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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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Sound Shapes Q&A: Prototyping for PlayStation Consoles

August 13, 2012 1:00 PM | jeriaska

soundshapes_478.jpgShaw-Han Liem, Jonathan Mak and Jason Degroot "6955" at the E3 Expo

Queasy Games' Sound Shapes for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita is a sidescrolling platformer, where level design generates sound design. The game allows you to customize your own stages in its level editor, incorporating building blocks designed by guest artists like Beck and deadmau5, and share those results over the PlayStation Network.

Queasy's Jonthan Mak won three Independent Games Festival awards for his solo effort Everyday Shooter, a marker of its inventive unity of gameplay, graphics and sound. This time around, audio has been overseen by Shaw-Han Liem, the composer of the I Am Robot and Proud series of electronic music albums.

In reaching out to visual artists like indie dev team Pixeljam to craft sprites for the game, Toronto chip musician Jason DeGroot, aka "6955," has been tasked with coordinating creative collaborations over the course of development. In this interview we hear about the prototyping process that preceded the recent launch of Sound Shapes.

In interviews you have said that Everyday Shooter got its start after you decided to turn your attention away from a more elaborate project to try out something simpler in design. Sound Shapes, it's been mentioned, got its start five years ago in a basement. What objectives were guiding you at the beginning?

Jonathan Mak: This is kind of the exact opposite. It started off with Shaw-Han and I creating visualizers for live music shows. We started talking about doing a game, but the problem was that at that point I still had Everyday Shooter stuck in my head.

Shaw-Han Liem: We grew up like a block away from each other but never met until around six years ago. I had been getting into projections and processing, and since he has so much experience doing coded visuals, it made sense to talk.

Ripstone To Bring Knytt Underground, Big Sky Infinity To PlayStation Plus In Europe

August 12, 2012 8:00 AM | Danny Cowan

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Following up on the recent unveiling of Knytt Underground, newly-formed publisher Ripstone announced that it will release a lineup of three awaited indie titles exclusively for PlayStation Plus members in Europe, as part of the recently unveiled PlayStation Plus Presents campaign.

The promotion will give members of the subscription-based PlayStation Plus program early and exclusive access to Nifflas/Green Hill's Knytt Underground and Boss Baddie/VooFoo Studios' Really Big Sky follow-up Big Sky Infinity (pictured above) for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.

"PlayStation Plus Presents is a European exclusive initiative which searches for the very best independently developed titles and allows them to be downloaded on the service at no cost for eight weeks after launch," Ripstone explains. Both games will be released publicly as paid titles once the promotion ends.

Ripstone additionally revealed that it plans to launch a third, unnamed indie title during the PlayStation Plus Presents campaign. Release dates for featured titles have not been announced.

Get a job: Trion Worlds and others hiring now on the Gamasutra jobs board

August 10, 2012 3:00 AM | Eric Caoili

In the latest postings over the last seven days, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles in every major discipline, including opportunities at Trion Worlds, CCP North America, Gree International, and others.

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 Gamasutra's network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

Trion Worlds: Server Engineer:
"Trion Worlds is changing everything about the way online games are designed, developed, and delivered. We're infusing the old, static gaming world with a sense of dynamic, creative collaboration to create AAA Connected games. This philosophy applies just as much to the people who make the games as it does to the games we make. At Trion, we give our team members the opportunity to have an impact on our games as well as provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. Ambition and individual creativity are not just encouraged, they're expected."

CCP - North America: Sr. Character Artist:
"Each of our four studios have unique environments, while working with cutting edge technology and freedom to innovate across the globe. Awesome benefits include things free meals, childcare support, health/recreation supplements and company trips to exotic locations like Morocco and a team spirit that is so unique you just have to visit us to believe it! We have employees from over 30 countries, representing a truly international community."

5 Tips for Making Great 16-Bit-Style Action Games

August 10, 2012 3:00 AM | Staff

volgarr gama.jpgBring up Shinobi III, Strider, or a number of other classic action titles to veterans of the 16-bit console game era, and you're likely to see a spark in their eyes, a fond remembrance for the good old games that the industry once produced -- 2D titles that demanded precise attacks, prescient acrobatics, and the sort of time investment that few adults could spare.

"A lot of people look at those games with nostalgia, but they don't really identify the fact that those games never actually stopped being fun," says indie developer Kris Durrschmidt. "These games aren't outdated. The game mechanics aren't outdated. People just stopped [making them]."

Durrschmidt, along with programmer Taron Millet, recently formed a startup called Crazy Viking Studios to create games that look and play like those action titles they remember from the Super Nintendo and Genesis' glory days, the kind of experiences that big publishers have, for the most part, since left behind.

The two have a history producing action-heavy sidescrollers; before forming Crazy Viking, they worked on a number of handheld licensed titles with cult followings at Griptonite Games, such as The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (GBA), Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (DS), and most recently Shinobi 3D (3DS).

When Glu Mobile took over Griptonite last year and transformed it into a smartphone/tablet-focused studio, Durrscmidt and Millet decided it was time to strike out and create something unburdened by someone else's license or the often times irrational demands of IP owners.

Their first project, Volgarr the Viking, promises "16-bit style action from the golden era of arcade games, reimagined for today." To the untrained eye, it looks just like an SNES or Genesis title -- it even comes with a throwback box (provided you pledge enough money to its Kickstarter campaign) -- except the game's releasing for Windows PC.

2013 Independent Games Festival Submissions Now Open

August 9, 2012 2:30 PM | Staff

IGF2013polysquare.jpgOrganizers are now officially opening submissions for the 2013 Independent Games Festival, to be held at GDC 2013 in San Francisco next March.

The longest-running and highest-profile independent video game festival, summit and showcase is now accepting entries to the 15th annual Festival, with deadlines in the Main and Student Showcase categories by October 17th and October 31st respectively, and finalists to be announced on January 2013.

Following over 850 entries to IGF 2012, the Festival has expanded each existing category to six finalists, all of which will be available in playable form at a larger, expanded IGF Pavilion on the GDC show floor, and will compete for nearly $60,000 in prizes.

These include the $5,000 Nuovo Award, honoring 'abstract, shortform, and unconventional' games, as well as the Excellence in Art, Audio, Design, Technology, Student Game and Audience Award prizes, each worth $3,000, and the crowning $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

XBLIG Pick: QTE Champ (Hamworks)

August 8, 2012 11:00 PM | Danny Cowan

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Muhammad Seifullah has released QTE Champ, a dexterity-testing Xbox Live Indie Games title that emulates a minigame featured in the Sega Dreamcast classic Shenmue.

QTE Champ mimics the minimalist presentation and challenge of Shenmue's Excite QTE, presenting players with a series of button prompts that must be completed within a specific time frame. The game features multiple difficulty levels; the "Intense" and "WTF" modes will challenge even the most battle-hardened of Dragon's Lair veterans.

QTE Champ is priced at 80 Microsoft points ($1).

They Bleed Pixels Drips from XBLIG to PC

August 8, 2012 2:00 PM | John Polson

Spooky Squid announced today that gothic lo-fi platforming beat'em up They Bleed Pixels has moved from XBLIG to Steam. Previewed late last year as an XBLIG title, Spooky has spent an extra year polishing, creating more levels and adding Steamworks features including leaderboards, achievements and cloud saving.

Miguel Sternberg is the main man behind Spooky Squid and was featured here as part of the Freeware Arcade Games of 2008 with Night of the Cephalopods. Sternberg is a former co-founder of Capybara Games and helps run The Hand Eye Society, an indie game arts and culture group in Toronto, Canada.

The developer will announce a release date for They Bleed Pixels soon.

Summer Sizzles with XBLIG Uprising III

August 8, 2012 12:30 AM | John Polson


From September 10- 20, nine Xbox Live Indie Games make their debut during the Indie Games Uprising III.

Smudged Cat Games returns to XBLIG with puzzle platformer Gateways. Hermitgames also returns with qrth-phyl, an arcade documentary of classic maze/snake mechanics.

Michael Hicks will release his third XBLIG title Sententia, "a game that explores the challenges we face to keep our imagination and creative spirits alive as we grow." Chris Zukowski will debut with the long awaited City Tuesday, a game where players will control a man who is stuck reliving the final 5 minutes of his life before a terrorist attack.

Other titles include roguelike Diehard Dungeon by tricktale, block-building sandbox game Xenominer by Gristmill Studios, challenging 3D puzzle game Entropy by Autotivity, the first-person shooter/puzzle game Pixel by Ratchet Game Studios, and call center simulation game Smooth Operators by Andreas Heydeck.

Ask IndieGames: Which genres do you want to see indie developers tackle?

August 5, 2012 8:00 AM | John Polson

This month's Ask IndieGames explores the genres and games we want to see indie developers tackle. Our blog is full of great platformers and twin-stick shooters, so we wonder what other genres merit exploration within the indie space.

mike rose.jpgMike Rose: I really enjoyed the recent 7DFPS challenge, and the great angles that some of the participants went for. The FPS genre is pretty weird in that it barely ever goes anywhere new, with the same ideas used over and over again, yet it's been going on for so long now that we've just stopped caring whether we're playing the very same games over and over again. We should definitely be looking to push the genre forward and explore new angles with it, and I think indie devs are in the best position to experiment with it.

Other than that, I'd love to see more sport or management games from indie devs. These are two genres that I'm not even that interested in to be perfectly honest, but I think there is a huge amount of scope for expansion on concepts and innovation. The Kairosoft games, for example, are utterly fantastic management titles that have brought a lot of people into a genre they perhaps wouldn't normally touch. We need more like that. New Star Soccer is also a great management/sports game, so simple yet so addictive. More of that kind of thing would be perfectly fine with me.

Reinventing stealth in 2D with Mark of the Ninja

August 3, 2012 8:00 PM | Staff

markofninja gama.jpgAlthough there are plenty of ninja games, quite few depict the ninja as the master of stealth and trickery he ought to be. And stealth games are precious rare in the platformer genre. But with its upcoming Mark of the Ninja, Klei Entertainment wanted to try a couple new things.

Nels Anderson is leading the game's design, and even tackled the early legs of the project all on his own. It's the first time Vancouver-based Klei has done multiple projects at once; work on Mark of the Ninja became possible once Shank 2 was underway. Anderson says his studio would rather encourage cool ideas when they're possible rather than wait for some unspecified "right time."

With Klei's well-received Shank games, "we had figured out all this stuff about creating a 2D game that has really good feel, tight responsive controls, and stylized, super-fluid 60-frames animation," he says. "So let's take those core fundamentals, and use them to do something completely different."

As a fan of stealth games, Anderson saw an opportunity to mix up the melee combat generally native to 2D platformers. "At a high level, part of the reason I like stealth games so much is... the flow of the game is all about the game pushing onto you. Some dudes show up, and you react," he explains.

But in stealth games the player is fundamentally undetected from the beginning: "It's the player that pokes and perturbs the world," Anderson says. "The flow of these games tends to be more about pull. You utilize your understanding of how the systems work, and you prod and disturb the game world in kind of an intersting way. That's why I like stealth games so much -- because it's not about reaction, it's about anticipation and planning."

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