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Author Topic: TIGSOURCE GUEST ARTICLES  (Read 52572 times)
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« on: January 05, 2010, 06:14:09 PM »

To try and get some new perspectives on the front page (and have more content in general), I'm rebooting the guest article submission thread.  I'll keep it simple with a few rules/notes:

WizardHand Point Right 1. Do not post anything here other than an article you are submitting.

If you have notes to accompany your article, please make it clear where the notes stop and the article begins.

  NinjaHand Point Right 2. Please submit an image to go with the article, if possible.

They should be crisp, with no watermarks.

  TigerHand Point Right 3. Do not write about a game/tool/website you are working on.

  PandaHand Point Right 4. Check if the game has been covered on the front page already.

  NoirHand Point Right 5. Please proofread your work before submitting!

Things to be aware of: run-on sentences (periods are your friends!), useless words ("he worked to make it" -> "he made it"), not getting the name right (TIGSource not TigSource, Xbox Live Indie Games not XBOX Indie Games), etc.

If you read the site (and I hope you do), then you should know what's appropriate and not appropriate.  Generally, I just try to point out a few things that stuck out to me and maybe make a recommendation if I think the game is particularly brilliant or mediocre.

Hopefully we'll see some new blood on the front page!
« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 04:58:39 PM by Derek » Logged
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 08:26:25 AM »

http://hermitgames.com/’ Leave Home is a procedural, scrolling, score attack shooter. This basically means that the “levels” take shape depending on how you play. You can simply describe it as “do good = more stuff” but there’s a bit more to it than that. The smoothness of how the levels change is admirable, during my first couple of playthroughs I didn’t realize it got progressively harder the better I was playinh. When I started learning the enemy and bullet patterns, thus scoring more points, I began to see the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between a good and a bad playthrough. For example I reached an area in the third stage I had never seen before when I had racked up some massive points, it was quite the revelation. There is much more under the hood than just “more points = more enemies” and it’s incredibly satisfying to explore this.

At heart Leave Home is a scrolling shooter with a lot of what comes with the genre. Luckily Hermitgames has worked on these before (Fren-zE for example) and knows exactly how it's done. There are plenty of nods toward established games in the genre but the game still manages to feel fresh. The side-scrolling first level has a distinct Gradius-flavor, even similar enemy patterns. The fourth level feels like a nod towards Treasure’s Ikaruga and a late part of level 3 is pretty much an homage to Jeff Minter’s unreleased Unity project for GameCube. The two bosses you face at the end are very challenging and brings a definite bullet hell flavor to the game. Overall Leave Home feels like one big love letter to the shmup masters but because of the procedural nature it manages to keep it interesting. One of the more original gameplay elements is the ability to split shots with the right trigger, nothing fancy but it gives you a lot of extra control over how you play since the game lacks power-ups.

Leave Home is a fixed length game which essentially means a session will always take the same amount of time to complete. The beauty of this score attack mode of play is how it’s evolved in Leave Home as a result of the dynamic levels. If you do very good on level 3 for example you get to new parts of level 3 faster and these places generally have more possibilities to rack up a good score. The different ways you can play through a session, even though they’re all the same length, are staggering because of how the different stages change depending on how you do. If only XBLIG supported Leaderboards like XBLA does.. this would be the game to compete in.

Oh hey, did I mentioned that this game takes Rez and makes tough love to it to produce it’s graphics? The future-retro (yes, future-retro) flavor really makes the game pop out of the screen. Things explode into bursts of glowing particles and the clean cut shapes and black background work as great contrast to this light show. The music isn’t half bad either. Distorted squeaky acid basslines, glittering crunchy pads, Roland drum machines and other goodies go very well with the visuals and change seamlessly between levels.

The game is available for Xbox Live Indie Games for 240MS (roughly three puny earth dollars) and there's a free demo to go with that too so I urge you to take a look.


This is an edited version of an article I posted on my personal blog a while back, I hope this is not an issue. As such the personal slant might be a tiny bit over the top but hopefully it doesn't get in the way of the presentation. If I've made any odd errors I blame it on being Swedish Smiley Contact me if anything comes up!

// Posted!  Thanks for the article.  I corrected a misspelling "playinh" -Derek
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 06:25:25 PM by Derek » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 02:12:49 PM »

Okay so it's a couple of months late, but it still deserves mention.

Recently Team Effigy released the final version of their adventure game; “The Marionette.” After three years of development it is now playable, and it is quite interesting.

Taking the role of Martin, a struggling sculptor in the big city, you being by simply opening a letter. Soon you are transported into a surreal mystery of ghosts and the past, which you must solve if you ever want to get back home.

It's a great-looking game for one, deciding to go with a painted look as opposed to photographic or pixelized. The soundtrack is really good as well, and apparently you can get a copy of it if you send in a donation. The game has been self-rated as 16+ due to content, as there's some very violent imagery as well as more mature themes. It's also a bit of a downer so I don't recommend playing it if you want to have a really fun time.

Still, it has a really good story, so this is a definite play for you adventure-fans out there.

Hit up The Marionette (http://themarionette.game-host.org/index.php) or Team Effigy (http://www.teameffigy.com/) websites for more info and downloads.

// Article posted with some minor revisions.  Thanks! -Derek
« Last Edit: January 19, 2010, 05:51:06 AM by Derek » Logged

["Thread Reader" - Read a thread.]
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2010, 06:58:23 AM »

Square Off is a Xbox Live Indie Games title from Australian developer Gnomic Studios. An arcde-style shooter with a distinct cartoon art style, Square Off is one of the better games available from Microsoft's indie platform. Why? Here's why:

The concept of Square Off is rather simple really. You play as a little genetically engineered square made from a mad professor's brain cell and some alien DNA and your job is to wipe out the ongoing alien invasion. In practice this translates to a twin stick shooter with some twists. You control your little square (equipped with an adorable jetpack) with the right stick, aim with the left stick and shoot with the right trigger. During gameplay you can pick up an assortment of wondrous little powerups including a shotgun, a triple-barrel gun, bombs and a rocket launcher. The gameplay is very smooth and responsive, as it should be in a shooter, and the controls are simple yet functional.

In the main mode, the one were you fend off previously mentioned aliens, the game is split into 6 stages. These generally take the form of a few rooms connected by smaller corridors and they're all positively swarming with aliens. Again the gameplay is very basic but enjoyable, shoot the alien spawn and destroy the motherships and you move on to the next level. It's actually quite unforgiving at times for the lonely player, if you can't keep up with the alien spawn rate you can easily find yourself trapped in a narrow corridor unable to get through because your standard gun can't keep up with the rate of alien spawns. A small design flaw but it's uncommon during the game if you're playing on a decent level.

What makes Square Off stand out are mainly two things. First and foremost it's the focus on multiplayer. The main game (although a bit short) can and should be played with a friend or three. This makes the sometimes unforgiving levels both more fair and more enjoyable. Even the classic co-op "THAT POWERUP WAS MINE YOU IDIOT!" is there and I'm loving every second of it. This also takes care of the difficulty one might encounter when playing alone, it's clearly designed around multiplayer play. There's also a Death Match mode with three different gameplay options: To The Death, Frag Race and Time Limit. Going head to head with a few good friends in your couch makes for quite the killing fest.

The other thing that makes Square Off stand out is the delicious art style. Clearly inspired by The Behemoth's games, the cartoon style with the thick lines and great attention to facial expressions works very well. There's hardly anything to complain about here, this is definitely one of the better looking games on XBLIG. The sound and music almost reaches the same level too. The sound effects work perfectly with the game and the dramatic music gives the game a tongue-in-cheek serious tone.

Square Off does have some small issues though. The first and arguably biggest is the lack of online multiplayer. While this is uncommon for XBLIG titles in general, it would've taken this particular game to the next level. Other than that there could've been more variation when it comes to the enemies, most of them are of the same type (and look) and just keeps chasing you. To be completely fair these are minor things when you look at the whole package. Square Off is one of the better games on XBLIG and for 240MS (3 PUNY EARTH DOLLARS) you can't go wrong with this. If you have friends to play with that is.

// Another great review, anosou, thanks! -Derek
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 05:23:25 PM by Derek » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2010, 02:57:08 AM »

I think I'm going to have to meet bento_smile.

This Is How Bees Work is from the creative minds of Jasper 'superflat' Byrne and bento_smile, and I know right now its a game I'm going to remember.  The passive and relaxing gameplay of bento_smile's games has never failed to bring a smile to my face, and This Is How Bees Work is no exception.

You open the game to be greeted by 2 simple instructions (Move and Plant) and a pleasantly relaxed queen bee resting on quite a comfy looking plant.  The contented smile on its face is a sign of things to come.

The joy of growing and harbouring a home for the bees made me feel like a good person.  When I would see the first forest I had created on the horizon I felt happy simply to see it from a distance as a measure of my achievement.
It also amazes me the sense of reward I got out of subtle graphical changes.  When I would spawn a purple tree or begin to collect red bees I began to genuinely feel like I had created something beautiful in this strange and weird magenta land.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a game for everyone.  Its lack of a superobjective and general endlessness might not appeal to those approaching it as a traditional game.  Its beauty lies in a desire to excel on your own terms.    If you got joy simply out of traversing the new environments in Knytt and Knytt Stories or seeing the new friends appear on your map in Tanaka's Friendly Adventure, I'm sure you'll garner some enjoyment out of this game, hampered only the brevity of the experience.

// Very nice review!  So I posted the hell out of it! -Derek
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 10:45:24 AM by Derek » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2010, 08:16:47 AM »

I live in Australia, and that means 2 things primarily;  I'm lazy and no matter where I live, American ghettoes usually have better internet than I do.  

This makes it incredibly hard to play new games and when inevitably I do hit the bandwidth cap halfway through the month, It'd be easy for me bored.  Luckily, there are games out there for the man with dial-up speed net and I find its my duty to share this joy that's accessible at 8 kb/s with the world.

Epicmafia is a nifty little game that streamlines and refines the popular forum game into something quite wonderful.  If I were to market it to the fratboy, I would call it an online multiplayer class-based thriller in a mafia setting.  For everyone else, Its a game of wits and psychology as all sides of the match attempt to root out the other.

The multiplayer suite itself is quite robust for a browser based game.  Once you register (a free, quick and easy process) its easy to jump into a match from the lobby or create your own match once you've learnt the ropes.  Quite quickly you'll begin to understand both the game specific slang and the easiest methods of beguiling your opponents.

The community is vibrant and very much alive and you'll soon begin to recognise 'famous faces' around the community.   Players are encouraged to both play by the rules and to not throw away matches carelessly due to an online high score board and one of the worlds only well implemented karma systems.  

In short this game manages to create interesting and incredibly entertaining gameplay in a lightweight and easy to understand package.  It is entertaining not on the basis of its amazing new engine but on the variety of people and strategies you'll come across and play with yourself.  To get started will take you less than 5 minutes, so why not give it a shot?



I'd really like to do a series of posts on games that can be played on slowed net/browser based games.  Just saying.

// Posted!  Thanks for another great article, dude! -Derek
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 10:30:05 AM by Derek » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2010, 10:12:53 PM »

Walker & Silhouette is an interactive fiction by Pacian, creator of Dead Like Ants and Gun Mute, among others. His latest game is set in a fantastical steampunk world and follows the two titular characters on a brief but enjoyable adventure.

In Gun Mute, Pacian made his game more accessible to those unfamiliar with Interactive Fiction by removing most of the directional keywords: Instead of east, west, north and south, the player only had to deal with forward and back. In Walker & Silhouette, he has taken this one step further by highlighting all the keywords within the text. Although you can still type them in if you want to, it's easier to simply click on the highlighted word. This system (which Pacian acknowledges as being derived from Blue Lacuna) makes the game very accessible and fluid. Moreover, when you're stuck on a puzzle, it's nice to know that you have all the pieces in front of you, not hidden away somewhere.

Ultimately, though, this kind of neat gimmick would mean nothing if the story itself were not up to scratch, and fortunately Pacian delivers on this front. His writing is frequently witty and amusing, with the banter between the two characters being his greatest strength. On the other hand, telling the story from both characters' perspectives gives them a little more depth than your standard comedy duo. The puzzles, though few in number, are enjoyable and intuitive. You're unlikely to feel frustrated at any point in the game, but IF veterans may find it a little too easy.

The only criticism that I could level against the game is that it's too short - about 20-30 minutes playtime at the most. This isn't really a problem in itself, especially as Pacian has said that he is considering extending the story with a series of episodic sequels. However, the story in this first 'episode' is a bit too big to fit into the small space provided, resulting in a slightly rushed feeling toward the end. But this is only a small blot on an otherwise charming and memorable little game.

// Posted!  This is awesome, William. -Derek
« Last Edit: January 30, 2010, 04:04:28 AM by Derek » Logged

« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2010, 02:19:37 PM »

Songs for the Cure '10 Release Date

[optimally replace image with the cancerdrive's official


The Indie Music Cancer Drive has announced March 1st, 2010 as the release date for Songs for the Cure '10. A new website has been launched for the campaign at www.cancerdrive.org, where you can already pre-order the CD.

Songs for the Cure '10 is the 3rd compilation by the Indie Music Cancer Drive, an organization that coordinates the efforts and talents of performers and composers from across the world in order to raise money to fight cancer and give support to victims and their families. All of the music for each album is composed specifically or exclusively appears on its compilation, with the primary goal of raising money for the cause.

With the drive's past success (it has raised over $6000 since it began in 2008) organizer Josh Whelchel has gotten even more ambitious this year, setting a $10000 goal, of which all proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society! While this seems quite high, a glance at the CD itself shows that Whelchel is dead serious. This year's album features over THIRTY talented indie artists, all who have contributed music exclusive to the CD, and includes a wide range of music ranging from "...Pop, Jazz, Instrumental, Orchestral, Fusion, Alternative, Rock, Chiptunes, Musique Concrète, and even video-game-arrangements."

Some names you might recognize that will be appearing on the album:

// Posted.  Thanks, Chevy. Smiley -Derek
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 09:45:41 AM by Derek » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2010, 02:05:55 PM »

Game difficulty is a black art in video games. What is it about how a game plays that makes the player blame themselves for their mistakes rather than blaming the game? And why does it become the most important thing in your life to JUST GET THAT TINY BIT FURTHER... There is some unknown balance that must be precision perfect and as such few games can claim to own an addictive difficulty.

But every so often one pops up that you find you cannot tear yourself away from. PROBABILITY ZERO is one such case. Taking after Spelunky and combining platforming with procedural generation makes this game sadistically difficult and extremely replayable.

The clever upgrade system gives you the option to pursue different playing styles, which according to player feedback appear to all be well balanced, only adds replay value and more incentive to keep playing and get better. Frightened off by the huge amount of upgrades? WORRY NOT, for the strangely attractive Droqen has provided you with two game modes: 'Potential', where upgrades are earnt slowly through the game, and 'Talent', where you start off with upgrade points, giving you a chance to test out different arcs. Perfect for beginners!

Aside from this you find a wide variety of very unique enemies and a lovely minimal silhouette art style that gives this game a brilliant sense of design in it's simplicity. Top this off with incredible music by yours truly in an adaptive style, changing continuously based on your situation, this game sucks you in and just refuses to spit you out. Having recently reached version 1.00, what better time to check this great game out?

NOTE - I did make the music for this game but this isn't why i made this article Tongue I really think it deserves recognition, it's managed to get a good few members joining to post about it. Check the topic and it's manbaby goodness

EDIT: thanks, chevy. i was thinking the same thing
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 11:41:43 AM by JMickle » Logged


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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 02:07:05 PM »


So I wrote this thing here about an art exhibition featuring games.

I sent it to Eurogamer, they didn't reply Cry

Sloppy seconds for you then if you like. Not sure if it's right for TIGsource, it's just a load of little indie game reviews essentially rather than anything too art focused.

Anyhow it's below this line. The image is from The Night Journey.


Space Invaders: Art in the Computer Game Environment is a not exactly overdue attempt at moving on the debacle of a debate that is 'are video games art' from simply whether the two should share a sentence, into whether they should share a room.

Situated across the three typically New Media focused gallery spaces of Liverpool's Fact Cinema, the exhibition seeks to apparently �CuteXdoom II by Anita Fontaine, the sort of deranged nightmare a techno obsessed, 4 year old Tim Burton might have imagined. Based on the Unreal Tournament III engine it features enough strikingly malevolent looking teddy bears dripping in day-glo neon to overlook the fact, as a game, it solely amounts to fetching a few tokens and watching the screen collapse into an (admittedly rather cool) green pixelated mess.

Exhibited as the winning entry in a competition (in collaboration with the Experimental Gameplay Project) to make a game based around the theme of 'art', And Everything Started To Fall by Alexitron is an enjoyable, if a little predictable, nod to the 'Profound Indie Game' template. Allying classic old school game mechanics with social and existential commentary, in this case: the journey through life. Urged by time (as in the rising screen) into an ever upward ascent of near impossible 2D precision platforming, you start at birth, jumping though school, work and marriage until ultimately death. While different paths through the game representing different choices in life (e.g. skiving off smoking is an easier route than studying), and the characters movements slowing down in old age are some of neat ideas, its place in the exhibition merely highlights games generally naïve, gimmicky approach towards presenting meaningful messages.

Oddly the exhibition doesn't provide information how any of the games should be played, but while both most are simplistic enough to be relatively accessible for the general audience, Onteca's Monsteca Corral is impenetrable. Even the pleasant lady paid to stand around being pleasant and helpful couldn't help. According to Onteca's website it's a RTS being released on WiiWare later this year, hopefully they'll provide instructions.

The largest space of the exhibition is also the most traditionally 'art'. COSplayers by Cao Fei is a video installation that attempts to illuminate the average life of a typical Chinese Cosplayer beyond their presumably hectic fan convention commitments. Cue shots of grown men, with enormous green hair, in leather bondage, eating TV dinners with their Mums. Beyond that is a pixelated video of some people doing parcour (Ludic Society's Real Play) which completely fails to mention Mirrors Edge or indeed Cananbalt, some photos of Chinese World of Warcraft sweatshops with some fun pop culture economics about their impact on the game (Chinese Gold by Umbermorgen), and an umbrella that makes terrifyingly loud noises whenever you swing it (Amagatana by Yuichiro Katsumoto), although why you would want to swing it is anyone's guess.

The room also features some playable commercial games, GTA IV and Fracture, presumably because they let you explore a 'virtual space', and Counterstrike because, in theory at least, whenever you're killed or shot in the game an elaborate looking contraption of blood bags will start leaking down the wall (Riley Harmon's What It Is Without the Hand That Wields It). In theory at least. Finally there's a rather adorable make and do section from Aram Bartholl called First Person Shooter where you construct paper glasses with FPS style guns in the lenses, enabling anyone who should wish to psychotically walk down the street shooting people with their imagination. At last!

The final area features a more eclectic selection of games, the least traditional of which being LevelHead by Julian Oliver. Rather like Sony's interactive card game for PlaystationEye, a camera picks up the movements of a cube you control with each face appearing on the screen as a level, as you tilt the cube the character inside the cube moves accordingly. It's pretty basic puzzle game and about as technology advanced as the power light on Project Natal, but in terms of games in an exhibition space it's one of the most intriguing, and perhaps more importantly, accessible games on display.

Perhaps the best game of the exhibition, Night Journey by Bill Viola (a non-game artist) and the USC EA (!?) Game Innovation Lab is a supremely creepy affair dripping with unresolved suspense. Wholly immersed, thanks to a projection screen the size of a house, you control some... 'thing' crawling painfully slow along the floor, the grainy black and white visuals tearing and bleeding into one another as you explore the barren landscape to no apparent end other then the fact it's a bit menacing. There's even a 'reflect' button that triggers ominous noises as you pause to look at things sinisterly! God knows what it's about, but this needs to be an actual game.  

The final highlight, from the generally rather awesome Mark Essen (Messhof) is also the sole game to have been specifically commissioned for the event. Far more subdued than his usual paeans to epileptic fit inducement, Malfunction tasks the player with guiding a astronaut through the gravity-free bowels of a spaceship, the twist (according the program at least) being past attendees playthroughs aid you throughout your experience, working with people you've never met to try and beat the game. It's a fascinating example of how games can be stretched and fitted for a gallery situation, one made all the more frustrating by its seemingly complete absence from the actual game. Aside from the aimlessly spinning bodies of the exhibitions former players, it doesn't appear to be more than a stylish bit of ambient gaming with a few switch pushing puzzles thrown in.

Elsewhere, ubiquitous thatgamecompany art game staple Flower is bestowed a peacefully secluded projector for contemplative breeze simulating indulgence. Colossal Cave Adventure by William Crowther & Don Woods, a text adventure which, much like most text adventures, is probably totally amazing if only the dialogue options didn't feel as futile as asking hole in the wall about it's holidays. Lastly a video demonstration of the flawlessly confusing, and sadly not real, Video Terraform Dance Party by Jeremy Bailey. It shows a sort of city building game that for some reason ends with the burgeoning metropolis going bankrupt, fruitlessly declaring war on it's neighbours and celebrating its demise from an imminent falling atomic bomb by turning purple and dancing to 'There's No Limit'. Will Wright take note.

The fact the most successful games of 'Space Invaders...' come from a traditional, non-game, artist (Night Journey), have been created especially for exhibition (Malfunction), and don't feature a 3rd party Xbox controller (LevelHead) are telling for this and similar events in the future. Rather than simply a highbrow gaming convention, placing ordinary or commercial games on a pedestal, developers should be being challenged to utilise the environments and opportunities afforded by galleries. By engaging, exciting and surprising the audience, games can deliver something unique to a gallery opening them up to a whole new audience as well as invigorating an established one. But for exhibitions like this to truly succeed they shouldn't be trying to justify today's games as art, they should be trying to aspire tomorrow's art to be games. Then maybe, that debacle of a debate might really start to be worth having.

Space Invaders: Art in the Computer Game Environment runs at Fact Liverpool until Sunday 21 February.

Thomas Maxwell-Smith


Edit: flaunted my new found URL BBCode abilities (THANKS!), and added a new dramatic comma.

// Posted, Thomas.  Sorry it took so long.  I made a number of edits... the writing isn't bad, but your prose is kinda overwrought.  A lot of convoluted sentences and redundant words.  Study Strunk and White! -Derek
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 02:17:35 PM by Derek » Logged
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2010, 12:26:20 PM »

Your Doodles Are Bugged! is quite the game. Created by German developer Spyn Doctor (responsible for Golden Tangram and Kuchibi), this is one of the most unique, personal games on Xbox Live Indie Games.

So, what the heck is it? Well, to speak in gamer’s terms, it’s a combination between Lemmings and Paint. It’s genius in it’s simplicity. Your task is to guide the little bugs to the jar of honey, passing the various “doodles” that block your way or form your path. To do this you basically draw lines for the bugs to jump and walk on. The gameplay is almost rudely intuitive and it’s a breath of fresh air in an ocean of twin-stick shooters, platformers and massaging apps.

You control your doodling pen with the right analog stick that responds pretty well to your touch. To draw you hold down A and to erase you hold down X, simple as that. You can go faster by holding the right trigger, a much appreciated addition for the bigger levels, and you can undo with the B button. The most important control feature is the ability to zoom. The levels in YDAB! are remarkably advanced at times and without zooming on you wouldn’t have much luck trying to complete it.

To add a bit more depth to the gameplay you have a limited supply of ink. This might seem obvious and harmless at first but really provides a challenge in the later, densely doodle-populated levels. It’s really good fun trying to figure out the best way through the dragons and clouds and fishes and smiling faces and trolls and squids and trees and birds and.. oh sorry, kinda lost my trace of thought there. What I mean is, there’s much challenge in just finding the least ink-draining route. You soon figure out that you might only need a little dot to get your bugs over a gap that a lesser player just would’ve made a bridge over. Overall it’s a very rewarding albeit sometimes time-consuming experience to make it perfect. Add to this a classic timer to compare your high-score to your friends and you’ve got some terribly addicting gameplay. Add to that some very clean and pretty the doodled graphics, in-game tutorials and an adorable story and you end up with quite the package.

I have a few very minor issues with the game though. The first, and least intrusive, is in regards to the music. There’s only one track looping infinitely and even though I appreciate chiptune-infused folk music for mandolin and accordion as much as the next guy it gets a bit grating after a while. Another issue is that the bugs can be quite the little assholes at times. If one of your drawings is a pixel off that might result in a squadron of bugs leaping to their death. It does add a lot to the challenge and you get used to it but it’s still a bit disturbing.

Overall though, YDAB! is one of the absolute best on Xbox Live Indie Games. The amount of love and polish in this game is just amazing. There are plenty of levels and they’re suitable for a pick-up-and-play session basically anytime. I mean really, for 80MS (1 PUNY EARTH DOLLAR!) you’d be an idiot not to pick this up. There I said it, you’d be an idiot.

So here's another review piece for ya, this game is really fantastic so I hope this gets published to enlighten the masses. I tried to proof-read it best I could but some grammar error might've slipped in, if so feel free to correct them as always! Love love love love  Gentleman
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 12:36:23 PM by anosou » Logged
Alec S.
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2010, 05:19:21 PM »

Babies Dream of Dead Worlds

Babies Dream of Dead Worlds is a game by Gregory Weir (http://ludusnovus.net/) (I Fell in Love with the Majesty of Colors).  The game takes place inside the dreams of babies.  These babies are dreaming of a world inhabited by strange tentacle creatures.  In each level, there is a center line of gravity, meaning that when you are above the line, gravity pulls down, and when you are below the line, gravity pulls up.  The creatures have tentacles both below and above their body, so they can walk properly on either side of the line.  There are also rifts which serve as obstacles in your progress as they will send you back in the level if you touch them.

After a tutorial, the game follows the lives of three of these creatures.  These three storylines are running parallel to each other.  The beginnings of all three stories are unlocked right after the tutorial, and each story has three stages which can be unlocked by playing the previous stage in that story.  This means that you can move between stories after beating each level.  These stages take place in a different baby’s dream and depict an episode in one of the three creatures’ lives.
Two of the stories follow rather standard videogame tropes, one of which has you racing through increasingly difficult stages, while another has you collecting coins.  However, another story puts you in the roll of a researcher studying the riffs.  As the researcher, you can talk to people and see their reactions to the events unfolding in the storyline (which could also be representing the gaming trope of talking to everyone in town in a RPG).   It would spoil too much to say what exactly happens in the researcher storyline, but the researcher discovers something that puts the rest of the game into its context.

The game really manages to build a strong sense of mood while also maintaining well-designed and challenging gameplay.   The game is built on a strong platforming mechanic created by the gravity system.  As things get worse for the world in which these creatures live, the game naturally gets harder.  The storyline and the gameplay feed into each other making what seemed at first to be simple actions of racing, collecting and talking take on more meaning.  The game analyzes these gaming tropes and gives them more meaning.  The characters in this game, despite being strange tentacle creatures, feel very human in their actions and reactions.

The game is rather quick to play through, although there is some added replay value in getting faster times on races and more coins in the collection levels.  You can play it online here (http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/526456).

// Oop - this one was posted a while back!  I just forgot to check it off here.  Thanks, malec! -Derek
« Last Edit: March 28, 2010, 05:54:09 PM by Derek » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2010, 04:43:22 PM »

Crate Expectations is an XBOX Indie Games title released in October last year, it didn't receive a lot of coverage at the time which is a real shame. XBIG is a strange service with an eclectic mix of the great and the terrible and sadly real gems such as this can just sink into the depths of XBOX menus never to be seen again. The developer recently released a patch for the game and so now seems as good a time as ever to shed some light on this lovely game that may have passed you by. I even contacted the developers to see if they could tell us a little more about their experience developing for XBIG.

Looking at screenshots your first impression is probably that this is a Sokoban style block pushing puzzle, that was certainly what I'd thought, but the reality is very different. Create Expectations is actually a fiendish multiplayer strategy game. While the goal of the game is simply to spawn your blocks and push them along a sliding surface to the exit, there's no real puzzle to how you're going to get there. The real challenge of the game comes from the other players, whether they be AI or ideally your friends, as you find ways to get your blocks to the exit while simultaneously stalling and screwing over your opponents attempts to do the same.

At its absolute best this becomes a chess like process of thinking multiple moves ahead. Deciding how many turns will it take them to reach the goal and figuring how can you increase that number for them. You can spawn ice blocks that will disrupt them for a few turns or even sacrifice some of your own blocks, leaving them static while they halt your opponents progress. A massive selection of maps each presenting different routes and bottle necks means there's a huge amount of depth to the tactics and strategies to employ in winning.

In terms of graphics and level of polish the screenshots almost speak for themselves, it's clear the developers put as much care and attention into this as any commercial title seen on XBOX Live Arcade.

So what's the catch here? Why didn't this game make a bigger splash when it came out? Well I think this game was always going to have a hard time reaching the kind of players who'd love it. It has the look of a casual puzzle game but is in fact something for people into multiplayer strategy. While the AI is perfectly sufficient at kicking your ass if you set it hard enough, this is like Bomberman in that the real fun comes from playing it with two mates in the room screaming at them when they've just totally shafted you.

If you're the type of person who's enjoyed sessions of Worms or Bomberman, can bring a few friends over to play a competitive game like this then there's a lot of joy to be had for only 240 Microsoft Points, so I would certainly suggest you dig into NXE menus and hunt for this title.

Finally, I contacted the developers to see if they'd answer a few questions about developing the game, rather than talking specifically of the game itself I thought it would be more interesting to find out about their experience developing for XBOX Indie Games and the lessons they've learned:

Where did the idea for Crate Expectations come from? Any other games that were influential in deciding to make it?

   Duncan: I'm probably going to come across as quite cryptic by saying this, but the idea was mostly a result of the circumstances under which we had to make it! I'll spare you the boring details, but initially we had a very small time window in which to develop the project, so we scoured through game ideas we'd had in the past to find something simple and fun that could be done justice in as little as a week of development. Crate Expectations was a distillation of a larger design that Alex had been dreaming of for some time that seemed to fit the bill.

   Alex: I originally came up with the idea behind Crate Expectations quite a while ago but it really was fleshed out when we started actually making the game. We wanted to make the kind of game that we wanted to play and we wanted to play something competitive, huddled around a TV in a cosy fashion but with the option to really play dirty as well. Crate Expectations kind of became a mash up of four player chess and the crate-pushing puzzle game, sokoban with a hefty spiking of something really evil like Sorry. Local multiplayer is very important to us in our games and we're really glad that it seems to be coming back in style!

How big was your development team and what kind of prior development experience did they have?

   Duncan: The core team at Haiku consists of myself (Duncan), Alex, and Jock. One designer who pretends to be a programmer, and two programmers who pretend to be designers. We had enough dirt on ex-colleagues and talented friends that they were easily blackmailed into showering us with the great quality artwork, trailers, music and sound that we wouldn't have had any hope of making ourselves!

   Alex: Jock and I have been in the industry for quite a while doing all sorts of things for all sorts of companies. Both of us worked on so called 'Triple A' titles before joining our previous employer, Outerlight, the creators of The Ship Online, where we met Duncan. We were, and possibly still are, working on something that's potentially related to The Ship in some way but we're wrapped up in so many NDAs that we couldn't say for certain. Crate Expectations is our baby though, we love it dearly and it's definitely the game I'm most proud of from my career so far.

Any important lessons you learned from making and releasing the game?

   Duncan: Maybe puns aren't as big a selling point as I'd like them to be! We fell in love with the name of the game as soon as it was suggested, never for a second considering changing it. In truth, I imagine a significant number of people probably thought "Crates? Nah" and skipped right over us. Box art and title are all people judge you on when scanning through the Xbox Indies section of the marketplace. I love both of ours very much indeed, but perhaps that love isn't universal.

   Alex: Yeah, we learnt a lot of lessons, mainly don't let your game look like a puzzle game when it's a strategy game. Everyone ends up sad - the puzzle game enthusiasts jump in and download the trial and have their minds blown when there's no puzzle to solve and the strategy game lovers skip straight over it because it's probably another crate pushing game. We had an absolutely amazing Trailer made up by a really great friend from The Creative Assembly, the guy that does all the trailers down there, but looking back on it, we should have added more text explaining what the game is actually about. I suppose if we're truly honest we also learnt that games built for the Xbox Indies Channel need to be made as quickly as possible to maximize the chances of profiting from them. Crate Expectations took two months for four people in total so the initial outlay was high and we certainly haven't made that back but we've learnt so much in the process that we think it was worth it.

Why did you decide to go with Xbox Indie Games as your target platform, any regrets with that decision?

   Duncan: Our main reason was the ease with which we could do so. We had the equipment and software we needed to get the game built ready to hand, and the costs of releasing on Xbox Indies is trivial in comparison to many other avenues. Plus developing using XNA is a real pleasure; it makes it easy for even rubbish programmers like myself to be productive!

   Alex: I suppose our only regret currently is that we didn't make a PC version of the game too. We're thinking very, very hard about that. There is a significant outlay of work to get the game's online multiplayer aspect working on PC and we're not entirely sure that it's going to be worth it but we've had such good feedback from the people who've actually played the Indies version that we're edging closer and closer to just doing it. The Indies Channel is a great place for people to start making games but there's no doubt that there is a larger market for strategy games like Crate Expectations on PC.

Can you share any future plans for Crate Expectations or new projects you're working now or would like to one day?

   Duncan: We've actually not long released our first update to Crate Expectations, which added a bunch of new levels and numerous fixes and improvements that should hopefully make the game far more accessible and enjoyable. Whether we'll do any more updates remains to be seen, but if there's anybody out there that would like to see it happen then speak up - it wouldn't take a great deal of encouragement for me to crack open the level editor again!

   Alex: As I mentioned above I think if we do anything with Crate Expectations it might be to make a PC version and look at Steam as a potential way of distributing the game. As for other projects, we have the aforementioned title that is very much under wraps at the moment, we're very, very excited about that though and then we have another Indies title that is coming along quite nicely. It's a totally different game to Crate Expectations but so far it's looking really promising. It's already fun to play with and it's very much still in the prototype stage.

NOTE: I reviewed this game for my podcast back when it came out, as it's never really received much coverage including on TIGSource I figured it would make a good candidate for a bit of an underdog title for the front page.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2010, 05:18:52 AM by PerrinAshcroft » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2010, 07:49:25 PM »

Digital: A Love Story is a free to download interactive story by Christine Love available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The game is set in 1988 and you begin the game with a threadbare interface closely resembling the Amiga's workbench. To progress through the game you must use your modem to dial into bulletin board systems (BBS), make friends and enemies, download utilities, hack into protected system and commit phone fraud to make long distance calls. The game has a wonderful retro feel that's going to tug strings of nostalgia for anyone who built up astronomical phone bills dialling into BBSs back before the internet became so widespread.

Parallels can be drawn to Introversion's Uplink but Digital is very much its own experience. While Uplink was driven by the game elements of upgrading your deck and breaking into systems in a cool cyberpunk-esque world, Digital keeps its focus on characters and storytelling and draws instead from the unglamorous nerdy reality of the pre-internet digital world. The tools at your disposals are primitive, but are interactive enough that it doesn't just feel like passive story.

I don't want to elaborate too much on the content of the story as finding that out is what makes this game worth playing, but the story is really well structured and paced taking you through quite an emotional three-act tale in only a few hours. While the primary story is a fairly serious affair, Christine is smart enough to include humorous side plots such as getting into arguments with Star Trek nerds, a level of attention to detail that keeps the world interesting.

On a technical level I was very impressed once I realised the game was built with Ren'Py, a python based tool for building Japanese style visual novels. The game has been customised to the point where it's unrecognisable from most projects build using those authoring tools. The interface is slick, the graphics are retro in a perfectly fitting manner and it includes a fantastic ambient soundtrack.

A game like this is unlikely to appeal to everyone, heavily story driven games are not to everyone's tastes. But for those of you willing to spend a few hours, working slowly through an intriguing piece of interactive narrative there is a lot to enjoy about this title. I considered nit picking at a few minor issues but it seemed silly when for the most part this is a game with a specific purpose in mind and it executes it brilliantly. Ultimately for me, when the ending finally came it was a truly emotional moment where I just didn't want to let go but knew I had to.

Note: I know I've only just posted another article that's not even up yet, but I loved this game so much I had to write something about it.

« Last Edit: March 05, 2010, 07:52:34 PM by PerrinAshcroft » Logged

« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2010, 05:36:33 PM »

Knot-Pharmacard Subcondition J, by Michael Brough (epilepsy warning!).

I would recommend playing the game before reading on...

There is something very beautiful about the nature of the delicate and tentative interactions that can occur when encountering an unfamiliar system for the first time.  Glum Buster is probably the canonical example for me.  However, in this case the experience for me is one of interaction without surety of the nature of the effect - even after the fact: "I am doing something, but I am not sure what and I am not sure what effect it is having - nonetheless, it feels meaningful".

Michael's description, which I think deserves inclusion, reads:

The idea behind this came from the theme "bricolage", meaning "a construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things". I went through a bunch of unfinished prototypes I had lying around, foetal games that will never see birth, and copied chunks of code out of each of them, pasted them into one file, and stuck some arbitrary interactions between them. There is a victory condition; it doesn't make much sense, but it is possible to reach a "you win" screen. Don't feel compelled to aim for this though, just do whatever.

The towlr games are not far removed from KPSJ experientially - they present situations with unknown mechanics - though I think they tend to be far more targeted at understanding (though I enjoy not understanding them as much as I enjoy understanding them).  Pandora's Gearbox comes to mind as well, though I think this is crucially different from all the other games mentioned because, in spite of hiding things, it allows for physical intuition, and relies on such reasoning.  

One might say that KPSJ, Glum Buster, and the towlr games rely on a certain sort of ludic knowledge and intuition of their own, though I think the nature of this familiarity is very different to mechanical knowledge.  

If one departs from systems that involve logical deduction, one can end up in a situation where exploration takes the form of an exhaustive search of a set range of interactions.  This happened in GB sometimes, though I didn't find it too much of an issue there.  This happens when I play towlr games, though usually none of them work and it's more a piece-of-mind exercise while I try to formulate other possible effective interactions and test the water.  This doesn't happen for me in KPSJ - I generally found myself overwhelmed by effect.

Some of Michael's other games can be found here.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 10:08:48 AM by increpare » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2010, 09:00:30 PM »

Mobile Bomb Squad is a puzzle-action game by fuegerstef, which is reminiscent of old top-down DOS games like Chip's Challenge and Hero's Heart. The player controls a muscled bomb technician who must destroy bombs that have been planted around the city, and eventually defeat the mysterious villain who is behind it all.

Most of the game involves pushing bombs and rockets around the screen, lining them up and then setting them off in a spectacular chain reaction. The goal is usually to destroy all the explosives in the level with a limited number of detonators. Fuegerstef does a good job of adding variety to the game, with new objectives and game elements appearing every few levels, but he never strays too far from the core concept. He also builds a nice difficulty curve, which (for me at least) was always challenging but rarely frustrating. Occasionally the mixture of action and puzzle elements can be annoying, when you've spent several minutes setting up an intricate arrangement of bombs only to be killed by a passing enemy - but these moments aren't particularly common.

The game's presentation is equally impressive. The graphics are charmingly retro, the interface is highly polished, and the dialogue between missions is often funny. Overall it really feels like a professional shareware game from some time in the 90s. The music doesn't quite live up to this  - there's only one track throughout the whole game, but it's reasonably good and not likely to drive you insane.

Mobile Bomb Squad has 30 levels in total and should take around 3 hours to complete. It's one of my favourite indie games released so far this year, and I highly recommend it.

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« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2010, 04:52:29 PM »

Speed. A great TDS.

Is this just another shump with boring old effects?
Wrong. This game has some amazing looking effects with the surface mode for the game.
With the surface game, it features a motion blur with no lag at all.
A great flamethrower that looks great as it gets shot out onto the playing field.

Unfortunately, The surface does not work on all PC's, so there has been a special one made for the computers who cannot take the surface. (As you can see up in the video its surface free)

This game may only have 2 powerups (Flamethrower, Watergun)
Flamethrower - Works very well when you are at low health, and need a few extra points.
Watergun - Does wide damage so you can get more enemys killed.

In this game, you can choose 3 difficulties!
Easy, Medium and hard mode!
Theres also a nice feature where you get to select your player sprite!
And your enemy sprite!
You can even select earthquake mode for an extra fun time.

(I found this game on gamejolt and really liked it.  http://gamejolt.com/freeware/games/shooter/speed/2036/)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2010, 04:56:09 PM by Paradox » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2010, 07:10:47 AM »

That's not a guest article you wrote, so I won't post it.

Please don't respond to this post here.  I just want to be clear that I am not accepting posts that other people wrote and/or published on another website.
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2010, 03:00:25 PM »

Sorry Derek, I get it what you mean... Alright I'll do it again. This game is completed from New Years Eve(This year), and it really needs a lot of attention...

Adrenaline is a 3d multiplayer top-down shooter game made with Game Maker. Features a lot of weapons you can use, four different game modes, and even more. You can log in either as guest or your account registered from Reflect Games (recommended). The game play starts with a battle from either single player or hosting a server (you may also find for hosted servers). Since there are no music in this game, you can use your favorite (I would say rock or heavy metal song) mp3 or ogg song files to play automatically and randomly in the game.

There are different goals in the game like, in deathmatch, you kill everyone or in conquest mode, you steal all the spawn points of the opposing team. Like other online shooter games, you can look your stats from the menu. You can also look the Online Leaderboard to see whose player got the highest set of records. Besides some ranged weapons, you can also use a  knife for melee attacks to swing at all sides, throw grenades to hurt or kill other players, and plant mines to kill a player when they stepped at it. In my opinion, this can be the best online shooters made with game maker. So far, this is one of my favorite online shooter games and I highly recommended it. You can check the game's site here. If you don't know the controls, check them here.

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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2010, 07:49:37 PM »

The YouTube video is an image.  I'm not certain that I can post the trailer directly.

Action Fist!

Beau Blyth, of Fish Face fame, recently released his largest work to date.  Action Fist! is a sidescrolling shoot-em-up modeled in the style of (and as a tribute to) classic games like Gunstar Heroes.

The basic premise is thus: Domingus, a man of action, has had everything he loves stolen from him by an insidious villain known only as the madman.  He and his monocle-wearing platonic lady friend Ina, armed to the teeth, will fight their way through countless dangers and hordes of robot guards to take back what's theirs.  (Well, Domingus', but you get the point.)

The game sports two-player co-op mode, several unlockables, fabulous music by the creator's brother, and a weapon upgrading mechanic that keeps gameplay feeling very dynamic.  It spans several stages, each split into two acts with a boss-fight at the end.  The stages are gorgeous and the boss battles polish them off expertly.  The alternate characters have different mechanics (which I won't spoil) and the difficulty modes range from relatively easy to near-impossible.  It took some effort on my part to beat normal mode but I'm a crappy gamer.  Replay value is quite present though--I've had three or four play-throughs and I'm not done yet!

Of special note to the game designers out there is the detailed polish that went into every corner of the game.  You might not notice while playing, but every enemy gives a warning prior to firing its weapon.  Sounds are used extensively.  Enemy bullets are easy to see.  The player characters flash visibly when hurt.  It's clear when you've defeated an enemy.  At times the game goes to lengths to sacrifice realism for player intuitiveness.  (See: in the highway level you can jump to shoot enemies behind you.)  Effort to this effect--gameplay tuning--has dramatically improved the feel of the game from its early versions.

My criticisms of the final cut are as follows:  The color-matching mechanic (wherein the player can do additional damage to enemies with like-colored bullets) seems ill-explained, and many of my friends didn't pick up on it.  The game's second level has no way to get power-ups.  The second-to-last boss is a pushover especially compared to the ones preceding it, and you can't wall jump until you double-jump.  The final fight is dramatically harder than the rest of the game, though I'm not certain if I really mind.  Lastly, the fun of massacring enemies with an upgraded weapon tends to be lost on less skilled players who die frequently, losing said upgrades.  Additionally, many of the weapon crates are well-hidden.

All that said, the ending deserves some kind of goddamned award.  The game's well worth the zero dollars you'll pay for it, so give it a try.  (Windows only)
« Last Edit: April 13, 2010, 09:24:11 PM by Cellulose Man » Logged

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