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

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A Friendly Message to Indie Developers: TELL US ABOUT YOUR GAME!

man-with-megaphoneHey there awesome indie developer! Seeing as how we’re an indie news blog here at good ol’ DIY HQ, I thought it might be nice to remind all our readers, casual observers, and anybody else stumbling by that we want to know about any game you might be creating.

Now, obviously, there are always going to be those games that everybody just knows about due to it having a unique concepts and somebody stumbling upon who happens to be important somewhere (Super Meat Boy, for example). Unfortunately, that can’t happen with all games. As much as I’d love to be tripping over awesome indie games everyday, it just doesn’t happen. We need your help to point us in the right direction.

I know it’s kind of a daunting task. After all, most indie developers and programmers are not marketers which means actually figuring out how to get people excited for your game is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. And, truthfully, it goes far beyond just cold emailing press outlets once your game is completed and ready to ship. You have to let people know about it while it’s still in development to get people excited to play it when it releases. Hype is, unfortunately, a huge factor in a game’s marketing.

Now, the reason for this post is because 95% of the time I spend my day looking for great indie games while, honestly, I would much prefer it if I just got emailed. I always read and respond to my emails (if a response is needed) and any indie dev who emails me about their games instantly moves to the top of my “to write about” list simply because finding great games is actually kind of time consuming.

Also, feel free to use our forums to pimp your game. It’s not terribly active (unfortunately), but I do check it every single day and any interesting developer that happens to post about there game there is sure to get a post on the front page as well.

So email me, post in the forums… whatever. So long as you actually make the effort to tell us about your stuff we’ll put in the effort to tell our readers about it.

Feel free to email me at geoff.gibson[at]diygamer[dot]com. You can also email any one of our fine editors as well via the email link to the right on the sidebar.


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XBLIG Thursday: My Hypership [is] Out of Control!

Hypership001I love me some good ol’ shmup gaming every once in a while, but I’d be lying if I said that, sometimes, the genre as a whole can feel quite stale. I mean, aside from either having top down perspective or a side scrolling perspective, most shmups are generally the same game. Hypership Out of Control, however, comes with a unique hook that actually makes the genre feel a bit fresher than I’m used to.

Hypership Out of Control is a fun, oddly unique shmup with a curious premise attached to it. The story goes that your ship’s breaks aren’t responding and your hyper drive accelerator is stuck which means you can’t stop from going faster and faster and faster unless you hit something and die.

Of course, it’s not like you’re just sailing through open space. Like any great shmup there will be obstacles. At first you’ll have to navigate your way through a asteroid field which then later becomes space lanes. The level layout isn’t overly imaginative but it works in supplying you with levels that are genuinely difficult as well as interesting.

Like all shmups, as you’re flying you can also pick up items that affect the way you play. Now, since this game doesn’t have any enemies, there’s no need for you to get bigger and better weapons. However, there are plenty of obstacles for you too blow up so there is a weapon that will help you achieve that. Additionally, the other items I saw allowed you to get shields, slow down, speed up, and be invincible for a time.

Finally, the game comes with 10 “waves” (levels) in the standard game. Additionally there is also a hardcore, superspeed, coin, and practice mode all available with differing sorts of gameplay. While I don’t know what the latter two modes do exactly (they’re not available in the trial) I can tell you that the hardcore mode is generally just a more difficult version of the normal mode and the superspeed mode simply allows it so that you can’t ever hit a maximum speed. You’ll just keep getting faster and faster until somebody hits you.

Hypership Out of Control is available right now for 80 MS points ($1). The game features 4 player local co-op as well as all of the above mentioned modes. Overall, I found the game to be pretty feature full and a genuinely good time, which isn’t bad for a single dollar.

[Try/Buy, Hypership Out of Control]

[This is  not a review. This is a "first impressions" piece based on less than an hour of gameplay.]

Trailer


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Xbox Live Indie Games Releases: September 15, 2010

XBLIG_Releases_DIYGamer

[While our XBLIG Thursday feature fights against the main issue of Xbox 360’s Indie Games channel–gaming brilliance being lost in a sea of medicore titles and cheap apps–as good as anything out there, there’s just too many total releases for us to try them all.

That being said, we can still highlight them on a daily basis, and perhaps posting these new titles will benefit both player and developer by allowing a connection to be made before the game floats on down the river and into the backlogs of the channel. Whether it be an all-time great, a one time play-through or a complete lemon; all will have their chance to speak. Here are today’s releases.]

Ricochet Assassin (80 MS Points)
“Ricochet Assassin is a hybrid of Bowman where you have to ricochet arrows off of walls and objects to assassinate your target. Play through 30 levels of insane ricochets or play against a friend in 10 multiplayer Levels.”

Avatar Baseball (80 MS Points)
“Avatar baseball is the original and funniest way to play baseball with your avatar. Face CPU or a friend and make as much runs as possible. Prepare your fingers for the action.”


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Solium Infernum Update Improves AI

Solium_Infernum_update_1.06b

Cryptic Comet has released a new update for its turn-based strategy title Solium Infernum, bringing a list of bug fixes to the title that has you competing for the crown of Hell.

The 1.06b patch fixes an error introduced in the previous 1.06a update, along with bringing a handful of fixes and improvements to the game’s AI. The file is available for manual download now and is currently being mirrored over on The Patches Scrolls, owners of the game can grab it their and any other past patches they may have missed along the way.

From the change log:

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed bug introduced in 1.06a that could cause script error if a player tried to frame another player for attacking Pandemonium with a ritual that resulted in excommunication
  • Fixed bug in AI for Goal Wage Offense Operations In Blood Feud that could result in script error if a specific attack option was selected
  • Fixed bug in AI for Goal Support Blood Feud Legion Movement that would result in script error if Secret Manipulation ritual was chosen and path could not be determined
  • Improved AI selection process for attacking enemy legions during Vendetta. Weak legions supporting Places of Power or other legions have an increased probability of being attacked first
  • Improved AI goal priority architecture so that actions are spread out more logically based on which threats have legions in threatening positions….. i.e. prestige differences are still big factors but that multiplier has been decreased.
  • Improved AI threat assessment algorithm so that threat reassessment of opponents is now done for the AI’s every turn.
  • Fixed error in Demonic Trance combat move resolution where infernal damage from neutralized opponent’s moves was not being negated

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Pirates of New Horizons Original Soundtrack Released for Free

PONH_Soundtrack

Ahead of the proto-release of Pirates of New Horizons, Exit Strategy Entertainment has released the action platformer’s original soundtrack as a free download for your listening pleasure.

Four tracks in all, the music was composed by game audio designer Harry Mack, who has several credits under his belt, including having worked with Jon Blow on his hit puzzle platformer Braid.

The file weighs in at around 7.5 MB and is currently being hosted on ModDB. Exit Strategy mentions that the soundtrack is there to get people in the right mood as the “[Pirates of New Horizons] prototype is nearing its completion.”

From what they’ve been telling us, it should be available for play as a free download on PC/Mac as well as in-browser by the end of the month. Pins and needles, for serious.

[Exit Strategy]


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Worms Reloaded Remains on Steam Top 10, New Updates Available

Worms_Reloaded_Updates

Team 17 is apparently seeing some nice returns on their latest release Worms Reloaded. The game grabbed the top spot on Steam’s best sellers chart for the first week of September and still remains on the list in ninth position in the latest numbers release.

In fact (warning: tangential paragraph approaching) the latest Steam Top 10 has what might be a record for indies, with three such titles on the list at the same time and no major discounts in sight. Along with the aforementioned Worms title, Recettear makes its debut in the fourth position and Amnesia climbed all the way up to the runner-up spot for its launch week–but back to Worms: Reloaded and the two new updates the game has received over the past few days.

The two patches bring lobby improvements, bug fixes and adjust the timing to the Jump key to make double jumping easier to perform. The multiplayer-heavy title is available now for $20 with a demo offered as well.

From the patch notes:

Worms Reloaded

  • Enabled Steam crash mini dumps to get additional feedback on the crash issues some people are experiencing
  • Lobby search distance filter added so users can select from regional, far and worldwide. This is set to worldwide by default
  • Added a time out on lobbies so that redundant lobbies won’t be found in a search

Worms Reloaded

  • An adjustment has been made to the Jump key timing to make double jumping easier
  • Additional fixes have been implemented for frontend navigation with game pads.
  • The Game Style name in the “Show Player Games” screen is now localized
  • A fix has been added to ensure that Sentry Guns are always the correct team colour when placed in Online Multiplayer games
  • A fix has been implemented to ensure that the ordering of players in the lobby is now consistent between all players. This should fix issues whereby player avatars did not match up with the correct names and also alleviate some of the issues experienced with the “Ready?” light.
  • The ability to create a lobby has added to the Multiplayer Options menu. This will allow players to host their own lobbies without the need to search for available lobbies beforehand

[Team 17]


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Direct Your Own Horror, Amnesia Level Editor Available

Amnesia: The Dark DescentMods are one of the hallmarks of PC gaming, and doubly so for budding indie developers, so it’s always good news when developers release the tools to hack apart their games and rebuild them from the ground up.  That’s exactly what Frictional Games has done, making a suite of editing tools available for Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  Were you wondering about that “Custom Story” option on Amnesia’s main menu?  Well, wonder no more, as that is where the levels and campaigns created by modders with Frictional’s tools will appear.  Not that there was much wrong with Amnesia’s story already, as Erik already detailed in his review, but you can never have too much of a good thing.  Right?  Even when that good thing is a twisted parody of the human form, watching from the shadows, waiting to devour you at any moment.

Among the documentation for Frictional’s fittingly named HPL2 Engine you will be able to find everything needed to make your own interactive horror.  Once you download the editing tools, you’ll have everything you need to modify levels, models, particles, and materials.  Don’t know how to do that?  Then check out the tutorials for for help with all of those as well as some basics to get you started with scripting.  Or if you just want to see what new levels people are making then you might want to start by browsing the Custom Stories and Modifications section of Frictional’s forums.  There are already a couple of mods uploaded, including one to touch up the original game’s textures, a handful of original stories, and even a remake of the first level of Doom.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is available now for $20 for PC, Mac, and Linux from Frictional’s store, or from a number of online retails including Steam, Impulse, and Direct2Drive.


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IGN Offers Indies a Hand

ignIGN Entertainment has announced today an amazing offer for indie developers. They’ve created a program called “Indie Open House” in which the following things are offered:

+24-hour access to IGN headquarters located in SOMA district, including conference rooms and kitchens
+Daily interaction with IGN editorial and executive teams, including face-to-face opportunities to receive feedback on your project while still in development.
+Participation in Demo Days and the opportunity to showcase your game(s) directly to publishers, retailers, online distributors and the IGN / GameSpy editorial teams.
+Free licensing of GameSpy Technology’s Open Services Platform supporting essential online features like Leaderboards, Matchmaking, Deep User Stats, In-Game Commerce and more across multiple systems.
+Consultation with GameSpy Technology’s Professional Services team at no cost.
+Customized demo space in GameSpy Tech’s booth at GDC 2011 in San Francisco.
+Free advertising and promotional opportunities showcasing your projects on the IGN Network (if applicable).

Sounds pretty good, right? It actually appears to be. By being accepted into the program, you’re not giving IGN any kind of rights to your project. “IGN maintains no interest in owning any content or binding participating teams to prohibitive contracts.” It is “strictly a support and residency program.” But at the same time with access to their network with “free promotional opportunities” and digital distribution on Direct2Drive, it’s unclear as to whether or not there is any kind of lock down in that respect.

Applications for the program are to be reviewed by “key members on the IGN.com editorial staff and executive team” and Eddy Boxerman, the founder of Hemisphere Games (and recipient of the 2009 D2D Vision Award).

The first round of applications are due October 10th with the next round kicking in during the first quarter of 2011. It’s a six month program for those accepted.

There are also a few questions answered on the official site:

Q: How many people/teams are you accepting into the program?

A: We have limited space that can only accommodate a handful of development teams.

Q:Is there a size limit per development team?

A:We would like to keep teams to seven individuals or smaller.

Platform doesn’t matter as long as the game makes it through the selection committee.

Games will be judged on the following criteria:

+Strength of Concept: How original and innovative is your game? What is going to “WOW” us about what you are working on?
+Character of Team: Tell us who you are and what inspires you.
+Particular Story: Why should we pick you over other applicants?
+Progress: How much do you expect to accomplish while enrolled in the program?

To apply, check out the official site. Good luck, everyone!


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How Piracy Works, an Indie Developer’s Perspective

internet-piracyby: Markus “Notch” Persson

[Everything in this post is purely my own personal opinion, and may not reflect the opinions of everyone working at Mojang Specifications!]

Large parts of the culture these days exists in a world where copies are free. Copying a physical book costs money, but copying a digital movie is free. In fact, simply moving a movie from one hard drive to another actually copies the movie first, then deletes the original. Copying games is also free. No resources are lost, nobody loses any money, and more people are having fun.

To people who want to get paid for their digital works, myself included, that is a bit of a problem. All of society and economics is based on an old outdated model where giving something to someone would rid the original owner of their copy, so everyone who wanted a copy had to buy one from someone else who would lose theirs, and the only source of new copies was you. There might be actual development costs involved in making these copies. For example, for every wheel in the market, someone had to make that wheel. With digital copies, you only need to make the wheel once.

I won’t bother analyzing why people copy games and other digital media, as that’s really a moot point. We’ve got an amazingly effective way of distributing culture that is extremely beneficial for humanity, but it clashes with our current economical models. Piracy will win in the long run. It has to. The alternative is too scary.

If someone pirates Minecraft instead of buying it, it means I’ve lost some “potential” revenue. Not actual revenue, as I can never go into debt by people pirating the game too much, but I might’ve made even more if that person had bought the game instead. But what if that person likes that game, talks about it to his or her friends, and then I manage to convince three of them to buy the game? I’d make three actual sales instead of blocking out the potentially missed sale of the original person which never cost me any money in the first case.

Instead of just relying on guilt tripping pirates into buying, or wasting time and money trying to stop them, I can offer online-only services that actually add to the game experience. Online level saving, centralized skins, friends lists and secure name verification for multiplayer. None of these features can be accessed by people with pirated versions of the game, and hopefully they can be features that turn pirates from thieves into potential customers.

Please don’t interpret this text as me being fine with people pirating Minecraft. I’d MUCH rather have people pay for it so I can reinvest in hiring people and developing more cool games in the future. It’s also quite possible that if I get into a business deal with a larger company, there might be a larger push towards fighting piracy mostly because they’d require it, and I understand why they’d want that.

But why fight the biggest revolution in information flow since the printing press when you could easily work with it by adding services that actually add some value beyond the free act of making a digital copy?

In other news, I’m voting for either Piratpartiet or Miljöpartiet in the Swedish elections on Sunday.

This article has been republished with permission from the original author. Notch is the primary developer and creator of the incredibly popular indie game Minecraft. You can read more about his adventures of indie game developing through his awesome blog: The Word of Notch.


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Piecing The Puzzle Together in Continuity [IndieCade]

Continuity001

Honestly, in this day and age of indie developers, a standard puzzle platformer really doesn’t cut it anymore. Today, developers that wish to utilize the 2D perspective must adapt their game so that it stands out and really creates a name for itself. Continuity does this splendidly and, instead of giving us yet another puzzle platformer, attempts to redefine the genre once again.

Continuity has everything you’d expect in a typical platformer. You’ll have to jump up onto platforms, grab keys, and make it to the exit before moving on to the next level. It’s all pretty standard, really. What makes the game so unique is the way you go about collecting keys and reaching the exit.

You see, in Continuity, the level is broken up into an assortment of square puzzle pieces. Each puzzle piece has various corridors that you can walk through so long as the end of the piece you currently inhabit matches up perfectly on one side of the other piece. If it doesn’t match up perfectly you won’t be able to go through.

The way this game works is that, in each level, you’re given an overall view of the entire level. You can zoom in and out depending on whether you want to adjust the puzzle, or run around the various segments. When you are adjusting the puzzle the game acts as a sort of slider. You have to move slides in an out until they correctly match up with whatever piece you currently inhabit. Eventually, in the latter stages of the game, you’re dealing with numerous slides where you’re not just trying to figure out which piece fits where, you’re also trying to figure out how to get the puzle piece over to where you need it to be. Basically, there are layers of puzzles within this game.

Continuity is the recent award winner of the IGF and has been available since late last year. The game is now set to participate at this year’s IndieCade.

You can read more about the developers behind Continuity y checking out our own interview with them from earlier this year.

[Continuity]