I am a sort of student of game design, which is to say I have someone teaching me and I am laughing hysterically at how little I know. That said, actual students of game design are..
Many have been anticipating this year’s letter from the IGF Chairman, Brandon Boyer, as it was evident that some vital changes were needed to how some of the festival’s systems worked. Controversy arose when Fez won the Grand Prize this year and all the monetary benefits for doing so, despite having picked up a $2,500 for being the winner of the Excellence of Visual Art prize in 2008. The argument was pretty obvious – there are many other indie games in need of the money so why should a single game pick up two lots when so many others are deserving of it?
As was outlined in last year’s letter the changes to the rules regarding finalist re-submissions, which were clearly needed after IGF 2012, will now be going into place. This means that previous IGF finalists are not allowed to re-enter the same game in the years following. Due to this, you should now consider when you submit your game, for if it is submitted early and becomes a finalist but doesn’t win due to not being polished (let’s just say), then you’ll kick yourself as you can’t enter that game when it is finished.
More controversy was met with IGF 2012 as it seemed that the games were not being judged equally, with some games not even being played. Again, it was clear that some changes needed to take place in how the IGF operates. This has been acknowledged by making some major upgrades to the judging process which has caused the opening date for submissions to be later this year. They will now be open in July but the deadline will remain the same at October 17th for the Main Competition and October 31st for Student. We’re not sure what these changes are but hopefully it means that the process gives every game an equal chance – perhaps a public vote will be integrated somehow?
Other points are that the IGF Mobile category has been abolished, with the reasons being that mobile games have become so integral to the industry now they don’t need special treatment. The number of finalists in each category has risen from five to six to make up for the loss of the Mobile category. Lastly, the winner of the Student category will win $1,000 rather than the previous $500 amount.
So, what you should be doing now is preparing your games for submission – the deadline hasn’t changed remember! Look out for futher information on IGF 2013 over on the official website.
ACE Team’s characterful strategy concoction Rock of Ages has been officially released on the Playstation 3 console via the Playstation Network, following its September 2011 outing on the Xbox 360 and PC formats.
Sweetening the deal for long-suffering PS3 owners are a couple of exciting new features that separate the game’s latest release from its Xbox 360 and PC forerunners. Firstly, players can engage in the brand new Obstacle Course game mode, which introduces online multiplayer gameplay in the form of race tracks littered with randomly generated defence towers. Additionally, the game’s pre-existing War Mode is also expanded with a smattering of unlockable defensive units for use in the game’s other gameplay variants.
Rock of Ages‘ Playstation 3 version will also contain all the expected gameplay refinements afforded to its developers by the seven-month gap from the game’s original release, as well as a variety of brand new boulder skins for the viewing pleasure of budding geologists in the gaming stratosphere.
A silhouetted puzzle platformer may not be the most original game idea in the world, but we can’t deny that upon finding the teaser trailer for O (The Experience) we were quite mesmerized. The painted backgrounds make for a very moody impression and one that soon leaked into fascination as the layers of surreality played out before us. The animation on the main character isn’t the best but for a student project, O certainly impresses.
We were disappointed to not find a website for O, but were pleased to receive a prompt reply from the developers about the game, which both satisfied our need to know more and provoked further questions to be asked. Currently they attend ESNE Videogames in Madrid, Spain and the concept of their game is very intriguing, especially when combined with what’s on display.
You wake up in a cold swamp while drifting atop a filthy raft. You have no idea of your whereabouts and your sister clutches on to you, scared. You need to escape. As you travel, you’ll move through beautiful forests, inky landscapes and climb huge mountains. This is a world of fantasy and surrealism though, so you’ll also pass through doors that lead to unreal encounters; flying trains in the clouds and huge rooms full of clocks that move with time for instance.
Whatever “O” is, it awaits you according to the developers. They describe the game’s main mechanic as “turning the world”, which is as integral to the puzzle solving as the relationship between the boy and his sister. When And Yet It Moves was brought up for comparison to this central mechanic, they said that it is quite like that but only in 90 degree portions. When considering the game overall, they say that it combines elements and ideas from Limbo, Shadow of the Colossus and ICO; that much seems pretty obvious.
O (The Experience) will be released in June for web browsers, we just hope that the game matches up to the promise it shows. There’s no website or anywhere else to find more information about the game at the moment, except the teaser trailer below.
It’s certainly indie award season at the moment – indiePub have announced the winners of the Independent Propeller Awards of the year that is 2012, they’re good picks too!
Having announced the long list of nominations and honorable mentions for the 2012 Independent Propeller Awards just a couple of weeks back, indiePub return once again with the much more compact list of winners. With over 100 games to work their way through this year, it was certainly a good turn out for the Awards – speaking of which, what are they actually competing for?
Cold hard cash is the prize at the end of the road, $25,000 in fact for the Grand Prize winner and $5000 for each category winner. The winners also get a chance to be published by indiePub as well. Not bad, not bad at all. So, just who did win that money?
Deity by DigiPen’s Double++ (Ryan Chew, Caroline Sugianto, Michael Travaglione, Christopher Mingus, Ying Liu, Matt Frederick, Aariel Hall and Ryan Hickman)
Nitronic Rush by DigiPen’s Team Nitronic (Kyle Holdwick, Andy Kibler, Chris Barrett, Andrew “Angrew” Nollan, Jason Nollan, Laura Borgen, Eddie Peters, Ariel Gitomer, Nathan Aldrich, Jordan Hemenway and M.J. “The Quiggles” Quigley)
You can find more information on the Independent Propeller Awards over on the official indiePub website.
Puzzling complicates otherwise simple game types such as platforming, shooting, etc, and so much so that it might be called the core of any and every type of interactive entertainment. Name any five-star game you like and puzzling will likely be part of its core design. This can apply to meta-puzzles as well, such as strategic acquisition in Monopoly, combo attacks and block patterns in competitive fighters, and team composition as well as item choice in DotA. Accepting this as an axiom for game design effectively eliminates the possibility of drudgery when constructing levels. The five-man design team of Box Jellyfish Studios has devoted a semester of its collective time studying at Cornell to produce Reflexio, a deceptively simple and challenging platform puzzler.
Taking the above dictum on puzzling to heart, the core of Reflexio‘s gameplay is spatial puzzling. Before the inevitable comparisons to Sugar Cube come up, the mechanics are almost completely different but for the classic movement controls. Here, as in Sugar Cube, the goal is to reach a goal within a single panel level. Most of the time, however, the exit is initially blocked until you collect several zipper pulls to open it. These are scattered around the level and can only be collected by shifting the level around you by flipping the blocks along one or several axes. Joey, the Koala you control, uses a magic umbrella to flip the level around and in the process move any platforms that he could have stood on. The additional ability to change the flipping axis between horizontal, vertical and diagonal allows for challenging levels that require alternative jumping and flipping, with the occasional timing challenge as well.
Now for the inevitable BitterSweet Factory simile. Joey’s world is, like Sugar Cube’s, kawaii. The visuals consists of pastel blue platform blocks, smiling pink buddy blocks, and Joey, our diaper-wearing hero, all against a tiled backdrop of smiling toast. Together, they say the same thing about their package as the graphics in Sugar Cube: that the developer’s emphasis was on gameplay and level design. While this is certainly the case, one would hope that a good number of levels are included to make up for the simple visuals. That hope stays slightly unfulfilled, since the total level count in Reflexio only hits forty–ten by way of a tutorial, and ten more per difficulty level. Sugar Cube, to my recollection, had at least eighty.
Okay, comparing the work of a professional, if small, studio like Turtle Cream to the efforts of a student dev squad is a bit unfair, but both games stand up well on their own. Box Jellyfish are to be commended for their work, since what is here is worth an investment. The only thing that would make it positively recommendable would be more levels added before official release. Speaking of which, Box Jellyfish have announced the impending release of their debut platformer on PC on May 1st, thanks to a successful Kickstarter proposal. Happy release, Jellyfish guys!
Every BIT Counts have released a trailer for their short student project, There And Back, which uses an interesting mechanic to identify itself in the crowded puzzle platformer space.
Students from the Vancouver Film School on the Game Design course have had 3 months to develop a game and the result that Team Every BIT Counts is boasting is looking pretty good. Though in many ways it’s just another puzzle platformer with a unique mechanic, There And Back certainly looks intriguing enough to warrant a playthrough.
The game is nearing release now and the students are showing off the main parts of the game – that being the three environments, snippets of the game’s puzzles and the “snap” mechanic. The latter seems to make a clone of the avatar which moves in an opposite direction from the player. The player can then snap to the position of the clone to solve puzzles and reach places they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
After having just won the the Student Showcase at this year’s IGF, Way, is being remade by its original designer and a couple of his colleagues for a commercial release.
The Wilderness is a brand new studio made up of pretty experienced developers who are setting out to remake the gesture-based co-op puzzle platformer, Way. The head of the team is Chris Bell who originally designed Way and went on to become a producer and designer on thatgamecompany’s Journey. Bell is joined by John Nesky who was the “feel engineer” at thatgamecompany and Walt Destler who is the original programmer of Way.
The Wilderness is currently looking to fill other positions as well, since the other team members of Coco & Co. (the original student development team) did not return to their work on Way. If you haven’t played Way for yourself you can do so by downloading the game for Windows or Mac from the official website. The gist of the game is that one player cannot see much of the level’s design and so the other player must guide them using gestures only.
It is not known how The Wilderness plan on expanding Way from its alpha release but we look forward to seeing what they do and will make sure you know about it as we do!
Today’s featured funding project over on our sister site 8-Bit Funding is a madcap delivery game called 30 Minutes… Or Less! from AdaptivElite.What’s the game?If you remember good old Crazy Taxi then you’ll know the kind of attitude that 30 Minutes… Or Less! adopts. As you drive around town picking up your passengers you’re to make sure that no other drivers get in your way.
Original Source: The 8-Bit Showcase: ’30 Minutes… Or Less!’
This Article was originally posted on our sister site, The Indie Game Magazine written by Chris Priestman.
The full list of nominations for the GAME British Academy Video Games Awards have been made public and, oh, is that an indie game? Oh, is that another?!If we’re honest, we’re really not a fan of these commercial video game awards which force you to pay a fee to even be considered – is that surprising to anyone? However, when a few indie games turn up in the nominations list there seems to be no reason to not applaud the lucky few.We know that there are probably going to be a few of you who raise the red card with lines like, “A Facebook game, indie?” and “OMG Bastion is not indie it was distributed by Warner Bros”, but you have to remember that the BAFTA’s only care about the commercial side of indie. Put it this way, if you care what the BAFTA’s think about games well then that’s up to you – we, on the other hand don’t.By scanning the list of nominees we have filtered out the indie developers for you and construed our own little list
Original Source: Indies Fare Well In The 2012 BAFTA Nominations
This Article was originally posted on our sister site, The Indie Game Magazine written by Chris Priestman.