Blog 1 - XNA to Unity
To those of you who have kept up to date with our indie game journey over the past six years, you'll no doubt have noticed that 2014 has been a relatively quiet year. In fact, it's been the only year since we began in which we've failed to release a single game. It's been far from quiet here at Battenberg Software however - this is not a blog about taking a year out from the stresses (!) of games development. We've spent the time making huge changes to the way we will be approaching our work for the foreseeable future, with the sole aim of making more games that are bigger, better and more playable.
The Demise of XNA?
Although there has been little official mention about the future of XNA, growing concern in the community seems now to have turned into acceptance that the service is being discontinued. Not least because...
  • At time of writing the Xbox Live Indie Games Development site has not been updated in over two years.
  • Developer consensus is that fewer people are playing, and therefore buying, indie games off the Xbox 360 dashboard.
  • 15 indie games were released in November 2014, down from a peak of around 60-100 every month.
To cut to the chase, here's the techie bit: we've made the decision that we will no longer be developing games in XNA, and we will no longer be releasing anything via Xbox Live Indie Games on the Xbox 360. We will now be programming in Unity, and we will most likely be releasing for several platforms although we're still in the process of determining exactly which ones (although PC is a certainty). Unity is an incredibly powerful cross-platform games development tool which is now a market leader in the games development field, with developers from indie level upwards opting for it because of its ease of use and affordability. We've known about it for a while and once we decided to finally get our hands dirty with it, we jumped in, we did our research and we liked what we saw. One purchase of a professional license later and we're ready to go.
Now don't get us wrong - as far as we're concerned XNA is a fantastic language and its introduction was a real game changer for indie developers. It almost seemed too good to be true that Microsoft not only gave us this framework to develop games on a major console (who'd have thought that would've ever been possible 5 or 10 years previously?), but also gave us the ability to publish them, to sell them and even to make serious money from them. That was literally why Battenberg Software was created, and 27,000 game sales later, we are eternally grateful. But times change, and the scene moves on. XNA and Xbox Live Indie games are not what they once were and the opportunity of reaching out to gamers via the platform has sadly dwindled over the past couple of years. And we were never solely Xbox Live Indie Game developers - we were merely games developers who were using the platform we saw most promise in and felt most passionate about.
If we were nothing more than hobbyists, if we weren't interested in selling games or getting large numbers of people to play them - running a business essentially - we'd probably still be programming in XNA now such was the fun we had with it. We'd also built up a considerable library of tools from our previous projects that gave us a stable base with plenty of useful bits of functionality for all future projects. Sadly, that will be consigned to the digital shelf for now, but the experience has been invaluable. We released 10 Xbox Live Indie Games, and people still comment on the upward trend in the quality and playability of our games over time. We tried, we succeeded, we failed, and we learnt as we went along.
And so, to the future - Unity is an exciting new challenge for us which should allow us to make better games than ever before, potentially on several platforms. We don't see the change of platform as an excuse to release a simple game just for the sake of it while we learn the ropes - we're not one of those companies who feels the need to remind you we're alive. The game will come, and they'll be worth the wait, which is why we've spent a year getting up to scratch. 2015 could well be a big year for Battenberg Software as our first Unity titles are released.

XNA Unity
XNA Code Unity