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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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Get a job: Retro Studios and others hiring now on the Gamasutra jobs board

April 27, 2012 1:00 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 Retro Studios, Nickelodeon Games Group, 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:

Retro Studios: Retro Studios Character Artist (Level 1, 2, or 3):
"Retro Studios, founded in 1998, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nintendo Company, Ltd. Retro is a state of the art game development studio working in conjunction with Nintendo to bring cutting-edge games to Nintendo hardware systems."

Nickelodeon Games Group: Managing Producer / Product Director, Monkey Quest (MMO):
"Nickelodeon Games Group develops and operates leading game experiences for kids and family audiences across platforms, including over 50 mobile games and multiple online virtual worlds.

Nickelodeon Games includes recent releases like Monkey Quest, the leading action adventure online MMO; SpongeBob Super Bouncy Fun Time for mobile; and the highly-successful Team Umizoomi Math educational app."

The Mystery of the Missing PlayStation Net Yaroze Games

April 27, 2012 12:00 AM | John Polson

TerraIncognita01.jpgAs part of a new Gamasutra feature about Sony's Net Yaroze project, John Szczepaniak discovers how there were thousands of projects created through the initiative, yet only a handful were seen by the public.

The platform, which allowed hobbyists, amateurs, and early indies to develop games for the PlayStation platform, was launched globally by Sony in 1997.

Paul Holman, currently vice president of R&D at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and previously head of the UK Yaroze division, reveals, "We certainly sold around 1,000 Net Yarozes [in Europe], with more being sold in Japan. U.S. was similar to our numbers."

He continues, "Although they were as cheap as we could make them, they were relatively expensive, and so people bought them specifically to work on projects -- so probably thousands of projects!"

David Johnston, who developed TimeSlip as part of the project, and went on to form Smudged Cat Games, adds, "I don't think we'll ever know exactly how many Net Yaroze games there were."

New Gameplay Video: Retro/Grade (24 Caret Games)

April 26, 2012 10:00 PM | Danny Cowan

In the video above, 24 Caret Games' Matt Gilgenbach offers some insightful commentary over five minutes' worth of new gameplay footage from the upcoming rhythmic shoot-'em-up Retro/Grade.

In development for over three years, Retro/Grade won the Audience Choice Award at IndieCade 2010, and was recently featured at PAX East's Indie Megabooth.

Retro/Grade's reversed, low-scoring gameplay is optimized for Guitar Hero and Rock Band guitar peripherals, though standard controllers are also supported. The difficulty level gets pretty wild later on in the video -- try to keep up!

Retro/Grade is set to launch this summer as a downloadable title for the PlayStation 3.

[via @mommysbestgames]

La-Mulana Dev Talks PC Release, Has "No Idea" When WiiWare Version Will Launch

April 26, 2012 7:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Developer Nigoro broke a months-long silence today, revealing that a PC version of its La-Mulana remake has entered testing, and that development is almost complete.

Nigoro also expresses uncertainty regarding the long-delayed WiiWare version of La-Mulana. Though it premiered as a downloadable Wii title in Japan almost a year ago, a localized version of La-Mulana has yet to appear in North America or Europe.

"The master data for NOA and NOE was handed to our publisher, Nicalis," Nigoro notes. "After that, we haven't received any reports. So, we have no idea when the release date is determined."

Nicalis previously published an upgraded WiiWare version of Cave Story after numerous delays, and recently announced that it will produce a Wii U remake for the XBLIG platformer Aban Hawkins & The 1000 Spikes.

Given that consumer demand for new Wii releases has cooled significantly since La-Mulana's initial announcement, Nicalis could be delaying the release to coincide with the Wii U's launch. Nicalis has not commented regarding its current publishing plans, however, nor has it issued a firm release date.

Nigoro itself plans to handle worldwide publishing duties for the PC version of La-Mulana, and assures that an overseas release is in the works.

[via @andore7, @VonRosceau]

Freeware Game Pick: Miner Warfare (HeartBit Interactive)

April 26, 2012 10:00 AM | Danny Cowan

HeartBit Interactive has released a free Windows version of its 2D multiplayer arena shooter Miner Warfare to celebrate its 1,000th copy sold on the Xbox Live Indie Games service.

Released for XBLIG earlier this month, Miner Warfare challenges players to dig up treasure and fend off their opponents in a variety of underground maps. In a novel twist, the game supports up to eight players simultaneously, with each player handling one half of an Xbox 360 controller. Sounds intimate!

The Xbox Live Indie Games version of Miner Warfare is priced at 80 Microsoft points ($1).

Opinion: Rejection Of StarDrone Level-skip DLC Shows Where To Draw The Line

April 26, 2012 1:00 AM | John Polson

stardrone gama.jpg[Gamasutra's Mike Rose discusses the downfalls of pay-to-win, as developer Beatshapers was forced to apologize today over a controversial downloadable content pack included with its latest PS Vita and PS3 game, StarDrone Extreme.]

As you'd expect from its name, the Level Skipper DLC for Beatshapers' downloadable PS Vita and PlayStation 3 game StarDrone Extreme allows players to skip levels in the portable game. What's notable, however, is that the DLC costs a one-time payment of $0.99 to unlock in the first place.

Following complaints from both the press and players alike, the development studio and Sony came to a decision to make the DLC pack free from today onwards.

"We would like to update that we together with [Sony Computer Entertainment Europe] made the controversial StarDrone Extreme Level Skipper DLC completely free," said Beatshapers founder Alexey Menshikov.

"Sometimes we make wrong decisions and would like to apologize for that," he continued, before later adding, "I apologize again."

Some gamers and developers will be rather confused as to what all the fuss is about. After all, casual and mobile games have been including these sort of "pay to get further" options for a long while.

Limited-Edition Soulcaster, Escape Goat Shirts For Sale This Week Only

April 25, 2012 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

120425_timebeanshirts.jpg

MagicalTimeBean's Ian Stocker has opened orders for a pair of t-shirts based on his XBLIG hit Escape Goat and the Indie Royale-starring Soulcaster series.

Escape Goat's shirt presents a tasteful purple logo on a gray background, while Soulcaster's offers a classic white-on-black design. The shirts are priced at $15 each; sizes range from XS to XXL.

The sale will last until April 29th, after which these shirts will be permanently discontinued. Xbox Live Indie Games-inspired apparel is quite rare, so this is definitely a tempting offer!

Kickstarter Projects: Atari 2600 Star Castle

April 24, 2012 11:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Former Atari employee D. Scott Williamson has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation and sale of an Atari 2600 cartridge version of the 1980 Cinematronics arcade game Star Castle.

An Atari conversion of Star Castle was planned for release during the console's lifespan, but was scrapped before development began due to the difficulty involved in recreating its gameplay. The game's core elements later inspired the creation of the hit 2600 release Yars' Revenge.

Williamson, taking the port's abandonment as a challenge, single-handedly created his own 2600 port of Star Castle, which went on to receive a positive reception when it was shown off at a local fan event. Williamson now seeks to produce a limited-edition run of cartridges, complete with reproduction boxes and printed manuals, to be given to Kickstarter supporters.

The ROM file for the game itself and supplemental materials will be given to supporters who pledge $10 or more. $50 gets a clear 2600 cartridge version of the game featuring flashing lights that respond to in-game action, while those who pledge $100 or more will receive a flash cartridge capable of playing all 2600 titles on an original console.

[via @werezompire]

Milkstone Studios Debuts Firing Range 2 For XBLIG

April 23, 2012 10:00 AM | Danny Cowan

Little Racers: Street developer Milkstone Studios launched an online multiplayer sequel to its hit Xbox Live Indie Games first-person shooter Firing Range this week.

Promoting itself as a tool to help FPS fans hone their skills, Firing Range 2 features a number of scenarios that test aiming speed and sniping ability. The game includes 12 different weapons and offers a one-on-one online multiplayer mode for Xbox Live Gold members.

Firing Range 2 is priced at 80 Microsoft points ($1).

Indies: Rolling Your Own Engine Can Be More Trouble Than It's Worth

April 22, 2012 12:59 PM | John Polson

okabu gama.jpegIn a new postmortem, Simon Oliver, founder of HandCircus (Rolando) writes that creating the engine for the PlayStation 3 game Okabu "really led us to reflect on the effectiveness of our initial tech plan."

"The game started life as a PC/Mac prototype, leveraging the power of great open-source libraries such as Ogre and Bullet Physics. This gave us a real head start, and allowed us to get a playable prototype up and running quickly, but as the project progressed (and we moved from preproduction to full production) we hit some major problems," Oliver writes.

The team quickly realized that to get the game up and running at 60 frames per second on the PS3, it would need to use the system's SPUs -- something Ogre could not easily do.

"...after much deliberation, we decided that our best option was to leverage the PS3-oriented power of PhyreEngine to get the performance we needed," Oliver writes.

"Developing a stable, performant engine that delivered all the required features on PS3 was a lot of work."

"While we had learned a great deal from rolling our own engine, the resources that the engine development process consumed may well have been better spent on other areas of development," Oliver suggests.

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