IGM had a chance to chat with Laurent Lavigne of Elefantopia on his hectic tower defense game, McDroid. McDroid is a gorgeous cel-shaded tower defense and 3rd person action adventure game where you collect strawberries. The game is currently still in Beta and available for PC, Mac and Linux.
When did you start developing games? What got you into programming and designing?
I started when I was 10, made a few rooms in a first person adventure game on my TI 97, then at 15, I completed the graphics for a game that was inspired by RTYPE, horizontal shooter with wave gun and modular weapon system in the back that doubled as a shield. Sold it to Thalamus, the company went under before the game became anything more than one level on the Amiga but it was a really fun level.
What game inspired you to make games? RTYPE but MULE and Gauntlet are close second, what am I saying, Marble Madness and Buck Rogers, The Pawn, Tass Time… they all build such a rich canvas of feelings.
What is your favorite indie game right now that you are playing? Why?
I am not playing any indie game at the moment, the free time I have I dedicate to McDROID and the real world. But I did spend hours on FTL and loved it, it was scratching that grinding itch and showed me some really tight gameplay and subtle bindings I’ll re-use.
It’s been common knowledge for quite some time that Valve’s approval system for indie developers wanting to release a game via Steam is an arcane, obscure process, possibly involving divinations using animal entrails and/or throwing darts at an annotated board. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of high-profile games come, get rejected and go. Even Derek Yu’s IGF award-winner (and already solidly-selling) underwater Metroidvania Aquaria was flatly refused, and only upon repeated attempts did the game get an audience with the king, so to speak. The latest casualty of this seemingly random approach to distribution is Mutant Mudds, a massive critical hit on the 3DS (see that panel of scores above), but apparently not good enough for PC.
It has been said that getting some positive press for your game is a key part of getting Steam approval, but apparently that’s not enough in this case – the game is currently the 9th highest rated game on the 3DS, according to Metacritic. Admittedly that’s not the greatest praise ever levelled at a game (poor old 3DS), but it’s certainly not to be sniffed at either. Our man-with-many-hats Chris Priestman put together an article not long ago, covering a few key ways to get your game one of those lucrative Steam distribution deals, but it does still seem to be largely up to luck of the draw at the moment.
I’ve heard it suggested that the Steam approval process is largely one of quality control, although that’s a rather questionable statement when you consider that some spectacular shovelware has been approved in the past. One notable example being Bad Rats – an Incredible Machine clone with a non-deterministic physics engine so bad that even the developer’s own solution can fail a dozen times before working. More recently, the only reasonable explanation for the risible Revelations 2012 getting a Steam release is because it uses Valve’s own Source engine.
Of course, it goes without saying that Steam isn’t the be-all and end-all of indie distribution. Far from it. Other major digital distributors like Gamersgate are an option, and GOG.com is branching out more and more into indie gaming. The Humble Store seems to be a good storefront for self-distribution as well (and seems to have solid ties with Valve), and there’s plenty of other options besides. A Steam distribution deal does offer it’s own set of advantages, such as good long-term sales potential and access to promoted deals, which tend to spike sales for much longer than the discount is in play. It remains undeniable that it’s a very good place to be if you’re looking to sell big on a smaller game.
So, what can Mutant Mudds‘ developer do? If past stories are any indication, then persistence is key. Keep applying, and keep spreading the word of the game and the planned PC launch. Interacting with the indie press is always a good start, and trying to get blogs and magazines to cover the story. As for what the indie press can do to change this sad state of affairs, not just for this game but for others? Well, we can make noise, too. Spread the word of such seemingly arbitrary dismissals. Beat the drum and let Valve hear that they’ve still got work to do. I’ve heard it suggested that a possible solution would be hiring a panel of ‘Indie Tsars’, to help pick out the wheat from the almighty pile of chaff that is the weekly submissions. Either way, something clearly still needs to change, so we’ll keep beating this drum until it does.
The creatures of the night are soon to be roaming the, and they’ll be thirsting for human victims in Sang-Froid, Artifice Studio’s forthcoming werewolf-infested role-playing game.
The game employs a heavy strategic emphasis in terms of its gameplay mechanics, encouraging players to lay traps and bait in order to lure in the invading werewolf horde, sent by the Devil to attack their cabins at night. Players made also use such environmental factors as wind direction as a strategic base on which to forge their counter-attacking plans, bringing a potentially game-changing wildcard into proceedings as players seek to use the landscape to their tactical advantage.
If past success in the fantasy genre is any indication of the game’s prospects, Sang-Froid‘s story ought to be in good hands. That’s because it’s being penned, at least partically, by acclaimed author Bryan Perro, writer of such literary hits as Amos Daragon and Wariwulf. The game is set in 19th-century Canada, where the woods are populated by savage werewolves and supernatural beings exhibiting monstrous acts of fancy trickery. Such menacing surroundings would be problematic for even the most rational of organic beings, but it’s another matter entirely for the protagonists, two feuding siblings who struggle just to get along with each other, let alone pool together to avoid becoming the latest répas du jour.
Look out for Sand-Froid‘s launch on PC, tentatively slated for July. More information is available on its official website.
Things just got a little more interesting for PC and Mac owners clamouring for a sci-fi skirmish or two now that Camel101′s ambitious space strategy title, Gemini Wars, has officially been released.
Featuring three playable factions, each sporting their own unique units and strategic strengths, and a lengthy single-player campaign, comprised of 16 missions, Gemini Wars is evidently seeking to breathe new life into both the real-time strategy genre and the increasingly popular sci-fi backdrop of considerable gaming eminence. Add to that a full-fledged online multiplayer mode, extensive skill trees and the capacity to wage full-scale war by assuming direct control of entire space fleets and planetary systems and you’ve potentially got a jam-packed tactical juggernaut to make all but the most hard-line of armchair Captain Kirks sit up and take notice.
Following a year-long development cycle, Utrecht-based developers Stolen Couch Games have announced the official PC and Mac release of their one-button puzzler, known simply as Ichi.
Translated into English, Ichi corresponds to the word “beautiful,” and that’s a rather apt moniker to place on the game’s tremendously simplistic, yet artistically eye-catching aesthetic style. Utilising its hand-drawn graphical design as a potent starting point, the game challenges players to collect varying numbers of golden rings littered around each level by manipulating the items of scenery dotted about the screen. At the game’s most basic face value, objects can be rotated in order to guide the player-directed lines towards the golden rings, but Ichi‘s more complex brainteasers employ such tactics as teleportation and block breaking to secure victory.
We’ve played Cloudberry Kingdom and as you can read in our preview, it’s pretty great. Want to play it yourself? Well, it just so happens that we have 450 codes to giveaway on a first come, first served basis. So listen up!
If you haven’t checked out Cloudberry Kingdom yet, then do so by watching the trailer below. It looks hardcore but it’s actually very accessible and very fun. We would also like to tell you that if you don’t win a free version of the game from us then you can always get access to it by funding it over on Kickstarter, you can even get a Wii U copy for doing so! There’s less than a week left to get yourself a copy though, so be quick.
Pwnee, the developers, want you to test out the beta of Cloudberry Kingdom, hence why we’re doing this giveaway. If you get a Steam code you’ll have immediate access to the game in it’s current state and will continue to have access to it through updates, including the final version as well.
To win a code, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject Line “Cloudberry Kingdom Giveaway” today (May 21st 2012) from 2pm GMT / 9am EST / 6am PST onwards.
All of the codes need to go today so they will be sent out as the emails come in – you’ll need to be quick!
Any emails sent before the stated time will be disqualified and not win a code at all, even if they send a code after the stated time. Only one email from each address will be accepted, any more than one email from the same email address will lead to an automatic disqualification. If you don’t enter the Subject Line correctly then your email won’t get through, so be extra careful.
Here’s a message for those who are successful from Pwnee:
“Hail beta tester!
We’re excited to finally get the beta rolling for Cloudberry Kingdom. We’re making rapid progress on finishing the game, but we need your help to really polish it and make it shine.
We’ve just signed on an art studio to redo the game’s art, so expect regular art updates moving forward. For now we want to focus the testing on the game play and general functionality. Let us know what’s cool and what sucks, what’s too easy and what’s ridiculously impossible. We’re really striving to make a game that can scratch everyone’s itch for an awesome platformer.
Join us on reddit to talk trash, report bugs, make suggestions, or give us virtual hugs (aka programmer fuel) reddit.com/r/CloudberryBeta/
Unfortunately, we are currently functional on PC only.
We’re working on integrating an installer for these frameworks into the game, which should be ready by next week.
In order to use the beta key: open up Steam and click on the Game’s tab, select “Active a product on Steam” and enter your beta key. That’s it!
How to play:
Arrow keys move, duck, and jump. Press up to go through doors. Spacebar is quickspawn. Escape/Backspace will bring up the main menu or navigate backwards. Enter selects something on a menu. Enter during the game brings up the powerup menu.
A lot of menus say ‘press A’ or ‘press X’. That’s for the Xbox version (PC version coming soon). If you’ve got a gamepad you can plug it in and use it (you can plug FOUR in and play multiplayer!)
To customize you character, press the “H” key, and to randomize your character press “C”
What to play:
The game is a bit unstructured now. The campaign is still under construction, but the arcade games are good to go. We recommend starting with Escalation. Hero Rush is our favorite, but it’s a bit confusing at first. We’re still working on an intro-tutorial to smooth it out.
Updates to expect soon:
Optimizations! If the game is running slow on your computer, fear not! We are constantly streamlining our code, and already have a lot of optimizations in the pipeline for an update later this week.
Leaderboards! Think your score of 563,279 on Hero Rush is impressive? Wait until you see our programmer’s 1,000,000+ scores show up on the leaderboard. We’ll be announcing some beta tester only competitions in the coming week, so start training!
Prettiness! We’ve partnered up with Tigar Hare Studios, the guys that did cinematics for games like Call of Duty, Red Faction, and Lord of the Rings Online. Expect some awesome updates to the graphics over the next few months!
PC Version. Right now you’re playing the ‘Xbox’ PC version. We’re wrapping up the code for a real PC version, with mouse support, multiple resolutions, fullscreen/windowed options, and keyboard remapping. Expect this within a week.
I’m looking forward to getting feedback! I hope you enjoy the beta.
TJ Lutz, Team Lead and Community Manager”
More information on Cloudberry Kingdom can be found over on the developer’s official website.
Ukrainian developer Sergey Mohov is a man with a plan, and it’s gratifying to know that that plan involves piano keys, butterflies and video games.
Coming in June to the PC, Mac and iOS devices, Dédale is a marvellously charming game that sees a brightly-coloured butterfly fly from piano key-to piano key amidst a series of over 100 mazes, which is pretty logical when you consider that “dédale” means “maze” in French. It’s also the name of a mythological Greek inventor credited with the creation of the labyrinth designed to imprison the legendary Minotaur, but let’s forget about that. Anyway, players must colour every key in a given maze by guiding the butterfly onto them in order to progress to the next level at the ivory-laden lovefest.
Quite frankly, The Adventures of Shuggy has enough gameplay mechanics for six games. It’s a 2D platformer that will have you rotating levels, altering gravity, dangling on ropes, turning into a zombie, flying and even playing co-op with friends. It was quite well received on XBLA but it’s now coming to PC via Steam – we have a release date!
June 13th is the day of the Steam release and we’re all picking our partners for this one already. It’s been confirmed that all 116 single player and 36 co-op levels from the XBLA version will be included in the game’s PC debut. However, there will be no support for the head-to-head or challenge modes, at least at launch. Bah, we’ll be kept busy enough slapping each other around with those levels anyway.
As this is a shiny Steam release, the game will support achievements and leaderboards, for those that crave such things. The Adventures of Shuggy will sell for $10 on Steam but there will be a 20% launch discount making it just $8 for a limited time. A new trailer has been released with this announcement and that will explain the game in much better terms, check it out below:
More information about The Adventures of Shuggy can be found on the game’s official website.
Cockroach has released a new trailer for their marvellous clay and cardboard point and click adventure, The Dream Machine, in order to commemorate its impending release on Steam. Regardless of your opinion of the genre in which it lies, The Dream Machine‘s aesthetics make it a an absolute triumph alone. Claymation is notoriously laborious but that doesn’t deter these developers, not one bit.
The game has been around for a little while now as it has been release episodically, but only now with Steam’s push for more indie games has it been picked up by the digital distributor. It’s good news all around too – a deserved game gets more publicity, those with an odd attachment to Steam are happy and we’re happy to watch more deserved developers get a chance in the spotlight.
If you can’t wait until May 11th for The Dream Machine to become available on Steam then you can catch up by playing the first episode on the official website, better yet you can buy the other episodes from the official store while you’re there.
More information on The Dream Machine can be found on the game’s official website.
Gaslamp Games have announced the date upon which all of you Dungeons of Dredmor lovers can get hold of the upcoming free DLC which also adds Steam Workshop support.
What a difference a few days make, eh? Gaslamp got us all excited about just the other day about some free DLC which was apparently on the way soon for their stellar dungeon crawler, Dungeons of Dredmor. Now we return once again with a parchment in one hand and a bell in the other shouting “HEAR YE!” at the top of our lungs. The reason for such a commotion is that we now know just how soon that FREE DLC is arriving in indie town.
Well, it was via this humble blog post that the news was deliver – June 5th – that’s the date you should mark in those make believe calendars of yours as that is when the “You Have To Name The Expansion Pack” will be delivered. Though there is a lot of goodness to be had in this DLC, the best part is that Dungeons of Dredmor will be supported by the Steam Workshop which means, yes you guessed it, all mods will be integrated with Steam for ease. How exciting!
Let’s remind ourselves of those glorious and lovely features of said DLC, shall we? Quite:
Steam Workshop; mod integration with Steam! We’re turning it on! It’s Steamy!
Battle Geology, a wizard-like warrior skill with earth-shattering consequences by the terribly mysterious Null (how mysterious? terribly.)
Clockwork Knight and Rogue Scientist, a pair of crafty steampunk skill lines by the too-clever-by-half Ruigi
Warlockery, the wizard skill for wizards who would rather by warriors, by the utterly mad Essence — he wrote over 500 lines of xml for one spell.
A mess of twisty little rooms, all different, created by the deranged architect our mortal speech renders “Bergstrom“; The geometry is all wrong.
And to inhabit the renovated Dungeons of Dredmor we’ve summoned a pack of new monster variations dug up by one FaxCelestis, from the existentially troubling Poorly Cloned Hero to the lofty Diggle Rocketeer.
Naturally there are some new items and other such nonsense happening which you’ll have to discover on your own.
More information on Dungeons of Dredmor can be found on the game’s official website.