusive against XBLA).

Oh, right, thanks.

it's likely that the 360 players are also more inclined to just play retail games. I don't know the numbers so I'm just guessing, could be wrong.

I like downloadable games often times, but indie games are just everywhere and kind of meh often times. altho there are some amazing downloadable games that really come in handy when your console decides to eat its own try...sigh lol

I do own a lot more PSN games than I do XBLA games, despite playing my 360 more. Actually, almost everyone I know with a 360 owns less that 5 XBLA titles, and usually less than 3. Then again, most of my friends are "casual" gamers, so I don't expect them to be buying Braid.

The other graph on his blog shows that Windows spanks them both. Open platform FTW!

Seriously, indie games and high levels of control do not go well together.

This surprised me I though MS put more advertising into their games and had a much more varied selection. Guess I was wrong

theultimateend:

Frostbite3789:

[quote="orangeban" post="7.316297.12857155"]Uh, what does that graph actually say? I can't actually tell, from the looks of it, Sony plans to have higher numbers than Microsoft in 2012, but I don't know what the numbers mean or represent!

The estimations for 2012 run off the current average trend.

Given the current trends is is estimated that 360 will be on the decline and PS3 will be on the incline.

Is this true? Probably not, most guesswork is shit, otherwise the market wouldn't end up crushing so many people all the time :p.

Well considering it was a poll of developers who presumably work on a game before they release them (that's only a bs hypothesis though) and also that you know 2012 is three months away.

And also the way it says "plan for 2012" and the question was "what platform are you developing games for"

.. I would say that you're guesswork as to it's meaning could be incorrect, it could be right as well but any graph which is presenting discrete data as a line could go either way. It could look like extrapolation if it wasn't and the other way round

There are two types of indie game developers, the professionals, usually who have had or do have a career in the industry and then hobbyists, who usually don't have any experience in the industry. There are almost no hobbyist developers for PSN development, but there are a lot for XBLA. I think most of XBLA content management was designed with hobbyists in mind, I have known a couple hobbyists who have had success. Carmel is only taking about professional indie developers.

I think if Microsoft is smart, they would make a professional developer indie level for those developers who want more control and options, of course they would have to charge more, but it could be on par with what Sony charges.

That is a terrible graph. People need to start labeling their shit.

theultimateend:

Frostbite3789:

theultimateend:
Snip

Edit: I think I misunderstood your post and took it as abrasive instead of agreeing.

Kinda of Ironic.

I was talking about the developers. They only develop for the 360, so they are ignorant of how much better it is outside of that world of development.

But whatever, good luck looking for a fight. I'm not interested.

I don't think that's it. Microsoft made a huge deal about how 'Any game that comes out exclusively on another system will never come to the 360!' and other fun things (Like getting Skyrim DLC a month early), it's possible that they just treat developers that don't work exclusively for them badly.

Jealously or something.

Blank Kold:
That is a terrible graph. People need to start labeling their shit.

More proof that school was pointless!

I read through some of the blog but:

3. Stop requiring independent developers to publish through MGS. All you're doing is adding overhead to the process by assigning a producer to the game and making developers unhappy by giving them a lower rev share (to cover MGS' added overhead costs). For the most part, everyone I know who has worked with Microsoft said it was not only unhelpful to have a producer, it actually became yet another thing that needed to be managed and took focus away from developing the game. I'd like to note that Kevin Hathaway seems to be an exception. I keep hearing developers say positive things about him. Every other distribution channel allows independent developers to self publish, without a producer, and I see no evidence that having a producer on a game makes it better.

4. Drop the TCRs, make updating easy. TCRs add months to a game's development time that could be better used polishing the game. Many of these requirements hardly ever come up or could be dealt with behind the scenes by Microsoft instead of requiring every developer to write their own solution. I don't see any evidence that enforcing these TCRs results in better games. PC games are of comparable quality despite the much wider range of hardware they run on and there's no TCR list. Instead of enforcing time consuming and expensive compliance testing, Microsoft could make it trivial for developers to release updates so that whatever issues come up after launch can be easily and quickly addressed by the developer. This model is working wonderfully on both Steam and the App Store.

What's a MGS and TCR?

-Dragmire-:
What's a MGS and TCR?

MGS is Microsoft Game Studios. TCR is something something requirement.

From the context, it sounds like Microsoft won't allow patches that are below a certain size so developers have to put off patching their games until they have a ton of junk to update. Not sure, though.

orangeban:
Uh, what does that graph actually say? I can't actually tell, from the looks of it, Sony plans to have higher numbers than Microsoft in 2012, but I don't know what the numbers mean or represent!

It's in the blog post. It's "Number of Indie Developers for each Platform", numbers are exact value.

Note that 2D Boy did the charts and data-gathering themselves, so take it with a grain of salt (2D Boy are).

Kopikatsu:

-Dragmire-:
What's a MGS and TCR?

MGS is Microsoft Game Studios. TCR is something something requirement.

From the context, it sounds like Microsoft won't allow patches that are below a certain size so developers have to put off patching their games until they have a ton of junk to update. Not sure, though.

Ah, thanks.

Seems odd to have a minimum size requirement when a game needs a quick fix.

____________________________________

Dev: Crap! A glitch disabled the fire button!
MS: Fix it when you make a map pack.
Dev: But... people can't play...
MS: Thems the rules.

____________________________________

-Dragmire-:

Seems odd to have a minimum size requirement when a game needs a quick fix.

Well...that would be the point in complaining about it, right?

Besides, it's more ridiculous that Microsoft doesn't allow free patches/DLC. If the customers aren't paying for it, then the developers are. It's unreasonable. It's also why Team Fortress 2 on the 360 doesn't get patches. VALVe didn't want to deal with them anymore.

I personally think it's quite strange that lately we've had a lot of articles which have been titled '[insert developer of well known game] thinks this about the industy!', we never hear 'James Cameron thinks that modern audiences are losing attention span' or 'Steven King thinks largest genre today is horror' or any other acclaimed individual from another medium spout their predictions about their respective industry so why have we been seeing this quite a lot with gaming recently?

There are many game creators and developers out there who I'm sure are very creative and intelligent people (and the quality of their works speaks for itself) but just as I wouldn't place much stock in what Ridley Scott has to say about the film industry at large I'm not exactly sure why hearing that 'the creator of World of Goo came out and said this' is supposed to make it any more valid or pertinent.

If facts, statistics or analysis suggest a trend then fine, but in that case it shouldn't need the backing of some dignitary of gaming.

This just seemed a bit weird to me.

-Dragmire-:

Ah, thanks.

Seems odd to have a minimum size requirement when a game needs a quick fix.

____________________________________

Dev: Crap! A glitch disabled the fire button!
MS: Fix it when you make a map pack.
Dev: But... people can't play...
MS: Thems the rules.

____________________________________

Sorry for the double post but that's not really that odd a requirement.

It may seem inconveinient for indie developers to have to make their patches bigger but at the same time it would probably be just as much of a hassle for Microsoft to have to put up several smaller updates and patches than it would be for them to wait until they get one bigger one together to put up (picture it as being like being asked to carry a bag of laundry upstairs and electing to do so one article of clothing at a time as it comes out of the dryer rather than just waiting for the whole load and taking it together).

It may not make sense to you but there is method to their madness.

Iron Mal:

-Dragmire-:

Ah, thanks.

Seems odd to have a minimum size requirement when a game needs a quick fix.

____________________________________

Dev: Crap! A glitch disabled the fire button!
MS: Fix it when you make a map pack.
Dev: But... people can't play...
MS: Thems the rules.

____________________________________

Sorry for the double post but that's not really that odd a requirement.

It may seem inconveinient for indie developers to have to make their patches bigger but at the same time it would probably be just as much of a hassle for Microsoft to have to put up several smaller updates and patches than it would be for them to wait until they get one bigger one together to put up (picture it as being like being asked to carry a bag of laundry upstairs and electing to do so one article of clothing at a time as it comes out of the dryer rather than just waiting for the whole load and taking it together).

It may not make sense to you but there is method to their madness.

I suppose so... I was equating it more to a mass email with attachments to a ton of people, the smaller the attachments are the easier it is to send to all those people. Even if it's done more often I figured the smaller size would put less strain on the network.

-Dragmire-:

I suppose so... I was equating it more to a mass email with attachments to a ton of people, the smaller the attachments are the easier it is to send to all those people. Even if it's done more often I figured the smaller size would put less strain on the network.

From a netwroking standpoint that makes sense if you're working with one person but remember that there are literally thousands of games that need to have their updates sorted and placed on whatever service or system is used to send updates to players and also that they have to consider what their players will think.

I can say from personal experience that I'd rather be waiting on one large download to finish than several smaller ones (less of a frustration factor knowing there's less to get out of the way) and considering how I'm way more patient than most people I know I can safely say that the approach of getting more done in fewer updates is definately the way to go.

Grey Carter:
...He also argues that the current Xbox Live layout does not make it readily apparent how or where users game buy games.

Is that a joke?

Havent developers been having problems with Microsoft's XBLA system for a while now? This isn't anything new

I've always been dumbfounded by why devs even bother with XBLA when there are so many other, better services out there.
If M$ don't step up with their next console they're gonna lose the biggest growing part of the industry.

Iron Mal:

-Dragmire-:

Ah, thanks.

Seems odd to have a minimum size requirement when a game needs a quick fix.

____________________________________

Dev: Crap! A glitch disabled the fire button!
MS: Fix it when you make a map pack.
Dev: But... people can't play...
MS: Thems the rules.

____________________________________

Sorry for the double post but that's not really that odd a requirement.

It may seem inconveinient for indie developers to have to make their patches bigger but at the same time it would probably be just as much of a hassle for Microsoft to have to put up several smaller updates and patches than it would be for them to wait until they get one bigger one together to put up (picture it as being like being asked to carry a bag of laundry upstairs and electing to do so one article of clothing at a time as it comes out of the dryer rather than just waiting for the whole load and taking it together).

It may not make sense to you but there is method to their madness.

Having become more of a PC gamer in the past few years than I used to be, I can only say that based on my own experience it's both an odd and terrible requirement. The games that have the absolute best support are consistently the ones that have patches pushed out immediately whenever there's a problem.

If there's a big patch/update a few months after the previous one, that's fine if there haven't been any problems in the meantime, but it's really nice when the devs have the ability to push out a small patch to fix a bug or a glitch two hours after it's discovered without having to wait a month for it to go through some endless bureaucratic QA process when all they did was fix a single typo in a config file somewhere. After getting used to "anytime updates" with a lot of the games I play, dealing with the ones that are stuck on painfully slow release cycles just sucks, whether they're console or PC games.

It's not like it's even much work on their end if they get rid of the internal licensing/testing step that MS does and only worry about distribution like the article is proposing. In that case, like already happens on Steam and Apple's App Store and so on, the devs just upload the files, and most of the rest is handled automatically. Sure, you're carrying the laundry upstairs one article of clothing at a time, but you have a robot to do it for you while you go do something useful/important instead, so it doesn't really matter.

 

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