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Eureka! The brightest ideas in indie gaming

Quadrilateral Cowboy

What is it? A first-person “Twentieth Century Cyberpunk” infiltration game

What's the hook? Virtual virtual reality

Who's making it? Blendo Games

Quadrilateral Cowboy casts you as an old-school Hollywood hacker - the kind who wears leather, has piercings, and routinely walks around in virtual reality simulations - who pays the DSL bills by helping corporations infiltrate and sabotage their enemies. But you don't commit the crimes yourself: you just show them how.

You do this by donning VR goggles and exploring a simulation of your target's environment. Once you've identified and examined its internal security systems, you exploit their weaknesses with a virtual laptop (more precisely, a virtual virtual laptop) that lets you plot a path through or around them with command-line instructions: open door, stop at laser barrier, wait for two seconds, run like hell, etc. Then you kick back and watch a test-run unfold. After several fits of pensive trial and error, it's impossible not to feel awesome when you code a perfect run and make a clean, invisible, virtual getaway. LD

URL ETA 2013

Planetary Annihilation

What is it? A spiritual successor to classic RTS Total Annihilation

What's the hook? ...In spaaaaaaaaace. Throw asteroids. Use moons as weapons platforms.

Who's making it? Uber Entertainment. Jon Mavor is Uber's chief technical officer—he wrote Total Annihilation's graphics engine and served as lead programmer on Supreme Commander.

Alas, we aren't living in a golden age of RTSes. Rebooting a strategy game - even one as beloved as Total Annihilation - is still hideously risky in an environment where StarCraft II, Total War, and Relic's output seem to be serving us perfectly well. Doing things the way they were done in 1997 won't cut it. Luckily, Uber has two things on their side: a ludicrous idea, and the right funding platform. We're very ready for an RTS with the insane scale of a 4X game, played across multiple heavenly bodies that themselves can be weaponized. PA should become Kickstarter's third most-funded game when it closes in two days. Read our reveal for the details. EL

URL Kickstarter page ETA TBD

Code Hero

What is it? A first-person shooter, only not at all

What's the hook? Your gun shoots code instead of bullets, reconfiguring the game world while teaching you game programming fundamentals

Who's making it? Primer Labs, founded by Alex Peake

Hack the (game) world: Code Hero mimics the popular (and free, for the most basic version) Unity Game Engine and challenges players to overcome obstacles with Javascript. The goal of the project is to increase code literacy and give players their first primer in 3D game creation. We haven't had a chance to give Primer Lab's educational playground a try yet, but ideally, completing the game should empower amateur designers to give Unity development a go from scratch. It's exciting to see the educational applications of gaming explored - there's so much potential waiting to be realized. TW

URL ETA Alpha build out now

FTL: Faster Than Light

What is it? A roguelike spaceship simulation

What's the hook? Lots of games give you a cockpit and pilot's license, but what if you want to be Captain Kirk? That's FTL.

Who's making it? Justin Ma and Matthew Davis, developers based in Shanghai, China

FTL: Faster Than Light simulates space combat from the engineering room outward, to the lasers and missiles setting the void alight in bursts of violence. It's not a pilot sim, it's a captain sim: manage your crew (and try not to let mantises eat them), your ship's systems and supplies, and all the tactical laser beaming that comes with exploring deep space. Confront the kind of adversity that inspired repeat Star Trek lines like "Get to engineering!" and "Target their weapons!"

Like some other roguelikes, FTL is a story machine. When it's out, we'll be sharing tales from its randomized universe over whiskey, talking about the good men, women, and aliens we lost, the close-calls and heroic last-ditch- sorry, I have to go, my shield generator is down. Get to engineering! TW

URL ETA September 14th, 2012

On the next page: snipers, spies, heists, and cephalopods...


Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article!