Let’s talk some Indie Royale in a sec, but before that why don’t you pick up their launch bundle while it’s still available. You have less than six hours at the time of writing to make your purchase, as the four-game offer ends today at 11 AM Pacific.
The non-fixed price is hovering at $5.18 at the moment, a fantastic tag indeed for a quad-ling of awesome indie titles; and if you demand perks on top of getting games on the super cheap, you’re in luck! You greedy son of a bitch, you.
How do digital versions (in Desura, Steam and direct download formats) of Ares: Extinction Agenda, Gemini Rue, Sanctum and Nimbus sound to you? Nice? Well, how about $2 for all four together? Great? Well, you’d best get moving fast, because Indie Royale looks to be taking a slightly different approach to indie bundle packs. With each sale, the minimum price – this is a pay-what-you-want sale, primarily – creeps a little higher.
Extend Interactive, maker of A.R.E.S., seems committed to making a strong contender for the next IGF and Indiecade. This video’s theme is a bright and welcome contrast to what Extend last showed. As stated before, the developers are trying to be as transparent as possible with their development process and are seeking any feedback concerning the puzzle platformer So Many Me.
It’s come a long way rather quickly. See for yourself:
The colorful, swaying trees immediately grabbed my attention. I can’t wait to see what other visuals the team is creating. Gameplay wise, the video shows off some basic platform elements. One of the Mes became a brick mid-jump to assist clearing a large hole. It appears that some Mes can or must be left behind to hold down switches. A simple teleport device also allows the Mes to find a way to hit a stage switch.
Extend formally states that two abilities are present in the video. Says Nenin Ananbanchachai of Extend Interactive, “The first one is to freeze your character at any place and any time. You can use it as the platform to jump or to block something. Another ability is to recall your clone back to you one by one, first in last out.” FILO, huh? (Any computer science nerds get the reference?)
Around 0:50, something magically adorable happens with the Mes. They combine to make a big dinosaur. The dinosaur’s usefulness so far seems to be to traverse larger areas and whack walls with its tail. It also seems rather heavy; maybe the dinosaur’s weight will be used for puzzles as well. Nenin said they are aiming for five other creatures.
Finally, HyperDuck SoundWorks deserves a nod. The team shows its breadth of talent with a lush, sublime track that accompanies this video. I will be shocked if one of the Duck’s soundtracks doesn’t pick up an award sometime between 2011-2012.
I haven’t seen all the mechanics nor played the game, so I can’t offer too much constructive criticism. However, at times, the screen may look a little too green for me. The characters and the forest are fortunately different shades of green, but I feel a little more color would stand out. I like the absence of a HUD/UI. It allows me to enjoy the game’s art. I also don’t think I want to have to jump on an enemy’s head too many times. If enemies require a certain number of Mes to kill, that could be interesting. though.
What do you think of So Many Me? Extend is looking for any kind of feedback, so go ahead and leave comments below!
The above image is concept art for Extend’s newest work: So Many Me. After a successful PC and Steam launch for A.R.E.S., the team is hard at work to create an innovative IP set to release Q1 of 2012 and be submitted in the next IGF. While this puzzle platformer is very early in development, the team is being rather candid about its developmental process. They are currently sharing their design documents on IndieDB in the hope that the community interacts with their project by providing feedback.
As revealed in the design document, So Many Me is set to be released on PC first, followed by Mac, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and iOS. Key innovative mechanics lie in the player’s abilities to solve levels by creating clone and shadow images. The shadows will follow the player’s action, but the action will be delayed by 1 second. The clone images will do exactly what the player does, so the player will feel as if he or she is controlling many characters simultaneously. Further, the shadow images can absorb abilities, unique to each chapter in the game, from surrounding objects. While this may sound like a Braid derivative, the title looks to handle variables a bit differently.
The following is the team’s first development diary video for So Many Me. The developers’ first language is not English, so please bear with the subtitles.
I appreciate Extend’s candidness and hope more studios follow this kind of indie spirit! Feel free to share your thoughts about So Many Me so far, and the developers will respond. One final note: Extend’s iPad jigsaw puzzle game Jigsaw Mansion was selected to be showcased at this year’s E3. I hope to find the game and give it a spin.
HyperDuck SoundWorks’ Chris Geehan and I had more a conversation than an interview. Being both Irishmen, we met at a “virtual” bar (details) and discussed things over several rounds of Guinness. In order to enjoy and recreate the surrounding ambience, Chris has provided a HyperDuck jukebox. Yes, the bar only played HyperDuck music. But your ears will agree; these maestros are more like melodious mallards than mere ducks. Start the virtual jukebox below:
Dan Byrne-McCullough is Chris’s partner in crime. They have contributed some prolific tunes to XNA Dream.Build.Play 2009 grand prize winner Dust: An Elysian Tail and 2010 first prize winner A.R.E.S. Their awesome tracks are also heard on the trailers for Secret Base’s Bitejacker, starring 2011 IGF host Anthony Carboni.
With that being just part of HyperDuck’s hyper resume, it may have seemed unnecessary, but I began our conversation by raising my pint for the team’s recent submission to the Behemoth for BattleBlock Theatre and by toasting Dan, who regrettably couldn’t find the bar. May XBLA gamers be so lucky to hear HyperDuck on their home consoles!
So, are you working on Dust and some other projects?
(Chris of) HyperDuck: We’ve pretty much finished every single other project deadline now. Up until Dust‘s deadline, we’re 100% Dust.
Any Dust details?
HyperDuck: We’re rearranging all the older music we did in the new style, along with the entire reworking of the Dust audio engine, designing the sound effects and creating the foley for Dust and the creatures. The old style had a heavy YsIII / YsIV influence. The newer style is a lot more “real” sounding in terms of instrumentation and has a cinematic quality throughout it. I think when the music comes out, we will release the old and new versions of the songs so that people can hear the transformation that occurred.
Was Iji your humble beginning?
HyperDuck: Pretty much. Dan Remar and I were both massive fans of Machinae Supremacy, who are a band who mixed SID Chip sounds with their rock/metal music. From that forum we became friends, and he said he was making a game at some point and asked me if I could do the music. Later I got the call, realised I needed to begin working, grabbed my partner Dan and said, “Let’s make some music.” We pretty much learned how to record stuff by doing Iji, which is pretty apparent in the quality of the sound in the soundtrack.
Not at all, but it sounds like you wanted and got help along the way. Indie devs do the same thing. What resources are there to help music devs?
HyperDuck: Good question. There’s plenty of stuff and good communities that I have been and continue to be a part of, some quite small ones. There is an IRC channel where myself, Anosou (Cobalt), DannyB (Super Meat Boy), Josh Whelchel (The Spirit Engine 2), c418 (Daniel Rosenfeld of Minecraft) & disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland of Rescue: The Beagles) meet and share tips, feedback, and generally support each other.
There is OverClocked Remix, a fine place for people wanting to learn about remixing, interpreting music, and knowing good places to buy music equipment. There is Audio G.A.N.G., which has a subscription of £30 a year, but it’s really worth the money. The people there got my business head screwed on tight. They gave a lot of tips and tutorials that can help any aspiring musician looking to do sound design or music composition in media.
(As we moved onto another round of Guinness, I became more astute, noticing a new logo for HyperDuck.)
So, what’s up with the name change?
HyperDuck: We kept getting a lot of people assuming that we only do music, which is what we founded the idea to team up on, back before we came up with HyperDuck “Music Studios.” But we do a lot of sound design work these days, too. We’re pretty dedicated to both, so I think “SoundWorks” is a good umbrella term to cover all aspects of the audio work we do. We won’t be changing again.
Let’s role play (kinky). I am an indie developer; how would I find you if I didn’t know you existed? What sources are out there to easily connect indie devs with sound devs?
HyperDuck: I’d probably find you. Most of the developers after Iji/Katakijin we sourced out ourselves, though most of it was from TIGsource or at least Zero Gear was. I think pushing yourself out there as much as possible without becoming obnoxious is important to get ahead, but I found something very special at TIGsource and the Audio G.A.N.G.: a community is very important and should not be disrespected as such. I joined TIGsource because I saw like-minded folk there who shared the same passion for games, and I wanted to help combine what I was good (well crap at that stage) at with what they were good at and make some awesome experiences in video games.
Mod DB and Indie DB also have great resources for indie developers, as well. I think making contact with a developer and showing the best aspects of yourself is mega important. For every single person we have worked with, I still chat with, and I’ve never had a bad moment in any project we’ve done. They’re all so nice.
Any other tips for game devs?
HyperDuck: One tip is to always make sure the people you are working with have a demo reel or some example of their music in any form. I know if I were a game dev, I wouldn’t take on people if I’d never heard their work before, even if they have been in a game. But to be honest, you will always find somebody who is looking to fill their portfolio up who has either done very little work in games, or has none and is looking to freshly start.
(Being the rude socialite that most people are at bars, I checked my Twitter account. People were all achirp about the heinousness of muting the audio while gaming. Chris quacked back.)
HyperDuck: I think that music can be muted in games, but you’re missing out on a deliberate part of the experience that game has to offer. As for music not being essential, well that’s a matter of opinion. And quite simply, my own opinion disagrees with it. I am happy to continue my life and career adoring video game music, as many of us are and will do, so it doesn’t bother me.
When do you become involved with the overall game process? I imagine great sounds are never an afterthought.
HyperDuck: I’d say there are more projects where we walk in early on in the development, and through talking with the developers, seeing screens, and playing demos, we begin to craft what we think is in their head for the game. So by pulling together drafts, we get feedback from the developers saying that they are finding designing certain parts of the game much easier since they have the music for it. That’s about as close as we get to the development process of the game. Aside from doing sound design, we’re mostly in the cogs.
The music isn’t an afterthought. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that in any project we’ve worked on. It can be, and it’s noticeable when the game and sounds do not gel.
So, what makes a game “easier” to write music for?
HyperDuck: “Clear vision” is the key phrase. In this line of work, you quickly learn that it’s ok for the game developers to not 100% know what they want for the game, and if they do have an idea, it’s not always easy to project it across. We’re not all musically mouthed, so that can be a hell of a challenge. But a clear vision can be attained between the developer and us if they can show us what influences them. Most of the time, unless they say “go for it; I trust you guys,” they show us what makes them, and usually their game, tick.
HyperDuck: Seeing visuals, videos, music and sound design from other games and media– it all helps a lot in making something that the developer will eventually love, and something that feels right within the game. They will sometimes link to other game soundtracks, and suggest games to try out for the sound design techniques used. That’s really useful and actually is like a new lesson to be learned each time we do it.
For example, if a guy gives us a shout and wants a soundtrack with the style of Battletoads, we’ll go back and look at the game, then he’ll say, “Oh, but I want it with reggae style instrumentation, and a hint of rock too,” getting the sound for that will become a lesson, a test of our musicianship essentially. By the end of it, we’ve learned how to do something fresh. It’s also really rewarding and refreshing. I like being kept my toes like that.
Do you find it weird that no one has done any “cross-bitting,” a phrase I think I just coined for having an 8-bit game design with 16-bit sound or something like that?
HyperDuck: I’ve done some personal experiments with 8-bit and 16-bit stuff, and tried mixing elements of it together, but I see no reason not to merge the elements from both together, so many other hybrid sounds have came together from doing so with genres, why not this too!
To your knowledge, have games done this?
HyperDuck: Not to my knowledge, but I wouldn’t say I have searched hard enough to find it.
So, what haven’t you been asked before that you think you should be asked?
HyperDuck: Hmm, Nobody ever questions if we’re actually ducks or not.
Why would anyone? Sitting across from me was obviously something of avian origin. As we parted ways, I divulged details about my Irish ancestry, that my mother’s maiden name was Duffy.
HyperDuck: A good strong Irish surname, lovely! I’m not sure if you know, but Duffy means “Descendant of the Dark One.”
That explained so much about my childhood.
Thanks for the enlightening discussion, HyperDuck. Sample more of Dan’s and Chris’s audio euphoria here.
A.R.E.S. is coming to Steam on January 19th. The build will include two new armor skins which are available for the player to switch from the beginning. This build will be exclusive to Steam for a limited time. The game is already available for purchase on Direct2Drive, Desura, and GamersGate. For those who haven’t heard, the folks at Hyperduck have provided an awesome MegaMan X-inspired pulse pounding soundtrack.
DIY’s Peter covered the PC release of A.R.E.S. last month. The link included loads of screen shots and a free demo. The game controls with a keyboard and a mouse or an XBOX 360 controller. The latter seems only natural, since Extend Studios entered and placed in Microsoft’s XNA competition. The team has high hopes of an XBLA release this year, as well.
The Steam release has received an additional upgrade. The game is ready for HD and is fully compatible with Nvidia 3D vision glasses! The below trailer was made specifically for the Steam release. Somehow, the music and action are even more intense this time around! The video includes a look at the extra skins mentioned and some extreme boss fights.
I’ll be posting an interview with HyperDuck soon. Once the Steam release is live, I’ll have a chat with Extend Studios and hopefully have procured a way to use my XBOX360 controller on A.R.E.S. My apologizes for being a recovering “consoloholic.”
The winner of the 2010 XNA Dream Build Play Competition is now available for purchase on PC. This new side-scroller is called A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda and looks quite good. Extend Studio just released the full game and if you’re curious at all about this epic side-scroller you can go ahead and download the demo.
Here’s how the developer describes the game:
“A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda is the first chapter in a full featured episodic action-packed side-scroller, in the traditions of retro classics, where you play as Ares, a combat robot sent on a mission to rescue task force members who were trapped while conducting an investigation to find out the extent of damage sustained by the space station. Annihilate countless robots, recycle their parts to make incredible items, including weapon upgrades and take on gigantic bosses in 3D environment side-scroller.”
And while the official description is there to make it sound like the best thing that’s ever happened, there are some key phrases that get me excited: “countless robots” and “gigantic bosses” specifically. Let the mayhem begin.