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

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Adventure Game Studio Engine Source Code Released

A solid development for game devs, programmers and their respective student followings who have adventure titles on the brain and an understanding of C++: The already free game creator Adventure Game Studio (the same one that spawned titles such as Time Gentlemen, Please! and Snakes of Avalon) has recently offered up its engine source code as well.

Those interested have been instructed to use Visual C++ Express 2008, a free download from Microsoft — as opposed to the 2010 version — and will also need the DirectX SDK from Microsoft installed. There are also a few caveats for those looking to poke around, which the author has outlined:

  • DO NOT use this source code as a learning resource or a guide on best practice.
  • The state of the source code is VERY BAD and should in fact be considered an example of BAD PRACTICE.
  • Unlike the AGS Editor code which is relatively modern and a generally good standard, the engine code dates back 12 years to 1999, and has a severe case of the another-bit-being-bolted-onto-the-side disease. It also retains compatibility with old versions which means that some of the old and particularly dire code paths cannot yet be removed.
  • So just to be clear, YES I KNOW that the code is in a bad state. You don’t need to tell me that.
  • I also know that AGS is used by thousands of games with thousands of combinations of game settings and script functions, and that any attempt to refactor the code into a better state is likely to inadvertently break something in someone’s game, which is why I haven’t attempted to do it yet.

Curious parties can obtain the files and full details over on the AGS forums.

[Source: IndieGames]


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Humble Frozenbyte Bundle Update: Nearly $900K Raised, New Game Revealed, and a $4.7M Investment

As it has in past events, plenty of newsworthy items have occurred since the start of the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle two weeks ago. First off, there’s just under six hours left if for whatever a reason you’re still dorking around. You’re not, so we can get that out of the way and move onto some more “big picture” items.

With the aforementioned small amount of time still remaining it appears it will be a photo finish on whether the $900,000 mark will be reached, with $4,000 still to go at time of writing. An incredibly handsome sum, especially when you consider that only one developer was mainly involved instead of five and therefore the selection didn’t have quite as much variety as the previous efforts.

In related news, Big Download is reporting that venture capital companies have taken an interest to the Humble Indie Bundle methods, offering HIB heads John Graham and Jeff Rosen an unbelievable $4.7 million in funding for the organization. The two have yet to comment on the situation, but as John C of BD points out, “The fact that this kind of business is bringing in outside funding indicates that at least some people believe that offering such a business model can generate profits at some point for the organizer of such bundles.” We’ll have to see if this is a good or bad thing in the long run.

Lastly, Since the bundle sales total over $700,000 — an apparent milestone — the developer has pulled the curtain back on Splot, a game they’re still currently working on. Frozenbyte has offered up a playable demo as well as promising to give the full version away to those who paid for the bundle once it’s finished. Other milestone bonuses brought about include the fan-requested level editor for Trine, and the source codes for both Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds Survivor. Incentives freaking abound for these things!

We’ll take a look at all those fun stats sometime after the event concludes today at 4 PM Pacific.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Trick Shot

Pretty sure Indie Links were made specifically to fight off the Tuesday bore. Go play some games and get some reading in.

Xbox Live Indie Games rating rules tightened following abuse (Shacknews)
“Following the upset when it was alleged that fans of College Lacrosse 2011 attempted to boost its visibility on Xbox Live Indie Games by maliciously down-rating other titles, Microsoft has tightened the rules. While anyone who registered a free account could rate XBLIG titles before, this is now restricted to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.”

Super Meat Boy + Gemini Rue Postmortems (IndieGames.com)
“There are a couple of excellent postmortems up today. The first is from Team Meat, who give details about what went right and what went wrong during the development (and beyond) of Super Meat Boy. It’s a fantastic read, and gives lots of in-sight into what happened with Microsoft et al. The second is for Joshua Nuernberger’s Gemini Rue, via Game Career Guide. As with the SMB article, Joshua goes through the rights and wrongs of his adventure game development.”

The Gaming Doctrine: The Gods of Goo (GameSetWatch)
“The Gaming Doctrine is a monthly GameSetWatch column by Richard Clark about the intersection of gaming, religion, spirituality, and morality. This month – a personal meditation on the implications of deity in 2D Boy’s World of Goo.”

Eufloria on PSN is more of a “re-boot,” contains new and updated features (VG247)
“Omni Systems has detailed how Eufloria on PSN is not a direct port of the PC version, and is “full of new content and features.””

Chat: Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“If there’s one thing that horses are good for, it’s glue. But before glue had been invented people used them as cars. You might be surprised to learn that they are superior to cars in a number of ways, and the best of those is that they’re perfect for swinging a sword from back of as you attempt to trample your enemies. Videogames have seldom managed to portrayed this positive and healthy activity in a useful way, so we are glad that one game manages to do that: Mount & Blade. This horsey melee game series has been been around for a while now, and is about to ride again with a third title: Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword. I decided to have a quick chat with TaleWorlds’ producer Mikail Yazbeck about what this new game means, and where it came from.”

Develop Indie Showcase Submissions Now Open
“Submissions have opened for the Indie Showcase at the Develop Expo this July. Indie developers can now enter their games in the hope of being selected to showcase their game to attendees at the conference, and receive a great deal of publicity.”

Riesling (Pixel Prospector)
“Riesling is a fine horizontal shooter about space ships, fruits and powerups. When enemies explode they spray a nice selection of fruits all over the screen: apples, grapes, pineapples, cherries, lemons, melons, oranges… Collect them in a chain to boost your score accordingly. The game is pretty fast and a has a nice arcadey feel to it. It also offers a nice Fantasy Zone vibe and was also surely influenced by the classic Defender.”

Review: Hoard (Big Download)
“There’s not many games that let you play as a dragon. Not a cute, almost human-like dragon such as Spyro, or a human that turns into a dragon like Divinity 2. Normal, fire-breathing, princess-stealing, loot-gathering, town-torching dragons are fairly absent from the rosters of gaming protagonists. Their actions are a bit hard to justify in a story-focused game, after all. Hoard aims to change that. Not the story bit, as the game is almost entirely arcade-like, but rather the playing as a mostly evil dragon part.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Smuggle Truck (Joystiq)
“This week we talk with Alex Schwartz, founder of Owlchemy Labs about his driving game, Smuggle Truck.”

Touhou 13 – Ten Desires Demo (TIGSource)
“Since 2004 ZUN has released trial versions of his games at the Touhou-themed annual conventions called Reitaisai. This year, however, due to the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, Reitaisai was postponed and the three-stage demo for Touhou 13, called “Ten Desires”, was released online for free. Like all the major games in the Touhou series, Ten Desires is a vertical danmaku shoot ‘em up set in the fictional world of Gensokyo. According to ZUN, it’s easier than his previous releases and is meant to be more accessible to beginners.”


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DevLinks: You Just Know

Hey! Developer Links are here to sprinkle happiness all across the land. This time around they’re talking monsters, aging, scraps and goo. Have a look.

Frictional Games — Birth of a Monster Part 1 and Part 2
“The following was supposed to be an article in a Russian magazine, but was never published. So because of that, I decided to post it on the blog instead. It was written in June 2010 by myself, Jonas Steinick Berlin and Olof Strand. Jonas and Olof were working as contractors for Frictional Games at the time.”

2D Boy — gooPhone comin’!
“We just submitted the iPhone version of World of Goo to App Store for approval, expect it to be out soonish! We will post again when we have a final release date, but in the mean time, there are a few things we’d like to share about it.”

The Behemoth — Battleblock Theater – Opening Cinematic
“One thing that was overwhelming for us at PAX East this year was the enormous response we had for our BattleBlock Theater demo. There was a line to play the game about 20 people deep the entire show! Like most shows we attend we had great opportunities to talk to those of you who made it out and it really was great to see such a positive response from the latest build. With that said, we wanted to show you our brand new opening cinematic from the game.”

Cipher Prime — Pulse, She’s Getting There
“As you may have gathered, it’s been an extremely busy couple of months for the gang here at Cipher Prime. In between perspiration-inducing bouts of Starcraft and Dain’s all-too-frequent group demonstrations of the Insanity Workout program, we’ve been laboring tirelessly on our baby girl, Pulse.”

Positech Games – The aging gamer
“There was a debate on a forum recently about ‘the lack of middle class games’, which attracted me, because I thought it would be a (possibly amusing) discussion of games aimed at middle-class, and indeed middle-aged people. In fact, it was about mid-tier games, inbetween indie and PC. Ho hum. I was expecting mortgage-repayment sims and puzzle games based around getting planning permission for a loft conversion…”

Daniel’s Base – Scrap pack 2
“This is a collection of even more concepts, prototypes, game jam competition entries, and some finished games I wouldn’t put alongside the others on my site. There’s also the old Alpha Demo 1 of Iji. Basically, these games were not released on the site because they’re either incomplete, crappy, or both. Compatiblity with certain versions of Windows will be poor. Each game has an accompanying text file with information and controls, be sure to read them!”

Dejobaan Games — Justin B Talks on Kick It
“We received a well-reasoned e-mail from THE Justin B 21 hours ago. I’m going to reprint it here and see what YOU think about it…”

Arcen Games — First Public Version of A Valley Without Wind To Be Beta, Not Alpha
“It pains me to say that we’re delaying the first public version, but Keith and I spent a good while talking about it today, and we agree it’s for the best. We’ve decided to scrap the idea of a public alpha, and instead are going to start with a public beta. In practical terms, what does that mean?”

Ska Studios – A Ska Studios Dev Diary Indie Video Production

Hothead Games — Kids say the Swarmiest things
“Have you seen the latest Swarm video?”

Zeboyd Games – Alex Mauer working on our next game
“We are pleased to announce that Alex Mauer will be writing the music for our next RPG.”

Jonathan Blow — Braid playthrough with director’s commentary
“At GameCity in Nottingham, UK in September 2010, I played through select portions of Braid and gave commentary. I had been under the impression the session was officially recorded, and I’ve been waiting for an official video to hit the internet, but at this point I am not sure this was done. Fortunately someone in the audience had a handheld camera, and has posted the footage to YouTube. This is by far the most I’ve said about Braid in one place…”


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Indie Links Round-Up: On My Mind

A fresh batch of indie links as this time around new interviews, reviews, impressions and plenty of links to great games.

TIGCompo Winner: 0space (Derek Yu/TIGSource)
“The winner of our TIGSource Versus Competition is 0Space, a 2-4 player deathmatch set in zero gravity! Congratulations, Beau! Here are the top five games from the competition, as voted on by the members of TIGForums…”

Polytron Corporation’s Phil Fish on Fez Design and the Misuse of 3D (John Poslon/GameSetWatch)
“In a GameSetWatch exclusive interview, John Polson speaks with Phil Fish about design inspirations, the plight for more 3D games that explore the third dimension, Fez’s premises, and the newest mechanic revealed in the latest trailer: the black holes.”

The Iconoclasts Impressions (Quintin Smith/Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“The Iconoclasts is a remarkable, unfinished freeware platformer by indie dev Konjak. Not only is what’s here beautiful and whip-smart, it’s consistently funny and even touching. Download it here, or, if you’d prefer, you can read about why you should take an interest in supporting this game after the jump.”

Brutally Unfair Knytt Mod (Mike Rose/IndieGames)
“Meant to post about this a week ago, but it completely slipped my mind. Knytt developer Nifflas is good friends with the Copenhagen Game Collective, the guys behind Xbox controller-destroyer BUTTON. He’s released a mod for Knytt that lends itself to the BUTTON world.”

The Last and Final Word: Alexitrón (Quote Unquote)
“Alexis Andújar González (formerly Alexitrón, now known as oversimplified) first received positive coverage outside of the Game Maker community for his game, The Power and has since released games such as In a Dungeon, And Everything Started to Fall (an Experimental Gameplay competition winner) and more recently For the Treasure and Point the Way Home.”

Kung Fu Attack (PixelProspector)
“Kung Fu Attack is a really cool vertical scrolling action platformer. In each level you have to reach the exit door at the top of the castle… and escape the rising slime soup. Additionally you can get a few extra points by solving some tasks: kill a specific amount of enemies, deliver nice combo chains or be a very timely ninja. With those hard earned points you can acquire five new abbilities: double jump, drill attack, shadow kick, chi beam and flip kick. An overall fun little game that offers 8 tower climbing levels and a boss fight at the end.”

Review: Fate of the World (James Murff/Big Download)
“Going against what may be common sense, there is indeed such a thing as a single-player board game. One where the player competes more against the system and their own honesty than the machinations of other players. They are certainly not as common as competitive board games, but they can be just as fun. They also make for fairly excellent videogames as well, as letting a computer handle all the grunt number work lets the player focus on playing rather than managing the game. Fate of the World is a game like this.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Guns of Icarus (Griffin McElroy/Joystiq)
“This week we talk with Howard Tsao, Founder of MuseGames, about his steampunk airship title Guns of Icarus.”

Joe Danger Developers On How To Succeed On PSN (Ryan Langley, GamerBytes)
“Back in early February the Casual Connect conference was on in Hamburg, Germany, where a lot of small or independant developers discussed their experiences on a variety of platforms. Obviously iPhone was a big talking point, but Sean Murray of Hello Games was there to talk about their experiences on the platform.”

Interview: Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment (Indie Game News)
“I kept seeing my post about Din’s Curse at or near the top of this blog’s most popular posts every week, so I decided that I wanted to interview the person behind the game. This turned out to be Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment, another indie game developer who was happy to be interviewed. Well, I think he was happy about it…”


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DevLinks: Out of Control

DevLinks return with some deep and earnest pieces from developers of all ilks. If you happen to read all of these, count how many times you run into a call to action. Motivating, thought provoking stuff.

In The Games of Madness — Some Industry Reflections
“One thing I have been thinking about recently, is the direction in which the indie game scene seems to be heading. This is something that can be seen in upcoming of games, various talks, articles and what is considered the largest recent successes. It is a direction that might have large consequences for the future of the medium.”

Zeboyd Games — Lacrosse fans manipulating the XBLIG rating system
“About 5 days ago, I noticed something odd. After hanging out around the #6 top rated slot for a month or two, our game’s rating started to drop very quickly. In less than a week, we went from being #6 top rated to our current spot of #11.”

Zoë Mode Blog — The Story Of Chime Super Deluxe: First Steps…
“This is the first in a series of columns by the game director of excellent music-based puzzle game Chime about the development of Chime Super Deluxe for PSN, looking at the challenges of updating a game for a new platform.”

The Witness Dev Blog — GDC Playtesting; the island shrinks again
“This month was time for the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco…we used this opportunity to have game designer friends come and playtest The Witness. We did somewhere between 40 and 50 hours of playtesting that week, and it was all very useful. Thanks to everyone who came by and played! Also, I’ve shrunk the island again.”

Lost Decade Games Blog — An HTML5 game in the Mac App Store
“HTML5 is the development buzzword of the moment. It’s the “ajax ninja” of the last few years, so naturally it comes with its fair share of skepticism. Indeed, many have been writing about its seemingly never-ending spec, inconsistent implementations by browser makers, and even its inferiority to native apps. All are valid arguments against betting a real business on HTML5. However, here’s a hard example of why you absolutely should consider serious development in HTML5.”

Instant Kingdom Dev Blog — Shop Shop Shop!
“From a typical game design perspective shops are money sinks. The player gets money and items for killing monsters, and they need a way to spend that money, otherwise the money is worthless. And nearly always, the only way to spend the money is to get better gear and more health potions. As far as game designers go, health and mana potions, and other single use items, are the best invention of all time. The player spends their money and they don’t get anything more than a bit of health for it. I don’t want to do it like that.”

Dejobaan Games — Developer Diary 5: Gaining Steam, Audience Q&A
“Even if you’ve tried avoiding running into Dejobaan, odds are something Dejobaan-ish has been shoved in your face. That’s how marketing is supposed to be!…Below are questions Dejobaan’s fans have asked on the user forums. Ask and you shall receive, fans! The collection of questions effectively walk everyone from day -X of Kick It (before it was even called Kick It) to six months from now.”

Games By Design — Horizontal vs Vertical Game Development Phases
“In the last post, I talked about the design process for A Valley Without Wind, at least at a high level — that’s a complex topic, so I might write more on that in the future. One particularly interesting concept that Keith and I have adopted in our design lingo is a delineation between “horizontal” and “vertical” types of game development.”


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GDC Links Round-Up #2

GDC_Links

Second round of GDC Links. Indie interviews, journals, conversations and more going on at this year’s event.

GDC 2011: Interview – Mojang’s Jakob Porser on New Game Scrolls (Mike Rose/Gamasutra)
“With the enormous success of open-world sandbox title Minecraft, it’s clear that Sweden-based Mojang’s just-announced next game Scrolls is going to feel the “difficult second album” strain. Players are set to build decks of “scrolls,” and challenge opponents to one-on-one battles via a grid similar to the layout of a chess board.”

GDC 2011: What Brings You Here? (Wednesday) (Jeriaska/IndieGames)
“Today we continue our conversation with game designers, filmmakers and industry experts attending the 2011 Game Developers Conference. The question we’re asking for those who traveled across the city or across the globe to be at the event is “What Brings You Here?”"

GDC 2011: IGF Finalists Relate Futures, Fears and Football (Cassandra Khaw/IndieGames)
“Overwhelmed, awed, gobstruck – those are words that work surprisingly well with some of the IGF finalists. While huddled up in one corner of the convention centre, wires strewn everywhere, I had the unexpected fortune of almost literally being stumbled upon by one of the finalists for the IGF Nuovo category.”

GDC After Dusk, Indie Night (video) (Eurogamer)
“GDC After Dusk is a new online show tying in with this year’s Games Developers Conference, hosted by John Teti and Ellie Gibson. The first episode features Markus Persson (Minecraft), Chris Hecker (Spy Party), Kellee Santiago (thatgamecompany) and Andy Schatz (Monaco).”

A GDC Extravaganza (Radiangames)
“I’m still at GDC and have one more full day to go, then a red-eye flight to catch. So far it’s been a hectic and productive trip, I’ve met and reconnected with lots of great people, and I’m in a bit of a haze right now.”

GDC – Day 3 (Zeboyd Games)
“Iwata got up and gave an excellent speech full of insight and humor. He mostly used examples from Nintendo, but to be fair, what speaker at GDC hasn’t been mostly drawing from their own work? He did make some rather positive comments about a few of their competitors like Microsoft with XBox Live and the success of games like Call of Duty & Angry Birds. In short, an all around classy talk. However, about halfway through Iwata’s talk, something horrifying happened. Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aims took the stage.”

GDC 2011: Game Designers Confront, Learn From Failure (Kris Graft/Gamasutra)
“At GDC 2011 on Wednesday, notable game designers who have seen big successes talked about their games that weren’t so successful, giving attendees lessons so they might not make the same mistakes.”


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And the IGF 2011 Winners Are… [GDC 2011]

IGFThe Independent Games Festival Awards were given away tonight and the final decisions made on who took away the prizes for each different category. So without further explanation, diversion, or words in between the who and what, here is the full list of winners:

Best Student Game:

Fract - University of Montreal

Technical Excellence:

Amnesia: The Dark Descent - Frictional Games

Excellence in Design:

Desktop Dungeons – QFC Design

Best Mobile Game:

Helsing’s Fire – Ratloop

Excellence in Visual Art:

Bit.Trip Runner – Gaijin Games

Excellence in Audio:

Amnesia: The Dark Descent – Frictional Games

Nuovo Award:

Nidhogg – Messhof

Seumas McNally Grand Prize:

Minecraft – Mojang

Audience Award:

Minecraft - Mojang

Direct2Drive Vision Award:

Amnesia: The Dark Descent – Frictional Games

So altogether, Amnesia swept a lot of the categories netting a score for unsettling horror titles. This means that the new IGF banner is going to include Notch and the Mojang crew in full effect taking home the award.


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GDC Links Round-Up #1

danger-gdc-600

So much going on this week in San Francisco. Peter and Geoff are diving in and getting good coverage to share with us, but there’s already been dozens of different announcements, reveals and other happenings in just the opening portion of the week. Here’s indie content from around the web coming straight out of GDC 2011.

GDC 2011: The Evolving Storyline of Indie Game: The Movie (jeriaska/IndieGames)
“In this interview, we hear some concrete details about the documentary’s narrative structure. Indie Game: The Movie will tell the development stories of Phil Fish of Fez, together with Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen of Super Meat Boy. These personal journeys will be complemented by a range of viewpoints from other designers and industry experts, including Jonathan Blow, Derek Yu, Brandon Boyer and Jason Rohrer.”

GDC Coverage Day 1Day 2 (Robert Boyd/Zeboyd Games)
“On my way driving to GDC from my motel, I pass a giant billboard advertising CityVille. “Wow, that’s an awfully big advertisement for a Facebook game,” I think to myself. A few minutes later, I see the Zynga offices. Aha, now it makes sense! I make sure my shields are up, check my secret smuggler hold, and drive quickly on by.”

GDC 2011: Derek Yu, Andy Hull Discuss Spelunky XBLA Move, Multiplayer (Brandon Sheffield/Gamasutra)
“Spelunky began as a freeware roguelike platformer for the PC, but has evolved into a larger-scale XBLA title due out this year. “When I think about how that happened, how I started with this tiny little game, and it became something much larger, I’m still pretty amazed,” said Derek Yu, the game’s creator.”

GDC 2011: Team Meat Discusses Super Meat Boy’s Nearly Lethal Development (Kyle Orland/Gamasutra)
“Playing the punishingly hard Super Meat Boy is a masochistic exercise for many players. But in a GDC 2011 presentation today, creators Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen – the two person Team Meat – laid out the many ways that the development process was equally masochistic, at times.”

First Footage Of Ms. Splosion Man (Gamerbytes)
“The second in Splosion history, this title will contain a ton of new mechanics, while still keeping to the “one button” gameplay of the original. Sliding rails, weighted see-saws, and more.”

GDC 2011: What Brings You Here? (jeriaska/IndieGames)
“Throughout the week we will be hearing from game designers, journalists and documentary filmmakers on what makes the Game Developers Conference worth the trip for them.”

GDC 2011: Indie Revelations From Experienced Developers (Christian Nutt/Gamasutra)
“Marketing? “You need to be merciless.” Passion? “I’d rather have a team player.” Inspiration? “It’s not all about creating the game you want.” Three surprising quotes from three prominent developers with studio backgrounds who went the indie route — Jake Kazdal of Haunted Temple, Daniel Cook of Spry Fox, and Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games, respectively.”

Image Credit: Spy Party DevBlog


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And the First Three Indie Fund Projects Are… [GDC 2011]

Indie FundIndie Fund first announced itself on July 6, 2010. They came with major funds and a cards-to-the-chest selection of projects that they’d be helping see through to completion. The key members of the Indie Fund team are: Jonathan Blow (Braid), Ron Carmel & Kyle Gabler (World of Goo), Kellee Santiago (flOwer), Nathan Vella (Critter Crunch), Matthew Wenger (Flashbang Studios). These key members have found success amidst their releases and saw fit to create a new outlet to help others (ideally) find a similar path.

They have been silent about the project they’ve chosen to fund, only announcing that there are three of them in existence, but today at GDC the Indie Fund team announced the projects that are burgeoning under their wing.

The first three Indie Fund projects are:

  • Monaco - Andy Schatz (Pocketwatch Games)
  • Shadow Physics – Steve Swink (Enemy Airship)
  • Q.U.B.E. - Daniel Da Rocha (Toxic Games)

I’ll fill in more details about the presentation once I get some spare time.