# Monthly Archives: November 2009

Look! More cheap stuff! Steam (surprise, surprise) is offering Popcap’s anti-zombie gardening-defence game (that sounds less awesome than it is) for half the price until tomorrow. That’s $5 for Plants vs Zombies. Who can say no to that? And while you’re shopping, don’t forget to grab Time Gentlemen, Please for the same price. In fact, the only reason you should ever say no to a$5 PvZ is if you’re going to buy this instead. Get shoppin’.

Because Amanita Design are so awesome, they not only created the awesome Machinarium and accompanied that release with a totally awesome soundtrack, but have now chosen to extend that very same soundtrack with an awesome additional set of 5 unreleased songs, totally free.

If you’re not already convinced (but you should be, because Amanita are awesome), you can preview the tracks over on their blog page for the official announcement, but since you’re obviously already convinced (because Amanita are awesome), you can just click this link here and wisely invest 31 megabytes in your aural wellbeing. It even comes with awesome cover art, just like the full soundtrack itself.

# Gratuitous Space Battles

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: GSB is to the RTS what Champsionship Manager is to football games. Just in case you didn’t get the reference, Championship Manager’s that odd football game in which you don’t actually get to play any football. All the player does is move their footballers around team assignments, pick the colour of their shorts and organize the after-parties. The actual game of football is taken care of automatically so the player, when the actual game kicks off, just sits and watches. The difference between this and Gratuitous Space Battles is: instead of injury-faking girly men, it’s really space ships with lasers and missiles and fire and death. I know which of the two I’d rather be watching.

# Cheap stuff!

Nandrew, in his eagerness to post all the news in one go (sellout!), has made his sloppiness evident by missing the really important stuff. “What,” you say, “is this that is more important than Scribblenauts postmortems and MW2 dedicated servers?” Actual games are.

And because they’re so important, it’s wise to get them at the best possible price so you can buy lots of them; something Valve and Steam seem to advocate heartily. This is evidenced in the fact that AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! is half price on Steam at the moment.

As I said, this is the truly important news for today. Ignore all that other stuff, and buy this game now. It’s only $7.50, and you get to flip off people as you jump off buildings. This is cool. And then maybe you can go and read all that other stuff while it’s downloading. Maybe… # Loads o’ links For the past week or so, the Internet has been asking: “Where’s Nandrew?” Of course, by “the Internet”, I really just mean one or two of my bosses, and by “Where’s Nandrew?” I’m really referring to “Where the **** is Nandrew?” So after dropping the ball over these past few days (which may as well be a lifetime online), I have no choice but to do something which I solemnly promised myself I’d never put on the Dev.Mag news: a links round-up of interesting articles and newsy tidbits from the past week. Enjoy. Scribblenauts Postmortem Like Scribblenauts? Like postmortems? Well, this link shouldn’t be too complicated to explain. It’s a short read because it’s only an extract from the full thing, but it’s still worthwhile. Indies rally against Edge Games Tim Langdell is the sort of figure who I will politely refer to as being “somewhat notorious” within the indie community. His aggressive copyright pursuits have landed him in quite some hot water already (even EA have stood up and taken notice) but he shows no signs of slowing down as he pursues another questionable copyright case. The indie community, however, aren’t taking this lying down and have laid down plans for a few more games in Langdell’s honour. The results are hilarious and hidden somewhere in that there hyperlink thing. Interview: Hitman dev IO Interactive I opened this one up hoping to get some juicy information on Hitman’s development (the recent Kane and Lynch announcement kinda has me hungering), but it seems to deal more with what it’s like being a game developer in Denmark. Which is a pretty interesting read in itself. Differences between Indie and Pro An important look at what it’s like to move from indie and student development to professional game dev, though I imagine that the term “professional” is used rather narrowly considering the bread-and-butter indies who are out there fighting the good fight (as small as their numbers may be). Read this if you’re thinking of moving into the big time. Publishers are doing their best, dammit In an article entitled Dirge for the Sinking Ship, Sean “Elysium” Sands from Gamers with Jobs rants about the unsustainable gaming market that we have today. He points the finger of blame at the gamers themselves for mercilessly forcing those poor game publishers to turn into the sort of people that we love hating and criticising today. Free tools for XNA Premium A post on the Game.Dev forums alerted me to the existence of some new, free goodies for XNA Creators Club Premium members to play around with. Autodesk Softimage Mod Tool Pro and MapZone are available for zero buckaroos amongst some other specials and member-only discounts over here. Play this thing: asynchronous multiplayer Play This Thing recently reviewed a game called Hell Is Other People, and the premise sounds absolutely fascinating. The game is definitely considered “multiplayer”, but instead of playing against real-time human opponents, you get to fight against past “ghost” versions of their playthroughs. Imagine that: a world where you have real-time action against human-generated behaviour, but get to drop all the tedious teabagging and swearing in the process. Sounds like a little slice of heaven. The future of modding Rock, Paper, Shotgun asks how the modding community will be affected by the release of those free engine things from Unity and Unreal. The writeup is interesting and reasonably brief. Game design site This is just some link love for Brice over at The Game Prodigy, who recently approached us for some article reprint permissions and stuff. The site publishes game design articles on a weekly basis, and they’re mostly quite well-written and informative. Add this to your RSS feed if you’re not suffering from information overload just yet. Modern Warfare 2 now has dedicated servers sort of. This has absolutely nothing to do with indies or even game development, but everybody’s been kicking up a fuss about it. A good post ender, yes/no? # Eufloria You may not realise it, but you’ve probably heard of Eufloria already. It made waves as a finalist in this year’s IGF Festival under the moniker of “Dyson”, and for all the reasons you’d expect. It has striking minimalist watercolour-styled graphics, beautifully atmospheric music and sound, and procedurally-generated assets. What really catches your attention, however, is its premise. It’s a real-time strategy game, where you create space colonies using trees. # Mo’Minis GameCast #2 The guys over at Mo’Minis, creators of mobile development platform Mo’Minis Studio, have recently announced the start of their new two-phase GameCast #2 competition. Like its first incarnation, GameCast #2′s theme also revolves around exploiting common gimmicks – and they once again present a slew of suggestions – and offers a whole horde of prizes as motivation. The only twist is that you have to do it three times; three twists on the same gimmick, or three gimmicks linked by a common theme – it’s up to you. So, if you’ve got an idea of a gimmick you want to turn on its head or a plan for something you could play on your cellphone while you turn yourself on your head1, you have until the 31st of January next year to go and grab Mo’Minis Studio and submit your games. There’s a wad of 4-thousand Ameri-monies waiting for you if you win, plus all that fame and glory stuff. 1 This makes most mobile games better. Believe it. # Flipt: coming soon The good folks over at Luma Arcade were hired a while back to work on a cool iPhone game for InstantAction, and the result is (nearly) here: a puzzle platformer called Flipt. It is, in my humble opinion, an awesome sophistication of the gameplay mechanics made famous by Shift and others, and I’m rather vicariously proud of it because — woop woop! — it’s a bit of fresh South African produce. The game is due for release in two weeks, but an awesome teaser trailer has just been released to whet iPhone users’ appetites: I may just be biased, but I really think that this is a shoe-in for anybody looking for some spatial fun on the iPhone. Luma have kept me in the development loop for a while now, and I even got a nice hands-on preview of the final product during rAge this year. Being a fan of Shift, I was absolutely delighted with the results. It also makes very effective use of the iPhones accelerometer to streamline the experience. Luma haven’t yet updated their site with the game’s announcement, but there’s a writeup on AppAddict for those interested in more details. # Unreal mod: Prometheus 4.0 released Unreal modders have probably been paying attention to recent news concerning the oh-so-fresh and oh-so-free Unreal dev kit. Now would be a prudent time to promote some Unreal mods, yes? The Prometheus team definitely thought so, and have announced that version 4.0 of the game is available for download. It’s a free product, and if you’re one of those people taking a swing at the UDK … well, you don’t even need to own an original Unreal game to play it. Prometheus earned second place overall in this year’s Make Something Unreal competition, and is based on the “multiple instance time travel” trend which has already served as a successful basis for Flash games like Chronotron and Cursor*10. Work with past and future versions of yourself in a 3D “single player co-op” setting to overcome your challenges and claim glory! Details and downloads are on the FilePlanet page. Try it out if you fancy, and leave a comment with your thoughts. # IGF entrant marked as virus by Symantec A few days ago, I spotted a report on IndieGames.com explaining how Symantec decided to flag IGF entrant Lose/Lose as a Trojan Horse. As The Internet would put it: “Ha ha ha, oh wow!” To Symantec’s credit, they have a good reason: Lose/Lose showed up on the news circuits a little while back as an art game with a rather, er, destructive premise. And by destructive, I mean that every game enemy you shoot down is tied to an actual file on your system. Blast a baddie, and it equates to blasting some of your computer’s precious data to smithereens. No refunds, no takebacks. I safely ignored it as a dangerous novelty when it first came out, but I was surprised to discover it amongst the 300-odd IGF entries this year, and I guess that’s what caught Symantec’s attention too. The company argues that the game code can easily be altered to, you know, deceive people and generate a few nasty surprises — which is fair enough. But this is probably going to create a headache for IGF judges who need to view it as an art game and not a virus, and I’m sure the game’s author has a few thoughts running through his head too. Hope this interesting little snippet adds some colour to your end-of-week. “Light-hearted Friday news” today was a toss-up between reporting this gossip and gushing about how I’m being paid to review Heroes of Might and Magic 3. I’m going to play it all weekend, guilt-free. This game rocks. # Unreal Dev kit now free It appears that we are all doomed to drown under a tsunami of zany offers this season, so grab your life jacket and brace yourself for the news that Rock, Paper, Shotgun and about a million other Websites have been spurting out recently: there now exists an Unreal dev kit which can be used for free. Non-commercially, mind you, but that’s still free enough for me and probably free enough for the gazillions of hobbyists who want to just get in there and play around. And there’s some interesting conditions bundled with this if you care to read on below. Aside from meaning oodles for the modding community, the dev kit proposes an interesting idea for people who want to try monetising small-scale projects: you’re charged US$99 up front for a royalty license (dirt cheap for something like this), followed by a 25% royalty charge for any money earned after your first US$5000. This can work out to be a pretty steep cut in the long run, but it’s generally more accessible than standard, up-front cough-uppery. It’s a viable option for teams with low starting capital, and presents some interesting opportunities. We’ll see if it works out. My head’s spinning from all of these cool free things recently. Are there any other offers that readers are currently aware of? I’d hazard a guess and say that we’ve dropped something somewhere recently. Tell us some good news and we’ll post about it! # Gratuitous Space Battles released I’ve heard a fair amount of news related to Gratuitous Space Battles, a game which pretty much sums itself up in the title. GSB is a strategic space combat simulator (and I use the term “simulator” loosely since, you know, it’s really just all kinds of gratuitous) which has you decking out ships, managing fleets and — woo! — blowing the crap out of everything that gets in your way with great explosive gusto. Now it has been released and is going for a smooth US$22.99. There’s also a demo available for the good ol’ try-before-you-buy types among us.

I really like the ethos of this game (gratuity, duh) and the visuals look pretty top-notch too. I’m going to assume that Mr DukeOFPrunes has already grabbed either the demo or the whole damn thing to screw around with, since he’s considerably upped his usual amount of excited carpet-widdling ever since the announcement this morning. Expect a review soon.

# How to prototype a game in 7 days

Hey look, another cool Gamasutra feature! This time, it’s about rapid game prototyping, or more particularly, how a bunch of grad students managed to make more than 50 games in one semester.

This particular piece about the merits of creating stuff quickly is brought to you by the folks at the Experimental Gameplay Project, alma mater of Kyle Gabler’s World of Goo and many awesome game prototypes.

I like the focus of this article because it deals mostly with the oldschool Experimental Gameplay and all of the stuff that happened before the crew became really really big and trendy and stuff. Not to say that they weren’t high-profile before, you know. But I’d imagine that the most educational value could be gleaned from learning what they were up to as early as 2005.

While on the subject, anybody interested should check out this month’s Experimental Gameplay competition theme, centred around the phrase “Art Game”.

# Competition 23 Results

Competition 23 ruffled a few feathers when it was announced: Apparently marketing an existing game is not something that many developers really want to think about, preferring instead to keep writing new and interesting prototypes and games for themselves. It’s not hard to see why this would be the case though, that fascinating process of “finding the fun” is the thing that most of us enjoy about game design, after all. But it’s equally not hard to see the unfortunate ramifications of this reluctance to think about your games’ exposure…

# IGF 2010 entrants announced

Okay, let’s play a little game of catch-up. I didn’t post anything yesterday, and I apparently forgot that last Friday existed. So let’s get the big news of the week outta the way: over 300 IGF entries have now been confirmed for the 2010 comp. Yowzers, that’s a lot of games for the judges to work through!

As usual, it’s a mixed bag of interesting stuff. Looking through the first page alone, I picked out stuff like Captain Forever, Aaaaa!, ASCIIpOrtal and even Experimental Gameplay entrant Broken Brothers.

Heck, they even have a game which I was quite startled to recognise: 78641, a project that’s often hyped up by the Esperanto-speaking community because, well, it’s in Esperanto. The IGF version is in English though, with some rather humorous mistranslations in the description that almost seem to be there on purpose.

Moral of the story: Esperanto’s a neat language. And I can speak a bit of it too, so that makes me a pretty cool guy.

# The Graveyard free today

So I might be a little late with this given that the day’s nearly over – well, it is here, at least, but Tale of Tales are Belgian, so that’ll buy you an extra hour over our Seffrican time. But what am I late for anyway, and what am I rambling on about anyway?

Tale of Tales – the guys behind the MMO The Endless Forest, and IGF nominee and Little Red Riding Hood re-imagination, The Path – are releasing The Graveyard completely free to celebrate All Souls’ Day. So they’re a pretty big name. Which makes these 20 odd megabytes with the effort.

Be quick, and grab it here for Windows, or here for the more Apple-inclined among you.