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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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Announcement Trailer: ORION: Dino Beatdown (Spiral Game Studios)

February 29, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson

Got four friends who fancy wearing jet packs and placing dinosaurs back on the extinction list? Spiral Game Studios' ORION: Dino Beatdown is an open world, class-based cooperative survival sci-fi FPS. In ORION, five players explore huge, endless environments in which everyone must work together to survive the Dinosaur Horde. ORION: Dino Beatdown comes to PC on Steam and OnLive in March for $9.99. Their other game, ORION: Prelude, is aimed for XBLA and PSN.

CEO David Prassel tells IndieGames that Sprial Game Studios is "very much an indie development team. We are self-financed and a self-publishing studio that started only with an idea and a shared goal." The team is currently 22-members strong.

Equally strong was their support for their Kickstarter project, which reached 175% of its funding goal. In a very charitable move, going beyond the promised KickStarter perks, every backer will get a Steam key. Elaborated on the team's blog, "Whether you donated $1 or $1,000 we will see you on the battlefield and be fighting alongside you on day 1."

Nice move!

Trailer: Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment)

February 29, 2012 2:00 PM | Lewie Procter



Fresh off the back of the release of Shank 2, Klei Entertainment have dropped an initial trailer for their next release. Mark Of The Ninja is a "Stealth Ninja" game. It looks to me kind of like a sidescrolling Tenchu, with Klei Entertainment's trademark flair for high quality presentation, gorgeous 2D animation, and sprinkles of a bit of the old ultra-violence.

Revealed not with a boring press release, Klei released a free piece of interactive fiction which appears to set the tone of the game, and you get a look at this first trailer for finishing it. It's playable over here.

As is the way of the Ninja, Mark Of The Ninja seems to not focus on a direct assault, but using your Ninja skills, the environment and your equipment in clever ways to outfox your enemies without even being seen.

The trailer has an Xbox logo on it, no other platforms mentioned yet. It's due for a release in Summer of this year.

Q&A: Sound in Thatgamecompany's Journey

February 28, 2012 7:00 PM | jeriaska

sidescroller-albumtn.jpgIn development since 2009, Journey by Thatgamecompany is due out the week of March 13.

In this interview, composer Austin Wintory and sound designer Steve Johnson join us to discuss the use of audio on the PlayStation 3-exclusive online game.

In what ways is Journey attempting to make interactions with other players a novel experience?

Sound Designer Steve Johnson: ThatGameCompany's vision with the multiplayer is out-of-the-ordinary. You start off alone, and then cross paths with other players as you walk to the mountain. Jenova's analogy is that if you've been hiking a trail by yourself, you're naturally a little more inclined to wave or say hello when you see someone walking towards you. They are more interesting in contrast to your own isolation and "smallness."

Composer Austin Wintory: If we've done our job right, only half of the enjoyment will be due to the novelty of encountering another player for the first time. It's not simply that you're playing with someone else, but that the experience is meaningful.

Even though you don't know who they are or where they are in the world, and you're not looking up their profile on PSN or hearing them over voice chat, it's a meaningful connection. There have been playtests where we have asked people what they thought of the other player. The range of responses is really fascinating. When you remove dialog, PSN handles or an image of someone's face on a webcam, you're judging purely by the "body language" of their actions within the game.

Nexuiz Release Imminent, Short Q&A with IllFonic

February 28, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson


Developer Illfonic's re-invention of Alientrap's Nexuiz lands on XBLA February 29 for 800 MS Points as part of Microsoft's House Party. Nexuiz will also appear on PlayStation 3 and Steam later this spring.

Nexuiz takes classic, arena first-person shooter gameplay and mixes it up with dynamic mutators-- game-changing power ups that can turn the tide of battle in an instant. Graphics are pretty darn fancy, too, being powered by CryENGINE 3.

It's a bit premature to talk about, but a quick glance at Illfonic's self-labeled "upcoming shit" reveals a crazy game called Ghetto Golf. I think the team is playing it safe releasing something solid and safe like Nexuiz first. Fighting the urge to talk about the racy, satirical golf game, I asked creative director Kedhrin Gonzalez a few questions about their collaboration with Alientrap on Nexuiz, what arena FPS titles are doing wrong today, and what the Denver, Colorado indie scene is like.

Hanging in Limbo

February 28, 2012 5:01 AM | John Polson

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Playdead was a studio that was founded organically, says CEO Dino Patti. His original goal was just to help Arnt Jensen, his co-founder and the game director of Limbo, get his creative vision into the wild. The game studio just grew from nothing, as the vision expanded.

What's important to Patti is shepherding Jensen's creative vision. What's important to Jensen is creating a game filled with ambiguity -- one that people can enjoy artistically and also discuss and interpret in their own way. And he isn't happy when they get to close to the truth, he says.

As the studio moves forward with its second project, having thrown off the shackles of the investors who originally put up the funds to develop Limbo, Gamasutra traveled to Copenhagen to visit the studio and talk to Jensen and Patti about how Limbo was developed, what lessons learned during that process will inform the company's next project, and what we can expect from its next title.

You have that expectation now built in. It's kind of like you want to avoid the sophomore slump, right?

Arnt Jensen: Yeah.

Like, bands releasing their second album. When their first album hits so hard, everyone starts to have really high expectations for the second album. It's kind of like that with you guys.

Dino Patti: Our thing is because it's a while yet... We want to talk about it when we're satisfied.

AJ: Yeah. we have to be proud about it. That's a long way. It'll take a long time.

You're still developing the concepts?

AJ: Yeah. We're working in kind of a special way, because we haven't planned what it's going to be like, so it's more like working with some themes, and then do a lot of prototyping on those themes, and then we put it all together. There's no design document or anything...

Did you have a similar process with Limbo?

AJ: Yes, it was exactly the same. It never ended. We put in new stuff two months before we finished it [laughs]. We never ended it -- just came up with ideas and moved it around all the way through. If we came up with something better than we had, than we just changed it. So, it was very important to have it flexible all the way.

DP: And it was deliberately kept open until very, very late to be able to move things around.

AJ: Yeah. [laughs] Our producer... We were pretty anxious at the end.

DP: He was anxious. [both laugh]

AJ: We came every day with a new idea. It was just becoming too late at the end.

escapeVektor Flees WiiWare, Seeks Refuge on 3DS and Vita

February 27, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson


Five-man indie team Nnooo is bringing its retro styled arcade game escapeVektor to PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS late this year. Players control Vektor, an entity trapped inside the console's CPU. The gameplay that ensues is a bit like Qix if you and your enemies were only skirting along the edges of the play area.

The team released escapeVektor: Chapter 1 for WiiWare last year. Although the game was met with critical acclaim, the developers decided to roll all four chapters together into one game and bring it out on these new consoles to reach a wider audience.

"Playing the game in 3D on the Nintendo 3DS is really cool," said Nic Watt, Nnooo's Creative Director. "With the background to each level pulsing in time to the cool chip-tune soundtrack you really get drawn into game's environment. For PlayStation Vita players we hope to make use of Near and location based leaderboards. We'll also be experimenting with the front and rear touchscreen controls."

I followed up with Nnooo about possible PC and Mac ports. "It's definitely something we're considering, but you'll appreciate with only 5 staff it may take a while!"

Kickstarter: US AND THE GAME INDUSTRY

February 26, 2012 12:00 PM | John Polson

US AND THE GAME INDUSTRY, the documentary which explores several experimental indie games and their developers, has launched its $20,000 Kickstarter campaign. The perks currently aren't too thrilling, but $15 will net the donor an HD digital download and $25 will net a shipped DVD when releases later in 2012.

In addition to the film's subjects of thatgamecompany, Spry Fox, and Jason Rohrer, the Kickstarter page reveals that Douglas Wilson of Die Gute Fabrik will be included, too. Poking around the documentary's page, I spotted a photo of Crayon Physics Deluxe developer Petri Purho chatting with the director. Hopefully this is an indication of the caliber of the "and more" developers to make an appearance.

I'd recommend the Kickstarter share almost if not all the indie developers making an appearance. Especially, they might want to enlist in those developers' social media support to help raise awareness of the $20,000 Kickstarter project.

Video: Nobuo Uematsu on Indie Development

February 26, 2012 5:00 AM | jeriaska

Continuing our coverage of the Nubuwo Debut Bundle initiative, we hear from composer Nobuo Uematsu of the Tokyo game sound studio Dog Ear Records.

While indie development is comparatively rare in Japan, prominent game composers are increasingly choosing similarly styled work environments through the formation of their own independent studios. For Uematsu, whose experience includes music for a dozen Final Fantasy titles, going freelance made room for establishing more personal projects.

Through Dog Ear Records, Uematsu focuses his attention on a mix of high profile projects like Piano Opera Final Fantasy IV/V/VI and his own more personally motivated albums, among them Octave Theory by Earthbound Papas. "Financially, we haven't had a big hit yet, or completely surpassed our monetary needs" he says of his studio. "On the other hand it's a very positive work environment."

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Dog Ear Records director Hiroki Ogawa with Uematsu

IndieGames Podcast #24: The Sidescrolling of Isaac

February 25, 2012 2:00 AM | jeriaska

Four composers of music for independently developed game titles join us for this installment of the IndieGames podcast. Their music can be heard together as part of the one-week Nubuwo Debut Bundle project on Kickstarter, an initiative unrelated to IndieGames.com but organized in part by the host of the show.

Composer Danny Baranowsky is known for his collaboration with Edmund McMillen on the development of roguelike shooter The Binding of Isaac. The upcoming expansion, titled "The Wrath of the Lamb," will feature all-new "parallel universe" music variations for each track.

Chip musician Ash Charles, aka Sabrepulse, wrote the soundtrack to Bit Pilot for iOS, designed by Zach Gage. Earlier this week he contributed a track to the Da Chip vol. II Daft Punk chiptune cover compilation.

Musician Dom Beken is one half of UK hip-hop duo High Frequency Bandwidth, with Alex Paterson. Their music can be heard on Q-Games' PlayStation 3 titles PixelJunk Shooter, PixelJunk Shooter 2 and PixelJunk SideScroller.

Composer Tomas Dvorak (Floex) is responsible for the music heard in Czech studio Amanita Design's point-and-click adventure games Samorost 2 and Machinarium. He is currently planning his approach to the score for Samorost 3.

The program is available to stream and download through Buzzsprout and SoundCloud. Show notes can be found after the break.

Kickstarter: BloodyCastle (Kilroy Fx)

February 25, 2012 1:00 AM | Danny Cowan

BloodyCheckers developer Kilroy Fx is working on a follow-up title, BloodyCastle, which he hopes to fund through a recently launched Kickstarter campaign.

BloodyCheckers was a standout among last year's Xbox Live Indie Games releases, offering unexpected depth in its unconventional blend of horror, exploration, and checkers simulation. We named it as an honorable mention in our list of the Top 10 Indie Games of 2011, and it's one of my personal favorite XBLIG titles to date.

BloodyCastle's gameplay focuses on cooperative exploration and first-person melee combat -- Kilroy Fx cites From Software's King's Field series as an inspiration. BloodyCheckers has seen numerous content-expanding updates since its launch, and Kilroy Fx plans to offer similar post-release support for BloodyCastle.

BloodyCastle's funding goal is $15,000, with prizes available for all donation levels. Pledges of $5 or more will get a copy of the game upon its release, and donators of $100 or more will receive a 3D portrait in the game itself.

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