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

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Indie Links Round-Up: It Takes Two

Amnesia_Indie_LinksIndie Links for you, ten in a row. Interviews are the name of the game today, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore those talking only to themselves.

Go learn about the innards of games, the structure of the gamer’s psyche and watch as Tim Stone goes mad conversating to the flight simulation genre itself.

Interview: Building a game out of cardboard and clay: The Dream Machine (Andrew Webster/ars technica)
“No one will accuse The Dream Machine of looking generic. Created in part as a response to the seemingly endless stream of similar-looking games on the market, the developers at Cockroach Inc. built The Dream Machine to be something different: a stop-motion, episodic, point-and-click adventure. Ars spoke with Anders Gustafsson, one half of Cockroach, to learn just how to make a game out of cardboard and clay.”

Developer Diary: How to Make Games Funny (Darren Evenson/Hothead Games)
“Now that DeathSpank is out, we thought we’d do a Developer Diary entry for July. In this installment we talk about how to make games funny. Enjoy!”

Limbo: What’s in a Length? (Kyle Orland/GameSetWatch)
“The Game Beat is a bi-weekly new GSW column by Kyle Orland examining the video game press and the process by which gamers get information about the games they love. This week, it examines the industry’s somewhat misplaced obsession with a game’s duration, rather than its content.”

A quick chat with Frictional – Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Brenna Hillier/Games On Net)
“The creators of the Penumbra series have hung up the artillery in favour of the eerie thrills of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which appears to become sort of a … first person physics-based survival horror. What? We just had to know more, so we asked Frictional Games co-founder Thomas Grip about the lack of weaponry, plot influences – and of course, the physics angle.”

No More Sweden 2010 Video Presentations (Tim W/IndieGames)
“A complete set of video presentations from No More Sweden 2010 held earlier this month are now available to watch online, featuring talks by developers like Crayon Physics creator Petri Purho, Bernhard Schulenberg (designer of Where is My Heart?), and Andreas Zecher (Understanding Games) among others. The list of recorded presentations that can be viewed are as follows.”

Interview: Paradox’s Wester On Digital Distribution Consolidation, DRM, F2P (Simon Carless/GameSetWatch)
“Fredrik Wester, CEO of hardcore-oriented developer and publisher Paradox Interactive, chats with our own Chris Remo about his plans and thoughts thoughts on digital distribution, DRM, free-to-play, shaved heads, and more.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: The Ball (Justin McElroy/Joystiq)
“This week we talk with Sjoerd De Jong, Project Lead at Teotl Studios, about how his team has spent one-and-a-half years polishing The Ball.”

Giant Interview: Tom Wilcox, Technical Director (Jamie Evans/IndieDB)
“Paper Giant Studios’ chief programmer talks about the challenges of creating Seed Pod Shuffle, building a 2D game with a 3D engine, and the many benefits of using Unity.”

Digital: A Love Story Fanart, Talk (Eric Caoili/GameSetWatch)
“My favorite indie game of the year so far is easily Christine Love’s Digital: A Love Story, a PC adventure/mystery/romance title set in the late 1980s and presented through bulletin board systems — what other game lets you “crawl BBSes, uncover conspiracies, commit telephone fraud, and fall in love” in just a couple hours?”

Stale Air And Stolen Thunder (Tim Stone/RPS)
“I was up at Farnborough International Airshow yesterday, and, while having a crafty fag round the back of the Fuel-Air Weapons Marquee, was lucky enough to run into one of gaming’s most elusive genres. Dishevelled and smelling slightly of wet ferrets, Flight Simulation was in a surprisingly talkative mood. During the course of an hour-long chat we covered numerous topics, none more fascinating than the changing fortunes of the gent himself.”


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Preview: PSN Castle Crashers New Features [Comic-Con]

The_Behemoth_BoothWhile admittedly there wasn’t a ton of indie stuff to cover at this year’s Comic-Con in gorgeous San Diego, I was able to comb the convention enough times to find a few indie beacons floating in the vast ocean of the show floor.

One of those shining lights was the nice-sized booth for The Behemoth, who was showing off both their upcoming third title BattleBlock Theater and the upgraded Castle Crashers coming to PSN later this year–supposedly really, really soon. I was able to get some hands-on time with both and in this post, I will be touching on the ladder.

Castle Crashers debuted in 2008, taking the Xbox Live Arcade by storm and in the process (alongside Braid) raising the console digital distribution market to new heights. So, is the new feature-enriched PSN version worth the wait for PS3 owners? In a word, you betcha!

Castle_Crashers_PSNThe Behemoth has really added some nice additions including the new Volleyball minigame extrapolated from the one-time campaign experience in the XBLA version. Now, it’s a totally separate mode complete with multiple stages, settings for teams, number of players on each side, winning score, number of games and other options (check out the features list here.) Playing it with a friend against the AI, we quickly discovered strategy would be a big part of winning. A new feature we stumbled upon and quickly took advantage of was the ability to spike. When timed right, players near the net jump up and at the peak can swing their weapon sending a devastating downward strike toward the other team’s side. These become huge in scoring as it’s a nearly impossible maneuver to counter and often times the ball is in a position to be struck by whichever team gets there first.

Team Arena is another new offering, allowing players to play 2v2 or 1v3, instead of just the free-for-all style available in the original release. Teams are denoted by what the characters have strapped to their back, whether it be banners, street signs or stick bombs; just look for the bloke with your matching back-wear and you’ll know your in friendly company. Additionally, we checked out the new arrow-only arena mode–the name of which currently escapes me (Sharpshooter?)–which has you running around firing arrows at your enemies and grabbing strength power-ups and fruit to try and gain an upper-hand.

All in all, some great new features and that’s completely ignoring the already amazing campaign the title totes. Still without a release date, Castle Crashers will be a must have for Playstation 3 owners..whenever it does arrive.


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Shank Trailer Shows Off Co-op

Shank_coop_TrailerA month away from its release, a new Shank trailer has been passed along by Klei Entertainment showing off the recently announced co-op mode for the game.

The co-op portion will be separate from the main plot, offering its own campaign that provides backstory for the characters.

Shank hits PSN August 24, XBLA August 25 and PC later this Fall. Trailer below.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Socially Aware

Indie_Links_NDAOur latest set of Indie Links gathered from far and wide consists primarily of conversations and connections between developers/enthusiasts and gaming journos/bloggers. There’s really nothing more easy going out there than those who work in the indie slice of the industry. Often, both sides reach out to one another often to form both a business and personal relationship and we all benefit for it. Check out today’s picks.

The Worth(lessness) of NDAs (IndieFund)
“It’s been almost two weeks since we opened up the submission process and the response has been fantastic, if somewhat overwhelming. We’ve gotten over 70 applications so far and we’re working through them as best we can. Please be patient with us… we will get back to you. One thing that has come up a couple of times is a request to sign an NDA, and that’s actually the focus of this post. We do not sign NDAs and would like to share the rationale behind this decision.”

Inteview: Andrew Goulding on Jolly Rover (Martin Mulrooney, Philip Jong/Adventure Classic Gaming)
“Jolly Rover is the debut adventure game from indie developer Andrew Goulding and his company Brawsome. Goulding is no stranger to the games industry, having worked for years as a game tester, programmer, and producer. Although comedy pirate adventures are certainly not unique to the genre, Jolly Rover seems to have taken on a new twist to an old theme by casting all of the game’s main characters as canines. Indeed, it is this unique design choice that makes Goulding’s game different from the competition.”

Unity Giveaway Contest Winners (Henley/IndieDB)
“Our Unity contest has come to a close, with over 50 entries and 10 amazing finalists, the quality of entries has been amazing. We asked for original concepts and we had an amazing response but in the end there can only be 2 winners.”

Interview: Dejobaan Games’ Lambe, Jaitley On Doing Things A Little Different (Mike Rose/GameSetWatch)
“Mike Rose sits down with two of the principals from super-quirky independent developer Dejobaan Games — creator of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity and The Wonderful End of the World – to reference upcoming title ooo! ooO! oOO! OOO! and their unique way of approaching game creation.”

Talking Shop: Carpe Fulgur On Recettear (Alec Meer/RPS)
“The demo of Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale is one of the best things I’ve played in a while. A Japanese indie game pitching an RPG shopkeeper as the star… well, you can read all that in the last post. Given the slightly unusual nature of the project – it’s only available here thanks to a third-party translation company- I thought I’d chat to said translators about the why, how, who and what next. Interesting stuff – there’s this whole vein of (slick) indie gaming that we otherwise hear nothing about. Take it away, Carpe Fulgur’s Andrew Dice.”

LIMBO Review (Jeff Mattas/Shacknews)
“Playdead’s action-based, puzzle-platformer, LIMBO, [is] out for Xbox LIVE Arcade and to put it bluntly: prepare to die!”

Tom Jubert Talks Projects, Plots, Penumbra (Lewis Denby/RPS)
“At the Develop Conference in Brighton last week, I had the opportunity to sit down for a beer and a chat with Tom Jubert, perhaps most famous for writing the excellent horror adventure series Penumbra. They’re dark and sinister games whose writing, and the structure of their storytelling, were often their strongest asset. Read on for Tom’s thoughts on the writing process, tales of game design tribulations, and his involvement in a major new title.”

Alhóndiga Bilbao Announces International hó Play Competition (Eric Caoili/GameSetWatch)
“Spanish culture and leisure center Alhóndiga Bilbao has announced hó Play, a new project that aims to present and promote video games that “stand out for their originality, creativeness, and innovation.”"

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Delve Deeper (Justin McElroy/Joystiq)
“This week we talk Lunar Giant Studio’s Adam Eidukas (Lead Developer) and Neil Wickman (Creative Director / Lead Artist) about how Adam FULLY beat Final Fantasy with just the thief. … Oh, also they made a game.”

Interview: Riot Games’ co-founder talks about Season One of League of Legends (John Callaham/Big Download)
“The game didn’t get a lot of attention from the mainstream game industry or the media when it launched last October but today it looks like League of Legends has been a huge success for its developer/publisher Riot Games. The company made the free-to-play multiplayer RTS-action game with some of the people behind the popular WarCraft III mod Defense of the Ancients.”


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Origins: Thatgamecompany’s flOw recreated in StarCraft 2

flow_OriginsThrough the wonders of StarCraft 2 comes Origins, a recreation of thatgamecompany’s PSN title, flOw. The mod creation tools for Blizzard’s sequel continually appear to know little or no bounds.

The game was created by Battle.net member Malu05 and, like flOw, allows the player’s organisms to grow and gain new abilities by consuming smaller prey.

The mod will hopefully be available for download when StarCraft 2 launches next week, July 27 for PC and Mac…but shh, we’re not supposed to talk about that game here.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Back to the Future

Indie_Links_July_21Fresh batch o’ the Indie Links for you. ‘Five minutes after you shower’ fresh, ‘your grandma’s cookies fresh’, ‘the new Old Spice ad campaign’ fresh. That fresh.

Exclusive: Mark Rein’s indie apology (Develop Online, Will Freeman and Mark Rein)
“Epic vice president Mark Rein has handed Develop a copy of his email apology to Cliff Harris of Positech games, explaining his recent input at the Develop Conference in Brighton.”

Interview: Toki Tori Talky (RPS, Kieron Gillen)
“When the lovely puzzle game Toki-Tori’s demo was released, I decided to drop a line to Two Tribes to have a little exchange about their debut on the PC after years working primarily on the hand-held. Co-founder and creative director Collin Van Ginkel took a little time to share some thoughts…”

E3 Video: PixelJunk Shooter 2 Developer Interview (IndieGames)
“When the question arises of whether a developer can be too big to be indie, the conversation often turns to Kyoto-based Q-Games. At the Game Developers Conference, their Playstation Network title PixelJunk Eden was recognized as a finalist for Technical Excellence, Visual Art and Audio awards in 2009′s Independent Games Festival. At 2010′s E3, the design team was ensconced in Sony’s heavily fortified press lounge. The benefits of indie and mainstream recognition, conferred upon the same company, complicate the straightforward dichotomies that many rely upon to define the sphere of indie games.”

New Canalyst update (IndieDB, Sector49 Studios)
“So, in this news release we’re talking about what’s going on with Canalyst. We haven’t wrote anything new for one month, so it’s time to write some interesting facts about the game.”

The Psychology Of Games: The Role of Hedonic Adaptation in Game Reviews (GameSetWatch, Jamie Madigan)
“Continuing his regular GameSetWatch column, psychologist and gamer Jamie Madigan examines a regular household tradition to muse on whether overindulging on games affects our reception of them.”

BIGJam 2010 (TIGSource)
“Set in the lovely environs of St. Oberholz café in Berlin’s Mitte district..tickets are now available for BIGJam 2010. Get them here.”

Review: Limbo (IGN, Daemon Hatfield)
“Limbo is an incredible achievement. Very few games are as original, atmospheric, and consistently brilliant as Limbo. It belongs in everybody’s collection. The journey may be over too quickly, but you will be entertained every minute. This is one of my favorite games ever.”

Review: Limbo (Joystiq, Richard Mitchell)
“When trying to work out the best way to describe Limbo, I keep coming back to Edvard Munch. I’ve always been fascinated with Munch, an artist most famous for painting The Scream. It’s his other works, however, that tend to stick with me, particularly his Madonna. As a work of art, Munch’s Madonna presents the viewer with seemingly disparate imagery, at once both alluring and disquieting. It’s dark, a little disturbing, and yet it’s also engaging and beautiful.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Silas (Joystiq, Justin McElroy)
“This week we talk with William Sworin about how his kart racer Silas is testing even his own skills.”

Boing Boing Contest Post Mortem: Onslaught! (Lost Decade Games, Geoff Blair)
“There are a lot of game development contests out there, and for the longest time it’s felt like we kept missing them. So when we heard about Boing Boing’s Music Inspired by Games contest, we decided to derail our current game project a bit and dive in. Here’s our postmortem on how that went.”


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Shank Hits this August for PSN/XBLA, PC Release set for Fall

Shank_Release_DatesKlei Entertainment’s highly anticipated brutal side-scroller Shank will arrive in August for consoles with a PC release coming in the Fall, it was announced at the EA Studio Showcase yesterday.

Additionally, according to the game’s official site, the newly revealed local co-op campaign will be separate from the original game and tell the backstory of Shank. So far this is the revealed extent of co-op the game will carry, no online mentioned at all as of yet.

The title will run $15 and arrive on Playstation Network on August 24 and Xbox Live Arcade on August 25, with the PC version getting a much vaguer “fall release” target.


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Playstation Home Teaming with Indies

Home_NLogotype_Beta_PositiveGamasutra reports that SCEA has joined forces with Codename in order to bring independent games to the Playstation Home social space.

Four titles are lined up for release “over the next several months” and include some developers that are quite exciting. The Odd Gentlemen, the team behind The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, are bringing a game called Dueling Gentlemen to Home. Also, The Peanut Gallery, who entertained thousands last week with pOnd and their student title Spectre a few months ago, are dropping Minor Battle into the new partnership. Codename have developed a game called Super Awesome Mountain RPG and lastly Lazy 8 Studios have created a multiplayer version of Cogs to throw into the arena.

Altogether this further solidifies Sony’s interest in the indie marketplace on top of last month’s Joe Danger and the pending release of Slam Bolt Scrappers down the line. Microsoft may have it’s own channel, but Sony’s the one making the forward strides.

While the current headline reads “teaming with indies,” we as gamers can only hope the future will read “teeming with indies.”


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Indie Links Round-Up: I am who I am

Indie_Links_July_19Indie links round-up has come a knockin’, you going to answer? You better, because you’ve never seen so much raw, uncensored indie action in your life before you’ve gone over today’s list. There’s a few, clear messages that ring through in the links that certainly apply to all walks of life: Be yourself, believe in yourself and–perhaps the most difficult–stand-up for yourself.

Mindie – Bridging The Gap Between Mainstream And Indie (Doolwind, Alistair Doulin)
“I’m a mindie game developer and proud of it. But what does that mean? I’ve noticed a trend lately when it comes to indie developers. It seems to be all or nothing. You’re either Indie, with your beard and rebellious attitude or you’re mainstream with your suit and love of money. Why does it need to be so black and white?”

Epic opinions (Cliffski’s Blog, Cliff Harris) + Cliff Bleszinski and Cliff Harris Twitter Follow-Up
“I’ve mulled over whether to say anything at all, but if you can’t say what you think about the games industry when you own your own company, when can you?”

Joe Danger dev explains why publishers don’t get downloadable games (Joystiq, Kyle Orland)
“Hello Games’ Sean Murray learned a lot when looking for a third-party publisher for his company’s recent PSN critical and sales success Joe Danger. But the final takeaway from all those lessons seems to boil down to the same thing: most of the big publishers do not know what they’re doing in the downloadable games market.”

In-Depth: Skulls Of The Shogun Team On Going From EA To Indie (GameSetWatch, Simon Carless)
“The folks at Haunted Temple Studios went from EA-sized teams to a four-man operation, and they talk to our own Chris Remo on the transition and what they’ve learned while making their turn-based strategy game Skulls of the Shogun.”

Interview: Unknown Worlds’ co-founder updates us on Natural Selection 2 (Big Download, John Callaham)
“Big Download got Unknown Worlds founder Charlie Cleveland to briefly answer some questions about the upcoming alpha test including if mod makers can go ahead and put their own maps in the alpha build, how much longer until the “final” 1.0 version is release and more.”

Review: DeathSpank (Joystiq, Randy Nelson)
“”DeathSpank? What a ridiculous name!” I can hear you saying it now. Yes, it is a ridiculous name, for a ridiculous game which revels in the fact that it’s ridiculous. Well, that and damned funny. Oh, and a super-fun, retail-caliber yet downloadable action-RPG.”

Interview: Alex Vostrov of Rocket Bear Games On Going Full-Time Indie (GameSetWatch, Mike Rose)
“Starting a new series of interviews with notable indie game developers for GameSetWatch, Mike Rose sits down with Rocket Bear Games’ Alex Vostrov to talk about his acclaimed, quirky titles and his plans for the future.”

Hands-On: Shoot First (TIGSoruce, ithamore)
“Shoot First, the latest game from Beau Blyth (aka Tenkopants), is the offspring of a run-n-gun and a roguelike. It reminds me much of my experiences of learning how to play Spelunky and Xong, and it’s addictive.”

We Want YOU – Indie Game Review (BrightHub, David Sanchez)
“Don’t let its 2D graphics and side-scrolling gameplay fool you. We Want YOU is quite possibly the most realistic war game out there, thanks in large part to its message, which plays the satire card while touching on some very serious war issues.”

Interview: Cthulhu Saves the World (RPGamer)
“People can’t seem to get enough of Cthulhu. Not only is he the monstrousity created by the late H.P Lovecraft, but he a figure that has become an icon in popular geek culture. Whether you are familiar with Lovecraft’s work or not, Cthulhu is almost everywhere –- other novels, table-top role playing games, and even video games. This lovable tentacle monster is also now starring in a new Xbox Live Indie title. With the success of Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, Zeboyd Games is at again with their hit Cthulhu Saves the World. In this interview, RPGamer talks once again with the delightful Robert Boyd on this upcoming project.”


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Indie Links Round-Up: Grip it and Rip it

The_Witness_Indie_LinksI missed last week, so we’re twicing the standard dosage of Indie Links. That’s right, don’t make me bring the thricening! Anyway, making up words is fun, but not as much as exploring the greater indie horizon. Hello Games gets in a couple shots, and plenty of interviews, hands-on, reviews and more. Have a gander.

‘No monkeys?!’ Why publishers nixed Joe Danger (Develop Online)
“Hello Games took to the stage at the Develop Conference today to exact revenge on the publishers that turned down the Joe Danger project. Without naming any names, Murray went through a list of reasons why the game was turned down, quoting what he had heard from various publishers in meetings. Attendees at the Develop session broke into laughter.”

XBLA is a “slaughterhouse” for smaller developers (Games Industry — Registration Required)
“Hello Games chose to release Joe Danger via Sony’s PlayStation Network because the team regarded Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade as a “slaughterhouse” for small developers.”

The Witness: Location Development (The Witness Dev Blog)
“Much of the other work that I personally have been putting into the game is about the user interface for the puzzles. As I mentioned, gameplay is the utmost concern; this being a puzzle game, you spend a long time solving puzzles, so it’s important to make that feel good, even at this early stage.”

Rules For Games: Do & Don’t #2 (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“I’m in charge. This is firmly established (citation needed). So it’s important I continue to decree my rulings. All must obey, for I am as bad as BP and I burn in hell. Fear me.”

COLUMN: Design Diversions – Fate/Stay Night: Choices Beyond Good and Evil (GameSetWatch)
“‘Design Diversions’ is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Andrew Vanden Bossche. It looks at the unexpected moments when games take us behind the scenes, and the details of how game design engages us. How do we get over our fixation on good and evil as a gameplay element? Fate/Stay Night, a Japanese visual novel, may have the answer.”

Developer Interview: Soenke Seidel (IndieDB)
“Cap’n Frie here bringing ye landlubbers fresh booty! I blabbered wit’ one of me hearties: Cap’n Soenke! Nothin’ like swashbuckling wit’ this sea dog!”

Dog Fighter: Hands-on Impressions and Giveaway (Shacknews)
DogFighter, Dark Water Studios’ arena-based aerial combat game, took to the virtual skies via Steam about a month ago. I spent the past couple of weeks in its virtual cockpit to assess the fast-paced shooter.”

Review: Cut It (TIGSource)
“His first game about drawing, Crayon Physics Deluxe, won the IGF Grand Prize in 2008 and since then, Petri Purho has been developing experimental games on a monthly basis. Cut It is his most recent project and features similar concepts seen in Crayon Physics, but also introduces new ideas and offers a solid concept from which the crayon master can draw on.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: 0 A.D. (Joystiq)
“This week we talk with Aviv Sharon of Wildfire about the studio’s 0 A.D., an indie project nine years in the making.”

Depth Music Q&A: 4mat’s Decades (Indie Games)
“Independent game creator Matt Simmonds teased his upcoming PC shooter Depth back in December, which makes creative use of inexpensive red/cyan lens 3D glasses. Music for the title will draw on the Sussex, UK-based designer’s twenty-plus years’ experience in the game industry, featuring arrangements of previously released chiptunes.In this interview the musician relates how varied experiences as a sound designer, ranging from mainstream titles to indie games and the demoscene, are currently contributing to the shape of Depth.”