Kevin Tsang in Games

12/11/2015

Dev Diary: MechaBit’s Kevin Tsang on Greenshoots 2015 and Developing For Console

We were looking for games funding in the UK and came across Creative England in a Google search. We applied to develop Kaiju Panic, the first commercial game we decided to make after forming the company. We knew we wanted to make something different and unique but had no idea at the time that it’d end up taking 2 years to complete. 

We signed up to the ID@xbox programme before we applied to Greenshoots but it was Creative England’s help that made that process much smoother. The match funding also helped us get set up with hardware and software to develop the game at full speed. We also received invaluable marketing support at Rezzed and EGX to get our game out there and in the hands of potential customers and press.The key thing we took away from the process is to get play testing data in early and often. If we had more time, we would have spent longer in testing but we’ve since updated the game several times based on customer feedback which has improved it significantly. 

Tips on Developing For Console For The First Time

Self publishing on console ourselves was a huge learning curve. We didn’t have an XR manager or testing team. We’re a small three person company and I took on the majority of the tasks involved with Xbox myself, including the certification process and paperwork.The team at Xbox were very patient with me as I fumbled my way through all the requirements, functionality and best practices needed to get onto a console. We also had to sort out our own localisations and age ratings for each region we wanted to sell in. Not something you usually have to worry about on PC. 

The biggest difference between developing for Steam and developing for console is that the customers on console don’t tend to get in touch with you with feedback or comments whereas on Steam there’s a built in forum. We did get a lot of console people on social media but it was difficult to gauge what the general reception of the console game was apart from the rather uninformative five star rating on the store page. If I had to offer some advice to other developers planning to do the same, here’s what I’d say:

  • Test early and often.
  • Look up all the XR requirements and adjust your game to accommodate them early to avoid headaches. 
  • Get all your promotional material ready well in advance and leave plenty of time to promote your game. Don’t leave it to the last minute. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The Xbox team are very friendly and helpful. 
  • Look closely at the price of your game and launch period, this is very important. 
  • Leave plenty of time for certification and marketing. Again, don’t leave it to the last minute.  
  • It doesn’t hurt to do lots of trailers either. Remember that it takes time to certify trailers as well.

Also, make sure you get your press kit ready. The press are generally quite lazy and much more likely to cover your game if you give them all the screenshots, trailers, description, review code and other press coverage in one easy to use package. Vlambeer’s Do PressKit and Do Distribute are amazing tools, and they’re free. Get a wide range of playtesters, not just your friends and family. Look especially closely at your tutorial, onboarding and bounce rate. And finally, look after your health. It doesn’t help anyone to overwork yourself. Your game will turn out better for it.

Being on the Greenshoots programme definitely allowed us to develop and ship the game much sooner than if we were still going it alone. We had already been developing Kaiju Panic for some time before joining but it was still a long way off. Creative England obviously saw how much potential there was in the game when our application was accepted and we benefited hugely from their marketing support and Microsoft contacts. 

Find out more about MechaBit and their Greenshoots supported title Kaiju Panic here. Follow our GamesLab team on Twitter.

  • Greenshoots
  • Games