Julius, Associate Producer, here! Nice to meet you! I’m the producer taking care of our console-related work, and I wanted to talk to you today about what it takes to bring a game to Xbox.
First, we have to make our game run on an Xbox and optimize the game to work on this target hardware. On PC, you have a lot more variance in hardware (from really powerful mega rigs to simple laptops), whereas on Xbox, you have four specs (Xbox One and Xbox One X for last-gen, and Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X for next-gen). This of course, makes our work more straightforward but sets more rigid boundaries.
Optimization itself includes work like setting predefined graphics settings (e.g., anti-aliasing quality, particle quality, shadow resolution, texture details, and geometric details), cleaning unused assets from the game, making sure assets don’t use as much resources (e.g., lowering the texture quality of an asset without losing quality), optimizing game code and generally making the game take advantage of the Xbox’s architecture.
Secondly, a big part of bringing a game to Xbox is certification. Every game that comes out on Xbox has to go through Microsoft’s certification process, where Microsoft tests a game to make sure it respects their standards (e.g., what happens when the controller is disconnected or what happens when the player loses internet connection). This is usually a months-long process since there are many requirements that need to be met, and you want to pass certification as soon as possible.
Before we even sent the game to Microsoft for certification, we tested the game in-house. Also, we worked together with our external testing partner, Testronic, to do full certification testing runs. We had several of these runs, and they produced an extensive list of bugs each time that we needed to tackle.
Once we had tackled those bugs, we sent the game to Microsoft for certification. Having worked on several Xbox titles, I was aware that you usually plan for several certification submissions. The first one sent in to Microsoft rarely passes (not due to lack of quality but because there are many requirements that need to be met and Microsoft is very thorough in their process), and this was no different for us. We didn’t pass the first time, and Microsoft let us know what we need to fix. So finally, after some fixing, further testing, and more submissions, we could release Second Extinction on Xbox!
Despite the rigorous testing and certification submissions, there is always the risk that issues can still slip through the cracks, which happened to us, but we are working nonstop to squash these and other bugs as quickly as we can. And that’s very briefly what goes into releasing a game on Xbox! I hope you enjoyed this post! All the best!
Julius, Associate Producer