Monthly Archives: January 2010

TIGJam UK games. Also, flixel

News TIGJam UK games. Also, flixelWhen bandwidth permits it, I like strolling through threads like this to pick up on all the teensy little games that people make at events like the UK TIGJam. After seeing the announcement on IndieGames and checking on one or two of their recommendations, I decided to browse through some of the other games and was startled to find just how many of them relied on the flixel framework to get the job done in a just few hours.

Flixel has been on my mind a lot recently, and I’ve also used it to make one or two Flash game prototypes in a startlingly short time period: it’s very easy to learn if you’re already acquainted with ActionScript in some form, and seeing all of the TIGJam entries that it has produced fills my heart with joy and bunnies. In fact, I’m off to get said bunnies surgically removed right now, since they’re starting to screw up my blood circulation.

If you’re looking for just a few games to try out, IndieGames recommends I’m Not A Bad Person Really, I Just Have Low Self-Esteem and This Is How Bees Work. I recommend Solar Defense because it has bloom effects. Wheee!

-Nandrew

Making a tester’s life less miserable

Most game developers know that sharing an early prototype of their Next Big Thing™ with friends and fellow devs is usually a good move. It’s a great way to iron out bugs, gather ideas and start moving in the right direction. It’s also incredibly encouraging to receive positive feedback early on — as long as your audience doesn’t consist of the sort of people who foam at the mouth and start gnawing at every half-arsed pixel push you make.

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Game while you write?

News Game while you write?Right, so as I’m typing up this post, making good use of all of Word’s fancy productivity features, Ribbon Hero‘s running in the background, scoring my performance. Or, rather, it would be if I had realised that an additional .NET 3.5 SP1 download was required to get it running, the requirement of which was, unfortunately, undisclosed.

However, the theory goes like this: Office 2007 (with its nice new controversial Ribbon) means many people have to relearn everything all over again. The blokes over at Office Labs figured that if something can be learned, and that leaning can be measured and rewarded, a game can be made out of it. So Ribbon Hero tries to do this for the three big names in Office 2007 and 2010.

How well does all this work? Well, the trailer videos seem to show what is simply a competitive tutorial, but I’m going to withhold judgement until such a time as I’m able to test it out. I’m only giving it this much chance because Daniel Cook was involved anyway. I have faith in his game design skill, even if whether or not this is a game is disputable. I shall post my thoughts then.

- Chippit

IGF Student Showcase top 10

News IGF Student Showcase top 10An often overlooked half of the IGF is the Student Showcase, where up and coming devs who are still learning the ropes compete for recognition. And it’s often quite naïve to disregard them, having successes like Narbacular Drop originating from academic sources like DigiPen.

Anyway, the fellas over Think Services agree, and have included a special student category in the IGF since 2003. And the latest lot (all 190 of them), have just been reduced to a shortlist of 20, 10 declared winners, the other 10 receiving an honourable mention from the judges. Some names here might be familiar, like ASCIIpOrtal, and there are many that are not-so-familiar. Check out the list and take your guess as to which one will take way the $2,500 first place prize when the GDC rolls into San Francisco in March.

- Chippit

How much?

News How much?The part that comes after the creation of a game is just as nebulous as the actual creation itself. So everyone knows they need to market, and everyone knows they want to sell eventually. But many questions arise, such as “how?” and, eventually, “how much?

Thankfully, Gamasutra answers the second question with this article, sharing the reasoning behind the pricing of a handful of popular indie totals, with special focus on Apple App Store goodies. Give it a read, there are a few useful insights in there.

- Chippit

Platform design wizards share thoughts

News Platform design wizards share thoughtsBack in the late 80s and early 90s, there existed two platformers that were marvellous examples of the best gaming had to offer at the time, and each one was essentially made by a single person. The first of those went on to seed a massive franchise that runs to this day, extending as far as Hollywood and as close as everyone’s game shelf (because you’re really not a gamer unless you’ve played at least one Prince of Persia game; preferably the first one, but Sands of Time will do).

The second, Another World (Out of this World for those New World fellas across the ocean) fell somewhat off the map, often only being remembered by association to its spiritual sequel, Heart of Darkness. However, both of these titles are remembered fondly today (well, okay, yesterday) as Gamasutra reposts a translated interview featuring both designers.

Go on, give it a read.

- Chippit

Organic Indie Preorder Pack

News Organic Indie Preorder PackI’m going to assume you know Wolfire; they’re a grand bunch of blokes who share interesting thoughts, occasionally drop games in our inbox, and make cute videos while occasionally dropping games in our inbox (no, I’m not biased, why would you say that?).

Now, the guys over in Overgrowth dev-land have struck a deal with the guys over in Natural Selection 2 dev-land, Unknown Worlds, to bring everyone a fantastic pre-order bundle, the Organic Indie Preorder Pack. Yes, that’s what you think it is, both Natural Selection 2 (squeee), and Overgrowth (squeee) bundled together for one price. And we have been assured that at least the Overgrowth pre-order will work in Steam, for those who like to keep their games in one place – the NS2 is likely to do so also, but this is unconfirmed just yet.

But that’s no matter, because you get two great indie games for one great price, and the money goes straight to them.

Go and grab it. Now! You even get early access!

Oh, what’s that, you say? “But I’ve already pre-ordered Natural Selection 2/Overgrowth!” Well that’s perfect for you, because you’ve just gotten Overgrowth/Natural Selection 2 absolutely free. Enjoy!

- Chippit

IGF Judging demystified

News IGF Judging demystifiedUntil this handy little article on IndieGames came along, I never really understood the IGF. I mean, a whole lot of games go in, a few of them come out, everybody gets excited for a while and then trophies get handed out. But what makes a good IGF game and how do the judges make their decisions?

Well, this in-depth look from judges Jens Bergensten, Alex May and Michael Rose will tell you all you need to know about the mysterious inner workings of the judging process. It’s a particularly interesting read if you’re even remotely keen on the idea of submitting your own game to the IGF (and to be honest, it’s always an entertaining thought).

Once that’s whet your appetite, take a look at The Boing Boing Guide to the 2010 Indie Games Festival if you haven’t already tripped over the million and one IGF finalist summaries that are knocking around the Internet (Dev.Mag will probably go hands-on for a few of the games too, kicking ass all the way). It’s a great way to get you pumped for some really cool indie games … even if half of them aren’t available yet.

Play on!

-Nandrew

7 day forecast: Sunshine

News 7 day forecast: SunshineSunshine. No, not that stuff that makes every Briton envious of us down in sunny SA. This Sunshine, the latest gamelet coming out of whatever home Kyle Gabler (one half of 2D Boy) currently calls his liar. It was entered – albeit slightly late – into Experimental Gameplay Project art game contest last month. And it’s all about a plant.

Yeah, actually, that’s all there is to it. Will Sunshine be Gabler’s next amazing hit? Maybe not, but it’s still worth a bit of your time. It’s cute, it’s lathered with Gabler’s distinct style, and it’s a 10mb download. Gabler’s quite fond of submitting stuff to EG, and as many know, even World of Goo had a humble start on EGP. In fact, the current showcase has more than a few of his 7-day creations.

So give this one a shot, and decide for yourself if this is a humble start of its own.

- Chippit

IGF 2010 Finalists announced

News IGF 2010 Finalists announcedSo it’s a brand new year, and I’m not going to ramble much about it since Nandrew seems to have done a great job pre-empting me on this matter. Needless to say, our holiday is over, and you can expect us to once again begin to update regularly; that’s right, new articles and no more of this ‘intermittent new updates’ rubbish. The new year brings good things!

And one of those good things is the release of the shortlist for the 2010 IGF competition, which you can see over on their site. We’re particularly happy to see McMillen’s Super Meat Boy lined up for the grand prize, with another nomination for Excellence in Audio. Check out the list and make your predictions in the comments.

And have a happy (belated and clichéd) New Year.

- Chippit

YoYo comp 05 goes handheld

News YoYo comp 05 goes handheldHappy new year! I’m not toooo late, am I? I mean, there’s this awful ringing in my head and I can’t seem to find my clothes, but my computer is still in tip-top shape, and that’s what really matters.

One of the first things that I was greeted with upon returning to the Internet this year was a Game.Dev forum thread mentioning the YoYo Games mobile competition. It’s all about designing a game for a handheld device (a fairly broad category nowadays!), and I think that YoYo’s premise is totally sweet: there’s certain minimalist elements enforced (arrow keys %2B 1 button only, no extended libraries, other stuff) that should really tighten up entries across the board and force less experienced devs to start thinking about game systems on a slightly more micro scale. To be honest, I’m starting to get rather attached to the idea of minimalist design — some of the stuff I’ve read about makes a crazyton of sense.

So if you wanna enter, look here for the competition details. Hopeful winners can look for a US$1000 first prize, but games need to be in by March 30th.

Aaaand go!

-Nandrew