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

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That Which Hath No Fury: ’99 Levels To Hell’ In Development

Someone once said that it’s Hell trying to get to Heaven. I don’t know who it was, so I’ll just assume it was The Undertaker in the lead-up to his Wrestlemania XXV showdown with Shawn Michaels.

Anyway, Zaxis Games have taken this little pearl of wisdom to heart during the design process for their latest game, 99 Levels To Hell. It’s a side-scrolling 2D platformer/dungeon crawler, set for release on the PC, in which your only means of escaping from an underground prison is by burrowing through the fiery depths of Hell.

Despite what’s inferred in the title, the game will sport over 100 randomly-spawning levels ten different environments and over 50 power-ups, weapons and monsters. Same-screen 2-player action is promised, but we’re yet to hear whether this will come in the form of c-operative or competitive play. You’ll also get your fix of shops, portals and boss battles, bringing 99 Levels of Hell into the revered territory of the dungeon crawler genre.

Although the game is still in the early stages of development, Zaxis have released its first piece of footage, showing off some of the basic shooting and platforming mechanics we can expect to see in the final product. While the action may not seem to be anything groundbreaking at first glance, the in-game lighting scheme really catches the eye. Just check out the superb contrasts between light and dark and you’ll see what I mean.


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Ride Griffins, Breach Forts, Command Armies: ‘Dark Meridian’

Dark Meridian

Talus Studios are working on a little game of theirs called Dark Meridian, which, has made one of our staff say “this is everything I’ve ever wanted in a game” after watching the trailer.

So let’s just take a minute here to go through all of the exciting aspects of Dark Meridian. Ahem. You can build settlements. Ride griffins. Use catapults. It has online co-op. Level progression based on your performance and play style. Riding spiders. During battle, you can be commander, fighter or squad leader. The magic looks awe-inspiring.

Okay, we’ll stop there. Dark Meridian is a combination of RTS, RPG and third-person shooting elements. It starts off with a huge map and a number of sides; either AI or human. Those sides are opponents in a big war and each of them can build their defenses before going to battle – that’s towers, castles, siege weapons and more. Then, in the battle you can choose a number of different ways to play – ride a beast, be a commander, go on foot in the frontlines, lead an AI squad, mount a siege weapon and again, there’s more too. During and after the battle your character will rank up according to your playstyle and you’ll customise them with familiar stat screens and skill trees. Oh and it’s all possible in online matches too!

That’s the gist of the game. So, how do you get a hold of it? Dark Meridian is currently being sold as pre-order in its own Kickstarter project. All of the money raised from the Kickstarter will go towards finishing up the game. Talus are asking for quite a lot though, $250,000 to be precise. However, after watching this impressive gameplay trailer you might see that this game could be worth the money.

More information on Dark Meridian can be found on the official website.


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Going Global: ‘Linux Tycoon’ Becomes MMO

Remember when we reported that Brian Lunduke was developing Linux Tycoon, quite possibly the only Linux Distro building simulator in existence? Well, it turns out he’s taking things a step further with the news that the game will now feature online play.

So, as of midnight last night, those who paid $4 to join the game’s Beta phase can now access the Linux Tycoon Server free of additional charge. That means that current buyers, along with those who decide to purchase the game in the future, can launch their own private ‘worlds’ alongside a huge main online server, not to mention the pre-existing capacity for individual play that launched in tandem with the original game.

Oh, and best of all? It’s free. That’s right: no subscription fee and no plans for micro-transactions. Essentially, you’re getting the full package right from the get-go, fully DRM-free to boot. It’s truly an MMOLDBSG (Massively Multiplayer Online Linux Distro Building  Simulation Game) fan’s dream, and one that you can be part of by purchasing the game through its official site.

While that’s all well and dandy, it’s not all she wrote. Linux Tycoon is now also slated for release on iOS and Android, allowing players to bring their plans for operating system-based global domination to the mobile platforms. They’ll be fully compatible with online play as well and, in yet another classy move on the part of Mr. Lunduke, Beta purchasers of the game’s PC version will gain access to the Android edition at no additional expense.

Today: Tux the Penguin; tomorrow: the world, eh?


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Video: Anna Anthropy Talks About Making Personal And Small Games

Anna Anthropy

Anna Anthropy has been on a tour to talk about the ideas in her new book The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters and her conversation at NYU was recorded and is available to watch right now.

Always full of ideas, Anna Anthropy has been visiting various places in order to promote The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, which I have spoken about right here. It’s a great and very indie look at the gaming industry and why you don’t need it to make games.

Anna takes her unique outside perspective and sees the industry as a bubble, a bustle of insiders who don’t share their culture and only speak to themselves. Importantly, Anna then highlights how you don’t need to go through the traditional means of getting an education and becoming part of a company to make games. There are plenty of tools out there that don’t require an expertise to use, thus, if you want to make games you should be already.

All of this is discussed in a recorded discussion with Anna at the New York University and it’s a great watch which hopefully will inspire some of you – especially as Ludum Dare is this weekend.

You can find out more information about Anna Anthropy and her games over on the official website.


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Prepare The Cannon: ‘Snorms’ Episode 2 Now Available

Snorms

Third person shooter and stress-relieving tank game, Snorms, now has its Episode 2 which you can play if you alphafund it and get yourself a copy, so go on already!

After deciding that Snorms is pretty nifty beforehand, we’re back to tell you that it’s even niftier now! How could such a thing happen? Let’s just say that you can now get twice the Snorms for your money and soon, three times the Snorms! Just twice for now though. Yes – Snorms Episode 2 has been released for alphafunders to have a good old tank blasting romp with.

Snorms, if you have forgotten, has lovely isometric graphics with bold lines and everything, it also features third person shooting and RPG-like levelling up as well as other lite aspects of the genre. You want to give it a little go while clutching your piggy banks close to your heart? Here’s a little demo you can try out.

If you want to play more of Snorms including the brand new second episode then you’ll need to put some money upfront, but it’s really not a lot plus you get all future updates for free. To do such a thing, you’ll have to head over to Desura and hand over the pennies for your download.

More information on Snorms can be found on the game’s official website.


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Home On The Range: ‘Firing Range 2′ Released On XBLIG

Firing Range 2

Milkstone Studios have released Firing Range 2 on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace – stack ‘em up and rack ‘em up people!

The rather prolific indie game developer, Milkstone Studios, are still going strong as they release their 17th title on to XBLIG with Firing Range 2. A sequel to the top-selling Firing Range, this new title features 12 weapons – including sniper rifles – customizable weapons and camos as well as a 1v1 online multiplayer mode. With all of these added features, your time spent on the range should be increased significantly.

Oh but you want to smell the smoke and feel the hot barrel of a freshly fired gun, huh? You’re never satisfied are you? Cor, Milkstone – you’re going to have to make Firing Range 3 a full on scratch ‘n’ sniff experience to follow up this one!

You can purchase Firing Range 2 over on the Xbox Live Marketplace for just 80MSP/$1.

More information on Firing Range 2 can be found on the game’s official website.

Firing Range 2
Firing Range 2
Firing Range 2
Firing Range 2
Firing Range 2


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Irish Indie Bundle Gets Official Site

It wasn’t long ago that we reported that an Irish indie bundle was tentatively in the works. Now, things might just have stepped up a gear with the launch of its official website.

Simply entitled the “Irish Indie Bundle,” the package is now accepting submissions from Irish developers in the hope of making this dream a bona fide reality. The organisers are also accepting logo designs over on their Facebook page. Further public suggestions, including possible charities to which the bundle may contribute, are still welcome at the Facebook page.

As of this writing, the organisers are looking at a submission deadline of 24th August, giving developers an ample amount of time to decide upon and see their creations through to their conclusion. Once all the entries have been put forward, they’re looking at a possible September release window for the bundle to be made available to the public.

If all goes to plan the Irish Indie Bundle will function as a showcase of the considerable creative talent currently lying dormant in Ireland, a nation that’s arguably been ignored as a potential hotbed of gaming innovation. The organisers have a succinct, yet profound message: “Play our games, or else…we’ll be sad.” We can’t say fairer that that.

And perhaps it’s possible that the potential success of indie developers from other nations may hinge on the public reaction to the Irish Indie Bundle. If it’s successful, could it pave the way for other nation-specific bundles in the near future? Perhaps, then, this might not just be a crusade for the recognition of Irish developers on a larger scale, but rather part of a much bigger picture. Either way, we’ve got our eye on this one.

Take a look at the official website here, where you can make submissions and discover more about the ongoing movement.


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Amanita Apologize For ‘Botanicula’ Pre-Orders With Bonus Bundle

Botanicula

Some people weren’t happy with having pre-ordered Amanita Design’s latest game, Botanicula, for full price to then find out it was released as a pay-what-you-want deal on the day of release as part of The Humble Botanicula Debut. To make up for it, Amanita are issuing a Bonus Bundle for their pre-order customers which contains some free goodies.

Botanicula was released yesterday on a number of online retailers, two of which offered pre-orders to people a couple of weeks in advance. Those who did pre-order received their copy of Botanicula for $9 but with the launch of The Humble Botanicula Debut yesterday, those who didn’t pre-order could get the game at a much cheaper price. In fact, those who do buy into The Humble Botanicula Debut are able to get Botanicula and two other Amanita games at a $1 minimum or for $5 they can get Steam keys and another game plus a short film.

Due to this, a number of people were upset about the deal – having put their money forward before the game’s arrival when they could have waited it out and got the game at a cheaper price and with other games attached too. That’s not to say they didn’t get anything else alongside their copy of Botanicula, well, those who pre-ordered on GamersGate didn’t but those who did through GOG.com received a soundtrack demo, photos, wallpapers and various artworks and sketches. Of course, they also got the game with a pre-order discount rather than paying the full price.

However, there’s no denying that those who pre-ordered got less and for a higher cost. As such, Amanita are aiming to make up for it by releasing a Bonus Bundle today for those who pre-ordered. This will contain the following:

  • Machinarium
  • Full Botanicula Soundtrack
  • Exclusive Botanicula art book

In a blog post on their website, Amanita explained the reason for the situation:

“We haven’t [had] much time to take care about business and logistics in [the] last few weeks because we were hard at work on the game fixing hundreads of bugs etc. so we made a mistake and let GOG and GG make pre-orders. We simply didn’t think about it and about the consequences, sorry for that.”

The slight upsetting part of the whole deal is that it has soured the game’s release ever so slightly so hopefully those who have been upset because they made a pre-order will find this apology adequate. The line from Amanita that kind of hurts to read is the following one:

“I hope it’s not that terrible deal for $9 you paid to support us so we can continue making independent games, we are very grateful for that!”

Of course, it wasn’t that those who pre-ordered were given a terrible deal – Botanicula at $9 with all of the delight it offers and with some extras (if bought from GOG) is a good deal in fact. The problem was that the pre-order actually backfired on those who took up on it rather than rewarding them as a pre-order should do (not all the time though of course).

More information on Botanicula can be found on the game’s official website.

Via Amanita Design


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Run, Rabbit, Run: ‘Bunny Must Die: Chelsea & The Seven Devils’ Coming This Summer

We’ve been treated to a fair few wacky titles from the Land of the Rising Sun, and Japanese publishers Rockin’ Android are looking to continue that trend with the upcoming release of Bunny Must Die: Chelsea & The Seven Devils on PC and consoles.

The game appears to be a bombastic action-platformer on a 2D plane in which Bunny must face and defeat seven Devils in a large, interconnected level map. There’ll be a rift of power-ups, puzzles and enemies, and even a time manipulation mechanic that’s said to be essential to the solving of certain puzzles.

“It’s an incredibly charming and nail-bitingly difficult action-platformer that mixes a warped sense of humor, unique gameplay mechanics, and a bit of that old Metroid and Castlevania magic,” claims Enrique Galvez, CEO of Rockin’ Android. Featuring full English translation from the original version of the game, developed by Platine Dispositif of The Gundemonium Collection fame, this new edition will also boast optional graphical tweaks and a fully remixed new soundtrack.

Look for Bunny Must Die to release on PC this summer, with unnamed console ports coming later via “several of the top online distributors,” whatever that might ultimately mean. In the meantime, take a look at some footage of the game below.


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‘MacGuffin’s Curse’ Claws Its Way Onto iOS, Mac, And PC

Brawsome’s new title, MacGuffin’s Curse, has clawed its way onto the iOS, Mac, and PC. Today marks the release of the cross-platform werewolf puzzler.

In MacGuffin’s Curse you are Lucas MacGuffin, “fugitive magician”. When a job goes awry, Lucas finds himself with an ancient medallion stuck to his chest that gives him the ability to transform between man and wolf. Using these two forms, you must guide Lucas through 150 challenging puzzles and help him lift the curse.

Each form Lucas can take has its own strengths and weaknesses. The clever and sly Lucas can swim, open doors and squeeze through smaller openings while his werewolf counterpart can move heavy objects, break through bits of rubble and intimidate the other characters.

If you purchase the game soon, you can take part in some wolfishly delicious discounts. You can buy both the PC and Mac version via Steam at a 20% off discount for $3.99 (offer ends April 26th). The PC version is on sale for the same discount on Brawsome‘s website. If you buy it here, your money will go straight to the developer. If you purchase the Mac or iOS version, you can get it for a whopping $1.99.