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Liuqahs15

Why would anyone develop for Ouya?

28 posts in this topic

Low barrier to entry would be my guess. I've been thinking of getting one simply because it'll be a console for which I can write my own games and it uses an operating system for which I already know something about writing programs (ie. Android). Edited by Oberon_Command
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I wouldn't have a problem developing games for the WikiPad. It's all my dreams come true. Though I've heard (on this board at least) terrible things about the Google Go (assuming that what's needed to develop games on the Android).

Edited by Alpha_ProgDes
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Low barrier to entry would be my guess. I've been thinking of getting one simply because it'll be a console for which I can write my own games and it uses an operating system for which I already know something about writing programs (ie. Android).

 

I agree with that idea conceptually, but other than the fact that it's a console, how does it offer anything different from a desktop/laptop? If you're on windows or linux, everything's wide open. You can make a game in any language it's possible to make games in, and Steam is on both platforms now, so you've got a great, active place to promote your content. How does Ouya compete with that?

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If you've already got an Android game, then porting it to Ouya isn't much work. Seeing it's new, you'll be competing in a very small market (like when the iPhone was new and booming) so maybe you'll get some decent sales.

Like any business question, run the numbers on your costs and your possible benefits. For someone who's already supporting Android, it might be a win.

In the great tradition of Old El Paso, why not support Steam, and Ouya, and Google Play, and the iPhone App Store, and... Edited by Hodgman
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If you've already got an Android game, then porting it to Ouya isn't much work. Seeing it's new, you'll be competing in a very small market (like when the iPhone was new and booming) so maybe you'll get some decent sales.

Like any business question, run the numbers on your costs and your possible benefits. For someone who's already supporting Android, it might be a win.

 

I had your second point in mind, too. It's definitely going to be a chance for people get some attention they normally wouldn't get on other crowded, established platforms. The only concern, then, is whether or not Ouya will last long enough for that to matter.

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I agree with that idea conceptually, but other than the fact that it's a console, how does it offer anything different from a desktop/laptop?

I think the biggest things are the gameplay opportunities afforded by a controller (admittedly possible via PC as well), potential for split-screen games, and easy setup. Try playing 4-player Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. (or any fighting game, for that matter) on a PC. Sure, you could have a player per PC, or have players share a keyboard, and go through all the setup and pain (and lag) that results, but why would you, when you can just turn on a box connected to your TV, hand out controllers, and be playing near-instantly, with no lag (for local split-screen/same screen games), and on a screen large enough to make split-screen worthwhile? I'm not much of a console gamer myself, but I recognize that console and PC games have different niches in terms of gameplay.

Would you ask this same question if we were talking about mobile vs PC? Edited by Oberon_Command
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Keep in mind that Ouya is just another Android device. So, the question is similar to "why should you support the Samsung Galaxy S2?".
It's easy to make a product that supports the Galaxy, and the S2 and the S3, etc, because they're all part of the Android ecosystem.

Likewise, if you've made a game for the iPhone 4, then making a version for the iPhone 3 or the iPhone 5 is a small amount of work (when compared to porting to a whole new platform). If you've made an iOS app, why not release it for all the different types of iOS phones?!

Android is a huge array of devices, including the Ouya, nVidia Shield, Green Throttle, Game Stick, Xperia Play ("PlayStation phone"), and biggest segment of the smart-phone market (almost everything that's not Apple, Windows or Blackberry), and a huge segment of the tablet market (almost everything that's not Apple or Windows).
Just like how when you make a PC game, you have to make changes to ensure it will run on a dual-core or a quad-core or a GeForce GTX 670 or a GeForce 8800... with android you can make small changes to ensure it will run on all the above bits of hardware. Edited by Hodgman
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I think the real question will come down to whether it will be worth it to support the OUYA store or it's apis if it requires special ones. It should be fairly easy to port, but I feel like the market for bluetooth controllers and hooking your tablet up to the tv might compete with ouya too much. I think the major stumbling block for Ouya is that it is launching on hardware that is old today and probably just as next generation consoles are going to be coming out/announced.

 

Did anyone here get a devkit? Are you allowed to post first impressions?

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Well, here is my list of pros for developing for the Ouya:

 

1. It is a new market (alternative home consoles), and to create a good IP in a new game market (similar to the early days of smartphones with iOS leading the pack) is a very good way to get your foot in the proverbial door and gain a new and loyal audience. It is also great for game visibility for this same reason.

 

2. It is a home console. For the first time, you can (without extensive registration) develop for a console with locked in hardware and a unique controller, so there is no platform fragmentation, no driver issues, no porting issues, and there is really no need for extensive hardware support.

 

3. It is cheap. This is one of the biggest boons to the Ouya's existence.  The low price tag and functionality of a console for the TV with a controller will attract a new, colorful, and potentially fruitful market, not just "the core" who buys the same games every year. The industry is being killed by "the core" and its expectations and purchases. New markets that aren't very much into games (including but not limited to casual players) would probably find a 2D indie sidescrolling airplane game funner than someone who expects to go out and buy a 3D AAA boob-frag-kill festival each year, because they have different interests and come from different tastes in being entertained.

 

4. It could go to retail sales. This would be maybe the only way to attract said new markets. This may in fact make it successful. By retail, I mean shelf space, not just online stores from Target, Best Buy, etc. Ouya already has that.

 

... and the cons:

 

1. It is vanilla Android powered. Android is messy. It is not only messy, but it is a smartphone operating system that is made to work on thousands of different devices. It is not by any means optimized for games. Battery monitoring, 3G network connection status, text message buffers, etc. take up more memory and processing than I would care to waste. The NDK isn't something to brag about, either. Many games that are made for PC are not made in Java. Yes, there are a few (notably Minecraft), but Ouya should have tried a different approach on modifying it to cater more to native development, perhaps not requiring Java/JNI usage at all. I might be biased, but I hate Java programming, messy API's, and driver issues.

 

2. They follow a mobile iteration strategy. The developers of Ouya recently stated that a new version of the console will come out every year, akin to mobile phones and tablets. They are making a game console not a tablet/phone. Most consumers are looking for a console like the Xbox or PlayStation that only cycles once every 5-6 years. This will be a major obstacle in attracting said new markets, and may be the one thing that could make Ouya fail.

 

3. The specs. I am by no means a "graphics whore", nor are the owners of the Ouya going to probably be. But, only 8 gigabytes of hard drive space for a console that runs on digital distribution and has a free trial of every game is completely insane. Not only would this generate intense competition for hard drive space (as if purchases weren't enough), but this would also be yet another reason to NOT buy it. Also, the system's main processor is a Tegra 3. Nvidia's Shield, which is basically the same thing but handheld and a bit pricier, has a Tegra 4. That isn't going to end well for the Ouya.

 

4. It might NOT go on retail sales. If it doesn't go on retail sales, I can see it being one of those niche gaming machines that no one cares about that you see maybe a few nostalgic posts on /r/gaming (Reddit), not dissimilar to that old vector graphics game console from the '80's.

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Yep, when the Ouya guys said a new Ouya every year, they were dead to me. Might as well just buy a controller for your PC and go to an indie game site at that point.
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Yep, when the Ouya guys said a new Ouya every year, they were dead to me. Might as well just buy a controller for your PC and go to an indie game site at that point.

 

Actually it was quite the opposite reaction for me.

 

It's like a hybrid of PC and Console development without the fragmentation of the open Android marketplace.

You'll pick your lowest end Ouya device your game should run on, currently that means the Tegra3 device they're launching.

In a years time no-one is going to be playing your game anyway, but if someone does then it will run on the new hardware.

Each iteration is a fixed target, you don't have to worry so much about resolution, fitting into memory, etc.

You just choose a control scheme, a device and get developing.

 

That removes a lot of the configuration issues that the PC has, and the device capability fragmentation that Android suffers from. Brilliantly however the one a year update cycle also means that you won't get stuck with the ridiculous problem we have on console development where a mid-range PC is 20x more powerful than the consoles you're developing for.

 

For that matter it's an Android device with everything that entails so you can still cross develop for PC just like regular console development.

 

The fact that there'll be a another better version each year is a plus from my perspective, I can pick a low-end device with a possibly larger market, or a high-end device with some early adopters craving things to show it off. Or some hybrid approach.

 

I think it's worth investigating, there's already going to be a large number of version 1 Ouya devices out there so if you can get onto their Ouya specific marketplace then you've got a very focused group of people who will want software for it.

 

It's not the 2nd coming or anything but it's certainly interesting.

 

Andy

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Keep in mind that Ouya is just another Android device. So, the question is similar to "why should you support the Samsung Galaxy S2?".
It's easy to make a product that supports the Galaxy, and the S2 and the S3, etc, because they're all part of the Android ecosystem.

No. This is true for any other ecosystem besides Android, but for Android it is no small feat to support many devices. In fact only masochists even try.
I have watched my coworker’s heart turn black and crusted since he got assigned to do Android work.

What works on one device is almost guaranteed not to work on another, particularly with shader support. All devices except those with Adreno GPU’s allow arrays of samplers. On Adreno you have to figure out how to work around this. If you didn’t set up a preprocessing system for your scripts so that you can convert things at run-time you are basically screwed.
I don’t know the details since I am not working on Android but there was another problem that held him up for months. “The shader compiles on every device except this one and I don’t know why.” I don’t know how he fixed it what the problem was, but developing for Android is nothing but a mess of a nightmare in which you keep thinking you have awakened but you haven’t, so when the horror comes back again it is even scarier because you think you are awake.

I’ve almost made a new Internet show called The Angry Android Developer Nerd. Now with twice the anger.


However Ouya has the advantage that if it works on one then it works on all, at least for a year. Being in control of the development of their own device I am sure that newer systems will play older games with no problem, but then you have the pain in the ass of developing for newer systems with fallbacks for older ones.
As long as they have C++/NDK support and remotely decent development tools I will port my engine over and develop for it. Until there are too many different Ouya devices out there.


L. Spiro
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I agree with that idea conceptually, but other than the fact that it's a console, how does it offer anything different from a desktop/laptop?

Would you ask this same question if we were talking about mobile vs PC?

 

I like your points about playing multiplayer games, but that does play into one of my worries: The Ouya may just turn into a fancy emulation box. I'm not really interested in paying $99 for a console that I'm just going to play Nintendo 64 emulations on (especially considering there were only like 5 good N64 games--but I digress). I recognize that you're making the point that emulation is just part of the whole package, and there will of course be new, Ouya-specific multiplayer games to play as well, but that leads me again to worry about who will be developing them.

 

To answer your question, I wouldn't put mobile platforms against the PC in this way. But that's only because iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices have an entirely new interface, and entirely different markets (at least in terms of expectations). I don't think a game like Fruit Ninja would've been as popular if it was launched in Steam, and you played with a controller. The Ouya seems to be trying to offer a market similar to mobile--smaller, cheaper games--but without the huge, thriving consumer base that already exists on actual mobile platforms.

 

On the other hand, of course, is the one thing they brought up on their Kickstarter: The Ouya is a single console with a single user interface. You don't have to be confused about how users will interact with your game. When developing for the PC, obviously you don't have that luxury. And development on the big 3 consoles is only possible for a fairly privileged few dev companies. In that regard, I see one huge benefit to Ouya development.

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I like your points about playing multiplayer games, but that does play into one of my worries: The Ouya may just turn into a fancy emulation box. I'm not really interested in paying $99 for a console that I'm just going to play Nintendo 64 emulations on (especially considering there were only like 5 good N64 games--but I digress). I recognize that you're making the point that emulation is just part of the whole package, and there will of course be new, Ouya-specific multiplayer games to play as well, but that leads me again to worry about who will be developing them.

Actually, I wasn't trying to say much of anything about emulation, since it's not really relevant to the point I was making, so no, I'm not saying that emulation is "just part of the whole package". I was just using those games as examples of the kind of multiplayer games I believe work well on consoles.
 

To answer your question, I wouldn't put mobile platforms against the PC in this way. But that's only because iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices have an entirely new interface, and entirely different markets (at least in terms of expectations).

This is what I was really getting at. Console and PC ecosystems have different expectations, just like mobile and PC ecosystems do. Now that I think of it, we may be digressing away from "why should anyone make anything for Ouya" and getting more into "why should anyone make anything for consoles in general," so I won't harp further on this point.

On the other hand, of course, is the one thing they brought up on their Kickstarter: The Ouya is a single console with a single user interface. You don't have to be confused about how users will interact with your game. When developing for the PC, obviously you don't have that luxury. And development on the big 3 consoles is only possible for a fairly privileged few dev companies. In that regard, I see one huge benefit to Ouya development.

Exactly. I would say that (if I judge things right) the Ouya is really about trying to get the advantages that a console provides, without having to deal with as many (or any, ideally) of the usual non-technical barriers developers face when doing console development. Edited by Oberon_Command
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Lots of people who buy Ouyas will have big flat screen TVs. Lots of computer users squint at their tiny little laptop screens. Making a game for TV opens up a world of brighter colors and higher resolutions.

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Lots of people who buy Ouyas will have big flat screen TVs. Lots of computer users squint at their tiny little laptop screens. Making a game for TV opens up a world of brighter colors and higher resolutions.

TVs aren't high resolution.
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If they are releasing a new Ouya each year, it could get messy.

 

I mean, not from a CPU side since ARM isn't going out soon, but there are many GPU possibilities around. This year is Tegra, maybe next will be PowerVR and in that single maneuver you get all the bad sides of smartphone development in the console.

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TVs aren't high resolution.

1920x1080 isn't high resolution? That's 2K, and we have 4K tvs coming just around the corner.
 

If they are releasing a new Ouya each year, it could get messy.
 
I mean, not from a CPU side since ARM isn't going out soon, but there are many GPU possibilities around. This year is Tegra, maybe next will be PowerVR and in that single maneuver you get all the bad sides of smartphone development in the console.

Yep, it's contrary to the reasons for even owning one. They should be on a 5 year release cycle at least. The high end tablets have been doing the same thing and they are obsolete almost the second you buy them. Especially with the Tegra line. Most Tegra games are just flimsy tech demos to show off the latest hardware.

Also it means these things are being produced simply to end up in a landfill. We have too many electronics on the planned obsolesce path.

But it's not like they weren't headed for a landfill anyways. They'll be buried beside those legendary unsold E.T. carts. Edited by Daaark
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1920x1080 isn't high resolution? That's 2K, and we have 4K tvs coming just around the corner.

It's a tiny bit shy of 2k. My PC monitor is actually 2k at 2048x1152.

4k displays still cost the same as a car, so they're not likely to be seen alongside an Ouya soon wink.png

Anyway I think way2lazy2care's point was that TV's aren't usually higher resolution than PCs... but a 1080p TV may be higher resolution than a cheap laptop.

 

 

What works on one device is almost guaranteed not to work on another, particularly with shader support. All devices except those with Adreno GPU’s allow arrays of samplers. On Adreno you have to figure out how to work around this. If you didn’t set up a preprocessing system for your scripts so that you can convert things at run-time you are basically screwed.
I don’t know the details since I am not working on Android but there was another problem that held him up for months. “The shader compiles on every device except this one and I don’t know why.”

Honestly that just sounds like working with GL on PC laugh.png

I'm sure that there are other, non GL, examples though -- yeah, each extra device is a (potentially messy) port, but it's a smaller port than going from Windows to your first Android device.

Edited by Hodgman
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Yep, it's contrary to the reasons for even owning one. They should be on a 5 year release cycle at least. The high end tablets have been doing the same thing and they are obsolete almost the second you buy them. Especially with the Tegra line. Most Tegra games are just flimsy tech demos to show off the latest hardware.

It is something they can avoid with some planning. If Ouya sells well, I could see nVidia collaborating with Ouya team to keep them on track with their technology (probably they already are collaborating right now).

 

We have yet to see how things will unfold. Maybe it will pass under the radar and be forgotten forever. Maybe it will successful and Samsung and Apple will make their own Galaxy iThings to compete...

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It's a tiny bit shy of 2k. My PC monitor is actually 2k at 2048x1152.

Those are the video and film industry's terms. It's off by 80 pixels, but I guess they figure they get them back from the last 80 in 1080. It's considered 2Kx1K rounded off.

IT's also used in the mastering process.

HDTV / Blu = 2K

And theatrical prints are often be mastered at 4K (3840) or 8K (7680).
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If you understand why people may buy it, surely that answers why people may develop for it? Same argument as for any other platforms really:
* Because you have one and want to play your games on it.
* Because porting from Android is easy (and for commercial, you don't need as many additional sales to cover the cost of porting).
* Because even if sales aren't as good as the other consoles, you might benefit from less competition, or getting in there early (and if it is popular - which is very possible given the low price - all the better, and for some it's worth taking the risk now).
* Because you want to write for consoles, but don't want to deal with the barriers usually associated with console development.
* Because you want to support "open" platforms.

Personally I like PC/laptop gaming and wonder why people bother with consoles, but that's an argument against any console, and evidently many people like consoles. I think one benefit seems to be better controllers that are available and supported as standard.

@Hodgman: Presumably you have to worry about using a controller rather than touchscreen, so although porting may be easy from a code point of view, it's not quite yet another Android phone/tablet.

@MrJoshL: I generally agree with you, but some nitpicks:

"(similar to the early days of smartphones with iOS leading the pack"

Incidentally, for sales IOS never led the smartphone pack (Symbian number one until 2011, Android since then). I wouldn't call 2008 early days at all (that was more like 2000 - by 2005, even bog standard mainstream cheap feature phones did Internet, games and apps), but several other smartphones outsold IOS too (BlackBerry, even Windows Mobile) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone#Historical_sales_figures ). Although yes, people were happy to develop for IOS despite sales, either because of perceived future growth, or other reasons - so all the more reason that I don't see the reason to criticise people developing for any other new platform (especially one that's really just a slight variant of an already massively popular OS).

"Android is messy."

It's less friendly and with less options to develop for than say Windows desktop, but how does it compare to other consoles like PS3? Also, these issues haven't stopped people developing games for phones and tablets in general. I think using Android is better than trying to create new APIs, as even though they might be easier, it would be extra effort for those who already know or develop for Android. I guess the obvious alternative choice would have been GNU/Linux, but I can see them being tempted by the large pool of Android developers.

I agree about low storage - in general, I'd argue that this is the biggest thing holding back phone/tablet games. They're more than capable of reasonable 3D games, but such high end games typically take ~1GB of storage, so people don't have room to install many, and most games end up with simpler graphics. When competing with consoles, this difference may be more unacceptable to users.

It supports USB though, I wonder if this would support storing applications on an external disk?
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