When it comes to Indie Development on the Xbox 360, you can’t talk about it seriously without bringing up Ska Studios and its principle member, James Silva. Responsible for XBLA title The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai and a community game that, according to the title, has zombies in it, Ska Studios has had strong showings on Xbox Live in all of its many forms. He took a moment to talk to us about what it is like to develop for the Xbox, and what he’s got in store for us.
James is one of a new breed of developers that managed to produce a full game effectively solo. All of the coding, art, and music for the arcade slasher The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai (DDS) was done by him. Obviously, though, getting a title onto XBLA takes a little more effort than that, and he assured us that Microsoft provided some excellent support, but the content of the game remained his alone. The same goes for I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1 (IMAGWZII) There aren’t many people out there who have made both Indie and Arcade titles, but the success of IMAGWZII makes it clear why it might be a good decision. James explains that Indie Games are much less of an investment for both time and money than their Arcade counterparts. In just a few weeks you can have something on the market. In terms of possible content they are fairly full featured. You can’t do things like query a website, but online multiplayer and other complex features are not out of the question. Also helpful is the pricing flexibility. Initially limited to a minimum of 200 points, now Indie games are able to drop as low as 80, or one dollar in actual factual money. This is pretty much what we in BLHQ call “The Magic Price,” and clearly it has served the community well.
There are a few things in the pipeline for Ska. First and foremost is Vampire Smiles. This is a direct sequel to DDS, featuring the same great gameplay on a completely rebuilt engine. James said he wanted to improve everything about the system, with special focus on better animation and more fluid combat. Considering how well the combos worked out in the original, one can only imagine how they will flow with this upgrade. So far there is no price set, and the release date is the ever popular “When it’s done” favored by top tier developers everywhere. Also showcased was a mysterious game called Charlie Murder, which hasn’t even got a release platform in mind, so keep your eyes and ears open for news on that. In order to facilitate all of this new content, Ska is beginning to expand. Already they’ve doubled their workforce to a staggering two people, and he’s on the look out for a dedicated programmer in the near future as well.
You can visit Ska Studios at www.ska-studios.com.