ID@Xbox Developer Acceleration Program Shows Off 11 Games – Hear from the Developers Themselves

The ID@Xbox Developer Acceleration Program was announced earlier this year, with a mission to empower underrepresented creators with the resources and information needed to bring their creativity, innovation, and originality to Xbox. Today, during Xbox Games Showcase Extended, we showed off 11 new games made in partnership with that program. 

Presented by Xbox’s Corporate Vice President for Game Creator Experience and Ecosystem, Sarah Bond, a montage showed us Despelote, Drag Her!, El Paso, Elsewhere, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, Naiad, Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To, Island of Winds, Sonzai, Psychroma, Botany Manor, and Slime Heroes. 

We also debuted even more at our FanFest events: Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber and Sopa were playable in LA (alongside Despelote, Drag Her!, El Paso, Elsewhere, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, Naiad, Island of Winds, and Botany Manor), while Jorel’s Brother and The Most Important Game of the Galaxy and Chessarama were on the floor in São Paulo. 

And who better to learn from about these games than the people making them? We caught up with creators from those games to tell us more about each title, and how the Developer Acceleration Program has helped them make their dreams a reality with Xbox. 

Botany Manor  

Q: Briefly describe Botany Manor:   

A: Botany Manor is a puzzle game where you play as retired botanist, Arabella Greene, who has amassed a collection of seeds that produce long-forgotten plants. Explore your house and gardens, filled with her research, to figure out the ideal habitat of forgotten flora. Grow each plant to discover the mysterious qualities they hold.  

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?   

A: Thanks to the program, we are able to bring Botany Manor to its full potential. We have been able to spend more time on perfecting the design, as well as adding accessibility features, as we want to make sure our world can be explored by many. Finally, it’s allowing us to allocate extra time to optimization and polish.   

Q: What does having Botany Manor be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?    

A: It’s incredibly cool. We’re a small team, and this is our first game, so to be a part of this showcase is slightly surreal! We’re so grateful to receive Xbox’s support, and hope we can introduce the game to more people this way.  

Q: What’s ahead for Botany Manor 

A: We are hard at work and are adding the finishing touches to the plants and puzzles of the game. After that, we’ll spend some time making the world feel alive and rich, while making sure the game still runs smoothly, of course! We’ll have more updates as we approach the game’s launch, so anyone interested in knowing more can follow us on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Balloon Studios’ official website

Chessarama 

Q: Briefly describe Chessarama:  

A:  Chessarama is a collection of original chess-inspired games, all in one package. It reimagines chess rules and mechanics using many different themes – from samurai to soccer! Players will be able to choose from different mini-games, play through the campaigns, unlock collectibles and compete against each other on the leaderboard. This game is a love letter to Chess and puzzle enthusiasts of all levels!  

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: ID@Xbox has been a great partner since the beginning! It is very clear how much they care about indie devs and try to help as much as possible. Being a small studio self-publishing to consoles for the first time, the help received by the Developer Acceleration Program has been fundamental to our game. The financial help and the resources provided by the program are the pillars that will make Chessarama beautiful to play on Xbox platforms very soon. 

Q: What does having Chessarama be a part of Xbox Games Showcase mean to you?   

A: We have been working on this game for a bit longer than 2 years now. It’s been very challenging to be truthful to our creative vision while having so many budget restrictions , so having Chessarama being showcased in an Xbox event is a BIG validation to us. It is awesome to see that the game we’ve put so much love and effort into is being recognized by one of the biggest companies in the world.  

Q: What’s ahead for Chessarama? 

A: Oh, there is so much to come! We’ve already achieved so much with this game, beyond our initial dreams when first sketching the concept of this game. This year Chessarama‘s trailer was broadcasted at the World Chess Championship, can you imagine it? That was a great achievement for us. For the next steps, we are looking forward to finally launching the game and supporting it as much as we can, both creating more content and features to it and bringing in as many players as possible. I truly believe Chess can have an incredibly positive impact on people, and we hope Chessarama can make it more approachable and appealing to an even bigger audience. 

Drag Her! 

Q: Briefly describe Drag Her!: 

A: Drag Her! is a fast, frenetic, and fundamentally fabulous fighting game featuring drag royalty. With a cast of iconic characters from the Drag Race & Dragula universes, Drag Her! gives you the core fighting game fantasy, with an experience that is equal parts stupid and fun. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: Xbox’s Developer Acceleration Program has directly benefited the team at Fighting Chance. An early believer in our game, their support has meant we can hire a full-time animator and has brought a level of legitimacy & gravitas that only platform support can provide. 

Q: What does having Drag Her! be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?   

A: Being a part of this showcase means we get to show our work to the world. This is an opportunity for people to see our team making cool-ass games – games that showcase the raddest members of our community – drag stars – and see the joy they bring to anything they’re a part of… especially when they’re ripping one another to shreds.  

Q: What’s ahead for Drag Her!? 

A: Our team will be full steam ahead working towards a Beta release due in August. This will be our first showcase to the greater public, before our release in Q1 of 2024. 

El Paso Elsewhere 

Q: Briefly describe El Paso, Elsewhere:  

A: El Paso, Elsewhere is a supernatural neo-noir shooter about fighting monsters in a dimension-shifting motel so your ex doesn’t end the world. We’ve all been there. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: The Developer Acceleration Program doesn’t just support the development of a title – it’s a symbol of trust. It shows that one of the most significant players in the gaming space believes in what you’re doing, and how it can contribute to the wider world of games. We at Strange Scaffold are immensely grateful to have been given this opportunity, and as with our previous collaborations with Xbox, are excited to do it justice. 

Q: What does having El Paso, Elsewhere be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?   

A: El Paso, Elsewhere being a part of this Xbox showcase is a lifelong dream come true, honestly. We’re proud to share this stage with fellow DAP developers, and the amazing folks building projects for Xbox right now. 

Q: What’s ahead for El Paso, Elsewhere? 

A: We’ve got a launch on PC and Xbox coming this Fall – and post-launch support for the universe of El Paso, Elsewhere afterward! 

Island of Winds 

Q: Briefly describe Island of Winds:  

A: Island of Winds is an adventure puzzle game set in an ethereal open world filled with creatures from the myths and legends of Icelandic folklore. Brynhildur’s journey has her on a quest to find her mentor, Hrymja, that will take her through incredible landscapes that draw on Iceland’s stunning natural beauty. These locations range from the fiery Lava of Skjól to the treacherous Jökla lagoon and gleaming Obsidian Shore. Brynhildur will face legendary creatures on her journey, such as the powerful and majestic Bear King or  Hafgúfa – Guardian of the Sea. Island of Winds’ core gameplay is at the center of these encounters, which focuses on rich storytelling, extensive lore, and intriguing puzzles. Spellcasting, combat or unique empathy-based encounters systems are all available to the player as they must make split-second decisions on whether to resolve engagements by peaceful or violent means.   

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: For a small indie studio with an ambitious game, it is vital to get access to programs like the Developer Acceleration Program. Our journey together just started a few weeks ago, but it has already impacted our game creation in a positive way. First and foremost, the overall support from a great company in the industry and the knowledge that different games and underrepresented creators are being noticed. Getting into the program came also at a perfect time for Parity Games as we were on the verge of halting development, but the acknowledgement gave us the push to see the light at the end of the tunnel.   

Q: What does having Island of Winds be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you? 

A: Having Island of Winds as part of an Xbox showcase is a great opportunity for us to share our game with a broader audience. We feel our game is a good fit for console gaming and the Xbox showcase is the best opportunity to build our console community even further. We, as a studio, have sought inspiration from many Xbox games and are very excited that our game is becoming one of the family.   

Q: What’s ahead for Island of Winds?   

A: Island of Winds is now in Closed Beta and after being part of Xbox showcase, we will also be part of Steam Next Fest in June. The release date of the game will be announced soon after. As Island of Winds is inspired by 17th century Iceland, we are also working with the National Museum in Iceland to set up an exhibition of the artwork and items that we have in the game.  

Jorel’s Brother and The Most Important Game of the Galaxy 

Q: Briefly describe Jorel’s Brother and The Most Important Game of the Galaxy: 

A: Jorel’s Brother and The Most Important Game of the Galaxy is a point-and-click adventure about an eight-year-old boy who lives with his eccentric family under the shadow of Jorel, his handsome and popular brother. It’s based on the award-winning Brazilian cartoon series Jorel’s Brother

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey? 

A: It’s giving us the opportunity to put our game on such a wide platform and for a whole new audience that an indie company from Brazil wouldn’t be able to reach so easily. 

Q: What does having Jorel’s Brother and The Most Important Game of the Galaxy be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you? 

A: We feel honored and happy for the opportunity! It really validates that we are doing a good job with our games and opens the door to new opportunities together with Xbox. 

Q: What’s ahead for Jorel’s Brother and The Most Important Game of the Galaxy? 

A: We wanted to create something that would make the player feel like they are playing an episode from the cartoon. So, you can expect a crazy story with three chapters of funny dialogues, head-scratching puzzles and beautiful art and animation that will entertain fans and newcomers! 

Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber 

Q: Briefly describe Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber 

A:  Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber is an intriguing narrative adventure where you try to solve a hundred-year-old mystery: who planned the assassination of President Álvaro Obregón? You play as Juan Aguirre, a photojournalist who will interview and photograph subjects, collect historical data and report the news that will shape Mexican history. Join Juan in post-revolutionary Mexico City to discover why Mexico ain’t no place for the weak. The main goal of this game is to provide a deeply documented experience by collaborating with the National Newspaper Library, the Popular Art’s Museum and even the National Sound Library to allow interaction with real documents and objects from our past. This way, Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber will work as an interactive archive of Mexican history. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: The Developer Acceleration Program has been an enormous help on our journey as developers. Not only is it emotionally encouraging to know Xbox supports and uplifts stories like ours, but it has helped us access Mexico’s wider console market with the Porting Fund. Also, the feeling of community is incredible, we can access special talks for best practices and to learn how to build around accessibility. Also, the ID@Xbox team has been incredible, supporting us through any questions and looking for any opportunity to put us in a showcase or an article. What an amazing breath of fresh air to know this program exists, I am certain the industry will change for the better thanks to this, we are already seeing it. 

Q: What does having Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?   

A: In this day and age, rage and hate towards the “other”, the “unknown” seems to be rampant. As a studio, we believe that it’s hard to hate something once you understand it, so being able to share Mexican history through a platform like an Xbox showcase means this story might reach people we never thought possible. Being part of this showcase means this story matters, too. Thanks again to the incredible ID@Xbox team, none of this could have been possible without your support.

Q: What’s ahead for Mexico, 1921. A Deep Slumber? 

A: A lot of work! We are still in production of the game so we still have a lot of work behind computers, but we are also trying to move forward with participations in festivals and showcases so be sure to follow us anywhere @macula_mx to keep up with the development and news on the game and studio. 

Naiad  

Q: Briefly describe Naiad 

A: Naiad is a relaxing, minimalist and colorful exploration adventure in which you flow down a mysterious river. Interact with the fauna and flora to discover little secrets and reach the sea. A top-down journey through beautiful places such a deep forest, a dark cave, a joyful creek… where you will be the guardian of the river. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: As a one-person studio, with minimal resources, working and doing my best to create my first game, it’s a big task and a long road. Thanks to the Developer Acceleration Program, I have been able to focus on developing and moving forward. Thanks to the close support and help of the Xbox team, I have been able to resolve all doubts and speed up. What might have seemed impossible at first… has been easy! 

Q: What does having Naiad be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?   

A: To share my game with the world is a dream come true. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to showcase Naiad at such an important event. It is a real recognition for my work, and it means a lot to me to be here. This motivates me to keep going creating games. 

Q: What’s ahead for Naiad? 

A: I have put a lot of love in Naiad. I am happy and excited about how everything is shaping up. I’m currently working on closing the last details, making the final pieces fit together feels really rewarding. Although the release date is yet to be announced, I hope to publish Naiad by the end of 2023. I can’t wait to see it on Xbox consoles! 

Psychroma 

Q: Briefly describe Psychroma 

A: Psychroma is a narrative-driven side-scroller where you play as a digital medium. Confront the past by piecing together the broken memories of a cybernetic house, and exorcise the ghosts in the machine 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: It is still early days, but the Developer Acceleration program has been foundational in our team being able to get acquainted with the Microsoft publishing environment and offering opportunities for showcases.  

Q: What does having Psychroma be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?  

A: Being a part of the showcase means reaching audiences we never would have otherwise. Our studio is small, so opportunities like this are rare and mean so much for us. It really gives us a sense of accomplishment and officiality! 

Q: What’s ahead for Psychroma? 

A: Psychroma will be entering alpha soon, which means the first round of external testing and setting up our development pipeline through Xbox! We are super excited to work with the DAP in order to make that happen. 

Slime Heroes  

Q: Briefly describe Slime Heroes:

A: Slime Heroes is a co-op action RPG, where you journey with your fellow slimes to save the ancient guardians from a mysterious corruption taking over the land. Explore a whimsical world filled with secret passageways, challenging puzzle dungeons, and forgotten treasures. Consume special gems and dynamically combine them to create unique magical skills. Level up and fight back against the corrupted minions to restore the land. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: The program has allowed us to grow the team, especially giving new people an opportunity to get their first job in the industry and grow their skill sets with us from pre-production to then launching. It has also opened the door to connect and learn from really knowledgeable and passionate people at Xbox and be part of Xbox events. We were at the Xbox press event at GDC this year and had a blast.

Q: What does having Slime Heroes be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?

A: It has been a really heartwarming experience. I started this company and developed Slime Heroes by myself, along the way periodically doubting if I did the right thing for my career and for my family by taking this risk. Seeing the team excited to work to improve Slime Heroes, experiencing people at events enjoying the game, and having people at Xbox put time into Slime Heroes to help it succeed has made this challenging experience so rewarding. It’s exciting to see our game be part of this big event this year.

Q: What’s ahead for Slime Heroes?

A: We’re really excited about the future of Slime Heroes and our studio. Our project is now fully funded and we’re full steam ahead on making Slime Heroes the next best co-op action RPG experience. We are also planning to grow the team a little bit to support production, and are currently looking for a publishing partner to help us get Slime Heroes into the hands of more people when we launch next year. 

Sonzai 

Q: Briefly describe Sonzai: 

A: Sonzai is a mix between spectacle fighter and life sim RPG. You’re dropped into the magical town of Kumotoshi, a place full of people to meet, and deeper darker secrets tied to the very nature of magic itself. Master new weapons and elements to fight off the ‘corrupted’ outside the town, and choose to build relationships with those that matter to become stronger. To unearth all these secrets, you must explore the interconnected world outside Kumotoshi and make unlikely allies. 

Sonzai’s combat involves chaining combos of the weapons you collect, each having their own unique moveset and elemental effects. But that is not the only tool in your arsenal. You have access to powerful spells and gear that synergizes with your attacks. You will need all the help you can get before facing off the powerful Yasha that you may come across. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey? 

A: It’s really helped by allowing us access to additional opportunities we may not have had otherwise. Being from India, developers from our community aren’t best represented in the wider game industry and these opportunities have really lent to allowing our unique perspectives to be shared. 

Q: What does having Sonzai be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you? 

A: Being a part of an Xbox show is like a dream! Microsoft and Xbox are household names and it feels surreal to officially be part of such a thing. We hope it will allow Sonzai to get more eyes on it from all different audiences abroad. 

Q: What’s ahead for Sonzai? 

A: We’re looking forward to everyone enjoying our creation, which we have really paid deep, meticulous attention to from the artistic side. We think it will be a truly unique experience. It pays homage to famous RPGs we ourselves have come to love, like Persona, action games like Devil May Cry, and anime we watched growing up, and we remixed them with our own cultural perspectives from India. We hope that what we have made is something that will truly fascinate people. 

Sopa 

Q: Briefly describe Sopa 

A: When Miho steps into the pantry to get a potato for his grandmothers’ soup, he’s pulled into a distant fantastical land where he must retrace the steps of a mysterious great traveller before him. 

He must venture through a world of endless deserts, floating mountains, and talking beasts, outsmarting thieves and meeting quirky characters along the way. But each time he returns to the kitchen with an ingredient, things have changed in unexpected ways… 

Sopa features a unique blend of adventure and action elements, that include puzzle solving, flying and climbing through the rarely-seen exotic lands of South America. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: Microsoft’s support has been invaluable in helping Sopa become a reality. They were the first to believe in this crazy idea. The DAP allowed us to begin to transition from the prototype to the development stage, and has helped us showcase the game through some amazing channels, like Xbox Wire and The Spawnies. 

Q: What does having Sopa be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you?   

A: We’re absolutely thrilled to take part in the showcase among this amazing selection of titles. It’s a validation of all the hard work and love that we’ve put into this project over years. We really hope all the folks experiencing the game will enjoy the experience! 

Q: What’s ahead for Sopa? 

A: We still have a great deal of development ahead, and are excited to continue to share our progress with our fans along the way! 

Spirit Swap: Lo-Fi Beats to Match-3 To  

Q: Briefly describe Spirit Swap: Lo-Fi Beats to Match-3 To:  

A: Spirit Swap is an action-puzzle game set in a lush, narrative-driven world of witchy demons. Samar is a young witch working the spirit-swapping night shift in the eastern outskirts of Demashq. A recent spike in spirits crossing over from another dimension breaks the chill atmosphere of their night shift, so with her trusty familiar by her side, they set off into the city to find out what’s happened. With a popular band scheduled to kick off their big comeback tour in Demashq, Samar needs to work quickly before the city is overrun with stans and spirits alike! 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey?  

A: The Developer Acceleration Program has allowed us to continue developing the game while also sticking more closely to the original vision we had in mind. Without it, we would’ve had to release much sooner and (as a result) not been able to achieve some of the goals we originally had for this title. Now that we’re coming to Xbox, we’re also happy that even more people will be able to experience the colorful, queer world of Samar and their friends! 

Q: What does having Spirit Swap: Lo-Fi Beats to Match-3 be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you? 

A: To be included in the showcase – alongside loads of other titles we can’t wait to play – is incredibly exciting! Appearing in the showcase makes everything that much more real that folks will be able to play Spirit Swap later this year. 

Q: What’s ahead for Spirit Swap: Lo-Fi Beats to Match-3 To?  

A: We’re hard at work and setting our sights towards our 2023 launch (yay!), and after that? Sleep! And lots of snacks! 

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical   

Q: Briefly describe Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical: 

A: Stray Gods is a first-of-its-kind project, with original, fully interactive musical numbers composed by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory, Tripod (musicians Scott Edgar, Steven Gates, and Simon Hall) and Eurovision Australia’s own Montaigne (Jess Cerro). Each player choice in-game changes the story path and songs (including lyrics, melodies, instrumentation), alongside beautifully hand-illustrated graphics. In a modern fantasy world, college dropout Grace is granted the power of a Muse – a power she’ll need to use to find out the truth behind her predecessor’s death before time runs out. You’ll decide who Grace allies with, who she can trust, and who may betray her in this beautifully hand-illustrated roleplaying musical. Fully orchestrated and performed by an all-star cast, you’ll feel as though you’re right there on the stage. With thousands of potential variations based on your choices, you’ll craft the soundtrack to your own one-of-a-kind musical experience. 

Q: How has the Developer Acceleration Program impacted your game creation journey? 

A: The developer acceleration program has had a big impact on Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. It provided us with critical funding, allowing us to come to Xbox. Along with the ongoing support from Xbox and their team, it’s prepared us well for our launch and allowed us to learn a lot as we move towards release. 

Q: What does having Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical be a part of Xbox Games Showcase Extended mean to you? 

A: It’s so exciting for the team to be part of an Xbox showcase. We’ve all loved and watched Xbox over the years and seen the work they do for independent developers, so to be a part of the showcase, surrounded by other amazing and exciting independent games is surreal. 

Q: What’s ahead for Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical? 

A: Our release! Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical comes out on August 3rd and we’re so excited to share it with you all. It’s been an incredibly special game to work on and we know our players are so ready to get to know Grace, Freddie, Pan, Apollo, Persephone – and many, many others. We hope they love it, and enjoy playing it on Xbox this August! 

The ID@Xbox Developer Acceleration Program empowers underrepresented creators with the resources and information needed to bring their creativity, innovation and originality to Xbox. Learn more about the program here. If you’re an eligible developer interested in applying, please get in touch – IDAP@Microsoft.com  

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