Game demos are unfortunately a dying breed. While broadband has made it easier than ever to distribute demos to PC and console gamers, they've become more expensive and risky to make. They seldom come out before the full game, especially for AAA games. Developers realize their games are crud and that a demo is just going to make people not want to buy it.
For this week's review round-up, we bring you two games from opposite sides of the indie world. One is a free online hybrid shooter/platformer combining elements of Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft. The other involves driving jeeps around and shooting things as fast as possible. Both are great.
World of Warcraft has been on top of the world for seven years. No other MMO has come close to challenging its dominance of the genre, and it has generated billions of dollars for Blizzard. They have spent a lot of money adding more and more content, to the extent where the full game with all the expansion packs takes up 65 GB of hard drive space. It is a beautiful game; well balanced, and a milestone in the history of the medium.
Different genres of social media have changed the world, but they are not omnipotent. In most cases this is a good thing, but not in the case of Operation Rainfall. It has been a purely well meaning social media movement that should have led to a great boon for the North American gamer public, but instead has served as a reminder of how stone aged Nintendo of America's (NOA) corporate thinking remains.
The Humble Indie Bundle has become like an unpredictable little gamer Christmas. It helps indie developers get their games exposure, helps gamers get cheap DRM-free games via the most user-friendly online purchasing process ever, and helps the world at large by raising money for Child's Play and EFF.
The small size of most indie game development teams is a strength, but also a weakness. It allows them to take risks and explore revolutionary ideas that a larger company could never justify to its shareholders, but also means they must navigate the game development labyrinth with minimal help, taking much longer than those with big development teams. Some of the most exciting indie games currently in development have been so for years, or look like they will be.
This week's roundup features three games that I've either never bothered to play, was unable to play due to PC technical limitations, or haven't played because they've just been released. None of these three games cost more than $15.
The relationship between developers and publishers in the video game industry has always been awkward. Many great game developers such as Bizzare Creations, Clover Studio, and Bullfrog Productions have been disbanded due to corporate shenanigans involving their publishers and owners. The indie game movement has risen largely as a response to this.
We've all seen FOX News commentators get worked up about silly non-issues. It occurs more than we'd like, but what happened last week on popular morning show FOX and Friends was not only a misleading and pointless attack on video games, it was an unintelligible attack on a mediocre and forgotten game from 2007, along with a handful of recent indies that no FOX and Friends viewers, or any of their close family members, had ever heard of before this broadcast.
Portal is game design milestone. Originally only available bundled in with larger cousins Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 in The Orange Box, its creators, Valve Software, changed what first person gameplay could be. It's been a stand alone product for much of the four years since its release, but never an expensive one, usually available for $5 on Steam (also created by Valve). If that barrier to entry was too high for you, or you just never got around to trying it, there are no more excuses....
This week's FIGRR is all about games that are old-new (or new-old, if you like) school. Each celebrates a different vital, yet largely taken for granted, aspect of video game history in the decidedly new-school world of indie games. Their titles betray them. Blocks That Matter is all about blocks. Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is all about item shops. Neither are particularly sexy aspects of gaming, but both are ubiquitous elements of great games that can stand on their own.
There are a lot of fantastic video games out there. Indie Games Ichiban's bread and butter is making sure that you steer clear of the bad ones and embrace the good. But really, the biggest goal here is to help everyone have more fun. To that end, today a game is not recommended, but an event. If you like games—not just video games—but tabletop, board and even hopscotch, then PAX Prime is one of the best events you could possibly go to.
Fatherhood is difficult, especially when you're an octopus. That is the moral of the 2011 IGF Student Showcase winner Octodad, available for free from its website. This hilarious little title was created by a team of interactive media students at DePaul University in Chicago, and is the latest in a stream of successful indie games to come out of collegiate video game design programs. In fact, it's so successful that a sequel is in the works.
Since the beginning of last year, every six months or so the fine folks at Wolfire Games have gathered indie developers together to release a combo gaming pack called Humble Indie Bundle. Not only are the included games good, but the way one buys them is what makes Humble Indie Bundle one of the coolest products in games. Even better, Humble Indie Bundle #3 just came out last Tuesday and is available here for two weeks only.
PC Gamer represents all that was awesome about games journalism in the '90s, now sadly diminished. Brilliant, funny, full of integrity, and solid print sales were always present, and with the tragic exception of the latter, still are. Video game magazines were hit harder than nearly any other magazine vertical when the internet began its uncoordinated, but inevitable assault on print media. Magazines are now struggling to find their place in a world filled with more competitors than paying cu...
Xe Systems, the Private-Defense-Contractor-Formerly-Known-As-Blackwater, has been busy attempting to re-brand themselves. They have a new name, several new sub-names, and have at least titularly shifted their focus to training rather than mercenary work. Controversial founder Erik Prince is no longer with the company, which is now owned by a large investment consortium.
At GDC 2011 this past March, three of the world's best game designers participated in a contest called Game Design Challenge. Each presented their vision for a game that fit the prompt "Bigger than Jesus: games as religion" before an audience, with applause to determine the winner. Jenova Chen, John Romero, and Jason Rohrer all spoke, and Rohrer won in a landslide with his revolutionary game called Chain World.
Dead Island is known for having the most successful trailer of any game ever. It was a beautiful cinematic experience. But sadly, as details of the game itself emerged, and after it was shown at conventions around the world, doubt began to set in about whether this five-year-long project would live up to the hype.
Deep in their heart of hearts, most Americans dream of having their car festooned with missile launchers and machine guns. Anyone who cuts them off or looks at them funny in traffic could be dispensed with quick and extreme justice, leaving a real-life James Bond and his passengers free to pursue their American dreams faster than everyone else. Racing games and shooting games are among the two most popular types of video games. So why aren't there more games where one can race cars and shoot ...
Dungeon Defenders is finally out on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. We've previously featured the tower defense RPG, and if you haven't had a chance to check out the PAX interview with Trendy Entertainment, now would be a good time.
The used video game market represents a huge portion of retail game sales. It's the only avenue in which most people can afford to buy AAA games. But game publishers aren't exactly big fans of used game sales, since they only benefit from gamers buying new ones. GameStop and Best Buy are huge corporate interests, so EA and the rest of the big publishers out there have not been able to push them around on the issue of used game sales... so far.
PayPal has, all in all, been great for allowing Web 2.0 economy to grow. For most entities, it's the best way to send money between two people on the internet.
No Time To Explain is the first game by two man indie developer tiny Build Games. It's a fun and very stylish platformer in it's own right, available for $10 from the tiny Build website. Articles about the game on RockPaperShotgun, Destructoid, and other prominent PC sites helped it develop substantial hype and raise more than $26,000 via Kickstarter to fund development.
Deepak Chopra is one of the last people you'd think to be associated with video games. He's a new age spiritual icon who's built an empire on self-help books and speaking tours, one of which my Marin County liberal parents deigned to drag me to in middle school. Recently, a new outlet for his teachings was announced—a video game project three years in the making, simply called Leela.
Most kids who play video games will never become professional gamers. Those that do are part of a very select group— it's like being a professional actor or athlete. It's nice work if you can get it. For everyone else, the sad realization usually arrives sooner or later that time spent playing games might not have the practical rewards that homework or working hard at your job might deliver.
It's been a busy week here at Indie Games Ichiban, between attending PAX and breaking news stories about Stabyourself and Playdead Studios, that there's been relatively little time for some honest, good old-fashioned game playing. But time was made and here are two excellent indie games of varying age and platform with two very different themes.
Japan has a tendency to produce things that boggle the Western mind. Its citizens are already responsible for without a question the weirdest music video in the history of the medium. With that said, here is a video reenactment of several Pokemon (Pocket Monster in Japan) games released by Japanese performance art troupe Kusarine Project: Kusarine Project and their amazing YouTube channel first became known through the Japanese video sharing site/meme originator NicoNicoDouba. Their white mas...
Hideo Kojima is one of the biggest names in Japanese game design. He's the man behind every Metal Gear game, each of which has been beautiful but divisive. He's an auteur, a rarity in AAA game design, managing business, design, and programming for Kojima Productions. Last week he made a rare public appearance at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, which contains the school's video game programs, and gave a 90-minute talk about his career, influences, and the specifics of his new Fox game design...
Nicholas Entertainment Group (NEG) is a Polish independent game publisher that recently got their hands dirty with development. Their first game (with Intoxicate Studios) is the forthcoming horror first-person shooter Afterfall: InSanity, which comes out next month—dangerously close to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 and Assassin's Creed Revelations release dates. That's some stiff competition for small company, especially since it's a $35 debut game.
Minecraft might still be in development, but that doesn't mean a creative guy like Notch doesn't have time for other projects. A few months ago he and his company Mojang announced their second game, a digital collectible trading card affair called Scrolls. A simple title (perhaps too generic if anything), but it's not the name of an extant game, and it's appropriate given the visual style and card-based gameplay of the game itself.
Last Thursday, on October 7th, indie game developers from around the world walked down a red carpet in Santa Monica, California in the hopes of winning an IndieCade award. We previously discussed the IndieCade festival and conference, but the award show is a smaller, more inclusive event that provides finalists the opportunity to see their project on stage with rewards by sponsors such as LG, who presented this year’s ceremony.
The Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is the biggest video game expo in the most game crazy country on Earth. It is kind of a big deal. As such, their "indie" game showcase/contest Sense of Wonder Night (SOWN) is a major opportunity for developers of all shapes and sizes to showcase their work to important industry leaders and expo attendees. 2011 will be SOWN's fourth year, and it began accepting submissions yesterday.
Video games are the newest major expressive media. As such, their role in society is still being defined continuously. A monumentally important example of this took place yesterday at the US Supreme Court. After a long deliberation, the highest court in the land handed down a decision invalidating a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors on the grounds that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment, like movies and books.
Game Developer Magazine is a prominent periodical for game industry folk to read up on their craft. For those who don't work in games, it can be a little dry, but every year they release a Game Career Guide devoted to welcoming other people into their world. Best of all, it's free! You can view the newest issue just released here in your browser, or download the PDF version.
The war between horror movie monsters has been going on for the better part of the last century. We're talking vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies and mutant flying creatures, each of which has had their fair share of the limelight in film. But it comes and goes. Once moviegoers get an overdose of a particular monster, they aren't scared anymore, meaning it's time to move onto the next. So, Dracula goes away kicking and screaming, just to be replaced by Frankenstein and then werewolves. But...
To most gamers, video games are largely devoid of place. In the post-arcade era, the only real world locations most associate with video games are GameStop and the couch. But there's so much more to them than that!
The UK print media has been yellower than the middle traffic light for a long time now. The News of the World scandal has cast that into particularly sharp relief of late. The Sun, one of the biggest newspapers in the United Kingdom, demonstrated it again last week when they ran the front-page headline "DEATH BY XBOX".
Video games were blamed in the death of Chris Staniforth last May, but now things have gotten worse as video games take the blame for a more recent tragedy...
After a decent amount of downtime, one of the best indie game sites on the internet has finally relaunched! PixelProspector is a one-man gaming blog and YouTube channel devoted to the weird and beautiful world of indie games. In the first half of 2010, it received a huge boost in popularity from its video 235 Free Indie Games in 10 Minutes, a hypnotic montage of the best indie games the site had to offer at that point. And to celebrate the relaunch of the blog, which now has an improved desig...
Many gamers see the film industry as the premier model that video games should follow, and it's no surprise. Movies are seen as the most legitimate and profitable of all artistic visual mediums, which is certainly qualities practitioners of any new medium would desire. Big budget games like Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire strive for the same level as film by aping its techniques, focusing on storytelling in a cinematic fashion, rather than creating compelling gameplay experiences.