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

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Indie ‘Space Bundle’ Registered On Steam, Details Inside

Shattered Horizon

Well it’s a been a bundling good week but we’re starting off this fresh one with a fresh bundle, this time courtesy of the folks behind Steam. Very recent to hit the Steam registry is a “Space Bundle” and with it all the juicy details on the contents. Five games overall are included and each of them quite stellar in their own right; ranging from deep strategy to first person shooter and a couple of simulators thrown in for good measure too.

While we don’t have the release date or price, we can give it an estimate if need be but there isn’t one – we’re more patient than that. Though in saying that we realise how good a bundle this is and can’t for its release, which we safely predict to be by the end of this week. Anyway, enough rabble and on to the contents!

First person shooters may be fairly stale at the current moment in time, but there is a little bit of room for something different, as Shattered Horizon proved when it was released back in 2009. This multiplayer experience allows players to float around in zero gravity with the aid of their rocket pack for some control of course. The perils of floating off into space are outweighed by your company though – a bunch of other players who have been told to kill you. Lovely. There are single player maps with bots to help you hone your skills luckily, or if the servers are empty which hopefully won’t be the case.

A highly thought of space strategy title, Gratuitous Space Battles avoids clickfests by making the player think deeply about their set-up, from designing space ships from detailed modules to organizing a fleet to take on huge armies of the enemy. Once the orders are given it’s time to see how things work out; the result is always jaw dropping, either because the visual display or your ships are being utterly destroyed.

Taking god games to an entirely different scale, Universe Sandbox gives you exactly that as well as the freedom to manipulate it to your will. Place stars, galaxies, planets and moons in an attempt to build your very own galaxy and to some spectacular results. The most fun can be had by toying with the in-game physics though; galaxy-sized collisions, impossible orbits and mind-bending distortion can be had with complete simplicity.

A fairly typical allies versus axis setup dominates the space battlefields in Stellar Impact. You’ll commandeer a battleship of your choosing – each with their own set-up – and then take out those frustration issues on the enemy in some very colorful space scenes, which are only improved with the firepower from the tussle. The listing on Steam has the DLC included with the purchase in the bundle.

Accurately described as a space flight simulator, Lunar Flight is a modern take on Lunar Lander meaning that it comes with a series of missions to complete, experience to gain and spend and time trial challenges with online leaderboard support. As would seem logical, this is a game all about physics and the mastering of them, so it’s not going to be easy transporting all that cargo, acquiring data at survey locations and locating the lost cargo.

Look out for the Space Bundle to arrive on Steam sometime this week. We reckon it will go live either on Wednesday or more likely Friday. It’s a good bundle of games and the price is undoubtedly going to be very worthy of a purchase, even if you have a couple of these games already.


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Hammer Time: ‘John Lee’s Day Of Awesome Power’ Released For Free

John Lee's Day Of Awesome Power

Making a debut game is always a harrowing experience – so many things to learn, unpredictable mishaps to delay proceedings and the pressure of making something people actually want to play. The 2D Team have managed to pull through with John Lee’s Day Of Awesome Power; an action platformer of sorts. Oh sorry, I meant a SMASHING action platformer.

Those blasted aliens have landed on Earth again. As the boy who has “never had a boring day in his life”, it’s up to John Lee to sort them out. John Lee’s is certainly a praiseworthy effort for a first game. There’s not a whole lot to it really, and that’s a good thing we might add, you travel to the right running and jumping and occasionally bringing a rather large hammer atop the heads of the foe scattered around. When that fails: fireballs! There are power ups too, these can be stacked as well so that they more you have, the more devastating your attack will be.

Then of course you have the bosses, of which we’ve only seen the giant eye at the moment. Seems like a good thing to look at but lacks much in the way of ferocity – maybe some more animation to spruce it up? We’ll give the game a full review soon but from what we’ve played so far it’s pretty fun and worth trying out. Until we give our more full verdict, you can have a look at the trailer below and grab the game yourself for free from the official download page.

More information on John Lee’s Day Of Awesome Power can be found over on the game’s official website.


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All Or Nothing: Iain Lobb Goes All In With ‘Super Gun Kids’

Super Gun Kids

As an indie game developer you have to make all of the important decisions by yourself, and often this involves taking a risk. Iain Lobb, creator of Flash games, has made a decision recently that has forced him to make a lot of cutbacks. While working on his sidescrolling puzzle platformer Alice: Beyond The Looking Glass he started to doubt the integrity of the project and pretty much decided to postpone development while the visual artist made some necessary amendments.

Iain also wanted to start working with “MOAR GUNS” and so he returned to Super Gun Kids and this time he’s giving it everything he’s got by going full time indie. Scary stuff. Super Gun Kids is a sidescrolling shooter, simply put. The emphasis is on a large range of weapon and enemy types. Zombies and ninjas are prominent in these early stages, as well as shotguns, pistols, automatic rifles, explosives and flammables. There’s also a shop where players will be able to sell weapons and get new ones at their own disposal.

Despite the focus on what could be classed as a violence-heavy game, Iain is not keen to throw gore all over the place. As such, he as settled on small pink splats which apparently indicate life force rather than blood. Iain also revealed that Super Gun Kids will support two player as well, and had to tackle the issue of how far apart each player could get. The solution was to zoom the screen out and once the limit is reached, the second player is then teleported back to player one.

You can see in the picture gallery below how things are starting to shape up for the game; the style is certainly there, the inventory is coming along nicely alongside the rest of the HUD. Check out Iain’s development blog for more updates of this type.

Super Gun Kids
Super Gun Kids
Super Gun Kids
Super Gun Kids
Super Gun Kids
Super Gun Kids
Super Gun Kids


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Dev Links: Under the HUD

Today’s Developer Links include links about many aspects of game development, from funding to feedback.

Botanicula Soundtrack Vinyl Edition (Amanita Design)
“Botanicula Soundtrack is released on 12″LP in edition of 1000 copies, whilst 300 copies are on turquoise vinyl, 300 copies on amber vinyl and 400 copies on standard black. Each copy features three large format inserts [30x30 cm] with art reproductions by Jaromír Plachý, author of the game artwork, and as always, a coupon with a code to download MP3/FLAC versions of the album.”

Indie Tools: Inform 7 (IndieGames.com)
Inform 7 is being described as a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. Shockingly, it does exactly what it says on the tin (and quite a bit more), while simultaneously being a truly powerful tool for creating intricate pieces of interactive fiction on most platforms you’d care to mention.”

For Indies, With Love: TIGA Releases a Guide to Self-Publishing (IndieGameMagazine)
“The TIGA Guide to Self-Publishing: Liberating the Developer is designed to help out with the business side of game publishing for the small developer. In their announcement, TIGA recognises the growing trend sparked by the growing opportunities for developers to release their games without a publisher, particularly in mobile gaming and the social media space.”

A DRP Picture’s Worth a Bunch of Words, Part 2 (Dejobaan Games)
“Continuing our discussion of our first-person arena shooter prototype Drunken Robot Pornography, we discuss here the abstract HUD and the power-ups that affect it and the player.”

Swordfight is Good Art (Mommy’s Best Devlog)
“The experience here is only possible because of a game. Photos or videos don’t do it justice. No amount of reading about it (don’t quit reading! :) or watching conveys the full experience, it must be played. Interaction being the defining distinction of games.”

Frictionless Feedback (Cliffski.com)
“One thing that a lot of companies don’t get is the importance of frictionless feedback.
All companies perpetuate the myth that they want to hear from customers. They pretend to value their feedback, and want to hear from them, regardless whether or not the feedback is good or bad. In very few cases is this really true. I’m not referring to actually abusive or threatening feedback, which obviously just gets binned.”

The Kickstarter Video Game Report – Week of May 4 (Zeboyd Games)
Shadowrun Returns finished up with a solid $1.836 million. Leisure Suit Larry finished with $655k. Yogventures! is up to $514k with 2 days left. Grim Dawn is almost funded with $256k ($280k goal) and 2 weeks left to go. Jane Jensen’s Moebius is up to $266k of its $300k goal with 2 weeks left. Republique is at $221k, about $100k more than they had last week, but unless something amazing happens, they’re not reaching $500k in the next week. Is snagging David Hayter and Jennifer Hale the miracle that will turn this kickstarter around? We’ll see this week.”

Luftrausers Devlog #1 (Vlambeer)
“LUFTRAUSER was about feeling like the coolest person in the world. You sat behind your computer but really you’re a pilot going 5 million miles an hour shooting enemies and making water splash up behind you and doing loopings all while smoking multiple cigarettes at once and reading the newspaper.  In the highly anticipated superlative sequel, we are bringing you more of that & we’re letting you do it your way. You will be able to get dirty and build your own RAUSER from the ground up. By destroying enemies, completing missions and all that you will unlock new parts. Parts come in 3 types: weapons, bodies and engine.”


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‘CraftStudio’ Is Now In Alpha-Land, Can Make Actual Games

CraftStudio

In recent years there has been a conscious effort to make coding more accessible by essentially simplifying it for those who don’t necessarily have any prior knowledge. In this way, many people who weren’t able to make a game due the restrictions brought around by coding, are now give game development a try. One of the latest tools to cater to this is CraftStudio, which was introduced to us a couple of months ago and seemed pretty impressive. Now it’s made its way out of the early pre-alpha stage and has quite firmly landed in “Alpha-land” as its developer amusingly called it.

The idea behind CraftStudio is to actually make game development even more fun than it is, so that it almost feels like you’re playing. You can even make games in a multiplayer scenario if need be. It’s rather clever. Let’s move on to outlining the alpha changes though. First off you should know that the price has now gone up in price to €15, but the free version is still available for trying out. Then you have the major additions, which are listed below:

  • Game Export so you can actually make games now
  • Initial Scripting Support which is detailed in the wiki
  • Game Control Setup Panel
  • Bundled Server
  • New Update System
  • Better Tab Sizing
  • Map Preview
  • Network Improvements
  • Improvements For Animation Key Frames
  • New Orientation Gizmo
  • Support For Left Handed Mouse
  • Countless Bugfixes

You can get the more in-depth details regarding this alpha update over on the official blog. If you’re keen though, you should most likely just jump right on in to the kit and start making games. The developer has already made one and put up a video of it after just 24 hours of development, it looks pretty good too, check it out below:

You can try out CraftStudio for free and buy the full version over on the official website.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Report To The Bridge

ArtemisThis batch of Indie Links includes more indie games than you can shake a (joy)stick at, including dozens of entries in the latest Ludum Dare!

Browser Game Pick: Parameters (IndieGames.com)
“Nekogames’ Parameters is all about stat (“parameter”) building, with simple controls and addictive (in a Farmville kind of way) gameplay. Players clear areas by clicking on them, dragging the mouse to pick up the experience and money dropped. The yellow areas represent battles, which can be quite tough without the right parameters. Clearing rooms affords experience points that can be distributed to recovery (of life and action parameters), attack, and defense parameters.”

Discrimination Pong Inspires Frustration, Discomfort On iOS (IndieGames.com)
“Designed by art collective and-or, Discrimination Pong visualizes discrimination and racism through intentional gameplay defects. During each match, the “not so white-paddle” is made more difficult to see and control as gameplay progresses, while the white paddle receives a variety of unfair advantages.”

Intrusion 2 (PixelProspector)
Intrusion 2 is a physics based platform shooter. Collect different weapons, interact with the environment (rocks, trees, snowballs…), fight against big bosses and ride on a huge wolf… Oh and you can also jump into a sword wielding robo suit. Pretty entertaining stuff!”

Lufthauser: Still Amazing (Hookshot Inc.)
“The thing about Luftrauser, I reckon, is that it’s best not to think of your aircraft as a plane. Don’t blast around relentlessly: instead, move in quick shunts, racing past groups of enemies and then dropping back through the pack and picking them off as you please. It’s more like a weaponised Lunar Lander or anAsteroids riff than a traditional flying shooter.”

Artemis – Spaceship Bridge Simulator (IndieGames.com)
“Artemis is after all the only multiplayer-only game that simulates a spaceship bridge by networking several computers together; preferably in the same room. One computer runs the core of the sim and handles its main screen, whereas the others serve as terminals for the normal (yet quite fictional) jobs a bridge officer might do: Helm, Communication, Engineering, Science and Weapon Control. There is also room for one player that will not actually have a terminal: the captain, who will stand and give orders.”

Lone Survivor is full of horror game tropes, but that’s the beauty of it (Gamasutra)
“Discovering terrible secrets, losing sight of your loved ones and dancing to the melody of your ever-unravelling sanity was just the beginning of the experiences waiting for us in those games, and we went happily right along with them.  Lone SurvivorJasper Byrne’s side-scrolling ode to that golden era, is bound to evoke memories of the first time we ever stumbled down a questionable alley and into that town that had long ceased to be anything remotely habitable.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Here Comes Launchman (Joystiq)
“Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We believe they deserve a wider audience with the Joystiq Indie Pitch: This week, developers Zach Hinchy and Joe Pierce of The Layabouts describe the beauty in monochromatic simplicity with their PC, Mac and Linux title Here Comes Launchman.”

Ludum Dare #23 – The Report (Superlevel)
“It all started back in April of 2002 when Geoff Howland established the Ludum Dare – a friendly and productive competition between hundreds of programmers around the world. Each participant develops a game set to a common theme (this year’s was Tiny World). The developers have serious time pressure, though: In the Jam Category, teams of developers must create a game in 72 hours, while in the Competition (Compo) Category, games have to be created by a single person in only 48 hours. This year’s result: 1.402 games.”


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Braid, Is That You? ‘Awakened: The Search For Memories’ Trailer

Awakened: The Search For Memories

Don’t fret! This isn’t another clone. Our reference to Braid there is merely based upon a slight visual resemblance. What do you think, looking at that screenshot above? Similar art style to Braid, right? Prepare to be impressed – this is a student project developed by a group of seven at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Malaysia.

In Awakened: The Search For Memories, you play as a 16 year old boy who is lost in his dreams. To awaken, you must help him find his lost memories. An intriguing concept but not unlike many plots we’ve heard before. The part that really matters is the gameplay of course. You’ll be commanding the elements in this sidescrolling puzzle platformer. Ice, wind, fire, earth and water seem to be the line up – each of which can be used to directly affect the environment to your will.

While Awakened is visually pleasing, we have to say that the puzzle and platforming elements look fairly basic. For a student game this is a pretty remarkable effort though. Ideally, we’ll be proven wrong if we even get to lay our hands on the game. Unfortunately all we have for now is a trailer to admire, so feel free to do so:


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Take A Peek At ‘The Village’ – An Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon & Zelda Hybrid

The Village

Lands of joy, bright colors and wonder are quite rare in today’s gaming climate; what with all of those gritty shooters that prove so popular. As such, the promise of skipping through a lush little village, waving to your fellow animal villagers is quite the pleasant idea. “Morning Baker Moose!”, you’ll say in your merry way in Stolen Couch Games’ just announced The Village.

In the announcement over on the Stolen Couch blog, the focus is all on the game’s artwork which is to be taking up the abstract line-heavy style of cubism. This is set in the concept art so that the translation to computer graphics won’t see much change. The image above give’s an impression of the game’s visual style but it won’t necessarily be from that angle, that’s simply to portray as much of information as possible.

Speaking of information, The Village is pitched as a cross between Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon and Zelda. You’ll be an inhabitant in the eponymous village and can partake in farming, fishing, island decoration, insect collecting as well as many other things. You will of course be interacting with the many villagers around you and they will give you missions to carry out. The game is said to take place during real time with a night and day cycle as appropriate.

One of the most delightful elements of a game like this is that each of the characters have such personality, and their moods and emotions will be expressed with vivacity. One of the unique aspects is the extending and retracting of the neck to portray emotion in an exaggerated way, this also caters to a simple humor that you can’t help appreciate.

The Village is being developed for iOS, Android, PC and Mac and does not have a release window as of yet. There is more concept art below with two of the game’s characters detailed too.

The Village
Pirate Weasel The Village
Baker Moose The Village


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‘The Land Of Eyass’ Plays With Gravity, Has Inky Art

The Land Of Eyass

The last 10 months has been a bit of an eye opener for Matthew Kiehl, Stephen Hoskins and Kristin Parker as they’ve been working on their rather strangely titled platformer The Land of Eyass. You’ll be relieved to hear that they may consider changing that title when they’ve got around to finishing the game. At least for Matthew, the journey has led him to discover that ihs pen and ink art style translates well into a computer game. It’s certainly caught our eye.

The soothing oranges of dusk and detailed branches dwindle in the backgrounds of The Land of Eyass and it’s remarkably effective. The foreground is less so unfortunately, as it mainly consists of moving blocks and an avatar that lacks much animation, if an intriguing one to look at in its light blue furry suit. Despite that, the game holds together because of its main mechanic, which is essentially a single player version of ibb and obb.

That is to say that their is a central horizontal line running throughout the levels which commands gravity towards it on either side. If you’re in the top half of the screen then gravity functions how we recognize it, but in the bottom half it is inverted. A combination of handling this constant whirring between the two fields of gravity combined with traversing the game’s moving platforms seems to make it an appealing platformer. Though we do have to question where the peril is – essentially you can’t seem to fall to your death, which is of course the most common cause a fatality amongst the platforming types.

Ah, there we go. Buzzsaws – of course! So yes, there is a high level of threat when moving through the levels. Good, good. Well, if all is said and done we’ll leave you to look over that artwork again. Fabulous isn’t it?

The Land Of Eyass
The Land Of Eyass
The Land Of Eyass
The Land Of Eyass
The Land Of Eyass
The Land Of Eyass


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‘Kinetic Void’ Hits Kickstarter Goal At The 11th Hour

First Republique, and now this – Kickstarter seems to be rife with photo finish stories lately. With just 5 hours left on the clock, ambitious ship-building, physics-driven procedural space combat game Kinetic Void (as previewed here) passed its $60,000 funding target, ensuring it’s continued development and carrying the hopes of quite a few Freelancer fans with it. Here’s hoping that the target money will be enough to fund the full development of the game – it’s quite a low figure by Kickstarter standards, although Badland Studio seem to have achieved quite a bit already on a shoestring budget.

While the game didn’t raise it’s secondary target of $80,000 (they had plans to hire more team members if they got there), they’re safe and sound at this point, and the nearly 2200 backers so far should be getting semi-regular alpha builds from here on in. This particular last-minute dash was particularly impressive, as the game was short of the funding goal by about $13,000 about 12 hours ago. It looks like the rapidly approaching deadline went and pushed some people off the fence and got a few wallets open. We wish the developers the best of luck and a following wind, now that their project is officially greenlit. Indie gaming needs more spaceships!