IndieSider #12: A Bird Story by Freebird Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Nov 19th, 2014 9:00 AM

A Bird Story is a one-hour interactive narrative from Freebird Games, available from Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux. With no spoken dialogue, no written text, and little gameplay, A Bird Story instead focuses on storytelling and soundtrack, bridging the gap between To the Moon and its sequel. In this interview, Kan Gao of Freebird Games discusses how he tells a story without words, why he chose this medium for his tale, and the themes and experiences he hopes to convey.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

IndieSider #11: Qbqbqb by Rezoner

Posted in IndieSider by on Nov 5th, 2014 9:00 AM

Qbqbqb is a two-dimensional puzzle game that takes the traditional match-three mechanic and puts a spin on it — literally! Blocks are dropped onto a planetoid that players rotate left and right. Each planet is a different size and features its own synthesized techno soundtrack, to which the falling blocks contribute their tones. Qbqbqb includes both co-op and versus modes (local play only) and a colorblind mode.

Qbqbqb, which is now available for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, was developed in just one weekend by a single artist. In this week's IndieSider, we speak with Przemyslaw Sikorski, aka Rezoner, about how he programmed the game under such constraints, how Tetris inspired him, and the indie game development scene is like in his native Poland. Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

IndieSider #10: Shadowgate by Zojoi

Posted in IndieSider by on Oct 29th, 2014 9:00 AM

Shadowgate, the classic point-and-click adventure, returns in this modern reimagining from Zojoi. Explore Castle Shadowgate from a point-and-click adventure, mastering weapons and spells with which to solve puzzles and defeat wyverns. Originally released in 1987 for the Macintosh and most famously for the 8-bit Nintendo in 1989, a successful Kickstarter campaign has brought this modern Shadowgate to Mac and Windows via Steam, featuring an updated user interface, new original illustrations, and a reorchestrated soundtrack based on the original.

Karl Roelofs, design director at Zojoi and game designer for the original Shadowgate, talks about returning to the franchise, retaining the original spirit while updating it for today's audience, and future games coming from Zojoi, including Déjà Vu and The Uninvited. Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

IndieSider #9: Spirits of Spring by Minority Media

Posted in IndieSider by on Oct 15th, 2014 9:00 AM

When I want an example of a video game that deals with a powerful subject in a creative and meaningful way, I point to Papo & Yo, which served as a metaphor for growing up with an alcoholic father. Now that game's developer, Minority Media, has released their next game: Spirits of Spring, a game that deals with bullying. You play as Chiwatin and his friends Rabbit and Bear as they try to keep evil crows from destroying the Spirit Trees that bring spring to the cold reaches of northern Canada. Can you protect yourself and your friends? Is the only way to defeat your enemies to become a crow yourself? Find out in this game,
now available for iOS for $4.99.

In this week's IndieSider, I interview Ruben Farrus, the game's creative director, about how children will be able to relate to the game's remote setting, Minority Media's history with bullying, and how he measures "success" in terms other than sales. Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes or Stitcher.

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #8: Super Win the Game by Minor Key Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Oct 1st, 2014 12:00 PM

Super Win the Game is the commercial sequel to the 2012 freeware game You Have to Win the Game. Featuring gameplay and aesthetic homages to Zelda II, Startropics, Metroid, and more, the game features platforming exploration without combat — no head-stomping, no fireballs, no weapons, but plenty of other power-ups, like snorkels and double-jump boots. An optional CRT emulation mode will curve your screen and add scanlines!

In this episode of IndieSider, I interview Minor Key Games co-founder J. Kyle Pittman about the decision to make a commercial sequel to a freeware game, which classic titles he borrowed from, why he doesn't use the term "Metroidvania" or developer tools like Steam Early Access and Kickstarter, and what the younger generation of gamers think of CRT mode. Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes or Stitcher.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #7: Rex Rocket by Castle Pixel

Posted in IndieSider by on Sep 17th, 2014 12:00 PM

Rex Rocket is a 2D Metroidvania with 8-bit graphics and a wry sense of humor. Set entirely on a spaceship infested with shapeshifting green goo, the game features more than 110 rooms, branching paths, and multiple power-ups. It's currently available on Steam for PC, with Mac, mobile, and Ouya versions coming soon. In this week's IndieSider, I explore the first few levels while chatting with Castle Pixel artist Robert Maher.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes or Stitcher.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #6: Max Gentlemen by The Men Who Wear Many Hats

Posted in IndieSider by on Sep 3rd, 2014 12:00 PM

Max Gentlemen is an "arcade-style extreme manners simulator about stacking hats, inspired by a spam email&quot. Play as Victorian-era lords and ladies as they flex their muscles and collect hats. Move your cursor up and down the growing tower of hats and jump to avoid collision with birds, darts, and other obstacles.

Max Gentlemen is a product of The Men Who Wear Many Hats, the indie team that previously brought us Organ Trail, a zombie variation on the classic edutainment title, Oregon Trail. I backed both games on Kickstarter and was eager to get my hands on this latest title. Unfortunately, it's not doing as well as its predecessor, as Ryan Wiemeyer details in this interview.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes or Stitcher.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #5: The Counting Kingdom by Little Worlds Interactive

Posted in IndieSider by on Aug 20th, 2014 12:00 PM

The Counting Kingdom, released on August 5 on Steam for PC and Mac (and coming soon to iOS), is a math tower defense game. As monsters advance on your castle, you group them by their numerical values and then cast the corresponding spell to banish the fiends. Later levels introduce higher values, monsters with unique abilities, and potions that let you adjust their values and positions.

As neither a parent, a math educator, or a tower defense fan, I wasn't sure I'd like this game. But I grew up playing "edutainment" titles like Scholastic Microzine on the Apple II, so I gave The Counting Kingdom a go. Much to my surprise, it's actually quite fun. It eliminates the frenetic quality of games like Plants vs. Zombies in favor of more thoughtful consideration of the options, as there is never just one right answer. Turns out my addition skills are rustier than I'd like! After playing a few levels, I called developer Jenna Hoffstein to ask how she came up with her methodology and what shortcomings in traditional educational games The Counting Kingdom avoids.

Links mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #4: Road Not Taken by Spry Fox

Posted in IndieSider by on Aug 6th, 2014 12:00 PM

Road Not Taken by Spry Fox is a turn-based roguelike puzzler for PC, Mac, Sony PlayStation 4, and Vita. As a freelance ranger, you are charged with rescuing children from a dark winter woods. Rearrange the contents of each room to group like items, opening the path deeper into the forest. Or combine different items to craft new equipment necessary to keep your ranger alive.

Road Not Taken starts off easy, but its 16 levels quickly ramp up in difficulty. It wasn't long before I found myself cornered by forest spirits, lacking the stamina and mobility to move trees or fires out of the way. I interviewed game designer Pat Kemp of Spry Fox to ask not only for some advice, but what how this game was inspired by the Robert Frost poem, why it splits its time between forest puzzler and village simulator, and how its checkpoint system builds on the legacy of Rogue.

Download Road Not Taken for PC or Mac from Steam.

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #3: The Nightmare Cooperative by Lucky Frame

Posted in IndieSider by on Jul 30th, 2014 12:00 PM

The Nightmare Cooperative is a roguelike — a turn-based dungeon crawler featuring procedurally generated levels and permadeath. But here's the catch: your party, composed of fighters, priests, miners, and astral walkers, must move collectively. When one goes north, they all go north; when one attacks, so do they all. Can you keep your party members alive through all four worlds?

Having grown up playing the original Rogue on the Apple II, I was instantly attracted to this game's thoughtful action, graphics reminiscent of SSI's Gold Box role-playing games, and dry sense of humor. After finally beating the final world, I interviewed Yann Seznec, founder of Lucky Frame, about The Nightmare Cooperative's influences, strategies, and future iterations in the following video.

Download The Nightmare Cooperative for PC, Mac, and Linux from Steam or Humble Bundle.

Other resources mentioned in this episode:

IndieSider pairs Let's Plays of indie games with developer interviews. New episodes air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

IndieSider #2: Breakers Yard by Dan Dujnic of Protophant

Posted in IndieSider by on Jul 16th, 2014 12:00 PM

Welcome to IndieSider, where I pair a Let's Play of an indie game with an interview with the game's developer. New episodes of IndieSider air every other Wednesday and can be found in video format on YouTube or as audio in iTunes.

This week's show stars Breakers Yard, a web-based twin-stick shooter that features procedurally generated levels and weapon stacking. I first encountered this game and its developer, Dan Dujnic of Protophant, when I attended the Boston Games Forum's June Playtest Party. I had the high score until someone dethroned me. Incensed by my defeat, I ordered an Xbox 360 wireless controller adapter for my Mac so I could play the game at home. Watch me vie to break my high score, followed by an interview with Dujnic about being inspired by Smash TV and Geometry Wars, the value of keeping a development log, his take on Steam's Early Access games, and more.

Resources mentioned in this episode: