Cogs developer Lazy 8 Studios has announced its next major project: Extrasolar. Anyone capable of browsing the Web has a chance to play a role in an expedition beyond Earth’s solar system.
In a trip to Epsilon Eridanie, players will explore the planet one photo at a time. Rover operators provide instructions to their rovers about where to go next and what to photograph. Since it takes a few real-time hours for the rover to receive the instructions, players can go about their human lives instead of clicking away frivolously to complete, say, some trivial farming task. Once received, the photos will give players clues they need to catalog exotic alien species and uncover the mysteries of the planet.
The “nothing is as it seems” nature of ARGs that Cogs was involved in (the Portal 2 ARG, to be exact) seems to have inspired the team. They have created an intertwining story that will play out back on Earth where the player will be wrapped up in the lives of several characters at the base that is in charge of the expeditions. Stated in the press released, “No one seems to know the whole truth behind the secretive foundation[,] and it will be up to the player to decide whom to trust.”
Rob Jagnow, the founder of Lazy 8 Studios, explained the inspiration behind Extrasolar. “Extrasolar isn’t so much a game as it is an interactive narrative experience. I’m thrilled to see the Web emerge as a gaming platform, but the games that are currently available tend to be shallow and repetitive. We wanted to raise the bar enormously by offering deep story, compelling character development and stunning imagery. Our small, dedicated team has pioneered new technologies that allow this all to be done over the Web, even on mobile and low-cost devices.”
People wanting to stay informed and be the first to participate in Extrasolar‘s seminal voyage should sign up at www.exoresearch.com.
What more can be said about Rob Jagnow and his brain-bending Cogs? They really get gamers’ gears going. This award-winning, steampunk puzzle game has already graced several platforms: iPhone, iPad, PC, and netbook. Cogs been an Indiecade and IGF finalist and an Indie Game Challenge grand prize winner in the professional category and earned achievements in art direction and gameplay. Lead artist Brendan Mauro undoubtedly helped a great deal in those achievements. Now Rob is destined to rule the rest of the world with a MAC release this February. Specifically, Lazy 8 Studios is working with Chillingo to release Cogs for the Mac (via the App Store) on February 3!
Cogs will basically look exactly like the full PC version and be priced the same ($9.99). Lazy 8 may do a launch-week pricing special. Rob has addressed some of the issues that were requested by the PC gaming audience. For instance, if gamers play the game in full-screen, it always uses the native device resolution rather than up-sampling a smaller buffer.
Cogs has seen its fair share of well-earned press at DIY. In last February, DIY posted just how much Lazy 8 Studios earned from Indie Game Challenge: six figures, baby. DIY’s Peter Eykemans later wrote a full feature interview discussing how madly successful Cogs has been. Cogs is now conceptually around 8 years old, according to the interview. Though I am no game historian, maybe one day gamers will be able to refer to this as a classic. Does anyone know how long a game has to be popular to achieve such status? No doubt MAC users will appreciate being able to experience Cogs for themselves and extend the game’s success.
As for addressing the last part of the article’s title, Rob is talking to developers right now about Linux and Android versions of the smash hit. There is no promise on a release date for those, but hopefully interest will spawn from the spreading of this exciting news!
For those that have never seen the game in action, check it out now:
Follow Lazy 8 studios on Twitter.
Gamasutra 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.”
A week has passed since I wrote on how Stardock’s digital distribution store Impulse had caught our attention by making it a mission to tirelessly add indie titles both new and old to their catalog. Well since that writing a whole slew of games have made their way onto the hub’s listings including the worldwise release of Simone Bevilacqua’s retro arcade shooter BOH. Here’s what’s popped up just this week:
BOH – Simone Bevilacqua
“BOH is a unique retro-flavoured top-down shooter that combines maze exploration and action with terrific results.You move in claustrophobic, traps-packed, mind-boggling battlefields searching for the Evil Masters, who throw countless enemies at you until you discover and face them in the final battle. Although your quests are made slightly less hard by the bonuses and power-ups scattered all around, carrying out the missions demands lots of concentration and quick reflexes. With BOH the fun never ends: new missions can be added anytime and you can even create your own! And, as if that was not enough, you can also customize entirely its audio-visual aspect!”
Cogs – Lazy 8 Studios
“Cogs is a puzzle game where players build machines from sliding tiles. Players can choose from 50 levels and 3 gameplay modes. New puzzles are unlocked by building contraptions quickly and efficiently.”
Downfall – Harvester Games
“Quiet Haven Hotel was supposed to be just a one night shelter for Joe and Ivy Davis. But things soon start to go wrong. Ivy’s panic attacks get worse and soon she disappears; and in the morning, the hotel changes too. Nothing is what it seems anymore. Joe is left alone, trying to understand what is happening, trapped between reality and the nightmare. Then everything changes again and the world turns black and white. Only the color of blood is still red…and it’s all around him. While the raging storm outside gets worse by the minute, it turns out the hotel isn’t completely abandoned. There’s a party on the third floor… but the birthday girl surrounded by her silent guests just keeps crying… The doctor in room 202 is hearing voices coming from the walls telling him to perform a certain experiment… And one girl who is asleep in her bedroom is dreaming a strange dream that soon turns into her worst nightmare…”
Zombie Shooter 2 – Sigma
“Zombie Shooter 2 is a unique blend of two game genres – Action and RPG. Every player can choose a character to their liking, get experience to develop skills, earn money and spend it on weapons, medications and useful devices. All of this will be used against thousands of enemies. The zombies fill the game screen, never letting you rest, even for a minute. Imagine yourself coming to visit an unknown city and seeing it almost ruined, with all the citizens turned into zombies. What will you do? Call for help, organize a large-scale rescue campaign or… Try to dig your way out of the situation, find out what happened and use your last chance to save the person you love!”
Delve Deeper – Lunar Giant Studios
“Take command of five Dwarf adventurers as they dive into long-abandoned mines to search for incredible wealth, lost treasures, dangerous monsters and bragging rights at the drinking hall. Be wary though, up to four teams set forth at once, and your greatest obstacle may be a fellow Dwarf with a different colored hat! Delve Deeper is a Adventure/Strategy game which pits you against monsters as you and up to three rival teams build an ever-changing dungeon map and compete to pilfer its loot as quickly as possible.”
Din’s Curse – Soldak Entertainment
“Din’s Curse is a single player and co-op multiplayer action RPG with 141 class combinations, infinite number of dynamically generated towns, real consequences, and a dynamic, evolving world. Din, champion of the gods, has cursed you into a second life of service because you selfishly squandered your first one while causing misfortune to those around you. To redeem yourself, you must impress Din by building a reputation for helping others. Travel the spacious western plains of Aleria and save desperate towns from the brink of annihilation. Until you’re redeemed, you’re doomed to wander the earth alone for all eternity. In Din’s Curse, you will explore an extensive underground, slaying dangerous monsters, solving dynamic quests, dodging deadly traps, and in your spare time, plundering loot. Quell uprisings, flush out traitors, kill assassins, cure plagues, purge curses, end wars, and complete other dangerous quests or the danger WILL escalate. Not all is as it seems though, traitors will gladly stab you in the back, renegades can revolt against the town, spies can set up ambushes, and items might even curse or possess your friends. Open the door to Din’s Curse. Surprising adventures await!”
Labryinthica: The Quest of Lima – Pompi Pompi Entertainment
“It was just another ordinary day for Lima. Though unexpectedly, the routine chore of picking apples, will send Lima into a dangerous journey. Labyrinthica: The Quest of Lima is a single-player, melee focused action game. Labyrinthica has similarities to rogue games, but is based on real-time action. You move Lima with the keyboard and aim with the mouse. Unlike similar games, you will need to fight monsters face to face rather than shoot them from a safe distance. You use both your weapon and shield in battle, though using a sword is not always the only way to harm enemies! Potions should be used wisely. Drinking that green potion might prove fatal. It might be poison! And throwing that bronze potion on the boar creature might make it go berserk. Potion colors are randomly assigned to each type. You will have to discover on your own what each potion color does. Labyrinthica awaits to test your wits and reflexes.”
It’s an unusually fantastic weekend for indie sales, what’s unusual for us is that it all comes from one outlet. Yes, Steam is having one of its semi-annual blowout sales that sees the vast majority of games in the digital distributor’s catalog discounted somewhere between nice and blatantly absurd, including over 60 indie offerings. Let’s highlight some of the biggest and best, as well as some of the other sites (yes, there are other sales going on this weekend.) Another thing to note about the Steam sales, these go through the 4th of July, but there are also ridiculously cheap daily deals that we’ll have to miss here, though I must mention Galcon Fusion for $2.50 until tomorrow morning!
Out of the many offerings available, Sacraboar at 90% off would seem to take the cake, the well received $20 tile is now $2. Altitude is 66% off at $3.40, AI War carries the same 66% discount as does its expansion. Chains is 75% off at just $1.24, Invent4′s Bad Rats: the Rats Revenge is $0.95 down from $5. Puzzle game Quantz is $2.50 down from $10, Super Laser Racer is $1.25, the list goes on.
Looking to save a bundle on a bundle? Steam’s offering several at big discounts including:
Introversion Complete Pack for $5 (87% off) – Packs Darwinia, Multiwinia, Uplink and Defcon.
Action Indie Pack for $6.24 (75% off) – Packs Larva Mortus, Penguins Arena: Sedna’s World, RIP – Trilogy, Space Trader: Merchant Marine and Tank Universal.
Puzzle Indie Pack for $3.74 (75% off) – Packs Chains, Gumboy – Crazy Adventures, Obulis and Vigil: Blood Bitterness.
Northern Lights Indies for $20 (64% off) – Packs Blueberry Garden, Bob Came in Pieces, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Plain Sight and Saira. That’s a quality bundle of games right there.
Summer Indie Action Pack for $20 (60% off) – Packs Aaaah! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, Gridrunner Revolution, Metal Drift, Starscape and Zombie Driver.
Maybe most importantly Steam also offers 50% off on almost every big indie title you can think of over the past couple of years with titles including (just to name a few): Machinarium, Zeno Clash, Trine, Cogs, Eufloria, Gratuitous Space Battles, Time Gentleman/Ben There, Dan That and much more. If you were waiting for any of the various titles we mention on this site to go down in price its more than worth your time to browse through the list and pick up some wonderful games at amazing prices.
Impulse carries a lone independent sale with Zoetrope Interactive’s Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage for $18 instead of its standard $30, a 40% discount.
Direct2Drive also gets in the mix with Kerberos Productions Fort Zombie for 75% off, bringing the title down to $2.50.
Read our Cogs interview and then throw your hat in the ring for a chance to win a copy of the game.
My official “THREAD CLOSED” message might be delayed as I have to watch France vs. Uruguay in the World Cup.
But the official closing time is still 12pm Pacific today!
Lazy 8 Studios hit the ground running last April with the launch of their clever puzzle title Cogs. Featuring steampunk visuals and increasingly difficult challenges, the puzzle title did quite well on Steam and later would wind up as a finalist in the “Excellence in Design” category at the Independent Games Festival and in contention for the Indie Game Challenge $100,000 prize.
While Monaco ran away with the Independent Games Festival honors, Cogs returned home with the $100,000 prize for edging out its competitors at the Indie Game Challenge. Along with around $80,000 in sales on Steam, one could peg Cogs as a financially successful debut into the indie game world.
Rob Jagnow, Lazy 8′s founder, and I grabbed dinner in San Francisco recently to talk about the game’s success and what’s next for him and his cohorts.
Rob graduated from M.I.T. With a PhD in Computer Science and Photo-realistic Graphics, just before the inception of the GAMBIT Games Lab. Taking his knowledge with him, he spent a year traveling the world before landing in San Francisco with his partner where he first decided to start Lazy 8 Studios.
He conceived the idea of Cogs back in 2003, so between concept to completion, the development time for Cogs was around five years. But it wasn’t until he met artist Brendan Mauro that the stark visual design of the title you know today would come to be.
“[Brendan] is great to work with, he gets the technical side of things,” states Rob. He’d worked with artists in the past who didn’t understand both sides of the coin, and having an artist who was happy to work for next to nothing who did “get it” made the project progress much more smoothly. He’s keen to work with Brendan in any capacity possible going into the future.
Cogs was able to make the jump from its PC home onto the iPhone late last year and ended up as a launch title for the iPad where it now stands as a featured title. I had the opportunity to take Cogs for a spin on Apple’s new tablet, and it’s fascinating to see just how the game’s design works with tracing your fingers over the playing field and rotating the puzzle with a sweep of two fingers. It all feels very natural and even with my limited experience of the iPad game library, I’d say any iPad owner should get a copy.
But these weren’t always the platforms Lazy 8 had aimed for. When they submitted Cogs to Microsoft to gain approval for Xbox Live Arcade, they claimed the game was too casual. So when they changed directions and took it to Big Fish for PC distribution, they claimed it was too hardcore. So after consideration of who the audience was, they took it to Steam where it did quite well.
While Steam took 30% of the gross profits, in a year Cogs has made a gross of $79,000 and a net profit of $55,000. “The interesting thing is that it made $21,000 on a single day, though,” Rob clarified. The title went on sale for $2 last Christmas Day and the general populace snapped it up in droves.
The game has been released for over a year now on PC and Lazy 8 had to make a decision about how to handle the roll out. They could have either released it and never spoken of it again, or taken the route that Rob decided on. This route involved a year of upkeep on the game, making sure review sites were getting keys to the game, keeping the title mentioned in the news, and generally providing great support to the title. But the downside to such a course of action is that they haven’t been able to move on to their next game in thirteen months.
But because of the prize and sale money, Rob was able to compensate his contractors for their hard work on the game, and he himself has been contracted to design puzzles for an undisclosed company. These positive moves in the company’s financial department have allowed Rob to enter development on a new game…and it might not be what you’d expect.
Their goal is to “bring high fidelity content to a casual audience.” So what this all means is that Lazy 8 Studios is turning to Facebook, an arena dominated by the casual gaming powerhouses. “Zynga [operates by] hijacking flaws in the human psyche, [whereas we want to make] good content that is not purely addictive.”
So without giving away the entire concept of what they’re doing in front of a marketplace rife with copycats and stolen ideas, I can give just a tiny, teasing quote. They’re aiming to make a Facebook game with “more sophisticated visuals.” It just started coding last week, and they’re not entirely ready to disclose too much.
Any move away from the current market-dominating titles is a good move in my eyes, so I’m curious to hear what else Lazy 8 reveals as their development furthers.
We’re also giving away ten copies of Cogs alongside this piece. To enter to win, just drop a quick note in the forum thread saying something to the effect of “enter!” We’ll accept entries until 12pm PST on Friday, June 11th.
There is something about the endless concrete layout of Los Angeles that seemed to have cured my allergies when I moved from the Seattle area down to Southern California about ten years ago. Pollen was replaced with smog, and the spring just didn’t hit me very hard at all in the congestion arena. But now, having made the trek part of the way north to where I started, I’m been in a decongestant fueled fog for about five days. I forgot just how terrible seasonal allergies can be. It’s a long weekend here in the US, so most likely a slow day around the site. Everyone will be too busy barbecuing outside to be inside reading.
The most prevalent story we were following last week was the confusion surrounding the “Give Whatever You Want .” Whereas the “Humble Indie Bundle” (completely unaffiliated to this latest issue) gave every penny to the developers and charity, the concern with the German sale was that the guy organizing it seemed to be taking a cut from the developer’s profits to the tune of almost 30%. In a move protecting good-hearted people donating, the site went offline, though it claims to be coming back soon. The whole thing just lashed out against my better senses. While consumers may want the games for the cheapest price possible, when charities are involved it becomes a bigger deal where more is involved than just a simple sale. Maybe that’s a personal take on the situation, but I still find it valid.
On a Choose-Your-Own-Price-Point note of actual worth, two developers are holding sales of their own in this vein. Boss Baddie is offering their Lunar Pack featuring Wake (which Peter Rambo reviewed last month) and Lunnye Devitsy. For those of you outside of the UK, you’re naming your price in British Pounds, so don’t get confused with the PayPal conversion. Next up is Elecorn’s Caster which is only holding the sale through today. So snag it quick if you’re interested. I’m going to snag both bundles as I haven’t gotten a chance to snag them before.
Nifflas’ FiNCK released last week. It’s free outside of getting a version where you can play imported levels, so it’s definitely worth a shot and I think you’ll soon find that it’s even worth the small price of admission for the custom content. It’s more difficult than I’d thought, but I haven’t played it too much yet and demand of myself to collect all the items.
So what’s going on this week? I’ll be posting our interview with Rob Jagnow from Lazy 8 Studios tomorrow. He created the puzzler Cogs which has been on Steam for the past year, as well as won $100,000 for the game at the Indie Game Challenge earlier this year.
We have more reviews going up this week and don’t forget to kick off the week by reading Erik’s interview with TwoFold Secret (holiday or not).
Lazy 8 Studios steampunk puzzler just recently won the professional entry grand prize in GameStop’s Indie Game Challenge, netting the independent developer a cool $100k in the process.
It appears the love is being spread back, as the $10 game runs only $5 through the weekend. If you’ve yet to check the game out, a demo is available here. Sale ends Monday, March 15.