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


DevLinks: Gather ‘Round the Campfire


Thought we’d try out something new. Many indie developer’s run their own blogs nowadays, sharing their game’s progress, developing philosophies and really whatever else they feel like touching on. Tracking these devs over the past year, it has been made clear that there’s just too much stuff for this humble abode to get to in our daily coverage–unless of course it’s some real big news.

So from now on Indie Links Round-Up will focus entirely on non-devblog sources, while DevLinks will become the place for tracking your favorite developers and their games. There’s no specific routine or day for either of these features. When there’s enough content to post, that’s what we’ll do.

Without further ado:

Frictional Games’ In The Games Of Madness — Story: What is it really about?
“Upon hearing the word story, most people probably think of a chain of connected events. For example: “A princess is kidnapped; a brave knight rides to save her; the knight faces a dragon, the knight slays dragon and saves the princess; finally the knight gets half the kingdom and marries the princess”. Most likely, one also thinks of even smaller details as integrated parts of the story; the way in which the princess is kidnapped, how the knight struggles against the dragon, and so on. This is not the right way to think of stories.”

Hello Games — Competition Results!
“You may remember we announced a level competition a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps you forgot? We haven’t!”

Terry Cavanagh’s Distractionware — News From Nexus City
“I ended up being really busy in September with non-game making stuff, but I’m still working on Nexus City!”

Arcen Games — Update On Children Of Neinzul Donations For Child’s Play
“It’s that time again! As of September 31st, 2010, we have so far raised and donated $1090.38 for the Child’s Play charity via sales of our Children of Neinzul micro-expansion for AI War — and that’s just with preorders!”

The Behemoth — PAX Prime 2010 Wrap Up!
“Finally. We are all home, sorta unpacked, back to what passes for normal around here.. and Tradeshow season is officially OVER! Herein begins the first of several wrap-up posts, on our tradeshow adventures of 2010.”

Hemisphere Games — Osmos 66%-off sale continues, adding iPad, and… a condition!
“Thank you Osmos fans. The 66% off sale returned Osmos for iPhone to the top 10 list. And of course, we’d like to keep it there!”

Broken Rules — Prototyping
“We’ve been a bit silent lately. And Yet It Moves was launched and the feedback was great. After years of working on this game we’re busily trying out new stuff. Currently we’re prototyping a number of new games to see where we head next. And we’re building our own game engine in the meantime.”

Dejobaan Games — Calculating Music EXCITEMENT!
“Y’all probably know that we’re working on a game that allows you to take your MP3 library and organically grow worlds from them. With the IGC and IGF coming up, we’re starting to put the finishing touches on our submisisons.”

Are you a developer and have a blog we may not be aware of? Let us know! Leave a comment below or email erik[dot]johnson@diygamer[dot]com.


Only a Week Left to Enter Into the IGF

igf2011For any aspiring indie developers out there who are looking to turn their next brilliant idea into an award winner I’d just like to point out that IGF has updated to remind everybody via their website that you only have a single week left to enter the IGF which closes to entries on October 18th.

Simon Carless, one of the head honchos at Gamasutra, has informed us that they are nearing 200 entrees so far and expects that number to balloon in the last remaining days as most people don’t submit until the deadline looms.

As always, we can expect to see a full list of entrees come a few days after entry submission closes, complete with a description and video of projects submitted. Very exciting.

Good luck to all that enter. We look forward to seeing all of the results.



The Backbone of the Indie Industry: ModDB/IndieDB’s Dave Traeger and Scott Reismanis [Interview]


["The Backbone of the Indie Industry" is a new feature series where we talk about, discuss and interview the general support structure/people covering the indie developers.]

As we begin with part two of this series, I’d like to just point out there , while there are plenty of people out there who have done many things to help indie and small developers reach success, I’d argue that nobody has done as much as the guys behind DesuraNET, the owners of both the incredibly popular ModDB and the brand new IndieDB community websites. Hell, without ModDB, I’m not sure we’d have the kind of indie community we have today.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to be able to score an interview with Scott Reismanis, the founder, and Dave Traeger, the editor, for an extensive look into how things took off and what the future is for DesuraNET.


Can you explain who you are and what your primary duties are at DesuraNET, ModDB, or IndieDB?

Scott: I’m the founder and so the jack of all trades, doing everything that Dave (our editor), Mark (our programmer), Josh (our designer) and Greg (our server admin) don’t do. This usually means legal, accounting, project management and all the boring but important roles. I also dabble in the site code (something I enjoy doing) and chat with members of the community whenever I get the chance.

Dave: My job is to keep the sites running efficiently, maintain the new content that comes into the database, manage the community and answer any support emails we have and create any videos or media the site needs.

How did you get into the business of supporting custom mods through your website ModDB?

Scott: Back in 1998 / 2000 there were only a handful of FPS games to choose from (Quake, Doom, HL, UT etc) and that wasn’t enough for my mates and I who always enjoyed trying tons of games at lans. Mods fascinated us and provided tons of super innovative and crazy ideas to try out (many such ideas people now take for granted). Problem was, back then, Google also didn’t exist and so finding mods was a challenge. Hence the idea of ModDB (a database for mods was born) and I haven’t stopped working with mods since. It is kinda the same with indie games now, so we look forward to helping indie teams promote their work for many years to come.

Dave: Started out as a volunteer fresh out of university and just grew into more important roles over the years, I was mostly interested in this position as the content and community are diverse and it makes an interesting work life. Plus I get to play games for a living so that helped.

What do you see is your roll in supporting these types of mods? Do you simply provide an expansive community, or do you go above and beyond in helping them establish their own fanbase via promotion?

Dave: Well over the years we have put on many different hats as to what we think we should be offering our community, from being the team that reviews the mods and tells people what they should and should not play to a blog of modding news that is run by the staff. What we have settled on for now is just being the site that can offer teams a place to advertise their works with complete creative control being offered to them, everything we do now from Desura to the monthly Spotlight videos is to bring more presence to the work people do. After all who are we to tell people if a mod or indie game is good or not? If they put in effort they are rewarded.

Scott: What Dave said really. We have tried many things blogging, reviewing, interviewing, etc. but, in the end, we decided that experts like you do a better job of that, so instead we chose to focus our efforts on creating a site which puts the developers and community in charge of the content. This means that all teams have to do to get instant PR exposure to thousands of people is spend 15 minutes writing a news post on ModDB/IndieDB instead of sending out press releases blindly and praying they get coverage. is an important part of DesuraNET's growing focus. is an important part of DesuraNET's growing focus.

Recently, you launched a second site called IndieDB. Obviously this is something we are more focused on here at Why did you decide branch off from ModDB and create an entirely new site strictly for indie games?

Dave: After our annual trip to GDC in San Francisco I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of creative independent developers who either fell into one of the two possible categories they either knew about ModDB and didn’t know that we also support indies or didn’t know about ModDB at all. While all three of our sites (ModDB, IndieDB and Desura) use the same database we felt it was important to create another website that Indies could call home just like how modders find ModDB. So we created a brand new site that filtered our database content to show only Indie related news and downloads.

Scott: It is hard to deny the success of indie games these days and the growth that is occurring, especially as former-modders are realizing they can make standalone games with tools like Unity and UDK. Plus for years indie developers have used ModDB so it just made sense to create their own dedicated site. My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner.

Has IndieDB done well with respects to how old it is and it’s apparent niche focus?

Dave: For the most part it has been quite effective in getting more Indie developers to use our services, every day we have a few new games being added which is around the same amount of new mods we get. However the teams still do not know how to use the site all that well. While we get new profiles and media quite often, the site lacks any news from the teams. Everyday it’s getting better and it might take some time before we see the same daily numbers we see on ModDB.

Scott: I’d hardly call indies a “niche” anymore. 2 years ago maybe but not now. IndieDB has a ton of growth yet to come, what we are doing well at is building a comprehensive database of games, videos, images and files (indie developers add your games!). The next step is to start connecting players and fans with the indie developers and helping them get feedback and customers they need to succeed. With mods this is easy because say you own game X, you go and search for mods for game X. With indie games this seems to be a real challenge, as without marketing budgets people usually only hear about and become interested in an indie game once it is already released. With time we are hopeful that people will start to browse DIYGamer, IndieDB and other indie themed sites to find out news about both released and upcoming titles.

Other indie game communities offer contests that developers can enter into to win cash or, in some cases, publishing deals. Does IndieDB have or plan to have anything like that in the future?

Dave: Like with ModDB our focus is more to bringing a much better set of tools and community features, and running a smoother site. After all we are a small team of 3 with only myself and sometimes Scott doing any sort of content related to the site it’s hard to devote any man-hours to anything else. If we were to do a comp it would be a big one that’s for sure.

Scott: Most of these competitions are about finding indie talent and publishing their game which is not something we do. Our focus is as a website that promotes indie games. We do run challenges from time to time and get on great with Unity, UDK and other sponsors so if an opportunity to coordinate a promotion like that presents itself, rest assured we will run something cool. Mind you we are working on a competition which will launch soon (no prizes just prestige) so keep an eye out for that.


Desura is planned to open up to a wider audience very soon.

How is Desura coming along? I know the service is currently in a private beta right now, but are there any plans to open it up anytime soon?

Dave: Yes, Scott is the guy to talk to about that.

Scott: It is getting very close actually so we are getting quite excited about opening it up and providing digital distribution for mods, indie games and commercial games. At the moment it is in total lockdown, and we still haven’t decided if we will limit access to it (i.e. invite only). We shall be making that decision before the end of the month and will begin to get more people on board then.

Does Desura plan to operate strictly within the ModDB and IndieDB niche? Namely, do you only plan on selling indie games and mods? Or is this a direct competitor to the other various digital distribution shops?

Scott: Our area of expertise is with mods and indies so we will launch with titles from these guys, however our plan is to expand with time and fill our catalog with great titles. Make a great game and rest assured we will want to talk with you about releasing it via Desura.

What’s the ultimate goal of Desura? Do you want to be the go to place for all indie/mod downloads/sales?

Scott: Unlike consoles the PC is an open platform and should be treated as such. Despite this we feel that digital distribution on the PC really doesn’t harness its true potential and is trying to behave like a “console”. Our aim is to provide a much more open experience for both our customers and the creators of games. This means being able to review games, 3rd party sites can plug into APIs, developers can post news, videos and images and can interact with their fans directly on the service should they so chose. All in all we want to run a service which brings players and developers closer together and enables them to create better games (by harnessing this feedback loop) which are then sold very successfully on Desura.

Finally, where would you like DesuraNET to be this time next year? Five years?

Dave: Personally I would like DesuraNET to reach out to a more diverse community of players rather than developers, while having a like minded community is great, the only feedback developers get is from other developers. Reaching out to people who just play games would be the best solution to help out the teams even more. I think Desura is our way in. Oh and if possible an office on a space station would be rad.

Scott: Sites like DIYGamer, TIGSource, IndieGames are doing a great job of covering the indie scene, however browsing a catalog of indie games, videos and images remains a challenge. ModDB already is the goto place for browsing a database of mods (both obscure and popular) so I’d like to see IndieDB become the goto place for browsing a database of indies (on all platforms, PC, console, mobile). More importantly though we want to run a leading digital distribution service in the form of Desura which provides a great store for gamers to find and play new titles. I’m just looking forward to the continued success of indie games and happy to grow with them.

Great stuff. I’d like to thank both Scott and Dave for taking their time to sit down and answer a bunch of my questions. Without guys like them we really wouldn’t have the kind of indie or modding community that exists today.


Develop Games or Own a Netbook? Might Want to Check out AppUp [IndieCade]

AppUpOkay, so again, for the second time today, I’m kind of branching out of our usual domain of covering strictly indie games to bring you more of a converstation on the methods of delivering indie games, if that makes any sense.

Last Friday, at the very start of IndieCade, I was able to sneak into a panel on Intel’s new “AppUp” application store for netbook computers. The premise is fairly simple, Intel has released an app store — just like on Android, and iOS — for people who own netbooks. The idea is that since these computers are so small and are typically owned by people who don’t need a full sized computer they instead act more like a tablet or smart phone for many people hence the application store market should work.

The reason why I bring this up today is that, like all great app stores, AppUp is planned to have  a large section dedicated to games and gaming, free and otherwise, just like you would expect on any other app store.

Now, as a developer, it probably doesn’t make too much sense to develop a game exclusively for a netbook app store that is neither proven nor robust enough yet (it launched just 2 weeks ago). However, there are a few key advantages to at least porting your game over:

First, the panel I attended wasn’t only headed by Intel developers attempting to sell us their product. It was also headed by Rob Jagnow of Lazy 8 Studios, aka the developer of 2009′s IGF winner Cogs. He has just recently ported Cogs over to AppUp for the simple reason that it took him about an hour to port, and less than 10 days to work out all the minor kinks in the process. I don’t care who you are, 10 days development time for a port is pretty impressive. This means that, at the very least, you’re looking at getting your game onto a new platform with very little effort.

Second, this is Intel we’re talking about. If you think their idea of launching an app store platform is just about setting up a website where people can download it and begin buying stuff you’re wrong. At the panel, the Intel developers were quite adamant in letting us know that they’re partnering up with netbook manufacturers to include the store on their computers from day one. So, just like Android phones and iOS deveices ship with their various marketplaces, netbooks too will soon ship with their own app store.

Third, there are 70 million netbooks out there today. While recent trends show the netbook is declining, people are still buying them and if games can be successful on the iPad which has nowhere near that number of units out there, then certainly a game can be successful on a more numerous platform.

All in all, I was very impressed with what Intel had to offer on the service and their plans to roll it out. There are other benefits to making an app for AppUp as well, like free stuff and contests, but really the true benefit lies in getting in on the action before it becomes really prominent. The first apps on any app store traditionally do well, and I’d highly recommend taking a look at getting your own app on here as well.

And again, if you’re the owner of a netbook, go ahead and check out the AppUp store. It’s available right now as a free download and there seems to already be plenty of free and pay apps available across a wide selection of categories. I know from my girlfriend’s experience that finding games and software that can run on her netbook can be kind of a pain. This alleviates that problem.

AppUp apps currently support Windows 7 and Windows XP with MeeGo support supposedly coming next year.



Windows Phone 7 Launching Next Month


Whoa, what? Why are we talking about Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 mobile OS launching in just under a months time (November 8th)? Simple, because with a new platform comes a new app store, which means a new avenue for indie developers and indie gamers to get their fix.

Anyway, I’m not here to directly report on all the happenings of the various devices or OS. For that I’ll refer you to Gizmodo who has done a delightful job in rounding everything up:

Windows Phone 7 Live Coverage
HTC Announces a Flurry of New Phones with WP7
HTC HD7: Hello, All 4/3-Inches of Windows Phones 7
The Definitive Guide to Windows Phone 7 Handsets

What I will say, for our part, is that we are really excited to see a third major mobile app store break into the market alongside the dominating iOS and Andoird stores. As those two markets get larger and larger there is less room for indie developers to stand out. So, if you are a developer and you’re thinking about developing an iOS game, I’d recommend giving WinPho7 a try first for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s Microsoft so there’s gonna be an audience. Second, the first games on any platform always have the highest chance of selling better.

Also, if you’re a gamer, then it looks like the whole Xbox Live integration thing might be right up your alley. We’ve already had a chance to see some of the games being released of which there were a few notable indies listed as launch titles and I’m sure, given Microsoft’s robust history in gaming, the selection will only get better. I’ll be particularly excited to see if they bring over a sort of Xbox Live Mobile Indie Games channel in the future.

I’ll have to check with all of DIY’s writers, but, unfortuantely, I don’t believe any of us will be getting a WinPho7 device anytime soon. This means reviews might be a little light in the beginning unless somebody wants to take the plunge and write volunteer reviews for us. We’ll just have to wait and see.



IndieCade 2010 Award Winners Announced


Back home after a tiring, but amazing day of IndieCade. While Sixteen Tons was MIA (Sorry commenter Matt we’ll try again tomorrow!) Geoff, Arsen and I chatted with a myriad of speakers and finalists, attended plenty of great panels and ate some really awesome food stuffs.

We could go on about the charming nature of the festival being spread out across a small section of Culver City among fire stations, theaters, lodges and back patios of restaurants, but we’ve got some award winners to announce.

With the LeVar Burton hosted Red Carpet Awards Show being sold out months ago, the paupers of DIYGamer were stuck pressing our ears against the outside of the rough structure holding the raucous festivities. Before we run off to the back entrance to try and score some of the adult beverages that don’t have cigarettes ashed in them ala Caddyshack, I figure it best to share the winners:

  • Gameplay Innovation Award: Continuity
  • Amazing Award: Miegakure
  • Sound Award: LIMBO
  • World and Story Award: The Games of Nonchalance
  • Documentary Games Award: The Cat and the Coup
  • Aesthetics Award: Spirits
  • Sublime Experience Award: Faraway
  • Fun and Compelling Award: VVVVVV
  • Wild Card Award: B.U.T.T.O.N.
  • Virtuoso Award: A Slow Year
  • Vanguard Award: A Slow Year
  • Jury Award: Groping in the Dark

Congratulations to all 32 finalists and especially to the guys who took home the hardware.


IndieCade!!! … exclamation point.

IndieCadeJust a last minute reminder, IndieCade officially kicks off today and we’ll be there on the ground floor covering every nook and cranny of the event. We’ll be trying to get as much content up as possible, but, realistically, you should expect to see most IndieCade content appear over the following week (previews and the like).

Anyway, I’m still not 100% whats going on in terms if our coverage. We’re attempting to get ourselves into as many panels as possible, but we just can’t seem to get any hard confirmations on what we can and can not attend. We’ll just have to wait and see as the day goes on.

Oh and if you’re attending and you see us milling about feel free to say hello. We’re really not that busy.



Indie Links Round-Up: Thick as Thieves


Round-Up is back today with plenty of odds and ends from the world of indie. Awards and inside information aplenty, as well as an early review on a potential GOTY candidate and some excellent interviews. Have at it.

Technology without direction is nothing [A developer's rant on XBLIG's Flawed Infrastructure] (MStar Games)
“I’ve said repeatedly, here and in interviews and on the XNACCO website, that Microsoft deserve credit for the XBLIG project in general, and the XNA Framework in particular. It’s an excellent framework – flexible and powerful, relatively easy to comprehend and work with, and when used right it gives great results…What is less certain however is the supporting infrastructure in place around XBLIG releases. The sales stats and dashboard lists are glitchy and prone to failure.

AI War and the hidden cost of indie games (Graham Smith/PCGamer)
“Earlier this month Chris Park revealed that his company could be bankrupt by November. His company is Arcen Games, the developer of popular space strategy game AI War. Despite that game’s excellence, it wasn’t a surprise to find he was struggling: most indie games developers do.”

Super Meat Boy review: Into the grinder (Richard Mitchell/Joystiq)
“There was a time when I thought I was pretty good at video games. I’ve brought down the likes of Earthworm Jim, Rocket Knight Adventures, Ninja Gaiden (2004), Mega Man 9 and many others without much trouble and only the occasional spurt of profanity. Having completed the story (but not nearly all of the levels) of Super Meat Boy, I can soundly declare that it trumps them all. As of this writing, I have died 1,792 times and several hundred of those lives — at least — were spent trying to conquer the last level.”

IndieCade Recognizes Tim Schafer With ‘Honorary Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement’ (Jeff Mattas/Shacknews)
“With this year’s independent gaming festival less than two weeks away, IndieCade has announced that Double Fine’s Tim Schafer will be the first recipient of a newly-created “Honorary Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement.”"

RPS Indie Awardoramarama (Alec Meer/Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“The Eurogamer Expo has been and gone, but RPS’s brain-dumps about the games therein will continue over the days to come. YOU WILL LISTEN AND YOU WILL BELIEVE AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND. One of the things we did at the Expo as well as play games, however, was judge some games. Specifically, the 12 splendid titles selected with the help of the good folk of Mudlark to form the Indie Games Arcade.”

Interview: Hello Games’ Murray On What Joe Did Next (Mike Rose/Gamasutra)
“Following the critical and commercial success of Hello Games’ PSN title Joe Danger, Gamasutra sits down with co-owner Sean Murray to discuss the title’s reception, and what the young studio has been working on since.”

The Song Of Onionbog, Pt 4: Fascism & War (Quintin Smith/Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“Onionbog is booming. Booming like a stinking, sulphurous deep-sea crater, emitting stinking hot burps on a regular basis. But I’m no fool. That’s why I’m building defenses. To keep my lovely hole in the ground safe. I love this place. I hate this place. I’ll hate to see it fall. I’d love to see it fall.”

Something From Nothing: Nimblebit On How Free-To-Play Is Redefining The App Store (Simon Parkin/GameSetWatch)
“Two-man indie Nimblebit explains to our own Simon Parkin its move to a free-to-play model, detailing how that decision has led to the team’s latest iPad game, Pocket Frogs, securing 1.25 million downloads in just 14 days.”

Belated Weekly Report #3 (Paul Eres/TIGSource)
“This is a new feature where I’ll be covering ten notable releases and newly posted games in production of the past week.”

What videogames lack: Deeper Intent (Frictional Games)
“Tonight a [sic] watched a fantastic documentary called Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, and it was a true emotional roller-coaster ride. It is an experience, straight from reality, that swings you between laughter and heartbreaking despair. I urge you all to see it. The reason why I want to bring this up, is because this movie has something that video games lack: it has been made with the intent to share something deep and meaningful.”


Tim Langdell Struck Down for “Trolling” the Games Industry

langdell_tim_2009Hallelujah! In Mr. Langdell’s case against EA over the trademarked term “Edge” the courts have actually sided with EA claiming that Langdell was “trolling” the games industry looking for people to license his term to be used on video games.

For those that don’t remember what exactly happened. Back in 2009 a small indie developer called Mobigames decided to release their new game titled Edge. Now, despite the fact that their game’s name was appropriate and that Langdell hadn’t actually produced a game in years with the trademark, Langdell and company went ahead and sued the bejeezus out of Mobigames to prevent them from using the name, which Mobigames did until they were able to successfully “license” the the word, i.e. Langdell got paid!

As of today, however, the courts of stripped Langdell of the trademark and have gven it to the public domain so that developers like Mobigames and EA can use the word without fear of reprisal against douchebag trollers like Langdell who care nothing for our community, industry, or video games but merely wants to make more money.

Sayonara, prick.

[Industry Gamers]


Fouts Delays Explosionade Until Microsoft Fixes Top Downloads Issue


Nathan Fouts of Mommy’s Best Games (Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP) has some bad news for those looking to play the dev’s latest Explosionade–the game won’t see a release until “the Xbox Marketplace is less broken.” The top downloads feature, included in several areas such as the XBLIG channel, has apparently been frozen for some time.

Originally delayed by a game breaking bug, Explosionade is now fixed, finished and ready to submit for review; but the aforementioned issue with the top downloads section that freezes the same games on the top 20 list for days–sometimes weeks–has Fouts holding the release until Microsoft takes measures to correct the problem:

“If we released Explosionade today, but the Top Downloads list is not updating properly we will miss a huge chance for more sales. We love making games as a full time business. If we have a bad launch for Explosionade, it will greatly hurt our potential to carry on…If Top Downloads keeps getting stuck, it’s going to eventually impact developers and gamers and the channel will suffer.”

Fouts points out that the issue is not only detrimental to indie devs, but Microsoft as well as gamers might stop checking the feature if it’s not updated with any consistency. Still, the dev is hopeful that the list will start updating properly again early this week. If so, the game will “probably” be available Thursday, October 7.

If the problem persists however we could be in for a much longer wait.

[Mommy's Best Games]