I’m here in San Francisco for GDC ’12. Yesterday was the Independent Games Summit – lots of really interesting and inspirational talks by some of the big figures and innovators in indie games.
The clear highlight so far has to be a game called ‘Dog The Wag’ – an ingenious invention by Douglas Wilson of Die Gute Fabrik, the creator of Johann Sebastian Joust. It pretty much involves tying a PlayStation Move controller to your butt, getting down on all fours and shaking it around as much as possible, while other ‘dogs’ try to beat you up (or at least wrestle you to the ground and press a button on your controller). Hilarious, slightly awkward and nothing short of amazing. The game certainly goes a long way towards his rhetoric of embracing the flaws in new technology rather than fighting against them.
Today is the Social and Online Games Summit – so I’ll try to post something vaguely more sensible. It will probably have something to do with leveraging the synergies of low-hanging fruit on Facebook and very little in the way of booty shaking. Which is sad.
Indie Royale is a new video game bundle site with an interesting twist on the pay-what-you-like model. Every two weeks, the site will release a bundle of independent video games. Users can pay the current marked price, but as more users pay the marked price, the price will slowly increase. Paying more than the marked price, however, will bring the price down for everyone by an amount proportional to the extra paid.
The site is a joint venture of the blog IndieGames.com and the digital games distribution network Desura. They describe the site’s raison d’être here:
The point of Indie Royale is to put the spotlight on those indie titles which provide fantastic experiences, but may well have been passed over by a good portion of the mainstream gaming public. If you purchase an Indie Royale bundle, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re not only getting four brilliant indie games – you’re also supporting worthwhile developers.
It’s a cool idea and I can see myself coming back every couple of weeks to see what’s available. Between Good Old Games, Steam and now Indie Royale, it’s getting far too easy to spend all your pocket money on cool games.
As a fan of indie video games, I always enjoy seeing obscure titles getting mainstream attention. Earlier this week, The New York Times ran a lengthy story about Tarn and Zach Adams, developers of Dwarf Fortress – a non-graphical (if you don’t count text as graphics) dwarven civilisation simulator – not exactly the most saturated of gaming sub-genres, to be sure.
In development since 2002 and available for free since 2006, Dwarf Fortress tasks the player with managing a group of dwarves as they set up and maintain a settlement, digging out caves, building fortifications, developing farming and industry. This is just the early-game, mind you. Later you’ll be building an army, developing an economy and dealing with the demands of nobles and possible a king – if you last that long.
Two things I love: slick puzzle games and discounted software. MacHeist, providers of the biggest and best of the charity-contributing Mac software bundles is giving you both with their new iOS game, The Heist.
The Heist is a fantastic collection of increasingly difficult challenges, spread amongst four different puzzle types. The twist with this game is the promise of a real reward at the end. What is it? In their words: “You’ll have to beat The Heist to find out… but it’s fun, and it’s worth much more than the price of entry.”
OK, you’ve got me. Back to it, then.
The Heist is on the AppStore for 99c in the US and $1.19 in Australia.
Rock Paper Shotgun already took the headline “My Chemical Romance” so that one will have to do.
If I look a little tired today, it’s because I was extremely late last night. It wasn’t my fault, however. It was already pretty late when I decided to retire for the evening, but before I could hang up my smoking jacket and pipe, SpaceChem kicked my door down and forced me to party til 2:30am. Indie games, man. Those guys can be @#$%s.
But I did have a hell of a time. SpaceChem from Zachtronics Industries is design-based puzzle game that has you combining elements into complex molecules and loading them onto awaiting spaceships. It’s pretty hard to explain so maybe you should just check out the trailer.
Pretty crazy looking, sure. The trailer can make it look pretty daunting, but be assured that the game takes you gently by the hand for the first half a dozen levels and explains the mechanics clearly before leaving you to it. I found that in no time I was making stupidly complex machines in multiple factories in order to fill waiting spaceships with sulphuric acid. Hang on. That doesn’t sound like a great idea to me now.
There’s an extremely lengthy demo to get you hooked and then it’s $20 for the full game.
Team Meat, the team behind the brutally unforgiving platform game Super Meat Boy got some unexpected free publicity this week when they became the latest target of animal rights group PETA.
PETA, apparantly objecting to Super Meat Boy’s meat-themes launched it’s own ironically-bland parody game called Super Tofu Boy. Made in Flash, the game attempts to duplicate the gameplay of Super Meat Boy, but instead it’s the Meaty guy that’s the bad guy this time as he exacts bloody, vengeance because his girlfriend has decided that she prefers tofu. Or something.
Amanita Design, the independent Czech game developers behind the fantastic little point-and-click adventure game Machinarium are offering pirates a chance to redeem themselves if they didn’t pay for the game the first time around as they hold a “pirate amnesty sale” offering the game for just $US5.
Machinarium was released in October 2009 with critical acclaim but without any form of DRM – something that many seem to have taken advantage of. Amanita claim that from feedback they have gathered, they believe that only 5-15% of people playing the game actually paid for it. A crying shame, too as it really is a funny, endearing and puzzling little game. $20 is totally worth it and $5 is a steal.
Amanita are quick to add, on their site, that they don’t think that people buying it now necessarily pirated it, so don’t feel like you’re being judged.
It’s an awesome little game that you really should check out if you still have room in your heart for whimsy. The promo image on the site is also fantastic. I hear it’s a bit familiar to some people but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
iBuyPower created a new system that will enable any game to played via multitouch, regardless of whether the game’s creators gave it so much as a thought.
Magic, which is short for Multitouch Advanced Gaming Interface and Control, is a proprietary piece of code designed specifically for the company’s own touch-enabled laptops, and it works by linking a multitouch gesture to a command the game already understands, emulating multitouch commands by mapping keystrokes or mouse clicks. Best of all, it’s available now as a gratis download
Right now it is only for their own hardware, but no doubt hackers will have this working on Dells, Alienwares, Lenovos and HPs etc.