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About The IGF 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, 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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The Behemoth Details BattleBlock Theater Multiplayer Modes

February 13, 2013 12:00 AM | Danny Cowan


In advance of an upcoming closed beta, The Behemoth has released a rundown of the multiplayer modes we can expect to see in BattleBlock Theater.

Along with more traditional offerings like King of the Hill, Muckle (deathmatch), and Challenge (time trial), BattleBlock Theater also includes modes like Soul, which challenges you to protect your character's spiritual essence while stealing opposing players' souls for your team.

Other modes include Color the World (color more blocks than the other team), Ball Game (a basketball variant), Horse (steal and ride the opposing team's horse back to your own stable), and Grab the Gold (self-explanatory). All game types are playable in both co-op and versus multiplayer modes.

A release date for BattleBlock Theater has not been announced.

Trailer: NEO XYX (NG Dev Team)

February 12, 2013 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

NG Dev Team has released a new gameplay trailer for NEO XYX, its upcoming Toaplan-styled shoot-'em-up for the Sega Dreamcast and SNK's Neo Geo MVS and AVS.

One thing you'll notice right away is that NEO XYX is fast. The screen scrolls at a brisk clip, especially when compared to the leisurely pacing common to the genre. While many similar games let tough enemies linger on the screen for several seconds so that they can spray bullets at you, NEO XYX seems to take a different tactic, forcing players to rely on their reflexes as bullets and enemy ships zoom past at alarming speeds. Looks like a fun challenge!

NEO XYX will launch in April for the Neo Geo MVS (arcade system), followed by a Dreamcast release in June. Preorders are now open for all versions, including a collector's edition limited to 300 units.

'Road to the IGF' Pt.1: the stories behind this year's top indie games

February 8, 2013 10:00 AM | John Polson

Gamasutra's 'Road to the IGF' series is in the process of highlighting every 2013 Independent Games Festival finalist - and here's the first batch of interviews, including Kentucky Route Zero, Cart Life and Incredipede.

All finalists will be playable at an expanded IGF Pavilion on the Game Developers Conference 2013 Expo floor from March 27-29, 2013, at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

This year, the 'Road to the IGF' series has already shared stories of innovation in indie gaming such as Q-Games' Move-controlled audio experiment PixelJunk 4AM, Blendo Games' 10-minute long adventure Thirty Flights of Loving, and more.

The full highlights so far from this year's finalists are as follows:

- Simogo discusses its haunting and intentionally-mysterious Visual Art nominee Year Walk, a divergence from the studio's familiar, cute tone.

- Cardboard Computer reveals the inspiration for Kentucky Route Zero, and why it's glad that the game's Kickstarter came before the big crowd-funding boom.

The journey to create Journey -- the quest for emotion

February 8, 2013 1:00 AM | Staff

journeybig.jpgThatGameCompany's Journey is one of those rare games that targets an emotional experience and actually hits it. This is no accident though, it was a laborious process to go from the initial concept to a game that actually affects people in legitimate ways.

"If you look at genres of films, they're all divided by emotions," said Jenova Chen during his talk at the DICE summit, from which the above early concept art is also taken. "But when you look at video games, what feeling do you get? It's usually a feeling of accomplishment." That's what games can do that movies can't, he says.

And with Journey, he wanted to marry that feeling of accomplishment and empowerment with online gameplay that would make players care about each other. Journey, as an idea, started in 2006. At that point he had been playing World of Warcraft for 3 years. "I'm a kind of nerdy guy who doesn't like to leave the house," he admitted, but he still wanted to have some social interaction. He tried to do this in WoW, but all the online chatter was about the game - nobody paid attention to each other. "The more I played this game, the more I encountered other players, the more I realized I was lonely," he said.

Bastion's argument for doing away with cross-platform development

February 7, 2013 1:00 AM | Staff

bastion.jpgIn a talk at the DICE Summit on Wednesday, Supergiant Games co-founder and studio director Amir Rao (Bastion) talked about the year-plus his team spent taking Bastion to different platforms.

Along the way, he urged the audience to get away from the concept of simultaneous 'ports' and 'lead SKU' and towards a thoughtful, non-parallel multi-platform development process.

Having worked with mixed success on simultaneously shipping PC and console games in the Command & Conquer series at Electronic Arts, Rao decided that in transitioning Bastion to new platforms, they would use a full team, not simultaneously ship, and take the time to understand the new audiences and advantages of new platforms.

Rao gave the example of Plants Vs Zombies, which he loved and bought on multiple sequential platforms, from PC through Xbox to iOS, and he feels like many people rebought on the new platforms.

In Bastion's case, the team went from Xbox to PC to tablet and smartphone, and gave the core original team plenty of time to think through the tricky issues, like taking a multitude of console and PC controls to touch.

Video: How to function as a depressed, solo game developer

February 5, 2013 11:00 AM | John Polson

michael todd.jpgCourtesy of the GDC Vault is a free lecture given at the Game Developers Conference 2011 on minimizing depression's adverse effects and maximizing productivity and creativity.

Developer Michael Todd suggests those who work solo or remotely and are prone to depression need to be proactive about the work they select. Finding projects that are highly rewarding, suit your needs, and match your abilities will help keep you inspired and productive.

Some tips he offers are to get other people to play your game and to discuss online or in person its potential flaws, instead of trying to work through development alone. He also says to play demos to realign your reality with what games are currently offering. Additionally, he suggests for self-evaluation and motivation that carefully track how much time you spend on work is better than merely estimating.

The video starts after the jump.

Road to the IGF: Q-Games' PixelJunk 4AM

February 5, 2013 12:00 AM | John Polson

pixeljunk4amlarge.jpgQ-Games' Pixeljunk 4AM is a fascinating foray into dynamic, interactive music using the PlayStation Move controller; though the team calls it a "virtual audio canvas," it's sort of challenging to describe.

The game hinges on the core ideas of mixing different musical channels -- and of sharing sonic landscapes with other people. The team again worked with electronic musician and multimedia artist Baiyon, a PixelJunk mainstay, and the unique result has earned PixelJunk 4AM a Best Audio nomination in this year's Independent Games Festival.

As part of our ongoing series of interviews with IGF nominees, we catch up with lead designer Rowan Parker to talk about the game's style and inspiration, working with Baiyon, and the important role of indies in the changing landscape.

Frozen Synapse: Tactics Coming to PS3, PS Vita This Year

February 4, 2013 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan


LittleBigPlanet PS Vita co-developer Double Eleven announced that it is working with Mode 7 Games to bring a console-optimized version of its hit strategy game Frozen Synapse to the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita later this year.

"Frozen Synapse for us represents some of the best work coming out of the UK and onto the PC," Double Eleven COO Mark South said. "We know there's also a great console game in there as well waiting to be realized."

The PlayStation Network version of the game will be titled Frozen Synapse: Tactics, and while few details regarding the project are known at the moment, South notes that it's "not simply a transition of the original onto console," and promises that the team "will be giving it a complete Double Eleven makeover."

[via PSNStores]

XBLIG Pick: Arcadecraft (Firebase)

February 4, 2013 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Orbitron: Revolution developer Firebase has launched Arcadecraft, a unique simulation title for the Xbox Live Indie Games service that puts players in charge of an arcade in the 1980s.

Players have a variety of options available, and there are many paths you can take (some sleazier than others) in an attempt to turn a profit. After you start, for instance, you can only afford to stock your arcade with a few cabinets, so you may be tempted to jack up credit costs and mess around with difficulty dip switches in order to make some quick cash off of unassuming customers.

If your games are too hard or too expensive, however, they'll suffer a drop in popularity, so you need to strike a careful balance in order to keep players happy. It's a great concept -- I especially like how new games and manufacturers are introduced as gameplay progresses. It's easy enough to make money off of Space Invaders and Lunar Landers clones in 1980, but your customers will clamor for newer, more expensive games as they're released, making for an interesting challenge.

Arcadecraft is priced at 240 Microsoft points ($3), and is up for vote on Steam Greenlight.

Stealth in 2D: Design lessons from Mark of the Ninja

February 3, 2013 9:00 PM | Staff

ninjacover2.pngHow do you make a 2D stealth game? In the postmortem for the February 2013 issue of Game Developer magazine, Klei devs explain how they adapted core stealth principles to work in a new environment -- and some of the design challenges that came up in the process.

Here are some choice extracts from the postmortem:

What went right: Focus on core stealth principles

Early on in the project, we decided that being stealthy had four core elements: Observe, Plan, Execute, React. Our design decisions continued to come back to this core, and allowed us to move away from simply copying genre tropes to creating new ways to move the genre forward.

As there are very few examples of 2D stealth games, and there were even fewer when we began Ninja, we had no templates to draw from. Instead, we ended up looking at the core experience that 3D stealth games provided, and really dug into how they are novel compared to other types of character-based action-adventure games. From this, we distilled what we believe makes stealth games interesting: player-centric systems, and intentional gameplay.

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