We're Coming to Console with Expanded Free Play Mode!

You may have seen this coming based on the fact that we've been talking about console development for a little while, but we can now proudly say that we're officially coming to console! 

Check out the trailer below.

We won't announce a release date until we've gone through the full certification process and we know that everything works perfectly... right now stuff is still a little bit wonky. 

We're also going to be adding a mega expansion to Free Play Mode, which involves using set pieces of different colours and permanently attached blocks to make crazy levels, as well as placing the start and end zones in the level. With this new set of tools, players can truly make their own Ultimate Chicken Horse levels that we hope will become as popular as the main ones in the game.

We're really excited to see what players come up with, and we look forward to being able to feature more levels in the game in future updates.

Slowly Gearing Up for GDC and PAX

This year we'll be going to both GDC and PAX, and thankfully they didn't schedule them at the same time like a couple of years ago...

We had to book things like hotels (hostels actually) and flights a looong time ago to make sure they weren't insanely expensive, but this week and last week we've been doing a bunch of setup stuff for the two events.

Part of that involves setting up meeting with potential partners, other game developers, and console platform holders, and another part involves scheduling our time and figuring out which parties to go to. You'd think that going to parties is simple, but first you need to bug the right people for the right invites, then you need to decide which one(s) you're going to out of the billion parties that exist at GDC.

This year we're going with the whole team, including our newest member, Ben! In the past we've always sent two people to shows, but this time we thought we'd give ourselves a little gift and bring the whole team. This will make manning the IGF booth easier, and let us get to meetings and the expo floor and talks and such.

That's all for this week, more updates next week!

What Goes Into Porting To Consoles (for non-developers)

Hi there!

We often get the question about when our game, Ultimate Chicken Horse, is coming to console. A fair question for sure, as the game seems like the perfect fit for consoles. Sometimes people understand that it's a lot of work to port a game, but most of the time people get annoyed because "can't you just sell it on console?". I wanted to write an answer today about what goes into making a game for console, directed at people who aren't necessarily game developers. If you are a game dev, feel free to use this to answer people who ask you.


The first step is to plug in the development kits and get all the accounts set up so that you can actually use them. This usually requires a static IP address, which you have to set up if you don't have one. The kits also need license keys and need to be properly registered, then you have to (figure out and then) navigate through a bunch of menus to find the spot to allow the console to connect to your PC. If you haven't done it before, this is not a trivial process.

Exporting from the Game Engine

We use Unity, and exporting from Unity to console is meant to be easy. While it's not particularly difficult, you still need to get a special Unity plugin to be able to do this. The Unity plugins from the platform holders (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) are often a few versions old, so you need to make sure to roll back Unity to a version that works with the plugin. You'll also need another license key to actually do the export and try to get the game to run on the console.

Platform-Specific Features

Our game was first developed for Steam, and there were many Steam-specific things in the code such as Steam matchmaking, player authentication, version checking, achievements, etc. On console, the game won't even start until all of this is removed. Usually, that means replacing the Steam stuff with platform-specific stuff like achievements that are handled differently on different consoles. Beyond that, there's also the social integration, user accounts, and user interface that needs to be added to make sure that when a player, for example, pressed the Xbox button, they get access to their Xbox account.


To release on console, you need to pass a certification process. For each console this is slightly different, but in any case it's a list of hundreds of very specific things that your game needs to be able to do. Sometimes these are rules that you need to abide by, other times these are functional features that need to be added. Then, there's a list of test scenarios that you'll need to pass for certification. For example, if you unplug the internet, turn a controller off, switch to Netflix, sync a new controller, plug the internet back in and switch back to the game, will it track the user change and make sure they're still signed in? Things like that. Once you think you've covered all your bases, you send a build to the platform holders and they test the game, and inevitably come back with a bunch of issues that you didn't see. Getting back to you can take a while, and then fixing the issues can also take a while before sending for certification again.

Age Ratings

These are a nightmare that no one wants to deal with. There are different rating systems for a bunch of countries and regions, each with their own governing boards, requirements, submissions and payments. The IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) is trying to simplify this process, but it's going slowly. We have to submit the game to ESRB (North America), PEGI (Europe except Germany), DSK (Germany), CERO (Japan), GRAC (Korea), and more. What's more, in some of those cases you need to do them in the language of the country. For example you can't get an age rating in Japan without a Japanese company, and to launch on Sony Japan you need a rating from CERO. So... not super straight-forward.


Once you've finally done all of this, you need to talk to the console folks and determine a launch date based on other releases that are coming out. You'll want to be slotted in at a time where there aren't a ton of big hyped games coming out to maximize visibility on the storefront. In addition, the more you lean toward exclusivity toward one console, the more they'll try to give you in terms of marketing and visibility. Once you've figured that all out, you can release! 

So, all this to say, that going from PC to console is not a quick process. This article barely scratches the surface of the technical side of porting, and there's a ton more to know about it. I wanted to give an idea of what goes into it though, so that you (the average non-game-developer) understand and also so that game developers can share this as a beginning of an explanation about the difficulties we face and the reason that the port doesn't take two weeks.

We'll keep on trucking though, we're working on it!