Okay so this is my first time in writing this dev diary so we'll see how things go.
Recently I took part in the 2014 #cyberpunk jam. The jam ran for around 10 days however I didn't allow myself the full time. This was down to 1 main reason - I didn't like my first idea. My first idea was a 3D, top down shooter with lots of black and neon everywhere. After a few days I decided that the current jam project was getting me nowhere so I scrapped it and started all over again with a new plan.
So with the new plan started, I got to work on a 2.5D runner that evolved into the game currently known as 'Run Cyber Run'. Windows, Mac and Linux versions were posted promptly on itch.io and so post-jam I then started work on porting it to OUYA.
So why bother porting it to OUYA at all?
Well the OUYA may have had a rough start but I purchased one with the goal of getting my own games onto it and in all fairness, it's made a lot of progress in the last few months. So where better to start than with a small unity game? Developing for the OUYA is completely free and seeing as my long term project 'Jim's Night At Work' will also ideally be on the OUYA I thought this would be a good stepping stone. After all, with a larger project you'd prefer to know what you're doing before hand rather than delving into the unknown.
So I started work on the OUYA port. The first place to start was on the OUYA development docs pages. Now, I will admit that on opening the Unity documentations section, I felt a bit overwhelmed with information and was starting to think I would regret this. However I took a deep breath and took each part 1 small step at a time. It turns out the reason that it looked so complicated was just to make sure that you had every last scrap of information that they could provide you with. Upon going through the material, it proved very quickly that this was not going to be the massive task that it initially appeared to be.
Setting up Unity for first time debugging was a bit fiddly but there are step by step instructions to go through so you can have your hand held throughout that process. That's the most difficult part of the whole thing in all honesty. As long as you followed all the steps correctly, sending a product to the OUYA for debugging is pretty simple. Swapping my current controls for the OUYA pad was done in minutes once I had read and understood the documentation, along with the calls for when the system menu is called etc. I'm making this sound more confusing than it actually is, it's really a fairly straightforward process. Using the OUYA ODK controller calls also meant that my game instantly worked with the Xbox 360 and PS3 control pads.
I put this game out completely free so have not done anything with payment systems yet. One step at a time right?
The most tweaking of my game that I had to do was to get it to pass the review process that all OUYA games must go through in order to get on the store. This is basically a quality control check done by real people over at OUYA to make sure that everything fits in with their guidelines.
Now you may be thinking "This is starting to sound like a lot of effort" but actually it's not. OUYA provide you with a downloadable checklist of how they go through their review process. Basically if you hit all the points that apply to your game then it should fly through the review process without any issues. The checklist is mostly basic common sense stuff that can be easily forgotten about in the heat of development, so provides you with a bit of a reminder. Things like making sure your font is big enough to read from 10 feet away from the TV, making sure all font is in the safe zone, making sure the game reacts properly when the system menu is brought up etc. Again - sounds more work than it actually is but this took very little time at all.
The entire porting process took me less than a day to do and the next day I was waving goodbye to my .apk file as I sent it to OUYA to review. I had no idea how long OUYA were going to take and if it would pass or not but around 24 hours later I had a message through to my inbox saying that my game had been approved. Now this was the impressive part, on being approved I could then publish my game whenever I wanted to just by clicking a button.
I was actually out shopping in the supermarket when the email came through so as soon as I got home I clicked that magic 'Publish' button and within seconds it was up on the discover store.
At the time of writing (2 days after launching on Discover store), the OUYA version has had almost 5 times the amount of downloads as all of the other versions of the game combined, 20 user ratings averaging 3 stars and an O-Ranking of 238 (out of over 700 games). These statistics are constantly changing so may already be outdated by the time you read this.
So what did I learn?
It's simple really, publishing to OUYA is incredibly easy. Not only that but for a very small starter developer such as myself, it allows you to be discovered much quicker. Granted I still have a long way to go, but the figures don't lie. For someone trying to break into the industry, the OUYA is simply fantastic.