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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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Papo & Yo behind-the-scenes: Making a game that matters

January 20, 2013 12:00 PM | Staff

gdmag cover.pngMinority Media's Papo & Yo successfully attracted the attention of players and developers last year; after all, it's not every day you play a game designed around a person's experiences with their abusive alcoholic father.

In the postmortem for the January 2013 issue of Game Developer magazine (sister publication to Gamasutra), Minority Media devs Deborah Chantson and Julien Barnoin explain how Papo & Yo creator Vander Caballero's deeply personal story guided the team's direction -- and made it harder to define the game's scope.

Here are some choice extracts from the game's postmortem:

What went right: Choosing a story that mattered

Papo & Yo is an emotional adventure filled with puzzles. You play as Quico, a young boy hiding in his closet from thunderous footsteps outside. Through his imagination, Quico escapes to a magical world of colourful favelas, with houses that can sprout legs and fly, and a robot friend who can act as a jetpack.

Sonic, Gunstar Heroes inspired Freedom Planet already 300% funded

January 19, 2013 12:00 PM | John Polson

Freedom Planet's high speed, 16-bit era action platforming clearly appeals to some Kickstarter fans, achieving $6,000 in funding (300% of the original goal) in its first few days. I gushed about the game in August, and it now has an updated Windows demo with more physics and polish, along with a second playable character.

Those who pledge $10 are promised the game and a Steam key if it passes Greenlight. Depending on the amount of funding Galaxy Trail receives, the team may be able to finish the game during 2013. They are also looking for funding to export the game to other platforms, including Mac, Steam, XNA, iOS, and potentially Android and HTML5.

I'm curious what readers think of Freedom Planet's two themes: the one at the beginning of the video and the one that starts at 1:50. I have my favorite (the end one), but lead programmer Stephen DiDuro told me he'd go with either version that was more popular. Granted, this vote is not as important to the game's future as a Greenlight vote or Kickstarter pledge, but wonder how many of our readers feel strongly about game music.

Paradox CEO: New devices, open platforms offer key chances for indies

January 19, 2013 4:00 AM | Staff

wester.jpgThis year, an increasing trend favoring open platforms -- plus loads more new hardware options -- could form the new frontier for indie developers. A developer that manages to nail a great game in the emerging hardware market will enjoy near-unprecedented ubiquity, and the opportunity to have a say in the emerging landscape.

That's what Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester believes, suggesting today's independent developers would be well-served by focusing on new platforms and taking advantage of that openness in what's being described as a microconsole boom.

Wester's in a unique position as CEO of the PC-focused, independent developer-publisher, able to analyze business trends in the games industry without being beholden to the usual industry partners in the console space. He remembers a Game Developers Conference just three or four years ago when the Nintendo DS was the platform of highest interest to publishers. Two years ago, the same amount of attention had turned to the mobile space; a year ago, it was social gaming, in his view.

This year, Wester is curious to hear devs talk about new hardware and platform developments like Valve's Steam Box, Nvidia's Shield, Razer's tablet and the Ouya, to name just a few. By themselves most of these platforms are just one more thing to keep an eye on.

But collectively, juxtaposed against unprecedented retail disruption and a climate where the viability of fully-featured traditional home console platforms (like the ones Sony and Microsoft are expected to start revealing later this year) is an open question, they highlight one of the industry's most relevant hardware trends: Device convergence.

escapeVektor Coming to PS Vita in North America Next Week

January 18, 2013 6:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Following up on a European release in December, Nnooo announced that its stylish action-puzzler escapeVektor will launch as a downloadable title for the PlayStation Vita in North America next Tuesday, January 22nd.

Featuring mechanics similar to Konami's arcade obscurity Amidar, escapeVektor challenges players to travel along narrow passageways and trace square outlines in order to outwit enemies, collect power-ups, and travel to new nodes.

escapeVektor was initially envisioned as an episodic series for WiiWare (with escapeVektor: Chapter 1 making its Wii debut in 2011), but Nnooo has since decided to release the entire series as a downloadable compilation for handheld consoles. The 3DSWare version of escapeVektor previously launched on December 20th.

"Initially planned as a 4-chapter series, Nnooo decided to roll all the chapters into one game and release it on portable games platforms such as the PS Vita," Nnooo explains. "This 'complete edition' of the game comes with 150 levels spread across 27 different worlds with additional enemies and obstacles, 3 types of online leaderboard and a new Wildcard system."

The PS Vita edition of escapeVektor will be priced at $9.99.

The Behemoth Now Accepting Applications for BattleBlock Theater Closed Beta

January 17, 2013 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

120117_battleblock.jpg

If you want an early look at the next game from Castle Crashers developer The Behemoth, the developer is now accepting applications for a BattleBlock Theater closed beta to be held between February and March. Signup is free, but only 10,000 applicants will be chosen to participate.

Applicants must have an Xbox 360 with an internet connection and an active Xbox Live Gold account, and must meet all listed terms and conditions at The Behemoth's website. Chosen members must also agree to complete an assigned task list -- if you're willing to be an active tester, give it a shot!

[via Joystiq]

Super Crate Box, Thomas Was Alone devs share on new site stories of being bullied

January 17, 2013 3:00 AM | John Polson

beyond the final boss.jpgThe developers behind Super Crate Box, Thomas Was Alone, and more indie and AAA games have begun to share their stories about being bullied and how they've persevered via a new website called Beyond the Final Boss.

The man behind the passion project is Shahid Ahmad, the designer for the 1985 Atari game Chimera (recently recreated) and current Senior Business Development Manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

Ahmad was inspired to take action after joining a heated discussion online about bullying between Thomas Was Alone developer Mike Bithell and former PomPom and Introversion developer Byron Atkinson-Jones. Ahmad got their permission to repost parts of their story and went out to find more developers who were willing to discuss their bullying experiences.

XBLIG Pick: Little Acorns Deluxe (Team Pesky)

January 15, 2013 6:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Following up on the launch of its side-scrolling platformer Little Acorns for Windows Phone last year, Team Pesky has released Little Acorns Deluxe, an upgraded port for Xbox Live Indie Games.

Little Acorns Deluxe is surprisingly lengthy and feature-filled, and includes a wide variety of environmental puzzles, boss battles, and power-ups. Notably, Little Acorns Deluxe introduces a new and XBLIG-exclusive co-op mode that allows two players to run, jump, and swing through the game's 80 included levels together.

Little Acorns Deluxe is priced at 80 Microsoft points ($1).

XBLIG/Windows Pick: Genix (Xpod Games UK)

January 14, 2013 6:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Over on the Xbox Live Indie Games service, developer Xpod Games UK has released Genix, a twin-stick shooter and puzzler presented in a unique behind-the-ship perspective.

Genix features 30 levels in which players must navigate mazes and engage in some light puzzle-solving as they eradicate invading alien forces. The presentation reminds me a bit of the maze segments from the vector arcade game Major Havoc, and the exploration elements give it a sense of depth that other twin-stick shooters lack.

Genix is priced at 240 Microsoft points ($3). A Windows version is also available at Desura, IndieCity, and Indievania.

Joe Danger is a rare example of console-to-mobile done right

January 13, 2013 9:00 PM | Staff

joe danger long.jpgGuildford, UK-based Hello Games has had quite an explosive few years since it was founded in 2009, thanks to its rather popular arcade racing Joe Danger series. Now, as the third installment launches on iOS, the studio is finally ready to put Joe to bed.

Joe Danger Touch is the perfect swan song for the franchise, with great reviews rolling in from both the press and App Store users. For Hello Games' Sean Murray, it truly is the end of an era.

"You'd think I would be glad to leave Joe Danger behind, wouldn't you?" he says. "Instead I feel incredibly sad - it's a game that I'm very proud of, that's been very important to us, and a lot of people have a real fondness for."

Hello Games now moves on to its second new IP, currently codenamed Project Skyscraper, with a new genre and new platforms in mind... but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Right now Joe Danger Touch is the big talking point on iOS, and the move from console to mobile has gelled well with the title.

Skulls of the Shogun Passes Certification, Release Info Announced

January 10, 2013 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

After an extended development period, 17-BIT's anticipated "fast-paced turn-based strategy game" Skulls of the Shogun has passed Microsoft certification and will release January 30. The game will cost 1200 MS Points ($15) for XBLA, Windows 8 and Surface, and $6.99 for Windows Phone via the Windows Phone Marketplace

The announcement follows up on Skulls of the Shogun's honorable mention in the Technical Excellence category of this year's Independent Games Festival and the recent conclusion of its three-year press tour.

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