IndieTrials
About IndieTrials
IndieTrials.com was created as a way for me to help fellow XBLIG developers get some exposure for their games and also to help provide feedback on their games. I decided to specifically review the trial experience as it's one of the most important things to get right with an XBLIG game. If you have a bad trial experience or the player goes away less than impressed they're unlikely to buy your game, and you've lost a conversion.

Most often the games we see with the highest download to purchase ratios are the ones with the best trial experience. They don't have to have amazing graphics or be particularly polished, much of the experience boils down to pure gameplay.

If the gameplay is fun and keeps you going for the full 8 minutes you've got a good trial! That being said, it's always worth adding polish and making your game look as good as possible for the gamers that factor that in to their buying decision.
Who am I?
My name is Martin Caine, I'm 28 and live in Wakefield, England with my Wife Laura and my two children, Damien and Willow. I'm an XNA developer working on games for Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) and Windows Phone 7 (WP7). I founded Retroburn Game Studios in early 2009 in an effort to bring together like-minded individuals to create some top quality games for XBLIG.

We've since grown and have developed a number of exciting games which are due to hit XBLIG in mid 2011, we're also now targeting a few mobile platforms with ports of our XBLIG games.

I've been an active member in the general XNA community over the past few years but these past few months I've been making a push to get more involved and help promote XNA in general and the developer that are using it.
The review process
Having set this site up some time ago I soon realised that I had very little time to actually review any games. I have now streamlined my review process so that I can easily find time to review a game or two each day and will always try to post atlaest one review each day to the site.

I use a BlackMagic Intensity Pro to capture gameplay footage from my Xbox 360 when playing a game's trial mode. I then convert this into xvid/ac3 format and start the upload to the IndieTrials YouTube channel. While the video is uploading I write my review with it fresh in my mind, with the video on hand to mention some specifics. The process of playing the trial, converting the video and writing the review in general takes about half an hour (the upload takes much longer, but I can keep that running).

I always liked the idea of including a video of me playing the trial, there are so many XBLIG games that have a lack of good quality videos on YouTube and if anything I'll atleast be getting those games some extra exposure on there.

I like to break down the review into three main sections: First impressions - Thinking as a gamer on the service I briefly mention what I like or dislike about the boxart and the game's first few steps (the loading and splash screens); Trial experience - My thoughts on how enjoyable the trial is, and I like to be critical so don't think I'm being too harsh if I point out anything I don't like; Final thoughts - My overall impression of the game and any feedback I have on how to improve the trial experience.
The site
My intention with the site's design was to show off how great some XBLIGs look. I wanted nice screenshots and videos on the site and have optimized the layout so the overall layout is clean but has plenty of image content and text content on the page.

I'm always happy to accept feedback on the websites I build (and anything in general) so if you have some ideas for improvements or want to report a bug then please let me know.