Category Archives: General

Why Indie Games?

This article might start off a little bit… differently, but please! Bare with me here!

Do you remember the last time you felt awe playing a game? Campaigns that make you feel alive and refreshed are far and few these days. Half the time I play games I can predict exactly what’s going to happen. For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time I played a Call of Duty game that stimulated my narrative needs. Back in 2015, my gaming life consisted of multiplayer first-person shooters on an endless loop. From COD to Battlefield to Halo, over and over and over again. My whole gaming diet was lacking that sustenance. The slice of cake rich with plot twists, character designs, and emotional attachments. And then I found what I was looking for (which I’m going to assume you know from the title): Indie games.

Games that weren’t there to pander to massive demographics and had more to show than cleaner graphics compared to the previous year’s edition. Indie games envelop you. The titles, although sometimes unheard of, are unique and crafted by small teams, many times starting from nothing. I’ve just been going on and on about how indie games give a whole new life to gaming, but let me give you a more personal example.

For those who’ve played OneShot by Little Cat Feet, you know exactly where this is going. For those who haven’t enjoyed the game themselves, I implore you to go check out our review, here, and possibly pick up a copy, then continue reading. There will be spoilers ahead!

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OneShot gave me something I haven’t felt from a game in a very long time. It gave me a connection. From the moment I entered the dimly lit, pixelated world, I knew something was going to be different about this game. The soundtrack from the moment I entered this game made my chest swell with excitement. If that wasn’t good enough, something refreshing happened that I was definitely not expecting. We were NOT the main character. In OneShot, the beautiful minds behind the game decided to have you play “God”. You were the influencer. While you did walk around and control Niko, all your interactions with him were between you and Niko. Two completely different entities.

We went the whole game watching and bonding with Niko. We explored the world with Niko. We met every individual we could spot with Niko. Helped countless people with Niko. And in the end, what does the game do? It presents you with a choice of two wrong answers. You can sacrifice Niko to save the world or you could sacrifice the world to save Niko. Reading this without playing the game might not do you much good, being that you didn’t grow that connection that felt eternal with Niko. Me myself, I didn’t know what to do. I won’t lie, it brought tears to my eyes. This poor innocent boy who’s done no wrong is faced with an ethical dilemma and turns to you, his God, for help. I couldn’t take it. I shut off the game then and there.

Too many thoughts clouded my mind, I returned the next day, ready to make a decision. The only choice that would be right was saving the world at Niko’s expense. But, when I finally hit clarity, the game threw a curve-ball that hit me in the gut as hard as a truck. I opened the game and saw this:

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Indie games are your favorite stories mixed with your best friends. So, why indie games? Because they’re the closest thing to true, real games.

The Adventures of Sullivan – Developer Preview

Hi, we are Bumper Car Studios; the two man team of brothers behind The Adventures of Sullivan.
We grew up playing some of the world’s most iconic 2D games ever made. Some of our best memories are in front of a screen, endlessly playing Nintendo, Game Boy and several other consoles, often to the great despair of our parents who would have preferred we spent more time outside.

Ever since those days, weeks, months, and years of staring awe-struck into a world of pixels, we have wanted to create our own video games, and evoke the same feelings in others who share our love and respect for the experiences video games give us. The Adventures of Sullivan is our first project, and we hope there will be many more to come.

In development since September 2017, The Adventures of Sullivan is an arcade styled, 2D run and gun side-scroller, set in a science fiction world with pixel graphics. We will be releasing The Adventures of Sullivan on Steam in 2019, with plans to release on three other digital platforms.

To help this project come to life as organically as possible, everything in Sullivan has been created from scratch. All of our code, artwork, levels and music are being created and designed from the ground up, to create a nostalgic experience, mixed with modern gaming elements, to deliver fluid and entertaining game play. We aren’t borrowing code, or flipping another game’s design to crank out a cheap, shallow indie title.

The Adventures of Sullivan

Beyond profits and paychecks, we believe games should be fun. We also believe games should be accessible, and affordable; You won’t need high-end hardware to run Sullivan, or any of our other future games. We will never include micro-transactions in our projects, and we also aim to price our games at a very modest rate. We will be selling The Adventures of Sullivan for $5.

The Adventures of Sullivan

When we set out to make a game, we were inspired by the classic shoot ’em ups and side-scrollers of the 80s and 90s. Games kids would play right after getting home from school. Games that made car rides infinitely shorter. Games that defined the 2D genre and will never be forgotten. That meant making a simplistic, straightforward shooter with tight mechanics and fast, fun gameplay. We also wanted it to feel like an arcade experience, putting a quarter into a machine, and seeing how long you could survive, what level you could make it to, and how many enemies you could defeat along the way. This is also shown in our art style, which is an intentionally chosen, smaller resolution. Instead of hyper detailed, fine pixels, we prefer the larger, blocky pixels that really throw you back in time.

The Adventures of Sullivan

The Adventures of Sullivan will consist of 7 levels, with over 60 different and unique enemies, 18 usable weapons, environmental hazards, dodging mechanics and epic boss battles all surrounding a heart felt story with an original sound track. There’s no procedural generation in The Adventures of Sullivan, there’s no inventory system, there’s no crafting, and there’s no loot! It’s an indie title truly inspired by the arcade style classics, brought to you in 2019.

The Adventures of Sullivan

Consider supporting us on Kickstarter and helping to bring this passion project to life!

Find us at: https://www.bumpercarstudios.io

 

Surgeon Simulator Switch release date and trailer announced

Perform alien autopsys and other bizarre operations on the go.

Surgeon Simulator is the critically-acclaimed and infamously difficult operation sim by Bossa Studios. Starting life as one of Bossa’s well-renowned game jams, it was originally launched on PC in 2013, and due to popular demand, has since been successfully released on PS4, PSVR, iOS and now on the Nintendo Switch. It has generated over 2 million fanmade Youtube videos and has remained a popular favourite amid influencers including PewDiePie and Fernanfloo since launch.

Fully revived and feeling better-than-ever, the upcoming Nintendo Switch version takes advantage of the console’s much-lauded functionalities to create the most immersive surgeon experience yet. You can watch that on your tv-box. By snapping out a Joy-Con controller, players will be able to swap to motion controls at any time for nail-biting precision, while HD Rumble will help bring the full roster of tools – from hammers to hatchets, buzzsaws to laser pens – to life like never before.

Also taking advantage of Nintendo’s split Joy-Con support, players will be able to tag a second surgeon in at any time, whether it’s at home or on the go, to immediately launch local co-op play! Because sometimes you need a second opinion…

Containing all the original heart-in-your-mouth (or wherever else you decide to put it!) operations, including the additional teeth and eye transplants from the A&E Edition, Surgeon Simulator CPR also includes the highly-classified Alien Autopsy mode, too! Coupled with the console’s effortless portability and multitude of play options, it’s safe to say operating on the go’s never been easier.

Surgeon Simulator will be available on the Switch from the 13th of September, priced at £9.99. you can also pre-order now and get a 10% discount. If you’d rather not wait, you can pick up Surgeon Simulator on Steam Surgeon now, where it’s received very positive reviews.

Elea launches on Xbox One and Steam

The first episode in this space adventure is available now.

Last week saw the release of the first episode of surreal sci-fi game Elea, as it launched on to Xbox One, and Steam.

In Elea, you play as space scientist of the same name. In 2073, Earth was struck by a horrid childhood disease and Elea’s husband Ethan joined an expedition to colonize Solace, a habitable exoplanet, to save humanity from extinction. The interstellar ship he was on, Pilgrimage, went radio silent shortly after it reached planet Solace. Thirteen years later, our protagonist joins a recovery mission to investigate the faith of the expedition. What follows is an episodic and wondrous journey through space.

The first episode takes us somewhere else however, as Elea awakens in what appears to be Mexico. In reality however, she is not in her home but in a recovery room somewhere, years later, revisiting her memories in some sort of simulation. As the memory trip progresses, the house and its surroundings start to change and deteriorate, as time passes and grief descends on a home that was once full of love and expectations.

Key Features of the game include:

  • Unravel a rich, touching story inspired by books of classic sci-fi writers
  • Submerge yourself in amazing graphics powered by Unreal Engine 4
  • Discover gorgeous space environments, spectacular vistas and detailed interiors
  • Expect the unexpected on this curious journey through outer space

The first episode of Elea is available to purchase now from Steam and the Xbox One store.

Our Steam sale picks – February 2018

Play as an exiled ‘wum’ looking for a new home in this bizarre but charming world, filled with strange creatures, puzzles, monsters and political chaos.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/38700/Toki_Tori/

Superflight is an intense, easy to learn wingsuit game with an infinite number of beautiful procedurally generated maps. A great game to relax for half an hour and chase your latest highscore!

http://store.steampowered.com/app/732430/Superflight/

Lisa is a quirky side-scrolling RPG set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Beneath the charming and funny exterior is a world full of disgust and moral destruction.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/335670/LISA/

A frantic 1- to 4-player couch co-op action space shooter. Explore a colorful galaxy in a massive neon battleship that you control together by manning turrets, lasers, shields and thrusters.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/252110/Lovers_in_a_Dangerous_Spacetime/

Play as an exiled ‘wum’ looking for a new home in this bizarre but charming world, filled with strange creatures, puzzles, monsters and political chaos.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/400630/Wuppo/

Immortal: Unchained is unleashed on PC and consoles

Play as a human weapon saving the cosmos in hardcore action RPG.

In Immortal: Unchained, you have been unleashed from your eternal prison, you are an ultimate weapon tasked with saving the Cosmos from a cataclysmic event threatening to end all worlds. Experience fast-paced tactical combat that combines ruthless gunplay with brutal melee combat. Explore unforgiving sci-fi worlds and defeat legendary bosses to acquire powerful weapons and delve into a vast array of weapon choices and builds.

Robin Flodin, CEO of developer Toadman Interactive said:

“We’re thrilled to finally put Immortal: Unchained into player’s hands. We’ve worked tirelessly to deliver a game that matches the vision that
Game Odyssey brought to us, and that our fans and community have been asking for. I’m incredibly proud of what the team and the studio has achieved.”

“I’m very happy to see our ideas and worlds come to life in Immortal: Unchained,” added Nader Moukarim, CEO of Game Odyssey Ltd. “I hope gamers all over the world will appreciate and enjoy the game, and that this is but the start of something greater.”

“As Sold Out’s first physical and digital release, Immortal: Unchained marks a major milestone for the company,” said Garry Williams, CEO of Sold Out. “It’s a really unique game, and we think this new IP will offer a compelling alternative for fans of the hardcore action-RPG genre.”

Immortal: Unchained is available now on Steam, with a 10% discount running until the 15th of December, putting the game at £35.99 / $44.99 / €44.99. The game is also available for both PS4 and Xbox One from today.

What is your gaming poison of choice?

Before we start a gaming sesh, we all know that at some point, we will need some kind of liquid sustenance to keep us well oiled for the battles and adventures that await us. But what if your poison of choice?

For me, well that all depends on what it is exactly I am planning on playing.
A first-person shooter? It has got to be 100% caffeinated, be it coffee or a good old energy drink, it has to be able to give me an edge over my competition. The same goes for any online competitive game, I feel like caffeine gives me an edge, and maybe a palpitation or two.

If we are talking RPG however, well that’s a whole other ball game, call me old fashioned but it’s got to be an ale. I don’t know why but there is something about delving chin first into a fantasy RPG that makes me want a pint of old school ale. I don’t know whether it’s the thought of being in a tavern with some hard-core stale smelling adventures that appeals to me but it’s gotta be beer for an RPG. As you can imagine, this can cause a few issues from time to time, mainly the increase in toilet breaks, slow reflexes, slight loss of vision and the impending, ‘where the hell am I?’ when I load the game up the next morning.

Everything else, well sadly that would have to be good old boring H20. I try to drink as much water as I can but I feel like gaming is a good opportunity to get the litres put away. I don’t know about you but I drink 10 times more when I’m gaming then any other time, I don’t know whether it’s the pressure, loading screens or need for breaks but I drink a lot while I’m gaming!

Do you have a particular way of keeping yourself oiled through a good gaming session? Let us know!

Days of Discovery: Preview

The world is round. Fairway knows he can prove it and secure the riches of the new world. Or, at least, that’s what he thinks will happen in this preview of Days of Discovery by Matt Worden Games, coming to Kickstarter on June 19th.

Days of Discovery is a one- to six-player strategy, card game. Each game is played in three “acts” representing three phases of securing a patron, getting a crew and supplies and, finally, the voyage to the new world. Games take about 30 minutes to play.  Days of Discovery is the first in a series of games by Matt Worden and is coming to Kickstarter this month. We were given a preview version of the game so some art is likely to change (the box for example).

Initial Impressions

  1. A game is three acts which is an interesting narrative mechanic. Each of the three chapters feels like three different types of games, but uses only a single set of cards. Pretty nice.
  2. The multi-use cards are a highlight of the game. They’re a bit cluttered, but understandable once you’re in the middle of the game.
  3. The art and illustrations feel like an update to something you’d expect from the relevant time period.
  4. Games are pretty quick and easy to learn.
  5. This game can play from 1 to 6 players, but the real sweet spot seemed to be around 4.

How to play

In Days of Discovery, players are competing to reach a newly discovered land in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They must gain a sponsor, recruit a crew and buy supplies and then make the voyage across the ocean. Each of these form the three acts of the game.

To start, a number of sponsors are turned face equal to the number of players plus one. The sponsors have a suit, are ranked, and have a certain set of requirements. These requirements are what that sponsor needs to see as proof that you’re the right one to back in a voyage to the new world.  Then the deck of “people” cards is shuffled. The people cards are the primary set of cards in the game and are used for different purposes depending on which act you’re in.

At the start of the first act, each player is dealt three people cards face up.  Another five people cards are placed face up in the middle. The remainder are placed face down in the center as a draw pile.  The first act is now ready to begin.

During this act, players will take turns trying to build the support they need to secure one of the face up sponsors.  This act is primarily set collection: players will recruit two cards (either from the top of the draw pile or from the face up cards) trying to gather plans and evidence that meet the requirements of one of the sponsors. The support is shown in the upper left of the card.  In addition, each of the type of people cards are only persuasive to certain of the sponsors.  Each people card has a set of suits below the support icons.  After drawing two cards, the players can then secure a sponsor if they meet the support requirements.

This continues from player to player.  When the second to last player secures a sponsor, the last player will automatically take the lowest-ranked sponsor remaining.

Once a player secures a sponsor, they’ll move onto the second act.  This act begins with the player discarding cards from their hand until they reach the starting hand size shown on the sponsor card.  Now, during act two, players will continue to draw from market of people card, except now they’re looking at the crew and supplies on the lower left of the card which will be used during the voyage phase of Act 3.  Players might also be looking at the voyage parts (lower right) as a way to plan for Act 3. Act 2 is much like a traditional card game trying to build an optimal hand.

During Act 2, the player will draw from the draw pile or market equal to the draw number on their sponsor card.  Once they reach the max hand size, also shown on the sponsor card, they can either exchange cards or begin Act 3.  Everyone will being Act 3 together.

Once every player has their maximum hand size, the players advance to Act 3.  During Act 3, players will take turns either voyaging or foraging in an effort to complete five voyage segments. At the start of Act 3, all unclaimed sponsors are removed. The people cards in the discard pile and market are shuffled back into the deck, and players pick up their hands.

Taking turns, each player can choose to voyage or forage. During a voyage action, a player will play a card from either their hand or a random card from the top of the deck to start a voyage segment.  The voyage segment’s duration is shown as a number on top of the ship in the lower right.  The player plays that card horizontally in front of them, then draws from the deck cards equal to the voyage duration.  These drawn cards show the segment requirements in the upper right of the card — typically a number of crew and supplies or, alternatively special events like “bad luck,” “illness” or “rough seas.”

To complete that segment successfully, the player must then discard cards from their hand that have at least the segment’s requirements. There’s no change if you overspend on crew or supplies.  In this case, all the spent people cards and segment requirement cards are discarded, the segment is left face up and, if possible, the player can play a card from their hand as bonus points facedown below the segment (a journal entry).

If the player can’t successfully complete a segment (or chooses not to), then they must forage.  The player turns 4 cards face up from the draw pile, adds three to their hand and one to the current segment.

Once one player completes a fifth segment, all other players get one more turn. Then, the players will score the points from their voyage.  Their score is equal to the total of all the segment durations plus the segment durations of the cards played as journal entries. The player with the most points wins.

On the green

Days of Discovery was well-received by everyone who played.  It has a good number of things that made each game unique and fresh:

Three games in one.  Days of Discovery really is three games in three distinct acts. Like a medley of songs, there’s a transition at each step, but it never breaks stride. From set collection, the strategic card game, it’s got a bit of something for everyone.  However, of the three games, the voyaging is definitely the highlight.

Multiuse cards.  I don’t think that the three-in-one thing could work but for the well-crafted, multi-use cards.  They make the first few games a bit harder to learn since it’s not clear how each Act works together, but after that players started getting the hang of it.  At times, players were concerned about the amount of information on each card, but at no point did that actually slow the game down.

Illustrations.  The deck is more than 100 cards with about 40 unique illustrations and personalities.  It was pretty rare to have more than one of the same cards in your hand so it seemed to be a pretty good amount of uniqueness.

Where it comes up short

Most of the players shared some of the same thoughts about the game, but none of them were game breaking.

Hand management.  There are two points in the game that seem to disrupt the hand-building of the player. The first comes when a player transitions to Act 2 and a player goes from a bunch of cards, painstakingly collected during Act 1, to just two or three cards.  Likewise, it seems hard, if not impossible, to complete the five segments using only the cards in your hand. And in this sense, it defeats a player’s feeling that they’re really able to plan and strategize for that final voyage to the new world.

“Insider” rule. I left it out of the rules summary above, but during Act 1, there’s a gatekeeper mechanism to playing cards to garner a sponsor. Not only do the cards all have to have the sponsor’s suit, you have to have a relatively-rare “insider” card marked with a star on that suit (3 or 4 per sponsor).  The trouble is two-fold: in 100 card deck, there’s no telling when that card would appear and no telling whether you’d be the one to get the card. So you could be collecting cards for a sponsor and not get that one card. We nixed this rule after a few games. One option we thought about is that the insider card could be used to double support for that particular sponsor instead of as a gatekeeper.

Variation in the sponsors?  As an entry point to the game, it felt like the selection of sponsors should have had more impact on the game. To this end, I think there’s probably room here for more varied “reward” for reaching for that higher ranked sponsor. On the other hand, the fact that there isn’t a huge difference means there isn’t a runaway leader issue right out of the gate.

In the hole

Days of Discovery is a good starting point for a series of games set up around the world it’s creating. Days of Discovery is a fantastic little mashup of three different card games. It creatively uses the same deck of cards is a creative way to express the story in three Acts which loosely follows the real world historical exploration of North America by European explorers. If you like card games and are looking for one that plays quickly, is easily learned and can play six, this game should definitely be on your list.

Developer Banned from Steam for asking friends to write reviews

Insel Games, has been banned from Steam and had all its games removed for apparently trying to ‘manipulate review scores’ for their latest indie game release Wild Buster: Heroes of Titan.

What exactly did they do to bring down the mighty hammer of judgement? Well, an email was leaked on Reddit which revealed the companies CEO asked employees to buy the struggling game and write a review.

If you are an indie developer, you are probably a little shocked right now, as I’m sure most indie developers who have made a game, have encouraged family and friends to buy the game and leave a review.

I can’t help but think this decision from Steam was a little heavy handed. No doubt larger studios are likely growth hacking the system in their own ways, not to mention the countless developers who exploited trading card to make profit without immediate repercussions.

It’s speculated that Steam put on the latex gloves for this situation due to the nature of the CEO’s language, which showed forceful coercion. In the email to his studio employees, the CEO wrote:

“I cannot force you to write a review (let alone tell you what to write) – but I should not have to. Neglecting the importance of reviews will ultimately cost jobs,” reads the email.

“So I am asking you to do either of the following: buy the game and present me with the receipt until Friday night, for which you will be reimbursed within 24 hours, or explain to me tomorrow why you do not wish to do this. I would like to discuss this individually and privately with each of you.”

In my opinion, it simply sounds like a desperate studio lead trying to keep food on the table of his employees.
Albeit passive aggressive, but then again it was 3am, and he is likely about to lose his studio.

Either way, to punish a whole studio, many of which may lose their jobs, if not the whole studio, purely on the actions of one person, is a little unusual.

Steam’s reply to the situation was:

“It has been recently reported on Reddit that the publisher for this game, Insel Games Ltd., have been attempting to manipulate the user review score for their titles on Steam. We have investigated these claims, and have identified unacceptable behaviour involving multiple Steam accounts controlled by the publisher of this game. The publisher appears to have used multiple Steam accounts to post positive reviews for their own games. This is a clear violation of our review policy and something we take very seriously.

For these reasons, we are ending our business relationship with Insel Games Ltd. and removing their games from our store. If you have previously purchased this game, it will remain accessible in your Steam library.”

Here are some responses from the community:

 

So why was Hello games not punished for No Man’s Sky’s false advertising, and deceiving thousands of gamers? Is it because Steam stood to make a lot of profit from No Man’s Sky? To my knowledge Hello Games, or ring leader Sean Murray to this day have not apologised, been held accountable, or even disciplined.

All I am saying is, Steam should not be swinging the ban hammer so freely without warning. Especially considering it appears the Insel studio staff didn’t even review the game in question, and if they did, it would have been half a dozen reviews that would have likely had no bearing on the games sales outcome. If you’re wondering how to move steam games to another drive, check this tutorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deiland… Who needs a farm when you have a whole planet!

With the huge success of endlessly fun Stardew Valley, the industry has seen a massive boom in charming farming simulator games. Deiland looks to be the next big indie title of this genre to hit the scene. From the hugely talented small team of developers over at ChiBig Studios in Valencia, Spain,  and with support from Square Enix Collective.

Taking inspiration from a mix of JRP’s such as Final Fantasy and classic simulator Harvest Moon,  Deiland is a single player fantasy RPG sandbox with elements of farming, building, crafting and questing.  The game takes place on a Deiland, a beautifully designed living planet featuring a variety of species of plant life, a night and day cycle and even the occasional meteor shower! Using magic and tools you must survive and prosper in Deiland, meeting a range of supporting characters along the way. As well as other external locations for you to travel and explore.

If that wasn’t enough, the game features an original soundtrack by the talented Paco Mitos, to help perfectly capture the emotion in the game.

If you think this games shows are much promise as we do, why not check out their Kickstarter campaign, where for just $15 you can back yourself an early access digital copy of the game for either PC, Mac or PlayStation 4.

JB