Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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PAX Prime 2013: Interview With Phobic Studios And ‘Glare’ Impressions

glare

Janessa Olson, one of our IGM PAX Prime 2013 team members, writes on her hands-on impressions of Phobic Studios’ title Glare.

The fast-paced platformer is Phobic studios’ first game release outside the mobile market, and they do not disappoint. The gameplay is very similar to that of Rayman Origins; the player quickly advances through levels, jumping and ducking over obstacles to reach the goal. Your main weapon is a sort of flashlight that you use to push back enemies of the darkness, or to create new pathways. Like Rayman Origins, the controls of Glare are user-friendly, and the learning curve is inclusive to a variety of gamers, regardless of age or skill level.

While there is no release date yet for Glare, pre-orders are currently available through Phobic’s website and the game has been confirmed for PC, Mac and Linux. Here’s a video interview we put together with the developer, which also provides a look at how the game plays:

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – PAX Prime 2013: Interview With Phobic Studios And ‘Glare’ Impressions


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Dev Links: Sum of its Parts

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Today’s Developer Links include articles on documentation, external content inclusion, and the bogeyman of the indie community.

The Bogeymen of the Indie Scene (Jonas Kyratzes)
“Human beings have always been susceptible to bogeymen. It’s a lot easier to get angry at people instead of getting angry at systems. We are persons, so we seek to personify the world. Thunderbolts come from Zeus, pestilence comes from Yahweh and your indie game problems come from Jonathan Blow. You can’t block capitalism on Twitter, after all.”

A gnomic making of Droidscape: Basilica (Gnome’s Lair)
“The Droidscape: Basilica making-of you are about to read could easily be summarized thusly: “We used computers. It took bloody ages.”. One particularly wise man would really appreciate it this way and it would also be absolutely true.”

What documentation? (AltDevBlog)
“Imagine a situation where you have just been employed by a game development company with a large code base. You might setup your computer, adjust your chair, get some coffee and then start synchronizing your source code repositories. This might take a long while so you decide to take a look at the company documentation while your downloading. So you roll up your sleeves and start digging. You dig and you dig, but you just can’t seem to find anything useful. Puzzled you go to ask either the CTO or the technical director whether they would have some information as to were the documentation is lurking. So you enter the room of either person and candidly ask your question, only to be met with a blunt answer stating that there is none.”

Art Walkthrough: Lighting Robots (Arcen Games)*
“The robots and “Exos” in Bionic Dues go through a five-stage process. First they are sketched by one of a variety of artists. Then they are inked (have their lines cleaned up) by one of a couple of artists (typically Genna or our own Daniette “Blue” Wood). Then they are colored by Catherine. Then animated by me. Then lit by Blue.On the subject of the lighting, Blue created a pretty cool tutorial on how to do that, and we thought we’d share it with anyone else who might be interested. Enjoy!”

Hawken publisher doesn’t pay to advertise the game (Develop)
“Meteor Entertainment argues word-of-mouth is the best way to sell a game as a service”

Joe Danger Steam Trading Cards now available! (Hello Games)
“Steam have gotten into the lucrative trading card business and we are 100% behind them. Actually, we hear that Half Life 3 will be an elaborate game of trading card snap – “I have 3 Barneys. I’ll swap you for an Alex.” Anyway, we’ve just put Trading Cards into Joe Danger and Joe Danger 2 on Steam! Honestly, we didn’t really understand these crazy things until Ryan made 25p selling a picture of GlaDOS. Then he was totally hooked and we found him adding them into our games too.”

External Content Inclusion (Andy Moore)
“I’ve been playing a lot with external files in AS3 (well, Haxe+NME to be more accurate) in my recent projects. Monster Loves You!, for instance, loads (at runtime!) all of its audio, images, configuration, and story text from external files. If these files aren’t found, then it reverts to the old internal copies it was compiled with. I love this hot-loading system, for four really big reasons.”

Cook, Serve, Delcious! is now available for Android! (IndieDB)
“Cook, Serve, Delicious is now available on Google Play for Android! Includes full Google Play support (Achievements and Leaderboards).”

* Full disclosure: I work for Arcen Games.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: Sum of its Parts


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Dev Links: Writer’s Block

XNA_Dev_Links

Today’s Developer Links include articles on polishing what you have, mixing music, and sensationalist headlines regarding RAM.

Video: three indies exploring creativity in game design (IndieGames.com)
“Courtesy of GDC Vault, this free GDC 2013 video shows The Stanley Parable’s Davey Wreden, Spelunky XBLA’s Andy Hull, and Loot Drop designer James Lantz offering unique lessons to expand creative game design. The aptly named “creatrilogy” session includes Hull’s “good kind of stealing” and other wooden toy design tips applicable to games, Lantz’s 4 different directions to go with genre innovation, and Wreden’s 14-tip “tool set for evoking creativity in game design.””

Strattonian Gambit (#AltDevBlogADay)
“After a 1 year hiatus from the site (including a bit of crunch), I thought I’d try to start making videos again. Hopefully I can also finish a bunch of the almost dones and post them as well. I apologize in advance for how hastily I threw this together.”

Polishing what you have (Positech Games)
“I sometimes think indie game developers get a little bit carried away with new features. They cram in new stuff, in an excited and passionate way, without stopping to think that they should probably get last weeks feature working better first.”

This is how we mix music for Luxuria Superbia (Tale of Tales)
“We built a tool in Unity to work with the more than 100 looping music tracks that Walter Hus composed for the game. The engine behind it synchronizes all tracks with each other (well, actually with a silent master track running all the time).”

Australian government to give $6M over three years to indie devs (Polygon)
“The Australian government is pledging $6 million over the next three years to 10 different indie studios, amid declines in revenue and employment for the country’s game industry, Screen Australia announced today.”

Tales from the Dev Side: XNA, XBLIG, and Me by Michael Neel (Indie Gamer Chick)
“In November 2008, the same month Xbox Live Community Games launched, I organized a geek dinner. I wanted to make sure there was some real geekery involved, so two days before the dinner I downloaded Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio. Until that weekend I had never developed a game.”

Crypt Run alpha 0.0.95 (Lost Decade Games)
“We’ve been working hard! Here’s the massive changelog since the last version of Crypt Run you’ve played.”

That RAM… (Brian Provinciano)
“We can’t go into specifics about stuff like that, but I’ll say that if you go by Eurogamer’s article “update”, it would show that PS4 provides at least as much RAM to the developer as the XB1. While Eurogamer updated theirs, Game Informer still has their sensationalist headline “PlayStation 4 Reserves Nearly Half Of RAM For OS” up, a headline which was poor even at the time of the initial rumor. While the article itself does say “slightly more than its competitor”, the headline is what the majority of people will ever see. This is a problem. This caused problems.”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: Writer’s Block


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Dev Links: On Your Mind

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Today’s Developer Links feature pieces on the benefits of localization and the cost of developing for the PS4.

So how much does it cost to develop for PlayStation 4? (Polygon)
“Microsoft has swung open the gates to indie developers by making the Xbox One a development kit in its own right. But how much does it cost to start creating indie games for Sony’s rival PlayStation 4?”

Overseas localization can be worthwhile – even for a small indie game (Gamasutra)
“Christine Love’s Analogue: A Hate Story is as much an unusual entry on the Steam storefront as when it first appeared there roughly a year ago. Inspired by East Asian visual novels, Analogue is an interactive epistolary novel in which players try to find out what happened aboard a generation ship in a far-flung future, through stored documents and a pair of chatty ship A.I.”

The Democracy 3 Compass (Positech Games)
“So here is a half-finished feature I’ve added to the main menu for Democracy 3. It’s a chart showing the last 50 election wins you had in the game, with the icons representing the countries you were playing at the time, and they are printed onto a left/right liberal/conservative axis so you can see what the state of the nation was at the time. In a way, this is a clue to your own political opinions and prejudices, as presumably you will gently be nudging all the countries in a similar direction.”

Return (Terry Cavanagh)
“Wiseit is he who knows he knows nothing.”

Joe Danger’s in (on) Indie Game: The Movie! (Hello Games)
“Basically Indie Game: The Movie could have been about Hello Games. Dave is often found weeping at the bottom of swimming pools. Much like Jon Blow (JB), Sean likes coding alone on rooftops, quaint patisseries, mahogany writing desks and generally always sits at right angles to the camera in silhouette. Ryan only eats really bad junk food.”

Lostcast 34: Cryptacular (Lost Decade Games)

Little Tree on the Prairie (Gaslamp Games)
“A lot of our time over the last week on the programming side has been spent updating our internal documentation. Since we invested so heavily in back-end programming for the game, there are a lot of systems that we’ve written but have not spent a lot of time interacting with yet. And because we want the game’s content to be malleable enough that people on the team with no programming skill can edit and create content, they need to have reference to consult. It’s not the most exciting work in game development but it needs to be done.”

Zeboyd Weekly Art! (7/24/13): First Cosmic Star Heroine Fan Art! (Zeboyd Games)
“So I’m busy making stuff for the game, but I wanted to share the first set of fan art we’ve seen for Cosmic Star Heroine!”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: On Your Mind


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Dev Links: Dry Run

Crypt_Run

In today’s Developer Links: Doing right by players with free-to-play and searching for the perfect indie gaming platform.

Where is the “perfect” indie gaming platform? (IndieGames.com)
“Not long ago, someone let the genie out of the bottle. Some say it was Apple, some say Steam, some might say XBLA, but it became clear after more than a decade of large publishers and soaring budgets that it was possible once again to do the unthinkable… to simply make your own damn game.”

Advanced Audio Streaming in Unity (Gamasutra)
“In the midst of making a simple casual game as part of a personal jam, Ben Long and Fredrik Kaupang uncovered a great trick for streaming audio in Unity.”

A blind gorilla with a fez walks up to a border checkpoint… (The Psychology of Video Games)
“Here, I’ve got a quick task for you. Assuming aces are worth 11, quickly double the value of each card below and add them up.”

Cosmic Star Heroine LV-Up ideas (Zeboyd Games)
“Gaining LVs is a crucial aspect of any RPG. There are RPGs where LV-Ups are completely predetermined (like Final Fantasy IV), RPGs where the player has a huge degree of freedom in how they build their characters (like your typical Shin Megami Tensei title) and there’s everything in between. Each system has its own strengths & weaknesses. Of course, with Cosmic Star Heroine we’re hoping to maximize those strengths and minimize those weaknesses.”

High quality photos of our California Extreme demo (Lost Decade Games)
“The live demo was so much fun! Big thanks to our friend Ricky for taking these excellent photos!”

Ithaka Update #2 (Jonas Kyratzes)
“The time we spent in Greece was great for Ithaka of the Clouds. Verena did a lot of drawing every day and, after some stylistic experiments, finished most of the images for the first part of the game. Yes, the game is divided into parts… but I really don’t want to spoil this stuff for you, so I won’t tell you everything. The first part is not the biggest part of the game, but it is fairly extensive and very important to the story, and being able to engage with it as we did in Greece really helped us to further define and shape what the game will be about.”

Supercell: “You have to do what’s right for players” (Games Industry)
“Ilkka Paananen calls for free-to-play developers to be pro-active”

There’s nothing like a tidy codebase (AltDevBlog)
“There you are! You, yes you! Been tasked with a new feature or a change, to the code or a script, to be done by yesterday, haven’t you?”


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Dev Links: Early Diagnosis

Ouya

The Ouya highlights today’s Developer Links, along with a list of helpful pieces from various indies.

Ouya devs reveal software sales numbers (Edge Online)
“Ouya’s arrival was far from a typical home console launch, but that’s fitting for a new piece of hardware determined to do things differently.”

The Ouya Experience: What game developers think so far (Gamasutra)
“A little over a year ago, Ouya launched its widly-successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, capturing the enthusiasm of thousands, with promises of an open platform, affordability and a simple game console experience for the living room.”

Video: Amnesia’s creative lead offers lessons in storytelling (IndieGames.com)
“In this GDC Europe 2012 lecture, Grip shows the science behind and the practical implementations for maintaining this level of immersion. He demonstrates how even lauded games such as Heavy Rain, Dead Space, and Assassin’s Creed break this sense of presence and how games such as Limbo facilitate it.”

How to get sound effects in your indie game without being a professional. (Tactic Studios Development)
“I’m not a sound designer, but I need sound in my game.”

Some optimization tips for game programmers (Positech Games)
“I’m enjoying myself with some optimizing today (yeah I’m weird like that). So I thought I’d jot down some of my tips for making your game faster. These are general, not language-specific tips.”

Our Artist is Amazing! (Owlchemy Labs)
“This much is pretty apparent (I mean, just look around). But what you may not know is that our lead artist extraordinaire, Carrie Witt, does so much more! No matter how much we tell her not to, she continues to draw silly pictures of video-game related things and, honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way!”

The Path and Bientôt l’été will be featured in the yearly FILE festival (Tale of Tales)
“The exhibition will take place at FIESP Cultural Center – Ruth Cardoso, located at Paulista Avenue, 1313.”

Hello Games’ top indie games! (Hello Games)
“When we’re not playing Call of Duty and Candy Crush Saga we sometimes play some of those crazy indie games you keep hearing about. Then we smoke pipes and discuss our feelings and Grant cries a little. So we’ve always got an eye out for fine-looking new games, and here are our current highlights. You may consider these as Hello Games’ Official Top Seven Most Anticipated Indie Games.”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: Early Diagnosis


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Dev Links: Extended Family

the swapper steam

Good deaths, revisiting the Android platform and more in today’s Developer Links.

A Good Death (Two Daemon)
“What is a good death? I’m referring to these new-fangled videogames, of course, and specifically challenge-based games with failure conditions which force a reset of state – usually dying, hence the title. That’s the topic of this article, then, but I’m just going to arrogantly declare the answer below. Stick with me and I’ll explain myself afterwards. A good death is one which costs the player no more than they expected and which the player believes to be their fault. Or, in short, a good death has acceptable losses and is fair.”

Video: The art and tech of Incredipede (IndieGames.com)
“”Incredipede is about life,” which is why developer Colin Northway felt Thomas Shahan’s lively, wood-cut art style was the perfect fit for his IGF nominated game, we learn in this GDC 2013 lecture.”

Internal Indies (Gamasutra)
“Established game dev studios could learn a thing or two from the indie revolution. Here’s how one studio set up its own internal “indie” group”

Revisiting Android (Gamasutra)
“A reprint from the May 2013 issue of Gamasutra’s sister publication Game Developer magazine, this article polls developers to find out about the challenges and opportunities around developing for Android in 2013.”

A calm moment in Luxuria Superbia (Tale of Tales)
“Work in progress is going well. The game was mostly finished two months ago. But since we decided to postpone release until the fall, we have a wealth of time to fine tune and polish.”

Why Can’t I Enter The Buildings In Sir? (Big Robot)
“This is the question we get asked most frequently, so we thought we’d answer it in some detail.”

Hugpunx (Auntie Pixelante)
“”In CounterStrike the only way to deal with terrorists is to kill them, because their ideology is inherently evil and wrong, right? Bioshock and Call of Duty: The Line tried in vain to tell us violence and obedience are a choice while only allowing the player to kill to reach the end….In Anita Sarkeesian’s latest video, Tropes Vs Women: Damsels in Distress pt 2, she takes aim at the way developers box themselves into a corner by making combat the core mechanic: keep swinging that hammer because this level is just full of nails.””

The Swapper Postmortem – What Went Right (Tom Jubert)
“I feel like this is going to entail a lot of brain-work on my part when I should be writing my MA dissertation on sustainable contractual justice, so if you don’t mind I’m just going to launch straight into it. Needless to say, spoilers throughout.”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: Extended Family


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Dev Links: What Really Matters

Among_The_Sleep

Today’s Developer Links include articles on creating VR games, what to expect when publishing on PS4 and gaming tax credits.

When self-publishing on PlayStation 4, here’s what to expect (Gamasutra)
“Agostino Simonetta, senior account manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, has given some insight into how the self-publishing process on PlayStation 4 works.”

Creating Virtual Reality Games: The Fundamentals (Gamasutra)
“When I was on a field trip to London back in high school, I played my first virtual reality (VR) game: Zone Hunter. I was immediately hooked and I knew I wanted to work in VR! I started my VR career more than 12 years ago working on industrial VR training applications and VR software tools.”

How educational games are best played two-by-two (Polygon)
“There are good reasons to create video games for schools that are designed to be played by one person, with a second student collaborating, but not actually touching the controls.”

Child-like avatars cause players to perceive the world in new ways (Polygon)
“When adults are placed in the virtual body of a child, they identify more closely with child-like attributes, according to a recent study published in PNAS and reported on by BBC.”

Works In Progress (Terry Cavanagh)
“A little while ago on twitter, inspired by Andi McClure, I recorded some vine videos of some of my unfinished games. Here’s Vine 1, Vine 2, and Vine 3. It’s far from comprehensive, just a couple of random things I cared about and didn’t mind showing.”

Zeboyd Weekly Art! (7/17/13): CSH logo, and SMT IV Isabeau fan art! (Zeboyd)
“Hey everyone, Bill Stiernberg here. Have couple of things to share today! For starters, Shin Megami Tensei IV came out yesterday for the 3DS. To celebrate the release of an awesome game in an awesome series, I decided to produce some fan art of a main character, Isabeau.”

Gaming Tax Credits: A Developer’s Guide to Free Money (Games Industry)
“As TV infomercial star and Riddler-inspired fashionista Matthew Lesko would say, “The government is giving away FREE MONEY to game developers!” Or to put it less colorfully but more accurately, there are dozens of government programs in the United States and Canada offering tax credits and rebates for companies producing video games.”

Spark Cinematics of Natural Selection 2 (Unknown Worlds)
“Hello, this is Brian Cummings aka Chops from Unknown Worlds. This blog post is to talk about my experiences with the Spark Cinematic Editor. I started with the company in 2009 near the beginning of production for NS2. I was hired as an intern to help with scheduling and tracking the Art tasks for production. After a short while I started to see some other useful things I could do for the team. One of the tasks that came up was to create a more interesting cinematic for the next alien to be revealed… the Lerk. I volunteered to create the cinematic using our Spark Cinematic Editor and got started.”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: What Really Matters


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Indie Links Round-Up: Strong Roots

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A new game from the Canabalt and Aquaria developers, Mine-Crack, and more on today’s Indie Links.

Canabalt dev, Aquaria co-creator collaborating on Grave (Polygon)
“Indie developers Adam “Atomic” Saltsman and Alec Holowka are teaming up for a genre-less game they’re tentatively calling Grave.”

Teleglitch: Die More Edition review: Death and glory (Joystiq)
“My inventory is nearly empty. It always is, I don’t know why I thought this time would be any different. My health is low and I haven’t seen a can of rejuvenating meat in what seems like hours. Everything is completely silent. In front of me I see a pair of doors leading to the only area I have yet to explore. I take a breath and slowly walk forward.”

New Xbox Live Indie Games for week ending July 26, 2013 (IndiePub)
“Best bets this week include: Reflection, where you solve puzzles using yourself and your reflection; AlienOVERKILL, a 3D alien shooter; Avatar Physics, a ragdoll running physics game; Blocks and Big Robots, an online robot deathmatch; and 2 in 1 Trivia All Stars, a fun trivia game you can play with friends. ”

Minecraft Is Now ‘Mine-Crack,’ Says Local News Everywhere (Kotaku)
“Remember when the local news discovered that girls play video games? Now intrepid reporters everywhere have discovered Mine-Crack, the dangerous drug that could be affecting our youth in all sorts of disturbing ways. Video editor Chris Person put together this super-cut. Enjoy.”

Grow Maze (TIGSource)
“After celebrating an 11th anniversary, Eyezmaze has released a new game: Grow Maze. If you persevere ardently, you’ll be able to discover all it’s charms and whims.”

Vintage Hero (Indie Gamer Chick)
“I should preface this review by noting that Mega Man’s classic NES games have no nostalgic value for me, and the franchise as a whole I consider to be of little relevance to modern gaming. I thought Mega Man 9 was alright. I thought Mega Man 10 was alright, albeit slightly less so. I tried and failed to get into the Battle Network series as a kid. And if the amount of shit that I gave when Mega Man was announced for Smash Bros was any smaller, it would only be able to be studied at the Hadron Collider. I’m not saying the series is a bad or that the games aren’t worth playing. I’m saying Mega Man probably means a lot more to you (assuming you’re my average reader) than it does for me.”

Crowdfunding the sad and brutal story of Oleg (Gnome’s Lair)
“It might be missing a political prisoners group, but that doesn’t really matter when we are talking about board games, does it? Well, I frankly do not know. Also, I digress already. What matters is that The Oleg Story is looking like an incredibly ambitious board game, in which players will get to control rival prison gangs, forge unsteady alliances, pummel inmates to death, strategize, invade cell blocks, manage contacts, plot and hopefully survive in a hellish prison.”

Live Free, Play Hard: CLICK TO LORD AGAIN (RPS)
““The pilot has full faith in your control of the space station”. Musical murder cubes. THE TOP TEN FUNNEST LORDS.”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Indie Links Round-Up: Strong Roots


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Dev Links: Space Madness

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Game development budget realities and indie dev in the 90′s in today’s Developer Links.

Indie development in the 1990s: The Game-Maker story (IndieGames.com)
“Fifteen years before indie games gained traction, the buzzword for amateur game design, and PC games in general, was Shareware.”

Understanding “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” (#AltDevBlogADay)
“It is regularly said that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This is a common phrase that may be even more popular these days due to economic hardships. While the statement is undoubtedly true it also misrepresents how things work in the real world. After seeing things from both sides it’s not what you might be led to believe.”

Interviews with Game Developers (Pixel Prospector)
“I’m currently working on a little site that is completely dedicated to interviews with game developers.”

AAAAAAAA (Auntie Pixelante)
“a game about frustration. made in zzt, which i am currently writing a book about. this is not the game i am making as a kickstarter perk.”

State of the Programming (Gaslamp Games)
“Greetings, loyal Subjects of the Empire! As you know, we traditionally give out a programming status update around the start of the month to let you know what we’ve been doing. To make things even more exciting, Mr. Triolo recently found some sort of “GIF-making” tool on the steam-pipe-and-radium-Internet. Therefore, what the heck, let’s show you some animated engine footage… in very, very small quantities.”

Zeboyd Weekly Art! (7/10/13): Character Sprites and Cosmic Star Heroine! (Zeboyd Games)
“Hi everyone! Bill Stiernberg here. For today’s Art Column, I wanted to talk a bit about sprites!”

When crowdfunding reveals the realities of game dev budgets (Gamasutra)
“In recent years, crowdfunding has become a serious option for game developers — and a welcome alternative for those long constrained by traditional publishing and funding models.”

On EVO 2013, Interviewing kcmmmmm, and losing a bet with Seth Killian (SpyParty)
“I had totally forgotten about the bet, but it’s clear I lost it, fair and square.”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: Space Madness