Release Date:2009-08-05
Platform(s):Xbox 360 (Indie Games)
Publisher:Microsoft Indie Game Channel

The Review Channel

I developed and released The Review Channel independently for Xbox LIVE Indie Games in 2009. The Review Channel allowed players to rate existing games (with a percentage), and add new games to the review Channel. The Review Channel found other peoples reviews through Xbox LIVE matchmaking, and compiled everyone you met on Xbox LIVE's reviews into an average (like metacritic). These reviews could be sorted and searched providing the player with valuable information on whether a game was worth purchasing or not based on the opinions of other players who have reviewed it.

About the Game

After creating Beat IT! and Beat IT! Christmas edition for Xbox LIVE Indie Games, I had a good understanding of the development and review processes of creating games or software for Xbox LIVE Indie games. I decided this time to think of a useful application, instead of a game. Having seen a demo for sharing scoreboard's over XBOX Live with other players, I then tried to think of other applications for sharing small amounts of data peer-to-peer through Xbox LIVE. What I came up with was The Review Channel. Basic game information (Game Title, Genre, Developer and % Score) could be written quickly through the Xbox 360's input devices. The Review Channel when running would constantly look for "players". Once a player was found, they would automatically join the "game", and their reviews would be merged with the host's reviews. Each "Player" would receive every other players reviews. The reviews were automatically compiled, so that any number of reviews for the same game would be added together, and the average of all the review scores became the overall score for that game. Each game could be expanded in the interface to show the reviews that made up its overall score. This therefore snowballed, so that reviews were shared with everyone.

The functionality proved very successful in the short term before Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 Dashboard in August 2009, to enable players to review XBOX Live content "officially" integrated into the dashboard.

The development process for The Review Channel was quite smooth. I aimed to produce something that looked as high quality as the Xbox 360's dashboard itself and fitted roughly with their style, without ripping them off. I believe The Review Channel was successful in this respect, and the underlying system of peer-to-peer sharing of information worked better than I expected.

The Review Channel was written in C# using XNA. I programmed the entire project on my own and developed all of the art and sound in the application and released it throughout Europe and America. It had a spike of success, which then diminished when Microsoft released the review system integrated into the Dashboard update.

Skills and Experiences

The Review Channel was the first game I developed that used the Xbox LIVE multiplayer system. This application incorporated "behind the scenes" match making and peer-to-peer information sharing over the "closed" network of Xbox LIVE. This provided me with new programming challenges and learning the XBOX Live framework. The application itself was fairly simple, but was developed to give the end user the least amount of input for the return of the most amount of information. This was successful and players / users could review games quickly and easily, and The Review Channel would automatically update with the reviews of other players online.