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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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How can game music feel as meaningful as a live experience?

April 1, 2013 3:59 PM | Staff

audio_jury_vreeland.jpgRich "Disasterpeace" Vreeland (Fez) notes music has always been as impermanent as life -- a performance was heard once, then gone forever. "This impermanence has great potential to create meaning," he says. "If you go to a really good show, the event you're witnessing may even feel important somehow."

The accessibility of recorded music changes that relationship; video game music accustoms us to listening to loops. But could games imitate the impermanence of live music?

It's a useful question to think about: Suppose there was a great game that took only 15 minutes to play, where interactions felt fresh and you could replay the experience as many times as you liked and still get something out of it. But if that game had only one piece of looping music, it would blunt the uniqueness of each interaction.

"Why would you do this to your player?" Vreeland says. "Why would you... invite someone to hear something so much that it's rendered completely meaningless?"

GDC/PAX East Catch-up Part 1: N+, Cart Life, Hotline Miami follow-ups

April 1, 2013 9:00 AM | John Polson

GDC13.jpg[Over the next two days, the blog will share some of the most interesting news found around the internet from GDC 2013 and PAX East 2013. The two conferences occurred back-to-back, spanning March 22 to March 29. Here is the first part of the highlights:]

Joystiq on Papo and Yo devs confront more monsters in next game, Silent Enemy "It's an exploration and puzzle game in mind for PC, tablets, Ouya, PS4 and possibly other platforms by the end of the year... [weaving] a subtle story about the hopelessness, weakness and determination that victims of bullying regularly face."

Metanet Software on The Year of N, For Real This Time "N v2.0 features some new and some classic levels, local 2P co-op, level-sharing, highscores and some new "fun-lockables" (TM), including Arcade Mode... N++ will fill a different niche, and allow us to explore some avenues we're excited about that don't work in the web version."

Wired on Kickstarted, $99 Game Console Ouya Will Launch June 4 "The interface is simple, just a menu of four words: Play, Discover, Make and Manage. The latter lets you adjust the system settings; the first is a list of the games you own. It's in the middle two options where things get interesting."

Joystiq on Cart Life follow-up, Blood of the Ortolan, sets the table in a few weeks "It's about food," Hofmeier said. "It's a food-themed murder mystery in the way that Cart Life is a retail simulation. I haven't said much about it yet because I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver, which I did with Cart Life."

Designing without a pitch - An FTL postmortem

April 1, 2013 1:00 AM | Staff

ftl-small.jpgDevelopers who set out to create a game without a design document or template still must have a clear focus to test their ideas against. This was the advice of Matthew Davis and Justin Ma, co-founders of Subset Games and creators of FTL: Faster Than Light, the Kickstarter-funded space strategy game released to widespread critical and commercial success in 2012.

The pair began work on the game with only a target atmosphere - no genre, pacing or scope planned, thinking the development would be a three-month side-project for them.

"We started with a very vague idea for a concept and used that as a guiding light for the entire project," said Davis. "By having one singular focus we were able to abandon everything else that didn't fit in line with that vision."

The pair admitted that many features were dropped from the game that they had initially hoped to include. "We wanted multiplayer features that didn't fit the template," said Ma. "We kept ditching things to keep moving towards the goal."

The evolving coverage of indie games

March 31, 2013 10:00 PM | Staff

rob fearon.png

By Robert Fearon

It seems to me we’re in a weird position right now with indie games and the press.

It’s never been easier for more people to get their work on a site somewhere. It’s never been easier to get your five minutes of the day as the top post on a site somewhere.

This is a tremendously good thing.

There’s a few non-indie specific sites that really help get games out there to the mainstream, stand up RockPaperShotgun, stand up Eurogamer, stand up Edge, all of whom have widened the net even more so that games can be exposed to all manner of people.

This is a tremendously good thing.

I like that Indie Statik, Free Indie Games, Venus Patrol and many many more all exist.

This is a tremendously good thing.

The press has, generally speaking, never been more accessible to indie devs. More open to talking to them and in a perverse sort of way, never more eager to get news from their loud mouths.

This is a tremendously good thing also.

With all that said, I'm concerned that somewhere, we're losing something in the more mainstream indie friendly press. Something not quite so obvious.

Wonderputt dev Damp Gnat teases a style-glistening Icycle sequel

March 31, 2013 3:17 PM | John Polson

The fantastic Wonderputt developer Damp Gnat has revealed a follow up to the 2009 hit Icycle, coming soon to web browsers and iOS. In Icycle: On Thin Ice, players will now be able to pedal backwards as well as forward as they navigate dangerous, difficult, and gorgeous landscapes while collecting ice shards. Other items, such as the floating umbrella, add to the game's platforming mechanics.

According to a Modojo interview with creator Reece Millidge, the iOS version will be $0.99 and will be a continuation of the 12-level free Flash version. The iOS version will have extra content like bonus levels and dream levels. The level length has increased almost 3x, too.

While waiting for the next Icycle game to release, be sure to enjoy the original for free.

[source: @dampgnat]

The five reasons freemium sucks (according to QWOP's developer)

March 30, 2013 1:36 PM | Staff

bennettfoddysmall.jpgDesigner Bennett Foddy of QWOP and GIRP fame counts five major reasons why the free to play model doesn't work well in its current incarnation, but suggests that by being creative with microtransactions, designers have the chance to do better work.

1. They're pay not to play, really. Foddy believes lots of freemium games give players the choice between paying or grinding -- "which suggests you might want to pay money to reduce the amount of time you spend playing the game," he notes. "Not playing the game is the 'luxury option'... [and] ultimately reduces the value players see in the game."

2. There's no level playing field. If some players are playing with different rules and others, you can't meaningfully compare their experiences. "If somebody is buying progress, or advantages from the IAP store, they're just cheating," Foddy says. "It's like you're selling players steroids to cheat with."

3. It corrupts the experience. Seeking real money from players during the gameplay breaks immersion, Foddy believes. "In my view, a really good game has a particular relationship with the player," he says. "In a freemium game, it's relating to you more as a vendor, or a drug dealer."

Kickstarter Projects: The Unbreakable Chain (Leon Sadler)

March 29, 2013 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Leon Sadler of UK art collective FAMICON (Bart the General, RE: Get to Schol on Time) has launched a Kickstarter project for The Unbreakable Chain, an evolution-themed game for Windows that boasts a unique premise and some truly striking artwork.

Citing inspiration from Grasshopper Manufacture's PlayStation 2 oddity Michigan: Report From Hell, The Unbreakable Chain includes eight stages, each of which revolves around a unique species-themed gameplay mechanic. Sadler hopes to raise £2,000 in order to put the finishing touches on the Windows version, while stretch goals of £3,000 and £4,000 will fund ports for iOS and the Xbox Live Indie Games service.

Backers who pledge £10 or more will receive a copy of the game for Windows upon completion. Other pledge rewards include digital copies of The Unbreakable Chain's soundtrack (created by Mars Matrix composer Yasushi Kaminishi), posters, original artwork, and homemade stoneware garden ornaments.

IGF winner Hofmeier pays it forward for Porpentine's Howling Dogs

March 29, 2013 3:00 PM | Staff

howlingdogs.jpgRichard Hofmeier's Cart Life earned multiple awards at this year's Independent Games Festival, including the grand prize. But at Cart Life's booth on the IGF pavilion today, the game on show was Porpentine's Howling Dogs -- Cart Life's own marquee had been spraypainted over, and attendees who came to the booth looking for the game saw Porpentine's haunting interactive fiction instead.

The architect of the change-up was Hofmeier himself, who last night accepted awards by saying anyone could replace him. He tells Gamasutra he'd thought about displaying Howling Dogs even before the awards, having decided that if he won he'd use the opportunity to promote an indie he loves: "It felt like Cart Life had overstayed its welcome already... I wanted people to see this game," he says.

Built in Twine and assisted by Porpentine's own digital artwork, Howling Dogs is an abstract, often surreal experience centralized on the concept of confinement; even though it's a text game, it feels spatial and non-linear, as the player must repeat certain conventions of self-maintenance. These behaviors -- eating and drinking, sleeping, bathing -- surround the player's primary occupation, which is to engage with visions and memories from an unexplained machine.

Trailer: Procyon (Deadly Red Cube)

March 29, 2013 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Ready to take a trip to bullet hell? Indie studio Deadly Red Cube has released a gameplay trailer for Procyon, a horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up currently in development for Windows.

The first thing you'll notice is that the action in this game is fast -- large enemy swarms scream toward you at lightning speed, and bullet patterns are swift and brutal. Fortunately, players have access to powerful weaponry of their own, including a Raiden II-esque laser that locks on to large enemy craft and destroys weaker ships caught in its path. It looks great so far -- I can't wait to play it!

Procyon is up for vote at Steam Greenlight.

[via @shmups]

Free Bundle The Fifth

March 29, 2013 9:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome

slavesofrema.pngThe Cabrera Brothers have launched their fifth Free Bundle, which, as has by now become customary, showcases five quality, freeware indie games: Super Smash Land, Burn & Turn, The Witch's House, Alter Ego and the venerable Battle of Wesnoth. A fine selection, you'll have to agree, and one that caters to most tastes.

Interestingly, and this is a Free Bundle first, the bundle also includes Slaves of Rema for PC and Mac, which has happily made itself available for free (and no longer costs $6), while remaining a great choose-your-own-adventure/gamebook affair.

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