Posts Tagged ‘Xbox 360’

IGDA Ottawa: Indies in the Classroom Talk

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

At a recent Independent Game Developers Association meeting I was asked to talk about my experiences taking Hideout!, a project originally developed as schoolwork, to the Xbox 360 for public sale. The slides and a video of the presentation are below. As always, please pass on any feedback; it’s always much appreciated!

The presentation began with a brief introduction of myself and Hideout! including Hideout’s promotional video.

This meetup was focused on students going above and beyond class requirements and taking their games to the next level. The audience was comprised mainly of students in game development programs or recent graduates. The topics covered include the following:

  • Porting from Windows to Xbox 360 with XNA
  • Xbox Live “Indie Games”
  • Other general game design topics for Hideout!

Download Slides (PPTX)

Hideout! Downloads: First Four Days

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Hey Everyone! The “estimated” data for the first four days of downloads and sales for Hideout! are in! We’ve had over 1000 people try out the game, which definitely shows that people like the game box and marketing material! And 28 full game copies have been sold! To be honest, these are pretty much the numbers that I was hoping for, maybe even better, especially considering the game was originally designed without sales in mind. But I’m really most happy because of the sheer number of people that have had a chance to try it out! 😀 I hope you’re all having fun with the game!


Date Trials Purchases
8/26/2010 385 8
8/27/2010 296 4
8/28/2010 219 10
8/29/2010 176 6
Grand Total 1076 28

Purchase/Trial Ratio: 2.60 %

Hideout! Now Available on Xbox Live!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Hideout! has now been released on the Xbox 360! You can find it for download (with a free trial game) in the indie games section of the Xbox Live Marketplace or visit the game’s website at to watch the game trailer and find out more information. I had a tonne of fun making this game, so I hope you have just as much fun playing it!

Hideout! box art

If you have a moment to rate the game, it would be greatly appreciated as ratings strongly impact the number of people who will try out the game. Special thanks to everyone who helped with the development and testing of this game — It’s because of you that this game grown into such a fun experience! Happy gaming!

Hideout! screenshot


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720p Title Safe GUI Template

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I am currently in the process of porting Hideout! to the Xbox 360 with XNA. As a part of this process, I needed to create a Photoshop GUI template for my GUI artist to ensure that our game would work well on all TVs. I thought this template may be useful to other developers as well:

Title-Safe-GUI-Template-PSD Title-Safe-GUI-Template-PNG

This file is essentially a compilation of notes from Best Practices for Indie Games and this topic. The guides (cyan lines) that you see are markings for 10% and 20% of total width and height. I chose these markings based on some comments by Shawn Hargreaves concerning development of professional games for the Xbox:

Native Xbox games have two different safe areas. They are strongly recommended to keep everything within 80%, and strictly required to keep everything within 90%. A single UI pixel outside the 90% region is an instant cert fail. UI outside the 80% region is going to get mentioned in the cert report, and they’ll most likely be asked to fix it, but if a big commercial developer pushes back and decides they don’t want to do that, it’s not a totally rigid requirement.

For indie games, there is no official cert and thus no rigid fail threshold. Our recommendation for indie games is exactly the same as for commercial titles: Microsoft thinks all games should keep all UI within the 80% region, and would love it if every developer would do this.

I have included notes about font size, as well as how much space is needed if you would like to make a 4:3 alternative.

4:3 Alternative

This 4:3 alternative can be achieved by simply changing the BackBuffer width in XNA to 960px instead of 1280px and letting XNA do the rest of the scaling. To stay within the 20% to 10% title safe area, you will need between 256 (20%) and 288 (10%) pixels in between left, center, and right aligned GUI elements. When you have shrunk the width to 960px, your GUI elements should still just fit within the title safe area after being moved closer together so long as you have left this extra space.

Concluding Thoughts

As a designer, I do understand the challenge of creating a well balanced and pleasing layout without being able to use 20% of your screen space… But that said, I must say that if you are looking to create a game that everyone can enjoy (which I hope you are), you should take on the challenge of keeping all critical elements within that 80% area. The minimum font size of 14 points is also a bit on the small size: Do not use this for common gameplay text, but instead lean towards around 20 point at minimum.