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

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Shoot ‘Em Up “Game Type” Recieves Major Update

It looks like our favorite parody/protest shmup game Game Type has received a major update that shoukd make the game much more enjoyable for those who splurged on the indie title. According to the developer, Mommy’s Best games, Game Type “has been updated with a slew of small and large improvements! Most of these improvements are in the shoot’em up portion of the game.”


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Seriously!? – The Indie Royale Lightning Pack Offers Six Times The Sam

The 2011 phenomenon that is Bundlemania continues unabated into the much more futuristic-sounding 2012. Sneaking in out of nowhere, Indie Royale is back with a ‘bonus’ bundle comprised entirely of Serious Sam games, including the whole third-party indie series, including Vlambeer’s Serious Sam: The Random Encounter and Mommy’s Best Games’ Serious Sam: Double D. As usual, the base price (otherwise pay-what-you-want) is going to creep up – now is the time to snap this lot up for cheap.


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Mommy’s Best Game Turns Heat On ESA Over SOPA

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, has been a constant threat to the freedom of the internet for a good while now. In a way, it’s this year’s or season’s Net Neutrality because, if it passes, it will give the government sweeping powers to block sites. Obviously the focus would be on torrent sites, but I think the government fails to realize that torrents are actually a great alternative to direct downloading for legitimate goods as well.


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Awesome Indie Holiday Cards are Awesome

Happy belated holiday weekend! I’ve got a lovely bunch of indie cards to share.


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Game Type Released for Xbox Live Indie Games; Includes Not So Subtle Jab At New Dashboard

Good news! Mommy’s Best Games, developers of such great indie games as Explosionade, Serious Sam Double D, Shoot 1UP and others, has released a new Xbox Live Indie Game! The bad news? You probably won’t be able to find it due to Microsoft’s new dashboard.


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Get an Eyeful of Mommy’s Best Games’ Serious Sam: Double D

Nathan Fouts’ Mommy’s Best Games released onto the world a eyeful of gratuitous, hardcore action in the form of a trailer for its PC and Xbox 360 Serious Sam run and gunner. According to Mommy’s official website, Double D has an approximate release date of August 2011. That means hopefully next month gamers will be treated to Mommy’s refined arcade style prowess, dressed to the nines with Sam IP cameos.

What should be immediately impressive is how Sam balances that stack of literally smoking guns. Kudos to developer Nathan Fouts for creating this insane weapon stacking concept. All I have to say is Master Chief’s going down!

Unsure of the raw power that Sam is seriously packing in Double D? Check out this great gory trailer:

My advice? Start stretching your fingers and clearing your throat. There’s going to be a lot of controller twitching and loud cursing and shouting when playing the unrelenting Serious Sam: Double D later this summer.


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Going Down Indie Alley at PAX East: ‘Serious Sam: Double D’ from Mommy’s Best Games

In a previous PAX East post, I mentioned the Serious Sam indie triple threat releasing soon on various platforms to celebrate the release of Serious Sam 3 this year from Devolver. Later in my PAX East adventures, I was able to meet with Nathan Fouts from Mommy’s Best Games who showed off the gruesome and intense 2D action of Serious Sam: Double D. Being able to run with his own ideas and twists on the Serious Sam IP, he was happy to add a female version of the headless Kamikaze, presumably for gender equality:

In addition to explosive  men and women, the game features a ridiculous gun stacking system. Players can fire their weapons simultaneously for maximum damage. Check out the carnage and gun stacking midway through this video:

 

Given how hard the enemies were, I felt compelled to ask the following questions.

DIY: How intelligent are the creatures in Serious Sam Double D?
Nathan Fouts: They pretty much come at you and rip your face off.

Any variety in game modes/options?
I really want to offer different game speeds, be able to lower it down to 25% or crank it up to 200%. I played it on 200%, and it will destroy you. It’s so awesome.

What other tweaks to the game will there be?
I want to make sure everyone can play it so I will do button remapping, game speed changes, possibly background contrast changes.

How crazy can we expect the bosses to get?
I’m gonna keep pulling the camera back and make them bigger and bigger. I love giant bosses.

Will the game have multiplayer?
It may have co-op. We’ll see. We want to have same couch co-op.

When will we see Serious Sam Double D release?
It has a May-June ETA and will maybe have an E3 showing.

What else is Mommy’s Best working on?
We have a lot of stuff going on. Explosionade PC (tentative title) will have a level editor and new shops/customizations for the mech. The levels will also be bigger.

 

For clean, crisp HD shots of Serious Sam: Double D, check out Mommy’s Best Games’s blog.


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Like Us, XBLIG Developers Are Angry

IndieGamesWhen I wrote my piece yesterday about the new Xbox dashboard and how Microsoft had, once again, decided to bury the service behind a new category that seemingly made no sense for a games channel I was a little worried I was merely blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Would developers really care? Would gamers really care? Would this, in any way, change the current landscape of indie gaming on the Xbox 360?

Well, as of today I have my answer to at least one of those questions: the developers are pissed off. As well they should be too. With each successive Dashboard update Microsoft is making the Xbox Live Indie Games channel less and less relevant. How long will it be until all the best developers there simply give up on the platform and instead move onto iOS/mobile development or simply back to PC development?

Here’s what a few had to say about the situation brewing over on the App Hub forums:

“Looks like all the Devs who made XBLIG apps had it right all the time, and we “Game” developers were the ones who had it wrong. As the new dashboard clearly shows, Microsoft does no longer consider XBLIGs to be “Games” (at least not “Games” enough to merit a place in the “Games & Demos” section).

So please stand with me in a minute of silence to mourn the passing away of Xbox LIVE Indie Games.”

- Johannes Hubert, Spyn Doctor Games

“I would like to suggest that this sucks.

I’d like to know the rationale behind it – at least then the community could try and come up with constructive alternatives, rather than being pushed further into obscurity.”

- Deejay, Binary Tweed

“It just.. boggles the mind. Clearly it’s not based on even the simplest logic.. which is what I’d assume gamers vaguely use when scrolling through those lists. It’s not like there’s not enough space (there’s only 3 boxes in Games and Demos.) It’s a categorical failure (literally).

Gamer “I’d like a game”. They go to the Games and Demos spot. And then they’re done. No one will naturally think ‘games’ are in the specialty store.”

- Nathan Fouts, Mommy’s Best Games

We agree wholeheartedly with these developers. Currently the Xbox 360 is the only console that makes it easy for indie developers to get their game onto the console without all the red tape usually involved. Unfortunately, beyond that they seem to care so little about it. It’s gotten to the point where it almost makes sense for developers to simply create more “apps” for the service than games.

I can tell you this much, if the sales of games don’t start to pick up I can guarantee you some of our favorite XBLIG devs will start leaving the service for greener pastures which would be a blow not only to the Xbox Live Indie Games, but also to console indie game development as a whole.

Just something to think about.

[App Hub]


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When Life Gives you Lemons… Explosionade [Review]

Mommy’s Best Games has been making high quality shooters for Xbox indie games since they first arrived on the Xbox 360 under the title of Community Games.  First with Weapon of Choice, then with Shoot 1Up, and now with Explosionade.  You remember Explosionade, the game that was delayed because the Xbox indie Top Downloads list was broken.  Ironically, even though the Top Downloads list was temporarily fixed, the day after Explosionade released the list broke down again, highlighting the very issue that Mommy’s Best Games had hoped to avoid.  It would be a shame if the Top Downloads list issue prevented some from playing Explosionade, because it might just be Mommy’s Best Games’ most focused and polished title yet.

GAMEPLAY

As Explosionade’s title suggests, you’ll spend most of your time making things go boom.  Most of this is performed by your war mech’s versatile grenade launcher that can fire either sticky or bouncing grenades depending on whether you tap or hold the fire button.  Assigning two weapons to the same button can often be a recipe for terrible controls, but Explosionade manages to pull it off.  Sticky grenades are best used for blasting apart the abundant destructible walls, while bouncing ones are best lobbed through those destructible holes to clear the area from enemies.  You can only fire three grenades at a time before having to wait for them to reload, preventing you from relying on their power exclusively while still reloading quickly enough that the game never slows from its explosive pace.  There are also gold bricks scattered throughout the levels which, when ten are collected, give you 30 seconds of infinite grenades to tear through enemies.

For times that require a more direct approach your mech has two other tools at its disposal: a machine gun and energy shield.  The machine gun used with the right analog stick is excellent for attacking close range enemies or peppering one of the game’s screen-filling bosses.  And since you will also aim your grenades with the right stick, there will be few times when you aren’t using the machine gun in some way.  The real star of the game, for me at least, was the shield.  As a defensive tool, the shield protects you from all damage while active.  It has some limitations, most notably the inability to fire while the shield is active, but it’s perfect for a quick rescue when a barrage of missiles are coming your way.  This would be great on its own, but the shield can also be used for navigation and as an offensive tool.  When falling you can activate the shield to bounce off of the ground, launching you into the air to reach higher platforms.  This bounce can also be used to squash enemies, which is way more fun than it has any right to be.  The shield makes it just as fun to play defensively as it is to blow everything apart, which is extremely difficult to balance in an action game of this kind.

So Explosionade is an action game loaded with powerful, over-the-top weapons.  What makes if different from Mommy’s Best Games’ last side-scrolling shooter Weapon of Choice?  It’s all a matter of scale.  Every level in Explosionade consists of a single room, with each one of those rooms being exactly the same size.  Each level also has a completely different platform layout so no two levels ever feel the same, but the dimensions and background of every level is the sameSome may find this monotonous, but I think overall it was the right design choice for the game.  By keeping one aspect of the levels the same it allows you to focus all of your attention on using your diverse weapon set and how to best utilize them for the situation at hand.  It’s certainly a controversial design choice, and will turn off fans of Weapon of Choice’s expansive sprawling levels, but it should still please those looking for more of a classic arcade feel driven by high scores and leaderboards.

STORY

Explosionade has an entertaining  story with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  You play as Atticus, clearly the dim bulb of the military.  While everyone else in his squad is on an important mission, he’s left behind to guard the stock room.  But when he peeks inside the stock room and sees a giant war-mech just lying around, he decides to take it into the sewers for a test run.  It all has a very B-movie feel to it, and the ridiculous one-liners just go on to solidify that feeling.

STYLE

Both your mech and enemy sprites are very detailed with bright colors to help them stand out against the shades of tan in the background.  Even the smallest enemy soldier has a lot of personality thanks to the little details in his armor and animations as he runs for cover from an explosion.  This is all great if you use the zoomed-in camera option, but falls apart when you zoom out.  Zooming out fills the entire screen with the level, and in the process it becomes harder to distinguish between the smaller enemies.  The zoomed out view also shrinks the HUD to just your life bar, so you lose information like your shields recharge rate and your score for the level.  This was a pretty big issue for me because I found it much easier to manage the on-screen action using a zoomed out view, and it was a shame to miss some of that extra detail that was put into the game.  It’s still a fine looking game when using a wider view of the action, just not as fine as it looks close up.

OTHER

Explosionade is absolutely packed with options.  You can completely remap all of the controls, adjust how the HUD appears, and even change the game’s speed if you feel the action is too fast or slow for you.  Action game veterans might want to bump the speed up to the 150-200% range, but it’s also nice to be able to knock it back down again when practicing the later levels on harder difficulty settings.  On top of everything Explosionade also has 15 achievements which, while they won’t actually add to your gamerscore, will give completions something to come back for.  If achievements don’t do anything for you, then maybe vying for a top spot on the Explosionade leaderboards will extend the game’s replay value.  Not to mention that the whole game can be played with a friend in co-op, though putting two mechs in the game makes things considerably easier.

Some might find the levels a bit too restricting, but I really liked how level design was used to put more of an emphasis on your weapons.  In all, Explosionade is an excellent action game, and a steal at only 80 MS points.


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What Delay?: Explosionade Now Available on Marketplace

Explosionade_Released

Mommy’s Best Games has released their latest XBLIG treat Explosionade onto the Marketplace for all 360 owners to try or buy. A bit of a surprise given that just a few days ago it appeared dev-head Nathan Fouts would be holding the game’s release indefinitely because of Microsoft’s Marketplace inefficiency. Even more eyebrow raising (although entirely possible it’s just a coincidence) is that Fouts predicted the game would see release on this very day if the problem was addressed:

“I’m hoping the list will start updating again properly by Monday evening. If it is, I’ll put Explosionade into review, and if the game passes review, it will probably be available Thursday morning, October 7th.”

Was the situation fixed to Fouts satisfaction? Did he change his mind? Was the entire thing just a marketing ploy? So many questions, all of them fairly meaningless in the context of what this posting is about. A good looking game is now available and we should go play it.

You can grab the game for $1 (80 MS Points) or its free demo now on the Xbox Live Marketplace. All the semantics surrounding the delay and release of it will hopefully be sorted out in due time.