Last week had a somewhat heavy Ludum Dare focus (arguable like most weeks), so this week I will aim to avoid Ludum Dare, simply for a bit of verity. Today’s entry comes from the two man team at Toge Productions from Australia and is a very interesting zombie infection game.
Each level on Infectonator 2 you are given a scenario in one of the places around the world. In each of these scenarios you are given a variety of different goals for that scenario to complete. The goals range from the easy to the much more taxing and can take a significant time investment to complete them all, this is why the save feature does come in handy.
The infection mechanic is great and works well overall. There are upgrades that tie into the mechanics of the game which work well in adding additional levels of variety and customization.
The overall graphics styling has been very well put together in a great cartoon manner that adds a bit more of a light hearted take on this zombie epidemic. All the scenes have been lovingly created with a nice amount of variety, yet they all feel consistent within the theme the game portrays.
The audio has been put together well with a few interesting musical choices which vary enough to keep the music continually interesting. Although it has clearly been put a little bit on the back burner it ties into the game well and is something that cannot be complained about overall.
Average play time – less than an hour
Infectonator 2 is a fun little time waster which does feel repetitive after a short time, but it works perfectly as a minor distraction. It is well worth your time and has very well constructed gameplay mechanics that works well for its duration.
Infectonator 2 can be played on Newgroundhere. Toge Productions site can be found here.
If you are a developer with A fun indie game that can be played over a coffee break, we want to hear from you! Private message us on twitter @IndieGameMag or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Indie Intermission” and you could be our indie intermission pick of the day!
Over the weekend Eurogamer Expo hosted tens of thousands of gaming fanatics in the UK’s biggest gaming exhibition. Eurogamer this year hosted many new up and coming titles, both from the AAA market and the indie scene, with the Rezzed indie booth. The Rezzed indie booth allowed the public to get a hands on preview with many new titles from great indie developers such as Muse game’s Guns Of Icarus.
The whole show was a great experience with many competitions, exclusives and great developer conferences to fill up the 36 hours the Expo was open. Over the total four days at the Expo I was able to talk to many indie developers to find out a little more about their games and their studios overall, providing a very interesting insight into their current works. So expect to see many exclusive interviews going up on IGM over the next weeks along side previews and reviews for the latest indie titles shown.
Like any Expo it had a whole wealth of characters with the Cosplay fanatics, some highly intricate whilst others being a last minute attempt, but all entertaining. There was even a Resident Evil zombie make-up section to allow people to become zombified and shamble around the Expo floor, nothing completes a gaming event like zombies after all.
Not all the fun however happened on the floor area, with conferences held with developers and panels ranging across many different fields. The conferences not only created a podium for big publishers but they also opened their doors to Dean Hall the creator of DayZ, giving a very informative talk about his ambition to create the full stand alone game. As well as Introversion Software talking about their long history and the development so far on Prison Architect.
Along side the developer conferences Eurogamer Expo hosted the Games Industry Fair. The fair had a lot of interesting booths to check out about the gaming industry, with Friday hosting the highly informative career sessions covering how to make indie games to video game journalism. The VOD’s for the Games Industry career sessions can be found here.
Now with things slowly getting back to normal expect to see a great deal more information from Eurogamer Expo come to the site. Be sure to stay tuned to The Indie Game Magazine for the scoop on the Expo.
Want to get funding for your indie game? One of today’s Developer Links addresses how to approach publishers, while another discusses what’s currently going on with indie games on Kickstarter… and in another, a developer explains why he doesn’t use Kickstarter himself. Also, a look back at a famous indie game that was released two years ago and is still selling strong, and an indie developer shares some of her earliest, previously unpublished efforts…
Amnesia – Two Years Later (In The Games Of Madness)
“It has now passed a little more than two years since we launched Amnesia and one year since the last report, so time for another! One would think that there is perhaps not much to be said this long after release, especially for a single player game with no built-in social features. But the fact is that Amnesia is still going very strong and 2012 will probably be the best financial year here at Frictional Games, which we would never had expected two years ago.”
My Kickstarter Love/Hate (Cliffski.com)
“So kickstarter has raised a bazillion dollars for games. rejoice hurrah etc! I have a love/hate relationship with the idea. On the one hand, it’s awesome to see indie devs get games made that they didn’t have the money to make otherwise, as the alternative (gradually building up over time) took me about ten years to get to the standard of games most people know me for… On the other hand, it’s selling a dream, and a pretty unlikely and far-off dream at that.”
XNA-To-Unity: The Radiangames Method (Radiangames)
“Now with 4 full games ported to 2 major new platforms (iOS and PC/Mac), an all-new game based on the same XNA-based game structure, and another larger game on the way, I think I can say the transition was a success. Many more XBLIG developers have made the transition from XNA to Unity, but some are still in the process or are only considering it still. For them, and for others who prefer a more code-based game structure than Unity normally provides, I’m now going to share more details of my particular XNA-to-Unity path.”
Indie Tools: Blender (IndieGames.com)
“You may have already heard of Blender, the 3D open source suite, as an excellent option for creating 3D graphics and models. Well, that is definitely true. Blender is a 3D tool that actually makes sense for me (I successfully created an almost passable castle) and everyone seems to agree that is both powerful and pretty straightforward to use… The game creation advantages are pretty obvious, especially for artists and indie devs wanting to impress with shiny 3D stuff, but what really impressed me is the fact that Brender actually comes with a complete Game Engine.”
The Video Game Kickstarter Report – Week Of September 14 (Zeboyd Games)
“The big new kickstarter for this week just started a few hours ago. It’s a new RPG from Obsidian Entertainment called Project Eternity. Goal of $1.1 million but they’re already up to $344k after a few hours so they probably will make it. The game is designed to be a great homage to classic PC RPGs like Baldur’s Gate & Planescape: Torment and will feature the talents of Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer.”
Disclaimer:These are not full reviews, and shouldn’t be treated as such. No final scores will be given, as these are extended opinions of a few hours of play at most, and may not give every aspect of the game a fair shake. Feel free to disagree, heckle, kvetch or even just discuss things reasonably in the handy comments section below.
Once more unto the breach. Another two lesser-known, budget-priced indie games snatched from the overflowing backlog, and put on The Chopping Block for dissection and, ultimately, judgement.
Shepherd Slaughter is a roguelike. You’ve got a magical macguffin to assemble, and bits of it have been scattered around a far-off land and hidden away in ten dungeons. You’ve got almost no equipment, just one life to do it in, and the entire continent is crawling with hundreds of monsters. Good luck!
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of roguelikes in general, whether they be traditionalist, action-oriented, 2D, 3D or anything inbetween. The core experience of delving into increasingly dangerous labyrinths and tunnels, seeking glory, loot and character progression is an addictive combination, and that’s largely what Shepherd Slaughter gets right. There’s the heart of a good game in here, but it’s wrapped in production values that do it no good at all.
I have nothing against ugly games, or even games without graphics at all. Brogueis a masterclass in design, showing that you can practically drown the player in useful, pertinent information without using a single sprite. Despite using animated sprite graphics, Shepherd Slaughter‘s main issue is that it conveys almost nothing clearly. The sprites themselves are crude beyond reason, almost reminiscent of the Atari 2600 era, where enemies were so abstract that the manual had to explain what you were even fighting. While it’s possible to learn what each enemy in this game looks like, it really takes a lot of time to clearly differentiate an Orc from a Goblin.
The other main issue with the game is the core combat engine is possibly a little too simple. Enemies tend to walk directly towards you, and you hit the button to swing your melee weapon (which looks like you’re just waggling it randomly in front of yourself) which knocks your enemy back and does damage. Then you do it again and again until it dies. Ranged combat is effectively identical, only with a projectile instead of a waving damage-field. There’s just no subtlety or weight to it. This isn’t helped by the apparent complete lack of sound effects. There’s some generic RPG adventurin’ tunes burbling away in the background, but not a single clanging sword or monster growl to be heard.
There’s some interesting extra elements, such as a survival/defense mode where you’re guarding a flock of sheep (hence the title), but even that’s a rather limited single-screen affair, and the building interface you’re given to help fence in your wooly friends is bare-bones at best. There’s some good concepts here – the world is large, the dungeons complex, and the environment destructible through the use of the right tools – but the crude graphics and awkward combat hurt it badly. So, moving on…
After several rounds of Zombie Football Carnage, I don’t think I’ve seen a single zombie. Sure, I’d killed mummies, robots, hellhounds, floating eyeballs, golems, dinosaur heads with motorcycle wheels and some other seriously weird creature designs, but not a single zombie, despite them featuring prominently on the box-art. Odd indeed.
Also odd is the choice of using an American Football theme on a very basic arena shooter. Any comparisons to the classic Mutant League Football are immediately crushed. The entire game is a wave-based survival shooter, where you run around the screen blatting increasingly tough sets of monsters using a homing, auto-targetting projectile football, which can be comboed into multiple rapid hits by tapping the fire button again just as the ball hits its mark. You also have a dodge move that lets you pass through enemy groups without harm, a charge attack that does close range AoE damage, and can pick up a variety of single-use offensive and defensive powerups.
The decision to have a global leaderboard is undermined by almost every design decision in the game itself. Enemy waves are randomly chosen, and the difficulty of them wildly varies depending on enemy types, with a horde of slow-moving melee enemies being a cakewalk, and a randomly spawning mob of projectile-spitting critters being almost impossible to avoid damage from. Item hand-outs are similarly random, and can either be game-winning or completely useless.
The final nail in the coffin for anything approaching a balanced scoreboard is the persistent upgrade store which lets you spend money accrued across all playthroughs to boost all your stats, weapon power levels and more. These are permanent, and without any penalty to score, no matter how much you grind, and no matter how much you repeat. The production values on this one are high, and the spritework is charming and imaginative, but Zombie Football Carnage really doesn’t seem to know what it’s trying to be.
At $4, Milkstone are probably asking for too much. The game is a refugee from the faltering Xbox Live Indie Games store, where it was originally priced at just a single dollar. Back on home turf, it had the likes of I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 to compete with, and within the same price bracket. On the PC, you can get the likes of Alien Shooter 2 – a game which offers a modicum of depth on top of some cataclysmic monster-grinding carnage – for just a dollar more, and there’s a whole raft of polished Flash and Unity games that you can play for free on Newgrounds or Kongregate with more depth and smarter design.
The Verdict: Sad to say, but I just can’t recommend these two. In both cases, there are better games available both as freeware and commercial offerings. Shepherd Slaughter has a solid underlying design but is held back badly by the overly-simplistic art style and low production values all round, and while Zombie Football Carnage has great art and presentation the game itself is haphazardly thrown together. It feels like a quick attempt to push out a game on XBLIG – it might have been able to survive there, but not on PC. Keep an eye on IGM tomorrow for yet another game on… The Chopping Block.
Good Morning Gato # 97 – Oppa Gato Style (Ska Studios)
“We went to PAX! Gato sends her regrets that she was not able to attend as she was tied up all weekend in an international business meeting. Be extra sure to click all the clickables in this week’s Good Morning Gato. You wouldn’t want to miss a single brilliant gem.”
$100 (Thinking In Rectangles)
“So yeah, there’s a big debate this week about greenlight’s $100 fee. I thought I’d come on here and type up my fully formed opinion, because I continue to put my foot in it on twitter. I think others are saying far wiser and more interesting things on the subject, but I want to put my own opinion up, then shut up..”
The Video Game Kickstarter Report – Week of September 9 (Zeboyd Games)
“The biggest new video game kickstarter in the past few days is for a Homestuck Adventure Game. It’s at $853k ($700k goal) with 26 days left which already places it as one of the top 10 highest grossing video game kickstarters. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Homestuck before now but apparently it’s a rather popular webcomic with a weird sense of humor.”
Musing On Iterative Creative Perfection (Cliffski.com)
“The film ‘wanted‘ was on TV here again recently. I’ve seen it maybe 4 times now, and although it has lots of men shooting guns, for once it’s a film like that I really like, mostly because the actual gun bits are irrelevant. It’s a film about breaking out of a rut, in a job/relationship/life you hate, and becoming someone important and doing something you believe in. No wonder I love it.”
Friday Flashback #30: The Return From The PAX (Broken Rules)
“We’re back home! After a few tumultuous days in Seattle, indulging the crazy event called PAX Prime 2012, we’ve finally returned home to use the knowledge we’ve gathered for good. But before we let you know about this week’s achievements, we’d like to present you some of the feedback we’ve received.”
Flow – A Coroutine Kernel for .Net (AltDevBlogADay)
“This post will present a small library called Flow that abuses .Net’s IEnumerable functionality, providing a Kernel for cooperative multitasking based on the concept of coroutines.”
Tech Feature: HDR Lighting (In The Games Of Madness)
“Hello my name is Peter and I’m the new graphics and engine programmer. New is not really the correct word since I have been working at Frictional for a year now. During this time I have updated the engine and added a lot of new graphic features. This will be the first of my blog posts descripting the changes that have been made.”
Earlier this year Bill Borman founded a brand new indie game studio known as Moment Studio, and as a result, has just released his first game, Skylight. This particular game is a platformer where you will jump on randomly generated platforms in a desperate attempt to get back to where you belong, which happens to be in space. The cool thing about Skylight is that you will never experience anything repetitive in levels. It’s all randomly generated, so every time you start a new game, you can expect to have a new challenge to face.
The music in Skylight is a major part of the game. Borman has created his very own sounds and music for Skylight as opposed to the average developer who would hire someone else to did it for them. With that said, due to the unique and creative music alone, it’s definitely at least worth checking out the demo of this new title. All of that aside, after many long hours of hard labor, Borman has finally released his game for only $2.50 on his company’s website for both Windows and Mac. He’s really created something unique for a very low price, and I for one, will be checking out the game.
It’s an interesting concept, actually. You jump from platform to platform, until you — of course — fall off and die. Think of it as Doodle Jump, which you may have played on iOS or Android, except in 3D format. Reaching high scores is always fun too, which along with the music, may also be a driving element of the game.
Would it be possible to make a game like Portal in 2D? Or a stealth game where you can’t see the movement of enemies out of your character’s line of sight? Or a game where things that aren’t illuminated cease to exist? Today’s Indie Links say yes to all of these, and more.
To The Moon: A Lesson In Interactive Storytelling (Funsponge)
“Being a younger medium, interactive storytelling is still defining its language. Writers from more traditional backgrounds are adapting their tool kits, but dictating our experience in those terms often comes at the expense of interactivity. To the Moon falls into this category, for the most part you’re just along for the ride, but when the ride is so compelling, none of that seems to matter.”
I Have Played: Dark Scavenger (Scripted Sequence)
“Many of the best things in life derive from unexpected combinations. The peanut butter and jam sandwich, for example, is humanity’s single most glorious achievement, and yet a mathematical quandary: the sum is greater than its parts. Psydra Games’ adventure-RPG Dark Scavenger is born of a similar (if less hyperbolic) phenomenon. It sequences DNA from Phantasy Star and Zork, adds a dash of Discworld: The Trouble With Dragons, and feels like it might have been lovingly raised by Armando Iannucci’s comedic imagination — an analogy that’s bereft of Dark Scavenger’s triumphs and near-misses, but full of its spirit.”
Review: Mark of the Ninja Brings 2D Stealth With Style (Ars Technica)
“Mark of the Ninja is utterly defined by the lack of information it gives players in key situations. If you want to know if there’s a guard in the next room, you have to lean up against the door and look through the keyhole (and be sure to dart away if he’s about to open that door). If you want to know if you’ll be spotted when you climb up over that ledge, you need to carefully peek your head up around the corner first. When you duck back down, a hazy, slowly fading red outline will tell you the guards’ last observed position, but you can still track their movements by watching the small grey circles that represent their subtle footfalls.”
Wot I Think: Closure (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“How many lives must be expended to put in a lightbulb? If a tree falls in a forest but there is no light to show its final position, can it bridge the gap across a chasm? These and other philosophical quandaries are answered in Tyler Galiel’s Closure, a platform-puzzler that constitutes a sinister journey comprised of a thousand tricks of the light. Here’s wot I think.”
[PAX] Turning Into A Chicken: A Hands-On With Guacamelee (Twinfinite)
“Metroidvania games have become as numerous as the leaves in a tree. Two classic series with admirable gameplay? Who wouldn’t want to mash them together and try to make a game. More often than not, the game is mediocre or just plain bad. Sometimes it turns out pretty good. Rarely, the right ingredients come together to make one damn good game. Guacamelee falls in this last category. Hit the jump to see why.”
Portabliss: Super Hexagon (iOS) (Joystiq)
“I feel weird about rendering a verdict about a game I’ve played for, at most, 48 seconds in a single session, but that’s just how Super Hexagon works. Besides, that 48 seconds was hard-won after dozens of less successful, even briefer attempts. I’m reasonably sure I get the idea.”
Storyteller Is An Incredibly Original And Surprisingly Deep Indie Game (FULLNOVAZERO)
“…His own game, Storyteller was going to be shown for one hour the next day. I, as always, was curious to see what this was all about. My friends and I got locked into a match of Natural Selection 2 the next morning and when everything was done I checked my phone and ran over to the Spy Party booth with only 10 minutes left. Now I’m glad I did, because this is one of the most original games I’ve played in a long time.”
From today’s Developer Links, you can learn things like tactical level design, how to contact the press, or, for the more technically minded, how to use OpenGL with Native Client and a possible avenue for homebrew development on the Vita.
The Metrics Of Space: Tactical Level Design (Gamasutra)
“What makes good level design? PhD and educator McMillan — who’s worked with Ubisoft to create a curriculum for game design — examines how point of view effects players, showcasing a variety of gameplay scenarios which show different tactical choices players may be confronted with.”
Too Many Ideas (Cliffski.com)
“I had, I thought, pretty much decided what game I was going to do after I release my expansion pack for Gratuitous Tank Battles. it’s the third idea I had for a new game. And then, there I was watching a TV show which is (in some ways) relevant to one of my other ideas, and I was musing over doing that one instead, and then lo! believe it or not, a TV ad appears which reminded me of the other idea.”
Bringing Regal OpenGL To Native Client (AltDevBlogADay)
“Porting your game to Native Client and Android just got a lot easier. The new OpenGL portability library ‘Regal’ emulates legacy GL features such as immediate mode and fixed function pipeline. Regal is the ‘Write Once, Run Everywhere’ GL library. Read on for more details on Regal and how it got ported to Native Client.”
“I’ll admit, I was caught by surprise and increasingly upset by the number of people I’ve encountered on the internet who couldn’t possibly conceive of a scenario whereby you own a computer, you own all the development software and you make videogames but you can’t possibly have $100, closely followed by the ‘if you’re serious, you’ll have $100 dollars’ crowd. I know it’s not said with any sort of malice and I know that a lot of it comes out of a genuine inability to understand how that’s even possible. Jonas has touched upon the broader scope of things but as I touched on, angrily, on Twitter earlier I’ve learned exactly how it’s possible. I’m not going to go too in depth but the past 2 years of my existence are how it’s really, really, not inconceivable that such a scenario should arise.”
Indie Tools: Impact (IndieGames.com)
PolyPusher Studios launched an Indiegogo campaign to help get Montague’s Mount into players’ hands faster. Montague’s Mount is a tense, story-driven, first person adventure game, set on an isolated Irish island. PolyPusher Studios promises Montague’s Mount to be a psychological roller coaster through the mind of the protagonist as he deals with isolation, desolation, and more.
Montague’s Mount is such a complex story, that the game will be broken into three episodes, with the first episode releasing this winter. Episodes 2 and 3 are planned to be released spring and summer of 2013 respectively.
With the Indiegogo campaign, the donations earned will ensure that Montague’s Mount is exactly as the developer envisions it. The first Chapter is nearly 75% complete, and if stage one funding ($15,000) is met, a Holiday 2012 release is guaranteed. As usual, there are perks for donating certain amount of money to the campaign.
Some of the donation perks:
$10 – A digital copy of Episode 1, and name listed as a “backer” on the official website
$15 – A spot as a Beta Tester for Episode 1, and all previous perks
$60 – “Art Pack” exclusive desktop wallpapers, mobile device wallpapers, a signed copy of concept art, the soundtrack for the game, and all previous perks
$250 – Opportunity to name part of the island, all previous perks
$1,000 – “Sponsor” Get your company logo listed prominently on the official website, and during the game’s startup.
If financial support cannot be given to the Indiegogo campaign, then you can still help support Montague’s Mount by voting for it on Steam Greenlight, here, and of course posting to Twitter and Facebook about the campaign.
Visit Montague’s Mount on Indiegogo, here, and pledge your support today.
Be sure to follow the developer on Twitter: @montaguesmount and visit the official website, here, for more information.
Santa Vs Banker. No one saw that one coming did they? Affinity Tech, the developers of this grand game, based in Dublin, Ireland and are the minds behind this extremely hilarious side-scrolling platformer pursuit game. Santa Vs Banker is a follow up game to the upcoming “Joe Vs Banker” game. What is this game all about exactly though? The goal of the game is to essentially help Santa stay ahead of the Banker, the Baliff and an extremely vicious dog. Even though they sound cruel as it is, the three get even worse as thy attempt to repossess Santa’s sleigh, his reindeer, and presents to completely dash the hopes and dreams of Children whom await a Christmas full of presents.
Affinity Tech is designing Santa Vs Banker in a way that players will experience beautifully designed rooftops. Not only that, but you the player will be able to throw presents down the chimneys while avoiding obstacles and your terrible enemies who wish to stop you. Santa Vs Banker really has a jingle (see what I did there?) to it, and really has a lot of potential, even if it is a silly platformer. Affinity Tech really does have a lot of creativity being poured into this specific title, but they also need the help funding the game. Thankfully, their goals aren’t completely extreme and are only asking for a small amount of $10,000, which really isn’t much when it comes to develping a game.
If you’d like, you can head on over to IndieGoGo where you’ll be able to look at the numerous reward tiers and find out for yourself if this project is worth donating to or not. Affinity Tech has plans to bring Santa vs Banker to the PC, but will also be putting out the game on Android and iOS in a different campaign. You can check out more information about the developer by heading to their website.