indie games

No coding required: How new designers are using GameMaker to create indie smash hits

PC Gamer at

In May 2013, Tom Francis opened preorders for his 2D stealth hacking game Gunpoint. By the time Gunpoint actually went on sale, a week later, Francis had already made enough money to quit his job at PC Gamer and focus on game development full-time. But for many people, the biggest surprise came not from the game's amazing performance three days after release, but rather the way it was made—that it was developed using a tool called GameMaker.

GameMaker: Studio, the latest version of the tool, has been developed by YoYoGames since 2006. Its goal is to break down the game development process into something approachable and easy to learn, shifting the main challenge facing game designers from technical knowledge to creative ability. But in part because of this ease-of-use, GameMaker has carried a stigma that it wasn't capable or worthy of powering high-quality, "professional" games. ("I can't believe you made this in GameMaker!" Francis recalls people saying. "That's so impressive!")

Powerhoof announces delay for Crawl with an apologetic gif

PC Gamer at

If you have to admit you’ve made a mistake, it’s best to do it in a blaze of pixelated glory. At least, that’s the tactic Powerhoof used to announce the delay of its upcoming dungeon crawler, the aptly named Crawl. With the game set to release on Steam Early Access in just a week, Powerhoof was forced to push back the game’s launch. Then the two-man team decided to pacify the inevitable anger by breaking the news in the form of a gif, and boy did it work.

IndieBox gambles on a resurgence of interest in boxed videogames

Andy Chalk at

I like videogames that come in boxes. I liked shopping for them, too, running to the nearest EB Games store and riffling through the preowned section (when it had a preowned section for PC) to see what bits of overlooked gaming goodness I could dig up. The thrill of the hunt more than made up for the relative lack of convenience, and that's a feeling the IndieBox team is hoping to take advantage of with its new and very unusual boxed-game subscription service.

Limbo dev reveals new game, Inside, during Microsoft's E3 press conference

Ian Birnbaum at

A new game from the developer of Limbo, developer Playdead, was just revealed on-stage during the Microsoft briefing event at E3. The side-scrolling puzzler is back with Inside, set in an oppressive, dystopian environment full of guard dogs, camera drones, corpses, and citizens walking in lock-step.

Xenonauts leaves early access, brings the Cold War-style back to XCOM

Ian Birnbaum at

We came into the office today to a series of alarm klaxons alerting us to the version 1.0, real-deal release of Xenonauts, an indie reimagining of the 1994 classic XCOM: UFO Defense. The new XCOM is one of our favorites, sure, but there’s something magical about the isometric, grid-based perspective of the '90s.

Project Stealth turns Splinter Cell's Spy vs. Merc multiplayer into standalone game

Ian Birnbaum at

Project Stealth is a new take on the asymmetrical spy-versus-mercenary multiplayer modes of the Splinter Cell franchise, and it could not look more lovely. All of the tension, the interplay between the hunter and the hunted, and, of course, the many many gadgets. Netherlands-based developer Heartcore Games has just turned to Kickstarter to make their impressive early work into a fully fledged standalone release.

Kentucky Route Zero Act III is out now

Ian Birnbaum at

The third act of the celebrated indie adventure game Kentucky Route Zero came out last week, released with little to no warning. We’ve been wondering when we might see the next stage of this tense, atmospheric story, and as recently as February there was no release date being discussed.

Double Fine exec says publisher flexibility is key to getting devs more creative control

Patrick Carlson at

For Double Fine, publishing means partnership. And with its new Double Fine Presents publishing venture, the Broken Age developer wants to work towards supporting a games industry that is changing and becoming less "rigid," according to a new interview with COO Justin Bailey at Gamasutra.

Fract OSC review

Cory Banks at

I love music. I love the way it makes me feel, how a few simple notes strung together in a pattern can fill me with joy. Move the notes in just the right way and that joy becomes sadness. It’s a kind of magic, one that should be fertile ground to explore in a game. That’s what Fract OSC attempts to do, and I really wanted it to succeed. But after spending some time in the game’s world, I don’t find myself feeling much of anything at all.

Minecraft Denmark beseiged by American tanks, dynamite-dropping vandals

Ian Birnbaum at

Remember when the good folks at the Danish Geodata Agency recreated all of Denmark inside the blocky world of Minecraft? What a triumphant expression of humanity that was. All our passion, our drive, or ability to work together to change our surroundings in magnificent ways. It was beautiful. It’s too bad that vandals showed up and trashed the place.

Ludum Dare 29 breaks a record: 2,497 games developed in one weekend

Ian Birnbaum at

Ludum Dare 29, the merely days-long game development competition, took place this past weekend. In addition to the usual screenshots, panic, and lack of sleep on display in developer Twitter feeds, this weekend’s Ludum Dare hit a record: 2,497 games were submitted to the competition, an all-time high. The theme for this weekend was “Beneath the Surface,” so most of the games involve mining, digging, or swimming in one way or another. Phil took a look at Beneath The City, but that's just one of the free games to come out of the weekend.

Echoes of Eridu developer asks you to fund its co-op Mega Man roguelike

Ian Birnbaum at

As much as we love roguelikes (and really, we do), it seems like we’re up to our ankles in them at the moment. To stand out, an indie roguelike has got to have a great setting like FTL, a great premise like Curious Expedition, or great everything like Spelunky. Echoes of Eridu hit Kickstarter last week as a rarer creature: the multiplayer roguelike. Eridu borrows heavily from the Mega Man universe for its look and feel, but the co-op platforming is the most exciting part.

Goat Simulator devs plan new map, local multiplayer, and goat parkour

Emanuel Maiberg at

Earlier this month, Coffee Stain Studios made the case for giving their customers free DLC. Now the goat experts are doing exactly that in the first big patch for Goat Simulator. On its blog, Coffee Stain has detailed what the free DLC will include. Are you ready for goat parkour?

Meet Aztez, the Aztec-themed brawler with impeccable style

Ian Birnbaum at

Trends and fads come and go in gaming, just like they do everywhere else. First came the Zombies, then came the roguelikes, then, well… zombies again. If Aztez, an Aztec-themed brawler, is part of a new trend in historic side-scrollers with incredible art styles, then it is a trend I heartily endorse.

Show Us Your Rig: Kerbal Space Program's Felipe Falanghe

Cory Banks at

Squad's Felipe Falanghe is the creator and lead developer of Kerbal Space Program, and his work space feels a lot like a command module in a rocket soaring to Mun. When he's not busy developing one of PC gaming's most delightful simulators, he's using a gigantic array of peripherals to play games. Felipe was kind enough to take a few moments away from firing Kerbals into space to tell us about his setup.

Curious Expedition interview: making a hardcore browser game people will pay for

Ian Birnbaum at

The developers of Curious Expedition have had a heady winter. After their devlog landed on TigSource and blew up across the gaming media, the two-person team won a €50,000 grant from the German government to finish developing the game, an exploration roguelike inspired by pioneers and the fiction of Jules Verne. Riad Djemili and Johannes Kistmann then left their day jobs to work full-time on Curious Expedition and bring it to retail.

Cult of the Wind dares you to fly imaginary fighter planes in childish dogfights

Ian Birnbaum at

There’s a childish glee on display in the trailer for Cult of the Wind, a new multiplayer shooter almost completely devoid of the trappings of most shooters: no guns, bullets, explosions, or equipment. The game is played by a group of people reenacting great airplane battles of old, their arms stretched out behind them, their lips pursed in the sound of imaginary engine rumbles. It's a brilliant spin on the weirder tropes of the genre like enemy respawns, timed rounds, and capture the flag. Turns out, when you make these things obviously part of a game for children, they make a lot more sense.

Create your own press kit with Vlambeer's free service for indie devs

Ian Birnbaum at

A huge part of game development is public relations: once you’ve made the game, you’ve got to get it out into the wild. It’s unfortunate that of all the skills you need to make an awesome game, successfully marketing yourself to the press isn’t one of them. Some great games, unfortunately, just never catch the attention of gamers who want to love them. Enter: presskit() (pronounced Do Presskit), a free press kit generating service developed by Rami Ismail, of indie studio Vlambeer.

Hong Kong Massacre's trailer is absurdly bloody

Ian Birnbaum at

Each bullet seems to make the person it hits explode like a McDonalds strawberry milkshake that has been stamped on by a fat giant.

Goat Simulator dev makes the case for free DLC

Emanuel Maiberg at

As consumers, we’d prefer to get content updates for free rather than pay for them. Yesterday, Coffee Stain Studios announced that it will patch more content into Goat Simulator for free in May, and according to the developer’s game designer and PR manager Armin Ibrisagic, that's not only great for us, but also good for business.