Archive for December, 2012

My 2012 Indie Game Picks #IndieXmas

Monday, December 24th, 2012

I’ve played some great indie games this year and I’d like to share my recommendations with you. Other indies are also using the #indiexmas hashtag, so search for it on Twitter to find more recommendations. Alex Amsel started this initiative, read more on his blog post.

Note that these games may not have all been released in 2012, they are just the ones I played and found interesting in 2012. You can also read my 2011 Indie game picks here.

Also this year I’m only recommending PC games (although these games may be available on other platforms)

Anyway, here are my recommendations in no particular order:

Cardinal Quest

I’ve always been a fan of Roguelikes and this is a great little one with a nice retro feel. Looking forward to the sequel in 2013!


It might not look like it at first glance but this is a a deeply tactical RTS game! It’s fascinating and kept me hooked until I completed it. Very novel.


A great puzzle game that keeps introducing new things and really ramps up the difficulty towards the end. Super-addictive.

Hard Reset

It’s pretty unusual to see an indie FPS game and this one was brilliant! Fantastic futuristic graphics and great old-skool gameplay. Also they released a free 5 level DLC too – Amazing!


A pixel-art horror game with a great atmosphere in which you get to interpret the ending yourself. Very thought-provoking.


I love Gradius/R-Type style games and Hydorah is a fantastic homage to that genre. If you look sidescrolling shoot ’em ups, you must try this, especially as it’s FREE!

Legend of Grimrock

This is definitely a contender for my favourite indie game of the year. I loved Dungeon Master and EoTB back in the day and this game is such a good modernised equivalent. I really hope they come out with some DLC in 2013.

Hotline Miami

This game had a lot of hype, but it was well-deserved. A visceral experience in a stylised retro look (with great music!) Brutal and brutally hard, this is a real “twitch” game but with a surprising amount of tactics. You must check it out.

Lone Survivor

An extremely atmospheric pixel art survival horror game. I loved it and played it to the end. Please check it out if you haven’t already.

Maldita Castilla

I’m worried that this game won’t have made it into many best of 2012 lists because it came out so late in the year but it should do because it is a brilliant homage to Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins. A wonderfully crafted arcade-style retro platformer with tons of variation. A must-play! *and* it’s FREE, unbelievable!


Radiangames made some really great games on XBLIG that I have recommended before and this is a fantastic modernised shoot ’em up game. Don’t miss it if you like this sort of game.

Retro City Rampage

I’m sure you’ve heard of this epic homage to everything from the 8-bit era. My friend, Brian Provinciano, worked on this game for many many years and it shows in every detail! Available on nearly every platform, you’ve no excuse not to have a play 🙂

What are your indie picks of 2012? Let me know in the comments, thanks!

I going to make One Game a Month in 2013

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

I’ve decided to join in with One Game a Month, organised by McFunkypants, in 2013. A while ago I was thinking how cool it would be to make one game a week but that is probably a bit too hardcore for my current life setup with a family and the need to earn money to survive, so a game a month sounds much more doable for me.

Why do I want to do this?

The most fun I had coding was probably when I was a kid/teenager. I did a “gamejam” most weekends with a friend and also made games all week long as my hobby (after school). I want to relive that experience and explore some of my favourite genres with modern technology and with better programming skills. I’ve been meaning to do it for years but not been able to justify it due to working on money-earning projects to feed my family. However, my situation has changed slightly recently and it will afford me a bit of freedom for the first time in a long time.

How long will I spend on each game?

I won’t be spending a whole month on each game. I’ll just make sure I produce a game a month. Some of them may just be 1-2 day games, which is fine, and others may take longer. Some of them may be publishable on iPhone/iPad and others may work well as Flash games. After I have 12 games done I may find that one of them really excites me and might continue working on it and turn it into a bigger project. Basically I’m thinking of it as a year of producing 12 prototypes.

At the start of the year I have to finish porting Titan Attacks to mobile, and later in the year I’ll still continue to work some casual games and Dying To Live so that I don’t run out of money. So these 12 games will be side projects alongside my main work. I’m pretty confident I can do it now that I’ve committed to doing it 🙂

What language will I use?

I’ll most likely use Monkey for all the games. It’s a powerful cross-platform OOP BASIC-style language that is best-suited to 2D.

I’ll probably also learn a lot more about game design along the way, which will be fun!

Will I use a framework?

I already have a basic game framework in Monkey that is improving as I work on Titan Attacks. I’ll use it and improve it as I write the 12 games and so by the end of the year it should be pretty good and ready to roll for more commercial games.

I don’t necessarily advise other people write a framework as it’s easy to get bogged down in such things, so don’t do it if you don’t want to. However, if you write each game using as much common code as possible, by the end you could have a pretty decent reusable framework…

Are you entering the challenge too?

Let me know in the comments. And good luck to you too! 🙂

I shipped 12 SKUs this year (plus chart of last 7 years)

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Last year I shipped 39 SKUs – so I’ve not been as prolific this year, but that’s partly due to the fact I spent 7 months helping with Eets Munchies and also didn’t do any localisations of existing games (which bulked out my SKU count last year).

I also purposely reduced the amount of mobile SKUs for some new titles as I found shipping 9 different SKUs for Holiday Bonus on mobile/internet last year was a bit much.

Furthermore I moved back to the UK from Vancouver, Canada which put a dent in my output capabilities. Still it’s been an interesting year and I think that Holiday Bonus GOLD will be my most successful Grey Alien Games project of the year, and that only took me two weeks to do in Nov/Dec!

Here’s the full list of SKUs

– Spring Bonus shipped on iOS. This was a single build for iPhone/iPad that had IAP for level packs. It could have easily been 4 separate builds; SD and HD and Lite versions of each, which is how I shipped Holiday Bonus in Dec 2011.

– Spring Bonus shipped on Android as a Lite and Full version that automatically detected if the devices was SD or HD and used the corresponding level pack.

– Spring Bonus shipped on Nook and Kindle.

– I made a special build of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for Zylom who localised it into some more languages, so I’m only counting that as 1 SKU as they generated the different SKUs.

– At the Full Indie Game Jam in the summer I made Dying To Live which I then enhanced a bit more after the jam. I’ll be adding more to this game in 2013.

– This December I had a brainwave to update my Holiday Bonus game with a ton of new levels and some other tweaks and released it as Holiday Bonus GOLD on iPad, Android, PC and Mac + Mac App Store. There are no lite/demo versions and no IAP, just full paid versions. I didn’t bother with a phone version because it’s quite a lot of hassle and only 10% of my mobile sales are from phones anyway. Also I didn’t put up an Internet version. We nearly shipped a Kindle version but sadly it had a critical bug which meant I couldn’t release it.

Previous Years

I also decided to chart how many SKUs I shipped in previous years since I went indie in 2005. I split the titles into free and commercial and here are the results:

2005: In my first year I made 4 free games to practice and released my first game, Xmas Bonus. I highly recommend new indies make complete free projects and release them to gain skills.

2006: I released 3 commercial games that are still selling today, so it was a pretty successful year!

2007: I worked on Fairway Solitaire for a whole year and it shipped at the end.

2008: Fairway Solitaire was localised to DE/FR/SP and also released on Mac, plus I released Oz and Holiday Bonus on Mac. Most of the year was spent programming Unwell Mel.

2009: Unwell Mel was released for PC/Mac and localised to 4 languages including Japanese, which was not easy! I spent 6 months working on a game that BFG cancelled due to wanting my team to join the My Tribe Facebook game team.

2010: My Tribe Facebook game went live and I made 3 mini-games which I really enjoyed making.

2011: Spring Bonus really bulked up the SKU count due to being released and localised. Also Oz and Holiday Bonus were localised which added a ton more SKUs. Plus Holiday Bonus came out for mobile which was yet more SKUS. I also made 4 free games of which Always Alone is my favourite. I also spent some time helping out with Eets Munchies. Quite a productive year!

2012: Another good year for SKUs due to mobile releases. See the post above for details 🙂

Strangely of all the games I’ve made, the ones I currently feel most excited about are the free game jam ones. In 2013 I am planning to make at least 12 games via the #onegameamonth thing. Post coming soon about that.

So how did you all do in 2012? Did you ship many games, or even one?

Make it your mission to ship something even if it’s free. It’s rare that people who spend years on something meet with success, more often than not it’s a bad move but you only seem to read about the successes in the press.

So ship something soon! Good luck 🙂