Monthly Archives: October 2009

Machinarium

Picture a world where people don’t exist. Okay, they do exist, but they’re not people, they’re robots (so not really people, then, but you know what I mean.). In this world, the peop- er, robots go about their daily lives, doing…robot-y things like, um…okay, you know what, forget the highfaluting introduction. Stop reading this inane drivel and go buy this game.

Continue reading

Lugaru 75% off

News Lugaru 75% offHoly crap, it really seems to be the season for indie specials and giveaways. First we had the pay-what-you-want special for World of Goo, then the giveaway announcement for Unity3D’s Indie package. Now we hear that Lugaru, the ninja bunny brawler from the good old chaps at Wolfire, is going for a quarter of its normal price via Direct2Drive.

Readers may remember us singing Lugaru’s praises a little while back, and our opinion hasn’t changed since then. Get it! Get it! Get it! It’s a damn challenging game, but if you aren’t the easily intimidated type, you’re in for a close-combat fighter that relies on good old timing and skill rather than fancy combos and relentless button-mashing. Really has a way of making a player feel alive. At least, as long as said player isn’t getting relentlessly slaughtered. But hey, with great challenge comes great achievement!

Lugaru is currently pinned at $4.95, and the offer lasts until 4 November. It’s sitting pretty over here.

-Nandrew

World Train Royale

I once baked a really awesome Oreo cake. It took a whole afternoon of some serious baking, and I even pulled in a couple of friends to help me do it. Going through each step, I feverishly awaited the moment when I could sink my teeth into the decadent and sinful combination of chocolate in chocolate, topped with chocolate, filled with chocolate and served with a side of chocolate.

It ended up being a huge mess.

Continue reading

Unity3D … now free!

News Unity3D ... now free!Oh boy, Unity’s servers must be veritably clogged right now. Earlier today, Rock, Paper, Shotgun discovered that the Unity Indie package is being given away for free. Considering how the product used to be a not-so-dismissable $200, this offer is pretty damn significant for indie enthusiasts cursed with shallow pockets.

The Pro edition still stands at its original price tag of $1500, but the new offer means that hobbyists and casual users can now poke about with the tool and explore its power without incurring any financial risk. It’s a great opportunity for anybody to grab a very high-profile tool and do some wonderful stuff with it.

And, well … that pretty much sums up this news report, I suppose. Read the RPS post for more juicy flavour text, then head on over to Unity’s Website to get this super smexy product for yourself!

-Nandrew

The Samorost Games

In light of the recent Machinarium release, it seems only fitting that we pay due attention to the Samorost games, a pair of Flash gems from the same developers. And as cliché as this may sound, that little white-capped gnome and his quirky adventures have pretty much revolutionised the way we view game art and atmosphere.

Continue reading

Is Modding Useful?

News Is Modding Useful?Over at NAG Online, I’ve written one or two pieces that concern themselves with game modding and the like. I’ll be the first to admit that modding isn’t my strongest point — or an aspect of game development which I have a particularly vested interest in — but I do believe that any self-respecting developer who wants to approach their craft with a well-rounded knowledge base will keep general tabs on the mod scene.

It’s for this reason that I’m particularly interested in this GameCareerGuide feature entitled “Is Modding Useful?” Not only does it soberly and thoroughly explore the mod scene as it stands today, but it gives realistic advice about how to use your modding experience to attract game recruiters and gain valuable skills. Think of it as a “crash course” guide to mod-making, right down to how you get started with it in the first place.

It’s nice to see a piece like this, particularly when some people still view modding as a “childish” or “wasteful” pursuit (unless, of course, my impression of the general populace is totally screwy). I can’t say that I’m really a fan of Counterstrike and the like, but there have been some fascinating mods recently which demonstrate that this field isn’t restricted to the likes of mere amateurs and wannabes.

-Nandrew

Grappling Hook

Ninjas have them. Batman has one. Bionic commandos have one too. They’re grappling hooks and they are throwy, shooty, swingy good fun. They’re also nothing new in games. The afore-mentioned Bionic Commando could not jump at all and relied on his grappling arm to grab ledges and swing around the place like a crazy cybernetic monkey-man, all this as far back as pre-3D 1987.

Continue reading

Asemblee competition starts

News Asemblee competition startsI think I’ve mentioned before how delightfully interesting TIGSource manages to make its game development competitions. Oh, sure, you could go for one of those stock-standard phrase-themed compos that all the other kids are going for, but why keep yourself trapped inside that box when you can think in terms of the new Assemblee comp?

Assemblee comes in two month-long parts: first, it gathers a bunch of artists and musicians to generate content — any content — for potential videogames of kickass awesomeness. After said month of art and music creation, entrants are rated on the quality of their creations and the relay baton is passed on to programmers and designers, whose job involves looking at these resources and trying to devise a game from them. No edits, no external material: just whatever they can do with the given material in-game.

It’s an interesting competition premise, and as with any interesting competition should attract some pretty interesting entries. If you’re a musician or artist, your job starts now. If you’re a programmer or designer, head on over and keep tabs on the stuff getting created: you’ll be asked to start your work in a little under a month’s time.

Good luck to everybody taking part, this looks like good fun!

-Nandrew

Guerrilla Tool Development

I have a weak spot for cool game development tools. Not the IDE, or art or sound tools – I mean the level editors, AI construction tools – those that developers develop specifically for their games. Those that you know could help you multiply your content, and craft your game just a little bit better.

Continue reading

3-year-old versus Super Meat Boy

News 3-year-old versus Super Meat BoySo here’s a little something to kickstart your weekend and brighten your day. Edmund Mcmillen, a delightfully twisted gentleman who should probably never be allowed near children, was recently allowed near children. One of them happened to be a grizzled, stern-faced game reviewer called Acacia, and it was her job to analyse and evaluate Super Meat Boy.

But seriously? This YouTube vid shows how a totally smart and totally cute 3-year-old ends up playing an awesome game, while making some totally smart and totally cute comments in the process. As a whole, the video is best described as “adorably disturbing”. Remember, kids: Super Meat Boy will cause deadly spikes to haunt your nightmares. Or something like that.

Just watching this video makes me pretty amped to try SMB myself. It also highlights the value of using toddlers in game marketing efforts.

Ahh, magical!

-Nandrew

Notorious XBIG massagers: the devs speak!

News Notorious XBIG massagers: the devs speak!Yes, this news is probably a bit old by now, and avid Kotaku readers will probably have looked at it already, but I saw this article on the Xbox rumble massage apps receiving some link love on GameSetWatch and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to investigate.

Titled “The Xbox Massage-Makers: Money, Sex Toys & Indie Backlash”, this piece is an in-depth look at the rumble massage phenomenon that dominated XBIG’s earlier days, discussing its origins, its (widely lamented) success and the various motivations that people had for creating these apps in the first place. It’s an intriguing piece because it offers the story from the perspective of the developers rather than rehashing tales of woe and villainy. Heck, wouldn’t we all like to know just what these people were thinking when they built their little vibrating buggers?

This piece answers a lot of questions that I’ve personally harboured for a long time, and it may answer some of yours too. Whether you choose to accept the explanation or not is up to you, but it’s interesting either way.

-Nandrew

Point-n-click is aliiiiive!

News Point-n-click is aliiiiive!So, Machinarium has recently hit the market and journalistic smarties everywhere have yet another opportunity to remind the world that the adventure genre is not rotting in an unmarked grave somewhere on Dr Fred Edison’s creepy estate. Guhhh. Proud declarations of point-n-click adventuring’s astounding non-deadness are becoming something of a cliché in my books, but I suppose there’s people out there who still don’t realise this, so screw it.

In this regard, Boing Boing have themselves a nice and colourful article detailing modern adventure revival, and since I seem to be drawn to these things like a dim-witted insect to a flamethrower, I thought I’d mention the piece here. It chats a bit about the usual suspects (such as the Ben and Dan series from Zombie Cow), but also throws in delightful reminders of fun experiences such as Host Master and the Conquest of Humour.

As an aside: I’ve yet to play Machinarium, but hopefully that’ll change in the near future. The Samorost games were really cool, and I don’t see why this offering should break that precedent.

-Nandrew

Rage Rundown – In pictures

Every year the Really Awesome Gaming Expo (known as rAge by close friends and relatives), held at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg, acts as an undeniable and almost irresistible force, drawing in gamers and game developers alike from all over South Africa and some parts of the Rest of the World™. Naturally, this can only mean a weekend of pure pulsating joy, happiness and companion cubes that cannot possibly be expressed in any number of words. We’ll do it in pictures instead.

Continue reading

Where’s our profanity pack, 2D Boy?

News WhereSo, last week 2D Boy let you pay whatever you want for World of Goo. And, being 2D Boy, when all the dust had settled and their server had stopped being “too stressed out”, they posted their sales figures. And they look like this:

That

That’s nearly sixty-thousand sales. In a week.

All those fancy numbers mathemagically work out to almost $100 000 earned (minus whatever Paypal decides to keep for itself), all for a year-old game. This is, of course, not counting the boosted sales the game also saw on Steam, simply because people were once again reminded of its existence.

The good lads over at RPS have a wonderful piece full of dollar signs and numbers and other confusing things, offering their insights as to what can be learned from all this.

What do I have to say about all this? “Where’s our profanity pack, 2D Boy? YOU PWOMISED!”

- Chippit

Indie game crossword

News Indie game crosswordAs I lay in bed this weekend, sweating and snotting from some sort of sickness (hey, alliteration!), I was pleased to see IndieGames shaking things up with a crossword puzzle focused on independent games. Cor blimey, I’ve never seen one of these before!

There’s not much to say about it (it’s a crossword) but it’s really novel to have one aimed at this section of the gaming market. As a result, it’s pretty fun to do — especially if you decide to compete with your friends. So yeah: try it out, and if you ever feel the need to admit defeat (or check on your solution), the answers can be found here.

It’s yet to be seen whether or not Michael Rose will hold to his fortnightly crossword promise, but this one is pretty fun if you’re a fan of independent games (which you most likely are) and happen to enjoy crossword puzzles too.

I promise that I’ll post some more news when my head feels less like jelly.

-Nandrew

Notepad game design

News Notepad game designWe mentioned Machinarium about a year ago when we covered it in our IGF roundup. The game was nominated – and eventually went on to win – the $2500 for Excellence in Visual Art, which isn’t hard to believe when you see the hand-drawn detail that was crafted into every scene.

All that effort is evident in boingboing.net’s gaze into the sketchbooks of Amanita Design’s Jakub Dvorsky and Adolf Lachman. It’s heartening to see people sticking to the tried-and-trusted pen-and-paper design scheme; it’s equally heartening to see that people exist who have a handwriting that’s as indecipherable as my own, though it probably doesn’t help that it’s all Greek Czech too.

And, apparently, the ‘later this year’ release date cited in our original mention of the game turns out to be tomorrow, proving that Dvorsky’s release scheme is as nebulous as his handwriting. What’s undeniable, however, is that after such gems as Samorost and its sequel, I’m really looking forward to given this one a shot. And for those of you who can’t wait to get their $17 worth, you can grab the demo for the game here.

- Chippit