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

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A Sterling Task: Dan Marshall Reveals Fan Mistreatment Following Interview Misquote

All but the most naive of regular Internet lurkers can attest to the fact that dealing with the press can be a thorny experience. For Dan Marshall, head honcho at Sive Five Games of Time, Gentlemen, Please and Privates fame, however, interaction with the media was the portal that unleashed a torrent of undue abuse.

In an article with stand-out avuncular chaps over at Beefjack, Marshall revealed that he drew the ire of hordes of angry fans following a tongue-in-cheek comment that was duly picked up on and sensationalised by Destructoid’s Jim Sterling.

The quotation in question related to Marshall’s light-hearted assertion that journalists should be “forced to make a game” in order to experience the oft-excessively analytical scepticism at the hands of gaming critics for themselves. Once his words were cited by Destructoid as evidence of his alleged disdain for all things journalistic, however, fans were quick to bombard him with petty insults and vitriolic verbal filibusters.

“I now watch what I say a bit more in interviews – I guess you can blame Jim Sterling for that,” Marshall told Beefjack in an interview set to be published in full in the near future. “At the time, it was pretty harrowing.”

Marshall’s revelations naturally pull the strings of the ongoing debate over the underlying importance of journalistic integrity in today’s all-seeing, all-knowing cyber age. Perhaps equally scruitinised will be the capacity for misinterpretation in the written mode of communication, through which the vast majority of interviews relating to independent games are conducted. Whichever side of the side you happen to fall on, what’s difficult to dispute is the potential of media outlets to turn vast numbers of people, be it intentionally or inadvertently, against a group or individual with a meagre few words and phrases inserted in an ambiguous context.


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Size Five’s Privates Get Recognized by BAFTA

Oh the jokes we could make with that title! I’m sure Ben or Dan from Size Five Games (formerly Zombie Cow) could certainly think of a few considering their knack for humour (‘u’ added because they’re British!). In reality, however, the title is pretty much exactly what happened…


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Testing the Testes: Privates DLC Announced

Privates_DLC

Zombie Cow has announced through a delightfully funny press release that their excellent (and educational!) side-scrolling shooter Privates will receive a free downloadable add-on, arriving around April 2011 on PC.

The DLC will bring a completely new adventure, with the campaign taking players through the the inside of a “gentleman’s bits.” The new content will also include additional gameplay mechanics, new enemy types, new locations, and a new player character. So don’t necessarily expect just more of the same.

If you haven’t played the game yet, why not? It’s available for free and you get to play as condom-hatted soldiers of cleanliness. There’s really nothing that should be stopping you.

[Zombie Cow Studios]


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Indie Links Round-Up: Honest to Goodness

Dustforce-Indie-LinksIndie Links is back with another playground for your eyes to run around on. In today’s round-up: Interview overload, Student developers should take the opportunity and one dev progresses by honestly reflecting on a failed game. Have fun and y’all come back n0w, ya hear!

A Letter To Students: Experimental Games Can Get You Jobs (Brandon Sheffield/Gamasutra)
“In this editorial, originally printed in Game Developer magazine’s special Career Guide 2010 issue (available for free online) editor-in-chief Brandon Sheffield asks that students use their time in school to try new game concepts — while they’re still in an environment that supports experimentation.”

An action game with sweeping: talking Dustforce with Hitbox (Andrew Webster/ars technica)
“Independent games often tackle subject matter that is very different from more mainstream titles. Flower is about the dreams flowers might have. Machinarium is about separated robot lovers. And the upcoming Dustforce is about… sweeping. It’s a unique concept, and if the demo is any indication, the team at Hitbox might just have managed to find a way to make housework fun.”

Xbox Live Indie-Dome: August 2nd – 8th, 2010 (Rob Thomas/Crush! Frag! Destroy!)
“Welcome back again, everybody. Rob Rich is taking a break this week, as he was a bit under the weather. So, being the good boss that I am, I stepped up to relieve his burden by handling the newest Xbox Live Indie-Dome…”

Global Agenda Six Months Later – An Interview with Executive Producer Todd Harris (iTZKooPA/LoreHound)
“It’s hard to believe the way I discovered Global Agenda. As I was stomping through PAX 2009 (that’d be PAX “Prime”) I heard a man shouting something about “No elves.” Mildly interested, I turned to see a booth lined with computers, which people were huddled around playing a game I had never seen. Turns out, I knew exactly what the game was. This was the game responsible for shooting an elven mage in the head while he was casting.”

Interview: Blitz Duo Talk Kinect Development, Indies Program (Brandon Sheffield/GameSetWatch)
“Blitz Games’ Andrew Oliver and Chris Swan talk to our own Brandon Sheffield on addressing challenges in motion controls for casual games, distribution portals for indie titles, and their Blitz 1Up program to assist independent development.”

Chockablock: Minecraft Revisited (Jim Rossignol/Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“Gadzooks, it’s been over a year since I first ranted about Minecraft, the epic blocky building game by Markus “Notch” Persson. Clearly it’s well overdue a revisit from us. And there’s much to catch up on, too – including a Portal mod – so join me below decks, and we’ll explore the niche this game is carving out for itself.”

Midlife Gamer Meets: Mark Morris Of Introversion (Marconi/Midlife Gamer)
“Being flat is what I would love to be. How one little constanant could change my life persepective and indeed what benefits I would be entitled to. I would save a fortune on travelling costs by posting my little minimalist body through the post. For some their dreams came true when sleeping under a poorly screwed in notice board. For others they turn to Introversion Software to give them all their flat needs and more. So I took some time out to speak to Mark Morris and found out what it is like to hack, destroy and create a world of flat!”

The Ultimate Race Postmortem (Mandible Games)
“So, I made this game. And – let’s be fair – it sort of sucked.”

Interview: Zombie Cow’s Dan Marshall Talks About His Privates (Mike Rose/GameSetWatch)
“Continuing his interviews with independent game creators, Mike Rose catches up with Zombie Cow’s Dan Marshall, to discuss his new educational sex-related game Privates and his move into full-time indie game creation.”

Interview: Flower‘s Jenova Chen (Dave Cook/NOWGamer)
“The flOw and Flower creator talks about indie games and his new PSN project Journey.”


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Come and Have a Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough… Privates [Review]

privates1Computer nerds rejoice! Zombie Cow’s free edutainment game Privates has been released, so now we all finally have the chance to enter a woman’s naughty bits! Hurrah! No wait, I mean, umm… let me try that again.

Privates is a platforming shooter set inside the human body, in which small, gun-wielding soldiers take on a variety of sexually transmitted diseases in the name of education and hilarity (but mainly hilarity). It can be a little rough around the edges at times, but a combination of excellent script writing, simple yet effective fun and genius settings and backdrops make this a must-download.

GAMEPLAY

Privates follows the exploits of a tiny drill sergeant leading his troops into battle against a whole host of sexually transmitted diseases. You control the captain, while your three dunderheads try to stick closely behind. It’s a platformer with the mouse used to aim and fire anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-other things at the various baddies that have made a home out of some silly teenager’s insides.

Your gun has four different cylinders representing the types of treatment you can administer and learning which ammo to use for each virus is the key to staying alive. As diseases are encountered, your scanner can be utilized via the space bar, suppling useful (and hilarious) information as to which type of treatment should be used.

Learning which cylinders to switch to takes a mission or two, but eventually you’ll be blasting vaginas and bottoms clean like a pro. It’s incredibly easy to roam about each unique landscape and taking out the viruses is a riot. Throughout play the action gets more and more fast-paced, as sperm swarm in and carry you along with them, and chlamydia darts around, attacking from all sides.

privates2Don’t expect to sail smoothly through, however – there are some really challenging sections to overcome that will really test you. One part in particular towards the end – involving the morning-after pill – was possibly even a little too difficult, and holding the incoming sperm back was utter madness.

At the end of each of the five campaigns is a boss battle, featuring one of the more deadly STDs, and they do a great job of rounding up all the action. The battle with Gonorrhea in particular is really quite awesome, as it attempts to remove your condom-hat and kill you off.

All-in-all, it’s a rollicking good journey through the more disturbing parts of the human body, but it’s not without issues – mainly of the technical kind. While the cutscenes are genuinely a laugh a minute, they can be a little slow-moving at times, with a few long pauses and strange silences that even the brilliant writing sometimes can’t save.

Then there’s a strange problem with pausing the game. Half the time it will work perfectly fine, freezing everything as it should – yet other times the action will continue to move behind the menu, and you need to select resume before all your men end up dead. The game also crashed a couple of times during play, stating that ‘an unknown error’ had occurred.

STYLE

Yet it’s most likely that none of this will matter, because you’ll be smiling a bit too much to notice. Much like Zombie Cow’s past games, Privates is pumped full of British humour, from the way the characters talk to its general take on sex and genitalia. The chatter between the soldiers made me laugh out loud multiple times, and gave the whole experience such an incredible personality.

It’s impossible to go a few seconds without something highly amusing being rammed down your throat. Areas of the body feature giant neon signs to let you know where you are; Missions have titles such as ‘Close to the Bone’ and ‘Campaign in the Arse’; Even the age warning description on boot-up made me chuckle. There are some rather risque ideas and dialogue thrown about the place, yet it all manages to stay relatively mature and rarely feels like it’s being rude for the sake of being rude.

privates3Privates looks the part, too. Characters run along a 2D plane, with gorgeously creepy backdrops setting each separate scene. Each disease is portrayed in a way which describes how it works – for example, chlamydia is difficult to spot, while HIV cannot be killed. Privates oozes personality, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty.

A couple of technical problems mar an otherwise perfect soundscape – a number of times, sound effects will randomly start playing on repeat, and bits and pieces of dialogue will go unheard. On the flipside, effects will sometimes completely cut out, leaving you with a few seconds of silent gunfire. It’s not a game-breaker, but it does break the ambience now and again.

STORY

A squad of remarkably awful soldiers are put under the supervision of a great sergeant, who takes them on missions into women’s vaginas and across the surface of a man’s ballsack – sorry – scrotum. Along the way, they learn how each virus attacks, and how it can be prevented. Apparently safe sex is usually the answer. Who would have thought it, eh?

Privates is meant to be partially educational, so the question is – did I learn anything? Well… the answer is probably not, although that’s not to say that others won’t learn a thing or two. The emphasis on blasting and silliness means that the bits where you might actually learn something are overshadowed. Still, for a 14 or 15 year old who hasn’t got the faintest clue about sex or STDs, some of the info wedged between all the poo jokes might stick.

OTHER

As an hour’s worth of entertainment, Privates is a charmingly frivolous blaster, the likes of which you’ve never seen (and most likely will never see again). As an educational tool, you may want to stick to your textbooks, Mr. Teacher.

Definitely worth a download, it’s an experience you’ll most likely be describing to your friends the next day… but possibly not your family. Give it a download from the E4 website.


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Privates Out Next Week

Privates_Release_Date News has arrived that the guys at Zombie Cow will be releasing their educational shooter Privates next Thursday, August 5. Presumably for PC first with an Xbox Live Indie release likely hitting a bit after when it makes its way through the channel’s approval process.

This according to The Guardian (via IndieGames) which runs a nice, lengthy piece on Channel 4′s influence on changing the perception of the edu-game. The article of course includes plenty of literature on Privates and the developer behind it.

A happy surprise to be getting the game so soon. This is the first Zombie Cow game released during DIYGamer’s existence, so I’m quite sure there’s going to be a knife fight over who gets the review.


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Zombie Cow Exposes Privates Trailer

Privates_TrailerZombie Cow Studios has released a trailer for their upcoming educationally icky shooter Privates.

Players become heroes with condoms for hats exploring the orifices and innards of those nasty STI-carrying teens. Blasting away viruses and other grossness as janitors of the genitals in an apparent effort to give these misguided adolescents a second chance at a clean crotch.

Funded by UK TV station Channel 4 (OMG NAUGHT INDE1!1) Privates will receive a free PC release this summer from the channel’s website. Zombie Cow is also prepping Privates for the Xbox 360′s Indie Games channel, which in their words “will probably cost a little bit of money” for interested parties.


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Indie Links Round-Up: Show & Tell

Indie_Links_May_18Indie links are back yet again.

Plenty to share this week, with some really solid help and advice for aspiring developers, a list of previews and impressions and a trio of interviews including a hilarious RPS exclusive with Zombie Cow on their upcoming title Privates. Quite a few to get through so let’s dive in.

How to make interesting games by accident (Wolfire)
“The blank page, is one of the greatest things ever, as well as one of the most irritating; it can become anything you imagine, the trouble is your imagination is pretty crap. Don’t get me wrong, it does some amazing things, but to most of us, sooner or later those amazing things start to get repetitive, you wonder if you are really as creative as you once thought you were, when all your ideas turn out to be more or less along the same lines.”

Three More Tips For Getting Started In the Indie Gaming Biz (The Bottom Feeder)
“In February, I wrote my first three tips for getting started in the Indie gaming biz. I am starting to feel old and outdated in this business, so I feel like I’d probably be better off not trying to act wise. Sometimes I get e-mails from successful Indie developers, telling me what an inspiration I was to them when they were young. And then my skin starts to peel off in sheets and my hip spontaneously breaks. And yet, there are still several more bits of advice that I think are genuinely helpful.”

The Indie Game Doctor (formspring.me)
“All heavens and all earths. Your indie games. I will fix them. Ask me how to fix them. I am indie game guru and I can help you make indie game better. All solution applied.”

Independent Games Festival Names Boyer As Chairman (IndieGames)
“The UBM TechWeb Game Network, organizers of the yearly Independent Games Festival and Independent Games Summit has announced that scene notable Brandon Boyer has been named Chairman of the IGF, as it continues to expand its role in evangelizing and rewarding the best indie games.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Rotor’scope (Joystiq)
“Being a giant, beloved video game blog has its downsides. For example, we sometimes neglect to give independent developers our coverage love (or loverage, if you will) as we get caught up in AAA, AAAA or the rare quintuple-A titles. To remedy that, we’re giving indies the chance to create their own loverage and sell you, the fans, on their studios and products. This week we talk with Mauricio Garcia, one of the programmers of Nivel21, about how their game Rotor’scope proves that nothing is impossible.”

The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Armor Games (Joystiq)
“This week we talk with Armor Games’ Daniel McNeely (Founder) and John Cooney (Head of Game Development), who converted a love of medieval Flash games into a full-on gaming hub.”

Xbox Live Indie Games: 10 Titles For 2010 (Gamasutra)
“With almost 1000 titles now available on Xbox Live Indie Games, what kind of games are breaking through from a quality — or quirkiness — point of view on the service? Gamasutra looks at 10 of the best new titles on the Xbox 360′s hobbyist and indie-contributed game service, from Mamotte Knight through Zombie Estate and beyond.”

No Longer A One-Button Game: Canabalt’s Typing Tutor Edition (GameSetWatch)
“If you’ve spent months playing Canabalt, mastering the one-button game to the point where you can vault across dozens of rooftops at breakneck speeds without increasing your heartrate or hit the 30,000 meter mark in every playthrough, developer Adam “Atomic” Saltsman has posted a slight variant of the game that adds some complexity (with a purpose!) to the simple title.”

Interviews

Exclusive: Getting Intimate With Privates (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“Upon hearing the news of Zombie Cow’s pee-pee and hoo-hah themed game, Privates, we clearly wanted to know more. What are these “vaginas” and “penises” they’re talking about? So we got ourselves a chat with project lead Dan Marshall to find out the details on their STI-busting project. We exclusively reveal what the game’s about, how it will play, and what disgusting items lie in Zombie Cow’s search history.”

Halfbrick shares Fruit Ninja sales numbers, how to succeed on the App store (Joystiq)
“iPhone and iPod Touch gamers have likely already heard of Fruit Ninja, a game where you coldly murder different offerings from nature’s bounty — by tapping and slicing across the screen, you cut down watermelons and the like. It’s a pretty simple game and at only $.99, it’s quickly climbed the charts of the most popular Apps in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden. So we decided to grill Halbrick’s creator and lead designer of Fruit Ninja, Luke Muscat, on all things iPhone.”

League Of Legends’ Merrill On Succeeding With Free-To-Play Core Games (GameSetWatch)
“Free-to-play games often associate with the social/casual market, but Riot Games’ neat, core gamer-centric League of Legends has topped 1 million downloads — Marc Merrill tells our own Chris Remo about growth and prospects for the DoTA-style game.”

Previews and Impressions

Impressions: Frozen Synapse Beta (Mode 7 Games) (IndieGames)
“Lagging behind with this one, but I’ve finally gotten around to giving the Frozen Synapse beta a playthrough. For those out of the loop, it’s an upcoming turn-based strategy with a Rainbow Six feel to it.”

Preview: Super Meat Boy (Team Meat) (IndieGames)
“Caution: loud music.”

Preview: Voyager (Big Block Games) (IndieGames)
“Voyager (currently in alpha) is a space trading game in which you play as the pilot of a spacecraft, transporting goods for a quick profit and earning the experience needed to access other planets around the system you’re in.”

Preview: The Wretcher (Alan v. Drake) (IndieGames)
“Made with the AGS game creation engine, The Wretcher is a 2D adventure game about a writer named Keith Morrison and his girlfriend Aileen Hayward, both visiting a town called Crowhaven to investigate the mysterious circumstances that led to the death of Ms. Hayward’s uncle. The story begins with the couple arriving at her uncle’s manor, not knowing what horrors await for the two of them.”


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Zombie Cow’s Newest Game, Privates, is Absolutely Nuts

Privates000Everybody’s favorite indie game studio, Zombie Cow (developers of Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please), has officially announced their next game this morning in a, seemingly, innocent twin stick shooter. I say seemingly because, well, it’s actually a batshit insane concept that makes it fairly, shall we say, adult.

Privates is a new twin stick shooter where you lead a microscopic gang of condom-hatted (that means they where a hat, they don’t hate) marines into various people’s vaginas and “bottoms” (the other end) to kill and destroy any monsters that are within, cause, you know, people are just full of germs.

The game has five levels with some supposedly spectacularly detailed 3D landscapes. Although, I do hope it’s not too detailed. I mean, the game takes place inside human’s errr special areas. There’s some stuff that’s meant to be left unseen, if you know what I’m saying.

I suppose the best part about this game, is not the concept or the fact that it’s a twin stick shooter (which are always fun) but the fact that the game will come with a fully-voiced comedy script. Anybody whose played either of the duo’s adventure titles can attest to the hilarity. Make no mistakes, these guys are very funny and I’m positive that Privates will be equally as funny, if not more.

The PC game will be available for download this summer, for free. The Xbox version will also be released this summer, but will cost money, unfortunately, but that’s just how the Xbox rolls.

Screenshots:

Privates001Privates002Privates003

Vote on Your Favorite Indie Game!

We here at DIYgamer.com have started our very own bracket-styled tournament to find the best indie game, as voted on by you, the gamers. So head on over to our tournament page to vote on your favorite games!

The Tournament
Love(MMO) vs. Adanaxis
Braid vs. Runman: Race Around the World
Knytt/Knytt Stories vs. Altitude
Ben There, Dan That vs. Don’t Look Back
N vs. Minecraft