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

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Hi-Def 2D from Russia, with Love: Sky Defender

Lionwood Studios filled DIY’s mailbox with a bundle of Flash joy. Sky Defender mixes arcade shooting with tower defense. The campaign involves the story of the First Sky War and entails 30 action-packed missions. There’s also an alluring map of the Old World the player must explore. The survival mode contains more than 40 waves of enemies.

Sky Defender also features some levels of customization in the form of money gathering and weapon shopping. Lionwood humbly states on its website that Sky Defender may lack in brilliance and innovation, but it is still good game.

Though the blog is in Russian, the Sky Defender photos suggest story elements appear in English. Lionwood Studios lists July 1, 2011 as the release of Sky Defender. The game is currently up for bids on Flash Game License. The developer stated that the game will sit on FGL for a few more weeks, go to the highest bidder, and still keep the July 1 deadline.

What do you think of the game, based on the trailer?


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Tobe’s Hookshot Escape Coming for Windows Phone 7

Tobe’s Hookshot Escape stars the same guy from Secret Base’s earlier game: Tobe’s Vertical Adventure. DIY gave the XBLIG version of Vertical Adventure a try earlier this year, with favorable results. Like the last title, Tobe is once again stuck in a cave. However, this time Tobe has the aid of a hookshot to escape. The game’s title is definitely a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Tobe’s Hookshot Escape will be available on May 30 on Windows Phone 7 for $1.99. However, the title will be on sale for $0.99 until the game’s expansion is added. The expansion will feature an alternate character named Nana with a different hook mechanic, background theme, and music. This expansion is not available on the flash version, and players that buy the game before the price change will get the expansion for free.

For those who can’t visualize what adding a hookshot can do for Tobe, check out the gameplay trailer here:

And for those who can’t wait a few days for the Windows Phone 7 version of Tobe’s Hookshot Escape, the Flash version is available now to try out the addicting platform twitching gameplay. I personally hope Capcom contacts Secret Base before making another Bionic Commando.

Give the Flash version a go, and tell us what you think about Tobe’s adventures thus far. While you’re at it, let us know if you are a Windows Phone 7 owner and if you want more WP7 coverage.


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Browser Game Pick – Ruff N’ Tumble Mashup

The Amiga was a system that largely passed me by as a kid, but thanks to the marvels of emulation, I’ve come to learn that the system played host to more than a few great games. One particular fan-favourite was Renegade Software’s Ruff N’ Tumble, a particularly earnest and straightforward run n’ gun platform shooter. It was so loved, that a bunch of dedicated fans over at video-archive site Recorded Amiga Games have remade it in Flash under the title Ruff N’ Tumble Mashup, and it’s rather brill.


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Free iOS Robot Wants Kitty Today (and Today Only)

Raptisoft is generously putting up the iOS version of their silly, enjoyable 2D platformer Robot Wants Kitty for free on the App Store through today as a special one day offering. iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners: do yourself a solid and pick it up.

As the game would suggest, you play as a robot desperate to secure a kitty that sits somewhere in the level behind enemies and other obstacles. Some that require the use of your abilities and power-ups to pass, others just require your constant drive to possess the cat.

You can always check out the perma-free flash version as well, but if you have an iOS device why not pick up the more content-packed and graphically enhanced version for absolutely squadoosh while you can? Have an iPhone trailer if you need help on whether or not you’d like a free game:

[via IndieGames.com]


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One-Button Love: Poto & Cabenga comes to iOS Feb 17th

Poto & Cabenga

Some of you in tune with the ebb and flow of the indie scene might remember a little game called Poto & Cabenga, developed by Honeyslug as part of the Gamma IV one-button game development contest. A charming little flash game, it set out to push the limits of just how much you can control with a single button. With just your space bar, you were expected to control two seperate characters, able to sprint, jump and brake seperately. An experience akin to trying to pat your head and rub your tummy simultaneously, while hopping on one leg and humming your national anthem of choice.


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Coordinate Quest: A Game You Play by Yourself, With Other People

CoordinateQuest001

Alright, going off the title of this article you might find yourself just a little confused. Granted, it’s a pretty difficult concept to realize in a single title. Regardless, the game we have here could very well be one of the most unique experiences you’ll have the chance to play this year. In essence, we could be looking at the “Sleep is Death” game of 2011, as in, the completely unique “you’ve got to experience it to believe it” type of game.

Coordinate Quest, by indie developer Tom Sennett (of Runman fame) has put together a very unique adventure, exploration game where the entire purpose is to collect Macguffin Muffins. The idea is that there is no way for any one person to find all the Macguffin Muffins and, instead, you’ll need to work together with others who are playing the game at a similar time to find them all.

Of course, this is still a single player game. As the title states, this is a game you’ll be playing by yourself. According to Sennett, you’ll need to use outside social media forms of communication in order to help each other find all the muffins. Think of it as a big, virtual, cooperative treasure hunt.

Tom is planning to host a game tomorrow and we are forming up a “team DIY” over on the forums if you’re interested in joining. Should be fun! Game time starts at 3:00pm PST, 6:00pm EST.

[Coordinate Quest, Team DIY]


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Browser Pick: Tealy & Orangey… My Head Hurts

TealyOrangey

Browser games are a bit of an enigma for me. For whatever reason I just can’t seem to get overly involved in one unless it’s a really, really good game. While sites like Kongregate have created easy access to some of the best browser games ever to be released, I still find most of them a fairly downtrodden compared to most platform-specific games.

That said, every now and then I’ll come across a browser game that I really enjoy, typically in some fashion that creates a unique sort of gameplay. Today’s pick is just sort of a game called Tealy & Orangey. It’s kind of a lame name, granted, but the gameplay is purely unique.

Tealy & Orangey takes a very simple idea of a platformer and  switches it up a bit by having you control two different characters at the same time. In this case, you’ll be controlling two balls, one colored teal and the other colored orange. Should you move left, both will move left. Move right and both will move right. Two characters, one system of controls.

The hook here is that each moves along it’s own level. Meaning there will be hazards for each depending on where you are in the level. As such you’ll have to frequently check each level to make sure your not about to jump into some spikes. Should one hit a spike you’ll be required to start over. The goal of the game being that you want each ball to reach its respective goal without coming into contact with anything that will end your game prematurely.

It’s really an incredibly complex system that makes other regular platformers seem almost easy by comparison, particularly when you reach the latter levels.

Tealy & Orangey can be played right now via Kongregate. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, I’d recommend checking it out.

[Kongregate]


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Science, Ninjas and Shane Neville

Ray ArdentYou can’t help but notice Shane Neville’s lust for life when you meet him. Once a pro-BMX rider, he has spent most of his gaming career working on the AAA side of the industry. He worked for Electronic Arts, Relic and Longtail Studios before jumping into making Flash games himself. But unlike a lot of other independent jumpers, Neville never gained an overly negative view of the mainstream side of the industry. While EA may have put some pressure on his free time by having him work for over three months without a day off, the other studios he’d put time in with rekindled his love for making games. “Relic was fantastic,” he recalls, having been a producer on Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. But once married with a family, the overtime becomes more of an issue, and once he went indie has was able to spend half his time watching his daughter.

I first mentioned Shane Neville after previewing his Flash endeavor called Ray Ardent: Science Ninja. The game is complete and it just launched on Armor Games. From what I played I highly recommend giving the game a go.

But Neville’s journey into independence has been an interesting one. He set the hard date of January 1st, 2010 to “go indie.” From there he has a two year plan that will lead him on a journey of releasing games and seeing how he can fare in the wild waters of self-creation. If he can’t scrape together a living after that time frame, he freely admitted that it would be time to reconsider and might head back in the other direction.

RayArdentIGN1Once leaving the mainstream industry, he had to teach himself how to program, because he hadn’t actually coded anything since he was in high school. As a producer and project manager, you’re not necessarily the one creating the game, just making sure they get done. So with his first game complete, and quite good, Neville’s already come a long way in less than a year. Working alone, he’s had a lot of time to learn Flash while still taking care of his family. He’s not opposed to collaboration in the future, but for now he’s excited about where he stands.

Based in Vancouver, he also teaches several Game Design classes at the Vancouver Film School, as the two mediums are often closely related. Sharing his knowledge of Visual Storytelling, Project Management and Handheld Game Design, students are able to learn a lot from this industry veteran. And without looking back, Neville has dove headfirst into the Canadian Indie Scene, being an integral part of the recent OrcaJam in Victoria (we’ll have his take on the event as an exclusive write-up soon).

But why did he turn to Flash gaming instead of looking at additional mediums? He sees the platform as a unique opportunity for a lot of people to see his game. Oftentimes a good Flash game will get passed around and have over a million unique players within days. But because the platform is “unpatrolled” generally, it’s up to the developer to find the audience and its a task he’s not taking lightly. He had been seeking out the best possible sponsor for weeks before settling on Armor Games. And with their track record he’s sure to notch a lot of players. And the other reason he was drawn to Flash gaming, is that there are no politics in it. It’s all about the players and their experience, not the behind the scenes drama that may directly effect the final product. For instance in the world of AAA, they own all of your ideas. So he’d never even touched his own projects before completely severing his ties to the mainstream.

Doc SavageRay Ardent: Science Ninja is the product of a lot of inspirations. The villains that map out the not-so-complex-but-funny story of the game are drawn directly from the covers and pulp fiction of Doc Savage and other such adventure tales. And with hilarious moments in dialogue throughout, you’re going to enjoy some comic moments that drop throughout the game. The game is fifteen different levels that are primed for speed runs and along the way you unlock eleven different powers that you can combine in different forms to help you pull this speed off.

With Ray Ardent now available, Neville is already off working on his next project. And he also wants to create four procedural games inside of a four month window. The idea of having four projects that you can play forever was fascinating to him. So from what I’ve seen of his first big project and the promise of more, Shane Neville is a developer to keep an eye on in the indie scene. He’s also a reminder that we don’t talk about nearly enough Flash developers around here.

As you take Ray Ardent: Science Ninja for a drive, just remember that Shane himself did all the voices. That might be the better look at who he is than any words I can write down. You can also find out  more about his company Ninja Robot Dinosaur at its official site. And you can also track his progress via Twitter.


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Ludosity Ports Garden Gnome Carnage to XBLIG

Garden_Gnome_Carnage

Ludosity, makers of the delightful ship rebuilder Bob Came in Pieces has something (kinda) new for 360 users via the XBLIG, a port of their bonkers flash title Garden Gnome Carnage.

The addictive arcade-like* has you swinging around a garden gnome trying to destroy oncoming enemies and throwing bricks at helicopters, all for the joy of points.

Both the title and its trial version are available now on the Marketplace. 80 MS Points ($1) will score you a 360 copy in all of its 720p and gamepad goodness. Of course you can also just play the flash version for free here, whatever works.

*I fear the staff will be fighting over this one on Thursday.


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Molehill API to give Flash GPU-Accelerated 3D

adobe molehillIn what is clearly a response to the popularity of Unity 3D’s robust API, Adobe announced their new “Molehill” API for Flash this week.  Molehill is a new low-level API allowing developers to access a system’s GPU for more complex 3D visuals than Flash ever supported before.  For example, Flash 10.1 currently renders thousands of non z-buffered triangles at around 30 Hz, while the Molehill API will be able to render hundreds of thousands of z-buffered triangles, in HD at full screen no less, at around 60 Hz.  This isn’t a replacement for the existing 3D APIs in Flash 10, rather Molehill will be another tool available to developers, so developers familiar with those won’t be forced into using the new kid on the block if they don’t want to.

Using Molehill will require at least DirectX 9 on Windows or OpenGL 1.3 for MacOS and Linux systems.  On mobile platforms, Molehill will run on OpenGL ES 2.0.  For systems that aren’t up to the task there will also be a software solution through a rasterizer called SwiftShader.

Molehill should be in the hands of developers in the first half of next year as part of an upcoming Flash Player beta program.