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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IndieSider #27: High Strangeness with Ben Shostak

Posted in IndieSider by on Aug 5th, 2015 9:00 AM

High Strangeness is a top-down action-adventure game in the style of Secret of Mana. With the ability to switch between 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, players explore two versions of a mysterious world on their quest to save both from a mysterious threat. A chiptune soundtrack completes the retro feel of this collaboration from Barnyard Intelligence Games, Crystal Labs, and Midnight City.

In this interview, lead developer Ben Shostak discusses the game's inspirations and influences, from Paper Mario to Indiana Jones; how High Strangeness came to be the first Kickstarter-backed video game ever, and whether that platform is still viable for indies, six years later; and whether the game sold better on Wii U or Steam, and why.

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 #26: Leadlight Gamma by Wade Clarke

Posted in IndieSider by on Jul 15th, 2015 9:00 AM

Leadlight Gamma is a text adventure, or work of interactive fiction. Inspired by such media as Silent Hill and Black Swan, Leadlight Gamma is a survival horror game in which you play as Belinda, a teenage girl who awakens to find herself in a dark parallel of her own high school. Spiders and zombies abound, and her former classmates want her dead. Can you guide her through the puzzles and combat of this text-only adventure?

Leadlight Gamma is a port of an Apple II game Leadlight, released in 2010. Developer Wade Clarke has ported Leadlight from Eamon to Inform and released it as a commercial product via the itch.io platform. In this interview, Clarke discusses the changes that modern technology allowed him to make to the gameplay and presentation, his decision to make an originally freeware game into a commercial release, how Leadlight Gamme fits into his vision for newly formed Heiress Software, and why anyone would create a text-based adventure game in the year 2015.

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 #25: The Adventures of Pip by Tic Toc Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Jul 1st, 2015 9:00 AM

Adventures of Pip is an adventure-platformer starring Pip, a single pixel in a 32-bit world. By defeating enemies and absorbing their pixels, Pip can evolve into greater forms, bringing him closer in line with the 32-bit enemies he encounters. Developed by Tic Toc Games, Adventures of Pip features a soundtrack by Jake "virt" Kaufman and is available for Windows and Mac via Steam and for the Wii U.

In this interview, guest host Sabriel Mastin talks with developers Shereef Morse and Jeff Luke about the game's first, failed Kickstarter and its second, successful Kickstarter; whether the level design inspired the hero's abilities, or vice versa; the value of player feedback at events such as PAX; and much more!

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

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

IndieSider #24: Puzzledrome by Asinine Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Jun 17th, 2015 9:00 AM

Puzzledrome is a puzzle game that challenges you to create perfectly symmetrical palindromes out of shape- and color-based tiles. Arrange 101 different levels so they're reflected both vertically and horizontally! This game was released for iOS on May 28, 2015, and is coming this summer to Android, Windows Phone, Mac, and PC.

Puzzledrome is primarily the work of one man, Brian Dutton, who transitioned from being an audio programmer to a full-fledged game developer. In this interview, he discusses where he learned the necessary skills to make that leap; the many games he had to make before he got to this one; the how he expanded Puzzledrome's audience in terms of accessibility and internationalization; the value of making personal appearances at conventions and conferences; and more!

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 #23: Catlateral Damage by Chris Chung

Posted in IndieSider by on Jun 3rd, 2015 9:00 AM

Catlateral Damage is a first-person cat simulator in which players exercise a cat's most prized skill: knocking stuff onto the floor. Procedurally generated houses, log cabins, grocery stores, and museums give you the opportunity to break dishes, televisions, fruit stands, dinosaur skeletons, and more.

In this interview with developer Chris Chung, we discuss the game's origin in the 7DFPS game jam; getting funded on Kickstarter; collaborating with Fire Hose Games through their indie accelerator program; what it was like to be featured by YouTube gamer PewDiePie; and future support for OUYA and Oculus Rift.

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 #22: Luna's Wandering Stars by Serenity Forge

Posted in IndieSider by on May 20th, 2015 9:00 AM

Luna's Wandering Stars is a physics-based planetary puzzler from developer Serenity Forge. Players are challenged to manipulate trajectories, gravity wells, orbital thrusters, and more to collect golden asteroids while avoiding collisions with our solar system's nine eight planets. This game is available for PC and Mac via Steam.

In this interview, Serenity Forge founder Zhenghua Yang (Z) discusses how Luna's Wandering Stars fulfills his company's mission to change players' lives by challenging how they think; the obstacles to porting the game to mobile or Wii U, and how the company's future games will overcome those barriers; how contracting for outside firms has given Serenity Forge unique opportunities to change the world; and what the indie gaming scene in Boulder, Colorado, is like.

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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Memories of the Nintendo World Championships

Posted in News by on Apr 22nd, 2015 2:41 PM

Twenty-five years ago today, I entered the Nintendo World Championships. A lanky, bespectacled 10-year-old, I sought affirmation that these video games I'd already dedicated my short life to would not make me a social pariah — that my skill and dedication to this new digital pastime could earn me some measure of respect.

I may not have walked out of that arena a winner, but it was the first time I had ever been surrounded by so many people who shared my passion for games. I realized I was not alone, that it could be awesome to be a geek. When I walked out of that arena, I left the competition behind: games were no longer about being better, but about being together. Despite what some may think, the health of the art form is encouraged with each new gamer we bring into the fold. Games are for everyone — and when everyone realizes that, we've won.

I've already lengthily shared my memories of that April day in 1990, and I have little more insight to offer today. Instead, I'd like to share some of the physical artifacts of that moment when we were all striving to be The Wizard. For the first time, here are high-resolution scans of what I went home with that weekend — click any thumbnail to get the PDF.

This "Insider's Guide to the NWC" program was distributed to attendees of the Nintendo World Championships in the spring of 1990. It featured previews of upcoming games and tips for titles such as Castlevania III, Lolo 2, Wrath of the Black Manta, Bases Loaded II, Xexyz, and more.

An admission ticket to the first round

A letter of acceptance to the semi-finals

A VIP badge to enter the semi-finals

A certificate signed by Howard Phillips and Mario

A gift certificate — part of my prize package (or a photocopy)

I also found some wearable mementos while digging through my parents' basement:

Gaming competitions, having evolved into e-sports, have come a long way — whereas the gaming community still has a ways to go. Let's try to remember those days when we all knew how to get along.

IndieSider #21: Dyscourse by Owlchemy Labs

Posted in IndieSider by on Apr 15th, 2015 9:00 AM

Dyscourse is a choose-your-own-adventure game that puts you in control of Rita, the leader of a group of plane crash survivors on a desert island. At every turn, you must choose: who will stay in the group and who must go? Will you look for food, water, or shelter? Do you await rescue, or make your own? Each choice branches the story, determining who will live and die.

In this interview, developer Graeme Borland discusses how Dyscourse evolved from an action game to a narrative-based title as a result of Kickstarter feedback; the custom tools Owlchemy developed to build this game in Unity; why "choice" is such a popular gameplay mechanic; and how even the developers don't know how many different endings Dyscourse has.

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 #20: Sunless Sea by Failbetter Games

Posted in IndieSider by on Apr 1st, 2015 9:00 AM

Sunless Sea by Failbetter Games is the sequel to Fallen London, a browser-based text adventure. In Sunless Sea, you captain a steamship in the subterranean realm of the Underzee, charting unknown waters and exploring distant ports. Bring back news and goods from new lands to London and be rewarded handsomely — by which you can stave off hunger, cannibalism, mutiny, and eldritch waters lurking in dark waters just a bit longer.

In this interview, writer Chris Gardiner and developer Liam Welton, discuss how they built upon the world founded in Fallen London, bringing graphics and real-time combat to the Underzee; how Kickstarter crowdfunding and Steam's Early Access gave them unique opportunities; and the challenges and opportunities unique to building their own world compared to playing in sandbox when developing games for third parties, such as BioWare's Dragon Age or Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.

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 #19: Shelter 2 by Might and Delight

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

Shelter 2 is a survival game in which you play as a wild lynx, feeding and caring for your cubs as they grow in the wilderness into adulthood. Hunt prey without falling prey to wolves or the elements. In this interview, Might and Delight CEO Anders Westin discusses how the game establishes an emotional connection between the players and the cubs, addresses the divide between journalistic reviews and gamer reviews, and answers the question: If you could be any animal, what would you be?

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

Shelter 2 was released on PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam on March 9, 2015 for $14.99. Other resources mentioned in this interview: