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IndieGames.com is presented by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, which runs the Independent Games Festival & Summit every year at Game Developers Conference. The company (producer of the Game Developers Conference series, Gamasutra.com and Game Developer magazine) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

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Valve met with Steam Greenlight devs - here's the report

May 9, 2013 5:11 PM | Staff

greenlight box.jpg

[By Enrique Dryere]

Valve hosted a developer chat today, which brought a whirlwind of ideas and discussion. Here are some of the biggest points that were covered throughout the 1 hour chat in condensed form. This information was compiled from both developers and Valve employees:

On the topic of whether developers could gain access to the Steamworks API prior to being greenlit:

This seems to be one of the focuses for Steam and Greenlight as it moves forward. Although there is "no timeframe yet," TomB [Valve] has stated they are actively looking into it. He reiterated that Gabe Newell has talked about moving towards an open platform.

Although developers may be able to use Steamworks, whether or not their games will only show up in Greenlight, through searches, or on the main page is still not decided. Alden [Valve] said "There's a lot of unknowns and a bunch of work to get there, so we'll see the systems evolve over time as we iterate and make progress in that direction."

Here's what makes Ludum Dare so special

May 2, 2013 8:10 AM | Staff

ludum dare thumb.jpgWhether you're an indie developer or not, you'll likely have heard of the Ludum Dare 48-hour competition and game jam. Three times a year, hundreds of developers come together online to create games based on a set theme over a single weekend, and subsequently vote for a winner in the weeks after.

Up until the start of 2011, Ludum Dare had a fairly sizable following, with around 170-240 indies applying for each competition -- but mid-2011 saw the gathering explode, first up to 600 submissions, then 900, until its record of around 1400 games last year.

This record was shortlived. During last weekend's Ludum Dare #26, offering the theme "Minimalism" to its participants, 2347 games were created with 1715 submitted in the main competition. More than 2000 games that didn't exist before the weekend are all of a sudden readily available to download and play.

Indie dev Mike Kasprzak runs the contest these days, and he says that there were some clear trends during the competition this time around.

"I'd say there's definitely a trend towards mechanics-driven games versus content-driven games," he tells us. "What I mean are games where mechanics dictate what art is made, versus the art dictating what code is written. It's not surprising really. The time is short and the main event is solo, so the vast majority of those entering skew programmer-ish or technical."

Freeware Pick: Feeling masochistic? Mario on Drugs is just what the doctor ordered

April 22, 2013 4:10 PM | Paul Hack

mariood.jpgI'm not usually interested in "fan" games, but there are things about Mario on Drugs that lift it above the usual ripped sprites and cloned gameplay common to the subgenre. The game features original art, and its wicked sense of humor kept me playing and laughing through my tears of frustration. There are some issues, such as message boxes that look like they're from another program entirely, and a jump function that keeps you hopping indefinitely if you don't lift your finger from the key. But if you can overlook those shortcomings, Mario on Drugs is a thoroughly entertaining little masocore puzzle-platformer.

FEZ up for preorder on Steam and GOG

April 22, 2013 2:04 PM | Anthony Swinnich

Good news: The PC release of Polytron Corporation's FEZ is getting closer and closer to its May 1 release. Better news: Those who preorder will receive a discount on the asking price.

Is Steam Greenlight working? Jools Watsham expresses his frustrations

April 22, 2013 6:10 AM | Staff

jools portrait.jpg[Original Post by Jools Watsham]

When we decided to port our critically-acclaimed and award-winning title, Mutant Mudds, over to the PC I looked at the library of games available on Steam to get an idea of pricing and genres available. Based on the games that are available on Steam I expected that Mutant Mudds would not have a problem getting on Steam. Not because I think Mutant Mudds is oh-so deservedly so, but because the library of games available on Steam ranges greatly in genre and quality. It does not give the impression of any strict guidelines.

My development experience with Renegade Kid has primarily been with Nintendo platforms. When we submit a game to Nintendo they test the game to ensure it does not crash or have any major bugs that impede gameplay. If the game contains any issues in this regard Nintendo sends us a report that explains why the game was failed. We fix it and resubmit. Nintendo works with developers where needed to isolate issues and correct them.

Valve is a successful company that is reportedly in good financial shape. With this in mind I assumed they would have a robust team in place that provided a similar submission service as Nintendo. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a Steam team member via email thanks to a friend. The Steam team member sent me a friendly email with a link to the submission form and said they look forward to checking out a playable build of Mutant Mudds.

Linux Tycoon dev Bryan Lunduke releases a game with a deadly, insatiable virus

April 20, 2013 6:15 PM | John Polson

LEAIT.pngLinux Tycoon and 2299: The Game developer Bryan Lunduke has mad jokes. He released this week the "Lunduke Experimental Artificial Intelligence Engine" ("LEAIT" for short) for Linux, Mac and Windows for $3, with free demos. The goal of the game is to save an A.I. from a virus by deleting your actual files. Talk about committing to the game!

Mark of the Ninja creator: Innovation no excuse for crunch

April 2, 2013 1:00 AM | Staff

jamie cheng small.jpgJamie Cheng, founder of Klei Entertainment, creator of the XBLA games Shank and Mark of the Ninja had strong words for any game maker who might claim that working extensive overtime is an intrinsic part of making 'art'.

Speaking at a GDC talk in San Fransisco today, Cheng said: "I find it disingenuous when game developers claim that the reason they work a whole load of overtime is because they are trying to do something new. To hide behind 'art' as a shield for poor process is wrong. You will screw with future developments by taking this approach."

Indeed, while producing mediocre games is a quick way to sink a company, "employing an unsustainable development style will suffocate one over the long term," said Cheng.

He explained that, following a difficult development process during the creation of one of the company's earlier titles, Shank , he made a promise to himself that he would never put himself or his team through crunch again. "I realised that not only do we need to build great games but we also need to find a way to do this without ruining our lives in the process," he said.

How can game music feel as meaningful as a live experience?

April 1, 2013 3:59 PM | Staff

audio_jury_vreeland.jpgRich "Disasterpeace" Vreeland (Fez) notes music has always been as impermanent as life -- a performance was heard once, then gone forever. "This impermanence has great potential to create meaning," he says. "If you go to a really good show, the event you're witnessing may even feel important somehow."

The accessibility of recorded music changes that relationship; video game music accustoms us to listening to loops. But could games imitate the impermanence of live music?

It's a useful question to think about: Suppose there was a great game that took only 15 minutes to play, where interactions felt fresh and you could replay the experience as many times as you liked and still get something out of it. But if that game had only one piece of looping music, it would blunt the uniqueness of each interaction.

"Why would you do this to your player?" Vreeland says. "Why would you... invite someone to hear something so much that it's rendered completely meaningless?"

GDC/PAX East Catch-up Part 1: N+, Cart Life, Hotline Miami follow-ups

April 1, 2013 9:00 AM | John Polson

GDC13.jpg[Over the next two days, the blog will share some of the most interesting news found around the internet from GDC 2013 and PAX East 2013. The two conferences occurred back-to-back, spanning March 22 to March 29. Here is the first part of the highlights:]

Joystiq on Papo and Yo devs confront more monsters in next game, Silent Enemy "It's an exploration and puzzle game in mind for PC, tablets, Ouya, PS4 and possibly other platforms by the end of the year... [weaving] a subtle story about the hopelessness, weakness and determination that victims of bullying regularly face."

Metanet Software on The Year of N, For Real This Time "N v2.0 features some new and some classic levels, local 2P co-op, level-sharing, highscores and some new "fun-lockables" (TM), including Arcade Mode... N++ will fill a different niche, and allow us to explore some avenues we're excited about that don't work in the web version."

Wired on Kickstarted, $99 Game Console Ouya Will Launch June 4 "The interface is simple, just a menu of four words: Play, Discover, Make and Manage. The latter lets you adjust the system settings; the first is a list of the games you own. It's in the middle two options where things get interesting."

Joystiq on Cart Life follow-up, Blood of the Ortolan, sets the table in a few weeks "It's about food," Hofmeier said. "It's a food-themed murder mystery in the way that Cart Life is a retail simulation. I haven't said much about it yet because I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver, which I did with Cart Life."

Designing without a pitch - An FTL postmortem

April 1, 2013 1:00 AM | Staff

ftl-small.jpgDevelopers who set out to create a game without a design document or template still must have a clear focus to test their ideas against. This was the advice of Matthew Davis and Justin Ma, co-founders of Subset Games and creators of FTL: Faster Than Light, the Kickstarter-funded space strategy game released to widespread critical and commercial success in 2012.

The pair began work on the game with only a target atmosphere - no genre, pacing or scope planned, thinking the development would be a three-month side-project for them.

"We started with a very vague idea for a concept and used that as a guiding light for the entire project," said Davis. "By having one singular focus we were able to abandon everything else that didn't fit in line with that vision."

The pair admitted that many features were dropped from the game that they had initially hoped to include. "We wanted multiplayer features that didn't fit the template," said Ma. "We kept ditching things to keep moving towards the goal."

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