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PAX East Indie Megabooth: What’s new in indie gaming

Posted on March 26, 2017 by Meghan Kass

Every year PAX is the host for many indie developers. These developers are some of the most diverse voices in the industry. They come from all over the United States and even all over the globe to show their creation to a passionate crowd of gamers who are itching for innovation and fun and a unique experience that the indie game community brings. I had the good fortune to try out some of these games and even talk to some of the indie developers at PAX.  I enjoyed a great sampling of the dozens of games set up to demo. From the selection that were available to buy and play now, my favorites were “Inversus”, “Tooth and Tail”, “Keen” and “Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?”.

Inversus, developed by Hypersect,  is a strategic geometric shooter game. The idea appears so simple, you control the color black or white and you can turn squares black or white by shooting them. If you get hit by the opponent’s color, you die. You want to defeat your opponent by shooting them. It’s fast paced, simplistic game play charmed me and I solidly recommend trying it. You can buy it on Steam today.

Tooth and Tail, developed by Pocketwatch Games,  is another strategic game that involves outsmarting and defeating your opponent. This arcade style strategy game has you taking the role of the leader of an animal revolution! With an army of squirrels, boars, pigeons, ferrets, moles and other WWI era styled beasts, there are plenty of options to choose from and a lot to play around with as far as ways to wipe out your opponent and their base in the skirmish. Matches are short and the maps are small and it is not mouse based, unlike many RTS games. Tooth and Tail has an alpha available, but only available to Discord users who regularly interact with the community and show interest in experiencing this unique game.

There were quite a numerous amount of puzzle games at the indie booth this year. One that particularly caught my attention was an adorable game titled “Keen’, developed by CatNigiri. In this game, you are guiding Kim “on a journey to stop an evil corporation from destroying her village”. I had the honor of talking to some of the team that was there representing this game and got to know a little more about this hidden gem. The game has been in development for 3 years as of the date of this article. It was inspired by both Zelda and 2048 to create a hybrid of RPG and sliding puzzle game. They were looking for something “deep and entertaining like Zelda with simple commands”. They started it with a tabletop origin to test how the mechanics would work, and since that went well, they took to developing it as a video game. After changing some gameplay and features,  they polished the gameplay idea  by creating another swiping puzzle game called Kitty Kitchen and then moving back to Keen to make their project a reality. The aesthetic of Keen was inspired by baby metal and megaman. A demo is currently available on Steam and on the Cat Nigiri website, and is definitely worth the time to play.

“Holy Potatoes! We’re In space?” also got my attention. Published by daylight studios, this game has you exploring the “vastness of space” in a spaceship you manage while crafting weapons. The combat is the tactical, turn based variety ad with hundreds of weapons to craft, the possibilities are extremely varied, leaving for much replayability. This game is available to purchase on Steam right now and I look forward to playing this soon, especially after talking to some of the team. The main inspiration was pop culture and punny humor for the story, characters and dialogue. After Holy Potatoes! A weapons shop! The creators wanted to expand the idea and gameplay and with their 7 person development team, they have made it a reality. 

Overall, the indie gaming scene as always is thriving and booming with positivity and creativity. With so much diversity, passion and imagination, it’s easy to see why indie gaming is only becoming more popular and it was amazing to see everyone gathered together, sharing their projects and seeing others enjoying them and getting excited for what’s new and what’s to come.


GDC17: Indies Rule the House at Microsoft’s ID@Xbox Event

Posted on March 12, 2017 by Broken Joysticks

Article Written By: Tori Dominowski

The Game Developers’ Conference lets independent game makers to show off their projects in a professional setting, while giving platform holders and publishers the chance to show off their lineup to budding talent. Amongst the sea of VR and game service companies, indies got their chance to shine at a few events at the show – in particular, Microsoft’s ID@Xbox showcase.

Held at a private loft in downtown San Francisco, the event gave us a look at upcoming indie games to grace Windows 10 and the Xbox One. Among these, some of the standouts included Ooblets, the adorable life sim/role-playing game developed by Glumberland, Church of Darkness, a top-down stealth game by Paranoid Productions that tasks the player with infiltrating a cult compound, and Etherborn, a dreamlike gravity-bending puzzle platformer by studio Altered Matter.

The developers behind Ooblets stated in our interview that they wished to make a game which combines the most compelling elements of Harvest Moon and Pokémon into a single experience, marrying the meditative slow-life farming of the former with the collection and companionship of the latter. The game is designed to evoke the same soft, safe, endearing, and  feminine aesthetic that both series pride themselves in, touting a visual aesthetic very much in line with modern cartoon style trends. Ooblets is setting out to be the alternative to both series that emphasizes the strengths of both that often get ignored.

Church of Darkness, by contrast, takes a much darker and more tense turn into the stealth genre. The player must infiltrate a religious cult’s South American compound in the 1970s and rescue their sibling who has left home to join them. The game uses a top-down perspective to allow the player as much visual information as possible without using standard stealth conventions such as a radar. The setting alone does a great job of establishing unfamiliarity and unease in the player, something well-suited to a stealth game. Plus, the wealth of ways with which the player can interact with the environment allow for some rather creative puzzle solutions, leaving the player feeling unrestricted in ways other stealth games do not.

Finally, the last standout was Etherborn, a game that prides itself on its eerie, misty, dreamlike visual aesthetic, as well as using it to support its gravity-twisting movement mechanics. In the game, the player can move up walls when approaching them with a ramp. Manipulating the gravitational standards of whatever polarity to which they are currently oriented is the key to the game’s puzzles. Falling down holes in the ceiling and establishing a sense of continuity to abstract spaces are necessary in the demo’s later levels, and make Etherborn out to be a gorgeous-looking standout of the puzzle platformer genre.

Microsoft’s Xbox One still has a lot to prove if it wants to keep up with the current indie clout of Sony’s Vita and PlayStation 4, but it is putting up a very compelling show of confidence with this show. Giving developers cheaper access to development tools, cross-platform certification through the Windows Store, cheaper certification fees, and big industry-facing events such as this one are a good sign that Microsoft still believes in the importance of independent development for its platforms.


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