Game-related ramblings.

Month: July 2013

You May Wish To Fund Dungeonmans

For those readers who are interested in roguelikes, I felt I should call attention to the Kickstarter campaign for Dungeonmans, a new graphical roguelike in development by games industry veteran Jim Shepard. There’s just about two days left on the campaign, and Dungeonmans still has to raise another $3000 or so to reach its $35,000 goal. The game has a silly vibe similar to Dungeons of Dredmor but takes place on a huge continent with a world map and many dungeons. But the real draw is that the various adventurers you will control (the titular Dungeonmans, and yes there are female Dungeonmans too) are all students at the newly founded Dungeonmans Academy, and their successful adventures can go towards improving the Academy and bestowing advantages upon future Dungeonmans. This type of persistent progress in a game with permadeath proved very popular in the recent roguelike-like Rogue Legacy (yet another game I haven’t had time to play yet) and it looks to be used to great effect here as well.

If you’re not convinced, there’s a pre-alpha build available to play right now. I spent a short time with it (actually, with the previous version) and liked what I played. It’s certainly on the simpler side as roguelikes go but it’s also still in pre-alpha and I’m sure it will be fleshed out tremendously if funded. If you’d rather just take a look without having to download anything, Craig Stern over at posted a 1-hour gameplay video with commentary. Check out the pre-alpha and/or videos and see if you want to pitch in for this one.

Roguelike Updates: Axe And You Shall Receive

Readers who are unfamiliar with roguelikes may wish to read my introduction to the genre, or peruse the various Roguelike Highlights posts. Also remember that you can click on images for bigger versions.

Just because I spent four months playing nothing but indie platformers doesn’t mean that the various roguelikes I’ve covered on the blog have stopped updating. It’s time to catch up with the latest developments! The biggest news for me was the release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup v0.12 (it’s now at v0.12.2 with a few more bugfixes). While the nickname for this release, “High Vaultage”, refers to the redesign of the Vaults dungeon branch, I was actually more interested in another change: axes now hit up to seven targets around the wielder with each attack. This presented an excellent incentive to return to a race/class combination that I’d dabbled with before: the deep dwarf berserker.

The Complete Indie Platformer Marathon

The Indie Platformer Marathon is finished! Featuring fifteen games (although one of them turned out to technically not be indie and another turned out to not be a platformer) and lasting a whopping four months (with a vacation in the middle, admittedly), it was exactly equivalent to a real marathon. Here are links to each entry in one handy place:

Thomas Was Alone
Celestial Mechanica
Intrusion 2
Mark of the Ninja
And a very special bonus post highlighting some indie platformer classics.

Time to play something else.

Indie Platformer Marathon: Fez

Having decided that I couldn’t rightly end the marathon with Mark of the Ninja, because it may not technically be an indie game, I looked for another fitting finale. And what better choice is there than Fez? As one of the three games profiled in the documentary film Indie Game: The Movie, Fez is about as indie as it gets.

Actually, that first paragraph is a lie. Partly because Fez spent quite some time as an Xbox exclusive, and all games on Xbox must have a publisher, putting it in the same boat as Mark of the Ninja (although I didn’t see any Microsoft Studios logos in Fez, so it may have a more legitimate “indie” claim). But mostly it’s a lie because that’s not really the reason I decided to end the marathon with Fez. I’ve wanted to play Fez since I first saw its brilliant rotation mechanic in a video years ago, and when it released on PC as the marathon was winding down I knew I had to squeeze it in.

Technically Not Indie Platformer Marathon: Mark Of The Ninja

You can click on images to see larger versions.

The release of Mark of the Ninja way back in October was what originally inspired me to do the Indie Platformer Marathon. It reminded me that I’d been collecting quite a lot of cool-looking indie platformers, but hadn’t actually played them yet. So I figured I’d play through a bunch at once, with Mark of the Ninja as the finale. It wasn’t until after the Marathon was underway that I learned that Mark of the Ninja is not actually indie — it’s published by Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft are kind of the opposite of indie. But then I learned that it isn’t that simple. Apparently if you want to release your game on the Xbox 360 (or the upcoming Xbox One), your game must have a publisher. Microsoft does not allow self-published games on their consoles. That means that, since I’ve defined “indie” as “self-published”, there are no indie games on the Xbox. But there is an “Xbox Live Indie Games” service, so what does that mean? Apparently, if you’ve got a game that you self-published, and you want to get it on the Xbox, then you sign a deal with — surprise surprise — Microsoft Studios.

So how much involvement did Microsoft studios really have with Mark of the Ninja? Did they just act as the distributor on Xbox, or were they actually funding (and influencing) development? Developers Klei Entertainment have a strong indie track record, from their early title Eets to their latest title Don’t Starve, but they’re most famous for Shank, which was actually published by Electronic Arts (possibly also as a bid to get on the Xbox). So is Mark of the Ninja actually indie? I don’t know. To be safe, I’ve decided to extend the marathon to one more game (OK, I was actually going to do that anyway, it doesn’t really have anything to do with whether Mark of the Ninja is indie or not), making this the penultimate entry. More importantly, though: who cares? Let’s talk about how excellent Mark of the Ninja is.

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