So my grand plan to rewrite my game for the Community Games launch didn’t quite go according to plan, so I decided to polish up the original version as a bit of practice. It has now been approved and is on Xbox Live Community Games – NXE users can download the trial and buy it now, while everyone on the old dashboard will have to wait until November 19th. The internet ranking site is up at http://www.edngames.com – by soliciting scores I should be able to get a decent idea of how many people are buying the full game which you need to do to get internet ranking passwords.
The Community Games community is just getting off the ground, and already establishing its own “ground rules” for peer review based on the very loose guidelines set forth by Microsoft (presumably so they cannot be held responsible for anything that gets passed). The most important points to watch out for, and the community WILL FAIL you for breaking are:
- Be able to use multiple controllers – much to the chagrin of some of the creators, the community will fail your game if you cannot play it with any controller plugged in. Don’t hardcode for PlayerIndex.One.
- Test with more than one storage device – you have to be able to support memory cards as well as hard discs, and to be able to show the Guide selector asyncronously. I was caught out by the case where you can cancel the selection (which will cause EndShowStorageDeviceSelection to return null) so remember this is a valid input.
- Small text and TitleSafeArea – many reviewers are using SD CRT tellies, not lovely HDTVs that many are now using and many creators use to test their games. Small text is a massive issue and SDTV users WILL fail your game if they can’t read anything crucial to gameplay (instructions etc). In addition, the area of the game screen you can see on a SDTV is much smaller due to the increased overscan, so use the TitleSafeArea property to make sure your text is within the overscan limits.
- Make a “game” – the community has already had its fair share of drama, including one member simply submitting reskinned Starter Kits (templates from Microsoft) that didn’t meet the submission rules and one producing a Magic 8-Ball style game that requires the chatpad peripheral that simply nobody owns to play. Even if the game technically meets the submission criteria, the community can and will still fail it if they deem it unsuitable for the service (or increasingly if the submission will make the service look bad) either by trying their hardest to find a crash bug or simply not reviewing the game so it never passes peer review.
Lines is available for 200 Microsoft Points which is about $2.50. I get 70% of this so I could get some beer money. Fingers crossed!