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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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Road to the IGF: Stephen Lavelle's English Country Tune

February 19, 2012 6:00 AM | John Polson

english country tue IGF.jpgAnyone who follows the indie gaming scene will no doubt have crossed paths with plenty of Stephen Lavelle's games before, although they may well know him better as "Increpare".

Lavelle has been pushing the boundaries of game mechanics for a good few years now, with short but deep experiences that can potentially cause the player to question what real innovation in video games is.

English Country Tune is Lavelle's first commercial title, all his previous releases having been free to download up to this point. All those years of honing his skills appear to have paid off too, as his first paid release has earned him an IGF nomination for Excellence In Design.

As part of Gamasutra's Road to the IGF series, Lavelle discusses why he decided to charge money for this game, and which elements he was forced to cut out of the final vision.

What is your background in making games?

It depends on the game. There are certain general inspirations and role-models, but most of no general interest. I feel like I haven't had a new thought in about two years, and I've more or less "used up" everything I could think of. So I'm trying to think of new things, and it's proving hard work. I let myself go, both culturally and intellectually, and now I'm paying the price. Grrr.

What development tools did you use to develop English Country Tune?

Unity. Music was a mix of Reason, Garageband and some custom-made tools (that are single-purpose enough to not be worth preparing for general consumption). Photoshop.

How long did you work on the game?

8 months in total, though I took some breaks during development.

PAX East Boston (Mobile) Indie Showcase Lineup Announced

February 18, 2012 12:00 PM | John Polson

pax east boston indie showcase.jpgPenny Arcade's massive consumer expo, PAX East, recently announced the six indie games they will showcase. Expo planners decided to showcase smart phone games exclusively this year because "not many [indie game competitions] seem to focus specifically on the mobile platforms."

These are the six indie games:

*Bean's Quest by Kumobius (iOS)
*Girls Like Robots by Popcannibal (Android)
*Lawnmower Challenge by Lunar Enigma (iOS)
*Not Without You by Bad Pilcrow (Windows Mobile)
*SpellTower by stfj (iOS)
*Super Crate Box by Vlambeer (iOS)

PAX East is one of the largest consumer gaming events, reaching almost 70,000 attendees last year. This week the event organizers sealed the deal with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to keep the event in Boston through 2023.

PAX East 2012 runs April 6-8 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. While three-day tickets are sold out, single-day tickets are still available for purchase.

Pizza Vs. Skeletons: Who Will Win!?

February 17, 2012 10:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Mobile developer Riverman Media has released Pizza vs. Skeletons, an iOS title that aims to address "the lousy skeleton smashing abilities of the pizzas currently on the market."

Amazingly, the game's premise may match or exceed the mental picture conjured by its title. Players control a 25-foot-tall pizza that must roll over and crush armies of brittle skeletons. Incredible.

In addition to numerous side-scrolling levels, the game also includes Feeding Frenzy-like underwater stages and a wrecking ball sequence reminiscent of the second level of Battletoads. Better still, players can unlock bonus costumes that change the starring pizza into other giant objects, or equip it with an astounding variety of attractive lips and moustaches.

Pizza vs. Skeletons is priced at $2.99. A free trial version is also available, if for some reason you aren't immediately sold on the concept.

Saltsman Reveals Indie-Developed iOS Title The Hunger Games: Girl On Fire

February 17, 2012 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan


Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman has detailed an iOS adaptation of the popular novel and upcoming feature film The Hunger Games, developed in cooperation with a lineup of standout indie developers.

Film distribution company Lionsgate first approached Saltsman about the project in October. Expecting a request for a Canabalt re-skin, Saltsman was surprised when the company accepted his pitch for "an original touch-based action game" featuring a focus on marksmanship and strategy.

Saltsman describes the project's assembled "indie dream-team":

"Mark Johns (Tap Tap Dance) and Kevin Coulton, the minds behind Doomlaser (Hot Throttle, Space Barnacle), are fleshing out the design while they program the game from scratch. Paul Veer (Super Crate Box, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter) is the lead artist and animator.

"Daniel Baranowsky (Canabalt, Super Meat Boy) is composing an original soundtrack inspired by the film. Ozone Sound & Music (Max and Al's Heavy-Duty) are handling the sound effects, and the one and only Kert Gartner (Winnitron) will be putting together our launch trailer."

The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire will premiere in the App Store alongside the film's release on March 23rd.

Halfbot's The Blocks Cometh For iOS Goes Free To Mark One-Year Anniversary

February 17, 2012 10:00 AM | Danny Cowan

Halfbot's The Blocks Cometh is now free for a limited time, to commemorate the game's one-year App Store anniversary.

The Blocks Cometh challenges players to climb, dodge, and shoot their way through an endless rain of falling blocks. A series of updates followed the game's release last year, adding new characters, unlockable achievements, and a new GameBot Mode available as a 99-cent in-app purchase.

The Blocks Cometh will be free to download until February 18th.

Road to the IGF: Lucky Frame's Pugs Luv Beats

February 17, 2012 6:00 AM | John Polson

pugs IGF.jpg[In the latest in our "Road to the IGF" series of interviews with 2012 IGF finalists, Gamasutra speaks with Lucky Frame's Yann Seznec about his team's 2012 IGF Excellence in Audio nominee Pugs Luv Beats.]

In the tradition of music composition games like SimTunes, Lucky Frame's Pugs Luv Beats is an addictive iOS title that has you creating songs as you guide creatures around a map, making increasingly complex melodies as you progress and are introduced to new mechanics.

The creatures in this game naturally are pugs, or colorful capsule-shaped versions of the puppies at least, and you need to help them recover Beats scattered around the universe. Each world you visit offers new opportunities for different kinds of musical patterns you can compose.

As you collect beats, you trade them in for outfits to help your pugs better traverse the varying environments on each world. Each movement from the pugs, depending on the terrain, makes a different sound that adds to the unique symphony you've created for the world.

Gamasutra spoke with the Scottish developer's founder and director Yann Seznec to learn more about Pugs Luv Beats, Lucky Frame's design decisions creating its musical mechanics, and what he believes are the most interesting audio developments for indies lately.

What background do you have making games?

Yann Seznec: Pugs Luv Beats is actually Lucky Frame's first game, in the strictest sense of the word. We'd been wanting to get into making games for a while -- Jon Brodsky (Lucky Frame's programmer) had been doing Ludum Dare and other game jams for a year or two, but most of our previous work had more to do with music, which is part of the core of our identity.

For one thing, I was able to found the company in 2008 based on the success of the Wii Loop Machine, a hack that turned Wii remotes into musical instruments. After that, our main mobile release was Mujik for iPhone, a surrealist music toy. It got a lot of wonderful attention, mostly because it was a music app that did not fall into the cliches of nearly every other music app in the store!

That showed us that there was really some space in the creative world for new approaches to music. It was a logical step from there to start making games, particularly since the "music game" genre was really starting to feel tired. So that's how we started getting into making games!

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

February 17, 2012 5:00 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 Ready At Dawn Studios, Bungie, Humanature Studios, 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:

Bungie LLC: Game Programming:
"Now located in Bellevue, WA, Bungie was founded in 1991 with two simple goals: develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, compelling stories and deep gameplay, and sell enough copies to achieve our real goal of total world domination. Over the past 10 years, we have produced games such as the Marathon Trilogy and the first two Myth games, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world.

Bungie's Halo franchise is an international award-winning action franchise that has grown into a global entertainment phenomenon, selling more than 25 million units worldwide, spawning best-selling novels and award winning soundtracks. Players have logged nearly 2 billion hours of multiplayer action over Xbox LIVE, created millions of pieces of user created content, and established a ravenous fan community."

HumaNature Studios: Lead Designer:
"HumaNature Studios is a small studio in Albany Ca. that is run by 30-year game industry veteran Greg Johnson. (ToeJam & Earl, Starflight, and lots of other games). We are a small studio of experienced, self-directed friends on a mission to create games that bring more joy and humanity into the world....hence the name of our studio.

We're embarking on a new first party title for a major Japanese publisher. The game is sweet and charming and very quirky. It targets a cross-gender audience and a broad age-range in the U.S., Japan, Korea, and Europe. It also happens to push the boundaries of interactive emotional A.I. and visual story-telling."

Documentary Trailer: Us and the Game Industry

February 17, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

A new indie documentary challenger has appeared! Whereas Indie Game: The Movie takes viewers on a roller coaster ride of indie game development, Us and the Game Industry aims to explore specifically those indie developers who are "reinventing the medium of game design and challenging the established norms with their finely crafted work."

As further described on the Vimeo page, "Us and the Game Industry is a film about the new thinkers at the new frontier of experimental computer game development." Those new thinkers chosen for the trailer are thatgamecompany (Flower, Journey), Spry Fox (Realm of the Mad God, Steambirds: Survival), and Jason Rohrer (Sleep is Death, Inside a Star-filled Sky). "This film will explore how their motivation, design process, focus and execution are creating unique and new possibilities of connecting people and providing the possibility for uncharted experiences outside the normal realm of commercial games."

As of this writing, the Us and the Game Industry official site is under construction. When more information becomes available, if you all are interested, I'll definitely share it!

IGF Audience Award Voting Ends Soon

February 16, 2012 11:38 PM | John Polson

IGF2012.jpgThe deadline for public voting on the Independent Games Festival's Audience Award ends February 19. All members of the public and the indie game community are eligible to vote, so cast your vote today!

As we've done in prior years, we're allowing voting for any game chosen as a finalist in the festival, as opposed to just those with public PC demos. This is because many of the titles have been playable at other indie game events - or have Beta and other OS versions that many indie game fans may have checked out.

To be part of this year's vote, simply visit the IGF Audience Award page and download any of the games or demos that are currently publicly available (each has been marked whether there's a version for you to purchase or otherwise download). When you've made up your mind, return to vote for your favorite.

After voting and inputting your email address, you'll need to verify your vote by clicking on a link sent to that email. Voting remains open until Sunday, February 19th at midnight PST -- go check it out now and start making your way through the games!

Cipher Prime's Fractal: Make Blooms Not War Returns To App Store

February 16, 2012 10:00 PM | Danny Cowan

The iPad version of Cipher Prime's Indie Royale featured title Fractal: Make Blooms Not War is back in the App Store following its removal earlier this year over a publisher dispute.

Now self-published, Fractal: Make Blooms Not War is a music-based puzzler in which players create combos, chains, and cascades that pulse to the beat of a dynamic soundtrack. "On the surface it's a mere puzzle game," developer Cipher Prime notes, "but as you dig deeper, untold dimensions of expression unfold. Intuitive but complex, challenging but not harsh, Fractal is a truly engaging experience."

While the previously released version of Fractal can no longer be updated due to its App Store removal, Cipher Prime hopes to resolve the issue by giving the new version away for free for a limited time. Fractal will be available for 99 cents starting Friday, and will return to its regular price of $1.99 on Tuesday.

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