The Mims: Beginning has become the latest indie hopeful to head down the crowd-funding route, popping up on Indiegogo. And it’s a bit of a looker, putting many so-called “AAA” games to shame with a..
Last week I sat down with Brjánn Sigurgeirsson – CEO of Swedish indie developer Image & Form – to discuss Steamworld Dig and gain exclusive information about the studio’s new project.
When I speak to Sigurgeirsson, the studio’s home city of Gothenburg is experiencing a rather damp winter afternoon and night-time is drawing in. Such miserable weather can be enough to be put a dampener on anyone’s sprits – “Gothenburg is a wet dream for rain lovers” – but he’s in a good mood, with the studio currently enjoying the successful launch of their most recent game on Steam.
They’re also a studio that’s pretty busy at the moment. “Quite a few things are happening,” Sigurgeirsson says once we get going; “these last few days, we’ve been responding to a few Game of the Year awards and trying to keep up with that. We were hoping to be on the shortlist for IGN, to be on their top 10 games of the year. We didn’t make that list, but we think we’re on the shortlist for handheld and indie games, which is good enough for us.”
With success comes recognition of course, so it’s no surprise that many people are wondering what’s coming next from the developer.
“When we finished Dig in June this year, we were looking forward to releasing in August on 3DS. We didn’t dare start development of the next game immediately – everyone had to pitch in with the release plans,” he explains.
“You won’t believe me, but we actually had very little planned even just a week before launch. We didn’t really know what to do; it was my task to launch the game, but I had trouble sleeping the whole summer because I was so ill-prepared for it. I really didn’t have any idea it would be as successful as it was. We’d had our noses so close to the screen the whole time in development that we didn’t know if it was a good game. And when we realised that it was a fabulous game, that people thought it was amazing, we thought: great!”
If he comes across as pleased with himself, then he has every right to be. So far on both platforms combined, Dig has been very successful – though Sigurgeirsson isn’t willing to share the exact sales numbers right now. He’s surprisingly modest and self-deprecating though, for a guy who’s just seen his studio go from being relatively unknown to an indie heavyweight almost overnight.
In the developer’s offices, some tastefully framed artwork adorns the walls – character art from Steamworld Dig and Anthill, one of their previous games on iOS. Other than that and a mural on one wall, there’s very little to indicate that you’re in anything other than just a regular office. But I have to wonder: does he ever feel like the success is going to his head?
“We’ve been very lucky,” he tells me. “People seem to think that we’re being very professional but really it’s more that a lot of things just happened to come together! We’ve been counting our blessings; I thought it would sort of ease down. So we just had to take a break from everything and try to be a little bit more prepared [when] we got the ok from Steam to have a version of the game on their platform.”
Sigurgeirsson isn’t ready to share the name of their new game, which is currently in the early stages of development. “If you know what we’re like then it will probably change,” he says, before giving a characteristically warm chuckle.
He is willing to share that it’s due to be another game set in the Steamworld universe. It’s not Steamworld Dig 2, though. “What we have ahead of us is 3 more games in the Steamworld series, for sure,” he tells me. “The thing that we’re working on right now is not Steamworld Dig at all; it won’t be a digging game. It will be in the Steamworld universe and the characters will be recognizable, [but] it will be totally different type of game.
“People who are hoping for a Dig sequel will have to wait, but [that too] will be bigger than the first game was, in all directions.”
If they weren’t before, then now the developer is certainly forward-thinking and rather ambitious. But if the next game in the series isn’t a sequel to Dig, what is it? Sigurgeirsson is surprisingly open on the studio’s plans – at least, as far as can be expected from a team enjoying such tremendous success and an increased profile. “When we started developing [the next game], what we kept doing for a month and a half was actually a prequel to Dig. But when we started working on the Steam version of Dig, the guys in the office came up with a really brilliant new idea: not a sequel, not Steamworld Dig 2, but perhaps the game that comes after, or the game after that. And so we looked at it and we just thought: God, that’s so brilliant. It’s so grand!”
Their plan is to complete their current project before moving on to Dig 2 and then later returning to the prequel that they’d previously started, he tells me.
I ask him what he means when he says the new game is grand. “The scale of the game is just so good that as soon as we had finished porting Dig to Steam, we immediately started focusing on that,” he replies.
With the talk about scale, people are obviously going to ask: is it an open-world game? “That’s a good question,” Sigurgeirsson says and it’s clear from looking at him and from the slight pause which follows that he’s choosing his words carefully.
I say to him that he seems to be trying hard not to give too much away, and he laughs. “Sorry about that! It’s just that I have a tendency to promise too much [and] you disappoint everybody if you don’t deliver.”
So what can he tell me? “What we want to do is to create much more of a ‘community’ game in the Steamworld series, meaning that people will play it for many more hours and discuss different strategies. No-one will complete this game in a day or two; they’ll be playing hopefully for weeks, and then we’ll add more stuff to it.”
Explaining a bit more about what he means, he tells me: “You can buy Dig and you can finish it in maybe one sitting, in a single day. And then when you’re done with it, it’s interesting to talk to people about how you solved certain things. But a game you can discuss while you’re playing it is just so much more interesting.”
When he mentions community aspects, does he mean multiplayer?
There’s that trademark laugh again before he responds: “Maybe! I would love to just be able to give a simple answer. I think the game that we’re working on now would lend itself wonderfully to co-op play, but we’re very aware of how much more development time it would take to perfect that. If we can manage it then we will make a bigger game and then we will be able to have multiplayer.”
So it’s certainly a possibility then. If it does happen, what form will it take?
“If we can get multiplayer in there, it won’t be versus play; it will be co-op. If we could get that in, it would be tremendous but it [would have to] be excellent, the best game of the year.”
He goes on: “What we’re looking at now is a single-player game that lends itself excellently to people discussing various strategies, how they tackle things and how different people solve things across different playthroughs. There will be so
many ways to tackle every scene in the game… it will be very open to discussion.”
Does that mean random generation? After all, roguelikes are currently experiencing something of a comeback at the moment, with Path of Exile, FTL and Rogue Legacy – among others – working to make the genre a favorite in the indie scene.
Once again, Sigurgeirsson laughs and it’s clear that he’s enjoying my attempts to tease more information out of him. “Yes, there will be a lot of random generation: it will be a core feature of the game. Also, it will be random in more than one way. You’ll understand it when you see it, because the premise that we have is that we want people to ask themselves: how will I succeed in the game this time? The conditions of the game will be different every time.”
I mention Fez and how the game’s challenge extends beyond the platforming and into wider areas with the amount of secrets and riddles to be solved. Is that, I wonder, something which the team is considering?
“I don’t think, at least at this stage, that we’ll have that wider level of meta-discussions going on about the game; but I really think it will be perceived as a grand game, with a lot of new takes on how a game like this can be played.”
There’s yet more laughter as he pleads: “Can you please stop asking me about this now?”
It’s clear that he’s becoming wary of how much information he’s giving out about the upcoming title, so I ask him what platforms they’re currently hoping to release on and when they think the game will be finished.
“We’re kind of looking at everything really. One thing we try to be very clear about with ourselves is how wonderfully the Nintendo community – and the company itself – has treated us. We were really nobodies before Nintendo lifted us up. So we’re never going to forget what they’ve done for us and the 3DS is one of the platforms that we want to launch on from day one; and then obviously Steam, if they’ll have us again, and [after that] we’ll look at what the other platforms are doing.”
He has to think for a moment before discussing the hoped-for development timeframe and I’m reminded of what he said earlier about promising too much and not being able to deliver. “Realistically, I think we’re looking at a release in October 2014. If we count 8 months and take into account Swedish vacations, we’ll be done maybe next September,” he says cautiously.
“With Dig, it took us about 8 calendar months. We’re aiming to have a much grander game [this time], but developed in the same time frame; we’re very careful to make sure that we’re doing everything right, from the very start of development.
“We don’t want to make a game that is smaller than Steamworld Dig, and we don’t want to make a game that is the same. We want to make something great.”
Later that evening, as I listen back to the interview recording and read through my notes, I’m struck by just how ambitious Image & Form are being with their new title. With any creative team that’s tasted success, there’s pressure to follow up on it. For many, the temptation is to take the easy route and play it safe, but that’s a temptation that Brjánn Sigurgeirsson and his team are certainly resisting.
Whether or not they are able to deliver on those ambitions and strike gold a second time is something that we won’t know for certain until their next game is released; but for now they’re thinking big. That’s something to be applauded in an industry where so many follow-ups are just more of the same with a different number next to the title.
Nicalis, the publisher responsible for porting Terry Cavanagh’s rage inducing VVVVVV to Nintendo’s three dimensional magic machine is busy making yet another port of the ever popular Cave Story. This time around the title will see itself realized in 3D using its original two dimensional engine (much akin to Mutant Mudds). Considering most of us have played Cave Story in one form or another, Nicalis has gone ahead and included several new features and game modes to hopefully breathe a bit of life into an otherwise old title, giving players a new reason to pick it up all over again.
The coolest of which is “Curly Story” in which I’d assume you get to play through the story from the perspective of Curly Brace as she tries to protect the Mimiga from the evil doctor. Other notably fresh additions include: Nemesis Challenge, Boss Rush, Hell Time Attack, and Wind Fortress challenge modes. Nicalis has also stated Cave Story for eShop will support a native 4:3 and “real” widescreen resolutions for the 3DS as well as two button configurations.
Expect to dive back in come October 4th for the rather fair price of $9.99, those of you without a nifty new 3DS can still get in on the Cave Story fun (if you have yet to experience it) by picking up one of the various other versions avaiable as DSiWare. Hopefully players won’t confuse this for NIS’ Cave Story 3D which runs on an entirely three-dimensional engine unique to that title.
Of all the fan released content that I have seen in the past the update of the Tecmo Super Bowl to the current roster (as of 09/02/12 done in true stylings of the original) is one of the most interesting. This fan service has been carried out by the good people over at TecmoBowl.org, bring this updated version of the highly acclaimed cult classic for free.
Tecmo Super Bowl when it was originally released for the NES in 1991 it was the first sports video game that had licensing privileges with both the league (NFL) and the player’s association (NFL: Players Association), this allowed the game to be the first to use both the real player names and team names simultaneously.
Tecmo Super Bowl has forever been a cult classic and this new update is a highly welcomed one being as it has been one of the most modified Nintendo games in existence, showing just how influential it has become. Currently Tecmo Super Bowl 2013 requires a Nintendo emulator to play however this edition comes with a whole host of updates including:
- 32 Teams
- Adjustable quarter length
- Half-time stats
- Enhanced passing accuracy and control
- Countless bug fixes from the 2012 version
The whole spirit behind these Tecmo Super Bowl releases are great and is rooted back in the golden age of gaming. If you would like to download Tecmo Super Bowl 2013 you can from the tecmobowl site over here, just in time to get into the spirit of this new football season.
After much teasing from the folks at Gaijin Games, they’ve finally decided to drop the news that Runner 2 will be coming to the Wii U. Can’t say it’s much of a surprise really, considering the original game was released on WiiWare to much success. It will be released as a launch title of all things, offering first time buyers of Nintendo’s new console a chance to run across the screen with Commander Video, dodging the obstacles and obtaining his all important rainbow cape.
Of course, with the announcement comes a few more details that should most certainly interest you. For a start, Runner 2 will come with a number of retro levels which will be playable on the Wii U Game Pad itself. As announced at the Nintendo conference at E3, the game will also be able to utilize HD graphics – a first for one of their consoles. On top of that, music will be provided by none other than Disasterpeace, who most recently scored Fez.
That up there is presumably one of the retro looking levels that Gaijin mention. Another cute detail is that there will be 10 unlockable characters in this sequel, including CommandgirlVideo, Unkle Dill and Whetfahrt Cheesebörger. The one thing we’re looking for is a release date but of course that hasn’t been revealed due to Nintendo keeping their mouths shut on the release date of the console. Slow clap Nintendo.
If you want to find out some more information on Runner 2 then you should head on over to the official website. Don’t expect to find out too much more yet though. Otherwise, why don’t you check out some alpha gameplay below if you haven’t already.
The follow up game to Broken Rules‘ debut puzzle platformer, And Yet It Moves, is the ambient and gorgeous Chasing Aurora. In the game, you play as a bird flying across the Alps trying to reunite pieces of a light beacon before the Sun sets for the last time.
It’s simple in premise and the gameplay reflects that, mainly requiring the player to steer the bird against the harsh winds and other weather conditions in the mountains. It’s a game of exploration despite being sidescrolling, with hidden areas to discover and an origami art style to gorge yourself on. It can’t be denied for being a stunning visual realization.
As well as a single player campaign that’s slated to last about five hours, Chasing Aurora will also come with a number of multiplayer modes. Again, simplicity is the focus – we played the game’s version of tag at Indie Connect earlier this year and wrote down our impressions in this preview.
Broken Rules say that the game will be a three part series based around the Alps, interestingly enough, funded by the city of Vienna – thus explaining the connecting theme. The big news though, is that the game is going to be a launch title for the Wii U. Nintendo approached Broken Rules with the idea last year and they agreed. There’s no release date outside of 2012 as of yet, mainly due to Nintendo keeping the lid on that. Hopefully that will be made known by the time E3 is over.
During GDC 2012, Two Tribes revealed that their plans to release Toki Tori 2 on to Nintendo’s new console will be met, whether it will be a launch title or not is still up in the air.
Toki Tori was orignally released on the Game Boy Color back in 2001, since then it was re-made to great success on WiiWare as a launch title, as well as iOS and PC. Two Tribes have been hard at work on the sequel to the puzzle platformer and they showed great enthusiasm a few weeks back to get it on to the Wii U. It seems their wish is Nintendo’s command.
During their talk about Toki Tori 2 at GDC last week, Collin van Ginkel, the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Two Tribes, said that “it will be on Wii U. Definitely. Yes.”
Then he changed face and worried that he wasn’t allowed to reveal that yet, what with all the secrecy Nintendo are practising with the Wii U. However, Martijn Reuvers, the Managing Director for Two Tribes assured Ginkel that is was find and added “we’re pretty sure that it’s going to happen really quickly after launch. Maybe at launch but we don’t know, depends on Nintendo plans.”
This indicates that the Wii U may be a viable place for indie developers to released their games on as a downloadable title, hopefully without the limitations that the current WiiWare has – though potentially controversial titles such as The Binding of Isaac quite obviously won’t have a place there. Two Tribes have already spoken of how they might use the Wii U’s hardware to provide a slightly different experience of Toki Tori 2 on other platforms:
“What could be very interesting, and what’s been requested countless times from the fans, is if we could incorporate a level editor utilizing the Wii U controller. This could mean that the game runs on the TV while you make adjustments to the level on the touchscreen in real time. We think that would work really well!”
Thanks Nintendo World Report!
Not one to take a stance on affairs of a politically charged nature in fear of offending or otherwise upsetting their customer base, Nintendo has rejected the 3DS port of popular roguelike The Binding Of Isaac due to its “questionable religious content”.The news was delivered by the game’s co-creator Edmund McMillen on Twitter, as is often the case. Back in December, McMillen revealed that a publisher had gone to Nintendo about a 3DS release of the game, to which they were debating. Yesterday the news was delivered unto McMillen, as he tweeted:“Attention: After a long internal debate Nintendo has decided NOT to allow the Binding of Isaac on the 3ds. ”He also added to this with his next tweet, the reasoning behind it – as we may have guessed of Nintendo:“As many assumed the reasons were due to the games “questionable religious content”. Thank GOD Steam exists!”The news led to McMillen then praising Steam as the top digital distribution platform as it allows indie developers and their games a public space while “not requiring ESRB or censoring its published games.”McMillen previously mentioned that a PS Vita port was a possibility for The Binding of Isaac, so it will be interesting to see if Sony step up to the plate in light of this rejection from Nintendo.You may be interested in: ‘The Binding Of Isaac’ Might Be Coming To The 3DS McMillen: ‘The Binding Of Isaac’ PS Vita Port A Possibility Edmund McMillen Reveals ‘The Binding Of Isaac’ Edmund McMillen Teases “Mega Expansion” For ‘The Binding Of Isaac’ You Could Win A Copy Of ‘The Binding Of Isaac – The Unholy Edition’
Original Source: Nintendo Reject ‘The Binding Of Isaac’ 3DS Release
This Article was originally posted on our sister site, The Indie Game Magazine written by Chris Priestman.
Stickmen Studios’ invent and adventure game Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time is heading to the Playstation Network sometime soon, so says the New Zealand-based developer. The port will receive Move motion control support, a sandbox level to tinker around in, and new in-game abilities.
I’m not usually so immediately captivated by a games tag line, but when I read about a one-person developed DSi-Ware game called Flush the Goldfish I was immediately drawn in. Not because of the title, but because of the promise: a goldfish wearing a spacesuit. How could we possibly go wrong with that one? My brain asked…