Xbox Live Creators Program empowers passionate developers everywhere to share their games with the world. In the Creator’s Corner series, Xbox Live Creators Program developers will share what inspires and motivates them to design and create their games, what challenges and creative solutions they pursue to bring their games to fruition, and how they leverage Xbox Live capabilities to enhance their games for Xbox. Today, we’ll be chatting with Benjamin Sprakel of Sprakelsoft, based out of Berlin, Germany, about his experience creating and bringing Croc’s World to the Windows and Xbox audience.
What’s your favorite game, ever, and why?
If you mean my favorite game of other studios it would be probably The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as I played it back then on the Nintendo64 and it was just mind-blowing how much you could do in the game and how huge it was. And the atmosphere was great. If you mean games that I created myself, it would probably be Jewel Fever as it was so far the most successful of my games on Windows and many other systems.
Tell us about your developer journey — what inspired you to start developing games and what continues to motivate you?
I already programmed games in my childhood on a Commodore Plus/4 and later a MS-DOS 286-System and I liked it. After graduating from school, I attended university and got a degree in computer science but afterwards I worked in a more “serious” business as a consultant where we designed workflows or helped customers to integrate document-managing-systems into their organization. In 2010 I got a new smartphone and thought that it would be nice to try again to program a game for it. So, I went on and programmed a “Tron” inspired bicycle game called Liner which wasn´t anything near a polished game but people seem to like it as there wasn´t that much competition. So, I went on and programmed a few more games from which a few of them were modestly successful, at least for a small indie developer like me. As the revenue stream wasn´t bad I decided to quit my daily consulting job and try to create games full time, which I´m still doing today. I really like to be able to create what I would like to play myself and see if it works in the marketplace. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn´t. But that´s the business, I guess.
What was the first game you created, and how did that experience contribute to Croc’s World?
The first game I created as Sprakelsoft was Liner (which isn´t available anymore) and I gathered quite a bit of experience from it. I knew already how to create a game but wasn´t up-to-date on things like marketplaces/stores, providing support, updating to react to bugs and working together with ad providers. There wasn´t a special experience that contributed to my newer games like Croc’s World but I wouldn´t be able to create them if I didn´t get the experiences in areas like the ones mentioned before.
Tell us about your team and how you came together.
As I´m an indie developer in the truest sense of the word, I´m the only full-time person on the team. But as I´m not really an art guy I´m working together with a freelance artist who creates almost all the graphics for my games and whom I´ve come across while playing another game that he did art for and I asked him if he has time to work for me also. And my kids and my wife are part-time-testers. The music and sounds are from premiumbeat.com so they are not custom made for me.
What’s been the most rewarding part of developing and shipping your game in the Creators Program?
The most rewarding part was that Croc’s World was the most-played game on the Creators Program so it´s nice to see that people seem to like it. And it was always a dream to see my games on a gaming console.
What roadblocks or challenges did you overcome in porting to Xbox that prompted a creative solution to progress – what was the issue and how did you approach/resolve?
The main challenge was to integrate the gamepad to play the game. On smartphones it has on-screen buttons and on Windows systems you can play it via keyboard. It´s not simply different to play the game itself but also the menus which I changed from the smartphone or Windows version to accommodate the controller input… The integration of Xbox Live was harder than expected as the first versions of Croc’s World crashed from time to time because we didn´t integrate Xbox Live right. But that wasn´t really a big issue. Porting it to Xbox, was in retrospect, a pretty straightforward experience thanks to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
Now that the game is available in the Creators Program, what would you/team like to work on next?
We are working on Croc’s World 3 right now which will be available soon. It features lots of new stuff and finally, Croc will be able to swim! We would also really like to bring Croc’s World Construction Kit to Xbox, but we need a good way to integrate the gamepad into the editor which I´m thinking about right now.
Thanks so much to Benjamin Sprakel for this interview and bringing the Windows/Xbox community Croc’s World. Tune into an exclusive interview and live-stream with Benjamin on Mixer.com/Xbox on Monday, February 5 at 11 a.m. PST.
Check out Sprakelsoft’s and other incredible games in the Microsoft Store or in-console within the Creators Collection and stay tuned to Xbox Wire for monthly posts featuring Creators Program developers from all around the world in the Creators Corner!