Archive for December, 2011

My 2011 Indie Game Picks

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

I’ve played quite a few indie games this year, although not nearly as many as I’d have liked to! This post is about my favourite ones that I’d like to recommend to you.

Not all of them were released in 2011, but I’ve included them because they were new to me. Also there may be some obvious “big name” indie games missing from this list, and that’s either because I didn’t get round to playing them yet, or I didn’t like them as much as these games.

So on with the list. I’ve split it into platforms (note that I didn’t play any Facebook games or Handheld (DS, PSP etc) games this year).

*** PC ***

To the Moon

ToTheMoon

Wow, what a game! This adventure game is more about the story than the basic game mechanics. The great pixel art and atmospheric music just add to the whole experience. This game made me cry more than once and that’s pretty impressive in my book.

Trauma

Trauma

This game is basically a giant montage of atmospheric photos that you navigate around to piece together the story of a women in coma. Sounds weird, and it is, but I liked it a lot.

Serious Sam: The Random Encounter

SSRE

Made by well-known devs, Vlambeer, this game has some great Serious Sam humour in it, all the familiar monsters rendered in fantastic pixel art, and an interesting JRPG type of fighting mechanic crossed with an arcade shooter. Wasn’t very long but I loved every minute.

Infested Planet

InfestedPlanet

This game is made by a friend of mine, but I’m not adding it to my list because I know him – I’m adding it because it’s really good! This fast-paced strategy game about destroying hordes of aliens is only out as a beta right now. I recently playtested it and really enjoyed it. The best thing is, it’s going to get even better based on the plans I’ve heard from the developer!

BIT.TRIP.RUNNER

BitTripRunner

Yes I know this isn’t new but I only just got round to playing it. I loved the aesthetics and the old-skool gameplay and kept coming back to it despite the rock-hard difficulty.

Machinarium

Machinarium

Machinarium is an adventure game with a unique art style and is the latest game by the developer who made the Samorost Flash games (also excellent). I played it through to the end with my boys and we loved it! Some tricky puzzles but there’s a built-in hint system to help you out.

Magicka

Magicka

Magicka has a unique mechanic that lets you combine different elements to come up with awesome spells to defeat your enemies. But it’s not a turn-based game, it’s an arcade game set in great-looking environments, so you’ve got to think quickly to survive!

Scoregasm

Scoregasm

I’m a fan of twin-stick shooter games and this one by Charlie’s Games didn’t disappoint. Jam-packed with special effects, frantic gameplay and extremely varied levels, this game should not be missed if you are a fan of the genre.

Jamestown

Jamestown

I saw a video of this vertical shmup with lush pixel graphics and knew instantly that it was my type of game. I bought it and love it. Great old-skool shoot ‘em up, very well made. Don’t miss it if you like this sort of game.

VVVVVV

VVVVVV

I love the look and feel of this game. It’s like a classic Commodore 64 game that never existed! VVVVVV is a futuristic platform game with an unusual jumping mechanic that leads to fiendish puzzles. Probably you’ve all heard of it already, but if you haven’t played it yet, do yourself a favour and download it now (or play it on Nintendo 3DS).

Minecraft

Minecraft

Yes I know we’ve all played it, and most of us really started playing it last year, and it’s already on every other top indie game list, but it’s that good that I had to mention it. I own three licenses so that I can play it multiplayer with my boys and they spend hours on it each week installing mods etc. Amazing game – a phenomenon in fact.

*** iPad ***

Velocispider

Velocispider

Think I heard about this game via Twitter. Anyway, I downloaded it one morning in bed and then just stayed there for several hours until I beat it. A really great old-skool shoot ‘em up with a Space Invaders type feel (except more fun) and great pixel art. Highly recommended.

Sword and Sworcery

SwordAndSworcery

Kept hearing about this game and wasn’t disappointed when I bought it. Lovely graphics and interesting story – it’s a very enjoyable game. Only bummer was my son erased my game halfway through so he could play it! grr…

Helsing’s Fire

HelsingsFire

Perfectly suited to iPad, this puzzle game where you have to basically shine a light to kill as many monsters as possible is better than it sounds. Try it out.

Casey’s Contraptions

Casey  s Contraptions

This is a physics-based game where you set up elaborate, uh, contraptions to collect various stars dotted around the level, often with a ball. Great fun and well-suited to iPad, plus has a cool level editor.

*** XBLA ***

Bastion

Bastion

Pretty much everyone has played this on one platform or another. I played it on XBLA which is the platform it feels like the game was designed for. Lovely graphics, really cool voiceover and fun game mechanics. I enjoyed trying to beat all the weapon challenges although some of them drove me nuts.

*** XBLIG ***

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 spikes

AbanHawkins

This game is FLIPPING HARD! You start with 1000 lives and have to beat really hard old-skool pixel art levels. It’s like Rick Dangerous (from the Amiga) with the difficulty dial turned up to 11, but is super-satisfying when you beat a level after losing about 100 lives.

Kung Fu Fight

KungFuFight

This little gem could have easily been missed. Only later on did I realise it’s basically Bit.Trip.Runner with a Kung Fu scenario. Anyway it was challenging, but not too challenging, and had a great retro feel. I loved it and played it in one sitting until I beat it.

Escape Goat

EscapeGoat

A unique platform puzzle game with an unusual protagonist (a goat). Made by the same dev who made Soulcaster I and II, I highly recommend you check this game out.

Soulcaster II

SoulcasterII

This actually came out in December 2010 I think but I had to mention it because it’s such a great game. It’s like a tower defense and Gauntlet mashup. Really great idea and well made.

Cursed Loot

CursedLoot

This expertly crafted 8-bit style roguelike actually came out in 2010 and was called Epic Dungeon. For some reason the developer, Eyehook Games had to rebrand it, but they also upgraded it at the same time. My boys and I all spent many hours on this.

*** PSN ***

I just bought a PS3 and have been checking out the PSN games. There are some great ones on there but I haven’t played many yet. The following games aren’t new but as I said at the beginning they are new to me, and also epic, so check ‘em out.

Shatter

Shatter

I keep tying to type “Shatner”. Oh well. Anyway, this breakout clone has fantastic “glowing line” type graphics and loads of new cool game mechanics. My wife wanted to watch Boston Legal and I delayed her by playing this for ages.

Super Stardust HD

SuperStardustHD

I had the original game for my Amiga 1200 and it was epic. This one involves blowing up asteroids and aliens as you fly in 3D around a planet. Not sure if it’s indie; hope so though because it’s amazing!

Conclusion

Wow, what a fantastic year for indie games! We’ve all been spoiled and I’m looking forward to seeing some more awesome indie games in 2012.

Sorry to all the indies whose games I’ve missed out, hopefully I’ll get to some of them next year!

What games have I missed out that you’d like to recommend? Thanks.

I shipped 39 games this year

Friday, December 30th, 2011

noticeboard

In May I set myself a goal to release 50 SKUs this year. By SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit) I mean different versions of games, which could mean brand new games, games on a new platform, or localised versions of a game for example.

By May I had already shipped 17 SKUs (11 of which were different versions of Spring Bonus). The main plan for reaching 50 SKUs was to ship my existing games on mobile platforms and also to make localised versions as well as make some new games. Some things worked out and some didn’t.

Here’s a breakdown of what I did since May:

1) Spring Bonus came out on Windows Phone 7! It hasn’t sold very well though due to crappy download numbers on that platform. Downloads are converting to sales a good percentage of the time though, which is positive.

2) Spring Bonus did not come out for iOS. I was working with a local company to get it ported to iOS but they just got too busy with other work and it became a lower priority for them. However, it will definitely be coming out in 2012, perhaps via Big Fish Games if they will publish it.

3) Spring Bonus was not translated to Japanese. Well it was actually, I just didn’t plug the translations into the game. I’ll do it for next Spring though.

4) Holiday Bonus was translated to 8 languages and is doing quite well on Big Fish Games’ localised sites right now.

5) Holiday Bonus came out on iOS/Android/WP7/Internet! There were HD and Standard versions on iOS/Android and also Lite and HD Lite versions. In total 10 different versions were shipped in the space of a single week! I’m beginning to learn how useful Unity is as a cross-platform language. Damien Sturdy did a fantastic job of the iOS/Android/Web ports and James Mintram did a great Windows Phone 7 port.

6) I didn’t convert my framework to Linux and so did not release any Linux ports

7) I never finished my Ludum Dare #20 minigame although I may still finish it in 2012.

8 ) I did finish a Ludum Dare #22 minigame called Always Alone. I used the Monkey language so that I could release this as a Flash game to be played online.

9) In the Summer I organised a Full Indie 48-hour game jam and made Metal Spawn for PC/Mac.

10) One person I helped as a design consultant shipped their game, but my role was very small so I won’t count it. Other games I’m helping with, such as Eets Munchies with Klei Entertainment, won’t ship until 2012.

11) I didn’t get any of my games ported to Flash. The web version of Holiday Bonus was in Unity, although with Unity’s new Flash export, we should be able to make a Flash version for next year.

12) I didn’t make any brand new games although I’ve had a number of cool ideas and talked to other people about collaborating with them. Let’s see what 2012 brings.

13) Oz has been localised to 4 languages by Big Fish Games and will be coming out in early 2012, then will be localised to some more languages later on by another big portal. If Holiday Bonus hadn’t taken so much time (shipping on mobile was a big learning experience for me), then maybe the Oz localised versions would have made it out this year instead.

14) I made a youtube adventure game with my boys called Death Dungeon.

So a mixed bag of success there. If you read my 2011 Review you’ll know that I had a tough summer in terms of family illness and depression, and I’ve no doubt that those things were a factor in me not quite shipping as many SKUs as I had planned.

Total SKUs shipped

So adding up all of the above we have:

- SKUs shipped up to may = 17
- Spring Bonus WP7 = 1
- Holiday Bonus localised = 8
- Holiday Bonus iOS/Android/WP7/Web = 10
- Always Alone minigame = 1
- Metal Spawn minigame = 1
- Death Dungeon youtube game = 1

Total = 39

Not quite 50, but still a number to be proud of I believe. Not sure I’ll be shipping that many next year, but who knows?

How many SKUs did you ship in 2011? Let me know in the comments.

Holiday Bonus is FREE for iPad/iPhone

Friday, December 30th, 2011

title 1

Holiday Bonus is FREE until Jan 1st so get it while you can and please tell your friends and family about this charming game. Thanks!

Holiday Bonus HD (for iPad)
Holiday Bonus (for iPhone)

Enjoy!

screenshot 800x600 2 screenshot 800x600 1