IndieSider #38: Ellipsis by Salmi Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Feb 11th, 2016 9:00 AM

Ellipsis for iOS is a top-down action game in the style of Geometry Wars and Crystal Quest. Collect all the nuclei from a level while avoiding obstacles and enemies intent on your destruction! The bright neon colors, intuitive interface, and complete lack of text or HUD makes for an intense, concentrated gameplay experience.

Ellipsis is the first game from Salmi Games, represented in this week's podcast by founder Yacine Salmi. We discuss how the game's name represents all that was omitted during the design process; the difference in difficulty between being "hard" and "fair"; how the game's controls might work on tvOS, and how in-app purchases (IAPs) might be implemented in a way that wouldn't drive players away; the studio's effective Facebook marketing leading up to the game's release; and how creating Ellipsis might've been a different experience at the studio members' former workplaces of Sony, Electronic Arts, and Havok.

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


Full disclosure: a review copy of this game was supplied to me by the developer.

Note: This episode, normally scheduled for February 17, was released February 11 to coincide with the release of Ellipsis. There will be no IndieSider on February 17.

IndieSider #37: Momoka by Felwig Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Feb 3rd, 2016 9:00 AM

Momoka is a 2.5D adventure platformer for iOS and tvOS. Imagine the exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening or Cave Story, combined with the mechanics of Super Mario Galaxy. That's Momoka, a non-linear, open-world action game set across a series of planetoids and outer space.

In this week's podcast, I chat with Benjamin Withers and Duncan Steele, who compose the entirety of Momoka developer Felwig Games. We discuss how the game evolved over its three-year development cycle, from a Mac game called Star Life featuring 2D graphics and an alien avatar to a tvOS game called Momoka featuring 2.5D graphics and a female protagonist. We ponder whether the game is being played more on iOS or tvOS, and what challenges and opportunities presented themselves as being one of the first developers for Apple TV. Also, Momoka will never feature in-app purchases (IAPs) — an overlooked revenue stream, or a choice of preserving the game's integrity? Find out on IndieSider!

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #36: Lumino City by State of Play Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Jan 20th, 2016 9:00 AM

Lumino City is a point-and-click adventure game released for Steam in 2014 and iOS/tvOS in 2015. It features a charming story, intricate puzzles, and an accessible interface — but its most subtle feature is also its most astonishing: the entire world of Lumino City was hand-crafted as a physical set.

In this interview, Luke Whittaker of State of Play Games discusses why they chose this route over 3D modeling and animation; the year of design and building that culminated in a single day of filming; documenting the process and history of the game's design; what's happened to the set, now that the game is available; the relationship between the protagonist and her grandfather; and being one of the first game developers for the new, fourth-generation Apple TV.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #35: Girls Like Robots by Popcannibal

Posted in IndieSider by on Dec 2nd, 2015 9:00 AM

Girls Like Robots was one of Popcannibal's first games when it was released in 2012. Metacritic ranked it the 13th best iOS game of that year, ensuring the game's long life. Now it sees its first console release with a Wii U version, giving a new audience of gamers the opportunity to participate in this seating arrangement simulator. Place girls next to robots on the playing grid, but don't put them too near the nerds — even if it makes the nerds happy! The quirky sense of humor and unusual yet fitting folk music soundtrack make for an engaging game.

In this interview, developer Ziba Scott discusses revisiting a game three years after its original release; the trials of being one of the first games to pass through Steam Greenlight; the decision to collaborate with an outside publisher for the Wii U edition; and the family connections that led to the game's soundtrack.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #34: Dangerous Dave with Dren McDonald

Posted in IndieSider by on Nov 18th, 2015 9:00 AM

Before he created Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, and Quake, John Romero released Dangerous Dave, a series of platformers for the Apple II and MS-DOS computers. One game in that series, Dangerous Dave in the Deserted Pirate's Hideout, is now available for iOS, featuring both the original version and a remastered edition. The updated version includes an original soundtrack by Dren McDonald, a prolific video game composer who also provided the score for Gathering Sky, featured on IndieSider #28.

In this interview, Dren discusses how he invented the "chipbilly" genre for Dangerous Dave; the artificial constraints he placed on himself to create the soundtrack; the technology and skills a composer needs to work in the gaming industry; and his future collaborations with the Romero family.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #33: Emily Is Away by Kyle Seeley

Posted in IndieSider by on Nov 4th, 2015 9:00 AM

Emily Is Away is a narrative game framed as a series of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) conversations. The main character and Emily are high school friends whose relationship evolves as they go their separate ways in college but stay in touch online. As you guide these online interactions, the decisions you make will determine where you go to school, who your friends are, and who Emily is to you, all while revisiting the emotions and experiences of your own youth.

In this interview, developer Kyle Seeley discusses how much of the game is autobiographical; how he created not only the interface, but also the experience, of using AIM; the tools he used to plot the story's branching paths; the game's reception at BostonFIG and IndieCade; and what he hopes players will get out of this game.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #32: Mushroom 11 by Untame Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Oct 21st, 2015 9:00 AM

Mushroom 11 is a post-apocalyptic platform-puzzler. In a world without humans, a rogue mushroom must navigate dangerous obstacles and organisms. Players guide the fungus by "erasing" it, shifting its center of gravity, and splitting it in half.

In this interview, co-designers Itay Keren and Julia Keren-Detar of Untame Games talk about why they chose a dark, futuristic setting for the mycological Mushroom 11; the subtle nature of the game's narrative and its possible interpretations; how Mushroom 11 evolved from its original form as a 2012 game jam entry, and how the Indie Fund helped it along the way; and what mycologist Paul Stamets thinks of the game.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #31: Super Happy Fun Block by Ethan Benanav

Posted in IndieSider by on Oct 7th, 2015 9:00 AM

Super Happy Fun Block is a 2D puzzle-platformer for iOS. Ball's monochromatic world is being invaded by colorful blocks — but he can make them disappear with a swipe to the left or right. Control the blocks to solve puzzles, rescue stars, and restore the world.

In this interview, Molten Tomato developer Ethan Benanav discusses what he learned working at Zynga that he brought to his indie game studio; the 2D engines he used to create Super Happy Fun Block; the dangers and elegance of writing code without source control; and making his game more accessible.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #30: Master Spy by TURBOGUN

Posted in IndieSider by on Sep 16th, 2015 9:00 AM

Master Spy is a cinematic stealth platformer and developer TURBOGUN's debut title. As Master Spy, you use your stealth suit and super jump to infiltrate 2D mazes and evade traps that include motion sensors, pressure plates, and tigers. The pixel art, retro soundtrack, and dramatic cutscenes are reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden, Golgo 13, and Impossible Mission. Master Spy is available for $9.99 for Mac, PC, and Linux via Steam.

In this interview, developer Kris Truitt and artist John Coxworth discuss collaborating on a game while being halfway around the world from each other; the game's 8-bit inspirations; designing a game that teaches the player how to play, without using a tutorial; how the game evolved in its two years in development; and what's next for TURBOGUN.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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IndieSider #29: PAC-MAN 256 by 3 Sprockets

Posted in IndieSider by on Sep 2nd, 2015 9:00 AM

PAC-MAN 256 is a free-to-play mobile game for iOS and Android from Hipster Whale, creator of Crossy Road, and 3 Sprockets, creator of Fight the Dragon. Guide Pac-Man through an endless maze while a glitch screen creeps up from the bottom of the maze, threatening to send you to the great bit bucket in the sky. Eat dots to unlock power-ups, collect coins to upgrade the power-ups and spend money to purchase unlimited credits with which to play the game — you'll need them!

In this week's episode, Seon Rosenblum returns to IndieSider, having previously appeared in February 2015 to discuss Fight the Dragon. How did 3 Sprockets go from working on their original original IP to one of the most famous characters in video game history? By what definition can Pac-Man be considered an "indie" game? And how does one exploit the free-to-play model while still giving players a great experience? Rosenblum discusses all this and more.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. The Let's Play video is available separately.

IndieSider #28: Gathering Sky by A Stranger Gravity

Posted in IndieSider by on Aug 19th, 2015 9:00 AM

In Gathering Sky, players guide a flock of birds through the air. Hawks and storms abound, but the game is primarily one of tranquility — there are no scores, objectives, or deaths. The terrain above and below changes across the five levels in synchronicity with a string orchestral soundtrack by Dren McDonald and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, complementing the peaceful experience.

I spoke with John Austin and Matt Blair, developers at A Stranger Gravity, about why they made such a nonviolent game as their debut title; how they modeled the birds in the game; how the collaboration with McDonald arose, and the role that music plays in the game; what the "right" way to play is; and their choice to release simultaneously on PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.

Watch the video below, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn. Click past the jump for links to the games mentioned in this episode.

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