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EXCLUSIVE: Digging Deep – An Interview with Image & Form

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Last week I sat down with Brjánn Sigurgeirsson – CEO of Swedish indie developer Image & Form – to discuss Steamworld Dig and gain exclusive information about the studio’s new project.

When I speak to Sigurgeirsson, the studio’s home city of Gothenburg is experiencing a rather damp winter afternoon and night-time is drawing in. Such miserable weather can be enough to be put a dampener on anyone’s sprits – “Gothenburg is a wet dream for rain lovers” – but he’s in a good mood, with the studio currently enjoying the successful launch of their most recent game on Steam.

They’re also a studio that’s pretty busy at the moment. “Quite a few things are happening,” Sigurgeirsson says once we get going; “these last few days, we’ve been responding to a few Game of the Year awards and trying to keep up with that. We were hoping to be on the shortlist for IGN, to be on their top 10 games of the year. We didn’t make that list, but we think we’re on the shortlist for handheld and indie games, which is good enough for us.”

With success comes recognition of course, so it’s no surprise that many people are wondering what’s coming next from the developer.

“When we finished Dig in June this year, we were looking forward to releasing in August on 3DS. We didn’t dare start development of the next game immediately – everyone had to pitch in with the release plans,” he explains.

“You won’t believe me, but we actually had very little planned even just a week before launch. We didn’t really know what to do; it was my task to launch the game, but I had trouble sleeping the whole summer because I was so ill-prepared for it. I really didn’t have any idea it would be as successful as it was. We’d had our noses so close to the screen the whole time in development that we didn’t know if it was a good game. And when we realised that it was a fabulous game, that people thought it was amazing, we thought: great!”

If he comes across as pleased with himself, then he has every right to be. So far on both platforms combined, Dig has been very successful – though Sigurgeirsson isn’t willing to share the exact sales numbers right now. He’s surprisingly modest and self-deprecating though, for a guy who’s just seen his studio go from being relatively unknown to an indie heavyweight almost overnight.

In the developer’s offices, some tastefully framed artwork adorns the walls – character art from Steamworld Dig and Anthill, one of their previous games on iOS. Other than that and a mural on one wall, there’s very little to indicate that you’re in anything other than just a regular office. But I have to wonder: does he ever feel like the success is going to his head?

“We’ve been very lucky,” he tells me. “People seem to think that we’re being very professional but really it’s more that a lot of things just happened to come together! We’ve been counting our blessings; I thought it would sort of ease down. So we just had to take a break from everything and try to be a little bit more prepared [when] we got the ok from Steam to have a version of the game on their platform.”

Sigurgeirsson isn’t ready to share the name of their new game, which is currently in the early stages of development. “If you know what we’re like then it will probably change,” he says, before giving a characteristically warm chuckle.

It's a fairly nondescript working space that Image & Form call home.

It’s a fairly nondescript working space that Image & Form call home.

He is willing to share that it’s due to be another game set in the Steamworld universe. It’s not Steamworld Dig 2, though. “What we have ahead of us is 3 more games in the Steamworld series, for sure,” he tells me. “The thing that we’re working on right now is not Steamworld Dig at all; it won’t be a digging game. It will be in the Steamworld universe and the characters will be recognizable, [but] it will be totally different type of game.

“People who are hoping for a Dig sequel will have to wait, but [that too] will be bigger than the first game was, in all directions.”

If they weren’t before, then now the developer is certainly forward-thinking and rather ambitious. But if the next game in the series isn’t a sequel to Dig, what is it? Sigurgeirsson is surprisingly open on the studio’s plans – at least, as far as can be expected from a team enjoying such tremendous success and an increased profile. “When we started developing [the next game], what we kept doing for a month and a half was actually a prequel to Dig. But when we started working on the Steam version of Dig, the guys in the office came up with a really brilliant new idea: not a sequel, not Steamworld Dig 2, but perhaps the game that comes after, or the game after that. And so we looked at it and we just thought: God, that’s so brilliant. It’s so grand!

Their plan is to complete their current project before moving on to Dig 2 and then later returning to the prequel that they’d previously started, he tells me.

I ask him what he means when he says the new game is grand. “The scale of the game is just so good that as soon as we had finished porting Dig to Steam, we immediately started focusing on that,” he replies.

With the talk about scale, people are obviously going to ask: is it an open-world game? “That’s a good question,” Sigurgeirsson says and it’s clear from looking at him and from the slight pause which follows that he’s choosing his words carefully.

I say to him that he seems to be trying hard not to give too much away, and he laughs. “Sorry about that! It’s just that I have a tendency to promise too much [and] you disappoint everybody if you don’t deliver.”

So what can he tell me? “What we want to do is to create much more of a ‘community’ game in the Steamworld series, meaning that people will play it for many more hours and discuss different strategies. No-one will complete this game in a day or two; they’ll be playing hopefully for weeks, and then we’ll add more stuff to it.”

Explaining a bit more about what he means, he tells me: “You can buy Dig and you can finish it in maybe one sitting, in a single day. And then when you’re done with it, it’s interesting to talk to people about how you solved certain things. But a game you can discuss while you’re playing it is just so much more interesting.”

When he mentions community aspects, does he mean multiplayer?

There’s that trademark laugh again before he responds: “Maybe! I would love to just be able to give a simple answer. I think the game that we’re working on now would lend itself wonderfully to co-op play, but we’re very aware of how much more development time it would take to perfect that. If we can manage it then we will make a bigger game and then we will be able to have multiplayer.”

So it’s certainly a possibility then. If it does happen, what form will it take?

If we can get multiplayer in there, it won’t be versus play; it will be co-op. If we could get that in, it would be tremendous but it [would have to] be excellent, the best game of the year.”

He goes on: “What we’re looking at now is a single-player game that lends itself excellently to people discussing various strategies, how they tackle things and how different people solve things across different playthroughs. There will be so

Brjann (center front, grey t-shirt) and the rest of the team.

         Brjann (center front, grey t-shirt) and the rest of the team.

many ways to tackle every scene in the game… it will be very open to discussion.”

Does that mean random generation? After all, roguelikes are currently experiencing something of a comeback at the moment, with Path of Exile, FTL and Rogue Legacy – among others – working to make the genre a favorite in the indie scene.

Once again, Sigurgeirsson laughs and it’s clear that he’s enjoying my attempts to tease more information out of him. “Yes, there will be a lot of random generation: it will be a core feature of the game. Also, it will be random in more than one way. You’ll understand it when you see it, because the premise that we have is that we want people to ask themselves: how will I succeed in the game this time? The conditions of the game will be different every time.”

I mention Fez and how the game’s challenge extends beyond the platforming and into wider areas with the amount of secrets and riddles to be solved. Is that, I wonder, something which the team is considering?

“I don’t think, at least at this stage, that we’ll have that wider level of meta-discussions going on about the game; but I really think it will be perceived as a grand game, with a lot of new takes on how a game like this can be played.”

There’s yet more laughter as he pleads: “Can you please stop asking me about this now?”

It’s clear that he’s becoming wary of how much information he’s giving out about the upcoming title, so I ask him what platforms they’re currently hoping to release on and when they think the game will be finished.

“We’re kind of looking at everything really. One thing we try to be very clear about with ourselves is how wonderfully the Nintendo community – and the company itself – has treated us. We were really nobodies before Nintendo lifted us up. So we’re never going to forget what they’ve done for us and the 3DS is one of the platforms that we want to launch on from day one; and then obviously Steam, if they’ll have us again, and [after that] we’ll look at what the other platforms are doing.”

He has to think for a moment before discussing the hoped-for development timeframe and I’m reminded of what he said earlier about promising too much and not being able to deliver. “Realistically, I think we’re looking at a release in October 2014. If we count 8 months and take into account Swedish vacations, we’ll be done maybe next September,” he says cautiously.

“With Dig, it took us about 8 calendar months. We’re aiming to have a much grander game [this time], but developed in the same time frame; we’re very careful to make sure that we’re doing everything right, from the very start of development.

“We don’t want to make a game that is smaller than Steamworld Dig, and we don’t want to make a game that is the same. We want to make something great.”

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Later that evening, as I listen back to the interview recording and read through my notes, I’m struck by just how ambitious Image & Form are being with their new title. With any creative team that’s tasted success, there’s pressure to follow up on it. For many, the temptation is to take the easy route and play it safe, but that’s a temptation that Brjánn Sigurgeirsson and his team are certainly resisting.

Whether or not they are able to deliver on those ambitions and strike gold a second time is something that we won’t know for certain until their next game is released; but for now they’re thinking big. That’s something to be applauded in an industry where so many follow-ups are just more of the same with a different number next to the title.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – EXCLUSIVE: Digging Deep – An Interview with Image & Form


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Bring joy to ill kids this Christmas with IndieGameStand and Child’s Play

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Pay-what-you-want indie game marketplace IndieGameStand has launched a new Christmas fundraising drive to raise money for Child’s Play, a charity that works with over 70 hospitals around the world to deliver toys, videogames, books and more for kids spending time in hospital due to illness or disability.

The 12 Days of Christmas project is simple – from tomorrow, the site will reveal and spotlight a new free game, selected with the assistance of one of IndieGameStand‘s valued community members. By donating to Child’s Play via the site, you’ll unlock that game in your IGS Wallet (basically, your collection of games on the IGS service). At the end of the 12 days, all the proceeds raised during the event (after credit card processors have taken their fees) will be donated directly to Child’s Play, to help them in ensuring that children stuck in hospital over the Festive Season have something to look forward to.

It is important to note that IndieGameStand will not take any money from the funds raised during the event.

Child’s Play was established in 2003 and in that time it has raised millions of dollars and helped thousands of children worldwide gain a little joy from what is normally a very unpleasant experience. This year alone the charity has raised over 3.4 million dollars – a staggering amount and something to be truly grateful for and which just goes to show that while the gaming community is often criticized, it is also capable of amazing acts of charity and kindness, happy to bring the joy of videogames to children who stand to benefit the most.


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IGM Introduces The Indie Arcade: Now Open To Play Or Submit Indie Games

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Looking for some great, new indie games to play? Have a finished game that needs a home? Indie Game Magazine is ecstatic to announce the IGM Indie Arcade. The Indie Arcade brings the community together in two very important ways: By giving developers the opportunity to submit their games to the Arcade – don’t worry, it’s free ;) – and accessing a large pre-existing audience base, and also by giving our readers a place to test out the latest indie titles and then offer feedback directly to developers through direct comments and our forums.  For developers, simply register for an Indie Arcade account, then provide us with the information requested in the following submission guidelines:

Game Name
Game Description
Game Instructions
Game Tags (Genre)
Game file (Flash or Unity)
Thumbnail (100 x 100)
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Anyone who wants to test out the Indie Arcade is allowed to play up to ten times before an account registration is required. Registering for an account offers access to our Arcade Leaderboard, where users can compete against one another and earn points not just by playing games, but by supporting the community as well (in true indie spirit.) For a full breakdown of how to earn points, head here. Be sure to check back often as the Indie Arcade continues to grow, and adds new games to an ever-expanding collection. See you in the Arcade!

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – IGM Introduces The Indie Arcade: Now Open To Play Or Submit Indie Games


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Twitch-casters Band Together For Community-Focused Benefit Streams

Artwork drawn by Indeimaus to commemorate the 48forbiwi benefit

Artwork drawn by Indeimaus to commemorate the 48forbiwi benefit

The popular video broadcasting service known as Twitch has become one of the largest communities where gamers can interact with one another. From live-streaming Let’s Play segments, to game reviews, to weekly video series’ hosted by the biggest outlets in the business, Twitch is now an important hub continuously showcasing amazing video game-related content and events. Some of these events in particular exemplify the meaningful bonds formed between members just from meeting together in a strictly online capacity. Such is the case with the following group of streamers, who have spent the past few weeks successfully hosting 48-hour benefit streams to help out members of their online community.

The first benefit started after a fellow Youtuber/streamer who goes by the name Exotix began having some trouble with his laptop. Exotix is the founder of an annual charity event called TwentyFourForIndie, where a group of streamers focused on playing indie games broadcast live for 24 hours in an effort to raise money for Child’s Play. “I have been producing content for about a year and a half on the internet on a low tier laptop,” Exotix explained. “I think all the hours of recording and rendering took it’s toll on the poor guy. My sound card broke about a month before the stream, and my USBs stopped getting power.” The stream he’s referring to is the surprise 48-hour benefit his fellow streamers hosted to raise money for a new laptop.

On Oct. 25, what was originally supposed to be a 24-hour stream known as 24forExotix turned into a 48-hour benefit due to an outpouring of support from the community. What’s equally amazing is just how quickly the whole thing came together. When asked about how much planning went into Exotix’s benefit, event organizer JennS90 said that it all happened, “surprisingly quickly, to be honest.” She further explained that, “when I had the idea for Exotix’s stream, I never thought it could have come together as fast as it did.  I mentioned the idea and people were on board almost instantly, and everyone was so amazing at keeping his a secret from him.”

Artwork by Boy of Bacon drawn as a thank you to the person who donated the most money for the Exotix benefit.

Artwork by @BoyOfBacon, drawn as a thank you to the person who donated the most money for the Exotix benefit.

And keep it a secret, they did. Exotix said he had no idea the stream was happening until after it started. “Well, I didn’t know about it during any of the planning. I got a direct message on Twitter with a bit.ly link from JennS90,“ he confessed. “I clicked that link, and I was in awe. I was shaking for about an hour!” By the time the benefit ended, 24forExotix managed to raise about $1300 dollars, more than enough to pay for a new laptop. Exotix mentioned that the rest of the leftover money went to help pay off medical bills for his mother.

Shortly after the Exotix benefit, the spark for another event burst to life thanks to a man named Syama Mishra. Syama, also known by his Twitch handle McSpidey, is the brother of Sanatana Mishra, a member of the indie development team Witch Beam currently working on a twin-stick shooter called Assault Android Cactus. As the unofficial spokesperson and one-man PR team for Cactus, Syama found himself joining the chat stream for a member of the community named Biwinningism, or Biwi for short. At the time, Biwi was streaming some footage of the game – which is currently available for Early Access purchase on Steam – when Syama got the sense something was wrong. “I joined the stream and noticed she wasn’t her usual self,” he said. “Essentially she rage quit the game, turning off her mic and webcam, and ended the stream way early apologizing to everyone. I watched it happen and felt really bad”

As it turns out, Biwi was frustrated by more than just the difficult boss fight she was stuck on. “My son has been sick for over two months now and we have yet to find out what’s wrong with him. Medical bills have piled up and a lot of things got put on the back burner to get paid,” she shared. “Plus my landlord saying I missed a month of rent and me not being able to prove otherwise, we came up really short this month. I needed $600 extra to make things work this month or Jason and I would be homeless.”

It took a bit of work on Syama’s part, but eventually his persistence managed to persuade Biwi it was okay to open up to her friends and the community about her situation. Little did she know, her friends were already planning an event because they realized something was wrong. “As I was telling him what was happening, I assume he was talking to Jenn and Gozita about setting up a stream to help me. He convinced me to ask Jenn for help anyways. All I said to her was ‘Hey’ and she said ‘I’m already on it, 10 people have already signed up’.” The other streamer Biwi mentioned, Gozita, helped coordinate the Exotix benefit and became the primary event organizer for Biwi’s stream. “As far as organization, Jenn started it off once she found out everything and contacted a few people,” Gozita said. “Then I took over and got all the streamers in and I handled making the channel, setting it up, sending out the stream key, and handling any codes that were donated to use to give away.” After just days of planning, 48forBiwi kicked off on November 9th.TwitchStreamers(2)

It didn’t take long for the benefit to reach its intended donation goal of $600. In fact, the community managed to pull together a large chunk of it even before the event went live. “Before the stream started, we had already reached $250,” Gozita recalled. “Within the first half hour we had $378.06. By the end of the first 3 hours, we had $561.05” When 48forbiwi finally wrapped the next day, the event raised nearly $2,300 for Biwi and her son Jason. Recalling her feelings during the closing moments of the benefit, Biwi joyfully explained that, “I have never witnessed such kindness from a group of people. Not just directed at me, but to others there as well. Huge packages of games were given out. People were teaming up and splitting the cost of the packages and then not keeping the games for themselves but passing them out to everyone that couldn’t pay.”

The packages of games referred to came from a number of sources. Many games were donated both by the streamers themselves as well as other members of the Twitch community who joined the chat room and just wanted to help. Even members of the indie development community were happy to be a part of the event. David Gallant offered 100 codes of his game I Get This Call Everyday so that anyone who donated got at least one free game for helping out. Syama managed to secure a few Steam keys of Cactus to give away as well. Aside from that, many folks offered up their unused Steam keys and Humble Bundle codes for games they didn’t need.

In addition to game giveaways, both events kept audience members engaged with a variety of activities; ranging from the occasional karaoke to a few rounds of trivia. At one point during the Biwi benefit, Black Ice developer Garret C jumped in for an impromptu Q&A. Additionally, a streamer known as Hired Help offered to draw some joke art for those who pledged $5 or more. In the case of the Exotix stream, fellow streamer Maximus kicked off the event by donating a key for the recently-released Batman: Arkham Origins. In order to win this extra special giveaway, Gozita put together an extremely difficult round of Batman-related trivia.

After successfully hosting two exhausting benefits for members of the community, this close-knit group of streamers have yet to feel burnt out by the long hours and event planning. “We all love hosting them and it really gives us a chance to hang out together and make new friends,” Gozita said. In all likelihood, it probably won’t be long before the community gets together once more to help out a fellow gamer and friend. Finally, as a special thank you to all those who participated in the 48forbiwi benefit, Biwi recorded the following video for IGM:

To see the full list of streamers who participated in the events, be sure to click on the event links themselves contained within the article.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Twitch-casters Band Together For Community-Focused Benefit Streams


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‘King Voxel’ Preview – A Quest For Queen And Country

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Do you pine for the golden days of the Atari 2600 and the original Nintendo Entertainment System? If retro gaming is your calling, check out Lecker Klecker’s upcoming debut release, King Voxel. Harkening back to the days of Adventure and Legend of Zelda, this nostalgic PC tribute to 8-bit questing is a call to arms for fans of ye olden days.

The premise is as straightforward adventure as you can get. King Voxel’s kingdom of Voxelot is overrun with fearsome foes, and his beloved queen has been kidnapped by the evil Lord Hellion. With sword drawn, and crown stubbornly glued to his head, it is up to King Voxel to conquer his enemies, take back his realm, and rescue his monarch-in-distress.

The gameplay follows the traditional pattern; King Voxel progresses one quest at a time, sometimes searching for specific items, other times simply going all-out on his enemies until only the king himself is left standing. In between quests, shops can be visited in order to purchase new items and equipment, and according to the official site a fortune teller will eventually be added in as a hint-giver to aid progress. In addition to the generic up-down-left-right movement, the game also features dynamic camera controls, which greatly reduce navigational frustration.

What stands out the most about this voxel-based take on 8-bit fantasy is the world generator. With a fully randomized experience, no two playthroughs will be the same, and the questing capacity dial is turned up to infinity. No more post-game depression, -the adventure never has to end. On the other hand, this could be bad news for the King and Queen; the lack of closure implies that the kingdom will never truly be completely free of invaders. Such is the life of a virtual ruler.

Along with infinite quests (and thus, infinite treasures to be found!), King Voxel also features a wealth of monstrous enemies for your vanquishing pleasure. The designs are every bit as colorfully trippy as the baddies of yore. One moment you might find yourself facing a giant jumping spider, the next a disembodied skull of doom. Of course, any king worth his mettle must be ready for anything – even psychedelic-pink pig monsters.

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Luckily, King Voxel also seems to incorporate the healthy sense of humor so often missing from more gritty modern adventure games. Between the neon-bright cartoonish graphics and odd cast of characters, trying for a deadly serious tone would have been suicide. Instead, Lecker Klecker tossed in quite a bit of content ‘just for fun,’ including drolly anachronistic collectibles (such as a pair of sunglass or a saxophone), a casino, and the Voxelot Royal Art Museum, which features random images (submitted by the backers as well as the developer) and serves no grander purpose than players’ amusement.

At its core, King Voxel is a labor of love – the respect and admiration for old-school adventure gaming is evident in the magical atmosphere (which owes its beauty in no small part to Mike O.K.’s epic-fantastical soundtrack) and the attention to detail that appears to be going into every voxel. If you, too, are a warrior poet at heart, check out the official site to learn more, or visit the Steam Greenlight page to show your support. No specific release date has been announced as of yet, though currently the developer is looking at an early 2014 release. In the meantime, be sure to check out the free alpha demo available on the Indiegogo page.

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Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘King Voxel’ Preview – A Quest For Queen And Country


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‘Core of Innocence’ Preview – Sidequests, And Fanservice, Galore

CoI title

If you ever wanted superpowers (and a super-skimpy outfit to go with them), you might want to take a look at Core of Innocence, an upcoming adventure platformer for the PC from Pudding Hat Games. Sprout wings, turn into a cat, save the world from imminent destruction – all the classic elements are there, along with a fairly charitable dose of fanservice.

Say “hello” to Lila Ashford, a young woman born into a family of archaeologists. For years she has searched in vain for her mother, who mysteriously vanished during an excavation in the Balanceran mines. One day, Lila’s grandfather contacts her with news of a discovery at the mines – a new energetic mineral dubbed Electrum, which could be linked to her mother’s disappearance. But once Lila arrives on-site, a dark force reveals itself, launching her into a dangerous quest to uncover the truth about her mother, her family’s legacy, and her own identity.

While the overarching goal is obviously to defeat the big bad guy and find out what happened to Lila’s mother, even the current version already includes a plethora of optional undertakings and secret locations in addition to the main plot. It seems like every other person in the mines has some random chore they’ve been dying to dump on the new girl. “Could you find my bracelet for me?” “If you see this random laundry-list of items just lying around on the floor, bring them on over, would you?” “Did you find my favorite pair of underwear yet?” (Yes, seriously.) Luckily, Lila doesn’t have to do anything you don’t want her to – except, of course, for the whole main quest thing. That one’s kind of a big deal. But for all you completionists out there, Core of Innocence looks like it could be one heck of a scavenger hunt.

Taking cues from the classics, the game looks to be chock-full of everything fans of the genre could want. Power-ups, collectible weaponry, equipment upgrades, side-quests, magic portals to (eight) other worlds, supernatural legions of evil forces bent on bringing about the advent of hell on earth – you name it, it’s probably there. Highlights include double-jumping, which causes Lila to sprout a rather snazzy pair of black wings in order to grab some extra air, and transforming into a wall-crawling, travel-sized feline.

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Personally, I prefer cat-Lila. My natural bias towards felines aside, the potential for fanservice is greatly reduced when your character has neither breasts to animate nor, for that matter, a female human body to show off. And yes, there is a pretty decent amount of fanservice in the game so far, which is probably the main reason why it is stated to be intended for a mature audience.

Lila initially shows up dressed in a conservative pair of overalls and a t-shirt, but once her secret awesomeness kicks in, she immediately changes into a black bikini top and a teeny-tiny miniskirt. Practical? Not exactly, but at least she’s got a top at all, which is more than some of the racier varieties of enemies can say. There are other options in her inventory, but at the current stage equipping these only affects Lila’s stats, not her appearance. With any luck, however, this will be changed in some future update – some of her alternate ensembles, like Witch Hunter, actually look pretty darn cool. Dressing her up as Heather Mason could be fun, too.

Core of Innocence is determined to be an exciting, challenging game of sword and sorcery, and with all the content the developers are packing into it, it definitely has a fighting chance. No official release date is set yet, but according to the Pudding Hat Games blog, a full release shouldn’t be too far away. The final version will be DRM-free, and free to download with a “pay what you want” donation option.

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Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘Core of Innocence’ Preview – Sidequests, And Fanservice, Galore


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Under New Management (Sort Of…)

Dear IGM Friends, Fans and Industrypeople. I would like to let you all know that my good friend and business partner, Mr. Mike Gnade, has made the tough decision to part ways with IGM after five years as owner and publisher. This presented me with a great opportunity to acquire the site from him. In doing so, we will be continuing on with the traditions of The Indie Game Magazine. As with any change in ownership, there will be a few changes.

First, and perhaps most notably, I have decided to discontinue the print magazine. There are two main reasons for this decision. The biggest reason is time. Preparing the magazine requires a huge time investment, and frankly, the financial reward is not there. Other reasons would include fees and costs, payment delays from the distributors and the production labor requirements of the magazine. I hope to eventually replace the magazine with a weekly newsletter, but that is on the horizon.

Next I am going to be re-focusing IGM. Previously our focus had been on game reviews and news. While we are still reviewing games and offering indie game news, it is my belief that our focus needs to be on our audience. Content without you, the readers, is not going to get us very far. Therefore I am placing a strong emphasis on social media and forum participation. I want to jump-start our forums by creating developer contests, great conversation topics, providing resources for developers. I am even putting up an arcade to house great indie games here on the site that can be enjoyed by all.

I wanted to take a fast minute to thank you all for your continued support over the years. IGM could not possibly be what it has become without your support. The IGM team takes a great deal of pride, as an indie company, reviewing and promoting the indie game industry and really wants to develop a close relationship with our community. That is why I am placing such a high level of emphasis on getting to know you better. If you have any questions or comments, I invite you to get in touch with me and my staff. You can either leave a message below in the comments or send me an email. My person email is cnewton@indiegamemag.com.

A little about me: I am a father of two young boys and a lucky husband. Like most indies I have a day job where I work as a Mechanical Engineer. I have been in online media since 2004 where I began as a writer for a Magic: The Gathering fan site and worked my way up through the ranks. I owned my game review site for two years before joined up with Mike in September of 2011. My role here at IGM was initially content management of the website while Mike managed the magazine.

Also, if you are a developer and have submitted email to IGM for any reason, the voice that came back to you back was mine, and I plan on continuing that role as I really enjoy helping people as much as I can and that is one thing that is not going to change.

I’d like to offer my wishes of luck to my former partner and current friend Mike Gnade. You may have left the building, but you are always family.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Under New Management (Sort Of…)


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‘Luxuria Superbia’ – Lots of Luxury, Not as Much Superb

Please, don’t get me wrong, I love weird games. If there’s a game that breaks traditional gameplay techniques and stories, I’d probably love it! Have I ever told you a few of my favorite games? Mirror’s Edge, Jet Set Radio Future, The World Ends With You…all those games do a great job of defying what traditional games in their respective genres do. I love games that are weird like that, but they still have to be a bit grounded. Tale of Tales trippy title Luxuria Superbia is pretty far out there. It’s essentially a beginner’s acid trip.

Luxuria Superbia is a (rhythm?) game that was originally meant to be played on a tablet. In fact, playing with just a mouse is pretty much impossible. You’ll be plugging in a gamepad for this one. You control two cursors (flowers?) inside a tunnel, and each side of the tunnel begins colorless. Through petal collection, each side begins to fill up with color, and you gain points as long as your cursors stay in the colored area. But if you fill up every side completely, the level ends.

Luxuria Superbia Screenie 1

The control of the cursors is really smooth, and I thought it made the game a little more challenging than it would be on a tablet. The sensitivity of the analog sticks is near perfect—you can always predict where you’re going to move to, and that’s essential in a game like this. It’s only detrimental in the later levels, where I noticed some slowdowns and FPS drops during gameplay. That’s weird, considering the later levels are pretty easy. The game has a very easy difficulty ramp, but I have trouble calling it a ramp. It’s more like a very small elevation change, like stepping from the street up onto the curb. This game is really, really easy. The only hard part is having enough time to finish the levels with a high score.

That is, if you’re not too put off to finish the levels. During each one, text will appear in the middle of the screen that’s…disturbing, at best. Phrases like “Touch me.” and “Oh god.” or maybe “Right there.” Might throw you off your game a little bit. Or a lot. I had them on for two levels and then paused the game and found the option to turn them off. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had to keep them on. Thankfully, the visuals aren’t nearly as creepy. They’re mostly nonsensical, with flower petals turning into chairs and other random objects depending on the level you’re on. The music, while well-produced and interesting at times, is pretty experimental. But what did you expect from an experimental game?

Luxuria Superbia Screenie 2

I feel like this game should be judged from a standpoint of visual art/multimedia art, but I’m a game critic, so it’s not my place to look at Luxuria Superbia like that. It really does look beautiful, and I’m just one person; this could be right up someone else’s alley. As a game, however, it’s got a long way to go before I’d pick it up and play again. There are elements of replayability, and there’s a start-to-finish game, but everything else is either missing or just a little bit off. It’s worth a look, and I recommend it to anyone interested in art games or solid control schemes.  Let us know what you think in the comments, too!

Luxuria Superbia will be released on November 5th for  Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Ouya. It is $3.99 for iOS/Android/Ouya and $5.99 for PC/Mac. You can keep up to date with Tale of Tales on Twitter!

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘Luxuria Superbia’ – Lots of Luxury, Not as Much Superb


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IGM Getting Social

IGM is looking for a Social Manager to join our team who is a very passionate about indie games. The purpose for this position is to serve as a voice for IGM; the person that will respond when a developer or fan speaks to us. This person must have sufficient amount of time available and love to be social. Our preferred modes of social interactivity are Twitter and G+.

Goals of the Position:

Answer questions asked to the @indiegamemag Twitter account and The Indie Game Magazine G+ page.

Interact with indie game industry related conversations on behalf of IGM.

Provide contact information for developers looking for ways to get reviews to us.

Promote IGM related content, contests and forum conversations across the social universe.

Position Requirements:

Great communications aka Social butterfly.

Understand and love the Indie Game Industry.

Always looking to get better and learn more.

Always looking for ways to drive traffic toward IGM and improve its content.

Always keeping an ear open for customer feedback, keeping a finger on the pulse.


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Editor’s Notebook: Hands-On With The Spooky ‘Betrayer’ Alpha

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Combine the artistic style of Sin City, blended with the setting of Pocahontas, and add in the developers who made the original F.E.A.R., and you have Betrayer.

Founded by many ex-Monolith developers, Black Powder Games are right in the middle of developing Betrayer. After having pumped out F.E.A.R. in 2005, the team made a name for themselves with the game as players blasted their way through the paranormal experience.  Anyone who has played even just the first five minutes of F.E.A.R. can tell you that the game was an impressive achievement both technically, and atmospherically. Now, as their own studio, the pressure is on for Black Powder Games to live up to the legacy they built up nearly a decade ago and deliver fans the next great paranormal shooter.

After spending some time with the Alpha of Betrayer, I believe they are on the right track.

Betrayer takes place in 1604, on the Virginian coastline in North America. Colonial America is just starting to come alive and travelers from Europe are heading across the Atlantic to the New World to begin to settle the landscape and carve out a living for themselves and their families. The time period is one in which witch hunts and ghost stories thrived, and with anomalies like the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony a reality, there is a certain amount of uncertainty that galvanizes the mind and sets the roots for even more spooky tales.

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Eager to prove  that they are still the masters of the paranormal shooter, Black Powder Games have come up with a few gameplay elements to ensure that Betrayer is able to keep players on their toes without having to overly rely on cheap, loud jump-outs to rattle player’s nerves.

The most striking element comes in the artistic direction that the game is heading in. Betrayer is almost totally rendered in black and white. The color red is used to highlight things of importance, but other than that, it is all black and white. The decision for such a style came with the belief that players will not be able to see things as clearly and so will exercise more hesitation and caution, increasing the amount of tension present in the game at any given time. At this point in the game’s development, Black Powder Games is still “experimenting” with the color choice, using their time as one of Steam’s Early Access titles to collect player feedback on the design decision.

“While we knew this approach wouldn’t appeal to everyone, we felt its impact on the experience was too interesting not to pursue,” Black Powder Games said on their website. “And since we’re a small indie studio with an Early Access title, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to experiment with something different.”

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I found the black and white implementation to be great. I never had that much difficulty making things out, and as mentioned, anything I was supposed to be looking at was stained blood red. The black and white was never overwhelming, but the shadows were just deep enough to where I certainly had some blind spots, just as intended. However, the enemies I encountered out in the world were radiating with some red voodoo business that made spotting them about as easy as finding an elephant in a swimming pool. Only about the first hour of the game is available in the build, so I can’t speak for the entire game, but if the enemies are easily seen, that eliminates nearly all the tension that is supposedly Black Powder Games’ purpose for the use of black and white to begin with.

A recent patch updated the Alpha build and allows players to turn off the black and white filter. Personally, I prefer the black and white over the color, but you can decide for yourself as the option is now available.

Betrayer

Betrayer dumps players out of a shipwreck at the beginning of the game. With hardly any supplies, and absolutely no recollection of what happened, players must set forth into the spooky forest and seek refuge at a nearby town. While trekking through the woods, a small figure cloaked in red appears and warns players of the dangers ahead. This Little Red Riding Hood cosplayer makes a few more mysterious appearances along the route, providing advice and information that generates even more questions. Eventually players get to their destination, only to find the town almost completely deserted. Even more unsettling, a few townsfolk are still present, but they are completely turned to ash, frozen in place.

Enemy Conquistadors, who seem to be brainwashed by some spell, patrol the open fields and forests surrounding the town that served as a quest hub. The NPC in the town, the ghost of a former inhabitant, can be questioned about what happened to the other villagers, but seems to have trouble remembering anything, and it falls to the player to set out and discover what happened to this ghost town.

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Players then must set forth into the wilderness and attempt to discover clues that will help them solve the mystery. Players can “listen” to the environment to hear an indication of what direction they should be heading in, a clever way to hand-hold lost players, and guide them back onto the right path. The listening mechanic is essentially a game of Marco Polo, where players hit X and the environment in the game emanates a haunting sound-effect that echoes across the landscape. Typically, characters in games and movies run away from the source of such sounds. Betrayer forces you towards them.

The gameplay I encountered in Betrayer will be familiar to anyone who regularly plays FPS games. The most unusual aspect of the gameplay comes in the form of having to use 17th Century weaponry, but even that is not too outlandish, —the bow has some drop to the shots and the muskets take a good chunk of time to reload. Muskets seem to do more damage than bows do but are much less accurate at range than the bows are.

I’m excited to see where Black Powder Games takes Betrayer. From what I experienced, the team that brought gamers F.E.A.R. has returned for an encore performance that promises to be a spooky romp through 17th Century Colonial America.

Check out Betrayer on Steam and follow the developers on Twitter.