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Archive For February, 2011

Best Of Indie Games: It's Hot, But Don't Sweat It

February 26, 2011 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog co-editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The delights in this edition include a Flash collaboration between cactus and Mark Johns, a student project from the ENJMIN university, a new release from Nitrome, a dual-stick shooter by XBLIG developer Luke Schneider, and a RPGMaker game about games journalism.

Here's the highlights from the last seven days:

Game Pick: 'Hot Throttle' (cactus and Mark Johns, browser)
"In Hot Throttle, you play as a semi-naked guy who thinks he is a car, and you race other guys around the city. From the second race onwards, it's pretty enjoyable, although the cutscenes remain creepy as hell."

Game Pick: 'Island Survival' (styxtwo, browser)
"Trapped upon a series of rapidly disintegrating islands, the objective in Island Survival is a rather simple one: survive. As the protagonist, a blocky-looking character who looks rather like a shipwrecked businessman, you have very little at your disposal outside of your dexterity and the snowflakes drifting down from the skies."

Game Pick: 'Antimatière' (Team Antimatter, browser)
"Created by a group of students from the ENJMIN university, Antimatière is a 3D puzzle game that features flat 2D objects everywhere you look. A failed experiment had turned all objects and people in the world into wall textures, and you're the only person who can still move around and save the day somehow."

Game Pick: 'Canary' (Nitrome, browser)
"Canary puts you in control of a blue feathered miner, equipped with a jetpack and laser drilling gun. There are some strange goings-on down in the mines, and you're tasked with investigating and removing the threats."

Game Pick: 'Ballistic' (Radiangames, commercial indie)
"Luke Schneider, the king of XBLIG dual-stick shooters, has come full circle with his seventh and final release on the service. Ballistic returns back to the simple yet deep blasting action that JoyJoy provided, and it is more polished than your dad's bald head."

Game Pick: 'Games Journo Story' (Brendan Caldwell, freeware)
"You've played Game Dev Story - now find out what it feels like to write about the games instead. Games Journo Story is the nearly true story of Arthur McStension on his way to a games expo in 'The London' to play games and meet other journalists."

Four New Clips From Mizuguchi's Child of Eden

February 25, 2011 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Recognizing that it's been much too long since they've graced fans with new footage for the game, Q Entertainment and Ubisoft released four new videos for its much anticipated (at least for fans of Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Rez, which should really be all of you) rhythm game Child of Eden.

Like Rez, Child of Eden has you flying through stages and shooting objects around you for different musical effects. The game is scheduled to come out this June for PS3 and Xbox 360, offering support for Kinect on the latter and allowing players to aim shots with their own hands.

You can watch more Child of Eden videos after the break:

Yars' Revenge, Weapons, And Bugs

February 25, 2011 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

While we've already established that Killspace's PC/XBLA/PSN reboot of Yars' Revenge looks and plays nothing like the original Atari 2600 game, this still looks like a worthwhile game for fans of on-rail shooters like the Sin and Punishment and Panzer Dragoon series.

In this new "Bugs and Weapons" trailer, we get to hear a little bit more about the war between the Yar (represented here with an anime-style girl in mecha armor) and the Quotile empire. We're also introduced to the different weapons available in the game and their effect on enemy bugs.

Expect the Yars' Revenge to release on digital download platforms this spring with co-op gameplay, multiple endins, and environments inspired by Hayao Miyazaki and Avatar.

The Spoony Bard: A Wizard Did It

February 25, 2011 12:00 PM |

[The Spoony Bard is a biweekly GameSetWatch column by writer James Bishop that probes the depths of the characters, dialogue and writing in video games. This week, it explores internal consistency and narrative coherence in games like Mass Effect and Dead Space.]

Chekhov’s gun has been stated in numerous ways over the years but the general consensus is that it goes a little something like this: “One must not put a loaded rifle on stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” Though it’s applied most often to foreshadowing, the argument could be made that a gun also shouldn’t appear out of nowhere at the last second in some kind of deus ex machina.

All things within a narrative exist to serve a purpose. Even if that purpose is to be meaningless or to behave only as a distraction, everything requires one from the large to the small. By stressing the importance of foreshadowing, it can be interpreted that Anton Chekhov also happened to champion narrative coherence and, by extension, internal consistency.

Simply put, the story must make sense.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of February 25

February 25, 2011 11:32 AM | Tom Curtis

In a busy week for new job postings, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles across the world and in every major discipline, including opportunities at Silicon Knights, Monolith, Raven Software, and more.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across its network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on online worlds, cellphone games, 'serious games', independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

- Silicon Knights: Lead Level Designer:
"Silicon Knights is hiring! Located in St. Catharines, ON Canada, Silicon Knights proudly ranks as one of the top independent game developers in the world. Incorporating in 1992, Silicon Knights has developed a reputation for creating superior original content, and is dedicated to creating ground-breaking video games. Within a focused and collaborative climate, our studio offers a passionate and spirited workplace where all creative contributions are encouraged ... We're currently working on other new and exciting AAA, multi-platforms projects. If you're talented and inspired to create exceptional games, we invite you to apply!"

- Nihilistic Software: Console Engine Programmer:
"Nihilistic Software is seeking an experienced and talented console engine programmer to continue to develop the company's proprietary engine technology on our current unannounced next generation console action-adventure title with a top publisher. Applicants must have a strong sense of how to develop high performance systems on console hardware. A keen sense of how to balance performance with a flexible and robust feature set that meets the needs of the project is also required. Professional experience developing a wide range of PS3 and/or Xbox 360 engine systems, and working with new or in-development hardware is ideal. A passion for playing and creating AAA action games is also highly desirable."

- Monolith Productions: Senior Software Engineer, Network:
"As a senior engineer for networking you will work closely with the lead engineer and the rest of your peers to develop state-of-the-art networking technology for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Your domain will cover the networking components of the engine and your responsibilities will include both optimizations of current-gen systems and design and implementation of pivotal new technology."

GDC 2011 Reminds On Pre-Registration, Highlights Final Lectures

February 25, 2011 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

GDC 2011 organizers are reminding that reduced-price online registration for next week's San Francisco show is only available until Sunday, also highlighting a number of late-breaking and previously unfocused-on talks.

With on-site registration also available for Game Developers Conference 2011 - the historic 25th iteration of the show - interested parties can continue to register on the official website at a discount until Sunday, February 27th.

The complete conference schedule for next week's GDC, including over 650 speakers, is currently available on both GDC Schedule Builder and the newly launched, smartphone-centric GDC Mobile site.

With the Moscone Center, San Francisco-based show commencing its February 28th through March 4th run on Monday, organizers are highlighting the following lectures that have been added to the program later in the process:

- In a high-profile talk, Ben Cousins of EA's Easy free-to-play game division presents 'Paying to Win? Battlefield Heroes, Virtual Goods and Selling Gameplay Advantages', "takes us through the story of this controversy" behind sweeping changes to the game's in-game economy and virtual item catalog -- including key lessons learned.

- A Main Conference video game funding panel, 'Funding Development: How to Raise Money if You're Not a Social Games Darling', includes notables like London Venture Partner's Phil Harrison, Seahorn Capital Group's Marc Jackson, Indie Fund's Aaron Isaksen and Tenshi Ventures' Jonathan Newth, talking "the world of financing beyond Silicon Valley venture capitalists."

- Zynga's Brian Reynolds (Civilization II, FrontierVille) is presenting 'Launching Great Features on the Frontier of Social Games', discussing the latter hit Facebook game game "as a lens to discuss the production challenges in launching great social game features" - including "marrying good game design with good business practices and the constant need for new content in a live service."

- Bungie's Jamie Griesemer presents the epicly-titled 'Design in Detail: Tuning the Muzzle Velocity of the Plasma Rifle Bolt on Legendary Difficulty Across the Halo Franchise', following up GDC 2010's much-lauded lecture about gameplay tuning for the franchise's sniper rifle, and targeted at "senior designers working on gameplay balance for a game with a sophisticated world simulation."

The Making Of The Epic Legend of Zelda Painting

February 25, 2011 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If you caught any of the dozens of art tributes posted for The Legend of Zelda's 25th anniversary earlier in the week, you likely saw a magnificent and massive piece from Japanese painter Ag+ -- and if you haven't yet, jump past the post break to admire the collection of the series' characters brought together.

Ag+ has posted a sped-up, 14-minute video (which war ripped from Nicovideo, then posted onto Youtube by another fellow) showing how s/he digitally painted the entire thing in Corel Painter, all in a single layer! You can check out a few other paintings from Ag+ on the artist's Pixiv page.

Junkboy Demakes Uncharted 3, Super Mario Galaxy 2

February 25, 2011 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I haven't posted any of Markus "Junkboy" Toivonen's commissioned demake mock-ups for Level magazine since he joined the Minecraft team a while ago, but he apparently hasn't given up on envisioning modern games with retro-style graphics.

In his latest work above, for example, we have what it appears to be a sidescrolling take on Uncharted 3, showing the PS3 game's hero Nathan Drake exploring the series' new desert setting and about to pounce on an unsuspecting guard.

You can see more of Junkboy's demakes, like the Super Mario Galaxy 2 screen I've added past the break, on his DeviantArt profile and Tumblr blog.

Libyan Hamburger Recipe: Fried Gadhafi Served With Couscous

February 25, 2011 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Raitendo, who you might know from Sense of Wonder Night finalist You Only Live Once or his commentaries on experimental/abstract art games, has posted a very strange activist Flash game about the ongoing Libyan revolution and the country's besieged leader.

The title is called Libyan Hamburger Recipe. "[This is] my (infinitely small) contribution to the Libyan revolution," says Raitendo. "My heart is with the innocent civilians and demonstrators…"

[Via IndieGames.com]

This Week In Video Game Criticism: From God Mode To Art

February 25, 2011 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Ben Abraham, on topics including characterization in Left 4 Dead 2, god mode, and the Smithsonian's take on gaming art.]

This calendar week, blogger Ashelia wrote on her personal tumblr some stinging criticisms of the characters of Left 4 Dead 2 in “Axe me a question”.

Ashelia’s criticism begins with the character of Rochelle, but expands outwards to encompass the rest of the quartet. It includes some criticisms I share, personally, and it makes me all the more excited to hear the news of the original Fab Four’s imminent arrival to the sequel. It’s criticism from a place of love though, truly.

Mitu Khandaker announced her arrival at Game Set Watch this week with a first post in a new series called ‘Gambrian Explosion’ – more a statement of intent at this introductory stage, but well worth reading to get excited about where she’s going with it.

Max Lieberman of the Boom Culture blog tried to spark a conversation about the "gamification of learning" – employing so-called ‘gamification’ tactics such as points, rewards and badges in the classroom. It’s a piece called ‘Narrative in Games-Based Learning’.

The best thing I read all week was an exchange of letters between author Tom Bissell and academic/critic Simon Ferrari, hosted by Paste Magazine. It covers a lot of ground but the locus it moves around is game narrative, writing and response. Strong stuff.

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