Monthly Archives: August 2009

LD15 Entry: Collapse

News LD15 Entry: CollapseI feel really stupid for missing out on the announcement of Ludum Dare 15, but I’d like to try make up for it by pointing out the 144-strong list of entries around the subject of “caverns”.

I’ve been randomly clicking around and checking a few of these buggers out, and some of them are actually pretty good. Amongst the bugs and incomplete projects, truly intriguing ideas such as Collapse have taken my fancy. Sure, it’s a simple project (what with it being a 48-hour competition and all) but the concept is solid and I would love to see a full-blown game developed with the idea of a sinister and shifting landscape being your only enemy.

Try the game over here. What do you think?

-Nandrew

Minimised game design for indies

When you sit down to write a book, one of the most important things to bear in mind is the shaping and formation of your expression: if you can elegantly express in a single sentence what a lesser writer would need a paragraph to evoke, then you’ve got yourself a talent for writing.

Good journalism, similarly, is all about the brevity of your expression: a focus on the points that matter — and the arrangement of said points — to create a concise and informative read for your audience without leaving anything out. The importance of this is clearest in news briefs and other environments where every individual word that you place needs to hold significance.

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Jacking up

Save Jack was one of last year’s honorable mentions in Microsoft’s annual DreamBuildPlay game development competition, made by a pair of South African devs with a penchant for interesting ideas and a desire to put them into action. We decided that it would be a good idea to interview these good folks for their take on what it’s like devving for a competition like DBP, and how they feel about the progression of the “South African game development identity”. This is one for all you southern hemisphere locals out there: read on and be enlightened!

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Building Buzz for Indie Games

News Building Buzz for Indie Games“Obscurity is a greater threat than piracy” – Tim O’Reilly. Is that a killer quote or what?

Gamasutra is currently running a feature entitled Building Buzz for Indie Games. The link has been spreading all over the Internet, and it only seems fair that we put it here too. Not least because the article references my very own Zero Budget Indie Marketing Guide in its reading list, and seems to have followed a similar path of research in some cases.

Okay, but enough with the self-backpatting crap: the Gama article is bloody good and deserves a read. And while you’re at it, have a lookie in the direction of Frozen Synapse, the game that the author is currently working on.

-Nandrew

Steamy adventure pair

News Steamy adventure pairRight, so I’m aware that we haven’t really shut up about these games since they hit the spotlight, but bear with me for a moment.

See, Zombie Cow Studios have decided to burst their banks and publish elsewhere. Not just any elsewhere, mind, but on the biggest elsewhere ever to make itself available to indies. Yes, that’s right, Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! are both on Steam, for nothing more than five United States Monetary Units. Yeah, that’s not really cheaper than its original price on their official site, but Steam is almost unanimously agreed (that’s unanimous among my multitude of usually conflicting opinions) to be the simplest and easiest way to grab your indie games.

Good luck, Zombie Cow Studios. I hope this helps you make a killing so that you can keep on making good adventure games.

- Chippit

Basic Vector Recipes

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In a previous article I introduced basic vector concepts. In this article, I show how apply the theory to common geometric problems.

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LOTS of indie dev links

News LOTS of indie dev linksOver on the Game.Dev forum, contributor DukeOFprunes pointed out this really kickass list of readings and other linkage from Gaming Horror. It covers an impressive variety of topics: stuff related to business, indie communities, engines, tech, assets and … well, go on and just have a look at the collection. There’s a lot of stuff to peruse at your leisure, and the law of raw quantity (disclaimer: not an actual law) states that something there will pique your interest.

I was really happy to come across this: not only is it a fairly comprehensive list of information, but it spares me the chore of looking up my own news to post today. Taking advantage of other people’s investigative journalism rocks!

News pic related. But only in an insider-joke kind of way.

-Nandrew

Independently independent

News Independently independentGameCareerGuide.com graces us with a compelling argument in favour of independent development, showing how true innovation is only likely to arise from independent sources. The piece reasons that, due to its inherent nature, the flexibility of indie development gives it a considerable reign of freedom (and potential) over larger development projects.

While these may not be groundbreaking positions, their presentation offers the standpoint a whole lot of weight. Particularly notable is how the article makes a strong argument while simultaneously succeeding in not understating the value of large, commercial projects built by triple-A studios and massive teams. As such, the piece remains realistic and relevant, and, simply, is a darned good read.

Plus it has a really rough screenshot of an early Braid prototype – before Hellerman was recruited to provide the game with pretties – which is a stark reminder that everything has humble roots. The image alone is worth the price of admission, and that price is nothing more than clicking this link.

- Chippit

Valve and their maps

News Valve and their mapsThis one is a quickie because there’s not much to be said that hasn’t been said on the official Team Fortress 2 blog already:

(1) Valve are cool and stuff.

(2) Team Fortress 2 is cool and stuff.

(3) Valve are showing us how they make TF2 maps.

There’s a few videos on the link that go into the process with some detail: anybody who is interested in learning a little more about level design (and that should be EVERYBODY, regardless of chosen gaming discipline) should check it out.

Hey, at least it’s fun and colourful. Which is probably the real reason why I posted this. It’s kinda like how Chippit gets me to write articles by dangling rainbow tinsel in front of my face and shouting “WHEEE!” every 30 seconds.

-Nandrew

What 5mb patches can’t fix

News What 5mb patches canIf ever you thought otherwise, Dev.Mag (well, Gamasutra, actually, but I like to take credit where it’s not due) has uncovered decisive evidence that your beloved triple-A games are made by real people who cheat just as much as everyone else: Gamasutra have just published this collection of anecdotes by programmers in larger projects, which serves as a collective account of crunch time hacks and nasty tricks to make the game work when there’s no time to do it any other way.

All this because Thursday’s that odd day just a little too far from the weekend such that it never gets any light-hearted laughs. Poor Thursday.

- Chippit

Your ideas don’t matter … much

News Your ideas donToday’s interesting nugget comes from Gamesindustry.biz in the form of an article entitled “Your Ideas Don’t Matter … Much”. It’s basically a look at how most game developers are intrigued with making a project, but have very little understanding of how a good marketing scheme works.

There’s a lot of talk about publishers and proposals and whatnot, but the advice holds across the board (so I’m looking at you too, indies). The overarching message is that any developer needs to be more business-savvy, regardless of how much they want to focus on the “great game idea” that they fall in love with. Fobbing it off to publishers, PR peeps and anybody else who offers to “market your game for you” simply isn’t going to cut it: whoever is responsible for a project of any scale also needs an awareness of how that project is eventually going to be presented to the masses.

This may just be due to my own particular interest in the subject, but I encourage you to give this Gamesindustry piece a read. Marketing is a real sore spot for a lot of developers, and this piece may be helpful, if only to get you thinking in the right way.

-Nandrew

Shellblast

Ed: Yo Nandrew, where’s that ShellBlast review you promised me? You’re already a day late.

Me: Ah, er, bad news. I haven’t written it yet. I’ve been banging my head against this level 30 nuke defusal for most of the afternoon, and as far as I know I’ve still got oxidation and time-bombs to unlock.

Ed: What? Put the damn game down and get on with your writeup already!

Me: I’ll start it as soon as possible, I promise. I just wanna clear these next few levels first …

Ed: Grrrr …

Ed: (starts ticking)

Me: OHSHI-

Me: (throws a chaff grenade at Ed, defuses him, saves the day and progresses to the next level)

The short version: ShellBlast is a bomb defusal game which actually makes you feel like you’re defusing bombs. This is awesome. Continue reading

Zombie Cow hits episodic gaming

News Zombie Cow hits episodic gamingThe gaming press recently offered us a little snippet of tantalising information: Zombie Cow Studios, the devs behind Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! are planning on going episodic.

Yarp, that means what it sounds like. Little bite-sized chunks of Ben and Dan all over the place. Hopefully for the rest of our mortal lives.

If you’re not convinced by this series yet, cast your gaze towards the Metacritic ratings, the truckload of gaming awards and the tropical islands drenched in unicorn-flavoured shampoo. Rock, Paper, Shotgun also have a “universal exclusive” on the details of the studio’s new move for your reading pleasure. And if it’s universal, it simply has to be juicy.

-Nandrew

Tower of Heaven

News Tower of HeavenTake yourself back to a time with fewer colours, blippier-bloopier sounds and a much steeper difficulty curve. Tower of Heaven is one of those retro-styled games which will appeal to the hardcore nostalgics — you know, the sort of folks who can win Mega Man with only one hand on the controller.

Tower of Heaven has you trying to climb a tower. Presumably one that leads to heaven. And your classic overarching deity figure dude isn’t too happy about it. In fact, being a classic overarching deity figure, he’s going to do what every classic overarching deity figure does best: make rules. Most of these rules will hurt you.

Every few levels, a new rule is made which you have to abide by for the rest of the game, lest you meet an untimely demise. The game isn’t namby-pamby about it either: just a few stages in, for example, you’ll be informed that you’re no longer allowed to walk left. The insanity mounts as one proceeds further, and I think I must have carried on due to some twisted masochistic streak that allowed me to impale myself on spikes, saws and, er, butterflies time and time again.

It’s an interesting game, but I’ll have to stress: it’s for the oldschool enthusiasts and diehard pros only. Cos you will die. Hard.

Thanks to GameSetWatch for the find: linking straight to the developer’s Website would have been weird without you!

-Nandrew

Love letter 2 flash

News Love letter 2 flashI posted about DanC’s Flash Love Letter series back when the first post was made, and back when I had – only marginally, admittedly – better news headlines. The post went into a really long and detailed discourse on monetising flash games, and paid some serious attention to making a living from the popular browser games.

Well, if that interested you, you should know that the second part of the series is up, and filled with equally valuable information about judging the worth of your own games, what contributes to that, and how to maximise that value with the lowest possible personal cost.

Like the first one, this is worth checking out.

- Chippit

Starting Small – Python and Pygame

Welcome to the Starting Small series. The aim of this series is to take a programming language that you hopefully know a bit about (enough to feel comfortable using) or that you want to try out and show you how to use it to make games. The language that this tutorial focuses on is Python using Pygame.

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