Xbox LIVE Indie Games - The February 2011 Thread

#1


I am back! I moved on December 6th, and haven’t had the internet since then. I don’t know why it took so long. We did have a few centimetres of snow between then and now, and I understand that while the entire country is cleared, Royal Mail are still snowed in, and some postmen have been trapped ankle deep in snow for over a month now. So maybe the company that came to sort my phone line suffered similar delays. Regardless, the games! I think this is possibly the worst month I’ve ever had to create a thread for. I could have put almost every game in the “bad” category, and it was a Herculean effort not to.

Thanks to Cerebral Assassin for taking on last month’s thread. It’s ace to know that Indie Games are loved enough that people want to hear about them, no matter what!

You can buy any of these games via xbox.com by clicking the link associated with each game, or on the Games Marketplace on your Xbox 360. Simply enter the marketplace and scroll up to Indie Games, where you can check the top rated titles, the games that have just come out, or “browse” to find the games mentioned in this thread. Indie Game trials last eight minutes, which is often enough to establish what you think about it. Even if you don’t buy any of these games, at least trial them, tell people what you think, get more people trying them.

Go. Play. Enjoy. Tell us what you think! Tell all your friends! Get them to tell all their friends…

(Xbox LIVE Indie Games are available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. If you’re outside those countries you can still play these games by setting up a Gamertag for free for one of those countries. It’s worth doing.)



The Gold award, for the absolute best game that came out last month.

Bonded Realities was a shoo-in, really. All the pre-release hype (insomuch as any Indie Games are hyped pre-release) suggested that it was going to be a funny, charming RPG, and that’s exactly what it is.



The sound is great, both the music and the sound effects are really nice. It looks good, too. The screenshots don’t really do it justice, as it looks quite, simple, I guess. But in game, and in the context of the characters and the world they really work so well. The best graphics come with the enemy design, though.

The enemies, see, are just ridiculously imaginative. Every single one is either funny in basic concept (Pitch Fork) or has some hilarious attacks; usually both. This makes the (random) battles a joy, and if you don’t like random battles, turn ‘em off! The enemies are full of puns, and the rest of the dialogue continues the humorous trend, and there are laughs everywhere you go. It’s honestly impossible not to like it when the whole atmosphere around the game is so happy.

The story is a mysterious one, and I’m not nearly far enough yet to spoiler your face off. What I can tell you, is that after being dropped at playschool one day, you suddenly find yourself transported to a strange place with only a sword for company. It’s a nice twist on the old “waking up with amnesia and a sword” plot that’s been done to death in RPGs.



There are some issues, the battle system is very simple for example, but equally that could be seen as an advantage. There’s less pressure on the player in battle which frees them up to sit back and enjoy the enemies attacks.

For just 80 points, it’s another great RPG on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, and read on for more about Bonded Realities later!



The Silver award, for games that are incredible, but hey, only one game can be the Gold award winner. In any other month, any of these could have earned it!

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES is a super-hard and super-unfair platformer, but that’s what it tries to be and that’s why it’s so awesome. It’s from the same people that made The TEMPURA of the DEAD and has a similar style/sound to it. An excellent one.



Each level is pretty big, and you have to get to the end in one go. There are loads and loads of things that will kill you and most of them come from nowhere so you’ll die and have to start again. Some people won’t like this, but personally I do. I really enjoyed having to learn the levels and it made me laugh when I’d get right to the end and suddenly die from something you didn’t notice. When I say stuff comes from nowhere, it’s always signposted, just sometimes hidden really well.

You’ll know from this description whether you’ll like the game or find it frustrating, so buy or don’t buy!

=================

My favourite thing about Pixelbit Snooker & Pool might be that it’s only 4MB in size, which is just amazing, because it looks excellent. It’s, well, it’s snooker and pool, and there’s none of the faff that the WSC games have. So, no player models which means small filesizes and next to no loading times.



It plays a great game of snooker, too. The AI is fairly suspect but I never play these games for the AI, it’s all about the break building and this has that down. Aiming at a ball shows the direction both will travel in which makes building breaks easier, but really puts the focus on positional play, as well it should, so it really feels snookery.

The physics could be better, but there’s absolutely nothing gamebreaking wrong with them and indeed, it feels a lot better than many snooker games I’ve played. Like it.

=================

Squid. I’m all for games that take the top-down-shooter mechanic and do something unique with it. It’s why I liked Ripple before, and it’s why I like Squid now.



You’ve got no weapons, see. The only way to defeat enemies is to use their own weapons against them, any way you can. This starts basic enough, with missiles that tail you that you can lead into enemies, but then other enemies appear with their own attack patterns, etc. It’s always the avoiding I enjoy more than the shooting, so this is right up my street, and plays differently enough to the norm to warrant a look.

It looks and sounds lovely as well, which never hurts!



The Bronze Award, not the best games out this month, but every one of these is still either great, or has a really unique aspect to it that more than makes it worth trying.

Hyper Button is a bunch of QTEs, basically, but it has a really nice scoring hook that rewards you VERY well for perfection, so it’s quite addictive, playing over and over for that perfect score.

Antipole is a game I wanted to like more than I could. Or, I do really like it, but the movement of the main character is about twice as fast as it should be, and this badly hinders the jumping. Aside from that, the game is nice. The gravity mechanic is different enough from VVVVVV to warrant its existence, and the enemies add an extra thing to think about.

radiangames Ballistic is a perfectly competent twin-stick, as you’d expect from radiangames. The UI is uncharacteristically poor, it’s cramped with options hidden and explanations obscured, but overall, the game’s decent enough. Is it the worst radiangames game? Probably. But it’s still better than most other shooters on XBLIG.

Sword and Hammer is the stupidest game I’ve ever played, but I can’t not recommend it because everyone needs to at least play the trial for the utter bizarre absurdness of it all. Live action QTEs. Wut?

Wizard Apprentice is simple, but could have a whole ton of depth later on, it looks pretty big. It’s a monster-raising dungeon-crawling RPG. When you defeat a monster in battle, you can capture them and use them in battles. The battles aren’t that exciting, and the plot is non-existent, but there’s something compulsive in raising stronger and stronger monsters, and this has got it covered. Interesting, interesting, bit of a surprise, this. Oh, it’s an avatar game too. Even more surprising!

龍炎高校伝説 is by Hunters, there’s something about their games that I really like. They’re never brilliant, but they’re always fun and always packed with charm and humour, this is no different. It’s a side scrolling beat-em-up. And it’s enjoyable.

I don’t get Maid_san's Caving Adventure but yet still I enjoy it, and still I keep playing it. It’s a 2D platformer with stealth elements. You have to complete levels quickly and/or collect stars, or something, the whole thing is so vague. But whatever, you have to get a rank C or above in a level to proceed and that ain’t easy. Needs more play, more working out, but it’s quite fun doing so. Contains bouncy tits and some upskirts, if that’s your thing!



Somewhere, deep beneath the earth, a team of zombies is being belittled because their entire creative output is based on games about the living. “Humans again? For fuck’s sake.”

Lawnmower Vs. Zombies is rubbish…



… but it has yodelling in it.



Some games are bad. Really bad. So bad that they don’t even deserve a functioning link to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. But if you’re in the mood for some punishment, or just want to be reminded how much better the games above are, check these out, last month’s most terrible games.

2010: A New Threat is horrible. It took me about ten seconds to actually work out where my ship was every time I died, by which time I was nearly dead again. A simple twin-stick with horrendously confusing controls.

Bioerosion バイオエロージョン is bad. It’s a weird looking over-the-shoulder shooter with controls that are so inaccurate that it’s nearly impossible to play.

Blocks Indie. Here’s a game that could be really good. But is not. You are a ship with a crate balanced on top, and you have to manoeuvre your way to a delivery point by using left and right thrusters to keep your ship straight and the cargo balanced. This would be brilliant, were it not for the stupid decision to not let the player use both thrusters simultaneously, making it impossible to keep the ship straight while at the same time having fun.

Boom Kikker is stupid. It’s just stupid. It’s some weird tile placing game that has a set of rules that make no sense and even if I have understood them right, they don’t appear to act how they’re explained and the whole thing is so ugly that you can’t even tell what’s meant to go where anyway. Any other theme at all and it might have made sense.

If Bounce! was programmed by a three year old, that’s still no excuse for how amazingly inept it is. Absolutely shameful that someone thought this was fit to be released. Embarrassing. Actually embarrassing. I’m embarrassed just playing it.

Corrupted. I probably claim every month that something it the worst twin-stick ever. This is the worst twin-stick ever. A medieval theme doesn’t disguise your crap gameplay.

CRON, oh CRON, I looked at your screenshots and I was hopeful. I saw your main menu and I knew you were to be rubbish. Invisible maze game with invisible enemies. Yeah, that’s a good idea. You can Sonar to identify them but that’s just irritating, and if you were going to let me see stuff, WHY HAVE YOU MADE EVERYTHING INVISIBLE!?

Death N' Failure. Yes, I will die. Do you know why that is? Because your game is an unplayable mess. The player has absolutely no control over the character at all. Awful.

Extreme Skill is not needed to play this game. Extreme patience. Extreme masochism. Extreme inability to realise you’re playing a crap game. That’s what’s needed. It’s The Impossible Game but shit. Again.

Honor in Vengeance. Read this sentence. How long did it take? One second? Now imagine I gave you 45 seconds to read it. Then did the same for ten more sentences. Literally half of the trial of this game is spent looking at text that fades in and out so slowly that you need an iron will not to quit before the game starts. They you’ll wish you had, as you’re faced with a 3D space shooter with enemies that you can’t even see.

I didn’t play Snowball Showdown and I’m not even ashamed of it. You’ve got eight minutes to make an impression on people trialling your game, forcing them to spend the first five watching an unskippable video is dumb. I quit, so did everyone else. How are your sales?

I would rather kill myself than ever play SSRGFM again. It’s an arena fighter where you don’t appear to have any attacks at all, you just run around and fart. This is hilarious if you are four years old, or a fucking idiot.

The Charge isn’t a good game, but it’s here mainly for having the nerve to put some skank on the cover in a cynical attempt to generate more trials to people who haven’t discovered porn on the internet yet.



And to end on an awesome note because we need it after that…

Every month, we’ll revisit a couple of games that you may have missed from months gone by. With last month being the first of 2011, it only makes sense to look back at the two best games from 2010. There were a lot of amazing games, but if you’ve been following my thoughts on Indie Games even remotely closely you can probably stop reading now, because you know what two games I’m about to rave about.

If you’ve got recommendations of older games for future months, tweet me @toythatkills.

Apple Jack came out just before these round-ups started, so I’ve never had the chance to rave about it properly. It also came out at around the same time as Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Wii did. I got Mario first, played it solidly, but then downloaded Apple Jack because it was there. I expected to play it for a few minutes and get back to Mario but from the very first second I was totally hooked, and didn’t play Mario again until I was done with Apple Jack. That this Indie Game was more compelling than a game with a year of hype, made by an experienced team in a major franchise confirmed for me that Indie Games had “arrived,” as it were. That there was more potential in this service than in any other distribution method.



The first game I ever remember playing properly was a 2D platformer (Alex Kidd in Miracle World, history fans) and I’ve loved them ever since. Xbox LIVE Indie Games have been very good to me in this regard, and Apple Jack is the best of the lot. There’s just so much going for it. Most importantly, it gets right what so many get wrong, the jumping, which has a perfect weight to it. Too floaty or too heavy and your game fails, but Apple Jack is spot on. This perfection carries over to the rest of the controls too, and playing it is a total joy.

This is aided by gameplay itself, which is great. Your goal in each level is to defeat every enemy, and this is done by throwing them into one another, which destroys both. There’s a ton of variety in the enemy design and each has its own attack and movement patterns which means you have to learn them to use them to their full advantage. Some enemies are colour-coded and can only be destroyed by enemies of the same colour which adds a brilliant puzzle element to levels, the design of which is excellent.

There are 100 levels, all set somewhere in the British countryside. There’s no relation between the places the level is set in and the level itself, but being English myself it’s lovely when you happen to be playing somewhere you’ve been or heard of before. To add a little bit more addictiveness, is the multiplier system. Killing a pair of enemies releases coins, killing another pair quickly gets you twice as many, then four times, eight times, 16x, 32x, and it keeps going and going until the screen is totally filled with coins which looks glorious. So many levels I had to replay after insisting to myself that I could complete it better!

I’m also really proud of the fact that I’m one of the very few people that will have completed the super-hardcore version of this before the patch came out that made it easier! It’s still difficult, though, and there are levels that’ll take loads of attempts to beat – the difficulty curve is, like everything else in this game, perfect.

This is absolutely the best 80 Microsoft Points you will ever, ever spend. I don’t think I can express my love for this any better than Robert Florence did, though. “Apple Jack, I love you to your core.”

=================

Hypership Out of Control is some close competition for “best 80 Microsoft Points ever,” though. It’s another game that came from nowhere but totally got its hooks into me. The screenshots imply that it’s a bog-standard vertical scrolling shmup, but it’s anything but.

What it is, is a super-fast corridor based avoid-em-up, or something.



You’re in a ship and the accelerator is stuck, the brakes are out, and you’re screwed. You go faster and faster and faster and faster and your job as the pilot is to avoid all the walls and just live for as long as possible, racking up points – it’s a wonderful high-score chasing game, and horribly addictive with it.

Points are earned by progressing through the level, the quicker you go the more points you get. You can also get points by collecting coins, and doing so increases a multiplier. This, people, is about as perfect as risk/reward mechanics get. There are loads of power-ups too but you always have to balance the reward with the risk of getting to them, this leads to some hilarious level design, too.

The game is split into waves, each with a distinct look, feel, and set of hazards. The hilarity comes when something tempts the player one way, a long trail of coins, a power-up, or something, only for something better to appear in a now impossible-to-reach area. You can only laugh at the cleverness of the developer and how you were totally sucked in.

Since its release, the game has been updated with reverse waves too. These weren’t designed to be played this way round so they’re full of dead-ends and other hazards, think of them as a hardcore mode, and prepare for some learning if you want to set some scores on the leaderboards, which handily are online.

You can set scores in one of HSOoC’s many modes. The normal mode gives you three lives and you go as far as you can – there’s no end, so once you complete all the waves you go back to the start. Another mode gives you a single life to, again, go as far as you can. Another mode requires that you collect coins, as they constantly tick down. Kind of like Super Sonic. If your total ever reaches zero, you lose. There are infinite lives in this mode, but you’ll need enough coins to keep using them!

The gameplay is totally solid, but it’s the little things that really elevate it above and beyond. The sense of humour, mainly, which is absolutely brilliant. It’s not something the game really needs, but it’s twice as good with it being there. The music, too, is so good. I’ve been offline for two months and so haven’t been able to play this, but the tune still appears in my head now and then.

It’s an amazing game, and you owe it to yourself to play it.
 
#2


Surprise! Since I couldn’t do anything last month, I thought I’d go the extra mile this month, so, bonus feature! Here’s an interview with Michael Ventnor of Red Crest Studios, who released Hyper Button and Bonded Realities this month. Read on to find out his thoughts on Nintendo, enemy design, and why he doesn’t like Pokémon.



First, tell us about yourself and your gaming history?

My name is Michael Ventnor, living in Brisbane, Australia. Up until the Xbox 360, I was exclusively a Nintendo gamer and fanboy. However, last year I discovered the Indie Games service, where Microsoft allowed pretty much anyone to develop games for sale on the 360, which is a dream come true for me.

The reason I originally wanted to get into programming, as a bright-eyed primary school student, was to make video games. Unlike others in my class, though, I found I easily understood and sometimes enjoyed learning the maths and logic involved in order to understand programming languages and algorithms. Programming stuff was something I really enjoyed in my spare time. I graduated BSc in Computer Science at University of Queensland.

What made you want to make this game?

Truth is, I have many ideas for game mechanics all written down, but I selected my RPG idea because a) there are not enough on the Indie service, and b) I thought making an RPG would be easy. A turn-based RPG is just fancy packaging around logic and what we in the computer field call "state machines." This sort of stuff is what programming languages do best.

Surprise, turns out that arrogant assessment was wrong after all! Now I see why there are so few RPGs on the service. I wanted to release by September 2010, then November 2010. It was a tough lesson for me.

A third reason I wanted to make RPGs is because I enjoyed them while growing up. Like I said, I was a Nintendo child, so I enjoyed lots of Nintendo RPGs like Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi. Indie RPGs are frequently compared to Earthbound and I'm sure I'll be moreso, but this is because Earthbound has so many qualities of an indie game. It takes risks. It has a charming style to it. It's funny. It strives to stand out from the other RPGs. I seem to enjoy RPGs, and games in general, if they have a unique spark to them and if they're happy and light-hearted (which probably explains my Nintendo allegiance). Hence, when you play Bonded Realities, you'll see lots of one liners and self-deprecating humour.

I already likened your game to Earthbound without even playing it, probably a bit presumptuous but it does have that vibe about it. I can’t think of many better influences, though. What else have you learnt from those games that you've been able to use to make your game as good as it can be?

I asked myself "what did I enjoy?" and "what did I find annoying?" Why did I find Earthbound fun? For one, there were lots of interesting enemies, and I was always curious to see what the next area and the area's enemies looked like. I tried to replicate this feeling in Bonded Realities, every enemy is heavily characterised and has unique attacks. Secondly, and this could also apply to Paper Mario, it felt like a giant vaudeville show. Lots of nonsensical "non-sequitur" stuff happened, so I tried to include the same feeling in my game.

Why did I find Pokémon annoying? As I was walking through caves, I had to deal with wild encounters too low level to bother. How to stop them? I had to use Repels, which only worked a limited number of steps. Don't have Repels in your bag? Tough. This led to the idea of the Smoke Ball in game. When you use it, encounters stop, and you can use it whenever you want. I found there's no reason to put a price on this for the player, since not getting enough experience to beat the boss is payback enough for using this item too much.



I think your stance on random battles will make a lot of people happy! Sounds like there's a great balance between having enemies that players will want to see, and letting them see them at their own pace.

Tell us a bit more about the game, what can the player expect from it?


These are some goals I set myself when I made Bonded Realities:

1) Funny, moreso than any other RPG I've played.
2) An interface that felt great to use and never became overwhelming.
3) Lots to do, especially adding things that break up the monotony and slow pace.

For 1), I tell a lot of jokes, and I'm Australian, so those things really help when thinking up humour. I don't have the burden of publishers paranoid of PR, so I used some quite shocking humour by RPG standards. Jokes only went in the game if I laughed at it myself when I thought it up. The innkeeper's one-liners about the awful conditions of your room are my favourites.

For 2), I wanted an almost Apple-like devotion to a good interface. My desk was littered with mock-ups of everything from the battle UI to the shops to the pause menus. I asked myself "what needs to be displayed on screen?", "how long will it take the player's eyes and brain to process all this?" and most importantly, "what can I remove?" You watch the trailer, and you'll notice in the battle UI things like each ally being assigned a different colour, or how remaining HP is graphically signified with your stat box draining, thus removing the need to display max HP on screen.

For 3), I thought up lots of little ways to add challenge if you ever got bored with the game as it stood. Finishing battles quickly (by wall clock time) results in bonus experience points. Defending will recover a random amount of PP. Find all the treasure chests, including the very-well-hidden ones with super-powerful equipment, and you get a big reward from a character called the Treasure Oracle. There's techniques you must use to avoid one-hit KO attacks (or the final boss, who has the ability to send your whole party to sleep at once).

I already mentioned the wide range of enemies. I just hope it lives up to expectations, since there are some very good RPGs on the Indie service developed with more resources than I, and I hope it isn't received poorly because of that.

It sounds really streamlined, I don't see why gamers wouldn’t take to it if they try it!

Maybe the biggest hindrance is the old "nobody's trying" problem, what are you planning to get people's attention?


I plan on contacting as many sites as I can, but there's no way I'll get the attention of IGN, and I'd have to be exceedingly lucky to make Kotaku or Joystiq. So the sites I plan on contacting are smaller news sites but still have a respectable readership. RPGamer has been fantastic in this regard, and I've also got the attention of RPGFan, XBLAFans and some others. Once lots of smaller sites pick it up, I'm hoping for a "trickle-up" effect where bigger sites will want to see what the fuss is about.

Writing good press releases, and getting a trailer on GameTrailers is also important.

And, of course, there's GAF...

I think the way your game has an Earthboundy kind of feel could really help with sites like Kotaku, actually.

What was development of Bonded Realities like? Did you do everything yourself?


The programming I did all myself. I wrote the engine from scratch. It's quite powerful, actually, since I had other uses for it besides RPGs in mind, but that's not going to happen for a long time yet. The art I did all myself. I'm not as good a drawer as some may think; I helped develop my drawing skills and the art style used in BR, by drawing my own political cartoons. Doing that also helped develop a good wit, which I put to use writing BR's jokes.

The music is all licensed. I can't write a song to save my life.

Development had its ups and downs, as it always does. Designing and coding the engine was my favourite bit, since I enjoy problem solving like that. The most mundane bit was writing the level data. Imagine playing a text-prompt version of Command and Conquer. I had to write the level data by hand, but I think it would've been less work than if I wrote a graphical editor. Writing a graphical editor would've made implementing levels more fun, but it would've sucked a whole lot more time from the project and I don't think I could've afforded to do that.



What are your thoughts on XBLIG in general, prior to releasing your first major game?

It's great, even if too much attention has been put on the crapplications. Lots of people dream about selling games but don't know where to begin, and it's wonderful that Microsoft, Google and Apple, among others, are making it easy for indie devs to reach a huge audience on their respective platforms. Crap will always be made for these sorts of markets, so just ignore it, and give the attention to those who deserve it. If those developers make enough money and fame, they'll keep making games for you, so I hope the media will give more attention to good XBLIG titles and not maintain the impression that it's 100% crap.

Finally - I'm Bobby Kotick and I'm very busy, those sequels aren't going to churn themselves. You've got 15 words to tell me why I (and everyone) should be interested in Bonded Realities!

A summary for a busy person, how about this: "Longing for good old-fashioned RPG gameplay in a funny world? Now's your chance!" That's 14 words, but add "sex" in there somewhere and it's bound to get people's attention!

Bonded Realities is out now and can be yours for 80 Microsoft Points.

===========================

So, what did you think of this month’s games? What do you think of what you’re playing this month?

Do tell!
 
#3
Previous threads, where all the older stuff lives:

The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of December 2010 | Score Rush
The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of November 2010 | The TEMPURA of the DEAD
The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of October 2010 | radiangames Fluid
The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of September 2010 | Hypership Out of Control
The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of August 2010 | Gravitron 360
The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of July 2010 | PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain
The best Xbox LIVE Indie Games of June 2010 | Old School Racer
The (old) XNA Indie Games Official Thread

Releases this month by date:

January 1st

New Year Countdown
Wizard Apprentice

January 2nd

Avatar Karting

January 3rd

Paddle Baddle
GrappleBoy

January 4th

Lawnmower Vs. Zombies
Zombie Cow-Milking

January 6th

Add Some Light

January 8th

Color
Crazy Ball
SSRGFM

January 9th

Poker Night
センパイ×彼女
Bounce!

January 10th

Hyper Button
Pixelbit Snooker & Pool

January 11th

Pew Pew Pew
2010: A New Threat
Holiday Bonus
SkullAttack
Cosmic Cab

January 12th

Alpha Squad
Honor in Vengeance

January 13th

Controller Doctor
Onager!
Mazeoto

January 14th

Distant Galaxies
Super Sequence
Junk Fields
Almost Total Mayhem
Block Destruction
Paper Sky
The Charge
TwinStick: This Aint No Picnic

January 15th

Extreme Skill
Lethal Judgment Origins

January 16th

Star Dash

January 17th

Beach Bubbles
龍炎高校伝説

January 18th

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES
Boom Kikker
Squid

January 19th

Story Tale Mania 360
Solar Struggle: Survival

January 20th

CRON

January 21st

Antipole
Zombie Turkey Outbreak
Sword and Hammer
Corrupted

January 22nd

Dirchie Kart

January 23rd

Bail!
Space Racer
Jigsaw Guru

January 24th

Beer Pong

January 25th

Maid_san's Caving Adventure
Zombie Attack!

January 26th

Bonded Realities
Snowball Showdown
Sweepy

January 27th

Death N' Failure
Atomic Sound

January 28th

radiangames Ballistic
Asteroid Sharpshooter
Asteroid Pooper

January 29th

Blocks Indie

January 30th

ラピスの回廊物語
Zombie Arena 2
Bioerosion バイオエロージョン
Synesthesia Amnesia
Incident of Dreamy Vale Church
 
#4
And now, a plea for suggestions. As part of my journalism (lol) degree, I have to keep a "news" blog, and if I can get away with it I'm going to try and set up a news blog for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Now, there's a couple of these around already, but they're rubbish. If I'm going to do this at all I'm going to do it well, and so that's where you come in!

a) what would you want from a blog about XBLIGS? The plan is to review everything as I do in this thread anyway, and then carry whatever news comes up too. What else would you want to see?
b) if you're a dev, follow me @toythatkills and @reply me if I'm not following you back. If you get any press releases or anything, send them to me. If you've got a blog, send me the link!
c) when (if) this has been up a few weeks, we need to get it pimped like, everywhere :D

So, any thoughts you've got, do tell - you might as well, it's not like there's that much to play!

And at this point I've been awake for nearly 40 hours to get this done. Just when am I going to go to bed?

EDIT: Are smileys gone? Or have I broken something?
 
#8
Great thread and interview.

I agreed with Balistic, I have all the radiangames games but not this one, it seems off and I have duel shooter sickness.


As for your blog, I would say something along the lines of Rlans GamerBytes blog but for indies would be great along with indiegames.com but focusing on XBLIG.
 
#9
Corrupted isn't that bad.
Problem is it requires friends to be any fun and even that is shortlived.

Go with Mamotte Knight if that sort of thing strikes your fancy, and if you already have that game then just keep playing it.(also rate the game a five if you haven't already, if it gets kicked out of the top 10 I don't know what I'll do with myself).

February can't be worse than January though. Holy shit what dark times for the indie service.
 
#10
toythatkills said:
b) if you're a dev, follow me @toythatkills and @reply me if I'm not following you back. If you get any press releases or anything, send them to me. If you've got a blog, send me the link!
Twitter link doesn't exist. Good luck with the project/Journalism.




@indienerds www.indienerds.com

Is the only indie blog I follow except for this thread.
 
#12
Hypership again ? Interview for the studio that "surprise!" got the Gold medal this month ?

Ugh ugh.



Nice to see Pixelbit Snooker up there.
 
#13
Kafel said:
Hypership again ? Interview for the studio that "surprise!" got the Gold medal this month ?

Ugh ugh.



Nice to see Pixelbit Snooker up there.
Hypership again because it's genuinely one of the best games from last year.

Not sure if you're trying to imply something by the Bonded Realities comment, but you're wrong to.
 
#16
Good breakdown as always man - also would love to see your news site get underway. I'll refrain from feedback since I am dev too, but if you think that'll be okay I'm happy to.

I didn't think Corrupted was that bad either.

And I thought Alpha Squad might get at least a mention. I know it wasn't what everyone thought it might be (I am about to blog about "living up to expectations") but between the slick graphics, boobies, tons of weapons/items, and rare online co-op play - I thought it at least deserved kudos.

I did like Bonded Realities from a a content/story perspective but I wasn't as charmed by the graphics as most others seem to be.

1000 Spikes made me laugh, but yeah - not for me after a stressful day of work. :)
 
#19
SmallCaveGames said:
And I thought Alpha Squad might get at least a mention. I know it wasn't what everyone thought it might be (I am about to blog about "living up to expectations") but between the slick graphics, boobies, tons of weapons/items, and rare online co-op play - I thought it at least deserved kudos.
I don't think I got Alpha Squad. The whole thing was a mess, text off the side of the screen, appearing for split seconds before disappearing, so I was slightly against it before I even started playing (also, to get to the point of playing, I had to fumble through about five screens too many at least.)

And then it was just, not really that interesting. The in-game graphics weren't nearly as good as the standard as in the menus. The gameplay was as basic as it gets. If it picks up later on, well, it should have made that clear, because it failed to grab me at all in the trial.

Where the hell did that bath picture come from/fit in, as well. That was bizarre.
 
#20
Yeah, Bonded Realities is a great Indie game. Certainly hope he works on more projects in the same manner, and it made me jealous that I don't know how to program stuff like that, m'self.

Here is an idea for the blog: interviews, but not just the top, highest-hyped games. Talk to developers whose games might slip past and figure out what made their games arrive. I've always wanted to talk to developers about their game's visions and so forth, but I'm not really sure how to get out there and ask, seeing as I'm as small as they come.
 
#21
toythatkills said:
Hypership again because it's genuinely one of the best games from last year.

Not sure if you're trying to imply something by the Bonded Realities comment, but you're wrong to.
I guess I just dislike when everything is mixed that way. I know it's usual now everywhere and that noone except me is actually surprised to see this even here.

And since you run out of ideas for older excellent games that cruelly need more exposure next month : Slingstar and Qoccer might be good candidates.
 
#22
I'm not out of ideas, I just wanted to look back at last year as a) an excuse to write about Apple Jack and b) because I couldn't play any of my Indie Games to refresh them in my mind, so I wrote about the two that I can remember everything about without needing to play them again.

I don't really like Qoccer, by the way!
 

Feep

Second-hand Citizen
#23
toythatkills said:
I'm not out of ideas, I just wanted to look back at last year as a) an excuse to write about Apple Jack and b) because I couldn't play any of my Indie Games to refresh them in my mind, so I wrote about the two that I can remember everything about without needing to play them again.

I don't really like Qoccer, by the way!
I read that as "Cock-er".
 
#24
toythatkills said:
I don't think I got Alpha Squad. The whole thing was a mess, text off the side of the screen, appearing for split seconds before disappearing, so I was slightly against it before I even started playing (also, to get to the point of playing, I had to fumble through about five screens too many at least.)

And then it was just, not really that interesting. The in-game graphics weren't nearly as good as the standard as in the menus. The gameplay was as basic as it gets. If it picks up later on, well, it should have made that clear, because it failed to grab me at all in the trial.

Where the hell did that bath picture come from/fit in, as well. That was bizarre.
Yep fair enough. Some of the graphical bugs (for lack of a better word) were distracting and it's a game that gets better later, not sooner, which as you mention is deadly on XBLIG. That bath pic was were all the of the girls you rescue appear after you rescue them.

EDIT: lol me too Feep
 
#25
Cued up a bunch of things and subscribed to thread.

From last months thread I bought but have still yet to play/finish, Epic Dungeon (too hard) Apple Jack (not got round to it) Cthulu (haven't got round to it.)

Before, I used to dl EVERYTHING in the indie section, now I just wait for this thread cue up what looks interesting and wait another month :)
 
#26
I was about to go download Bonded Realities, but the Blops DLC broke XBL. All I can see is my friends list, maybe later tonight it will work.
 
#27
toythatkills said:
And now, a plea for suggestions. As part of my journalism (lol) degree, I have to keep a "news" blog, and if I can get away with it I'm going to try and set up a news blog for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Now, there's a couple of these around already, but they're rubbish. If I'm going to do this at all I'm going to do it well, and so that's where you come in!
This is a super idea, and I def agree that there is a huge opportunity to focus on XBLIG. As a dev, I had some success with www.indiegamemag.com, meaning that I uploaded a press-release which resulted in a few emails and some exposure. However, i do feel that this is not ideal, and someone should be approving the uploaded info.

Perhaps a metacritic type ranking system, based on user reviews? It'd be cool to browse through top 10 lists of different categories.
 

Feep

Second-hand Citizen
#30
Ventron said:
Wooooooooooo

I honestly thought you were going to give it to 1000 Spikes, but thank you so much toy!
You deserve it, man, I passed this thing like a motherfucker in peer review
 
#32
Thanks for making these threads, I just demoed and then bought both Apple Jack and Bonded Realities. I probably would never have discovered Apple Jack without this thread - it's a lot of fun!
 
#34
Ventron said:
Wooooooooooo

I honestly thought you were going to give it to 1000 Spikes, but thank you so much toy!
1000 spikes is too hard lol

Seriously though, Bonded Realities is ace.

toythatkills said:
And now, a plea for suggestions. As part of my journalism (lol) degree, I have to keep a "news" blog, and if I can get away with it I'm going to try and set up a news blog for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Now, there's a couple of these around already, but they're rubbish. If I'm going to do this at all I'm going to do it well, and so that's where you come in!

a) what would you want from a blog about XBLIGS? The plan is to review everything as I do in this thread anyway, and then carry whatever news comes up too. What else would you want to see?
b) if you're a dev, follow me @toythatkills and @reply me if I'm not following you back. If you get any press releases or anything, send them to me. If you've got a blog, send me the link!
c) when (if) this has been up a few weeks, we need to get it pimped like, everywhere :D
I think the blog is a great idea, especially if it helps spread the word about which indie games are worthwhile. Your monthly threads are one of the best resources out there for finding the best indie games, so at the very least I'd like to see the monthly OP reach a wider audience. I like your system of gold, silver, and bronze awards, zombie game of the month, and all that. So I guess the question is, what do you post the rest of the month? Are you going to quick-review every new game as it comes out?
 

Gen X

Trust no one. Eat steaks.
#35
toythatkills said:
Somewhere, deep beneath the earth, a team of zombies is being belittled because their entire creative output is based on games about the living. “Humans again? For fuck’s sake.”

Lawnmower Vs. Zombies is rubbish…



… but it has yodelling in it.
Let me guess, this is pretty much a direct rip off of Jeff Minters Hover Bover?
 
#37
Thanks for the compliments.

If any of you have time, I'd really appreciate two things:
- A short review on XBLARatings. They seem to help things a lot.
http://www.xblaratings.com/component/content/article/65-role-playing/3678-bonded-realities
- A rating on the Marketplace site. This helps determine the Top rated list.
http://marketplace.xbox.com/games/media/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258550791

Normally I wouldn't do a call to arms like this, but let's just say even the trials for BR are shockingly low right now.
 

Enk

makes good threads.
#38
Ventron said:
Normally I wouldn't do a call to arms like this, but let's just say even the trials for BR are shockingly low right now.
Are you allowed to change the cover art after release? I think what you have currently isn't a good representaion of your game and may cause people to skim over it.
 
#39
Enk said:
Are you allowed to change the cover art after release? I think what you have currently isn't a good representaion of your game and may cause people to skim over it.
I can probably do so along with the update I'll release soon, but I have no idea what would make a good boxart for this game. It was a big struggle even getting to the current boxart.
 
#40
Wow, I disagree with a lot of toy's opinons on this list. My take:

Aban Hawkins is my game of the month by a long shot.

Corrupted and Blocks Indie are "bronze" material to me. Imperfect but good concepts and decent execution.

Ballistic would be "silver", it's nothing really new but it's great at what it does and has leaderboards. But most of the other radiangames i'd say are gold so it's a step back (and I haven't purchased it yet).

Alpha Squad missing from the list, post-patch I found it to be pretty good, wish it had more variety, but love the drop-in online, "silver" I suppose.

Squid was way too easy so not "silver" material even though I love the idea of it.

Corrupted and Blocks Indie are "bronze" material. Imperfect but good concepts and decent execution.

Incident of Dreamy Vale Church also left off, seems alright. Kinda really ugly though. The mechanics seem a lot better than any other beat em up on Indies. Not really saying much there though.

Maid San is total crap, so "bad & ugly", and you'd need to invent a new category to properly convey how bad I feel Sword & Hammer is.
 
#41
Ventron said:
I can probably do so along with the update I'll release soon, but I have no idea what would make a good boxart for this game. It was a big struggle even getting to the current boxart.
Add a cheesy "RPG" sticker like old Atlus games had.
 

Feep

Second-hand Citizen
#42
As a sidenote: if you live in a country that can't play XBLIG, you can just make a new tag and "say" it's in another country? They don't check IPs or anything?
 
#43
Feep said:
As a sidenote: if you live in a country that can't play XBLIG, you can just make a new tag and "say" it's in another country? They don't check IPs or anything?
Should work, you can do that to access Japanese marketplace for demos.

Only problem is obtaining points for that region, which shouldn't be too hard to get American or UK ones.
 
#44
Ventron said:
I can probably do so along with the update I'll release soon, but I have no idea what would make a good boxart for this game. It was a big struggle even getting to the current boxart.

Something similar to the in-game art and then try and emphasize that it's a 16-bit rpg from the golden age. Some generic stickers or something.
 
#47
Thanks for the Apple Jack love, Toy - your continued support of the game is much appreciated!

I'm working on a sequel at the moment but development has been a struggle. I've probably been over-ambitious with some of the features, and trying to juggle all this extra stuff with enemies that can be picked up and chucked anywhere is really hard. The basics are there though so once I've sorted those problems out development should be pretty swift.

Teetris said:
Another vote for Apple Jack. It deserves way more sales
Cheers! It's sold relatively well though, passing 11,000 a few days ago and still selling about 20 a day. If it had done as well in the US as in the UK I'd be looking at nearer 50,000, but given the UK centric nature of the game it's hardly suprising.
 
#48
Ventron said:
I can probably do so along with the update I'll release soon, but I have no idea what would make a good boxart for this game. It was a big struggle even getting to the current boxart.
Hi Ventron, sorry I couldn't chime in on your boxart. Part of me actually wanted to jump in and do a quick remake for you, but I've been swamped in conversion and milestone stuff. Maybe email me your current version and I'll take a look.
 
#49
Pride said:
Avatar Karting (from the screens) looks pretty good for an indie game, anyone try it out?
It's very drift like racing, super fast accel and speeds plus lots of winding corners, I prefer that other avatar racing game more but both are fully playable.