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Why We Made Gridlock For OUYA

on August 28, 2013

We made Gridlock for three main reasons:

  1. It's an idea that had been bouncing around in my head for a long time, and I wanted to play it.
  2. We wanted to try out Unity as a tool.
  3. We wanted to practice making a game that needed a controller (or at least one that felt better with a controller).

Given OUYA and Unity seemed to play well together, it felt like a good combo to try out. The scope of the game is deliberately constrained - job one was to ship something, after all - so we threw out discrete waves pretty early on and made the game continuous. There's no power up system and no online leaderboards. The waves of abstract shapes intent on smashing your turrets are always the same. Making a single player game felt like a good complement to games like TowerFall and the newly-released Gentlemen!, which are designed as multiplayer experiences - something for people to do in between sessions of those games (which are both awesome, in case you haven't tried them out).

The game actually came together really well quite quickly (well, relatively - if we'd been familiar with Unity beforehand the development time might have been halved). Integration with OUYA's system for purchasing went smoothly (testing IAP on the system doesn't involve sandboxing like on iOS, it's kept very simple which I like).

For the purchasing system, you get to play as often as you like, but if you want your game to last more than 60 seconds, you'll have to pay. We made it so you can pay and continue the game you were playing, so if you're on a particularly good scoring run you won't lose the score you've racked up.

Will that model work? I have no idea - it doesn't feel unfair (sometimes I struggle to get 60 seconds into the onslaught), and the price feels about right (we went with $1.99 after some deliberation and examining prices for other games on the platform). We're keeping Gridlock exlusive on OUYA for now, and will report back regarding downloads and sales once we have some data. Our expectations are tempered by the fact we know it's a relatively small audience - in some ways, that's a strong appeal for us - and by the fact this was a learning project for us.

A lot has been written over the past few days and weeks about OUYA's ... miscalculations, shall we say. I'm not going to get into that here, but my experience so far is that the community around the platform is pretty coherent and supportive.

As I post this, I'm making the game live on the OUYA store (it's Thursday in New Zealand, after all). If you have an OUYA, please download and give it a try - would love to hear your feedback on it.

Previously: Introducing Gridlock