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

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Dev Links: Through Forest And Field

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In today’s Developer Links: More indie platform confessional, communicating complexity and using XBLIG as a jumping-off point for a career in game development.

Indie platform confessional: Steam, Humble Store, Apple, Android (Joystiq)
“The internet is kind of like a classic confessional – except it’s not a box, it’s a lot brighter and everyone can hear what you have to say. Still, we asked a handful of independent developers for their thoughts on what exactly makes a platform effective, and they spilled it all, dissecting the pros and cons of the most popular, current models of distibution. Today, we feature answers from Ridiculous Fishing’s Rami Ismail, Canabalt’s Adam Saltsman, Octodad’s Philip Tibitoski, Retro City Rampage’s Brian Provinciano and others. This group of developers had specific thoughts about Steam, the Humble Store, Apple’s app stores and the Android hub, Google Play.”

Let’s build some Titans in Drunken Robot Pornography (Dejobaan)
“What is a Titan, anyway? Titans are giant robots determined to destroy the city of Boston. They must be stopped! (Or built. Pick one.) Here are examples of some Titans that players have built in Steam Workshop.”

Communicating complexity (Positech Games)
“I have a dilemma regarding a feature in Democracy 3. I LOVE the way part of it is simulated, but like most simulations of true complexity, the results often seem like you just rolled a dice.There are basically 3 stages to a voters support in D3. They can like you enough to vote for you. they can like you enough to join your party, and they can become activists. If they like you enough to vote for you, this isn’t a done deal. They may be happy…but not ecstatic. In short, they are apathetic. They might vote, but then again…it might rain. Turnout for them is variable.”

Tales from the Dev Side: How Xbox Live Indie Games Prepare You for a Career in Game Development (Indie Gamer Chick)
“You often hear about professional game developers leaving the industry and choosing to work on indie titles instead. Don’t let that fool you into thinking indie games are only meaningful for people getting out of the commercial industry. You can break into the industry by working on indie games too. Indie titles not only give a creative and relaxing outlet for industry vets but, they can also prepare you for a full-time job at a professional game studio if you have never worked at one. Sure, working on a small mobile game or a web game is great and all, but, it pales in comparison to having worked on an XBLIG when it comes to getting a job as a full-time traditional (console) game developer.”

Island Snapshot (The Witness)
“… which doesn’t look too much different from last time’s. Partially this is because we’ve been working on things that you don’t see from this angle.”

Good Morning Gato # 120 – Queen of the Couch (Ska Studios)
“Last time we took a more in-depth look at the loot systems of Charlie Murder. This week, we’re back to cover the leftover Burning Questions to the best of our ability!”

Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 – More Screenshots (Zeboyd Games)
“Since our new RPG, Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 comes out in 2 days on Steam (and hopefully the same day on XBLIG assuming enough developers pass it in peer review) for the low-low price of only $5 USD, we thought we’d show off a new batch of screenshots! Enjoy!”

BBT Furbuttom’s Features & CatControl Unlock (The Behemoth)
“Yesterday, we had our first live stream of Design with the Devs, where our level design team discussed three candidates for the co-op Furbottom’s Features. Today, we reveal the chosen one for solo and co-op! *Drum roll*”

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Dev Links: Through Forest And Field


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Indie Links Round-Up: Among Foes

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Ridiculous cloning, surgical simulation, and another chapter in the indie support debate between Sony and Microsoft – in today’s Indie Links.

Cloned at Birth: The Story of Ridiculous Fishing (Polygon)
“The interview is over. The story, told in pieces at least a hundred times in bars, at hamburger joints, on stages and in private circles of up-and-coming game developers, has now been told for the first time in its entirety. It is a story about the little guy getting bullied and making a stand. And winning. It is the story of Ridiculous Fishing, and how two men from the Netherlands rallied the worldwide community of independent game developers to take on the practice of game cloning and reclaim their invention to launch what will become (for a time) the best-reviewed iOS game of 2013.”

Microsoft hasn’t lost touch with indies, insists XBLA dev (Eurogamer)
“Microsoft’s relationship with indie studios remains strong, the developers of forthcoming XBLA title Max: The Curse of Brotherhood have insisted – and while it might seem that the platform holder is losing its grip on indie gaming as Sony attracts more and more developers to PlayStation, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes to ensure that won’t be the case come the next generation.”

Review: Spyleaks (Independent Gaming)
“*wipes sweat off face* Gee, that game can be tough at times. What game am I talking about? Spyleaks, an old-school stealth-puzzle game by HeartBit Interactive using the XNA engine (it is available on XBLIG and on the PC).”

Super Brain Eat 3 (Indie Gamer Chick)
“PlayStation Mobile is to the Vita what Xbox Live Indie Games is to the Xbox 360. Whether that’s a good thing or not is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I wasn’t around for the early stages of XBLIG, but based on what I hear from my buddies Ryan, George, and Justin, the early days were nowhere near the desolate wasteland that PSM is turning into. Looking at the slate of recent releases, nothing really has caught my fancy for it. But then again, nothing really caught my eye on iPhone either. My Vita has been getting a bit dusty though. Nothing like my Wii U, which currently wears the same amount of dust as your average mummy.”

The Amusing Messages to Gamers Tucked in Monaco’s Credits (Kotaku)
“Are you planning to steal the wonderful new co-op heist game Monaco? Please consider the above message. It appears in the $15 game’s credits. “

I’m Mexican. Am I Supposed To Be Offended By Guacamelee? (Kotaku)
“I remember being told I was a bad Mexican. To some of the white friends I hung out with, I was one of them. Once someone told me that because I played video games, read science fiction, and spoke with no accent, that I was whiter than they were. Now that was weird. Maybe I should have worn a sombrero or poncho around campus. Maybe then I would have been a Mexicano auténtico. To my extended family, my choppy spanish and awkward adolescence was a sign of my absolute assimilation into a destructive other.”

Wot I Think: Surgeon Simulator 2013 (RPS)
“As a games blogger, the question I am most often asked is: “When are you going to go back to school so that you can get a real job, like an accountant or a doctor?” To which I reply: “Look, Mum, Dad, writing about videogames is a real job now. I’ve paid my rent unaided for at least several years.” Then I show them games like Surgeon Simulator 2013 and ask why I would want to be a real anything, when I can be a simulated everything?”

Live Free, Play Hard: The Week’s Finest Free Indie Games (RPS)
“THIS WEEK: Fridge magnet story engine. 2012 so .exe, 2013 so .ppt. Dinosaur dating sim. “The ONLY LGBT-friendly anglerfish dating sim!””

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Indie Links Round-Up: Among Foes


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‘Rad Raygun’ Brings a Slice of the 80′s to Xbox 360

For the most part, Xbox Live Indie Games have been defined more by their quantity than their quality. Of course, the openness of Microsoft’s indie storefront is what makes it admirable, but it has nonetheless resulted in all manner of games appearing on the platform. Plenty of them are success stories, offering a coherent and complete experience, but many more are sketchy, half-finished “my first game” projects. Needless to say, finding good XBLIG titles can often involve a lot of sifting.

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As such, when a game like Rad Raygun turns up, you stand up and take notice. If you’ve seen the game in action you’ll know what I’m talking about. The game just looks incredible, and is a massive cut above its XBLIG competition presentation-wise. The developers at TRU FUN Entertainment have adopted the monochromatic visual style of classic Game Boy games, along with an excellent chiptune soundtrack by Fantomenk, to create an authentically retro-feeling experience. The game’s premise also taps into the 80′s spirit by lampooning the classic Red-fearing cold war plot lines that were prevalent in the era, positioning the titular Rad Raygun as the lone American hero who will save the world from communist robots.


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Smudged Cat Games Discounts ‘Gateways’ On XBLIG

Gateways is a 2D platformer where you play as a inventor called “Ed.” One of his many “experiments” goes wrong, and you have to help him escape the lab. Most of the game consists of traditional platformer elements, but also comes with its own unique element. That element is the integration of what is called “gateway guns.” If you have ever played the game Portal by Valve, gateway guns should be familiar to you. They are just like your portal gun in Portal in the sense that you shoot one gateway on one side of the room and another on the other side of the room, and then can travel through the two gateways. It is actually a great mechanic and adds a certain amount of uniqueness to the game.

Developer Smudged Cat is celebrating the great reviews that Gateways has been getting by dropping the price on XBLIG to 80 MS points, which equals out to $1 USD. Packed with dozens of puzzles in this 2D retro world, $1 is totally worth the amount of enjoyment you will get out of this specific title from Smudged Cat. In anticipation of the sale, Smudged Cat has also released an extraordinary new update to the game that features a numerous amount of improvements.

Gateways has had a lot of improvements, but the most notable change is that it now has a brand new “normal” difficulty, which helps simplify some of the later puzzles that might be more difficult. There is also a new help menu that explains the gateway guns in detail, the ability to disable auto-save , and support for 4:3 displays! Jam packed with puzzles and all the retro-goodies you could ever want, Gateways is definitely a great buy! Of course, you may want to try the game for you purchase it though. Thankfully, there is a demo version of the game available for Xbox users. Not at home? No worries! You can head over here to remotely download it to your Xbox 360!

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Smudged Cat Games Discounts ‘Gateways’ On XBLIG


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Life in the Dorms: Releasing September 14 for XBLIG

Hi, my name is Petey and I am a poor as could be college student who lives in a dorm and struggles to finish his tasks each and every day. I have homework, eat ramen, buy books, etc. I am the typical college student. My life is no adventure. Oh, wait… it is an adventure. In fact, it is an adventure game called Life in the Dorms.

Life in the Dorms, from Moment Games, is an old-school adventure game for the modern console! Dack is the main character; a kid who just started school and was homesick even before he got there. The player needs to help Dack adjust, by leading him through the puzzles of orientation. These puzzles include lessons about love, friendship, dating, and even ramen noodles. These preceding obstacles can be quite the hassle for a freshly deemed college student.


If the dangers of these puzzles were not enough, Dack also has a psychopathic roommate who enjoys dabbling with axes! Oh, well it is college and Dack can always make other friends. Dack’s primary means of meeting people is an in-game social networking feature called “Flitter”. Not only can Dack update people on the goings-ons of his life, but he also needs to use “Flitter” to solve a variety of puzzles. All of this leads Dack to success, or whatever success finishing college orientation can bring you, in this tale of growing up in the world of college.

Life in the Dorms promises to be a fun and zany experience for those who love adventure games and hate college. The development of Life in the Dorms is being handled by Paul Franzen (Editor-in-Chied of GameCola.net) and Ted Hung (creator of Office Disorders). Life in the Dorms comes out September 14th, which is tomorrow if you’re reading this today, on XBLIG. For more info check out Moment Games’ official website, or take a look at their Facebook or Twitter accounts. For future coverage of Life in the Dorms and for all your Indie Gaming needs, stick right here on Indiegamemag.com.

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Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Life in the Dorms: Releasing September 14 for XBLIG


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The Uprising Begins ‘Indie Games Uprising III’ Starts Today

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It is that time of year again where Xbox Live is taken over by indie games, over the next two weeks expect to see a broad showcase highlighting the diversity, talent and potential on Xbox Live as a whole. Indie Games Uprising is all about the community and this year is no different as the organisers look over the best of indie games on the Xbox platform and select the ones they feel will fit into the model they are trying to promote.


The games featured in the Indie Games Uprising III are as follows:

Week 1

  • Mon 10th – Qrth-Phyl ($1): Arcade Documentary of maze/dot/snake mechanics within changing dimensions.
  • Tue 11th – Sententia ($1): Is an art game that explores the challenges we face to keep our imagination alive as we grow. An interesting puzzler with some much deeper messages.
  • Wed 12th – Diehard Dungeon ($1): Randomly generated dungeons for each game you play keeping this dungeon crawler fresh in this interesting take on the genre.
  • Thu 13th – Gateways ($3): A 2D platformer with a twist, Gateways introduces the ability to place two gateways around the levels allowing the user to traverse time and space.
  • Fri 14th – Smooth Operators ($1): A sim game set in a call centre environment focusing greatly around interactions with employees in the ever more difficult world of business.
Week 2
  • Mon 17th – Entropy ($1): Is a puzzle platformer at its heart however it allows the manipulation of physics phenomenon to perform otherwise impossible tasks.
  • Tue 18th - City Tuesday ($1): Is a puzzle platformer where you are stuck reliving the same five minutes before a terrorist attack. You have to question the city’s residents to find and defuse the bomb in time.
  • Wed 19th – XenoMiner ($1): Is an action adventure sandbox game set on a moon. You must figure out using only your own intellect and this seemingly barren moon to thrive and survive.
  • Thu 20th – Pixel ($1): To succeed in this first person puzzle shooter you need to manipulate the environment to traverse the ever more difficult levels.

I hope that with these promising title this year’s Indie Games Uprising will be bigger than ever, so head over to the Xbox Live to participate in this two week long event. Remember that this event is highly geared towards the community so if you do infact like the title be sure to rate it accordingly and spread the word!

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – The Uprising Begins ‘Indie Games Uprising III’ Starts Today


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‘Escape Goat’ Comes to Browsers

For those of you who haven’t heard of Escape Goat, it is a widely acclaimed puzzle platformer that has you playing as a goat trying to escape from a magical prison by making your way through a variety of intense puzzles.  Created by the indie game developer MagicalTimeBean (EscapeGoat is mostly the creation of Ian Stocker), Escape Goat provides fun (but sometimes extremely frustrating) physics based gameplay that is not only innovative, but beautiful (in a 16-bit graphics kind of way, but that might just be a “me” thing).  Up until now, it has only been available on Xbox Live Indie Arcade and PC’s, but now its come to your web browsers.  This new web browser version (besides being the first look at the game for Mac and Linux gamers), comes with a variety of new upgrades, including: a built in level editor that allows you to create and share custom maps by giving a friend a simple url, two user created worlds that feature over 40 new rooms, and a localization of the game into French.

As a special promotion for the release of this browser port, the full Escape Goat game will be available for free online until Sunday, September 9 (a demo version will still be available afterwards, as well as the ability to share any custom levels you may have made).

Escape Goat is currently available on Xbox Live Indie Arcade, Windows, and now for any system that can load an internet browser at the official Escape Goat website.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘Escape Goat’ Comes to Browsers


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‘Warp Shooter’ Available On XBLIG

Warp Shooter is a recently released dual stick shooter by indie developer, Hoosier Games.  Currently available on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace, Warp Shooter shows just a vertical slice of the full game Hoosier Games aims to eventually make.  Warp Shooter is a step above your typical dual stick shooter, aiming to be one of the first 3-vector dual stick shooters.  This provides not only your normal 2d movement, but also gives you control of a warp beacon that allows you to move through space.

The rest of the game plays similarly to most dual stick shooters, allowing use of thrusters and a variety of different weapons, including: lasers, death rays, rockets, and a plethora of other weapons.  Combined with the introduction of its new gameplay mechanic (3-vector movement), Warp Shooter is looking to be a worthwhile buy.  There are also a number of game modes available to players, each with features that can be customized, and if you’re looking for a bombastic experience, you can face your friends in Warp Shooter’s multiplayer mode.


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is looking to expand the features of Warp Shooter in the future, expanding the game horizontally with tons of new game modes and integrated Xbox Live matchmaking features.

Warp Shooter is currently available on the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace for 80 Microsoft Points (about $1).  If you want to learn more about the game, you can find out more at the Warp Shooter official website (they also have tips and walk throughs available on their site).

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – ‘Warp Shooter’ Available On XBLIG


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Ring Runner – RPG Meets Space Shooter

Ever wanted to have complete control over your ship in an epic space-shooter?  Welcome to Ring Runner, an action packed RPG Space-Shooter that borrows its play style from classic space arcade games, while adding tons of enhancements in the forms of customizable ships, weapons, an epic storyline, three different multiplayer modes.

These features aren’t just tiny add-ons though, they are fully fleshed out.  Ships can have over 300 abilities, including: stealth, sabotage, and time manipulation.  The ship customization system gives you 65 different hulls that can serve as templates for your own, personalized ship, with each hull falling into one of five pre-defined archetypes.

Not only is the level of customization in this game amazing, but so are Triple B Titles’ implementation of highly intricate systems, such as their beautiful, procedurally generated backgrounds (which allow for more than 2 billion different star systems), their procedural AI (which yields billions of possible enemies), a solid implementation of Newtonian physics, and a seamless network system that allows for easy adaptations to multiplayer during game play.

In true RPG fashion, Ring Runner offers hundreds of hours of game play with tons of possibilities for vertical and lateral expansions and customization.  Included in this is its 20+ hour main story that takes you through an epic (and funny) storyline leading to unexpected locations (like a space trailer park).

Look out for Ring Runner on Xbox and PC soon; and if you want to know more about this great RPG Space-Shooter, make sure to check out their official website.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Ring Runner – RPG Meets Space Shooter


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XBLIG/PC Mini-Review – ‘The 4th Wall’

GZStorm have made a bit of a reputation for themselves as class clowns, with productions such as Vidiot Game and the legendary Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden. You’d be excused for thinking their latest $1 outing on both XBLIG and PC to be another weird, wacky and whimsical exercise in demented comedy. Well, the weird part is right, but The 4th Wall isn’t wacky, or comedic. Not even close.

Not even the developer can firmly classify The 4th Wall, although they kinda settled on describing it an as an ‘Abstract Horror Puzzler’. The best description possible, I think. It’s a first-person, abstract, minimalist horror/puzzling and not much else. There’s no intro, no setup, no story, but I think that works to its advantage. I don’t think they could cram any plot into the ridiculously small XBLIG file-size anyway – the game weighs in at a hair over 2 megabytes.

You begin on a large, flat plane. A wall of solid white to your left, a hissing wall of static to your right, and what might be a wall of darkness in front of you. Above, dangles a strange white… cord of some description. Beyond that, you know nothing. You navigate in traditional first-person fashion, although your interaction with the environment is largely limited to moving around and bumping into things. At first, nothing happens, but you might spot something moving, or a faint cue in the patterns on the floor, and you follow it.

Everything changes. The environment is ripped away from you and replaced with something else. You find yourself floating in endless black space with gazing eyeballs looking back at you, and the only escape being a solid pool of light in the far distance, which you travel towards… and fall into, and down, back onto the ground, and it all goes black. And then you’re back again, but there’s an outline of a body on the floor, and what looks like blood dripping from the slightly reddened cord above you. And then you notice something else, just moving in the corner of your vision.

And that’s the essence of The 4th Wall. There’s plenty more things to find, and interesting ends for your character to meet, and a strange sense of progression as your successes – or deaths, even – seem to add up. There’s shades of LSD: Dream Emulator here, although with a more nightmarish edge to it. It’s an experience, really – not so much a game, and more an exercise in exploring a hostile, abstract environment. There’s some light puzzle elements, but it can largely be boiled down to trial and error and a dash of intuition.

Due to the ridiculously small file-size, we’re not dealing with graphical or audio nirvana here, but the clanking footstep sounds, the odd, scattered audio cues and the overpowering hiss of the static wall are all it really needs. While there’s a few familiar elements of other things here – LSD or Yume Nikki, perhaps – this is a unique experience, and that by itself is worthy of a look.

Being as weird, experimental and as cheap as it is, it doesn’t seem fair to give The 4th Wall a numerical score. What I can do is recommend you at least try out the demo for PC or 360, and if the strange, oppressive atmosphere catches your attention at all, throw a buck at the developers. The quick-developed prototype version of the The 4th Wall is also available to download from GZStorm’s site too, and completely free, but they highly recommend that you play the newer version first.

Source: The Indie Game Magazine – XBLIG/PC Mini-Review – ‘The 4th Wall’