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Archive For February, 2011

In-Depth: Analyzing The 9th Annual Scene.org Awards - Part 1

February 24, 2011 6:00 PM |

[In the first of a multi-part series of demoscene-related posts on GameSetWatch, AteBit's Paul 'EvilPaul' Grenfell looks at the Scene.org awards for the best demos of the past 12 months.]

Another year, another set of Scene.org nominations. These awards are intended to honor the best that the demoscene had to offer in 2010, and are chosen by a panel of expert judges from within the scene itself. This year we have 37 demos nominated across 12 categories.

With so many demos it seems cruel to cram them into one piece, so I'll be rounding up all categories over the next few weeks. The prize ceremony itself will take place on April 22nd at The Gathering in Norway.

First up then, let's take a look at the Demo, 64k and 4k categories.

Best Demo

In this category we see the most outstanding demos from last year. These are all well-rounded works, with strong visuals, music and direction.

Agenda Circling Forth by Fairlight & CNCD

Taking first place at Breakpoint in Germany, this demo expanded on the techniques used in Fairlight's 2009 demo, Blunderbuss. The result is a stunning visual experience, backed by sublime direction and soundtrack - which attracted criticism for its heavy sampling of a 70's prog-rock track. This demo is also nominated in the Best Effects, Best Graphics, Best Direction, Most Original Concept, Public Choice and Best Technical Achievement categories!

Ceasefire (all falls down) by Fairlight & CNCD

After Agenda, Fairlight moved on to make this demo, which placed second at Helsinki's Assembly. Improving on the previous demo's techniques this is again a very impressive piece of work. The original soundtrack (by Hunz) is particularly nice.

Octodad To Show Off Kinect Support At GDC

February 24, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Just as ridiculous as its premise of an octopus masquerading as a human and struggling to keep this secret from his human family, the controls for Octodad had players trying to manage the cephalapod's tentacles with a purposefully unwieldly mouse and keyboard setup.

The developers behind the indie project (a team of students and faculty members from DePaul University) decided to make Octodad's controls even more silly by adding support for the Xbox 360s Kinect accessory, challenging players to direct all eight tentacles with their limited limbs.

Joystiq's Griffin McElroy, who was treated to a preview of the Kinect-enabled Octodad, described the controls: "While in movement mode, each arm is assigned to one of Dad's tentacular-fake-man-legs, forcing the player into humiliating, Rumba-esque motions to move our hero about the environment.

"If a player quickly lifts a leg, the game switches to grab mode, where the player's right arm manipulates one of Octodad's writhing tendrils and the left arm is used to make said tendril clutch and release objects," McElroy added." Yeah, it sounds totally crazy.

The team intends to show off Octodad with Kinect at the Game Developers Conference next week, but have no plans yet to publicly release this modified version. The group simply wants to "test the waters of the motion-based market before starting on a fully-formed commercial release."

While around half of the students that worked on Octodad intend to move on to other projects at bigger developers, the other half hopes to form a new indie studio that could potentially work on a motion-based, commercial version of Octodad.

NYU Game Center Announces Second 'No Quarter Exhibition'

February 24, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

NYU Game Center announced that No Quarter, its exhibition designed to "explore the possibilities for social play in real-world environments," will return this May with new games from designers like Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV).

No Quarter seeks to create an arcade setting "that generates complex, surprising, and playful interactions in the public setting of a gallery space". Last year's inaugural event featured several commissioned games: multiple IGF award finalist Nidhogg by Mark "messhof" Essen, Recurse by Matt Parker, and Deep Sea by Robin Arnott.

This year's No Quarter Exhibition will have comissioned games from Terry Cavanagh, Ramiro Corbetta of Powerhead Games (IGF Award winner Glow Artisan), and New York-based board game designer Charley Miller. Luke O'Conner's Clock, which originally premiered at indie arcade Babycastles, will also appear at the gallery.

The developers will debut their projects at No Quarter's opening party on May 12th. Afterward, the gallery will remain on display and available for the public to play until the end of the month.

Opened in 2008, NYU Game Center seeks to "incubate new ideas, create partnerships, and establish a multi-school curriculum to explore new directions for the creative development and critical understanding of games". It is is located at the Tisch School in the Skirball Center for New Media in New York City.

Best of FingerGaming: From Back to the Future to The Blocks Cometh

February 24, 2011 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Every week, Gamasutra sums up sister iPhone and iPad site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent portable game platforms, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and authors Tucker Dean, Jason Johnson, and Ryan Hibbeler.]

This week, FingerGaming covers Back to the Future, Jet Set Willy, and The Blocks Cometh, among other notable titles.

Also within are the lists for top-grossing, most-downloaded free and paid Apps from Apple's store, along with reviews for Minotaur Rescue and Scarlett and the Spark of Life.

Here are the top stories from the last week:

- Review: Minotaur Rescue
"Survival Mode is where Minotaur Rescue changes from a game I like and appreciate on a conceptual level into an addiction that has me compulsively jamming the replay button as hours unfurl in what seems like minutes. Survival Mode is where Minotaur Rescue gets real."

- Telltale Launches First Back to the Future Episode for iPad
"Telltale’s debut episode offers a continuation of the events in the Back to the Future film trilogy. While enjoying his new life in the 1980s, Marty McFly suddenly encounters the thought-to-be destroyed DeLorean time machine, and sets out on a quest to save Doc Brown."

- Elite Brings ZX Spectrum Classic Jet Set Willy to App Store
"Continuing its mission to promote and preserve the ’80s-era ZX Spectrum 8-bit home computer, Elite Systems has launched an iOS adaptation of one of the system’s defining titles: the exploration-based platformer Jet Set Willy."

RedLynx Teases iOS Game That 'Lasts A Thousand Days'

February 24, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

RedLynx, makers of the popular puzzle/racing series Trials, hinted at another project besides MotoHeroz that it has in the works, teasing an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad title that features a thousand heroes to guide, a thousand levels to explore, and a thousand relics to gather.

The independent Finnish studio didn't reveal much else about the game, other than that it will last a thousand days, making a new map and a hero available each day. The untitled project also promises "an epic journey through time".

"There is timeline inside all of us," says RedLynx creative director Antti Ilvessuo. "A past that guides us, ancestors whom time may have forgotten, but whose choices influence us even today. This game takes these ideas, and plays with them in a fun and engaging way."

Ensemble Veterans Reveal Orcs Must Die

February 24, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Robot Entertainment, the independent studio formed by veterans of Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars, Age of Empires) shortly after that studio closed have unveiled an original fantasy action-strategy title called Orcs Must Die, releasing to PCs and digital download platforms on consoles this summer.

In the game, players defend fortresses against hordes of orcs, choosing from a variety of traps and weapons to "hack, launch, flatten, gibletize, and incinerate an endless army of filthy orcs and their vile allies." It's presented in a third-person perspective, allowing players to directly attack enemies while watching their traps set off.

"Don’t negotiate with them. Don’t just maim them. You must kill the orcs,” explained Robot Entertainment's bloodthirsty CEO Patrick Hudson. "Robot exists to make great games that our fans love. Orcs Must Die is our first original title, and we're counting on players to do what must be done: drive the orcs into oblivion!"

IGF Student Winner Gemini Rue Released

February 24, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Gemini Rue, Joshua Nuernberger's "neo noir thriller" that was an Independent Games Festival Student Showcase back when it was known as Boryokudan Rue, is now out for PCs! Here's a quick summary for the dark point-and-click adventure:

"Azriel Odin, ex-assassin, arrives on the rain-drenched planet of Barracus to find someone.  When things go horribly wrong, he can only seek help from the very criminals he used to work for.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a man called Delta-Six wakes up in a hospital with no memory.  Without knowing where to turn or who to trust, he vows to escape before he loses his identity completely.

As fate brings these two men closer together, we discover a world where life is cheap, identities are bought and sold, and a simple quest for redemption can change the fate of a whole galaxy."

Wadjet Eye Games is selling a $14.99 digital download for Gemini Rue, as well as a $24.99 physical limited edition CD version with download ccess and an exclusive MP3 soundtrack (both editions include developer commentary). There's also a free demo you can grab here.

Opinion: A Declaration Of Independence

February 24, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this opinion piece, originally published in the February 2011 issue of Game Developer magazine, EIC Brandon Sheffield takes a look at the definition of an indie developer, noting that the line between small teams and big-budget studios becomes blurrier by the day.]

It feels as though the game industry is in constant flux these days, which is part of what makes this an exciting place to work. For a while, that change had a lot to do with growing pains. Some folks used to (or still do) lament bloating budgets, huge teams, and giant marketing budgets. We longed for the time of the bedroom programmer.

Then it started to happen—small teams like The Behemoth were making console games on their own. Tiny dev shop Introversion Software was releasing its own titles on PC. Back then, there was a lot of discussion about who was indie, who wasn’t, and what indie meant.

Could The Behemoth be indie while releasing games on console, using external distribution? Many said no, at the time. Indie games had to be smaller, more independent.

Later, along came Steam, the App stores, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Indie Games. Suddenly anyone could self-publish (or essentially be “published” by the service itself).

Likewise, self-publishing on browsers or Flash portals has gained widespread acceptance. Newer business models such as free to play, pay for items, or the “pay what you want” model also allow greater flexibility than ever.

Game Over IV: Jude Buffum's 8-bit Terrariums

February 23, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

These latest Game Over IV pieces we have to share with you come from Jude Buffum, the artist behind memorable works like the chopped up Chocobo/Ganon and 8-bit Keyboard cat. They're all part of a series titled "8-Bit Terrariums", which imagines encased scenes from Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Castlevania.

"I actually see a lot of similarities between video games and terrariums" Buffum explains. "They are both closed systems that seek to nurture and sustain an entire world within a small viewing space. And I get equal enjoyment out of interacting and watching both."

These pieces and several dozen works from other talented contributors will be on display at Giant Robot's video game-inspired show art show Game Over IV next week. The San Francisco event won't be too far away from the Game Developers Conference, and will open with a party on March 4th.

Buffum will also have a 20 ft. installation/social experiment at the actual Game Developers Conference called Paint by Pixels, which you can read more about here.

Motorized Dyad Machine Coming To PAX East

February 23, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Last October, we highlighted a strange "thought-based metagame" called Dyad, which indie developers Shawn McGrath and Pekko Koskinen (Dragonfly Variations, Spawns of Deflebub) described as "a racing/shooter/puzzle hybrid where players move forward by manipulating other vessels on the track".

The game is slated to release on PSN some time this year, but it's also been outfitted to play on an interesting homemade platform known only as "The Machine". McGrath built The Machine out of "scrap metal, bedsheets, recycled plywood, and car parts", creating a setup that rotates players around Dyad's tubes as they play.

"The Machine features two motors: one to rotate the player's seat, and another vibrate it, both motors and syncrhonized with the action in Dyad. Motors are driven by a hacked 600W computer PSU and controlled with an Arduino microcontroller.

A PlayStation 3 Sixaxis controller is fixed to the seat, and its accelerometer is used to read the tilt of the chair. The Machine displays Dyad's rich colors with a rear-projected screen and features surround sound."

You'll be able to check out The Machine in person when it makes its debut at PAX East 2011 (Indie Alley, Booth I9).

[Via @capy_nathan]

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