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IndieGames.com is presented by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, which runs the Independent Games Festival & Summit every year at Game Developers Conference. The company (producer of the Game Developers Conference series, Gamasutra.com and Game Developer magazine) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

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Archive For March, 2011

GDC 2011: Indie Fund Announces Support For Three Titles

March 2, 2011 1:00 AM | Tim W.

Today, during an Independent Games Summit talk at GDC 2011, the Indie Fund team announced three projects it's currently funding: Monaco, by Andy Schatz (Pocketwatch Games), Shadow Physics by Steve Swink (Enemy Airship) and Q.U.B.E. by Daniel Da Rocha (Toxic Games).

As reported by PC Gamer, Schatz described Monaco, a top-down co-operative stealth game, as "Pac Man meets Hitman". Up to four players can take part in Monaco’s heists, either locally or online, with each player assuming a different class within the team.

Shadow Physics is a collaboration between programmers Scott Anderson and Steve Swink. the 2D platformer is described by its creators as being "similar to Mario" and takes place in a world of shadows cast by 3D objects.

The final game to receive funding is Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, abbreviated to Q.U.B.E., a striking-looking first-person puzzle game that requires block manipulation to progress.

The fund is curated by members of 2D Boy (World of Goo), Number None (Braid) and thatgamecompany (Flow) and aims to both support independent game developers in production of their game, as well as provide support when negotiating with publishers.

Developers that are selected to receive Indie Fund money maintain ownership of the IP. If their game fails to recoup costs following its release, then the debt is waived after three years.

GDC 2011: The Evolving Storyline of Indie Game: The Movie

March 1, 2011 10:00 PM | jeriaska

Filmmakers James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot of BlinkWorks are currently preparing the teaser for their documentary Indie Game: The Movie. While numerous segments from the film have already been posted to Vimeo, the upcoming preview will offer a more well-rounded sense of the structure of the feature-length film.

Production on Indie Game: The Movie resulted from BlinkWorks' meeting with fellow Manitoban Alec Holowka, co-creator of IGF Grand Prize winner Aquaria. As it turned out, both those documenting New Media Manitoba's Business Showcase and their subject shared many of the same creative aspirations. Funding for a full documentary on independent games was soon secured through the Kickstarter crowd funding network, while the completed film is currently scheduled for release later this year.

In this interview, we hear some concrete details about the documentary's narrative structure. Indie Game: The Movie will tell the development stories of Phil Fish of Fez, together with Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen of Super Meat Boy. These personal journeys will be complemented by a range of viewpoints from other designers and industry experts, including Jonathan Blow, Derek Yu, Brandon Boyer and Jason Rohrer.

GDC 2011: Derek Yu, Andy Hull Discuss Spelunky XBLA Move, Multiplayer

March 1, 2011 9:00 PM | Tim W.

Spelunky began as a freeware roguelike platformer for the PC, but has evolved into a larger-scale XBLA title due out this year. "When I think about how that happened, how I started with this tiny little game, and it became something much larger, I'm still pretty amazed," said Derek Yu, the game's creator.

Before making Spelunky, he had wrapped up a large project. "I really wanted to work on something a lot lighter," said Yu, "something small and kind of fluffy. It's kind of ironic because Spelunky's now turned into kind of a monster."

To get there, he made a lot of small games in between the bigger ones. "When I think about it, all those small games I made turned into something bigger," he said. "They gradually got bigger, and that got me the confidence to do something better."

Yu considers the freeware version of Spelunky to be a prototype for the XBLA version. He likens prototyping to drawing. "The key is really to zone in on what I'm enjoying at the time, and things I'm interested in," he said, adding that tools like gamemaker and unity "are the equivalent of a sketchbook for me, because they help me get my ideas out as quickly as possible."

Indie Game Links: Farming for Beginners

March 1, 2011 8:00 PM | Tim W.

Today's collection of independent game links includes more indie game previews, a couple of development updates, and interviews with developers from GDC 2011. (image source)

Gamasutra: Unity Releases Unity Android
"Unity Technologies announced the release of the Unity Android add-on for its development platform, enabling game developers to port their Unity-based projects to Android devices."

Touch Arcade: Sword & Sworcery EP
"We're blown away by how much better the game looks since our last glimpse at E3 last year. The art of Sword & Sworcery now still is blatantly minimalist pixels, but the crazy amount of parallax layers in the game gives it a fantastic looking almost-3D effect."

Gamasutra: Microsoft Accepting Registrations For Dream.Build.Play 2011
"Microsoft has opened registrations for its Dream.Build.Play 2011 Challenge, its contest encouraging independent developers to create innovative projects with XNA Game Studio, and is offering up $75,000 in prizes."

Joystiq: Spelunky on XBLA will have four player local multiplayer
"During a panel at GDC 2011, Andy Hull confirmed a multiplayer component is in the works for the Xbox Live Arcade game, Spelunky. He revealed a lone screenshot to attendees showing four different spelunkers on the screen at once."

GameInformer: Indie Week Day Five, Best Mobile Game
"The mobile sector is becoming a bigger piece of the gaming pie every day, and it's quite possibly the easiest way for indie developers to publish a project. We had fun with all five nominated titles, and we're happy to report that they're all publicly available, unlike most other games in the IGF competition."

Kotaku: Make a Game, Help Stop Teen Dating Violence
"The Life. Love. Game Design contest challenges developer and budding developers to create a game that deals with teen dating violence without using any violence in the game. This year's winner will receive $3,500."

Joystiq: The Humble Indie Bundle, leaving no customer behind
"Rosen and Wolfire's John Graham elaborated on their 'leave no customer behind' approach at a GDC panel on Monday morning, emphasizing the importance of including platforms like Mac OS and Linux in addition to PC. Linux users seemed particularly grateful for the support -- when the first bundle concluded after racking up $1,273,613, Linux users had spent the most with $14.44 on average."

GDC 2011: What Brings You Here? (Tuesday)

March 1, 2011 4:00 PM | jeriaska


Nathan Vella, Kris Piotrowski & Craig D. Adams
Makers of Superbrothers: Swords and Sworcery EP

Throughout the week we will be hearing from game designers, journalists and documentary filmmakers on what makes the Game Developers Conference worth the trip for them. More images of the event as it unfolds will be uploaded to flickr in daily installments until the weekend following GDC.

Christoffer Hedborg
Designer, Toys

I love getting to meet everyone, seeing everyone's projects and creativity. I wouldn't be able to go if the game weren't nominated [for the IGF Student Showcase]. We got a travel stipend, which is how I got to be here, and will have a booth Wednesday through Friday.

Toys is a game I made for the Experimental Gameplay Project, in seven days. The theme was "zero buttons," so I decided upon using only the mouse as input. The puzzles are basically lots of hanging 3D cubes in space that you move around based on your input as well as by rotating the camera around. You have to find the right position for all the boxes to fall into place to solve the puzzle.

It's a simple game, but very intuitive. It will be fun seeing people playing it, but also excruciating because they'll see all the flaws. Overall, viewing people's reactions is very valuable.

IndieGames.com Podcast #16: IGF Predictions

March 1, 2011 2:17 PM | Michael Rose

indiegames.PNGThe IndieGames.com podcast is back... again! But for good this time, we promise. There's no guest indie developer this week, as those developers who we had planned to talk to are currently attending GDC. Instead of waiting yet another week, however, me and Tim thought ahhh heck, why not do just the two of us.

The main bulk of this week's podcast is our IGF discussion. With the awards ceremony happening tomorrow, we offer our predictions as to who will pick up the prizes. We also discuss other goings-on in the world of IndieGames.com, including a couple of under-wraps revelations.

You know the drill by now - jump below the cut to listen to the podcast, or you can jump over here and listen instead. You like iTunes? Of course you don't, but it's available on there too (you know, in case you're mental). And finally, there is an RSS feed you can subscribe to, if you like being fed. Go listen!

Browser Game Pick: Interlocked (Nikita Leshenko and Ido Tal)

March 1, 2011 11:30 AM | Michael Rose

interlocked.jpg
Interlocked is a lovely block-shifting puzzler game that is both calming and anger-inducing in equal measures. There are various 3D shapes coupled together, and your task is to simply pull them all apart.

Once you've span around the shape and worked out your first move, you can then hit the space bar and start pulling it all apart. Initially it's easy enough, but rather quickly it becomes very difficult indeed, as blocks just don't seem to want to budge and edge into position, no matter how many times you bash them forward and back. Fortunately, if you find yourself getting stuck, you can skip to the next puzzle and try that one instead.

There's also a challenge mode, which gives you a star rating based on how fast you are and how many moves you use - although once you've worked out a solution, you can simply go and do it again quickly, so it's a little silly. Still very much worth playing however - give it a try at Newgrounds. (Cheers Markus, you lovely person!)

iPhone Game Pick: Hot Springs Story (Kairosoft)

March 1, 2011 9:30 AM | Michael Rose

hotsprings.jpg
Oh jeez. Remember that one time when everyone was talking about that Game Dev Story, and you thought hey, one little iPhone game can't hurt. And then you were playing it into the early hours of the morning, and you couldn't stop, and life stopped for a while? Kairosoft are back to make it happen all over again.

Take the game development away, and replace it with Japanese spa management. This is Hot Springs Story, and while it doesn't have the intense pull that Game Dev Story did, it's still just as addictive. You place down areas for customers to sleep, bath, eat and play, and then watch the money roll in. Over time, you'll be able to invest money in outside projects to boost the economy, and take part in magazine competitions to have the best spa in the country.

There's not as much customization as Game Dev Story in terms of giving things names - I personally think that was a huge pull to the first game - but it's still very much worth grabbing. There's a special introductory price of $3.99 for an undisclosed amount of time, so make sure you pick it up soon from the App Store.

GDC 2011: Indie Revelations From Experienced Developers

March 1, 2011 9:00 AM | Tim W.

Marketing? "You need to be merciless."

Passion? "I'd rather have a team player."

Inspiration? "It's not all about creating the game you want."

Three surprising quotes from three prominent developers with studio backgrounds who went the indie route -- Jake Kazdal of Haunted Temple, Daniel Cook of Spry Fox, and Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games, respectively.

Haunted Temple

Kazdal, whose background includes stints at Sega Japan (where he worked on Rez) and EA LA (the cancelled Spielberg project LMNO) has formed his own three-person indie Haunted Temple with two other ex-EA cohorts and is currently working on Skulls of the Shogun, a downloadable strategy title.

"While we were at EA we had really specific roles, and now between the three of us" all three handle a number of functions. "It's insane and it's fully the craziest thing I've done in my life," says Kazdal.

He sees the obvious differences between life as an indie and life at a studio -- noting that he likes the freedom to work at his own pace, and also the creative freedom of the indie life.

The team has "total creative freedom," he says. "We're constantly trying new stuff, and there's no chain of command, we come up with a cool idea and we just do it."

GDC 2011: Team Meat Discusses Super Meat Boy's Nearly Lethal Development

March 1, 2011 1:00 AM | Tim W.

Playing the punishingly hard Super Meat Boy is a masochistic exercise for many players. But in a GDC 2011 presentation today, creators Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen - the two person Team Meat - layed out the many ways that the development process was equally masochistic, at times.

"I remember looking at the calendar and feeling the panic and feeling the stress of that, and... I said to myself, 'I will die when this is done," Refenes said, in what he assured the audience was not hyperbole. "I kept thinking, 'If I make it through, I probably won't die, but it's OK if I die afterward.'"

The reason for the nearly lethal development pace, the team said, was the promise of being included in Microsoft's Xbox Live Fall GameFeast, which they were told would lead to increased visibility and more sales. With their dwindling bank accounts unable to sustain them until the next promotion six months later, Team Meat undertook a truly punishing schedule to get from rough trade show builds to a polished, bug-free game in just a few months time.

"This isn't an exaggeration; the last two months of development, Tommy and I never took a day off and never slept more than five hours a day," recalled McMillen, who joined the talk via Skype call from his home office. "It was like a Groundhog Day situation, where we're just living this same awful day over and over."

The incessant grind got so bad that McMillen recalls frequently telling his wife he was ready to throw out all their progress and just quit. Refenes, who's diabetic, said the stress caused his blood sugar levels to become disastrously unstable, and that his parents had to bring him a meal every day, or he would neglect to eat.

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