Dutch indie developers Digital Dreams plan to release adorable puzzle game Cowbeam for iOs later this month. In Cowbeam, players meet Hank, a goofy, green, cow-loving alien. Hank is traveling the galaxy in search of special cows, and the player must help him match the cow to the cow’s home planet. Cows match their home planet in a variety of ways, so blue planets will be populated with blue cows, or a cow in sunglasses is from a sunny planet, and the player must help Hank find these pairs. The universe is vast, and Hank will search through nine different galaxies, filled with thousands of cows and planets.
I was interested in talking with Lee Perry, former lead gameplay designer at Epic Games, because his new work with indie studio BitMonster’s first project casual adventure Lili, is such a complete departure from the team’s previous work. The new indie devs behind Lili are six Epic alums, all with experience on the Gears of War franchise, turning their talents to casual iOs adventure game.
Young Lili is a student, researching the island’s magical plants for a school project, and discovering more about herself along the way. The focus seems to be story and environment, and most surprisingly for ex-core developers, promises a non-combat system of defeating enemies. Perry says the game will be is midway between Halfbrick titles (developers of Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash, etc.) and more story-driven sword-and-sorcery games. Looking at Lili’s gorgeous and cartoony tropical environment was, to me, slightly reminiscent of Zelda or even a Monkey Island, complete with silly dialogue and NPCs. Although the game is family-friendly, it’s more a game for players to share with their kids, and not a “children’s game” for parents (and aunts and uncles…) to sit through.
Perry was deliberately vague on the game’s promised non-fighting combat, although he would tell me it’s entirely bloodless and responds to how people are already use their phones.
BitMonster’s future goals are a series of shorter-term projects that will offer high-quality graphics and production values for mobile gamers. The studio brings a lot of experience in the Unreal Engine, and I’m pretty excited to see those graphics turned to indie RPG settings instead of ever more realistic gore.
While plenty of developers and publishers at Casual Connect have referred to the App Store popularity lottery, or to submitting games to the randomness of app popularity, Perry believes the App Store is a meritocracy, and good, innovative games can succeed.
“There’s never been another platform where you can release cool little indie titles and have the chance for it to take off.” Perry says. He points to the the top apps, and adds that “little projects created by random people are doing well — where else can you find that?”
It’s great to see ex-core developers enthused about turning to a creative indie project, and of course I’m interested in seeing the Unreal Engine used for goofy island residents and gorgeous, escapist environments in Lili.
In February of this year during Pirate Kart V, an event similar to Global Game Jam but with its own kinks, Terry Cavanagh came up with Hexagon. Initially intended as a warm-up, Terry states it “got a little out of hand” for him. Hexagon is playable both at distractionware’s website as well as Kongregate — and the abundance of comments will surely let you know that it is brutally difficult. I mean, we’re talking about the same guy behind VVVVVV so it’s no real big surprise, right? Well, Mr. Cavanagh has taken it to the next level: Super Hexagon seems to be iOS bound — and holy crap, are we excited!
HookShotInc’s superb interview with Cavanagh at the beginning of July is incredibly revealing of his intentions: to make an awesome game that will be released when it is wholly and definitely complete. Cavanagh promises that that’s sometime “soon”; he also admits to not knowing which platforms will see Super Hexagon. However, the ambiguity of his comments has since dwindled quite a bit, especially after Terry blogged this picture of an iPhone running the game. While that may not tell us everything, it’s reassuring that the game is nearing completion and Terry has been investigating platforms for distractionware’s newest and possibly hardest masterpiece.
We await Super Hexagon with childlike excitement…
Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion is perhaps one of the best indie offerings on the iOS platform. It is a turn-based strategy title, and probably the best example of the genre released on the platform as a whole — at least, so far. The good news here? Well, looks like those who own the $4.99 gem will get a slew of new downloadable content, entitled “Deepwood Dragons”. The new DLC will be available for only $1.99 and, seeing as how the base game itself is a hefty and robust experience, there should be no shortage of great turn-based action in your life.
If you haven’t tried Ravenmark, it is really that good. Singapore’s Witching Hour Studios clearly knew what it was doing when making this game and — although it’s for iPhone as well — if you’ve got an iPad, then holy crap is this a must-own title. Don’t believe me? How about you try the lite version for free? Though it may not be the perfect experience due to some polish issues, Ravenmark sets a formidable example for how turn-based strategy games on iOS should be handled: with tough opposition, pleasing aesthetics, and an epic story to match.
You can find Ravenmark on the App Store. Check out the badass trailer for “Deepwood Dragons” below:
Source: Indie Games
It’s always nice to see indie devs casting their net a little wider to reach a larger audience. Cute little maze-puzzle game Dédale has been doing quite respectably on Apple devices, by all accounts, and is now available for your towering overpowered desktop gaming systems. It’s available to buy now via Desura for a smattering of earth-coins, and comes in both Windows and Mac flavours. Here’s the rather relaxing launch trailer:
Well, I guess we now know that butterflies like mazes and/or pressing buttons. Learn something every day! Not often you hear typically French accordion music in a game trailer, either. Makes a pleasant change from dubstep, at the very least. As you can see, it’s a simple and straightforward game, but I can see it being the sort of thing where later levels cause me to endlessly second-guess myself, tie my brain in knots and leave me sitting in the corner, clutching my knees and babbling incoherently.
I am bad at puzzle games. You should see what happens when I play SpaceChem. It’s not pretty.
If you are already slightly concerned about the amount of information that is available about us online, and particularly who may be watching us, you may not want to read on. Mind of Man (MOM) has been released for iOS devices and is set to blur the line between our digital personas and the game itself. The title is a “social discovery game” for Twitter, which analyses your behavior and activity and shows players how the world sees them. In addition, players can earn real-world discounts and offers by playing.
Players can mindmap themselves, find out who their celebrity twin is and, most importantly, find out who their nemesis is. Once players have unlocked their entire wall, they can then turn their attention to anyone on Twitter, whether they are friends, celebrities, enemies or even businesses. If they are on Twitter they are being analysed by MOM. Mind of Man portrays players’ online personalities, character flaws, even anti-social tendencies through crowdsourcing. The app is described as “psycho linguistic artificial intelligence”, which means that it learns as people vote and develops its recommendation engine.
On top of the social experiment, players can also earn real-world rewards for their in-game cards. 2PaperDolls has partnered with businesses to provide prizes, discounts and rewards based on their personality. When the game was launched in Dublin, Ireland, players could redeem their Saint or Sinner card for free bread or coffee at Cavistons Food Emporium. The team is planning to take this aspect further and is in talks with other businesses to provide similar rewards.
It may be difficult to get your head around the concept of Mind of Man, or maybe you’re deleting all your online activity for fear that it is being captured for use against you, but a launch trailer has been released to ease your fears or help your understanding. The trailer showcases exactly how the game works, how players are profiled and what kind of insights players can take away from the app. Certain elements of the game are also showcased on the Mind of Man website, but you must download the app to get the full experience.
Mind of Man is now available on iTunes for free, though you must pay with a tweet, or $0.99. The game works on iPhone and iPad devices, but you must have an open Twitter account in order to mindmap yourself. MOM respects the information that you want to keep behind closed doors apparently. The latest propoganda from the game is available from the Mind of Man Twitter account.
To celebrate the release of Pactap: Capture the Ghosts for iOS devices, Codespot has released a launch trailer and several minutes of gameplay footage. Pactap is a touch screen game that brings Pacman and Xonix together as one. Players must cut off chunks of the screen in order to capture ghosts, and uncover coins and items. The trailer gives a quick taste of the game fundamentals and mechanics along with a look at some of the extra items that can be unlocked along the way. The gameplay video features a whirlwind tour through three minutes of the game. This covers 11 levels along with a glimpse of how the store and item systems work.
Pactap features a Classic and an Endless mode. The Classic mode features 20 levels in total. There are different ghost types with unique abilities, but the main challenge is that more of the horde is unleashed as players progress through the game. As you would expect from the name, the Endless mode features an unlimited number of challenges and tests for players. Along the way, players earn coins by vanquishing ghosts and can use these to purchase items to assist them along the way.
Pactap: Capture the Ghosts is now available on iTunes for $0.99, or $1.99 for the HD version. The game is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Codespot can also be followed on Twitter for developments regarding upcoming games.
Not so much a ‘game’ today, so much as a book. A small visual novel, written natively in English, with luscious art and rather pleasant writing. A nice way to while away part of a slow Sunday afternoon. Juniper’s Knot by Dischan Media is a short story about a bound demon and a boy, and the stories they share in some crumbling ruins on an autumn afternoon.
Juniper’s Knot is only a short story, and you should chew your way through it in less than an hour if you tend to read quickly. There’s no interaction here, beyond clicking through the script, but that’s all there really needs to be. Juniper’s Knot was created in a fairly short space of time, but aside from its short length, it really doesn’t show. The art is genuinely good, and the music is emotive without being overbearing. The writing in particular is an interesting mish-mash of slightly archaic wordings, but it makes the characters a little more colourful, and as the perspective of the story alternates between the two characters, you get a feel for both their internal monologues. Here’s a video showing the first few minutes of it:
Juniper’s Knot is available to download for free for Windows, Mac and Linux and even iOS. There’s some bad language and some dark concepts, but nothing otherwise unsuitable for an impressionable youth. If you’ve got an hour or so spare, give it a look.
It’s official – the trailer for Wade McGillis’ Astronot is the best ever. The. Best. Trailer. Ever. It just goes to show that more indie game developers should divulge in song and dance more often…maybe not all of them though. The game is the important though, we know, we know. But seriously, if you ever want to give your trailer a bit of a kick, a sing-a-long certainly helps, at least in this case.
As the clever little title suggests, Atronot is about someone doing astronaut type things, but is not necessarily an astronaut. In fact, they’re a garbage man on a trading ship who just ended up as the only survivor after a crash landing on an uncharted planet. Your aim is to then explore, fight and generally survive against the many weird creatures you’ll find and the odd happenings you’ll encounter.
Simply put, the game is an 8-bit metroidvania meaning there’s plenty of screens to sidescroll through and many items and powerups to find. Bosses, of course, are also numerous and come in many shapes and sizes, varying depending on the area you’re currently in. If the adventure provided isn’t enough for you then you’ll be thrilled to hear that the game comes with an editor so that players may create their own worlds. Soon, you’ll be able to share your creations with other players as well, meaning you’ll theoretically never run out of content.
You can actually play Lite version of Astronot, which acts as a demo, or you can buy the full version for just two space bucks. The game is available on Windows, Mac and iOS. More information on the official website is provided.
Frogmind Games is a new start-up studio from two former Red Lynx employees, who boast working on Trials Evolution and Motoheroz for the company. They weren’t just minor employees though, Johannes Vuorinen was the lead programmer on Trials Evolution’s rather incredible in-game editor and Juhana Myllys was the lead artist for MotoHeroz, so there you go.
Currently there’s a timer on the website for their big game reveal on July 2nd and they’re being sure to keep everything very hush-hush about it. We did attempt to make them part with some details for us and they did so, if only a little. Those looking for an influence from working on the Trials Evolution editor might be in luck as they said that they “love to create and play games, and our vision is to reflect this feeling in our games.”
We weren’t content with that though, so with a little more prodding we managed to get the following statement, which is quite exciting really:
“If you liked the atmosphere of LIMBO or Machinarium, you’ll love what we’re working on.”
Yes we actually love the atmosphere in both of those games so replicating that in a game would be just a little bit fantastic. Which platforms is the game coming to? They told us that at first the game will be coming to iOS devices but will, at a later date, be making its way to PC and Mac. We’ll have more information on the game when on the announcement day for you, so until then just keep your eye on the clock on the official website.