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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 May, 2011

A Sort-Of Review of At A Distance

May 15, 2011 7:29 AM | Cassandra Khaw



At a Distance begins with two people going, 'How do we do this?'

Except, not really. This doesn't happen inside the game itself. In fact, there's no script involved - heck, there's not even a help system to explain the controls. All this happens outside of the game, with the people who were handed the controllers and left to stare blankly at Terry Cavanagh's newest game.

The 'co-operative puzzle-platformer' recently debuted at No Quarter earlier this week, an event I was pretty fortunate to attend. Comprised of brilliant colors, halftone textures and strange shapes,At a Distance can be very different depending on which screen you're working on. For one player, the game is basically a series of massive rooms, wire-frame cubes filled with odd pulsating objects and spring boards. For the other, there are even more rooms and what will seem like a random chain of platforming sequences. At first, it can feel impossible to see where anything is related. Eventually, however, it starts to make sense and more than anything else,At a Distance is incredibly effective. One of the reasons that At a Distance was made was, according to the creator, to foster communication and that definitely happened during the event.

My friend and I were amongst the first few people to get their hands on At a Distance. We eventually gave up and other people replaced us, people we communicated our experiences to. As the night unfolded, even more people joined the discussion. Strangers mused over the purpose of the game, the methods, the things that they uncovered. Bewilderment formed more of a communality than alcohol ever could. What made it special was that it wasn't really just backseat gaming. More often than not, the players were actively looking for help or participating in the discussion. It was a fascinating experience; video games seldom come in so communal a shape.

I want rather badly to talk more about the game. At A Distance was brilliant albeit in a rather twisted sort of way but a big part of the fun was to figure it out yourself. If you're anywhere near New York and capable of making a jaunt down to the NYU Game Center, you probably should. They'll be around for a month so bring a friend for At A Distance and have two as back-up when you migrate to Hokra (we have an interview regarding that coming up).

For Terry Cavanagh's official site, go here.

Browser Game Pick: Samegame Fighter (Hojamaka Games)

May 15, 2011 7:00 AM | Tim W.


In Samegame Fighter you play as a hero who must defeat ten types of enemies in melee combat, trading blows with one another until either you or your opponent run out of hit points to lose. Similar to Dungeon Raid, you have to match two or more items of the same kind in order to receive their bonuses or attack your opponent. Players have a limited number of moves to kill their enemy though, since items are not replenished until someone wins the battle or when you decide to give up and surrender.

Collecting green potions restore your health, and picking up blue shields add to your armor (which is able to withstand up to three hits from the enemy before breaking). If you pick up another set of shield before your current one is used up, then the new shield will take the place of the old one. The purple fireball is sort of a joker tile - grab a few before you pick up a shield, potion or weapon and their value will be added to your next item for extra effect. Collecting two sets of fireballs in a row will nullify the effect of the previous set, so it's vital that you acquire them only when you need a slight boost of bonus from your pick ups.

The method for attacking your enemy is similar to building up your defense, with just one or two minor differences. Match a few swords or axes, and their total will be subtracted from your enemy after taking their armor value into account. If the strength of your attack is lower than their armor value, then the enemy will take no damage from your strike. You can also use the fireballs to boost your attack strength, but don't spend it all on the offensive because you may need the extra armor or health in combat later on.

Some enemies will only attack once for every two or three of your strikes (indicated by the green timer at the top right corner of the window), and a few are even able to inflict damage without taking your armor into account (you receive full damage regardless of whether you're wearing armor or not). These enemies are easy to spot: their attack value will show up as zero, but they hit just as hard as anyone else when it's their turn to retaliate.

Samegame Fighter can be played over at Hojamaka's site.

Indie Game Links: Distant Landscapes

May 14, 2011 8:00 AM | Tim W.

Today's collection of independent game links includes more indie game previews, a couple of development updates, the usual round-up of interviews with developers from around the 'net. (image source)

The Witness: Landscape color studies
"Now that the gameplay is further along, we are starting to think more seriously about how the game is going to look. Shannon did a few color studies by taking screenshots of the game world as it stands today, then painting over them to build scenes with different palettes. Here's what he came up with."

The Bottom Feeder: The Final Answer For What To Do To Prevent Piracy
"Whenever you find yourself starting a sentence with, 'I don't want people to pirate my game, so I am going to ...' you are very close to making a big mistake."

Kotaku: The Best Weird Video Game I Played Yesterday
"Terry Cavanagh's At A Distance is a befuddling game. It made its worldwide debut yesterday at the No Quarter exhibition held by NYU's Game Center program. It was the headliner of a strong handful of indie games, and it was also the most confusing one."

IndieCade: 2011 Submissions Now Open
"IndieCade invites independent game artists and designers from around the world to submit interactive media of all types. Work-in-progress is encouraged. Regular submissions are now open and late submissions will be accepted until June 15, 2011 (regular submissions close May 31)."

250 Indie Games You Must Play Released

May 13, 2011 7:08 PM | Michael Rose

250indiegames.jpg
The IndieGames.com book is now available! Even when you're not at your computer, you can still take on board information about all the best indie games to play, via the aptly named '250 Indie Games You Must Play'.

Each page features a most wonderful indie game, along with information, a snazzy screenshot and a link to the game that you can bang into your browser when you get back to a computer. The book is available from the various Amazon stores, including the US store and the UK store, as well as other online retailers.

Check the blurb for more info:

"With a surge in popularity recently and an increase in great downloadable games, there has never been a better time to learn about independent "indie" games. 250 Indie Games You Must Play is a guide to the exciting and expanding world of indie gaming. Whether you are a veteran of the indie game scene or have never played an indie game before, this book helps you experience the best in indie gaming and further your understanding of why indie games are so important in the entertainment industry.

The wide range of games highlighted in the text encompasses concepts and ideas that will change your perspective of what video games can be. The book covers puzzlers, platformers, beat 'em ups, shoot 'em ups, role-playing, and strategy.

Apart from being fun, indie games can be experimental, emotional, nostalgic, and occasionally just plain bizarre. Some make you sit back in awe, while others have you thinking, "Why have I never played a game like this before?" Better still, the majority of these games are completely free to play and even the commercial releases are incredibly cheap. Once you start playing indie games, you may not be able to look at your big-budget blockbusters the same way ever again."


Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of May 13

May 13, 2011 6:46 PM | Tom Curtis

gamalogo.jpgIn a busy week for new job postings, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles across the world and in every major discipline, including opportunities at 2K Sports, 38 Studios, Loot Drop, and more.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across its network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on online worlds, cellphone games, 'serious games', independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

- 2K Sports: Software Engineer:
"Recently ranked the world's "most consistent developer", Visual Concepts is the award-winning studio known for 2K Sports and its unparalleled innovation, realism and total commitment to excellence. Visual Concepts is best known for the world's number one basketball franchise 10 years in a row, NBA 2K, as well as NHL and MLB franchises. Visual Concepts continues to seek top engineers to join Visual Concepts and help create the next revolution in sports gaming."

- 38 Studios: Content Designer:
"38 Studios, a media and entertainment company founded in 2006 by Curt Schilling, is creating an original fantasy IP driven by the creative and artistic visions of pop-culture icons R. A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane. Entertainment products will include an immersive online entertainment experience that transcends the traditional MMO genre, novels, comics, toys, movies, TV, and more. Soon to be headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, the company is a fun, energetic place to work where the company mantra, 'How cool would it be if . . . ?' infuses the team with a commitment to passion, integrity, and innovation."

- Loot Drop: Lead Software Engineer:
"Loot Drop is a collective of exceptionally experienced game veterans who are also experienced in social game design. Each member of Loot Drop's founding team has over 25 years experience in making award-winning games. We were founded in November 2010 by game industry veterans Brenda Brathwaite and John Romero, and our team is the most experienced game development team in the social space. Our developers have designed ground-breaking and award-winning titles respected throughout the world."

Guess the Planet, Win Anomaly: Warzone Earth

May 13, 2011 11:36 AM | Michael Rose

Anomaly-Warzone-Earth.jpg
[Update: Contest is over, and the answer was Jupiter! Of course it was! Winners are Anonymous, Arumaar, J and yoyo#37!]

Time for another extremely serious competition! This time around, we've got four copies of Anomaly: Warzone Earth to give away, the reverse tower defence game that was recently released on Steam. It's got aliens! It's got guns! It's got anomalies! The works, basically, and it's all wrapped up in a very enjoyable package.

To bag a Steam code for the game, all you have to do is guess my favourite planet. I'll give you a clue - it's within two planets away from Earth, and not including Earth - so either Mercury, Venus, Mars or Jupiter. Simply throw your answer into the comments below, and a copy of the game may well be yours!

Please remember - only enter the contest once, or you'll be disqualified and fired into the heart of the Sun. Also, make sure to include your email address so we can contact you if you win - email addresses aren't publicly shown. Winners will be picked on Sunday afternoon GMT! Good luck!

Indie Game Links: NY Noire

May 13, 2011 9:00 AM | Tim W.

Today's collection of independent game links includes more indie game previews, a couple of development updates, the usual round-up of interviews with developers from around the 'net. (image source)

DIYgamer: Terraria hits Steam May 16th
"Word has just come out that the highly anticipated sandbox RPG hybrid Terraria is due out as early as next Monday on Steam. Launch price will apparently be discounted to $10, and will increase some time after that."

Gamasutra: 10 Tips For Raising Funds With Kickstarter For Indie Developers
"We believe that places like Kickstarter are going to become hugely popular and important for startup game developers in the very near future. Here's a list of the top 10 tips we've gathered from researching and interviewing successful Kickstarter campaign managers."

Gamasutra: Limbo, Minecraft Take Home Nordic Game Awards
"Five games primarily developed in Nordic regions walked away with honors at the Nordic Game Awards Wednesday, with Danish studio Playdead taking the top honor for its XBLA title Limbo. The game was also nominated for Best Artistic Achievement, but lost out to Swedish-developed Minecraft."

Cinders Coming to Windows and Mac in Summer

May 12, 2011 6:34 PM | Cassandra Khaw

cinders1.jpg

Visual novels are frequently those things you love, hate or make extensive fun of. Though often associated with the Japanese and their fondness for certain 'things', there are quite a number of family-friendly visual novels out there and it looks like there's another one on the way.

Cinders is MoaCube's latest project and their conceptualization of a classic fairy tale. The developers apparently intend to offer choices that will make players 'question the somehow naive and banal morals of the classic story'. It's an interesting thought. Judging from the screenshots that have been released, I have a feeling that it will likely involve vodoun traditions of some variety - always a plus point in my book.

Scheduled for release in Summer 2011 for Windows and Mac OS X, precious little information has been unveiled as of yet. However, those interested in keeping track of the game may want to head down here and bookmark the site.

(Props to TIGSource for finding this!)

Spaces of Play's Spirits is Free for Today Only

May 12, 2011 3:00 PM | Tim W.


Spaces of Play's iPhone puzzle game Spirits is free to download from the App Store for the next twenty-four hours or so, and if you've somehow not picked up this excellent Lemmings-style game yet for whatever reason then this is your best chance to do it while the developers are feeling overly generous. The game looks great and runs well on just about any iOS device, the soundtrack is lovely, and just about every review posted awards Spirits a five-star rating - you'd be beating yourself silly if you don't give it a go.

Have an iPad? No worries! The game is free for the iPad too, and we promise you it looks even better on a larger display screen. Get it now from the App Store before anyone from Spaces of Play realize their follies or recover from their madness.

Trailer: UpBot Goes Up (Ishisoft)

May 12, 2011 11:00 AM | Tim W.


Here's a new trailer for the Xbox Live Indie Games version of Ishisoft's Upbot Goes Up, which is set to feature a collection of sixty levels to play (up from the thirty-two found in the Flash version), 3D graphics, a colour-blindness mode, and a one-button accessibility option.

No price has been set for the game yet, but it should cost just about the same as their last XBLIG release Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage: Extra Edition (which is just 80 Microsoft Points). A demo for the Xbox version of Upbot should be available at around the same time as the full game, but there's nothing preventing you from giving the Flash build a go now at Kongregate or Armor Games.
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