Monthly Archives: December 2009

Some simple RPG goodness

News Some simple RPG goodnessI nearly squealed when I saw Slot Machine RPG on IndieGames. It may seem strange, but those super-duper retro sort of graphics have a certain sexiness to them, and seem to be the visual front for all kinds of really cool games.

This one is no exception. Made for the TIGSource Assemblee competition, this humble dungeon crawler is a minimalist RPG enthusiast’s dream, combining simple mechanics with a damn good idea of what raw fun is. Players need to navigate randomly generated dungeons in search of the Crystal of Ix, going room by room while fighting enemies, avoiding traps and eating half their own weight in mushrooms to stay alive (hey, they’re probably the only food that can grow down there anyway). Occasionally, they’ll come across weapon upgrades, health boosts and spell tabs so that they can proceed to lower levels and take on even more challenging monsters.

The game is still in development (there’s only 5 levels so far), so if you have any ideas after playing it, be sure to offer some feedback on the developer’s thread at TIGSource.

-Nandrew

TIGRadio

News TIGRadioI’ve never been one for podcasts and the like, but I thought I’d mention this little snippet while it’s still hot: the TIGSource community have fired up their engines and started on something called TIGRadio, a weekly show which talks about indie stuff and things and has people like Edmund McMillen in it (who may just be the one person in the world that could actually inspire me to listen to a podcast, with the honorable exception of the Penny Arcade/PvP DnD crew).

This one should be a shoe-in for anybody who regularly tunes in to Internet radio — if you want a sample, the first episode is available in the archives. It’s about an hour long and features a kickass intro sequence. It also guest stars Adam Saltsman, Edmund McMillen, Brandon Boyer, Danny Baranowsky and Colin Northway, who occupy themselves with looking back on 2009 and making predictions for 2010.

I’ll repeat that I’m not big on audio streams myself (it’s difficult to explain — involves peanut butter and Belgium), but my own haphazard observations lead me to believe that this will be pretty cool: the show is populated by the sort of people who are quite used to public chattery, and TIGSource in general is pretty awesome. Here’s wishing them the best.

-Nandrew

Cheapy cheap Christmas specials

News Cheapy cheap Christmas specialsNow that I’ve got your attention, allow me first to direct you to this page. No, don’t ask questions, just read. Although, it’s not like any of you would question the value of any link pointing to Lost Garden, right?

When you’re done with that, let’s get on to the meat of the post. There are two special deals that have been brought to our attention, fulfilling festive obligations by making fun games cheap:

  • The first is a special offer from Amanita Design which bundles Samorost 2 and Machinarium together for only $10.

  • The second involves using the super special fancy Christmas code, BMWS000H3, at checkout on the Grappling Hook site, to get a neat 25% discount on the standard price.

These options are a limited offer, only lasting until Christmas day in the case of the Amanita deal, and 2 days after that for Grappling Hook. Make your choice (or buy both) and get your festivities on.

- Chippit

Art gaemz: Earth and ir/rational

News Art gaemz: Earth and ir/rationalI’ve recently been scanning this month’s entries for the Experimental Gameplay Project to see how far the theme “Art Game” can be stretched, mainly because I’m thinking about throwing my own little something in over the next few days.

Two games in particular stood out for me (at least among the ones that I downloaded), and you should have a look at them too:

Earth is a rather interesting take on the classic Space Invaders idea, offering multiple endings and a considerably deeper message than you’d typically expect to find in an arcade blaster. Offering too much description at this point may spoil the effect, so I’ll settle with mentioning that I took a minute or two out of my life to play through (twice) and found it to be an enjoyable, artsy experience.

And while you’re at it, prove that Michael Atkinson is a douche for banning 18%2B videogames in Australia. No, really: ir/rational is a philosophical, logic-based puzzle game which offers you the chance to construct this argument (and many more) from a mechanical perspective based on the classic “IF/THEN/THEREFORE” building blocks. It’s called propositional calculus and it rocks. Combine that with an intriguing (albeit short) story and some quirky humour and you’ll have a few glorious minutes spent looking at common arguments in an entirely more logical manner.

It’s cool and stuff.

If you’re interested in submitting your own stuff to EGP, remember that you have until 31 December to do it. That should be plenty of time to get whatever you want out the door: the competition’s “7-day, 1-man” restriction pretty much ensures it.

-Nandrew

ATTN: For immediate reading

News ATTN: For immediate readingSo this is a bit of a hot topic. Everyone with a strong opinion and the ability to string a few words together has written on it, including our own Nandrew. Indiegames.com editor Michael Rose decided he wanted to set the field straight and gave his own down-to-earth set of tips on the matter, particularly focused on what he looks for in emails sent to Indiegames.com.

Give it a read. It’s an enlightening piece, and you can never gather enough tips on this topic, because it truly is one of the most important skills required to survive as an indie dev. And because I learn so fast, I’ve even adapted Dev.Mag’s headline policy to match. No, wait, I think I may have gotten it wrong—

Anyway, while you’re on Gamasutra, make sure you also read the Splosion Man postmortem that was posted a week or two ago. It’s a great account of the struggles faced during the production of the Summer of Arcade hit.

- Chippit

Comp 24: Coherence

News Comp 24: CoherenceIt’s the end-of-year holiday season thing! What a great time to start up a game development project, no? Game.Dev thinks so, and the recent Comp 24 announcement has, as always, offered entrants an intriguing concept: developers have to try and make two separate game genres play nice with each other, fitting them together like a pair of demented, metaphorical puzzle pieces in a single package without breaking everything in the process.

Oldschool titles such as Archon, Syndicate, XCOM and about a gazillion others have done this quite well, but it seems that nowadays the only semblance of “genre fusion” that we see in games is the deplorable use of quicktime events in some pretty uninspired situations. See if you can do better: create an RTS with platforming elements, or a point-and-click adventure that occasionally turns into a first-person shooter. Or, you know, anything with anything.

Make reviewers scratch their heads when they have to decide what to put in that cutesy little “genre” box of your game summary. Defy normality, reject compartmentalisation and stick it to the man!

Normal Game.Dev competition rules apply (check over here for details), and the deadline is 31 January. This gives you a little under 2 months to construct something magical and different, so happy devving!

-Nandrew

More Cletus Clay vids

News More Cletus Clay vidsIf you haven’t yet heard of Cletus Clay, you’re missing out on one of the coolest development ideas in recent memory. It may seem like just another 2D platformer at first, but the fact that the entire game world is built with stop-motion clay animation makes it very interesting indeed. Having a shotgun-wielding country hick protagonist also helps.

The devs behind the game recently released a couple of new videos and screenshots to show off all of that pretty clay goodness. You can find a whole whack of the former on their YouTube channel, though this one is probably my favourite:

The unique style of this game makes following its development a rewarding pursuit in itself. If you want more info, check out our interview with the devs or go to the game’s site for little bits of wisdom related to their development process. It’s quite educational.

Needless to say, this one is on my “eagerly anticipated” list. Go go Xbox release!

-Nandrew

A look at cactus

News A look at cactusFresh new month, fresh new start. Man, where’s that coffee? And those news updates? And why’s the wallpaper peeling? Gawd, I need to take better care of this place.

Anyway, I found a rather interesting piece about the work of Jonatan “cactus” Söderström sitting pretty over on Boingboing today. And while I’m usually chased away from online articles that look like they’ve been drowned in pictures and videos (my mobile connection is less than understanding), I simply couldn’t resist this one. That, and I found a colleague’s computer to load up the videos for me — so great success!

The article is a pretty cool spotlight on the work of dear cactus, a gentleman whose claim to fame is the ability to make a lot of really neat games really quickly. He’s a fascinating and talented individual, and although I’d challenge the merit of some of his games (I’m always wary of hype) I think that anybody who doesn’t know the character well enough already should have a look at this piece. It’s a good bit of reading-slash-viewing.

Cast down the self-imposed restrictions

News Cast down the self-imposed restrictionsDanC’s Lost Garden unfortunately doesn’t update often. But when it does, as was the case recently, it’s guaranteed to be an insightful read for those game developer types like us.

The latest post identifies three self-imposed constraints that game designers often inflict on themselves and then discusses why they do nothing but hinder the effectiveness of games, particularly in light of them being culturally meaningful activities. This cultural importance is a common goal in times when the value of games is questioned due to their more direct competition with more established entertainment industries like films and novels. Go and give it a read.

- Chippit