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

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The Why of Indie Games: ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Lone Survivor’

I pride myself on looking for innovation, however I often fail to find what I am looking for. I truly am willing to try anything, but instead of venturing I often find myself returning to known genres and areas. Often it is easier to just rifle through games until I find another RPG rather than find something I am uncomfortable with, but would no doubt provide captivating gameplay, for me it’s a matter of entry barrier. It would be so very easy to pick up a game I could quickly become familiar with and engross myself in, rather than a game I would need to think about and learn from.

This, I feel has become the attitude of many developers I am not trying to generalize, however it is not all that often I see a revolutionary title being released. It seems that ideas are being recycled, which is fine because often the best ideas are those built on the basis of others. There would be no Braid without Mario; there would be no Dust: An Elysian Tale without Castlevania. Those games built upon those original ideas, then deferred from certain areas to create a uniquely innovative experience. It would appear developers have figured out it is easier to take a good idea recycle it and sell it, than it is to conceptualize something new with the risk of it failing and lose more money than a recycled idea would.

This is where my disappointment in the current development of a genre comes from. Horror games evolved for about a solid minute then proceeded to once again stagnate and become a series of similar clones. I cannot describe to you the disappointment I have been feeling whilst looking at the Greenlight page. While they are harder to find now that the format has changed, Amnesia: The Dark Descent clones are infesting the horror section. There are so many physics-based, weaponless, first-person horror games that it is difficult to even figure out if one is possibly innovative that is unless you spend the time looking at the dev pages for each and every game.

So, I suppose my formatting is different than most weeks and I have not yet said why Amnesia and Lone Survivor are important. Their importance comes from the fact they are good games, but they both shine a light on the good and bad of innovation. Let me set this straight before I move on to anything else, Amnesia and Lone Survivor are excellent titles and both innovated the horror genre in different ways. Amnesia’s brand of horror caught on, whilst Lone Survivor seems to be an innovation of which no copies have been made, however they both were innovative and show distinct effects innovation can have.

Lone Survivor shows a less rippling innovation or a sort of huge splash in a pond which has hardly any lingering effects. Perhaps it was due to the odd styling and heavy dialog, but Lone Survivor was a difficult game to make, it took the devs 4 years to get the game to market and has two distinctive branching storylines. The horror of Lone Survivor is psychologically based rather than based on cheap thrills and sudden jumps. Horror such as this is executed through solid writing and tense environments with these qualities requiring a great deal of work, time, and money to create; all things of which indie devs do not always have a great deal of.

Amnesia operates differently to Lone Survivor, it was no less innovative than Lone Survivor but offered a different type of terror to the player. Amnesia approached horror with dialogue, but to a much lesser extent. There were not many characters, and the graphics engine was nothing unusual or innovative it created something new, but relatively easily to copy. Physics-based doors, which required the user to actually open the doors using the push or pull of a mouse was a very cool concept, equally interesting was the sanity meter for the main character Daniel. These aspects were innovative but they are easily recreated as developers knew that these could be reused and still offer a palatable horror experience.

I suppose I am approaching this from a philosophical approach. The importance of both games goes way deeper than just as successes which had different effects on the genre, but the most learnable lessons of both games comes from what they say about the development of games. Amnesia is a revolutionary idea, but one that is easy to build again and a copyable experience. Lone Survivor is a first of its kind and last of its kind type of game, rather than build the next revolution by creating new mechanics like Amnesia and Lone Survivor did, there is a trend of leeching on to the ease of Amnesia. Amnesia and Lone Survivor are important because they show which ideas will be borrowed and which will be lost respectively, the graspable and the difficult.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – The Why of Indie Games: ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Lone Survivor’


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Fear of the Dark: ‘Lone Survivor’ Coming To Steam

Lone Survivor

With a myriad of positive reviews under its belt, one of which being from our own Emerson Smith, Lone Survivor has been making quite the name for itself in the world of independent video games. It’s just as well, then, that it’s apparently making its way onto Valve’s Steam service.

Though not confirmed by Valve or, indeed, the game’s creator, Jasper Byrne, a little bit of sleuthing the Steam app registry archives indicates that the game’s Steam release is in the pipeline. Needless to say, that’s pretty good news for Byrne’s reputation as an upcoming indie developer, not to mention his wallet, but it’s also great to see a genuinely poignant, atmospheric game like Lone Survivor getting an extra slice of exposure in an increasingly comptetitive market environment.

Lone Survivor may, at face value, be described as a survival horror game, but its wider appeal is more deep-rooted in its flavoursome elements of role-playing and point-and-click adventure dynamics and objective pacing. To find out a little more about what makes the game tick, check our aforementioned review or take a look at the pearls of wisdom emanating from the mouth of Indie Statik’s Josh Mattingly.


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‘Lone Survivor’ Will Arrive This Very Month

Lone Survivor

Jasper Byrne, or Superflat World as he is also known, has taken to Twitter and announced that Lone Survivor will be coming out this month, March 2012! Capital letters were used and everything.

I thought about holding out to share this news once something a little more definite has been announced such as a release date, but my excitement got the better of me and now look, I’ve wandered into garble territory! Well anyway, Mr. Byrne did promise that the release date, price and all that other chewy stuff will be known as soon as GDC is over.

Great – now we enter ‘that’ zone in which all developers refuse to release any news due to being overshadowed by GDC. What to do in the meantime….?

Hmmm. Oh look, let’s just watch this gameplay trailer of Lone Survivor and remind ourselves why we love survival horror games. Yes, that will suffice for now.

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You can find out more information on Lone Survivor by sifting through the development blog.


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Lone Survivor Dev Posts Project Gallery, Sets Deadline For Completion

It’s a title we’ve covered a couple of times before on this site, but it is absolutely worth keeping in mind for the coming year as well. Superflat Games’ Lone Survivor is still in development and, with any luck, less than six weeks away from completion if the recent blog posts by one man dev team, Jasper Byrne, are to be believed.


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Pixelated Adventure Horror: Benjamin River’s Home [IGF 2012 Intraviews]

DIYGamer is ready to look at IGF 2012 entrants, are you? The deadline for submitting games has passed, and as time goes by, more games will surely surface. We’re going to look at various IGF 2012 submissions and invite the developers to talk about their submissions in the comments section, making it an “intraview” — a discussion within the DIYGamer community.

Benjamin Rivers‘ Home and all its sexy pixels with dramatic lighting caught my eye. The developer states that Home is a  horror adventure/murder mystery with a twist—  the player decides what ultimately happens. The game begins with the character waking up in a strange, dark room, tucked away in a house that is not his own.

Home promises to be an intimate, story-based adventure with accessible, easy controls. Sure, the trailer might look somewhat familiar. DIY’s Lewie wrote about SuperFlat Games’ IGF submission, Lone Survivor, which is also a pixelated dramatically-lit horror title. However, Lone Survivor seems to focus more on  survival action.

With that comparison drawn, we invite Benjamin Rivers to introduce himself and talk about Home in the comments below. Readers, feel free to leave your questions or comments about Home, so we can find out more about this IGF 2012 entrant!  I know I’ll be jumping in, as well!


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New Lone Survivor Trailer


You may remember, we brought you news of Superflat Games’ Lone Survivor last month, the pixilified psychological survival horror, but here’s a fresh new trailer for us to gaze at, and it’s looking a bit creepy.

We don’t know many of the details yet, but what we do know is that there’s going to be a heavy emphasis on just staying alive in Lone Survivor. As the title suggests, you’re the last surviving human, although the spooky looking nasties stumbling around in the trailer seem to hint that you’re by no means alone. Resource management, like collecting food and equipment, appears to play a big role in the game, and it seems like hiding from enemies is going to be preferable to direct conflict in at least some situations.

For more regular updates on Lone Survivor, you might want to follow the developer, Jasper Byrne, on twitter, since he’s giving out lots of bite sized development gossip pretty regularly. I’ve got my eye on this one.

[Super Flat Games]


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Superflat Games “Risking Everything” for Lone Survivor

Superflat Games aka Jasper Byrne has gone all in, betting on his next terrifying and pixel-filled project: Lone Survivor.

Photos and posts around Superflat’s blog and Twitter tell some of the mechanics; Lone Survivor has an item combination system, there’s a mirror gamesave system, and the hero fights off the horror creatures with a gun. Jasper stated via Twitter he would add a melee weapon, but players will only be able to use it as a last resort.

The music, the slow crawling pixels, and the carefully crafted lighting all seem to make for a thrilling ambiance. Check it out in the official trailer of Lone Survivor here:

As for how dedicated Jasper has become to the project, he stated the following today: “I’m going to be back at work on this baby full-time until it’s done. I’m risking everything on it financially, but I believe in it enough to do it.” Best wishes that the game makes the upcoming fall deadlines for the assorted indie game competitions and/or sees success upon completion!

Readers, what do you think of this trailer?