Blogging the Process

So as you might be able to tell from the relative lack of activity on the site of late, we’re pretty busy with something? What is it, you ask? Well, we’re not quite ready to spill the full set of beans yet, but it’s a game. Yes, a video game. For a console. Ah, but which console, you ask? The answer should be fairly obvious, of course, since only one console offers official support for Indie games: Xbox 360, specifically the Community Games service. More details to come later.

Beyond that, however, I have to tell you that the process to date has been incredibly educational. While we’re making excellent progress to date we’ve had a few hurdles, not the least of which was simply finding enough time in everyone’s busy schedule (all of us have lives and jobs that don’t include this process, an unfortunate by-product of the need to eat). Among some other challenges, though, are things you wouldn’t necessarily realize are as difficult as they are. For starters, defining an appropriate art style was incredibly difficult, and our very talented art crew has worked really hard to come up with a look that is both unique and interesting while still being very professional. We’ve looked to some great classic titles for reference, but we’ve also been very inspired by a lot of the hand painted “retro” stylings of upcoming titles like the A Boy and His Blob remake for the Nintendo Wii.

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A narrowing of focus

Over the past few years we’ve covered a fairly broad range of topics on this site, blogging about anything even tangentially related to the Games Industry. At the same time we’ve provided period reviews of titles both big and small on all platforms. Heck, we’ve even covered Industry Events such as E3, E for All and others, with our team of…well, admittedly lazy but quite zealous geeks marauding about assorted booths taking pictures of scantily clad babes, playing stuff that hasn’t been released and generally having a good time.

But the raison d’etre of the Ugly Baby Studios team has always been the development of fun ideas, especially those relating to games and animated shorts. We’ve participated in (and actually did pretty well at!) film festivals with ridiculously short deadlines, we’ve worked on Mod projects, and generally had a good time doing all of it. Now it’s getting a little more serious, and so we’re honing in the focus of both our team and our site. As we move forward from now, we’re zooming in on Independent Games, with a special focus on XNA and Xbox Live Community Games (XBLC), which may just be the most significant turn to ever hit a games console or the Indie Developer scene. We’ll have some announcements coming a little further down the pike with regards to this topic.

As always, UBS will remain a blog, and as such we’ll do periodic reviews, though we’ll focus these on Indie Games (or their demos if we’re too cheap to buy the full game). We’ll blog about tools and techniques that you can use in your own Indie Games, and we’ll interview and have conversations with other Independent Development teams who’re working on their breakaway masterpieces as we speak. Any way you slice it, though, this narrowing of focus and reinvigoration of purpose will enable us to deliver a superior experience as we move forward, and we hope you’ll join us.

If there’s something specific you’d like to see covered, by all means let us know! We’re always open to hearing from you and believe me, we read every email we get from those who feel the need to drop us a line. If we can make your experience on the web a better one, don’t hesitate to tell us how.

To XNA with Love: Clover

[singlepic=39,180,120,,left]The web is semi abuzz with the news that Indie Studio Binary Tweed has announced an ambitious new XNA Community Games Project: Clover. The game is described as being laced with political themes, which sounds like it could make for an interesting bit of storytelling. The art is all done in a watercolor style and looks nice overall, though to be honest I feel like there should be some depth or perspective or something, I’m not quite sure. Work in progress, though, and a screenshot often fails to convey a game’s look in motion.

What’s most important, though, is that Binary Tweed appears to be taking the development of small Indie Games quite seriously, which I think is going to be a very wise move as Community Developed content moves forward in importance. To date, most of the XBLC games I’ve seen have been interesting from a “share and examine” point of view, but there are very few I’d feel good about paying money for (It’s quite unfortunate that Microsoft doesn’t allow indies to release games on the service for free). However, from the early looks and description of Clover I hope that I’ll be pleasantly surprised when it finally releases this quarter.

Good luck, Binary Tweed, we’re rooting for you!

XNA Game Studio 2 released!

xnalogo.jpgFor all of you aspiring games creators out there (we know, you’re legion, blah, blah, blah), Microsoft has released the newΒ  XNA Game Studio version 2.0 today! Along with various UI improvements, the update brings n00bs the ability to create game content that allows multiplayer gaming over Xbox Live. My advice? Do yourself a favor and check the sucker out at the Creator’s Club website as soon as you can! Or, you know…not. Your call, really!

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