Pixeleap and the wonders of open development

Why did Pixeleap go for an almost totally open development for Battlesouls?


The whole thing started with a tweet from Danish developer Pixeleap’s Peter Kjær. A tweet about Pixeleap live streaming art development for a character that would eventually end up in their new game, Battlesouls, which hit Steam in May. More than 400 days after Peter’s tweet. And that was how Pixeleap had decided to develop Battlesouls - through open development. Why? Well, here are three points from Peter’s talk - To make a better game. We are a very small team and we need other people telling us what they like and don’t like.

  • For marketing purposes. We have a limited marketing budget, so we needed the word of mouth effect.
  • We built a community around the game, because people got a connection to it. So that takes care of why you should do an open development.

But how did Pixeleap do it? Peter explains.

  • We did early testing, often on location where we watched people play it and talked to them about it.
  • We did a closed alpha, where we asked the most dedicated testers to help us out. And we think of our launch phase as a test phase. Even though the game is out now on Steam, it is still actually in beta.
  • We focused a lot on community activity.
  • We did our live streaming of art development, and then we managed to hit the right place at the right time - which actually meant that we managed to get 15,000 people in Brazil playing the alpha.

But even though open development really seemed to work for Pixeleap on Battlesouls, the Danes actually got some criticism for the name. “Today, every game is called something with souls. People are getting really angry that we are riding the hype train with Dark Souls. Battlesouls was originally called Warriors Within, but we found out that a Star Wars game was called the same name and didn’t want to get into it with Disney. But yeah, coming up with a name for a game sucks,” he says, laughing.