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

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Astronomical Simplicity At Its Best… Faraway [Preview]

Faraway001This past weekend myself and two of DIY’s other writers — Arsen and Erik — were lucky enough to attend IndieCade, one of the premiere indie gaming centric events in the world. While the event showcased many of the best games indie developers have to offer, one title in particular really stuck out to me as a great game.

Faraway is a game being designed and created by Steph Thirion of Eliss fame. Like Eliss before it, Faraway is being developed for iOS, with versions planned for both the iPhone/iPod Touch as well as the larger and more accessible iPad.

Now, realistically, this won’t be a long preview. Honestly, the game just isn’t deep enough for me to talk about it that much, but that doesn’t mean the game is bad or I’m selling it short. Faraway is a pretty remarkable game that relies on its simplistic, “one-button” nature to hook you into playing it over and over again.

The whole concept behind Faraway is that you play as a comet hurdling through space. You’re only able to play for as long as the timer allows, which starts off at 30 seconds I believe. The whole point is to get points and added time so that you can play the game for longer and longer periods of time.

Getting points and time isn’t really an easy prospect given the game’s unique control method. Seeing as how you play as a wayward comet you don’t actually control the comet directly. How you control it is by “latching” onto various gravitational pulls created by stars. Simply press anywhere on the screen, and your comet will latch on to the nearest star — highlighted so you know which one it is — and swing you around. Through this method you can kind of zigzag your way through the galaxy.

Of course, the game does provide a general direction or goal that you’ll want to head towards. Upon starting each level, you’ll be given an arrow pointing in a specific direction. This arrow leads you to a cluster of stars which you can use to make constellations, the more elaborate constellation you are able to make the more points and time you’ll gain.

Additionally, there are two types of asteroids you can hit that do different things. The regular/blue asteroid simply adds five seconds to your overall time making it a good detour if you find yourself running out of time. The red asteroid, on the other hand, gives you super speed allowing you to hurdle through space much faster than you normally would.

All in all, I’d say the games simplistic gameplay does wonders for keeping people coming back. I know while I was playing it I was often reminiscing about other simple games that I really enjoyed over the past few months on my iPod Touch like Canabalt. Faraway is looking to be the latest game is a genre that I don’t believe many people would have expected to have been so successful even a couple years ago.

Faraway still doesn’t have a solid release date, unfortuantely, however, when playing the game I didn’t find any mature features missing or overtly large flaws so, hopefully, the game isn’t too far out from a release date.

Oh and sorry for the lack of any decent pictures, they’re rather hard to come by at this point. I highly recommend watching the video below, courtesy of TourchArcade.com. It gives a great idea of what the game is about.

[Steph's Site]

Video


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Panda Rage: A Zoological Piece on What Happens When You Piss Off a Panda

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Panda Rage, developed by White Shores, is a unique game, to say the least. It takes the concept of what would happen if you decided to put a panda in Hyde Park (in London) and let him loose. While things start out mildly enough, it’s not long before the panda has no other choice but to rage all over the unsuspecting park goers.

Honestly, I have no idea what this game is really about. All I can tell you, from the trailer below, is that you play as the panda that seemingly just wants to eat whatever food you can find on the ground. Unfortunately, after a while, annoying park visitors begin punching and pushing you around. At this point it’s either let them beat you into submission, or go panda rage all over and kill, maim, and destroy anything in your way. Naturally the latter seems like the best option.

Panda Rage is set to be released for the PC and “mobile platforms” on November 1st, no price has been listed.

[Panda Rage]

Trailer


Panda Rampage Official Trailer video – Mod DB


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Beware… ‘Big Bad Flower’ Coming to iOS

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Created with the goal of bubbling up to infinity, Big Bad Flower will challenge gamers to battle earthly as well as otherworldly creatures like squirrels, rabbits, giant robots, aliens, and others. Developer Big Bad Brush assures an intense effort and has assets to prove it — well, I mean, the flower looks really tough but I still don’t know exactly what the hell is going on.

No release date was mentioned yet, but we can assume the game will be out within a month. It has been submitted to Apple for review. Big Bad Brush are also going to offer the game at $1 if they receive 1000 followers on Twitter. Is it anywhere near as addictive as Cut the Rope or Angry Birds? Check out the trailer below.

[Big Bad Brush]

Trailer:

[Source: GamesPress]


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Innovation Award-Winner ‘Continuity’ Sequel Coming to iOS [IndieCade]

Continuity001

Culver City must be a very artsy city. For one thing, they’re hosting IndieCade with open arms. But most surprisingly, PCs were set up all over a fire station on Culver Blvd. (Did the fire department take the day off to attend IndieCade?) This was one of the locations where quite a few of the 32 finalists were on display, including VVVVVV, Miegakure, Socks, Inc. and the like. Among these finalists (and also potential winners) was Continuity.

Continuity received the Gameplay Innovation Award at IndieCade. Seeing as how platformers are a dime a dozen in this day and age, the team of four developers from Sweden and the U.S. (Elias Holmlid, Dmitri Kurteanu, Guy Lima Jr., and Stefan Mikaelsson) created an imaginative take on the platformer genre as a project for their course at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg. Continuity has garnered an intense amount of praise. I would like to point out that our editor Peter Eykemans covered the game earlier in the year as part of his “The Future of Gaming” series. Safe to say: good call on your part, Pete!

What sets Continuity aside from other puzzle-platformers are its unique elements — combining the sliding tile puzzle with platformer gameplay. Yes, that’s innovative indeed. And it’s also really fun too. There’s no way you won’t be scratching your head throughout the game’s 32 puzzles (which are all playable for free), especially from the middle on. But if you keep up with DIYGamer then you know of all this.

Erik and I dropped by the game’s station to congratulate Guy Lima, Jr. — who it seemed was the only one attending IndieCade — and managed to score some new details about the game’s future. The bad news is that Continuity is finalized and will not see a release on other platforms…at least, for now. The good news is that the team is working on Continuity 2 (tentative title) and will be releasing the game on the iOS. Who could be happier about this than me?

Though neither Erik nor I got a chance to do a preview on the iPod Touch that Guy had in his possession, he still showed us a couple of levels and made some remarks about new mechanics. Most of Continuity 2 was reminiscent of Continuity — it contained the same gameplay mechanics for the most part — but in the level that Guy showed off, the tiles were joined through red and green lines extending from one to another. By the looks of it, this line was green when the tiles matched up and red when they didn’t. It’s unclear whether this is a mechanic that will help gamers rather than challenge them further, but we can hope that it will do both.

Continuity 2 looked amazing on the iOS and the controls seemed incredibly intuitive — Guy was dragging the tiles and what seemed like double-tapping to zoom in (which is done via the space bar on the Flash version of the game). He noted that the team is still working on the game and hesitated to give us a specific release date or release window. Regardless, we at DIYGamer will keep in touch with the developers and let you know any details we come across.

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Guy Lima, Jr. showing an IndieCade attendee what's what in Continuity.


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Indie Weekend Sales: Right Round

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I’m saving my words for the IndieCade pile I’m readying myself to go through, so let’s just get to the sales:

Independent

Charlie’s Games is offering 50% off on pre-orders for Scoregasm through October 11.

Steam

Killing Floor, its DLC bundle and all individual add-ons are 50% off through Monday, October 11 at 10 AM Pacific. Though the free weekend for Sol Survivor has ended, the half-off sale is still on through tomorrow. The $10 Sniper: Ghost Warrior Map Pack is just $3, and Rhythm Zone is $6.69 instead of $9.99.

GamersGate

Wadjet Eye Games’ Blackwell Unbound, The Blackwell Convergence and The Blackwell Legacy are all 60% off. Also, to match Steam’s release of a $10 Lugaru HD, GG has cut the price in half of their standard $20 tag.

App Store

Bit.Trip Beat is just $0.99 on both iPhone and iPad.

Did we miss something? Comment below or email erik[dot]johnson[at]diygamer[dot]com so you can berate and we can fix.


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BIT.TRIP BEAT on the iPhone and iPad

bit trip beat iOSI swore I wrote this up when the game first hit the App Store last week, but the “draft” indication in the post tells me I didn’t. Regardless, it’s best for you to know that the rhythm based paddle game BIT.TRIP BEAT from Gaijin Games has hit the App Store and is now available for iPhone and iPad.

If you haven’t played it on WiiWare yet, you control a small paddle that reflects things being shot at you…to the beat. It’s an amazingly addictive experience, and on Wii you move your paddle by rotating the controller like a hot dog on a stick. I can’t confirm how the game is controlled on iOS.

The game clocks in at $4.99, but it’s a fantastic game and I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s the link to the store.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Thick as Thieves

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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.”


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New Teaser Indicates ‘Spirits’ are Coming to Town [IndieCade]

spirits4

If you’re a DIYGamer vet and remember our review of Mr. Bounce last year, you’ll be happy to know that Spaces of Play is back and delivering an even fresher entry into the App Store with Spirits. The bad news is that this IndieCade finalist has yet to see a release on iDevices around the world, but you can be sure that we’ll have a go at IndieCade and preview the game for you. With that in mind, let’s build up some anticipation.

The good news is that Andreas Zecher (of Spaces of Play) sent me a new teaser trailer for Spirits. Since I have yet to play the game, I figured this description would be more than adequate in cluing you in as to what the game is about:

“Spirits is an action-puzzle game for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, in which the players manipulate wind and ground elements to guide the Spirits towards the goal. This is done with four different actions: Blow or block wind, dig tunnels and grow bridges of leaves. Sound and music are done completely with orchestral musical instruments. In combination with the beautifully hand-drawn graphics this gives the game a unique poetic feel.”

Since there’s so little information available about Spirits, much of it is shrouded in mystery. How deep does the gameplay go? Is it fun? And what makes it so special? One thing is for sure, though: we haven’t seen anything else like it. So I guess instead of blabbering on and on about it and pretending to know what I’m talking about…I’ll just show you this video and have you make up your own conclusions. Check out those fancy iPad screenshots too!

Screenshots:

spirits1spirits3spirits2


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Mobile Monday: Ambiance in ‘Auditorium’ [iOS]

auditoriumiosCreating a compelling puzzle experience is no easy task. Neither is incorporating music into said puzzle game. In fact, I’m still in awe of the work that Philly-based Cipher Prime has managed to do in the music-puzzle space of video gaming. Fractal was a wonderfully-made PC puzzler. Underneath its core mechanics, Fractal provided lots of depth. Auditorium (which is actually older) is no different. In fact, for fans of the more obscure puzzle in favor over the matching puzzle, Auditorium is likely your kind of poison. (And I mean that in the most positive and loving way possible.)

Auditorium‘s gameplay is extremely difficult to describe. If you listened to our most recent podcast, Geoff did an admirable job, but I’m sure many of you were still confused. It’s the kind of game that you just have to play. No excuses; you’ll pick it up as you go along. There’s plenty of information about the game and a demo is available to try as well at Cipher Prime’s official page for Auditorium.

But in this week’s Mobile Monday, we’re going to focus on the iOS version of Auditorium (which is also available for PC and Mac, and soon on PS3 and 360 as well). Also last week during the podcast, I checked out Auditorium on the App Store to find out that it is indeed free (or, at least, 25 levels of it are), and there are three additional “Movements” available at the in-game store for $0.99 each.

I suppose this can be a point of controversy yet again. Some iOS users feel duped by in-game purchases and perhaps EA Mobile’s affiliation may not bode well for many gamers, but I refuse to dis the game when it’s clearly something fresh and new that is easily worth the 3 dollars. Don’t believe? Try the first few acts for yourself.

Anyhow, what’s so attractive about Auditorium? Simply put, the game is fucking beautiful. We’re not talking the latest 3D engine here, we’re talking pure art. Specifically, the way that the game’s music and its visuals are inter-woven is quite overwhelming. Auditorium needs to be played in a calm setting and headphones in your ears for full effect. Once you “get” it, you’ll be hooked.

I guess the question is: is it as good on iOS as it is on PC/Mac? My answer is a firm “yes.” It’s the exact same game, and it feels even more intuitive on an iPhone (probably even better on an iPad). Each puzzle has multiple solutions and Auditorium is just as much about balance as it is about its puzzle element. It may remind you of another game initially, but you will realize just how distinct Auditorium‘s ambiance feels.

Come on, we both know you love your iDevice… and that you have enough free time to try out a free game that has garnered so much praise. Give it a chance. And Cipher Prime, keep doing your thing!

[Cipher Prime]

[This is not a full review. This is simply a "first-impressions" article based on less than an hour of gameplay.]

Screenshots:

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Carl R. Andrews’ ‘Grumps’ v1.4 Update Live on App Store

grumpsThe new update for the self-proclaimed “addictive” iOS title, Grumps, is now available on the App Store for some family-friendly fun. Although, you may want to keep your kids away from this one since the press release mentions something about sleepless nights. In Grumps, players attempt to prevent having their virtual avatar being hit by grumpy faces and instead collect happy faces.

Using your iGadget’s tilt mechanic, collect smileys until reaching a certain amount of points — after which, the background and avatar change in order to keep the game varied and interesting. Bombs fall down during avalanches and can be picked up and used to destroy everything in sight. You can even do everything under your choice of music. The version 1.4 update adds features such as: unlimited bombs, an updated scoreboard, an underwater snorkel scene, new animated explosions, and other features, including OpenFeint support.

Check it out on the App Store.

[Mojo Software Online]

Trailer: