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

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A MAZE. Interact 2012 In Johannesburg Announced, Call For Submissions

A MAZE. Interact

After hosting a rather wonderful Indie Connect festival in Berlin last month, A MAZE. now sets its sight upon Johannesburg, South Africa for A MAZE. Interact 2012. If you’ve got a game, especially an experimental one, and are from the sub Saharan region and/or South Africa then you should consider submitting it to the festival.

From August 28th to September 2nd, A MAZE, will be be taking over several locations in Braamfontein, Downtown Johannesburg for Interact 2012. This is a media art festival that will celebrate the convergence of games, art and society; as in the A MAZE. way. The location of Interact 2012 is very important as it aims to become an annual platform for African and European media artists and game developers.

“Creatives are encouraged to break down the conventional computer game and surpass established digital or analog concepts of play. A MAZE. Interact targets the collaboration between artists and the exchange on an artistic, academic and cultural level.”

A MAZE has partnered with a multitude of organizations for this event, including the Goethe Institute Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University, University of Johannesburg, Praekelt Foundation, VANSA, Trinity Session, Transmediale, CIANT and Coded Culture.

If you’d like to submit your game to be showcased at the festival then you should contact the festival director, Thorsten Wiedemann, at thorsten@amaze-festival.de before June 15th 2012.

More information on A MAZE. and their various efforts can be found over on the official website.


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‘Proteus’ Preview – Pure Bliss

Proteus

While at the first Indie Connect festival in Berlin – where Proteus picked up the prestigious Most Amazing Game award – I stumbled my way to a dark corner of the exhibition room to where I had heard that Proteus was available to play. Of course, someone had beaten me to it and was sitting there, all smarmy. I took the defeat well and proceeded to lay back and watch him play the game, despite the headphones meaning I couldn’t soak up the audio accompaniment.

Fifteen minutes passed and this guy was still drifting around inside Proteus, the game’s lo-fi graphics flaunting pinks, greens and blues that fascinated both of us. Then, the gentle movement across the hillside onscreen came to a halt – this had happened a few times previously but only served as a means to thoroughly absorb the landscape during moments atop elevated viewpoints. Sensing that this was an elongated pause, I glanced across to find that the guy was slumped back, eyes closed and breathing heavily. I couldn’t believe it! Proteus had actually caused him to fall asleep. Those around him fulfilled their job in mocking him, to which he responded with embarrassment and the thrusting of the gamepad in my direction.


[This Content is Exclusive for Insider]
Proteus can be pre-ordered over on its official website, which is where you’ll also find more information.


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Indie Connect: The Magic Of Low Process Intensity Games

Proteus

Perhaps one of the most insightful talks at Indie Connect was Douglas Wilson’s ‘Proteus, Johann Sebastian Joust And The Magic Of Low Process Intensity Games‘. Starting off, many of you may not know what Doug means by “low process intensity”, but you’re about to find out, if you haven’t already made a guess. It’s the kind of game that we’re seeing more and more of at the moment, one of the most famous examples from a few years ago being The Graveyard.

The tradition with games and software in general is that higher process intensity generally makes for better value. Developers and players are continuously looking for better graphics, more kinetic movements and action; constantly pushing technology forward. This has been going on for many years and it makes sense in a technology driven industry, but that’s something that can only really be achieved with the connections and budgets of AAA production in most cases.

Indie game developers, on the other hand, are given the freedom to experiment with game design and actually thrive in pushing the medium forward from a different direction. This is where low process intensity comes into hand, though not without resistance. How can The Graveyard, Dear Esther or Proteus even be called games? This is a question that has arisen a number of times and caused some people to look at the definition of a ‘game’, bringing up the necessity of “rules” for something to brandished as such. Doug, however, argues that those who look at these low process intensity games and deny them the “game” label are of an extreme stance which will probably never be won over, at least not for a while.

After playing Proteus not one person could deny that it is a game is what Doug argues on stage. This is a game in which you glide around a lo-fi but colorful island with no clear goal other than to soak in its wonder. Music drives the game primarily as it reacts to your exploration, lulling you into a relaxed state so easily. There is progression in Proteus though and there’s also an end to the game, so there are rules embedded somewhere under the haze. This isn’t the focus though.

The Graveyard

Examples such as Dear Esther, Proteus, The Graveyard and even Journey, the game – Doug argues – is supported by multimedia rather than remaining as a vessel for it. The slight tragedy that Doug pointed out was that so many indie game developers are obsessed with innovating with mechanics. This often leads to them completely negating audio visual design, which could just as easily be innovated in and not just in the technology driven way that the AAA industry does.

Indeed, talking to Edge in Issue #240, Ed Key (developer of Proteus) admitted that he was worried that Dear Esther was going to be the same experience as Proteus as they share the same game mechanics. On inspection though, he found relief as the games were so different.

“It’s amazing what different spaces the two games occupy,” Ed said. “It shows what an unexplored space there is in the world of games that two games can sound the same, but really, they are just two points in this huge unexplored space.”

The only real mechanic in both of the games is the ability to walk, yet the audio and visuals were quite opposite from each other and are therefore able to provide two very different experiences. Doug brought up the necessity to commit to this low process intensity entirely to really find these relatively new and wondrous experiences in games. He brought up thatgamecompany’s Flower which would seem to fit into this emerging category of games, but it actually fails to fully meet the mark according to Doug.

You drift around controlling the wind in Flower, even the controls attest to low process intensity by just requiring a tilt of the gamepad. Unfortunately, as you progress through the game, more and more mechanics are added to make it more like a traditional game. You’re given goals such as collecting petals and later on things become more perilous and risky maneuvers give the player a challenge – the process intensity increases. Doug wants to see more games fully commit to the idea of low process intensity which aim to give the player an experience through the audio and visuals. There certainly seems to be plenty of space for these kinds of games.

Douglas Wilson

Doug then pointed to his own game that he designed around the ideas, in a kind of practising what he preaches rendition. Johann Sebastian Joust has players holding a a PS Move controller each and facing each other rather than a screen, which remains entirely absent. The idea is to keep your own controller steady otherwise you’re out, while knocking your opponents. This is minimalistic game design, especially when looking at the game’s rule system. The idea is that this minimalism “deputizes” the players as they make up their own rules – can you put the controller in your pocket? On the floor? Can you hide in a crowd of people so that no one knows you’re even playing?

Joust, as far as a piece of software goes, is very low on process intensity. Instead it relies on players to create a more theatrical type of play – bowing to opponents and pointing your controller to the sky to announce your arrival to the game. It’s a simple game in reality but its openness to player interpretation means it can cater to many different types of experience – there are many variants of Joust and more emerge appear every time it is played.

These are the kinds of game design features that interests Doug as they focus on something else than just playing with new variants of recognisable game mechanics and instead create a unique kind of experience through other means. He finished up by claiming that games are part of the cultural scene and have a lot to offer the world, more than what they do at the moment – there are plenty of game experiences that haven’t been imagined yet. These low process intensity games are just a new way of approaching game design and the results are fascinating.


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‘Catch-22′ Preview – Press The Button

Catch-22

Orbs are funny things. They’re often used to imply a connection to the mind, as if a gateway – think of a crystal ball for instance. After playing Catch-22, which features a prominent red orb as the surface for its gameplay, I am pretty sure that they must have a way of wiggling under your skin, past your skull and into your brain. They just must.

The exhibition at Indie Connect laid out a single pew before a monitor for Catch-22. Upon said pew was an Xbox controller. Ushered over by my colleague who insisted that I “just have to try this game”, I shook hands with the developer and then assessed the game set-up as just described. Red. Orb. You couldn’t avoid that thing glaring at you. Making matters worse, the game is accompanied by a floaty, low-beat rhythm just willing you to play the game.

Having felt the naturally hypnotic pull of Catch-22, I looked back over at my colleague who had already spent at least 20 minutes with the game – was he possessed? It’s as if the game was capable of pulling people in and then refused to let them go, instead using them to bring in more players to spread the word, in a plot to (gasp) take over the world!

Brushing that nonsense aside, I sat down, picked up the controller and then faced the orb in alls its glowing glory. Atop of that was a simple message instructing me to press the A button to begin. In terms of game design, it doesn’t get any more simple than having a one button (to control them all!) interface and that is what Catch-22 rolls out with. On the controller, this was the A button, but the iOS version will transform this to just be a simple touch of the screen.

With a gulp, I squashed the A button with my thumb and we were off! Unfortunately it wasn’t long before I found out that I absolutely suck at Catch-22 (much to the amusement of the onlookers), but I couldn’t stop playing. Here’s why: you control a small blue orb to start off with which is constantly travelling around the bigger red orb. The idea is that you collect the even smaller white orbs that appear along your path – you’ll have to press the A button to jump on occasion. There’s another stationary orb at the bottom of the red orb that you’ll have to jump over too as touching it will reset the game.

That’s your first rotation at least. Once you’ve collected three white orbs, you’ll then switch to the aforementioned green orb during a bout of elegant slow motion. As the green orb, you’ll travel the opposite way around that hypnotic red sphere with the same task – collect three white orbs. The catch is that the blue orb is actually a ghost which performs the same movements as you did when controlling it before and contact with it means the whole game will restart and your score lost. Luckily, there is some help in dodging your previous self as the orbs leave traces of their movements behind them in a faint glow – they also double up as making the game look even prettier, I imagined I was outlining the petals of a flower to have it only make my task harder when switching orbs.

Catch-22

That’s all there is to Catch-22. It’s not a lot but the simplicity of constantly dodging yourself back and forth, combined with the games gentle, pulsing music and hazily colored visuals makes it very alluring. When you do collide and the game resets, it’s all to easy just to press the button and start all over again and you’ll keep doing this until a big enough distraction comes along to pull you away.

The version I played wasn’t the final version but I was entirely sunk into the game, so you can imagine my shock when the developer told me they’ll have proper leaderboards so friends can compete with each other. They’ll never be able to pull themselves away! Catch-22 is due for a release on iOS initially and will cost a dollar or two, but the developer also told me that they are looking at releasing the game on Facebook for free and with the leaderboards. It seems like a solid move to me as I don’t think many people would pay to play the game on PC, but once they do (and they will if it’s free) they will never be able to tear themselves away.

You can find out more information on Catch-22 over on the game’s official website.


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‘ASDFPLANE’ – Proving There’s Life In Keyboard Interfaces Yet

ASDFPLANE

Of the many quotes that people extract from the airy words of Peter Molyneux, one of the most recent and relevant to this article is when he complained about the lacklustre state of controllers – “[A controller] is about as experimental as a brick these days. Because you know what it is, whatever game you do, you pick up this controller and you do the same. Your thumb moves here, you can’t move your thumb like this, you can only move it like this.”

We all know that the reason for this is so we can pick a game up and get going with out any faffing about before even getting to the playing part of game interaction. However, indie developers have the opportunity to experiment with these established norms in gaming and where better to start than changing how players directly interact with games upon first contact. Of course, many developers have already been doing this on a grand scale with the swish touchscreens on mobile devices. Tilts, swipes and prods have breathed new life into games on these devices, the same can be said of the motion controllers for consoles – while some despise these experiences, they are at least something different. What platform seems to be missing out on all of this interface innovation though? PC gaming. Either stuck with gamepads or the more traditional keyboard, any innovation to be had with these interfaces was presumed dead and buried a long time ago. It’s completely wrong to think that though as has been proven recently and is being continued to do so with ASDFPLANE.

You’ve no doubt heard of and hopefully played QWOP and GIRP, yes? Now, these games take the keyboard and make it something alien by using a different set-up from the common WASD or directional arrow controls. It is this tweak to the keyboard controls and the player’s inability to master them immediately, that the entire game is based around in these examples. QWOP is less intuitive than GIRP though, merely because its controls are just plain awkward when combined with the gameplay.

GIRP

Why is GIRP any more intuitive than QWOP? It’s simple really – the game has you climbing up a side of a mountain and this is actually emulated on a smaller scale on the player’s keyboard. Your fingers have to contort as if playing finger Twister in order to make sure your avatar reaches the foot and hand holds needed to ascend. Later on in the game, the player will have to let go of certain handholds and swing in order to reach higher places – all of this still be perfectly matched by the player’s fingers. Playing ASDFPLANE creates a similar physical connection between the player, the keyboard and what happens on screen and it’s great fun for it.

ASDFPLANE won’t be played by a vast majority of people simply because it is a local multiplayer game only (at least for the moment) and to play it each player will need a keyboard. The reason for this is because the act of flying a plane in ASDFPLANE requires the use of all of the lettered keys. You press Enter to join the game – players can drop-in and out at will – at which point your brightly colored plane will fall from the top of the screen amidst a heavenly ray of light. Immediately, your plane will start dropping to its untimely doom, unless the player has understood the controls; that’s rarely the case. Luckily, at least one person in the group can act as teacher, passing on their knowledge of this interface of which no one has encountered before. “How do I join?”, “Why do I keep falling?” and other questions of a similar ilk are heard from the pupils while the teacher holds the keyboard up and makes educatory gestures in demonstration.

What they should be telling them is something like the following. Using the lettered keys from here on out, the player will have to continuously mash the direction they want their plane to travel by hitting the corresponding direction on the keyboard. Simply put, hitting the bunch of keys in the top left of the keyboard will make the plane travel to the top left of the screen, the top right to the top right and so on. After about 10 minutes with these controls, the player will have advanced from crashing every five seconds to outmaneuvring the other players by taking risky dives across the screen and perilous ascents followed by sudden changes of direction. When not playing, it’s great to just watch new players slowly grasp the controls during the humming chorus of five keyboards being subjected to a barrage of eager finger bashing. You’ve never seen anything like it.

ASDFPLANE

The way you accumulate a score in ASDFPLANE, because this is of an arcade styling, is to simply stay alive on the screen and the points will rack up. Flying to the sides of the screen will result in a wraparound effect such as in Pac-Man and flying up will just move the playing field higher. Fly beyond the bottom of the screen though and your plane will be lost until the Enter key brings it back again. This isn’t a game of just flying around though, by pressing the Space bar players can fire at each other with ballistic contact sending the receiving plane hurtling towards the dreaded depths of death at the bottom of the screen. They are given a chance at revival, though it’s not easy. The word ‘REPAIR’ will appear on their plane and the player will have to type each letter in sequence (mistakes don’t matter) with success in typing the whole word meaning that they will survive, presuming they can pull up before they reach the limits of the screen. Like the rest of the controls, this seems like an impossible task at first but a few minutes in and most players are making swift recoveries and partaking in quite the aerial battle.

What is really great about ASDFPLANE is that it puts everyone on an equal playing field, firstly by having a completely unique control system but also such a simplistic one. Keyboards have always been precise with their button presses and require hours of getting used to – think RPGs and FPS’ in particular and how intricate their control systems are. ASDFPLANE rids itself of that in every way and presents what is almost a keyboard resembling a touchscreen – a giant direction-sensitive interface. If you get the chance to play ASDFPLANE how it’s supposed to be played then you definitely should.

ASDFPLANE was developed by MESHOFF, who you can find out more information about and their other games over on their official website.


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Indie Connect: Vlambeer On Practising “Sensible Nonsense”

Vlambeer

As the seats promptly filled in the auditorium, you could sense the anticipation for the development couple best known as Vlambeer to begin their talk on “Sensible Nonsense”. Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman have brought many of us simple hyperactive pleasures most famously in Radical Fishing and Super Crate Box, so to get a behind-the-scenes insight to their design practice was thrilling. Plus, they both knew how to engage an audience as showcased in their games, but in this case, upon a stage with a projector and a microphone each. This was going to be fun.

Once the unnecessary introduction was done with (of course we know who Vlambeer are!), the two developers moved on to highlighting a few games which they say use subtlety and implication to entice the player into its world. By this they meant that the game may not tell the player the back story directly, or reveal all of its secrets at first – the game designer lets the player soak it in subconsciously so that they may “feel” the game world.

There are different ways of doing this in a game as the examples showed. Metroid for example, uses its environment to indicate things to the player, but not with massive neon arrows but through subtle patterns, they also tell of the alien surroundings in a way that cutscenes or voice overs could not. The much more recent and prominent example of this technique is Fez – a game which designer Phil Fish, ached over for years to embed secrets and clues about its deeper meaning and story without shouting it via the megaphone which many other games resort to. The effect of such meticulous but hidden design is that new players won’t know the meaning contained in certain elements of the screenshot below:

Fez

The other example that Vlambeer gave is perhaps a more well-known one, or maybe it isn’t. Team Fortress 2 – on the surface a fun and highly popular multiplayer FPS. What many (or some?) people aren’t aware of is that it actually has a highly detailed back story. Each character and location has actual meaning behind it and feeds into the game’s overarching narrative, even the silly quips and banter between the characters all relates, either humorously and/or ironically, back to the game’s fiction. However, at no point is this ever explicitly revealed, told or otherwise shown to the player – only in Valve HQ, subtle hints and probably some fansites does this official narrative actually exist.

So what does this have to do with Vlambeer? Well, it’s something they’ve only recently discovered in themselves, but each of their games actually has a full fiction drawn up before the game even enters the development stage. They say they didn’t consciously set out to do this with all of their games, it’s just something that they inevitably end up doing and they now realise they they do they say it’s what shapes many of their games. People often refer to a “typical Vlambeer game” and they had no idea what this meant beforehand. Now they’re thinking that the one component that is common in all of their games is this idea of a ‘sensible nonsense’ – a fiction or narrative which they conjure up and base all of the game’s design and existence around. This ensures that their games are not completely random, though they may look like that to those not in the know, each game in fact has a very detailed backstory that Vlambeer argue and discuss a lot before and during development.

They feel that a game would just feel random and chucked together if that’s all it was, which is why they make a commitment to their ridiculous settings and stories, never veering off the canon they construct. Super Crate Box for example – where’s this so-called fiction in the game? Well, the game has three levels and in the background of each (as pointed out by Jan) there are some very loose connections. The construction level actually has a rocket silo in the background which you then actually use to reach the next level, the moon base. From there you then progress into the temple which is outlined in the background of the second level, and in the temple a statue rises up in the middle of the screen slowly but never actually does anything. It is this statue, this figure, that has caused all of these hostile critters to come at you – this thing is the mastermind behind the conflict in the game and why you are shooting the enemies. You’d never guess this though and Vlambeer don’t really want anyone to know because it doesn’t add anything to this “simple arcade game”; it all exists to benefit the game’s consistency during design.

Ridiculous Fishing

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at Radical Fishing and it’s upcoming follow up – Ridiculous Fishing. The first game Vlambeer ever made (yes, they’ve been making up unknown fictions forever!), Radical Fishing has you blasting away fish in an over-the-top realisation of ‘redneck fishing’, complete with fish flinging followed by fish guts spewing everywhere as you shoot them in mid-air. Now, in the game, if you highlight the pistol it says “you stole this from your wife, afraid of the day she would kill you”. This is related to the narrative in which Billy ran away from home and is scared to go back in case his wife actually does murder him – he’s sat there fishing in his boat to pass the time.

There’s a little more to it than that but the more interesting side of this is how it affects Ridiculous Fishing. Rami sat down with us after the talk and showed us the menu for Ridiculous Fishing – it’s a cellphone. However, it isn’t as it’s actually a piece of wood and you can see that behind its screen. What has happened is that Billy has been out in that boat, in the sun, fearing his wife for so long, that he has begun to hallucinate. While the average player might think “why is this phone actually a plank of wood”, the informed (as you are now) actually knows why behind this otherwise random element. Taking this further, the player can communicate with other people via this in-game phone and Rami told us that they present this as Billy talking to real people (why would you question it?) but they’re all imaginary people being contacted through his imaginary phone.

Vlambeer, as insane as their games are, actually invest a lot of thought and time into their fictions and are very serious about them. There were no tongues pressed against cheeks or faint smiles as they recounted these ridiculous narratives and their characters, they were deadpan (sort of) and very serious about their creations. The reason for this, they said on the stage at Indie Connect, is that it’s all too easy to get lost in randomness. So, having something solid to refer back to will make your game more engaging and, even though they aren’t aware of it, players will “feel” the cohesion of a committed-to canon.

Upon learning this information I realise that I have indeed felt the Vlambeer touch elsewhere, as they have talked about their development process before and encouraged others to use it. I received an email from Rami a few weeks back after writing about Ostrich Bandito’s High Vaultage and mentioning that it had a Vlambeer vibe:

“[I]ts funny you mentioned that Ostrich Banditos reminds you of us! Ostrich Banditos is the result of a optional seminar about running a game studio we gave a month or two ago at our old school. The only way to pass the class was to create & sell a game in three weeks. They were the only ones that made it”.

Gun Godz

There’s clearly something in this “sensible nonsense”. Vlambeer’s latest two games, Luftrauser and Gun Godz, also follows the rules they’ve laid down for themselves, as you would expect. They wanted to go mental with the WWII dogfighting world in Luftrauser but knew better to stick to what they had drawn up and remain to the more sensible backdrop they outlined for the game. The same could be said of Gun Godz which they made for Venus Patrol and has been released only to those who funded it. This is an old school FPS which has you blasting to a gangsta rap soundtrack while you ascend a hotel on Venus. Yes it’s crazy but still has a ‘serious’ backstory and the game’s end, which they showed during the talk, even caused Jan to admit that it was one of the most beautiful things he had made in a computer game, merely because of the story behind it which is only implied in places and never told to the player in any extended form.

For fear of even more repetition we’ll come to a close but now you have made it this far you can consider yourself in-the-know as to how Vlambeer work. They’re crazy as always, on the surface, but behind all of that is a very serious development philosophy that somehow ensures that all of that random, hyperactive goodness remains consistent and is true to at least itself through and through.


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Indie Connect: John Brodsky On Creative Music Games

John Brodsky

“I can’t stand Guitar Hero”, announced the ever-enthusiastic John Brodsky from Lucky Frame during his talk about Creative Music Games at Indie Connect. John brought a lot of energy and discussion to the festival on and off stage, so it was clear that he has a lot of passion for what he is doing. Before he divulged his stance on the more commercial side of rhythm/music games though, he exposed his roots. These were, not too surprisingly, planted in the punk rock scene – playing in a makeshift band and carrying the anti-establishment values that come as standard.

Of course, it’s not too much of a leap from that to the side of indie games, in which developers create their own games how they see fit and often do not conform to standard practices and teachings. That, when combined with being a kid of the modern age, made John all too eager to create his own games with a music core to drive them. The initial urge came from seeing what a friend and now colleague of his made – the Wii Loop Machine. Quite simply, this was a game in which the Wiimote could be used to chop up and rearrange music in an intuitive fashion. With the seeds sown, John took the plunge into programming so that he may move closer to that lifelong dream of creating his own game.

Thus, Musjik was born. This was a simple effort and mostly served as a seminal piece for what would become Lucky Frame’s later and more popular projects. One thing John realised he really wanted to achieve from this point onwards, was a simple and user-friendly interface for creating music. John remembers creating music on his Gameboy all those years ago and he grew very attached to that interface; the A and B buttons as well as the D-Pad. He claims that the majority of players get used to and rely on certain interfaces and refuse to let go of them. Therefore, he didn’t want something that would cause a barrier between the player and the act of creating music.

That is the most important thing for John and Lucky Frame, “creating music”, which is why he despises the franchises that allow players to play music – other people’s music, not the player’s own creations. Of course, there is some capacity for players to create their own music in those games but not to the degree that Lucky Frame look to achieve.

With all of this in mind, John showcased a prototype he made for his next game, Space Hero. What was clear from the start with this game is that John had made the act of creating music a recognisable game in itself. Imagine Space Invaders with falling shapes which, when shot, would emit a sound produced by a drum machine that loosely slotted in with the rhythm of the soundtrack.

Space Hero wasn’t a bad effort but it was inspiration from the Monome SHM Software that led up to his best creation so far. This electronic instrument is operated by a person pushing down on its grid interface which would cause several lights to come on in random places and emit corresponding sounds, eve more variation can be had if more than one square in the grid is pushed down. From this came a game jam creation in which the player could control the environment in a tower defense style game – the catch being that the player was trying to create music but the enemies would destroy it.

It’s not easy to adequately surmise what John was showing the audience but it clearly impressed the room for both its simplicity and originality. The latest work from John and Lucky Frame is, of course, Pugs Luv Beats – a take on the tower defense title from the jam with more polish and a whole lot more character. Still present was the grid-based interface though, which had different terrains spread across it as the titular pugs skipped across to different chimes collecting beetroot.

Now, the whole point of John’s talk on Creative Music Games was to inspire the many developers present in the room to start thinking about designing games with music in mind, as it clearly leads to some very interesting game designs. Not entirely self-indulgent, John pointed out a few examples of games that allowed the player to create their own music and to an impressive result. These were Tambour, FRACT OSC and Proteus, which we’ll now quickly outline.

Tambour is showcased as a drumming game primarily in a versus mode style attack-defend scenario. However, it can be played with just about anything as long as rhythms can be played. Mostly, it’s a strategy game with timing being the crucial factor as you would imagine. Players can deploy shields and fire cannons and hope for high scoring combos – the game’s 1.0 version is due to be released on May 8th.

FRACT OSC is no stranger to this publication. A puzzle game mostly, FRACT OSC has the player wondering around figuring out the music-based environment as they go. They’ll come across ancient machines that are in-game synthesizers that can be used to create custom music and with such an incredible range too.

Proteus is markedly different to the previous two examples in that the player doesn’t create the music so actively, but it is created around them, reacting to their movements. The game is best surmised by the idea that the developers a re conducting an electronic orchestra around the player as they explore. Animals, the elements and plant life are the instruments in this magical land.

John is clearly very experimental and ambitious with what he does and he’s been part of some brilliant game designs. Hopefully, upon sharing his creations and techniques we’ll start to see more of these creative music games emerge, not only because music is important to all of us and computer games, but also because it brings fresh approach to game design and leads to some exciting discoveries.


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‘A MAZE. Indie Connect’ Award Finalists Announced

The Most Amazing Game Award Trophy

The A MAZE. Indie Connect festival is fast approaching and so the entries have to be whittled down to the 10 finalists. Talking of which, they have just been announced so it’s time to give them a look!

After receiving many entries for the prestigious The Most Amazing Game award which will be presented at the Indie Connect festival in Berlin, April 26-27th, the judges have played the games and gone through the difficult process of narrowing down to just 10 finalists. The winner of the award will received €5000, the chance to attend European Indie Game Days and to distribute the game on Little Indie.

But who are the 10 finalists of which we speak? Scroll down dear and you will see:

“Each player has a keyboard, and the keyboard is mapped to the screen. To fly, hit letters that point towards your intended direction. If you get shot you have a chance to survive by typing REPAIR. To get a highscore you have to keep your plane on screen while shooting down other players.”

“Beatbuddy is the first music action-adventure. Being in control of the music creature Beatbuddy you work your way through a song and bring back the music. Since all the multi tracks of each song are translated in interactive game mechanics you’re able to experience music in
a different way.”


“Botanicula is point’n’click exploration game created by Amanita Design and Czech band DVA. It’s about a bunch of five friends – little tree creatures who set out for a journey to save the last seed from their home tree which is infested by evil parasites.”

“Chasing Aurora is an explorative 2D aerial action game about the dream of flight. Drop from the cliff and ride the wind from peak to peak. Fight for the beacon of light with up to three friends in the hostile environment of the Alps.”

“Flight of the Fireflies is an experimental video game where you guide a swarm of musical fireflies on an atmospheric journey through places and emotions. Unlike most video games, the focus is not on the challenge – but on the experience.”

“ibb and obb is a cooperative game for two. Work together in this non-newtonian world. In the bottom half of the world gravity is reversed, enabling ibb and obb to walk on both sides of the horizon. Find your way surfing on gravity, soulhopping enemies and collecting diamonds.”

“Loop Raccord is a video editing game about synchronizing a chain of video clips in order to create an illusion of continuous movement between them.”

“Proteus is a game about the joy of immersion and self-directed exploration, set on a surreal procedurally-generated island. Ruins and strange creatures draw the player into the four seasons of the world and everything around you adds a voice to the dynamically-mixed soundtrack to your wanderings.”

“You are Tiny, a technophile guy with a ray cutter, a gripping device and a fine attitude towards the world. But now your nemesis Big stole the only heritage your grandpa left you: A nice pair of fine rib underpants! And he‘s surely up to no good, why else would he take them up that haunted mountain…”

“Where is my Heart? is loosely based on Bernhard Schulenburg’s experience of a sunday hike, which he went on with his mom and his dad. They got lost in a forest and confronted with this problem they came to face each other’s negative personality traits.”

More information on the A MAZE. Indie Connect festival can be found on the event’s official website.


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Check Out The Entries For The ‘A MAZE. Indie Games Award 2012′

A MAZE. Indie Connect 2012

The many entries for the A MAZE. Indie Games Award 2012 have been revealed for your pleasure, with the winner being announced during the Indie Connect Festival in Berlin later in April.

If you’re a game developer you may have entered your game to be in the running for the A MAZE. Indie Games Award 2012 which will be presented across April 26-27th in Berlin during the Indie Connect Festival. If so, then you should be going frantic right now because the entries for the award have been revealed over on the official website.

If your game is up there then you stand a chance of being chosen as a finalist and then exhibited at the Indie Connect Festival where it will be judged by the prestigious panel, where Chris Adkins of IGM will be sitting of course. If your game is selected as the festival’s Most Amazing Game then you’ll be rewarded with €5000 and all the publicity that comes with it!

For those who aren’t a hopeful developer then it’s definitely worth checking out the line up over on the official website as there are some rather promising games in there and of course all of them deserve all of the attention they get.

If you’re attending the A MAZE. Indie Connect festival then be sure to look out for IGM, hop over and have a chat – we’ll love it! More information on the festival can be found on the official website.