Beast Boxing Turbo was originally a PC game, then ported to Ouya, and is currently in the process of being ported to GameStick.
"From a game design point of view, being able to rely upon everyone having a controller at the minimum is great," says developer Gordon Luk on porting his game to microconsoles.
"You don't have to design your game for all sorts of control variations and resolutions, and that makes the process of designing the experience much easier. Plus, I had already invested the effort in adding Xbox 360 controller support for Beast Boxing Turbo's PC/Mac version, so it was mostly test and integration work that had to be done."
Since Luk already had this controller functionality embedded in the game, most of his porting work involved trying to integrate the Android SDKs that add special controller handling support, and marketplace features like in-app purchases.
"It wasn't a cakewalk, and I was pretty lucky to have enough experience to work quickly and become one of the first few videos up on YouTube showing Beast Boxing Turbo playing live on an Ouya," he notes. "Doing dev work on multiple unreleased platforms while their SDKs are also in flux is not for the faint of heart, but if you're up to the challenge it can give you a leg up on the competition."
Luk also liked the idea of having an early presence on this new marketplace. "The press interest around these new Android microconsoles is definitely there," he reasons, "so just by being an early launch title that looks good - it gives you a chance to secure a spot as one of the 'known' titles on a new platform that gets mentioned in the flurry of articles that will roll out with their launches.
Overall, Luk says that his experience porting the game to Ouya has been great, especially when it came to customer service with the Ouya team.
"I worked hard to submit good bug reports from an early stage in the dev program and the QA team was really responsive, making my job much easier and also giving me a sense of the hard work that they were doing to hit their launch date," he tells me. Of the GameStick team he adds, "My GameStick port isn't yet 100 percent complete, but they've been good at responding to emails as well."
Luk's one main tip that he says he'd give to people considering porting their games to microconsoles: "Invest in one or two experienced Unity Android FTEs (full-time engineers) into a well-designed, well-tested, and well-documented first-party Unity plugin at the start of the dev cycle."
The Beast Boxing Turbo dev was forced to fork and write his own version of the plugin to get the API design and performance he wanted -- and while it was an interesting process, he says that he witnessed plenty of other less-experienced devs having problems getting their games running properly as a result.
"It was obvious to see how hard everyone works on their SDKs," he adds, "but if you can manage to give good, Unity-aware tools to the legions of non-programmer game devs out there, I think it would pay real dividends."
And has porting his game over the microconsoles been worth the ride?
"From a financial point of view, the port on Ouya is doing well especially considering the size of the platform," he answers. "Overall conversion rates have really gone up since the early days when the Kickstarter Ouyas were going out, and everyone was downloading any game they could get their hands on."
"I can't quit my day job by any stretch of the imagination," he adds, "but it's nice to see that people are still enjoying the game enough to buy it, and it already outpaced sales on PC by a good margin. Perhaps that's purely because I haven't had any luck on getting it into Steam via Greenlight."
Luk says he would definitely build another game for Ouya again: "I'd probably prefer to do experimental releases on these [Android] consoles before going anywhere near one of the bigger ponds."