Community Games: Interview with Xavi Sanchez

Welcome back to day 5 and the final day of our week long focus on the Xbox Live Community Games. Today we are glad to feature an interview with Xavi Sanchez CEO, Game Designer, and Project Manager of Evolution Dreams Studio. Evolution Dreams Studio are the developers of the Community Game Planet Delta, a match 3 style puzzle game.

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DHGF -What inspired you to make and game, and what drew you to using XNA?

XS – First of all I would like to say that I am part of a team and a company, Evolution Dreams Studio. The idea of Planet Delta was inspired by a very old Korean arcade game. We have played that game a lot of times and we had our own ideas to improve it, so we designed a whole new game with that game’s spirit.

The game was first developed for PC/MAC (MAC version coming soon) but as we have done some tests on XNA we thought that porting the game would be interesting to the new market, Community Games.

DHGF -Can you provide a description of your game?

XS – The game is a journey to the core of planet Delta. The gameplay is an addictive and original 3-match game with an original control system like a pinball. The player can choose his own path to the core, with an Outrun system. The game offers a travel through mountains, jungles, caves and more, exploring the inside of the far-off planet Delta.

DHGF -How long did it take to create?

XS – The whole game took a lot of time, maybe a year, but we were working on some other things like a multiplatform framework (PC/Mac) for this game and the ones to come. We were also searching for financing, starting up the company,…

The XBOX version took about 3 months 1 programmer and some help of others.

DHGF -Can you describe the process of finishing, testing, then completing your game?

XS – Finishing a game is a hard thing to do. Near the end of a project there are a lot of small issues to deal with and you have to make cuts somewhere. Finishing a game that uses a new technology like XNA and uploading it to a new system like Community Games adds some new problems too.

To test the PC version we made a contest where the price was the full game. The contestants had to play a beta version and then fill a questionnaire about the game and report bugs. It was a nice experiment. As we have tested a lot the PC version, the XBOX testing was about storage, multiple controllers, sessions…

DHGF-Was it difficult trying to figure out a price point for your game?

XS – Fixing a price of a game for a new distribution system is not easy, but as there are two prices that are extreme options it only remains one. You can only set a game to 200 points if it is a very cheap game (short production), and if you set it to 800 points you will be fighting with the Arcade games in a less popular distribution system.

(Editor’s Note – The PC version of the same game is actually more expensive, so technically Evolution Studios is providing a discount for the game at 400 points)

DHGF- The Community Games just recently launched on Xbox Live, is there anything you’d like to see changed or added to the service in the future?

XS – We would like Microsoft to advertise more the Community and to show the creators the sales of their games. There are minor issues to improve but they are working on them.

DHGF -Is there anything you’d like to say to anyone out there who might be interested in creating a game or using the XNA service?

XS – Maybe XNA and Community Games are the best way to start. While XNA is an easy to use but powerful framework, Community Games is a very good opportunity to show your work to a big audience.

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