You could argue that the indie scene is still up for grabs as the launches of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 loom on the horizon, but with developer access opening up, a wealth of handhelds and tablets swamping the market, the OUYA and the Wii U, and PCs still very much part of the picture… are indie developers spoilt for choice or do they have clear plans of attack?
I asked independent developers Simon Roth (VVVVVV, Maia), Byron Atkinson-Jones, Xiotex Studios (So Hungry, Blast Em!) and Simon Barratt, Four Door Lemon (The Lighthouse HD, Table Mini Golf), for how the next generation of consoles look to them and their greater development plans.
Four Door Lemon have become very platform “agnostic”, as they moved to develop more of their own titles. Having already developed a strong relationship with Sony, they’ve had access to a PlayStation 4 development kit for “a while”, according to Simon, “[It] is a great device.” But what are they looking for in terms of support for indie developers looking to develop for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or even the Wii U?
“Ultimately it is about visibility and promotion, having development access and a smooth development and publishing process is great but every indie no matter how big or small needs their games to be financially successful to justify the platform work.”
Developing for both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 will obviously incur costs, from the time put in to development, and coding for specific APIs, however Simon points out that at least the consoles are similarly powered. “[S]o you don’t really need to think about optimising specifically for one or the other whereas Wii U may need extra work to be running at a similar performance level,” he explains and then mentions that for a lot of indies, “pushing the hardware” isn’t their main concern.
Beyond things that plug into your telly, Simon sees further potential in the Vita (Four Door Lemon have already released several games for the handheld) and he’s keen to see where the system will go in light of the PS4’s release. And the 3DS?
“[…] [We] don’t have any direct experience with yet but I’ve been enjoying quite a few titles on it from a gamer point of view, it has a massive market and I’m interested in seeing how Nintendo continue to support indies on their platforms.”
PC and Steam are also key to the Lemon’s plans for eventual world domination, though they are keen on iOS and Android, which they’ve pushed titles onto before. Does this mean that Four Door Lemon are going to hit-up anything with a microprocessor inside it? Of course not:
“There is a huge space for developers to navigate now and really the decision comes down to what the best platform is for your game in terms of marketing, gameplay and audience.”