With his new one-man indie studio Radiangames
, development veteran Luke Schneider is taking on an ambitious business model: releasing a downloadable game to Microsoft's Xbox Live Indie Games service roughly once a month.
The first, set to launch some time in May, will be Radiangames JoyJoy
, a twin-stick shooter. It's a genre Schneider says has fallen into stagnancy, and he hopes to reinvigorate it with "unique visual style, fluid gameplay, and lots of customization."
Like Q-Games' PixelJunk
series and Arkedo's Arkedo Series
games, Schneider wants his individual releases to form a cohesive body of work.
"I hope players will come to identify Radiangames as meaning intense and satisfying action games with a unique visual style running at 60 frames per second," he told Gamasutra in an interview.
Schneider brings with him over a decade of core game development experience. He served for several years at Volition, where he was most recently the lead technical designer and lead multiplayer designer on 2009's Red Faction Guerrilla
Prior to that, he was a designer at Volition's predecessor Outrage Games for six years, during which time he worked on various titles including Descent 3
"Microsoft has given developers an unprecedented opportunity with Xbox Live Indie Games that has thus far been underutilized," Schneider said in a statement, "and I intend to make the most of that opportunity and show the true potential of focused, professional developers and an open console platform."
Schneider has been planning his return to the indie scene for some time. He explained to Gamasutra that he briefly tried his hand at indie development with a Game Boy Advance and Xbox puzzle game in 2003, but was unable to secure a traditional publishing deal. The more decentralized nature of digital distribution, however, has created a better environment for small-scale developers
The Xbox Live Indie Games service "lets me focus on games, rather than worry about logistics of finding publishers or negotiating with platform holders," he said. "I just get to make lots of small, awesome games as quickly as possible."
Of course, the platform has its own demands, and Schneider has put a lot of thought into those idiosyncrasies. "Like the iPhone, Xbox Live Indie Games sales are very chart-dependent," he told Gamasutra. "If you don't get your game onto the 'top downloads' or 'top rated' charts during your time in the new releases [section], your game is basically dead in terms of sales" -- making early attention paramount.
"There are other critical details that you have to get right," he added, "such as not making a multiplayer-centric game, not over-pricing, and getting the player into the fun right away."
The nature of his accelerated development plan means Schneider can adjust some factors, like pricing and release frequency, depending on early sales metrics. He expects to spend about two months developing each game, with a price point of $1 or $3.
"I know the arguments for pricing a game higher, but my wish is that people try one game in the series, and automatically buy the others from then on out and encourage others to do the same," Schneider said. "If that happens, everyone wins."