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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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10 Indie Games To Watch Out For In 2012

December 30, 2011 6:00 PM | Michael Rose

penny arcade.jpgSome may say that 2011 was the year of the indie gaming boom. For me, 2011 was the year that indie games pretty much became equals with AAA releases, as the likes of Humble Indie Bundle and Steam made indie a more widely accepted culture of gaming.

What does 2012 hold then? I have a horrible sinking feeling that next year will see indie games reaching their peak, as more and more devs jump on board the indie scene, churn out a load of old cobblers, and push the stuff that actually deserves recognition into the background. I hope I'm wrong, of course, and I'm not saying that we should be limiting who is allowed to call themselves 'indie' or not either, or else we'd lose the whole point of the term! But with so much crap to sift through to find the good stuff already, the next 12 months could go either way.

Fortunately, there are already tons of great indie games on the horizon, and here I will attempt to bring 10 of them to the surface. You'll note that I've missed out some obvious ones - essentially, if a game has already featured in a previous '10 Indie Games To Watch Out For' (2010, 2011), then I've left it out here. Looking back, I was perhaps a little too optimistic regarding the release dates of certain games!

Anyway, on to the main spectacle - here are 10 titles that you will (hopefully) be playing next year.

Indie Game Links: Temping Nightmares

December 30, 2011 5:00 PM | John Polson

temping.jpgToday's collection of independent game links includes more indie game news, interviews, and developer announcements from around the 'net. (image source)

RGCD: Zooming Secretary (NES)
"Shiru and PinWizz have somehow taken the combination of phone answering, filing and a variety of office stereotypes and lovingly moulded them in to an excellent arcade title for the NES/Famicom. Underpaid and overworked office minions of the world, Zooming Secretary is a game written for you."

IGDA: IndieSpective: The Indie Difference
"Nothing contributes more to diversity and creativity in a game than diversity and creativity in a game studio. In America, it is sometimes hard to see a great deal of diversity in the typical game studio. Partly because of the dominant Caucasian culture and partly because of the historical male population of gamers, game studios in America tend to attract white males."

Cribzero blog: Echo Space Released on Xbox 360
"Echo Space, like Super Symmetry, is a top-down space shooter that involves strategic use of a deployable drone."

Gamasutra: Antipole Coming to Europe on the Nintendo DSiWare Service
"[Saturnine Games'] Antipole is a fast paced, action packed side scrolling adventure equipping players with the power to alter the world around them by reversing gravity."

DIY Gamer: Two Minor Indie Game Bundles from Groupees
[The two bundles discussed are the Digital Arrow & Gareth Coker bundle and the Ludosity Bundle, with Bob Came in Pieces and Ittle Dew.]

Joystiq: Fez rated in Europe, the four-year wait is almost over
"Fez is finally showing signs of imminent birth, with this being the equivalent of "water breaking," as Europe's PEGI board recently classified the game for Xbox Live."

Icon Games: Our Vita Development Experiences Part One
"Steve has done such an incredible job with the Vita engine so far. It looks wonderful - finally after years of Wii & PSP development I have proper pixel shaders, normal maps, real-time shadows, bloom, reflections and other effects."

Nuclear Wasteland Dev Releases XBLIG Follow-Up End Of Days

December 30, 2011 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Sick Kreations, developer of the top-rated Xbox Live Indie first-person shooter Nuclear Wasteland, has released its ambitious online multiplayer follow-up End of Days: Infected vs. Mercs.

End of Days is an arena-styled FPS that features a variety of solo and team-based deathmatch modes, including a unique Head Fest variant in which "only head shots count and your head is twice its size." Notably, the game supports up sixteen simultaneous players over Xbox Live -- an impressive feat for an underrepresented genre in the XBLIG catalog.

End of Days is available for 240 Microsoft points ($3).

3DSWare Review: VVVVVV (Terry Cavanagh, Nicalis)

December 29, 2011 4:00 PM | John Polson

VVVVVV 3DS.jpg

Gravitational switching platformer VVVVVV began 2010 with a bang, and it looks to end 2011 in a similar fashion for 3DS owners. IndieGames has an in-depth review of Terry Cavanagh's VVVVVV already, so this will focus on Nicalis' 3DS port and its options.

Most notable is the use of the two screens, with the bottom screen conveying helpful information such as missing crew, player stats, and a big map I used often. Controls feel spot on, and players can use the analog or digital pad to steer Captain Viridian. VVVVVV on the 3DS also has some considerate accessibility options, where players can toggle on or off backgrounds, screen shakes and flashes, invincibility and a slowdown mode.

The 3DS version also includes time trials, easy access to the intermission levels, a no death mode (seriously?), a flip mode, and the secret lab (which contains the bounce and avoid survival stage "Super Gravitron"). All of these play modes can be unlocked early, without paying one of those pesky DLC fees or in-app purchases that many games require.

Microsoft Honors Minecraft Clones, Lacrosse Sims In Best Of 2011: Indie Games Feature

December 29, 2011 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan

111228_totalminer.jpgMicrosoft has chosen ten Xbox Live Indie Games as honorees in a promotional feature highlighting standout retail and downloadable titles for the Xbox 360.

The list, however, does a poor job of representing the XBLIG service as a whole. Among the chosen titles are four Minecraft clones (including two different versions of CastleMiner), two lacrosse simulators, and two online role-playing games featuring user-created Xbox 360 Avatars.

The list notably excludes current top-rated titles like BloodyCheckers and Dead Pixels. Overall sales figures to date also played no role in the selection process. Instead, titles appear to have been chosen based on first-week sales numbers, as Gamasutra's Frank Cifaldi discovered.

XBLIG developers criticized Microsoft's most recent Xbox 360 dashboard update, which obscured and limited the Xbox Marketplace's Indie Games category. The new interface was recently parodied in Mommy's Best Games' XBLIG shoot-'em-up Game Type.

[via @werezompire]

Indie Game Links: Steampunk Fighting

December 28, 2011 3:00 PM | John Polson

jolly corpse.jpgToday's collection of independent game links includes more indie game news, interviews, and developer announcements from around the 'net. (image source)

Kiritsu Games: Chaotic Vortex
"Instead of the more common enemy blasting action of your average shooter, in Chaotic Vortex you can't fire a single bullet. You'll have to keep a cool head while steering away from dozens of enemies coming at you!"

Temple of the Roguelike: Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2011 winners!
"Voting for best roguelike games at Ascii Dreams has finished today. This time almost three thousand people have voted! Undisputed winner is: Tales of Maj'Eyal."

a jolly corpse: Mapping the World of Wyv and Keep
"Taking a few hints from other great games (Yoshi Island), we have designed a visually interesting and detailed level select function for when players want to try to improve their personal bests on any one level, or just replay portions of the game freely."

Experimental Gamedev Podcast Show: Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare is now on iPhone/iPad
"Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare, the game that won "Best Game Design" in the IndiePub contest last year...is now on the iPhone/iPad."

Joystiq Indie Pitch: Unity of Command
"There are more explosions per minute than in any other strategy game you've ever played."

Shoryuken: Independent Fighting Game Gilden Tide Gets Teaser Trailer
"Hot on the heels of Skullgirls, CircGeo Studios have announced Gilden Tide, a steampunk influenced fighter currently in development."

Bonte Games: [Browser Game Pick] Where is 2012?
"Help Santa find the new year in the end of year game from PastelGames: where is 2012?"

Release Trailer: Lexiv (Andrew Gaubatz)

December 27, 2011 3:00 PM | John Polson

Andrew Gaubatz has recently released Lexiv, a semi-finalist in 2011's Dream.Build.Play competition, onto the Xbox Live Indie Games market for 240 MS points. Lexiv is a word game and city builder: players create a city by spelling out words, and different parts of speech add different parts of the city's needs.

While the trailer may go through some things a bit quickly, Lexiv has a neat interactive site to explain some of the core elements of the game. Nouns add houses and increase the population. Verbs not only create jobs for people, they also increase the rate at which players produce new letters.

Gaubatz informed IndieGames that a Windows version is definitely in the works. He also said, "Other platforms will be more of a development challenge, but certainly can't be ruled out." Lexiv looks like a great fit for a tablet game.

Those on the fence can grab Lexiv's free trial now.

Indie Game Links: Fishy Business

December 26, 2011 3:00 PM | John Polson

dev14.jpgToday's collection of independent game links includes more indie game news, reviews, interviews, and developer announcements from around the 'net.(image source)

Quote Unquote: Last and Final Word: Kyle Reimergartin
"I usually think of video games as songs, and I picture myself playing the game and hearing the music and maybe humming it to myself as I try to get better at it."

The Witness: Engine Tech: Concurrent world editing
"We developed a system wherein the data for each entity is stored as an individual text file. This sounds crazy, but it works well: the use of individual files gives us robustness in the face of merge conflicts, and despite the large number of files, the game starts up quickly."

DIY Gamer: The Great Es-Carp: Fins Of Liberty Trailer Online
"So, there you are minding your own business, being a fish, when all of a sudden it occurs to you that living in a sushi restaurant isn't particularly suitable for a creature with your dreams and aspirations."

Pixel Prospector: Dungeon Chaos Xmas Edition
"Dungeon Chaos Xmas Edition is the festive version of the single screen platform shooter with 2 player co-op mode. The Xmas Edition is only available through the holiday season, until New Years Eve[.]"

DistractionWare: VVVVVV Launches For The 3DS Next Week
"I have a small bit of VVVVVV related news to share: the 3DS version of the game is finished, and is going to launch next Thursday the 29th on the US eShop!"

Kickstarter: Puzzle Clubhouse: Crowd Designed Episodic Game Dev
"Each Puzzle Clubhouse episode is a combination of an animated story and a short, quirky game. You can play a prototype episode at Puzzle Clubhouse.com to get the idea."

DIY Gamer: Shoot The Core?... Satazius [Review]
"Japanese indie studio Astro Port are, in essence, a videogame tribute band... Their latest release, Satazius (and their first on Steam and other digital platforms), is their interpretation of the classic Gradius series."

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: a Laura Shigihara Cover

December 25, 2011 12:00 PM | John Polson

If one Laura Shigihara is too cute for you, your brain is going to explode with FOUR harmonizing Laura's. Whether it's a Minecraft-inspired song, the Japanese trailer for Celestial Mechanica, or the ending theme for Plants Vs. Zombies, I can count on Laura's soothing vocals to bring me to a smile. I hope they brought you some joy this holiday!

Feel free to post your indie-flavored holiday favorites -- art, music, or game -- in the comments below!

Indie Game Links: Witness Binary Opposition

December 24, 2011 12:00 PM | John Polson

binaryopposition.jpgToday's collection of independent game links includes more indie game news and developer announcements from around the 'net. (image source)

The Witness: Architecture in The Witness
"I wanted to show these now since they provide a good taste of the game's flavor, and they show how much structural intelligence is brought to the table by working with the architects."

Visit the Village (Mode 7 Blog): A brand new _ensnare_ album appears!
"I have been working on a collaborative chiptune / fakebit album with my good friend Binster for a while now, and this is the fruit of our labour."

Digital Eel: Hey, It's the "I'm So Indie I Made My Own Bundle" Bundle!
"Well, it's not like you get an extra discount by buying these Steam-enabled games together, BUT you CAN get these dozen awesome indie games at discounts of up to 75% off until January 2 -which means that Data Jammers: FastForward costs less than a burger at Mac & Don's."

GBGames: Announcing the Stop That Hero! Alpha
"It's been a long time coming, but I'm proud to announce the playable alpha release of the first major game for GBGames: 'Stop That Hero!', a deceptively simple strategy game that puts you in the role of the evil villain."

Pixel Prospector: Midnight Mansion HD
"Midnight Mansion HD is a huge retro styled platformer with 11 different themed mansions to explore. Each mansion offers dozens of nicely designed rooms with treasures and keys for you to collect (and enemies and traps to avoid)."

Bontegames: Verge
"Verge, a puzzle platformer by Kyle Pulver, that revolves around a mechanic involving life and death, because when the character dies you will sometimes find the answer to solving the puzzle."

DIY Gamer: Brick-Force Promises Minecraft-like Building With FPS Competitive Multiplayer
"Brick-Force is a currently in development (soon to be launched in beta) Minecraft-like game but with a decidedly FPS multiplayer shooter feel to it. Really, it's very similar to other Minecraft-like Ace of Spades, but with graphics that are a bit easier on the eye."

IndieGamer Forum: Beta testers wanted for "A Sirius Game" (3D ship adventure game for pc)
"In this game, you control a ship and take it to various ports for trading different items, fighting pirates on your way and escorting other merchant ships from pirates. You can get side quests and the story progresses with interactions with other characters of the game."

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