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Indie Games

Minecraft Introduces Snowmen

The Future of Indies

Indie games have absolutely exploded in recent years, aided by the phenomenal success of mobile platforms, PC download platforms and the console downloadable services. While big games get bigger (in terms of scope and budget), the indie scene has blossomed with smaller games, titles that take risks and experiment with everything from controversial themes to crazy mechanics to funky art styles.

In fact, many established developers have been striking off from the so-called big leagues and going indie. The greater creative freedom afforded by smaller studios (sometimes even one or two-person teams) has made for a renaissance of more provocative titles that eke out new territory in the land of interactive entertainment.

Indie popularity and accessibility has never been greater – and the best indies have become blockbuster hits – just ask Mojang (Minecraft) or Rovio (Angry Birds) about the “starving artist” stereotype. It’s a fast-moving landscape, with enormous innovation.

Here are a few of the brightest new games set to launch onto the scene in the coming months – indies that will change the industry in one way or another.

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The Indie Games of 2011

Halloween candy has not yet gone on sale, and we’re already looking towards next year’s Independent Games Festival. Thousands of games entered IGF 2012 just to get a little well deserved recognition as well as a taste of the $50,000 of prizes for awards given to only the best. Who will climb to the top of the heap next year smelling of dead pixels, musky inspiration, and that sweet smell of victory?

I really don’t know. The list of over 500 indie games competing for the grand prize just came out. Give me a break here. I’m still trying to rid Gotham City of its criminal element.

But it’s always fun to peek behind the curtain to get a little taste of what will be big next year. As you can probably tell, this is but a small taste of what’s to come. I’ll roll out more trailers, games, and previews as we get closer to the big day. Grab some popcorn and get ready for a little time travel. It’s time to head off to 2012 – a land of far more indie games and Incan Apocalypse terror.

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Get Sequence For Only $4.49 On Steam

Sequence, the hilarious rhythm role-playing game which came out back in May for Xbox Live Indie Arcade, has finally made its way to Steam. The fully voice-acted title takes you on an adventure with Ky through his ascent of a mysterious Tower filled with memorable characters and fast-paced musical gameplay. Featuring songs by Ronald Jenkees and Michael Wade Hamilton, this indie hit is an entirely unique experience that has received extraordinary amounts of praise. The best part? You can try Sequence out now for just $4.49 on Steam

5 Ways Indie Games Are Changing Everything and One Way They will Doom Us All

The nerd flu from IndieCade has hardly left when it’s time already to send out applications for next year’s IGF Awards. Good luck to everyone participating. Next week, keep an eye out for some awesome preview trailers in this column. Honestly, I couldn’t help myself and snuck in one new game that you need to know about into this week’s column. I couldn’t wait. But this week, I want to talk about the importance of indie games.

We talk in future tense when mentioning the impact or role these titles fills in the future of gaming. I want to talk about the big impact these small developers are making in the gaming world. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You’ll see the industry moving around already to adjust to new technology, a new audience, and right smack dab in the middle of it all are indie games. Here are five big changes and one problem looming over the horizon for indie games.

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Our super-awesome video production unit (aka: Frank and Neil) has been carefully crafting Indiecade developer profiles and interviews all day.

Below, indie-fan, please find video of Nathan Valla showing off Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. And, under the "Read More" tag, you'll find a video of Ryan Henson-Creighton, co-creator of the best game ever made on earth, Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure, discussing what it's like to co-develop a game with a five year-old girl.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP IndieCade 2011 Interview »


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Five Tips to Succeeding as an Indie Developer

Manuel’s Note: I met Matt Gilgenbach of 24 Caret Games last year right year right before IndieCade when he showed off Retro/Grade. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to keep in touch with him and even write about his engagement last year. When I’m bogged down with IndieCade articles, Matt jumps in to save the day.

Indie development is a lot of fun, but if you talk to any indie developer, they will all tell you the same thing: it’s tough! I’ve been indie for three years now, so I’ve picked up some tips on how to succeed. Read on for five tips to succeed as an indie developer. These gems of wisdom come to you straight from the horse's mouth. Er, fingers.

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Many who think seriously about games see the future of the entire field coming from indie game developers. Indie games are nothing if not innovative, quirky and creative, and are likely paving the way for the future. Last weekend, Indiecade was held in Los Angeles, and we were all over it, but it wasn't all playing games. There were also interesting speeches, like the keynote below.

Click play to watch Richard Lemarchand, Lead Game Designer at Naughty Dog, give a history of the Indie gaming movement, from its birth on primitive computers and arcades, through the influence of alternative media and music, up to the present world of independent game development.

IndieCade 2011 Keynote »


 


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NEG and Intoxicate Studios are offering the upcoming survival horror game Afterfall: Insanity for just one dollar. Of course, there's a catch to this crazy deal: they must reach 10 million pre-orders or the game will still cost it's regular $34.90.

"We – in this economically difficult times – are proud to offer you a really good game for an unbelievably low price! We want to provide users with an entertainment experience that will last through later games set in the Afterfall Universe; all we need is for you to order ten million copies of the game, so that we can continue to create great games at affordable prices for you, the players," said NEG on their website.


On top of this already amazing promotion, NEG will also donate 10% of each dollar to charity. Anything above ten million dollars will be shared 50/50 between NEG and the charity organization.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Afterfall: Insanity website to pre-order the game now. You can't really go wrong for just a buck, especially when it looks like the game is worth so much more than that.


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Fez

The 2011 IndieCade Awards were held last night in Santa Monica, and XBLA platformer Fez came away the big winner, taking home awards for both Best in Show and Story/World Design. Johann Sebastian Joust also won two awards, one for Best Technology and G4's own Impact Award, for impact on the gaming community.

Click the cut for a full Indiecade winners

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Minecraft Introducing Dragons: First Look

Everytime I post any incremental improvement to blocky indie game Minecraft, I think, "This is the last one." But then something comes along that's so awesome I just have to show it to you. Today's piece of Minecraft amazing: Dragons! Notch is adding flying lizard creatures to his world, and he's posted a some pics. That's one of the new MOBS above.

Obviously, the textures aren't in place yet, but even without color, that thing is BAD-ASS, in a slightly derpy Minecraft-way, of course.  Here's a whole gallery of Minecraft Dragon screenshots for you to enjoy and share with your friends.

IndieCade: The Game

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Posted October 4, 2011 - By Rob Manuel

IndieCade: The Game

I have the same problem every year. When IndieCade finally comes around, no one (including me) knows what to do, where to start, or how to tackle so many games. They try going clockwise. They try going counter-clockwise. Sometimes they just look at the game, get intimidated, and move on. Gamers, I need you to get your hands dirty and play some of the best games around. My friends just won’t do it.

It’s times like these I turn to a higher power and ask, “What would Will Wright do?” He would make a game out of it. I welcome all Player 1s and Player 2s to the first ever IndieCade: The Game. All you need to do is to come down to IndieCade this weekend and have the drive to win. I will be your helpful quest giver for this event. Your assistance is needed. Experience, gold, and maybe some swag will be your virtual trophies.

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Activision Closes Budcat, Issues Layoffs For California's QA Division

Activision today announced it would like submissions for the second annual Activision independent Games Competition, a program set up to encourage up-and-coming game designers by showering them with money and prizes. The competition is open to all independent game developers headquartered in the U.S. and offers prizes totalling $250,000. Submissions will be accepted from October 3 through December 31, 2011.

"Who will judge the winners of this awesome competition?" you're probably asking. Well, it will be administered by Indiecade, the preeminent organization supporting the indie gaming community. 

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Indie platforming game FEZ has been delayed to early 2012, according to a Tweet from the game's developer Phil Fish. Fez is now coming out 1-2 months later than originally intended, but Fish has been very open with the fans regarding the delay, Tweeting "debug, details, cert, waiting for cert. microsoft's release buffer. it adds up."

However, to keep fans from grabbing their pitchforks, Polytron studios has released a video they like to call "longer screen shot". Check it out below.

FEZ LONG SCREENSHOT 02 from POLYTRON on Vimeo.


Fish also Tweeted that "A Delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever." I honestly have to agree with him, and think that taking the time to perfect what people are already praising is very important. You want to make sure you get it right. What do you think?

 






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Kinect Underground: The Secret World of Microsoft's Motion Controller

You need only look at hardcore gamers’ reaction to Microsoft’s E3 press conference a few months back to see that the Kinect platform is not impressing its earliest adopters. This is not to say that the platform doesn’t have its strengths – Dance Central is still one of the best full-price party games of the last decade (with Dance Central 2 eagerly anticipated), Child of Eden rocked reviewers’ socks last summer, The Gunstringer impressed fans of Westerns and marionettes alike, and interesting downloadable games like Fruit Ninja Kinect and Leedmees are proving novel (and fun!) uses of the interface.

However, the coolest – and the most innovative – Kinect applications aren’t coming in boxes. Nor are they quirky downloadable titles on XBLA. In fact, the most cutting edge Kinect stuff isn’t for sale at all – it’s being tinkered with in labs and basements and garages, from MIT to big academic medical centers to programmer’s bedrooms and everything in between. You may not be reading about it as much in the mainstream gaming press, but Kinect is the coolest, most experimental platform out there right now.

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IndieCade Survival Guide: Who’s Who and What’s Where

What’s worse than going to a party and not knowing anyone there? Not being invited. Well guess what, you’re invited to this year’s IndieCade happening in on October 8 and 9 in Culver City, California. We got the invitation out of the way. Now, you just need to get to know some people. Below are five people/groups/games that you need to know about before attending one of the biggest indie game festivals around. I’ll be there too, but you already know me. I mean, we see each other like once a week. You probably can’t take much more than that. Right?

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