With the launch of the Ouya, there will there be a launch of new titles. The developers at Night Light Interactive are working closely with the Ouya team to produce a game for their console that will also play cross-platform with Mac, Linux, and PC. Whispering Willows is a horror puzzle adventure game across five chapters that follow Elena on her journey to find her father through the haunted halls of the Willow mansion.
With what we were able to play in this very early alpha-build, Whispering Willows definitely looks promising. It’s very rough around the edges at this early state, but it was comforting to see that the developer’s art was well implemented and the finished project should have a very cohesive art direction.
The gameplay in the demo provided teased at some elements that will have interesting repercussions when combined with more mechanics later in the game. For example, by using Elena’s astral projection ability, she can squeeze through cracks in the walls and unlock doors that are preventing her progress, although the presence of light creates an impassable barrier for her and the other spirits.
For one puzzle I needed to get a key in the attic. The ladder was too high, but I could use my astral projection to slip through a crack in the ceiling. However, even though I had made it to the attic I was unable to reach the key because my projection couldn’t go through the bright light streaming through the window. Instead of using that ability I had to move a chest under the ladder and climb up to reach it.
In the environments the player will be able to find messages and documents that flesh out the lives of the now dead inhabitants and reveal the darker secrets of Willow manor and direct the player toward the next puzzle that will move them through the game. The structure is not anything revolutionary, but the puzzles are embedded into the environment in clever ways, and I can’t wait to see what the team pulls together in the end.
Night Light Interactive has just started their Kickstarter campaign, and you can help them make Whispering Willows into the complete experience it was meant to be. Visit the campaign page or their official website to learn more.
In today’s Developer Links, a publisher discusses new gaming platforms. A software engineer talks about his new baby. And two developers bring up their new projects.
Paradox CEO: New Devices, Open Platforms Offer Key Chances For Indies (Gamasutra)
“This year, an increasing trend favoring open platforms — plus loads more new hardware options — could form the new frontier for indie developers. A developer that manages to nail a great game in the emerging hardware market will enjoy near-unprecedented ubiquity, and the opportunity to have a say in the emerging landscape.”
Hunt for the Gay Planet (Auntie Pixelante)
“i’ve been saying for a while now that supposedly lgbt-friendly game developers like bioware only see queer people (lgb people, at least) as consumers. nothing could make the point more clearly than bioware’s decision to add gay romances to star wars: the old republic – on a single planet in the galaxy, which players have to pay for the privilege of visiting. pay to enter a dystopian future where queers are exiled to a far-off, backwater planet!”
Next Next Game Preliminary Ideas & Kickstarter Plans (Zeboyd Games)
“So the official first public look at Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is tied up in bureaucratic red tape at the moment (bleh!) so let’s talk about our game after PA4! Keep in mind this is all subject to change at a whim.”
Mavis Minecraft Teaches Coding – Part 2 (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“Welcome back! When I left you last week, you’d built a computer, explored the filesystem and written your first program. That was easy, so it’s time to climb the next rung on the difficulty ladder.”
Island Partition (The Witness)
“This week we’ve been having discussions about how it’s almost time to move into full-on Production Mode and start cranking out final-ish 3D models and textures … following schedules, and all kinds of organized stuff like that.”
Announcing Positech’s Next Game Will Be… (Cliffski.com)
“Firstly, democracy is a game I am very proud of. I think it’s my most original and innovative design, in terms of both mechanics and GUI. I don’t think any other game I’ve made has been so ‘out of the blue’ as Democracy. I also find it very interesting (although incredibly difficult) to work on. basically it’s a custom-build neural network with a cunning GUI on top of it. I’m also a bit of a political geek, with views that range all over the spectrum, so I enjoy the analysis and research involved in working on the game.”
POMMS: A Way To Get Your Players To Test Your Game! (Gamasutra)
“The indie elephant in the room, Minecraft, has changed the perception of what a “beta” truly entails in the mind of the average gamer. No longer do people hearing the word “beta” expect the buggy, frustrating, horribly broken, and not-fun-at-all experience they should. Instead it is now viewed as a supposedly incomplete early development milestone with a high degree of playability and quite a bit of polish. ‘Who does the actual beta testing of these milestones, then?’ you ask. Most probably not the people coming to an indie-game dev forum stating that they are qualified beta testers because they’ve ‘beta-tested Minecraft.’”
Aesop’s Games (AltDevBlogADay)
“My wife and I just had our first child. While our daughter was baking in my wife’s belly, we would talk about what kinds of video games she would like to play when she grew up or if she would wind up liking them at all. I thought long and hard about what games I would want her to play. Which games in my library would I leave on the table for her to discover, and at what ages? What I’ve been looking for are games that teach morals and lessons, particularly ones that do so in a way that cannot be done in other media. A game puts the audience in control, which brings a high level of teaching possibilities to the table.”
Pixelry is an in-development title from Evelend Games that puts players in a pixelated suit of armor, on a pixelated horse, and has them jousting to win the pixelated heart of a princess.
As is tradition in the land of Pixelville, the champion of the jousting tournament gets to take the princess out on a date. The King will simply have it no other way…the stubborn old buggar. Players will have to practice their skills and level up attributes in preparation for the “Big 5″ confrontation that is the final trial standing in between them and their beloved princess. Along the way there are mini-games to partake in like hammering steel and horse racing. I don’t really understand how hammering steel can be considered a game, but I’ll leave it up to Evelend to make it fun. After all, who would have thought another indie game about digging holes in the ground would make some guy a millionaire?
Evelend Games plans to have players able to customize their characters to a certain degree. Currently, it is planned to have players able to customize their heraldry (coat of arms), their horse, and their armor. If the forthcoming Kickstarter campaign is successful, Evelend will be able to integrate even more customization options into Pixelry. Evelend Games plans to roll out a Kickstarter campaign for Pixelry next month, but currently players are able to support the development of the game through alpha-funding purchases on both Desura and Indievania.
The developers are two brothers, Emilio and Andre Mari, who were born in Argentina, raised in Spain, and now live in Thailand and Japan respectively. Emilio handles Pixelry’s programming, while Andre is responsible for the audiovisual aspects of the game. If Pixelry’s visual style looks a bit familiar, you might recognize it from Super Tower Rush, a game that Andre designed the visuals for, which was released earlier this year.
A fifteen-minute demo for Pixelryis available to give interested players a taste of the game before they decide to pick the game up from either of the previously mentioned outlets, or to wait and pre-order the game through the game’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
Overgrowth is one of those games that seems to have been in development forever. Announced in 2008, this compelling action game developed by Wolfire has seen a number of development milestones as the game has become more and more complete.
What used to be weekly alphas provided with a video have now become much more spaced out. Written bug-fixes and changelogs have now become common. However, their most recent update includes a video demoing some very exciting new improvements and features.
The in-house developed Phoenix Engine has seen a lot of optimization in the last month and the developers are finding ways to make the entire game and editor work better and more efficiently. Now Overgrowth works a lot better on many types of computers. In addition, the scripts have been reorganized so that scripts can attach themselves to levels and characters, making modding an easier affair.
The most exciting feature, however, is the new arena level. This level generates an enemy with randomized attributes to make them more aggressive or defensive, as well as a few other attributes that keep what enemy you face varied enough to always keep you on your toes. As you defeat enemies, the difficulty progresses upward based on your performance and will generate increasingly more difficult enemies.
In what looks to be another great success story born of Kickstarter, Conifer Games has raked in $27,000 in a matter of hours for their empire-builder, At the Gates.
At the Gates is set back in history, just before the Dark Ages set in. The Roman Empire is collapsing, tribes of barbarians are “at the gates” (get it?), and everything that was once stable in the Roman-occupied territories is now a teetering disaster waiting to happen. Luckily for players, from the comfort of their 21st-Century homes, they will be able to avoid the pillaging, pestilence, and the general chaos that took over the region by experiencing it through Conifer Games‘ flagship title.
Players will take on the role of a barbarian leader, looking to establish a foothold in the power-struggle that is engulfing the region. At the Gates boasts ever-changing landscapes that react to the seasons, a situational-request system to reinforce alliances, and all the tactical combat one would expect from a game of this type.
At first-glance, At the Gates doesn’t look like the kind of game that would rake in so much money, so quickly. The graphical style looks about the norm for an indie strategy game, and the Kickstarter reward tiers are all pretty average. However, things take an interesting turn once it’s realized that the Jon Shafer associated with the project (who funded Conifer Games out of his own savings) is the same Jon Shafer who was the lead designer for Civilization V, a.k.a. one of the most popular history-focused strategy games, ever. Things are beginning to make sense.
Currently, the Kickstarter campaign is sitting at $28,495, but that figure will surly have climbed by the time I finish writing out this article. Conifer Games is looking to collect $40,000 total, so essentially they have reached the half-way mark, in a little over a day. While a playable prototype is complete, Conifer Games wants to put more effort into solidifying the artificial intelligence in the game as well as polish the game’s visual style further.
“We’re not sitting on a massive pile of cash,” Shafer explains on the Kickstarter page, “we don’t have a publisher and, as of right now, any future expenses will come directly out of the team’s pocket…$40,000 is not a large budget for a game with this kind of scope. But it’s sufficient to finish At the Gates because we’ve already made significant progress, and have a very small development team. Raising more than that would let us add even more features to the game than we’ve talked about here, so we’re certainly hoping to not just meet this threshold but shoot beyond it!”
Conifer Games plans to have At the Gates ready for Alpha testing this July, with a closed Beta available in January of 2014. Access to both the Alpha and the Beta builds are available as Kickstarter funding rewards. Visit the Kickstarter page for At the Gates to keep up with the game’s development, and check out Shafer’s dev blog, which he plans to keep up with in the coming weeks.
Most of us have played at least one of the original Pokémon games for the Game Boy. Even if you have not, it’s hard to go by without recognizing the charming sprites from these great games. The chunky retro music brings back recollections of intense duels between those small monsters and the travel routes we’ve committed to memory from the countless hours of exploration. A young indie developer from Germany known as nilllzz, is bringing Pokémon Gold/Silver in a way quite unexpected.
Pokémon3D is a three-dimensional rendering of the original Gold and Silver game boy games complete with LAN co-operative play. Pokémon3D is currently in version 0.23 with the daycare system in place, auto-saving, and a completed Route 34 all recently added in.
It’s clear that there is a lot of work left to go, but the concept and execution are compelling enough to warrant your attention now. Being able to play co-op Pokémon and explore the world with a partner is many a gamer’s dream from the Game Boy era. It seems that soon this dream will become a reality.
The visual style looks as if it’s been ripped straight off of a game cartridge or rom and directly placed in a 3D environment. You can visit the official IndieDB page or nilllzz‘s tumblr page to learn more and try out a copy of the free alpha-build. It’s in a launcher format so you can easily keep your version up to date.
For anyone who has followed IGM for sometime may actually remember me covering Cello Fortress way back in September of last year. Back in September Joost Van Dongen was getting the tech ready for the Indigo exhibition in the Netherlands.
Since the early unveiling of this rather inspired project Dongen has worked even more on this project, and has recently just released a new trailer for the technology. Needless to say the trailer has really gotten the internet buzzing with anticipation for the full project.
The idea behind Cello Fortress however should not be confused with other conventional music games like Guitar Hero. In Cello Fortress you are actually commanding a real Cello. The game operates does also operate as a twin stick shooter, with up to four players work together to take down as many turrets as possible.
The turrets are of course not controlled by the computer but rather by the Cellist and this is where the magic happens. The game works by processing differnt chords differently and as follows; dissonant chords will turn on flame-throwers, aggressive notes will activate the burst-cannons, and an ominous melody charges a bombardment. This creates a novel fusion of a classic musical instrument with the modern day video game market. It’s an interesting fusion and one that would be very interesting to see more of in the not to distant future.
Although the current build of Cello Fortress is still in the early beta stages it already looks a marvel to watch and play, really creating a unique experience for everyone. Even with a working prototype in existence there is still much work for Dongen to do as he tries to prefect the game and create the most engrossing experience possible.
Expect to see Cello Fortress touring more over the course of the year and maybe you will even be lucky enough to get to see this wonderful piece of technology live in action.
A first in the IGM Greenlight series, we decided to interview the developers behind today’s game, and let them tell you why it is worthy of your vote on Steam Greenlight.
For this interview, I spoke with Harald Dosch, the lead developer at EpicBeyond Studios, about Crystal Kingdom, a pretty looking multiplayer RPG that pays homage to the classics of the genre but brings to the table its own sleeve full of tricks.
The Game – Crystal Kingdom
The Developer – EpicBeyond Studios
IGM – Hey Harald, so how long have you been at work with Crystal Kingdom?
EpicBeyond - My programming roots in multiplayer games go back to 1997 where I coded libraries for multi-user dungeon text muds at universtity and started doing fangames of established singleplayer RPGs at the time like Dragon Quest or Ultima. I decided to drop doing fangames and create my own thing around 2010. I grew tired of working on something that I wouldn’t even own in the end and never could advertise or sell as I would need to to increase the budget and workforce.
So it’s been roughly 2 years, but keep in mind that Crystal Kingdom recycles most of the code and tools done for its predecessor. At first [Crystal Kingdom] was called SEYKEN: Crystal Kingdom and later “SEYKEN” was dropped to avoid confusion with a fangame of the same title. IGM – What was SEYKEN?
EpicBeyond -SEYKEN was an online multiplayer fangame that used graphical content from numerous 16-bit console JRPG classics. It was in development from about 2005 untill 2010, but never really took off because of its fangame restrictions and limitations. Also, the owners of these classics started to hunt and shut down quite a lot of fangame projects in 2010 to protect their rights and ownership. So we decided to drop doing fangames and started work on Cyrstal Kingdom. IGM – What makes Crystal Kingdom such an ambitious project?
EpicBeyond - First of all, the size of the project compared to the quantity of people working on it. We are only 4-6 guys working on a project that usually a larger team would work on. To make it even harder, we also can’t afford to work on it full time. I’m a commercial airline pilot for instance, another developer is a software engineer, and another was about to finish highschool when he joined. Usually the teams meets in the evenings via Skype and will quite often work until early next morning or as long as real-life allows us to. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fun, but it’s also very demanding on a social and physical level.
Then, the technological foundation Crystal Kingdom required. It took us years to create the gaming services needed to run the game on. Crystal Kingdom will be running inside a Cloud Service where things like a central database and game server satellites and data replication comes into play. We had put a lot of time into the technological aspect of the game and just recently brought it to a point where we can spend time on the game itself again.
IGM – Who is responsible for Crystal Kingdom’s beautiful pixel art?
EpicBeyond - Fabian, aka “Vierbit”, the background artist, joined the project almost 3 years ago when we decided to drop doing a fangame project and set out to persue our own title. Thomas, aka “Cyangmou”, the spriter and animator, joined the project over a year ago and created all the player and monster sprites as well as all the animations, icons, and effects in the game. IGM – How did you meet these artists?
EpicBeyond - No big story really. I searched through pixel graphics communities like Pixelation and Pixeljoint around 2010 and discovered Vierbit/Fabian’s art. I emailed him and later we Skyped at some point. I showed him a live prototype of the engine and game —fortunately it was enough to convince him join the team. Cyangmou/Thomas joined about a year-and-a-half later —I discovered his sprites and animation work at Deviantart. Again, also mailed and Skyped at some point and like Vierbit I also showed him a prototype with some stuff Vierbit had done up to that point, and it was enough to get him join the team too.
IGM – Plans to port Crystal Kingdom to other platforms/operating systems?
EpicBeyond - We would love too, but we are running on a very small budget. Yet Crystal Kingdom is made entirely in Java which is very port-friendly and at the least supports Windows, Mac, and Linux right away. IGM – Multiplayer indie games sometimes have small online player-bases, how are you ensuring that Crystal Kingdom will still be fun with a minimal amount of players playing online?
EpicBeyond - We never had planned for a huge amount of players. A small and dedicated community is just as fun, and since the maximum party size of people playing together is five, it doesn’t really matter. Also many of the maps are generated based on the player/party entering it to make it more of a challenge. Sure, usually, more players online makes a world a little more vivid, but can also be a burden. IGM – Why the decision to go MMO, and not just single-player?
EpicBeyond - All projects I did before were multiplayer right away —my roots as a programmer go back to creating libraries for text-based multi-user dungeons running on my universitie’s mainframe. Also if its done right, a 16-bit OJRPG could be real fun, and prove to be a retreat and community hub for all the classic JRPG lovers out there.
Klei Entertainment have released an update for their game, Don’t Starve, still strongly continuing down their oh-so successful self-progressed path of sadism and science. For those of you that are currently unaware of this title, Don’t Starve is a game that challenges the player to survive through the necessity to both eat and contain yourself by a fire which seems an easy prospect, but it does truly feel like Klei Entertainment really does want you to die while you play the game.
The update is titled “Spoiled Rotten”, and what a treat they’ve produced for us. But of course, where must all science lead but to the development of electronics? With the introduction of a new character, WX-78 (a robot, incase the name wasn’t enough of an intimation for you), players must now take further responsibilities into account such as the fact that everything still hates you and wants you to die, except more so while playing as a robot, which is simply lovely.
Fortunately our new friend WX-78 cannot be at all harmed by eating foods barely passable by the standards of even a college student. However, food will eventually deteriorate and spoil nonetheless, meaning that the only remaining uses are that of fertilizer, or to burn entirely. In a twist that seems common to the updates of Don’t Starve, there is a further addition to combat this disadvantage: players are now able to craft a refrigerator to lengthen the life-span of any and all foods, which will certainly make your safe-haven slightly more cozy. Metaphorically speaking of course, it is a fridge, after all.
Aside from a few of the main updates as mentioned, there is more, including the additions of various other items and mechanics to make the game even more interesting than has already been achieved. I am personally quite obsessive about the food I eat anyway, so to introduce restrictions and guidelines as to the food you eat seems like a rather wise idea.
Today’s game was created a little while ago and was even covered to some degree on the site. However this was before I got here and felt after reading Amidos’ year in review for 2012 it was only appropriate to look back over one of his best games from the year (that I didn’t cover) The Power.
The Power is a very interesting metroidvania game that has a very interesting and unique art style, created by Amidos and Alexitron. The art style is fantastic and very retro as everything appears to have been created in a vector manner, with all manner of smooth empty shapes really harking back to very early video games.
Aside from the interesting graphics and nice bit tune music the game plays out very intuitively and you will fluidly move throughout the many areas in the game. The Power is a game that is great fun from start to finish and proves to be a worthy addition to the genre.
Average play time – Less than one hour
The Power has been lovingly crafted from some of the finest shapes around. It provides a really fun experience throughout and although the music may slowly start to get repetitive you can mute it so this is not too much of a problem.
I managed to stumble across The Power whilst reading over Amidos‘ year in review and it was a compelling read, documenting the ups and downs of indie development. It really is a must for any budding indie developer as it delivers a full picture of what it’s like to try to break into the industry.
Be sure to play The Power now as you won’t regret it, and if you want to read Amidos blog or just look over some of his other games check out his official site.
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 email@example.com with the subject “Indie Intermission” and you could be our indie intermission pick of the day!