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

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Steam Play Indie Pack

header2 Spring must be the season for indie game packages. Following the Humble Indie Bundle and Sleep is Death pay-what-you-want specials, and indeed Valve’s own free offer of Portal, Steam has a new package of five indie games for $20.00. Not quite as cheap, but still tidy compared with the $50.00 cover price for all five.

The Steam Play Indie Pack includes Broken Rules’ And Yet It Moves, Hassey Enterprises’ Galcon Fusion, Amanita Design’s Machinarium, Hemisphere Games’ Osmos, and (in case you haven’t already claimed it elsewhere) 2D Boy’s World of Goo.

Possibly just as neat as the pricing is the flexibility; all five games are available on either PC or Mac, which is great for a multi-platform or dual-boot household.

The sale ends next Wednesday, May 19th, so keep that in mind if you need to hem and haw for a while.


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Top 10 Indie Games that Should be Made Into Cartoons

Cartoon BraidLast week, Mega 64 released a hilarious new sketch, one that really speaks to us here at DIYgamer.com. It was simply titled Indie Films and it was about making full motion pictures films out of various indie games such as: Super Meat Boy, Today I Die, Rocketbirds, etc. While the sketch, itself, was really good, it also got me thinking. Maybe indie games aren’t necessarily going to make great films, but what about cartoons?

While Hollywood is only too happy with finding and securing the rights to the major multi-million dollar titles out there like Call of Duty, Metal Gear Solid, and World of Warcraft (seriously), I feel like there is an untapped market for creating children’s, or even adult (that that kind of adult, pervert), cartoons out of some of the great indie games out there today.

I mean, look at it this way, many popular indie games rely on cartoon-ish graphics already, usually featuring some cutesy character, and are almost always fun to watch/play. I’m telling you, kids would eat these shows up just as much as they do their Saturday morning cereal. Mmmmm Kix.

So here are my top ten games I’d love to see made into some sort of animated cartoon.

10.Cave Story

cavestory3

Now don’t get your knickers in a knot simply because Cave Story is so low on this list, where as with most other indie games lists it’s at the top. Cave Story is still very well suited for a cartoon series, but more than likely a kids show, which is fine (I do enjoy me some Spongebob every once in a while), but ultimately not that exciting.

[Cave Story]

9. La Mulana

LaMulana000

This is in a similar vein as Cave Story, but with one added feature, the main character is basically Indiana Jones without actually being Indiana Jones, which immediately makes it infinitely more intriguing to watch. As an added bonus, to make it a hilarious adult cartoon, the show could be literally based on the game where, in every single episode, Lemeza (the main character) would die at the end… because that game is freaking impossible.

Alternative titles: Spelunky.

[La Mulana]

8. World of Goo

WorldofGOo000

I don’t know how, and I don’t know why exactly, but you look at World of Goo and tell me that it’s not already completely adaptable to being made into a cartoon. I mean, come on the goo-blobs are adorable! I suppose the hard part would be actually coming up with a story based on them because, if you’ll remember correctly, the game didn’t really feature one.

[World of Goo]

7. Runman: Race Around the World

runman000

Parents, and the government, are always complaining about children who are sitting at home playing video games or watching cartoons on the boobtube. Well, why not speak to the children with something they’ll actually pay attention to? And what better vassal to speak to them through than Runman, the extremely excitable running star that, literally, races all around the world just for the hell of it. Perhaps it’ll get the message through to the children, or make them just want to play the game, whatever.

[Runman: Race Around the World]

6. Trine

Trine001

Talk about epic, is there a better game to make an epic cartoon out of than Trine? I think not. It also doesn’t hurt that the game ends right where the cartoon can begin. Trine was a beautifully imagined indie game and, provided they use a similar illustration style, the cartoon can be just as amazing. Children’s cartoon or not, I’d watch this.

[Trine]

5. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

MisadventuresofPBwinterbottom000

Do I even really need to offer an argument or explanation for this one. This game is about a time manipulating, pie thief! Come on! It practically writes hilarious scripts all by itself. The only reason why I didn’t place it higher is because I’m not exactly sure how well a black and white cartoon would go over with either children or adults. Still though, I’d say it’d at least be an interesting ride.

[Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom]

4. Ben There, Dan That

BenThereDanThat000

I have trouble not smiling about a cartoon comedy based on this game, but only, and I do mean only, if the original creators Ben Ward and Dan Marshall are brought on board to write/direct. Otherwise who knows what it could turn into. Still though, the thought of this time and space traveling duo on Comedy Central, or Adult Swim is incredibly exciting.

[Ben There, Dan That]

3. Plain Sight

PlainSight002

Two words: Robot Ninjas. Sure, there’s no story and really no purpose to the game other than scoring points, but if you can successfully translate these guys into a story that still encompasses their robot ninja-ness while at the same time continuing to make them suicidal, well that… that would be just the best thing ever.

[Plain Sight]

2. ‘Splosion Man

splosion-man1

You’ve GOT to agree with me on this one. I mean, first, the game looks like it was created by Pixar already. Second, you look at ‘Splosion Man and tell me he’s not just the most creative and memorable character ever imagined. Tie all that into a hilarious cartoon and you have an instant success. Children or adult’s cartoon, I’d watch it.

['Splosion Man]

1. Machinarium

Machinarium

And Machinarium takes another top spot on a list, but in this one it’s only because the story was so well played out and the animations so elaborately done that, for me, Machinarium makes the most sense to turn into an animated cartoon. Sure, it probably wouldn’t attract the largest audience, and children probably wouldn’t enjoy the macabre colors, but if they could create a successful retelling of the game, or even a series on what happens after I’d be completely overjoyed.

[Machinarium]

Honorable Mentions:

Super Meat Boy, Joe Danger,  and Braid. The former two games didn’t make the list because, well, I haven’t played them yet. The latter because the game’s story was far too abstract for even many adults to comprehend. Still, I imagine, with the write direction, each could be fairly entertaining in their own right.

Did I miss a game you thought would make a great cartoon? Let me know in the comments, or rant about it in our forums!

Spring Cleaning Contest!

Did you know we are running a kickass forum contest where you could win a copy of Machinarium, Shattered Horizon, or Aaaaa! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity?

Check it out!


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Free Machinarium Was Authorized, Amanita Will Be Paid

MachinariumMachinarium seems to be in the headlines a lot lately, and it deserves all the attention it can get.

This weekend we announced that you could snag the Mac version of Machinarium for free on Saturday, and sorry if you missed it. But around that giveaway, parts of the indie community cried foul that Macgamestore was taking advantage of Amanita Design by giving away their product without any compensation to the creators.

But shortly thereafter Macgamestore rebutted that Amanita Design would indeed be paid for all the licenses they gave away.

I emailed Jakub Dvorsky of Amanita Design and he confirmed that, “there was some confusion about that Mac Game Store promotion, but it seems everything’s settled down now. Yes, they will pay us for each downloaded copy.”

So in the end, it’s kind of a shame for anyone who didn’t snag the game during the promotion, as you were still indeed supporting independent game development. If you missed the promotion, there’s no reason to still not get a copy. It’s not that hard to drum up a few dollars for the game.

Spring Cleaning Contest!

Did you know we are running a kickass forum contest where you could win a copy of Machinarium, Shattered Horizon, or Aaaaa! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity?

Check it out!


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Machinarium on Mac for Free Today, and Only Today

Machinarium_Mac_freeUPDATE

This was just buzzed my way and I must pass it on for any and all gamers with a mac: Today only The Mac Game Store is giving away super-indie Machinarium. Just giving it away for free!

Even if you don’t own a Mac like me, you feel like you’d want to grab a code just to hoard it away like a precious gem you could never unlock–except by obtaining a Mac of course. The Store is actually offering something special each day for the next seven, though I don’t think they’ll all be free award-winning adventure games.

The offer only goes through today, April 24, so hurry you only have a few more hours!


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On One’s Own: Machinarium, XBLA and Why It Matters

MachinariumOn One’s Own is a column about, you guessed it, independent gaming. The wayward wanderings of DIYGamer’s James Bishop might lead to probing art, gameplay, design, reception or a number of other aspects related to independent games. But you can rest assured that all things indie will be carefully considered on a weekly basis.

Machinarium from Amanita Design recently made some waves because of word getting around that they had been refused from Xbox Live Arcade. While this statement may sound like hyperbole, it actually is not. Jakub Dvorsky, the lead designer for Machinarium, has confirmed that they were refused from being published to Xbox Live Arcade. Cue shock and awe from the major outlets as they pick up the story and syndicate it.

The original quote from Mr. Dvorsky, via XBLAFans, which has a wonderful interview up as well, that seems to have stirred up so much controversy in the gaming world is as follows:

“Microsoft just refused Machinarium for XBLA after a half year of talking with them. They like the game and know it would be very successful on their platform, but they don’t want to support games which aren’t Microsoft exclusives. Machinarium isn’t, since we’ve also released versions for Mac and Linux. We have another option to approach some big publisher to bring the game to XBLA, which is quite absurd to do and lose maybe a large part of revenue because of that.”

This then prompted Joystiq to do a little digging as well, which received this response:

“They told us, ‘It’s not Microsoft-exclusive, we don’t want it.’ They didn’t cite the Mac and Linux versions but it’s quite clear that’s the reason.”

machinarium_04_bigger2The details, as many responses have indicated on the various stories, point out that they were only refused publishing by Microsoft. In effect, Microsoft said, “Hey, no dice, you have already published your little game elsewhere and we do not deal with such nonsense. Good day!” But that does not stop them from being released on the service; it merely restricts them from having Microsoft publish them. There is still the slim chance that someone, somewhere, will pick up the title and bring it to the platform. That does not seem to be the case in the minds of the developers, however, who predict that nearly all profit would end up going to the publishers in that scenario so they won’t be seeking it out themselves.

None of this, however, is the truly baffling part of this little debacle. What really boggles the mind is the fact that Microsoft has passed on a game, a winner of multiple awards, simply because it also has a Mac and Linux version available. Not that any of this behavior is news to people who have followed Microsoft for any length of time, but the strict application of the same old paradigms is incredibly archaic. It feels like Microsoft has taken two steps backward for every one forward.

It’s not even that Microsoft should be forced to publish bad games that also have competitor versions; nobody’s forcing them to publish anything they don’t want to publish. Where is the sense in denying Machinarium, though? If Sony has Product A and Apple has Product A, shouldn’t it stand to reason that Microsoft should also want Product A in order to better pitch their merchandise to consumers?

MachinariumApparently not, though. Instead, it looks as if 360 owners might go without being able to play Machinarium, which is a damn shame. It seems Microsoft is focused on adding exclusives to the ever-growing list of titles it supports. It just doesn’t make sense, though. Having a complete exclusive is great. That draws attention to the platform of choice. Denying an existing brand simply because it decided to branch out seems similar to shooting yourself in the foot: all you are ultimately doing is hurting yourself.

Not only has Microsoft shot themselves in the foot, but they are shooting the feet of their fans at the very same time. Not publishing a game simply because it’s already been published elsewhere does not exactly breed confidence in continuing to bring the best of the gaming industry to the Xbox 360. It’s not like this is the first time this has happened either, as Golgoth Studio was also denied publishing for Toki HD. This is just the first time, in memory, such a popular game has been given the cold shoulder.

To be fair, Toki HD is a remake of a 1989 platformer from Tun Corporation, which was, prior to announcement, completely unknown to at least one Destructoid writer. Adding me to the same list, that makes two writers. Microsoft giving them the big N. O. to a publishing deal certainly doesn’t raise many eyebrows. Not to say that Toki HD is not a game worthy of being published by Microsoft or anything, but Machinarium won ‘Best Visual Arts’ at the 2009 Independent Games Festival. If they will not publish an award-winning game, what will they publish?

Toki HDThis seems to be the point that the majority of those commenting on the related articles seem to miss. Sure, they have the right to deny publishing and Machinarium could always seek another publisher, but this appears to hint at a developing trend. Microsoft will pay for exclusivity but heaven forbid you reach beyond the borders of Bill Gates’ reach. For such an offence, you will surely pay the price.

The entire debacle sets the stage for yet another generation of platform exclusivity battles where only those companies developing consoles come out as winners. For such a consumer-based industry, consumers themselves are probably third or fourth on the list of priorities. First come the platforms themselves, then publishers, then developers, then consumers and possibly last come the developers.

To reiterate, it is not shocking that Microsoft should deny a game that has already been published for its competitors. Strictly in terms of the overall goal of business, it makes sense. On the details level, though, the entire thing stinks and paints a stark portrait of the future of downloadable games, content and especially anything indie. Independent developers that are not willing to bow to the will of the almighty Microsoft will instead have to seek out publishers who will suck them dry or just give up on the whole idea altogether.

So begins another decade of the same old business model, delivered in a new way, is on its way. We, as consumers, can look forward to continued exclusivity of downloadable indie titles simply because Microsoft has the gall to demand it. Well, that and the backing to pay for it.


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Letter From the Editor: April 12, 2010

Sleep is Death 1It was a busy weekend over at DIYgamer, Erik’s post about Machinarium versus Microsoft really seemed to strike a nerve out there. We hope some of you who checked out the news stick around, as we have a lot to offer in the indie game arena when it comes to news, reviews, previews and interviews. And don’t forget our ongoing forum giveaways – we currently have two copies of Plain Sight we’re giving away at the end of the week.

My fiance and I have just begun the overwhelming process of packing up our apartment for our pending move to San Francisco. There is something extremely cleansing about throwing out and recycling junk you realize you’re never going to touch again. In the maelstrom of getting rid of things, I came across two things from GDC last month that I had forgotten about: papercrafts. I had two sitting in a stack of papers that I hadn’t yet touched. One for Warioware D.I.Y. which was all pre-perforated and snapped together within fifteen minutes, and one for Frobot, which I ended up spending more time on than I care to mention. But the end result was this dynamic, blocky duo:

Frobot and Wario

You can note the scraggly cuts and rips all over Frobot, and the shiny perfection of Wario. On that note, while Warioware D.I.Y. is not of itself an independent game, you can certainly create games that perfectly fit our whole philosophy. Has anyone gotten to play around with it yet? A buddy of mine who works for Nintendo swears by the game and was trying to tell me about a text adventure he was creating. Sooner or later I’m finally going to have to settle on a portable gaming device to invest in, because I’ve been without one for quite a while. My old cell phone runs Tower Blocks, but that’s about as “game anywhere” as I get. Warioware D.I.Y. certainly sounds like it has some potential for anyone to create something, so let us know what you’ve been working on.

My preorder for Sleep is Death rolled in on Friday, and around midnight I got a text from a friend asking if I wanted to take it for a spin. I agreed, assuming that maybe he had learned a thing or two about playing it (this was before the first two tutorial videos were released). He hadn’t, but suggested just “diving in” might be the best way. It wasn’t, but I will admit that the follies of trial and error on a thirty second counter can be hilarious.The first run through as I hosted consisted of elements appearing and disappearing, failing to get and dialogue text to come out correctly, and after a few screens of chaos, finding the “The End” icon and calling the game. The second run was a little better, as at least I got the characters to talk and managed to move the same characters from scene to scene. I even managed to do some sloppy pixel manipulation to change artistic elements. But all in, it was still chaos. We finally got to switch sides after some IP issues, and I was less overwhelmed by the player side. My controller reacted swiftly to my dialogue choices. I literally spit out my coffee after he took my reference of escaping from a “swarm” and filled the screen with video cameras, which look like bugs, all things considered. Anyone watching us would have called it a failure, but we sure learned a lot. Now to find some spare time and get creating again. The preorders are closed, but you can snag two copies this Friday for $14.

This should be a good week over at DIYgamer. I talked to Zack Johnson, the creator of Kingdom of Loathing, on Friday, all about the state of the game and their new project in the pipeline. That will be going up in the next day or two. James wrote up a good column about the game last week. The two of us have been playing it for a long time. Other than that we have some XBLIG reviews coming up and of course, up-to-date indie news.

Feel free to leave any thoughts of your own here in the comments or over on our forums.


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Report: Machinarium Refused for XBLA

MachinariumUpdate: Jakub Dvorsky has confirmed that everything mentioned below is true and that he was quoted accurately.

OriginalXBLAFans is reporting that after six months of discussion Microsoft has refused Amanita Design’s award winning adventure game Machinarium for the XBLA due to the fact that they “don’t support games which aren’t Microsoft exclusives.” Meaning, available on other OS platforms than Windows as the game is available for both Mac and Linux.

The site claims founder and lead designer of the title Jakub Dvorsky informed them of the decision:

“Microsoft just refused Machinarium for XBLA after a half year of talking with them. They like the game and know it would be very successful on their platform, but they don’t want to support games which aren’t Microsoft exclusives. Machinarium isn’t, since we’ve also released versions for Mac and Linux. We have another option to approach some big publisher to bring the game to XBLA, which is quite absurd to do and lose maybe a large part of revenue because of that.”

Disappointing to hear to say the least. I haven’t heard of this policy before, and can’t come up with a case before this that can be applied. We’ve contacted both Amanita Design and Microsoft to confirm the facts and for any additional comment.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Bunnies, Puppets, Sweden

OvergrowthHere’s a handful of links to indie coverage across the web, today’s collection includes Wolfire Games chatting about Overgrowth, Tommy Refenes chatting and getting his game pulled from the App Store, and the story behind how Clover dev Binary Tweed got the name.

Bunny Brawler: Wolfire Talk Overgrowth (RPS)
“It’s time to talk about cute animals kicking each other to death. We haven’t covered upcoming indie action game Overgrowth much on RPS, which is a sad side-effect of its much-adored precursor Lugaru arriving before the Hivemind had coalesced into being. Let’s correct that now.”

Machinarium Creator Working On Fantasy Puppet Film (GSW)
“As you’ll see in this trailer, Machinarium creator and Amanita Design founder Jakub Dvorský’s talents aren’t limited to game development.”

GDC 2010: No More Giggles (TIGSource)
“A week after Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy) declared the Apple App Store to be the Tiger Electronics handheld of this generation (part of the Indie Game Maker Rant session), Apple has removed his zit-popping game Zits & Giggles from the App Store.”

Announcement: Nordic Game Indie Night, Presenters (Indie Games)
“The Nordic Game Indie Night is a one-day event that is held on the eve of the Nordic Game 2010 Conference, which runs from the 28th to 30th of April in Slagthuset, Malmö, Sweden. The event kicks off with a two-hour long presentation by developers, with Jonatan “cactus” Söderström and Nicklas “Nifflas” Nygren already confirmed as speakers for the evening.”

What’s In A Name: Binary Tweed (Joystiq)
“Every once in a while, we bring you the story of how a developer or publisher settled on the name for their company. Today we bring you the harrowing tale of Binary Tweed, the developer behind Clover: A Curious Tale.”


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It’s Hard to Beat Six Indie Games for $20

Indie Love Bundle Amanita Design, Broken Rules, Cipher Prime, Citeremis, Hemisphere Games and Omni Systems are feeling generous. The six developers have got together and decided to offer their games in one bundle for a very low price.

The Indie <3 Bundle comprises six games: And Yet It Moves, Auditorium, Aztaka, Eufloria, Machinarium and Osmos. You can have them all for just $20. Considering Machinarium alone goes for that price (and is worth it), it’s a hard offer to pass up — unless you already own the majority of the list.

And if you own all of them save Aztaka, it might be easier to just win it.

[via The Indie Bundle]


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‘Machinarium’ Nominated for Award Amongst ‘Modern Warfare 2,’ ‘Assassin’s Creed 2′

MachinariumIt’s not often that I can jump for joy at the nomination of an indie title which is surrounded by mega mainstream ones. In this case, our collective 2009 indie of the year strikes back by being a finalist in the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. These awards are presented by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. While most of the finalists for any category are mainstream titles such as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and so on, Machinarium has managed to snag a nomination in the “Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction” category.

Machinarium will be going up against Assassin’s Creed 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Resident Evil 5, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Congratulations to Amanita Design because we couldn’t agree more! Machinarium was a title that broke the barriers between indie and mainstream. Sure, we may have talked it to death over the last year, but there’s no denying its success as a deserved feat.

Who do you think should win out of those 5?