Planning Out an OUYA Launch Title

Photo of prototype running on OUYA

After hammering out a prototype for the CREATE game jam (partly to prove to myself I can make this game), I’ve been planning out the development cycle for my upcoming OUYA game, Project Onslaught. In terms of time frame, there are a few known dates:

  1. February 11th – CREATE finalists announced
  2. February 18th – CREATE winners announced. At this point, I’ll know for sure what my budget is. Keeping my fingers crossed!
  3. March 4th – Classes begin again for me, splitting my focus
  4. March 8th – Chuck, fellow OUYA enthusiast, comes to visit for a while and help out, which will help offset classes starting up again
  5. March 25-29 – GDC week
  6. March 28 – OUYA Launch Party (but not necessarily console launch)

There’s no official launch date set yet, but as the “launch” party is during GDC week in March, the apparent best plan of action is to be done by GDC. That said, they could hypothetically launch the console any time in March based on the Kickstarter dates, but I highly doubt it’ll be in the beginning of the month. Ultimately, that gives me about 8 weeks to develop a 3D hack ‘n slash game.

I’ll also be starting “from scratch” in the sense that I won’t be using the prototype code. I went into the CREATE game jam with the rule that I won’t carry over the prototype code so I could make it as hacky as needed to meet the deadline, and I’ll be sticking to it. It wasn’t wasted time – it was a solid proof of concept, and it gave me a much better sense of how to structure everything.  Plus, looking back at it for reference is fine, I just won’t be copying it fully.

With the 8-week time frame in mind, I needed to figure out what the minimum viable product (MVP) is. The MVP, as its name implies, is the bare minimum that needs to get done by launch for a solid game release. Updates after launch are definitely planned, but when the game comes out, we’ll need:

  • 4-player support, local multiplayer
  • 4 hero types to choose from, so everyone can be something different if they want
  • Arcade Mode – Basically, one or more game modes that are focused on high scores, replayability, etc. Arcade mode will be free content.
  • Campaign Mode – At least the first “chapter” available. The first level or two will be free, with the full campaign available for purchase (potentially released on a chapter-by-chapter basis)
  • Power-ups/consumables – think Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. These have the potential to add a lot of fun to gameplay, and should also help the player feel like a complete badass from time to time
  • Basic character progression. At a minimum, XP and levels that give more HP. Preferably, a few basic stats that can be increased. Nothing more complex than that – it should be a game you can sit down and play without fiddling with complex stats/builds/etc

With all of that in mind, I’ve got a rough, tentative schedule written out. It’s super-duper subject to change, but for now:

  • Week of Jan 27: Re-implement player controls and basic combat mechanics (i.e. attack stuff to kill it). Hopefully knock out multiple hero types in one shot.
  • Week of Feb 3: Enemies. Lots of work on enemies, to give lots of options for building levels/scenarios. Also includes polishing combat mechanics.
  • Week of Feb 10: Build Arcade mode. Pretty much a more robust variation of the existing combat prototype. Cross fingers and hope to win CREATE prize money to fund art assets
  • Week of Feb 17: Start working on a framework to build levels for the campaign mode. Discover I won prize money and rejoice! Or, failing that, congratulate the winners on a job well done =]
  • Week of Feb 24: Finish campaign-building framework, and anything else missing in core gameplay.
  • Weeks of March 3, 10: Content! Build content! (Also a buffer for slips in earlier plans)
  • Week of March 17: Feature freeze. Polish. Only finishing up campaign content along with polishing and bug fixes – anything that hasn’t made it in yet won’t be in at launch (but hopefully will be shortly afterward!)
  • Week of March 24: GDC week! Potential launch week! Network, talk about the game, go to talks, etc.
  • Following weeks: Game maintenance, work on new content, etc.

I will, of course, be posting blog updates along the way as things progress. I wholeheartedly expect the schedule to change drastically before I’m done, but I’ve got a rough outline hammered out for now at least until more details develop. Part of the reason all of March is content is that I’ll also be busy with schoolwork, so I’d prefer content development and polishing to hardcore coding binges. That, and it gives a bit of flexibility if the console launch is announced earlier than expected.

It’s going to be an intense two months, but if it’s anything like the game jam was: this is going to be damn fun!


2 thoughts on “Planning Out an OUYA Launch Title

  1. James Andrew Coote

    I’m doing a similar process with my OUYA game. However, I’m aiming to get all the features done by end of February, so that the whole of March can be spent just testing, polishing, IAP and localization.

    It’s kinda harsh, but it’d be better to have, say arcade mode done super-polished, so that when it comes to launch, people enjoy it and will be excited for new features coming out a couple of weeks after launch. Rather than having a larger game with more features, but that comes off a bit meh.

    1. Zach Hoefler Post author

      Yeah, that’s definitely a route I’m considering. I’m still playing it by ear though until I get some more progress, but worst case I’ll have an arcade mode and something signifying “coming soon” for campaign mode.


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