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Abduction Action! Trapped in Purgatory
Date 4/8/2010    Tags Abduction Action!, XBLIG    (0)

This is what I imagine Abduction Action! is experiencing right now.
For the second straight week, a minor bug / mistake has foiled my attempts to release Abduction Action!. Last week was an issue where a Save method got moved outside of the Try/Catch block where it previously lived, thus causing the entire game to come to a crash if an invalid storage container was used (i.e. someone pulled out their memory unit). This week, a snafu had "1080i" listed as the resolution of Abduction Action! when in reality it runs at 720p.

For Xbox Live Indie Games, if your game fails the review process, it means you have to wait seven days from that point before you can resubmit. Last week's fix was something I cleaned up in about ten minutes. This week's fix took only seconds (and didn't even require any new game files, just the simple change of a dropdown list). In total, this is a half hours worth of work that will delay the release of Abduction Action! by two weeks (and counting). And both issues probably would not have been noticed by the end gamer nor would they affect their gameplay experience.

When Xbox Live Indie Games first launched (as Community Games), there was no such limit. Developers were free to submit their game to review as often as they liked (and many did). While this worked for the vast majority of developers, a select few took advantage of the rules (or lack of rules). They would submit and resubmit clearly buggy games, fixing one issue but ignoring others and very often skipping the play test period entirely. This ate up time for reviewers and slowed down the whole process for legit developers. As a way to prevent this behavior, Microsoft handed down the 7 day purgatory period for any game that fails or is pulled from review.

This heavy handed tactic now applies to all games, no exceptions whatsoever. Abduction Action! failed over two pretty minor, quick fixes that were not spotted by myself or others over a period of several months. I don't believe this rule was made with the intent of hosing up developers that have put a lot of time and energy into releasing their games in a solid state but it has. This rule has also discouraged developers from implementing good feed back they receive during peer review (it's not all the same people that review games as those who play test games, so you will get new ideas / perspectives during this process).

If I were in charge (and realistically some day I probably will be), I would rid the world of the automatic 7 day wait period. This will allow developers to get games onto the Marketplace quicker and allow them to implement additional feedback suggestions they get from Peer Review into their game without setting back their release by a week or more.

I would still implement a few measures to limit those gaming the system as well. First, any resubmitted games go to the back of the review queue. Second, I would like to see the 7 day wait periods imposed in a more manual fashion so it is only used against those trying to game the system. This would likely require developers / moderators to use the "Report Abuse" button and would hinge on Microsoft or XNA MVPs reviewing the cases (something they may or may not have time for). In most instances I have seen, whether or not a developer was trying to game the system is pretty obvious. Developers that routinely try and game the system will get the automatic wait imposed (perhaps at even longer than seven days too).

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Am I biased because my game just failed? Do you know the muffin man? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 0" style="display:none">

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