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« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2010, 08:49:49 PM »

Hero Core

Hero Core is the latest game from Daniel Remar, creator of the original Hero, Iji, Garden Gnome Carnage, among others. Hero Core is a direct sequel to Hero, though you shouldn't expect much in terms of story. There is a story here though, and while very simple, Daniel delivers it in a satisfying way.

The name of the game here is exploring the inner caves of an asteroid taken over by the war machines of Cruiser Tetron, who you must find and destroy once more, hopefully for good. The game manages to nail a Metroid-like feel with its open world and areas that can only be reached with certain upgrades (unless you know a few dirty tricks Wink ), and is surprisingly atmospheric for a game with such a low resolution and only black and white as colors. As well as the well-crafted graphics there's also the great soundtrack by Brother Android that further nails the feeling of playing one of the old classics.

Controls here are very simple. You move with the arrows keys, fire left with Z and right with X (both keys configurable), and new to the Hero games is an autofire toggle on the spacebar, which is certainly appreciated. While you'll only start seeing bullet-hell-level difficulty if you play on Hard mode, Normal still offers a decent challenge and should kill the average gamer at least a couple of times. The game's open nature and the ability to easily warp to any savepoints on the map encourages trying new paths if a certain room or boss is giving you too much trouble, hopefully to return with more upgrades.

There are very few criticisms I could give this game. The difficulty of some bosses and areas seems a little unbalanced compared to what you find after and before them, in higher dificulties not dying to certain rooms seems to be partially a matter of luck (though generous ammounts of skill certainly help even the odds), and the two-color palette lets you sometimes lose your Hero in the middle of all the madness enemies can unleash.

Thankfully none of those issues felt game-breaking and the game is perfectly beatable in all difficulties. Harder difficulties actually give you new maps to explore and differed enemy bullet patterns, which makes replaying the game a fair bit more enjoyable than it would normally be.

All in all, Hero Core costs the sexy price of 0 dollars and comes jam-packed of retro action, nice music, awesome boss fights, unlockables and a good few secrets. There's no reason not to try this game.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2010, 09:00:57 PM by Melly » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2010, 03:29:56 AM »

Samorost 2 Added to the Humble Indie Bundle

After a striking 80,000 people bought the Humble Indie Bundle, Amanita Design donated Samorost 2 to the package! Now, anyone who has already bought and everyone who does buy the Bundle while time lasts will be able to download the game.
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« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2010, 05:38:14 AM »

(NOTE: If you use this post, credit me as Gregory Weir. If this is too short, I can flesh it out. I also wrote about this game for my blog.  It's up to you if you want to put in a link or include excerpts or something from that post.)

Phenomenon 32 is a bleak game by Jonas Kyratzes, creator of the previously-featured House at Desert Bridge.  Earth is gone, destroyed in the 50s by a Reality Bomb based on the elusive Phenomenon 32.  The only surviving humans are on the Moon Colony, and they're running out of resources.  Your team must explore the distorted remains of Earth to find a solution, but the Reality Bomb has turned it into an alien mishmash of old buildings, twisted plants, and dangerous anomalies.

Phenomenon 32 is an exploration platformer in the vein of Zelda II.  Each area is represented by a spot on the overworld map, and contains resources as well as bits of technology that allow you to research enhancements to your initially fragile ship.  Reaching the exit of an area unlocks new areas, and many areas have multiple exits.

The game starts off quite hard; your ship has precious few hit points, your weapon is weak, and your movement is clumsy.  However, with a bit of exploration and expenditure of resources, your ship quickly becomes quite capable, although the threats in later areas will still prove challenging.  This is a huge game, with a broad array of new tools and enhancements for your ship and upwards of 35 levels.

The graphics and sound here are great.  The art is black-and-white, with the shapes of things just indistinct enough to look alien and uncanny.  The music ranges from atmospheric to downright nightmarish.  There's also full voice acting, which helps excuse the large download size.

The game has a pair of opening sequences that may drag on a bit longer than you'd like, but they can be skipped with the ENTER key and don't contain any essential gameplay information.  The game's also a little rough around the edges, in part due to outgrowing its development environment; Kyratzes claims it's the largest game ever made in Construct, and I'm inclined to believe him.  There's occasional slowdown and even rarer crashes, but nothing that should erase your progress or make the game unplayable.

This is a massive, creepy, challenging RPG platformer, and I highly recommend it.
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2010, 03:16:17 PM »

Indie City Meetup Round-up

Today was the inauguration of Indie City Meetup. The brainchild of Scott Roberts and Erin Robinson, Indie City Meetup is a new bimonthly get-together of Chicago-area indie game developers. There was a good turnout at today's event, with close to 30 people in attendance. The format was straightforward, with devs getting up and showing off their games, talking about how they developed them, and answering questions from the audience.

I started things off by presenting Telepath RPG: Servants of God, a strategy RPG I've been making in Flash for the past two-and-a-half years.

Next up was Erik Spitzer presenting the side-scrolling 3D platformer Project Stormos. Jay Pecho then presented IGF Student Showcase winner Devil's Tuning Fork, followed by Kevin Geisler and Kevin Zuhn presenting a physics/time-manipulation platformer called Witch When.

Christian Arca of Toy Studio presented Pet Rescue, a Facebook social game which sparked some interesting discussion about the psychology underlying the (apparent) appeal of apps like Farmville.

Next, Patrick Curry of Wideload Games gave a talk about how he became an indie, and gave advice on how to remain relevant as a designer.

Joe Hocking then presented his iPhone puzzle RPG Chronicles of Aerth, still early in development.

Finally, capping off the afternoon was Erin Robinson, presenting her recently-released AGS game Puzzle Bots and talking about the value of IGF judge feedback.

In theory, I videotaped the whole event, but due to some poor camerawork on my part and some technical snafus (e.g. my camera shutting itself off randomly, and then later running out of batteries), I only have a few isolated snippets worth showing. So, uh, yeah. I'll try to do better at that next time.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 11:21:04 AM by Craig Stern » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2010, 08:56:39 PM »

Title: Kometen

Developer: Erik Svedäng, Niklas Åkerblad

Players: 1

Reviewed on: iPod Touch

What is a game? Does it have to be something fun to play? Do you need to be able to win or lose? Does it need a clear objective? Is it a series of choices? Kometen is a “game” that will mess with some people’s ideals of what a game is which is no surprise coming from the guy who made Blueberry Gardens. It’s because Kometen not a “traditional” game as you can’t win or lose, there is no conflict, no official goals no way to die.  Personally I consider Kometen a game but I can also see an argument for it to be an interactive screensaver. But let’s not get too bogged down with the definition and for the sake of this article, Kometen is a game.

Kometen is a two dimensional exploration game that has you playing as a space comet discovering the major planets in the universe. You can find these planets on your own or with the assistances of the game guidance/gps system which you set to a planet you want to go to. However, like I said before, there are no real goals so you don’t have to discover them. There is no risk or reward apart being able to see the planet visually. There are also constantly moving sub planets scattered around the universe. These are sun like objects which you can use to move around via orbiting there gravitational field. To do so you simply tap on the planet you want to move to and physics will do the rest. There are also colorful pieces of space debris orbiting in rings around certain planets.You can eat these by floating over them and by doing so you fill up your boost meter gaining the ability to speed boost off an orbiting planet to a fixed direction by swiping the screen. Filling the meter up to the maximum gains you a major speed boost next swipe which sends you flying at light year speeds.

These are very simple mechanics with a unique movement scheme that does take some skill to master moving smoothly. The design choice of removing any pressure factors gives this game a very relaxing and ambient feel. Adding to this freedom factor is the ability to play this game while holding the iphone any way you like transitioning to fit with no interruption is just brilliant. If you exit the game, when you return it will be back exactly where you left off making it extremely assessible. If I had any complaints about the gameplay mechanics is that I would have like a way to not use your super speed boost when you meter is full. Also, the game does get very repetitive. Not because all you do is discover planets but every planet has the same orbiting speed. It would have made it more interesting to explore if certain planet orbiting speeds were slightly varied and it would have retain the ambient, relaxed mood.

As you can see from the screenshots, the art is wonderful. It’s has a very pretty water colored look going on that’s bright, colorful and soothing to the eye. Each major planet has its own unique artwork drawn on it and you can consider it to be the reward for finding the planet. However, while its got a great artsyle it feels viscerally lacking. The background of a nebula galaxy (or whatever it’s called) is static throughout the game. Also, the sub planets are all graphically identical orange sun like objects. I would have like to see more variety or even each major planet to be in its own “galaxy” (if that’s possible since you’re already in a galaxy) surrounded with distinct sub planet. These two factors inhibit the feel of exploring as it feels like you’re not making any progress. Also, a small complaint that didn’t really effect the game but worth mentioning, the space debris being shapes and sushi felt like an awkward juxtaposition of motifs of space and food and the cel shaded look of them goes against the water colored art style. 

Sound wise, it has some nice sound effects and are used well in the game. But the main looping sound track feels like a wrong choice of music. It’s a happy up-tempo track that does suit the game but I think it would have been better if the game had an ambient music score as it will better add towards the relaxed nature of the game.

Kometen is a nice game to play and chill to.  It’s a great example of an exploration game that you explore for exploration sake, something that is rarely well done in this medium. It has a pick up and play nature that’s also great to just sit around for an hour and be hypnotized with. I’d like to say it’s for everyone but I know some people are going to get turned off as it’s not a game in a traditional sense. But if you can look past that and the repetitiveness of the in game universe it’s worth a purchase.

However, I do recommend waiting for an update that makes the universe more varied and interesting to explore which looks the case according to Erik's Kometen Blog.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 11:22:31 PM by tim_the_tam » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2010, 08:17:30 AM »

Amazing Montreal Indie Scene Meet-up Extravaganza Round-Up

Laid back on my wooden chair, I was sinking my teeth in a delicious rabbit burger (I just had to order) when I noticed a bunch of fellow indie developers and game aficionados gather around the projector’s screen. I had recognized familiar faces, such as Fez-famed Phil Fish and Renaud Bédard, and already met a few fresh ones when the very first Amazing Montreal Indie Scene Meet-up Extravaganza officially began. With good food, good people and good beer, this last Wednesday evening had the right ingredients to make an excellent happening.

The gathering, organized by the two fine gentlemen that are Nick Rudzicz and Stephen Ascher (respectively Newton64 and Six from the TIGS forums), kicked things off with local indie developers showing off their work to the 25 players and developers who showed up in the downtown Montreal pub. No Fun Games, a group consisting of Renaud Bédard, Henk Boom, and Matthew Gallant, fired up the evening by showing their latest game Tea Time Quarrel. Created for TO Jam 5, this little game pits British gentlemen into an all out battle where the rules are decided by the players themselves. They also showcased a second game, Pax Britannica, a one button space battle RTS made for the GAMMA 4 event, which received some nice responses. Also under the spotlight was the unique and humoristic Rider Saves the World by the flamboyant Renaud (The Monster King from TIGS forums). This TO Jam 5 game can be described as “just like the Armageddon movie but with an afro guy and a space octopus”. As a treat, the ever popular and delightfully charming Fez was available for a quick spin and filled the room with sweet chiptunes and beautiful visuals. Throughout the evening, developers would take their turn to show their stuff while attendees discussed, met new people and enjoyed a cold one.

The evening was relaxed, friendly and spontaneous. Developers felt at ease to demonstrate their work and players enjoyed playing them. It truly reflected the image of the indie community. The gathering was a success and managed to attract over 30 individuals spread out throughout the evening, only using word-to-mouth. “It absolutely exceeded my expectations. I think there's a ton of talent in this town, and it was high time we all got together” said co-organizer Nick Rudzicz regarding the evening.  The indie community is alive in Montreal and its members aren’t afraid of lurking out of their lair and show what they can do. Toronto has the Hand Eye Society; Chicago has Indie City Games; Ottawa has Dirty Rectangles; it’s about time the Montreal indie developers formed their very own group. It is also interesting to note that the meetup attracted not just indie developers, but piqued the interest of developers in the mainstream industry and players with the itch of game creation as well. “I think it shows that there's a tremendous amount of latent interest in independent games in the city. It's definitely a good sign » said co-organizer Stephen Ascher.

I am eagerly waiting for the next evening and I am hoping truly hoping that these evenings will become a tradition here in Montreal. As a developer, it was pretty nice to see other people with the same passion about crafting awesome games. I can’t wait to see how this event will take shape during the months and years to come.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2010, 04:07:04 PM by Guert » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2010, 10:50:47 AM »

This month Fault Line was released.

I don't know if you've been following Nitrome. I know I sure wasn't. Their game Tiny Castle got a plug on the Indie Games Weblog as well as the AV Club's Sawbuck Gamer column. And it was an interesting game, more for it's idea that for how well it pulled it off.

But Fault Line has got me digging into their backlog.

In Fault Line, you play as a small and at least partially robotic hero working through a series of test chambers. Your primary ability: you can grab nodes on the walls and drag them together, compressing the Cartesian plane between:

It's a really interesting mechanic. Compressing nodes can be used to attach separated rooms, to redirect lasers into breakable glass boxes, make elevators move through two levels at once, make mines disappear, and break connections between boxes that shoot deadly beams between them. It's a small number of elements that yield a lot of puzzles. And the game does like to goose you on occasion, offering complex rooms with deceptively simple solutions.

Beyond that the game simply feels good to play. It has impeccable sound design and tuning, from the clang of every jump to the small amount of momentum your character builds up after running a half-second. While the flaunting of Euclidean geometry and test chamber environment does ring a bit of Portal, the game keeps a distinct and unique flavor. (It's actually kind of interesting how many puzzle games are being repurposed into platformers and FPS's.)

Fault Line isn't perfect, largely since you can breeze through its thirty levels in as many minutes. Its mechanics are well explored but the game ends just when you start following its logic; many levels can be solved by grabbing nodes at random until a solution presents itself, and I only felt like I was mastering it by the second playthrough. Which points out its only glaring flaw: it would kill with a level editor.
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« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2010, 08:20:28 PM »

His first game about crayons and drawing, Crayon Physics Deluxe (http://www.crayonphysics.com/), won the IGF Grand Prize in 2008 (http://www.igf.com/2008finalistswinners.html) and since then, Petri Purho has been developing experimental games (http://www.kloonigames.com/blog/games)on a monthly-basis. Cut It (http://www.kloonigames.com/blog/games/cutit) is his most recent project and features similar concepts seen in the latter game, but also introduces new ideas and offers a solid concept from which the crayon master can draw on.

The gameplay is simple enough: use scissors to cut a straight line across various pieces of construction paper in order to make the white square land on the green paper and be at a standstill for a few seconds. There are multiple ways to complete each level, and apparently, every level is possible to complete with a single snip. The gameplay itself is simple, offering no additional mechanics such as those seen in Crayon Physics Deluxe because it is only an experimental tech demo.

The levels themselves are difficult and require thought and practice to master. Luckily, the developer was smart enough to combat this by giving the player the ability to freely switch between any level at any time. Part of the difficulty may be due to the single cutting mechanic, or just me being bad at games.

Again like Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cut It features simple, yet functional design. Each level is constructed of well… construction paper and the objective is always clear, but requires experimentation to achieve. The game utilizes the Box 2D physics engine, so it’s no surprise that the physics are modeled accurately, but still feel a bit slide-y. It is available on both PC and Mac and run fine without any noticeable bugs. Probably one of the most striking (or soothing?) aspects of the game is the gentle piano music (http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/556467)that hums in the background and really sets a slow, relaxed mood for the game. I actually left the game on for at least an hour just listen to the single track.

Cut It is well worth your time and prevents the player from becoming frustrated. However, Petri Purho would likely have a hard time turning the concept into a full game due to the limited mechanics.
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« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2010, 12:11:23 AM »

In NeonPlat 2, white platforms need more neon, so Platdude takes his neon-painting pants to run and fill the platforms until his own doom. Soon, the screen overflows of baddies. Kinda like this:

It’s a fast crazy game by Jayenkai

In a general level, platforms spawn in waves and when all white ones are painted, next wave appears. Platdude can get several powerups; slow motion, wings, globes to throw on enemies and more.

The game plays like a combo of classic Mario Bros (climb the platforms), City Connection (paint them too), Space Invaders (they come in, from above). Combine that with crystal-clear audiovisuals, with simplistic art in salad-colors molten with laser precision.

So I wanna recommend checking out the high playability of this title. The arrow keys are responsive with fast acceleration and consistent jump height. The feeling of flow, thanks to the silk-smooth motion, makes NeonPlat 2 a magnitude more enjoyable than its predecessor. If you felt it in Knytt Stories, you know how much it does for sense of control.

It's a small game, a "quick fix" and it is rather replayable. You play for highscore; that worked in Tetris, and yes it works nicely here. Your learning curve is recorded on the start screen so you see improvement - and degradation - over time.

The multiplayer mode suits the game very well, and easily ends up in the playfulness of helping and nagging each other for highscores. The 8 game modes offer slight variations of the game flow, e.g. more baddies you can stomp on, boss-baddies, falling platforms. The "Classic" mode works very well, while the deadly "Spike-o-rama" is a bit unfair with its randomized platforms.

Despite the nice controls there's a problem; a couple of platforms sometimes spawn too tight, so you cannot reach the lower of the two. Eventually the game-mechanics remedy this problem, by making the platforms move slowly over the screen, so sooner or later the tight gap opens up and Platdude can continue painting the platform.

That's a tad bit tighter than the controls are.

The harder problem in the game is that the screen wraps around, and few can be good enough to track all enemies that fall down to reenter from above. So Platdude is doomed to get baddies crashing down on him, with little chance of avoidance. I think a next-slot system could have remedied that, delaying the falling enemies a moment (reminding of Tetris again).

Yeah, give this game a play! It's fast crazy and genuinely glows of happiness.

Keep these controls in mind:
Left/Right - run
Up/X - jump
Down - drop through floor
Z - throw globes
« Last Edit: July 31, 2010, 04:08:14 AM by JimmySH » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2010, 07:32:01 AM »

A Man With a Monocle (http://amanwithamonocle.neogen2.com) is a game written by Mike Domingues of Neogen2 Creations (http://www.neogen2.com).

It's a cute looking platformer with a very strong emphasis on the story and a moody atmosphere which by the way I have to say complements the story very well.

Here you play as Henry, a elderly man who sports a strange monocle, and you are about to embark in a very interesting adventure along with your rather weird ghost friend, Kain, who will also serve as your guide through most of the adventure.

Strangely enough, the story is one of the best parts of the game and in my opinion one of the best stories I've ever seen in a indie game. Not only it's unpredictable and full of unexpected events, but it's also very original and at the same time weird.
Kain, your ghost friend, is also one of the most charismatic and weird characters I've ever seen in a game, you just never know what to expect of him, what's is his purpose, or where the hell is he actually leading us.
I won't go into much more detail to avoid spoiling the story, but I have to say that the ending alone made it worth the price tag.

Now gameplay wise, it's a rather classic run n' jump game. It's pretty fun, there's lots of secret sections to discover, the level design is pretty good with a good variation between each level, but as for gameplay mechanics there isn't anything truly new here.

The sound is very well executed too with some really nice music, helping to create the moody atmoshpere I spoke about earlier.
The graphics are very 16 bit-ish, with some fine pixel art, and a very nice visual variation for each level, with a special mention to some of the backgrounds.

All in all it's a really good game for 10$, with a really good longevity and you can even make your own levels.

You can try out the demo here (http://amanwithamonocle.neogen2.com/downloads.html).


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« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2010, 07:55:34 AM »

Hello everyone. I wrote a review about the Unity based web game "Paper Moon." I've searched the internet and all I found was its entry on tigdb, not on the actual main site so I believe that no one has reviewed it yet. If they have, please ignore this post. I'm not a particularly good writer, so the article is of a pretty low standard, but then practise makes perfect and this is me practising.

Paper Moon is a 2.5D platformer developed by Canadian game developers "Infinite Ammo" (Who you may know as the developers of Aquaria.) It's built on the Unity game engine which means that if you have the right plug-in installed, you can play the game right out of your browser. This makes the game fairly accessible to a wide audience, but the problem is that it is the ONLY way to play it without a 3D monitor as the downloadable version of the game is presented in Stereoscopic 3D. Aside from the inclusion of 3D in the downloadable version, the two versions of the game are mostly identical.

Paper Moon features an incredible art style reminiscent of pop out books but with a dark, almost Noir style feel to it. The game will have you proceeding through many different environments including a beach, a cave and a few more. Each of the areas sticks to it's art style very closely, but each one feels distinctly different. For example the first area feels quite light and chilled out while the second feels far darker with ghosts patrolling the corridors and spikes all over the ground. The art style is good, and the strange mix of 2D and 3D is brilliant to the eye but unfortunately, because it's a 2D game in a 3D engine, there are some problems. For example, there is no option for anti-aliasing which as you can see, the game is in dire need of.

The gameplay is pretty standard for a platformer, but with an odd twist. Earlier I said that the art style is like that of a pop up book. Well, so is the gameplay. if you press the spacebar (or X if you're playing with an Xbox 360 controller like I was) parts of the foreground or background pop in and out. This can be used in various ways such as creating new paths for you to get across obstacles, or popping a rock into an enemy and knocking them off screen. It's a system that seems incredibly simple at first but ends up being fairly versatile towards the end. It also adds another element to the simple jump and run gameplay by making you time your jumps with the changing environment. 

The major drawback with Paper Moon is it's length. Now that I am fairly experienced with the game after completing my tenth playthrough, I can complete it in just under four minutes. That isn't to say that the game is only four minutes long though. There is a point in the first level where you can choose to go underground or overground, bringing the total amount of levels up from 3 to 4. You can only see one of the two middle levels in a single playthrough, so if you want to see the whole game then you have to play it twice. Throughout the second levels there are also multiple paths and multiple ways to reach the end, giving you even more of a reason to play through again.

On top of the branching levels, there are leaderboards and achievements on the web version of the game that provide a bit of replayability. They measure your score (Which is increased by picking up fruits throughout the game and completing certain challenges in your playthrough) and also the time on the clock at the end. If you're the kind of person who likes to collect achievements, then there are 22 for you to have a go at in Paper Moon. If you're the kind of person that likes to top leaderboards, then go ahead. Unfortunately, you have to register on the site in order to gain access to the achievements. The leaderboards are available to guests.
In conclusion, Paper Moon is a charming little platformer that has an interesting mechanic that takes full advantage of the 3D engine it is built on. The fact that it can be played straight out of your browser will make the game more accessible to some people but may irritate others as you have to install the Unity Web Player. If you're a fan of platformers such as P.B Winterbottom and Super Mario, then you should definately give this game a try. If you're a fan of leaderboards and achievements, then you should definately give this game a try. If you aren't any of those things, then it's probably worth giving it a try anyway.

You can play the browser version here and you can download the 3D version here. [/here] 
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« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2010, 12:01:07 AM »

Lunar Giant Studios Delve Deeper
Game Review and Interview

I have had the fortune to do a small interview with the developers at Lunar Giant Studios about their studio and first big game, Delve Deeper. That recently got released for PC, a release for Xbox Live Indie Games is planed for a near future.

Game Review:
Delve Deeper is essentially a turn based game where different groups, of five dwarfs, are sent by their wise king to dig into the mountain, steal from gnomes and kill each other for the treasure that the mountain contains. This game got some of the nicest 2D animations I have seen in a XNA title so far.

The Units:
Your dwarf team contains five members where each can have one of three roles.
Miner: Will let you move four tiles and carry six pieces of gems or gold. 300 HP
Scout: Move six tiles, carry four pieces of gems. 200 HP
Fighter: Move three tiles, carry pieces of gems. 500 HP <-- how many pieces?
Each character also have to possibility to carry one artifact ( with a random value, high value to negative value), the items you carry will only give you points if you return to you elevator, but there is also the possibility to trade in the relics for a few points at gnomish bank underground.

The gameplay:
In the beginning of each turn you have to select the kind of area you want to dig trough, dirt, stone, or deep, where each level in that order contains greater riches but also more dangerous enemies. After you placed your piece, you select one of your dwarves, and select where you want him to go (cost one point per tile he passes) if he stops in a tile that contains gold, gems or mithril he will star mining. If you reach an artifact chest you will get the chest in your inventory. It’s important to make sure your dwarves put up lights in the corridors since this is the only thing preventing random monsters from spawning, a spawned monster will move towards the closest dwarf. Some tactics are built around expanding a large dark area and the connecting it to one of your enemies tunnels. This will result in a massive invasion of enemies, and will keep him occupied while you can gather points.

All in all Delve Deeper is one of the most complete games I have seen for XNA that is not built around shooting lots of enemies from a top down view or jumping things with a character at high speed in a static environments. This is one of the games that shows that a small group of people can do different style game play and execute it.

Good luck in the future guys.

Gameplay Movie:


What was the main inspiration for Delve Deeper?
"While it’s a hugely action-intensive strategy game, Delve Deeper has Eurogame tabletop roots more than anything else. The game was originally a much simpler concept where you built tunnels and placed your Dwarf adventurers to control the best sections of the mine."
"As the new art became available we realized that we could jam it full of action and exploration themes, with monsters appearing from dark tunnels and relics guarded by dragons and combat and snarky humor. We knew it’d be a huge undertaking, but the result was worth the effort, even if it meant we’d moved so far from tabletop mechanics that it was a kind of game we hadn’t seen before."
What made you start your studio?
"To be heroes. For in the future of this planet Earth arose a world of unthinking, unfeeling machines. A world without fun, a world without games. A world without heroes."
"Humanity teetered at the brink, with only the distant memory of the heroes of our ages past. Those who could resist united, and a great and mighty battle was fought for the future of men. And as it seemed that all hope were lost, two Men and one Stig escaped through time and space. Returning to the year 2008, Lunar Giant was formed. A company with one purpose: to save the world."
"We also wanted to work towards revitalizing genres and concepts that bigger companies have abandoned or reimagined into an unrecognizable state. This is something which only an Independent company seems free to do."
How many people worked on the project?
"If you include the Stig as a person, that makes three of us in total. We’re a pretty small shop, so we had to design our own website as well, and we do all our own marketing. We three developers have to wear a lot of hats."
"So when you consider the amount of work required to get us here it looks more like 2 coders and 1 artist, plus about 1.5 sound engineers, 1 film editor, 1.75 marketers, 1.25 web developers and half a system administrator."
How long did it take you to complete the project?
"It was eighteen months total, working only under the cover of night to conceal our secret identities. Not having all three of us working full-time extended the development cycle.  It turned out to be a bit of a boon: it made sure that all of our ideas had time to get kicked around before we decided on anything."
"A sizable chunk of the development time was spent learning the coding languages and developing the art techniques we needed, as nobody on our team has ever tackled a project quite this huge or uniquely challenging.  Building the foundation for a functional infrastructure is invaluable though, so none of those sleepless nights went to waste. It was a pretty monumental undertaking."
What was it like making your first big game?
"Exciting and overwhelming. So much that goes into making a game that you take for granted as a player. When you need to do all of it yourself even the smallest functions become projects of their own. It can be hard to plan it all out ahead of time on your first run through."
"A few weeks in you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s hard to see the whole thing take shape as you’re doing it, but there those illuminating moments when you see real progress. That’s when it absolutely seems worth the three days without sleep you just spent getting it to work again."
What was the hardest challenge?
"Knowing when to stop! You have times where you do need to delay a release to add some polish or a few more user interface buttons. You also have times where the tester response has more good feedback than you can earnestly hope to implement. It’s very easy to get lost in all the ideas."
"Balancing 'can' from 'must' is fire that drives great game design. However, it becomes a Sisyphean struggle, and you lose big-picture perspective. What you leave out is just as important as what you add, as I’m sure the editors would agree!"
What is the next step?
"Saving the world one game a time is a pretty heavy task. We want to take stock of how far we’ve come, maybe take a nap, and then put our shoulders back against the stone.  One of the biggest next steps is building an engine to power our next games, integrate with what we have, and distribute to more platforms."
"And after a huge project like this we want to do a few tiny projects to play around with fun ideas while planning for the next big game. We're enjoying everything the indie game scene has to offer, and the great people we've met so far. It’s really exciting to see the possibilities for the future!"
Anything else you want to mention?
"Free People of Earth, we may be mighty heroes from the future, but we need you to stand with us!  Take up the fight!  Please visit our website for more information."
<<Spacelab Communications Terminated.>>


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« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2010, 01:05:39 AM »

Posted to my own blog, but thought it might be relevant to TIGSource's interests.

So, I just got back from my day at PAX. There was all sorts of delightful stuff on display, fun things to do, and some very impressive demos in the expo hall. The one game that I was utterly blown away by, however, was not LittleBigPlanet 2 or Duke Nukem Forever or Final Fantasy XIV, but a student game in the PAX 10 called Solace. Something that's been on my mind lately is the fact that while games, as a medium, have certainly been explored as a vessel for expressive artistic statement, gameplay has not often been a part of that. If you take Braid and remove the text, you end up with a puzzle game involving time manipulation that is barely about anything other than puzzles involving time manipulation. On the other hand, if you took Solace, removed the text, and replaced all the beautiful graphics and superb sound design with rectangles and beeps, it would still be about the five stages of grief as represented through the gameplay of its levels - the message would not be conveyed nearly so brilliantly, but nor would it be lost.

Certainly, there have been games in the past that conveyed an artistic statement through their gameplay. Passage springs immediately to mind, for example. But the thing about Passage is that while it may or may not be effective as art, it isn't really effective as a game. It merits exploration, and provokes thoughts, certainly, but doesn't really engage the player on a visceral level. In contrast, Solace is fun, challenging, and engaging. The visuals, audio, and level design are all deliberately tuned to evoke within the player echoes of the emotion that they represent. Not just through sympathetic sensory associations, the way a painting or poem or piece of music would - though Solace uses these idioms as well - but through the nuances of the gameplay. The structure of the game expects, and at times effectively requires, the player to demonstrate an understanding of the level's relevant emotion in order to successfully proceed through the game - and indeed enables the player to do so, with nothing more nuanced than a directional control and a fire button.

Solace, in addition to being a marvelous work of art in its own right, is a lesson to all game designers of what games have the potential to be. In my own game designs, I have often run into a tension between making my game artistically meaningful and having good, solid, fun gameplay. Solace, by being excellent in both regards, has taught me that this is a false dichotomy. If Portal is worthy of a place on a course syllabus, I believe Solace can be similarly instructive, to students and designers alike.

Dragondot 2 is out now! Go get it!
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« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2010, 12:25:52 PM »

First thing's first.
What is "Slime online 2"? Well, it's a sequel to "Slime online", pretty obviously. But more thorougly, it's an cute mmorpg where as you gang up online as cute cuddly slime characters! Together, exploring an huge world.
Cooperate by standing on-top of eachother, plant smelly chicken mines, dress up in crazy outfits themed from memes & much alike stuff, take the race, do quests, read books, and all that awesome stuff.  Gentleman

The game has RPG elements but is mostly a jump n' run, exploring mmorpg. It also has a day / night cycle that influences the gameplay.
You dress up your slime character and venture through a huge world as you take on quests and race challenges! SO2 was also a game much about the community contributing with sprites & ideas.


the games development progress majorly started to slow down as the developer had to look for a job, whilist the community slowly died away from SO2. SO2 ended up being pretty small, but still alive. That was, however, until BlaXun, the main developer, decided to quit working on it.

Why, you may ask? Well, since the game is developed in gamemaker 8, and there's a newly released decompiler that pretty much flushed away all his developing lusts. Which is a shame, really.

I decided to discuss the possibilities of making it open source with him. His thoughs about that was "No, the most people who uses gamemaker is kids and will just steal the illustrations and code of my game". Now, this is not all true...

Tigsource. I know a lot of people here knows Gamemaker pretty well, I know there's a lot of talented spriters here, too. I suspect at least someone knows creative commons well enough to explain thoroughly how it works, too? There should be some people here with a taste for games like this aswell!

Maybe we can convince BlaXun to releasing this game open source. It's much better off that way, since I know a guy is developing a 'cracked' server, AKA. one for the decompiled client, and that'd be such a shame if the game would end up in his hands. It's his game, he gets to decide, but I belive he needs faith in gamemaker developers!

If we convince him enough, he might actually consider it. It's all a matter to show him the power of a full-blown indie developing community.

Slime online 2 still has a huge lot of potential, and with a community to sprite and optimize its code, add content, etc. Could create a very big interest and an amazing community.

Maybe he will, maybe not. But I hope so2 can get some attention! That won't hurt!

What do you guys say? Are you up for it?  Hand Thumbs Up LeftWell, hello there!Hand Thumbs Up Right

« Reply #34 on: November 09, 2010, 02:27:03 AM »

Recent good Knytt Stories

Remember that pretty platformer that came with an intuitive level editor? Some of you liked the game enough to reach for user-made levels, coming regularly to Nifflas' Forums and the Knytt Stories Level Archive, but ultimately turned away as gems became rarer and harder to find. Good news for you: nice Knytt Stories are still being made, and I'm here to show them.

(Make sure that you have the latest version of Knytt Stories, or these levels might not run correctly.)

1. Shipwrecked, by egomassive, is an episodic adventure with custom graphics, ambience and carefully chosen music. You end up on an island, befriend a crab and find out that you're not alone. This level isn't very hard unless you go for one of the bonus endings.

2. The Valley by green.cookie. Three keys are lost in the vast peaceful world, go find them or just run around enjoying quirky textures until you get bored.

3. My Super Secret Basement by Sergio Cornaga. Your basement turns out to be much larger, deadlier and weirder than you thought. This level is unusual in its use of widely different tilesets and large animations. A couple of the challenges are very hard but also very close to savepoints.

4. Realms of the Pharaoh, by ozz, is a uniformly challenging level with detailed graphics that takes place in a pyramid. Jump over deadly pits, look for secret passages and flip through realms to join the pharaoh in one of them. Playthrough.

5. Key's Curse, by Dave Germain, contains three similar small puzzles. All platforms are locks so think before you collect keys or you will unlock all the way to spiky death.

6. Pixeled, by Comhon, starts as a single screen but then explodes into a large and moderately hostile level. Time to climb huge pixels to get to the UNDO button. Playthrough.

And if you're new to Knytt Stories, play through the official expansion, dessgeega's list of not-so-recent good levels, and her own levels as well (scroll down or page-search for "dessgeega").
« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 09:51:05 AM by ortoslon » Logged
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« Reply #35 on: November 12, 2010, 07:23:54 PM »

---EDIT: wow, scratch that, it's already been mentioned on TIGS. durr.---

Wolfire YouTube Subscriber Beard Drive

On November 3rd, John Graham of Wolfire announced he would shave his beard.

Two years ago John vowed not to shave his beard until Wolfire's game Overgrowth had a functional fighting engine. It hinged on three key features going into their home-grown engine:

-a fully animated ninja rabbit player character
-sound and particle effects on collisions
-seamless transfer from rigid to ragdoll states

These are all complete. The beard is coming off. But as Wolfire is wont to do, it won't come off without a crazy promotion! Hence: The Beard Drive.

John announced that, if Wolfire could break 5,000 YouTube subscribers inside of 2 weeks, he would shave his beard live via webcam. At 7,500 subscribers, he'd also shave his head. And if they make it to 10,000 subscribers before November 20th, he'll let the community vote on what he must do with his hairstyle. He is a man of his word; this is a man who promised to dye the beard pink if their Organic Indie Pre-Order Pack broke 10,000 sales.

And it was so.

Upon announcing The Beard Drive, they got about 1,000 new subscribers in 2 days. And in the week since, they've pulled in another 800.

If my math is correct, the shaving date is November 17th. We'd all like to see John bald, and I for one wouldn't mind seeing the subscribers bump all the way up to 10,000. There isn't much time. You can subscribe here.

If you need convincing, check out this recent Alpha Update video:


Ah, leg cannon.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 08:02:43 AM by Peevish » Logged
« Reply #36 on: November 14, 2010, 06:59:37 AM »

Crystal Wave and Sky Scream

Johnny B. of Golden Beast Studios (Anyman, Techno-Drone Alliance) has started a rapid development project called Lazy Brain Games. His goal is to release one game per week, restricted to NES graphics and 8-bit sounds. So far he’s made two little shmups controlled with WASD+mouse.

Crystal Wave is a score-based arena shooter that plays a lot like JW’s Coptra: it goes from easy to crazy in thirty seconds as enemies come from all directions. Score mostly comes in the form of large gems that fly randomly across the screen. The game has a small online highscore table, currently occupied by yours truly.

Sky Scream is a vertical shooter inspired by Sin and Punishment, Contra and Megaman. It takes about four minutes to beat the game but it’s hard enough that you won't reach the end on your first try. The colorful background looks great in motion:

« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 02:41:19 AM by ortoslon » Logged
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« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2010, 06:26:35 AM »

Temporal by Renbo is a platform puzzle time travel game about a robot trying to get out of a space station laboratory. It's not a new game (it was released in October 2008, and the Tick Update was in July 2009), but it hasn't received as much attention as it deserves, so... let's review it!

It's a time travel game at heart, so if you liked Chronotron, Braid, or any similar games, you'll love this game. The puzzles are original, the story is gripping, the jokes are funny, and it's free to play too. It also has online leaderboards.

The graphics are cute, and look vaguely comic-book style with black outlines and solid colours everywhere, as you can see on the screenshot above. The graphics favour attractiveness over realism; that's why you're in a space station with neon blue walls, and the boxes are orange with gaping holes in them.

The gameplay is great. Your goal in each level is to get the robot to a door. The game has crates to push around, buttons, doors, lifts, sensor beams, deadly particle beams, and later on more exotic elements like destructible walls, explosive crates and time stops. Oh, and time machines of course. Each level is unique, and explores a different aspect of the game mechanics. Yes, you can cause a temporal paradox if you're not careful, but this only results in a small score penalty. It's easy enough to beat the entire story with no paradoxes, and most of the bonus challenges can be solved paradox-free too.

The music is nice; it's usually quiet enough to let you concentrate, but it's more dramatic during boss fights, and different again after you've beaten a level or when you watch a replay. I particularly love the sound effect the time machine makes as it charges up. It's also a nice touch how most of the sound effects are louder when you're closer to the source.

The story, which in and of itself is good, is integrated very well with the rest of the gameplay. It's mostly told through short pieces of dialogue that don't interrupt gameplay (usually between the player character and his internal Technological Processor, who provides exposition and gets annoyed). More importantly, the story is integrated with the level design, by incorporating story-relevant signs, rooms, and switches with the game's puzzles. It's also very funny.

The game has its own community, where new players can ask for help with difficult puzzles and veterans compare their scores. Each level tracks the time it took you to solve it (player time, not game time - it's not often that you have to specify), the number of paradoxes you created, and in Tick mode, how many Ticks you collected. As mentioned above, there is a leaderboard, though it only displays the top score on each level, so it's difficult to get a place. (It tracks everyone's scores if they uploaded them, it just doesn't display them on the main page.). Especially considering that mara.cze once took it as a challenge to get the best time on every level.
(He succeeded.)

The game lasts a long time, for a puzzle. The speedrunners struggle to complete the 30 levels of the main story in under 2 hours; a first-time player may need 10 hours or more. After that, there is the aforementioned Tick mode, unlocked by beating a level, in which a few hundred stationary Ticks are scattered throughout the level and your objective is to collect as many of them as possible (it's generally not possible to get them all). There are also five trapped Milps scattered around the game; rescuing them unlocks Challenge levels, as well as getting you the best ending.

Overall, definitely worth the download. There may be one or more puzzles where you get stuck, but none of them are unfair. Starting the game up makes a warning appear, which I feel sums up this review nicely:

Intense Technobabble
Mind Bending Puzzles
Bizarre Story
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 07:56:08 AM by snowyowl » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: December 12, 2010, 02:54:29 PM »

[suggested image =


When it comes to non-commercial games, fan tributes that recycle the same assets and themes from their commercial counterparts are probably the least appealing. Just when I thought that Super Mario Bros Crossover was the only exception to this rule, I discovered Super Mario Brox X.

SMBX is a masterfully done mash-up of all of the core SMB titles up to Super Mario World with crossovers from other games like Zelda II, Metroid, and a few others that may surprise you. The game looks and plays just like the games it is based on, and it's obvious that a lot of care and attention to detail went into making this game.

Perhaps the most compelling feature is the game's two-player co-op mode that I blew an entire day playing with my roommate. This mode is akin to New Super Mario Bros Wii, but with a brilliant and innovative split screen feature that happens very seamlessly and never manages to feel jarring. When both players are in the same area the screen displays normally, but if they move far enough apart the screen will split either horizontally or vertically depending on the players' relative locations.

In addition to the story campaign that features over 50 familiar and cleverly designed levels, there is also a battle mode where your objective is to kill your friend three times to win. In both the campaign and versus modes, players choose from five different characters, including the Mario brothers themselves, Toad and Peach from SMB 2, and Link as he appears in Zelda II. The mechanics of these characters behave as they would in their respective games, and there's no greater feeling than taking down Wart with a few thrusts to the face from Link's sword.

Packaged with the game is a very robust level editor that allows you to create and edit levels in real time; erase a path straight through levels that prove too difficult to pass or treat yourself to a gratuitous amounts of power-ups and 1-ups. While the game is missing a few obvious power-ups like the star or Mario's cape, it does feature some very cool new and exclusive power-ups like the Billy Cannon, a portable cannon that your character carries like a turtle shell that fires a barrage of Bullet Bills.

Altogether, Super Mario Bros X is an excellent and highly-polished mash-up that fans will love and everyone can appreciate.

« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2010, 11:37:50 AM »

[This will probably be perceived as pimping, of sorts, since I am the creator of FlashPunk. But this competition went under the radar and 30 cool little indie games came out of it, so if somebody else wants to do an alternate write-up, that'd be awesome too!]

Recently, members of the FlashPunk Forums held a Flash game dev competition, inspired by the successful 48-hour deadline and community voting system demonstrated by Ludum Dare. The competition was held over a weekend to a 72-hour countdown, and participants signed up on the Competition Site to post the progress of their games on the communal blog and also submit the game on completion.

The competition rules were as follows:

Theme: The theme will be FlashPunk. Make use of hearts, cogs and the stylish pink and black colour scheme to design any type of game you like.
Start Date: 3rd December 12:00am GMT
Deadline: 5th December 11:59pm GMT
Voting Deadline: 12th December 11:59pm GMT
  • FlashPunk must be used; any version.
  • 96x96 resolution. Can be scaled to a larger size.
  • Please keep file sizes to a minimum(So people do not have to wait long periods of time, just to test your game)
  • All assets, scripts, etc, must be made within the time period of the competition - you can, of course, start thinking up ideas prior to the competition.
  • Collaboration on your game is allowed.
  • Although it is encouraged to make your own music for your game. You can get music/sfx from wherever you like, provided you have the authors consent to use it.

The competition saw 40 entrants, 75% who finished their games in the 72-hour period, resulting in 30 mini 96x96 flash games! Very very pink flash games. Due to all the constraints, many of the games are unpolished and/or buggy, but hidden in these 30 pink little gems are some clever games ideas and fun little mechanics worth exploring even further.

Congratulations to the competition winner, MoonBag, with his fun little entry, Bobby's Hearts.

Check out the rest of the entries here!
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