It was way back during April’s PAX East when 17-Bit studio boss Jake Kazdal told XBLA Fans that development was nearly complete on his team’s turn-based strategy game, Skulls of the Shogun. The game, which pits small armies of dead Japanese samurais against each other in the afterlife, appeared to be polished to a sheen and was every bit (no pun intended) as enjoyable to play as it was when yours truly first played it one year earlier.
Kazdal said at the time that the plan was to release the game on XBLA in October alongside the launch of Windows 8. That didn’t happen. September saw the game being delayed to November. Strategy fans would have to wait just a little bit longer. In case you didn’t notice, they’re still waiting. Skulls of the Shogun missed its new target window and 17-Bit has not announced a new, new window.
Kazdal did recently speak to Polygon about his missing-in-action game, though. He informed the outlet that trying to coordinate a multiplatform launch (Skulls is headed to PC, Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft Surface tablets in addition to XBLA) with only three developers on his team is an arduous undertaking.
“We’re certifying four versions of a game with two engineers,” he told Polygon. The game is reportedly extremely similar across all four platforms, an impressive accomplishment if true. Kazdal said the team is “lucky” that its game is able to function so well on the four very different platforms.
“Microsoft sees this direction as the future — having all of their platforms connected,” he continued. “And being one of the first titles that really is a full-blown, XBLA-quality title across all four platforms is a pretty big deal.”
Three of the platforms have entirely different control types, and three of them only just hit the market a couple of months ago. Getting a strategy game to control competently with anything short of a keyboard and mouse is always a monumental challenge. 17-Bit’s difficulties are also compounded by the fact that there isn’t much in the way of established development methodologies for Windows 8 platforms as of yet, and there is no playbook to follow for getting a game to function across all of them — and XBLA. Kazdal and company are drafting up the plays themselves, and their hope is that other developers can adopt their schemes in the future.
If all goes according to plan, the wait to take advantage of 17-Bit’s work shouldn’t be long now. Skulls of the Shogun is completely finished and has now entered the certification phase at Microsoft. Eager to avoid announcing another delay, the studio is holding off on announcing what will hopefully be the actual release date for its game until everything is finalized.