A few weeks ago I attended the Unity LA Meetup OUYA talk. There was a talk and lengthy Q&A with some people from OUYA. The event cleared up a lot of questions I had about the project.
Representing OUYA on stage was Raffi Bagdasarian, who left product development at Sony to join the OUYA team. He explained that OUYA was originally known as Boxer8. He also brought on the Unity plug-in developer Tim over Skype to talk about some technical aspects of the Unity integration.
Developers can sign up for the OUYA developer program for free at http://devs.ouya.tv . There you can download the SDK, view the actively updating documentation, and lurk in the forums. They’re still ironing out the upload process so you’re not able to upload to the OUYA online store yet.
Unity LA Meetup (photo courtesy of the Meetup page!)
And now some bullet points:
- The console will be running Android 4.1 Jellybean.
- The SDK consists of in-app purchase and controller APIs.
- Games are required to be free to play, but features can be unlocked with in-app purchases. This apparently is also a method to curb piracy.
- There’s the typical 70% (developer) / 30% (provider) split.
- They’re focusing on app discovery for the OUYA store, aiming to organize the shops by more detailed metrics than “highest grossing” or “most downloads.” Using metrics such as most played, longest played, etc.
- Approval process will have guidelines — not total free for all. Initially they’ll be reviewing every game manually. Eventually they’ll work peer review into the process, similar to Xbox Indie Games.
- As far as the style guide, they were working on prepping an official one. But in the meantime, feel free to use OUYA name and branding as long as you’re not presenting yourself as sanctioned officially by OUYA. Also, it’s supposed to be spelled in all caps! haha
- There won’t be a content rating system like ESRB, but they’re planning something similar to Google Play.
- Online matchmaking, achievements, Xbox Live features, etc. Not at launch, but planned for eventual release. Until then, feel free to roll your own systems.
More Stuff, Etc…
- With only 8 gigs of built in storage, game sizes should be developed with that in mind. They’re working out what the hard limits should be as some games currently in development are a few gigs.
- They recommended tools like the Unity asset store’s APK Splitter, to give a quick initial download from the store and load in assets as needed during the game.
- They’re looking into cloud storage. At the time they were apparently debating it.
- Looking into system level integration of Facebook and Twitter. I’m assuming for viral sharing games, and another metric for surfacing content.
- Developers won’t be restricted from accessing websites from within games, should be able to pull any kind of data.
- No access to Android Google Play store from within OUYA.
- They’re open to accepting apps that are outside of games, like video players, etc.
- No vibration with controller, mouse + keyboard are allowed.
- They’ll have store analytics available to developers at launch, supposed to be better than Apple’s minimal dataset.
- Piracy – since every game is free to play, they’re relying on in-app purchases API calls to unlock things.
Before this talk I was a bit apprehensive about the OUYA. It wasn’t clear to me how Android it was. What kind of additional development you needed to do to get something running on it? How would Unity development work with it? And so on. Now that I’ve learned that you basically just need to:
- Develop your game at HDTV resolution
- Make it work with a controller and implement their controller API
- Implement in-app purchase and other required OUYA APIs
- Test it on an OUYA or similar Android device
What really changed my perspective was seeing the excitement for the console, with all the developers that showed up. I talked with the homie Ray, who’s doing development on an OUYA game, and his enthusiasm inspired me. He showed me the light.
Since then I’ve looked into seeing how realistic it was to create my own OUYA devkit. I found videos online showing that it’s feasible to turn any Android device into an OUYA.
This seems pretty easy and who knows if it’ll be this easy with the final operating system. I’m still iffy about this conflict of the system being “open” but still “not-open.” I hope they keep it open!
I’m looking forward to the March release!
If you’re a Unity developer in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out the Unity LA User Group on Meetup!