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About The IGF 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, 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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Jonas Kyratzes gets interviewed

April 18, 2012 5:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome

Jonas IG.pngJonas Kyratzes is one of the most versatile indie developers you'll ever find, and one of the few people that can actually (easily too) create a story-heavy shoot-'em-up while working on a puzzles-light adventure and tending to a cat's every whim. Better though to let him explain everything himself:

Are you a writer, a game designer or even a film-maker? Care to briefly introduce yourself and help us with the confusion?

I'd say I'm all of the above, though the truth is I don't have much to show for the latter despite it being a huge passion. Most people know me as a game designer and writer. I've been making games, many of them with a strong emphasis on various kinds of storytelling, for about ten years now. I think I make the kind of games that people either love or hate.

You've just released Traitor; a uniquely story-heavy and almost casual shmup that seems have done really well with both critics and audiences. Why did you choose to create such a, well, different game?

I believe in variation - almost religiously so, in fact. Maybe that's why I like to work in many different media, too. If an artist constantly does the same thing, there's a real danger of stagnation. Just look at Tim Burton, remaking the same, increasingly awful movie over and over!

Besides, I enjoy casual games, but always find myself frustrated by the lack of meaningful context in them. Just because the gameplay is simple doesn't mean the story has to be shallow - in fact, a good story enriches gameplay in a way that a lot of game designers don't seem to understand. With Traitor, I wanted to take the very basic mechanics of fight/upgrade/fight that so many casual games have and add a ton of context, intentionally using no more than mission/upgrade descriptions to do it. It obviously didn't work for everyone, but it worked for a lot of people, and I think it proved my point.

There's more to it than just game design theory, of course. There were a number of themes I wanted to explore. The idea of fighting against some sort of evil empire is obviously not a new one, but it's a story that is extremely important in this age of increasingly open political oppression. So I wanted to do that story, but to make the details more real, more tied to the everyday horrors of the modern world. Thus for example the missions about destroying mines, and the references to what the use of mines in war can do, killing innocents decades after the war is over, or the stories about mercenaries and how they treat people. The Roman theme also tied in really well with that.

Learn about SpyParty through its Beta Tutorial

April 18, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

Chris Hecker recently recorded and posted this video tutorial to help newcomers with the beta of his online, multiplayer espionage title, SpyParty. While showing off the basic gameplay, he teaches key aspects of being an effective spy and sniper, which often involve unlearning Pavlovian game playing skills. For one, spy players want to position the camera such that they see the rest of the stage, and particularly the sniper's aim, instead of fixating on the controllable character.

Hecker's SpyParty also asks players to be very patient in both roles (itchy trigger fingers need not apply). Though a tutorial begins with a "hit the left mouse button to control spy" message, players actually don't want to do that right away. They should instead study the behaviors of the AI so they don't do anything out of "character" and wind up a quickly sniped slab of noobness.

Hecker goes over several other spy techniques and sniper tips in the video, with a pretty good scream sampled at the 13:45 mark that shouldn't be missed. Those who are interested in playing can queue up for the paid SpyParty early-access beta for $15. Signing up and paying will also give access to the final PC build, a Steam key, and the Mac build (if/when the latter two happen).

Star Command Dev Shares Realities of Costs after Kickstarter Funding

April 18, 2012 1:00 AM | John Polson

star command gama.jpgThough indie game developer War Balloon surpassed its Kickstarter funding goal for Star Command, an honest breakdown of its costs reveals that a fraction of those donations went toward the actual game.

Last October, War Balloon joined a fast-growing list of small companies that crowd-funded their game projects on Kickstarter, but that didn't mean the company was financially set to complete its anticipated iOS and Android title Star Command.

When its Kickstarter campaign ended, the studio counted $36,967 in pledges, almost double the $20,000 it initially hoped to bring in to fund the Star Trek-esque sim RPG. However, around $2,000 of those pledges failed to transfer.

Kickstarter and Amazon Payments took their $3,000 cut from that amount, and then the company spent $10,000 on producing the incentives War Balloon promised backers, such as posters and shirts.

Pre-Alpha Footage: Telepath Tactics (Sinister Design)

April 17, 2012 11:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Sinister Design's Craig Stern sends along this intriguing new gameplay footage from his upcoming multiplayer turn-based strategy title Telepath Tactics.

Set in the same universe as Stern's Telepath RPG series, Telepath Tactics features a variety of multiplayer-focused gameplay modes (including asynchronous matches via e-mail), and offers numerous character types, each of which has its own strengths and special abilities in battle. The gameplay recalls Sega's Shining Force series, mixed with a bit of Advance Wars -- as a fan of both, I definitely approve of the direction this one's taking!

Telepath Tactics is set for release by the end of the year for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

To The Moon Coming Soon To Steam

April 17, 2012 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Freebird Studios' IGF Excellence in Audio award-nominated RPG To the Moon is set to hit Steam soon, director and composer Kan Gao announced earlier today.

Better still, Gao revealed that free Steam keys will be given to anyone who has previously purchased To the Moon, either through Freebird's website or elsewhere. Good deal! If you've held off on buying the game in hopes of a Steam release, now's the time to pick up a copy.

Indie-Powered Loom Sequel Forge Still Alive And Kicking

April 17, 2012 4:00 PM | Cassandra Khaw

loom.png I am more than a little excited about this. While I would probably sacrifice small animals to a development team responsible for making a Grim Fandango sequel that does justice to the original, I'm still ecstatic about the prospect of revisiting the world crafted in Loom. This time around, the game won't be focused on the Weavers. Instead, the focus will be on the BlackSmiths and a rather unfortunate fellow by the name of Wellwrought "Rusty" Nailbender. As one of the last remaining BlackSmiths, his job is to rescue his family, his home and to meet an eccentric cast of characters.

You won't be making music in Forge. However, you'll be able to build spells with 'schematics' with the help of the protagonist's trusty gauntlet. There's also a tech demo available for the curious. It also looks like a formal demo will be released sometime soon.

Curious to know more? Check out the AGS forum thread here.

Release: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet Lands on Windows

April 17, 2012 2:30 PM | John Polson

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.png

Michel Gagné's awesomely bizarre designs come to life in the PC release of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, available now on Steam and Games for Windows LIVE Marketplace for $14.99. In an ocean of indie games last year, the XBLA version of Shadow Planet Productions' action-adventure was an honorable mention in our Best of 2011 feature. The PC version shall no doubt turn more heads as it reaches a new audience upon this release.

The PC version includes a solid, single-player campaign, a multi-player Lantern Run, and the Shadow Hunters co-op mode that can be played locally or online. There's plenty of things to shoot (some of which are titanic in size, see above photo), puzzles to solve, and alien technology to harness while working towards the center of the mysterious Shadow Planet.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet on Steam or Windows Live deserves your attention. The XBLA version held mine until the ending last year on XBLA as a competent nod to the metroidvania genre with artwork that compelled me to see every screen.

Space Quest Creators Reunite For New Adventure Game

April 17, 2012 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan

After a 20-year hiatus from the games industry, Space Quest series creators Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy are back, and they're assembling a development team in the hopes of creating a new space-themed adventure game.

Little has been revealed regarding the pair's new game, but further announcements will follow "in the very near near future."

"We have some real... stuff to share, incorporating that same style of comedy, wonder and excellence you expect from a Two Guys adventure," Crowe and Murphy note. "We have a LOT we need to get off our corrugated calcium chests and out of our titanium-baffled brain pouches."

The pair adds: "The way games are made and gotten into a player's home has changed greatly, and you have never stopped talking about the adventure game genre and how much you've missed it. We are adapting to the changes, taking advantage of them and charting our own course through space and looking forward to finding that 'new game smell.'"

Trailer: Space Lumberjack (Andrew Brophy)

April 17, 2012 7:30 AM | Steve Cook

Andrew Brophy recently released the first trailer for his upcoming game, Space Lumberjack.

Precious little is shared about the game in words. Instead, Andrew lets the gameplay footage do the talking. The trailer begins with the words "There once was a lumberjack who lived on a little planet in space...". The footage itself shows the Space Lumberjack lopping down trees and lugging them back to his space truck, capturing space cows in bubbles and venturing into space with your space truck and a long bungee cord.

Andrew's work has steadily increased in quality over the years and this looks like his strongest, quirkiest and most endearing effort yet.

Indie Tools: Adventure Game Studio

April 17, 2012 5:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome

ags_gui.pngFirst revealed by its creator Chris Jones back in 1997 under the name of Adventure Creator, the Adventure Game Studio has been around for 15 years and has provided the means for the creation of hundreds of freeware and commercial games. Well, adventure games to be precise, as AGS has indeed been designed to cater to the needs of the designers that want to go the point-and-click way.

Initially developed to provide a tool that could create low-res DOS games in the Lucasarts and Sierra vein of point-and-clickers, AGS has now evolved into a powerful piece of development software that can tackle all sorts of adventure games, handle resolutions of up to 1024x768 (32-bit color), support a huge variety of audio files and compile games that can run on Windows, Mac and Linux. What's more, it has also evolved from merely freeware to gloriously open-source, meaning that a variety of new ports for everything from the PSP to iOS are in the works, as are more than a few interesting enhancements.

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