Feature • “Indies of the World: Unite!”

indoie megabooth

All over the world indie developers join forces to raise a fist against triple A studios and their big budget marketing campaigns.

Suppose you have a development budget worth of six months rent and a cupboard full of Cup Noodles. Once the game is done you might find it difficult, if not impossible, to actively market and promote it. All your money is invested in the game and you need cold hard cash for everything these days, right? Well… no. That’s not necessarily true.

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Feature • Beyond the Hardware: Next-Gen Gameplay

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Now that we know all the technical details of the next generation consoles, it’s time to talk about a more important issue: gameplay.

I died. Again.

It was my own fault – I chose to ignore the obvious signs. Just before I had entered the cavern, there was this red glowing message on the floor in front of me. “Beware of the trap ahead”, it read. I didn’t see one. What I did see however, was a ghost. A milky white, translucent warrior. Walking away from me before, suddenly, his body was jerked violently to the side, crumbling to the ground.

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Steam Summer Sale: Dream or Drama for Developers?

steamsale

Consumers love it to pieces: Valve’s periodical sales. But what about the people actually selling the games? Control Magazine spoke with Abbey Games, the biggest surprise of the Summer Sale 2013.

A card up their sleeves

Valve’s recently introduced trading card system was incorporated into the Summer Sale, allowing players to craft a Summer Sale badge after they had unlocked sale-specific cards for discounted games, including Reus.

The trading cards are a metagame to keep players more engaged with the products available on Steam, although they are entirely optional. The cards can be traded or sold to other users, or exchanged to unlock player-profile extras like game-themed emoticons, background images or additional discounts. For Abbey Games, the trading card system required about 80 hours of work creating additional assets.

“Don’t get me wrong, this years’ Steam Summer Sale blew our minds”, recalls 25-year old creative lead Adriaan Jansen of Abbey Games. Reus, the debut title of this young Dutch indie studio sold pretty well after its release on Steam a couple of months ago, but by July the long tail had set in as sales dropped to about 300 per day.

Enter the Steam Summer Getaway Sale, which prominently featured Reus at half price. Within days, the 2D god game had sold over 120,000 units, more than all sales up until that point combined. The title’s total revenue before the Summer Sale hovered around 800,000 euros, the sale instantly added another 400,000. Not bad for a young studio of four university graduates with zero experience in running a business.

Reus was one of ten daily featured games at the top of the storefront”, says Jansen. “We were featured in the same spot as Tomb Raider, Skyrim and BioShock Infinite, how cool is that? It’s safe to say 98 percent of our extra sales can be ascribed to that feature alone.”

Although Abbey Games didn’t turn its nose up at the extra cash involved, the team claims their decision to partake in the sale rather was motivated by long term opportunities. “The chance to connect with more players who notice and appreciate our work is most important”, says Adriaan Jansen. “Next time we release a game, people who bought Reus at a discount might remember they liked it and buy at full price.”

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PlayStation 4′s architect spills the beans on the console’s history

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This morning’s Gamelab-talk by PlayStation 4 architect Mark Cerny was a parade of revelations on the development history of the new console. One of the bits Cerny disclosed was that he was not asked to become the Lead System Architect. Cerny put himself foward and Sony accepted.

Cerny is hyper intelligent and he is not afraid to share that with his audience. He tells that at the age of 16 he is already accepted as a student at the University of Berkeley “Two years younger than the average.” It turns out he finds the study boring and a year later Cerny is hired by Atari. “I was the youngest employee by far, at least five years younger than the others. Atari thought it was cool to have a child prodigy programmer working for them.”

Cerny gets away with patting himself on the back because he tells the story in the same businesslike fashion as the rest of his presentation — he kind of resembles Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. He talks about his adventures at SEGA, where he works on the first Sonic and becomes fluent in Japanese. Then about the time he spends at Crystal Dynamics as a Graphics Engine Developer and about his adventures at Universal Interactive Studios, where he gets promoted to President and scouts studios like Naughty Dog an Insomniac.

It is his friend Shuhei Yoshida, the current President of Sony Worldwide Studios, who convinces Cerny to leave Universal so he can get involved with the PlayStation 2 — the console that Sony is working on at that time. Cerny develops the first engines for the console and discovers the immense complexity of the Emotion Engine, the core of the PS2.

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GDC 2013 • Great games: Jasper Byrne

Jasper Byrne

Day 3 of our GDC 2013 special report. Kitty Calis and Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) want to know: “What does it take to make something great?”

Before making indie games Jasper Byrne ran his own record label and produced hugely successful drum and bass under the name Sonic. He is now known for games such as Lone Survivor, Soundless Mountain II, Soul Brother and the upcoming New Game+ and has contributed music to Hotline Miami.

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GDC 2013 • Great games: Rob Lach

Rob Lach

Day 3 of our GDC 2013 special report. Kitty Calis and Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) want to know: “What does it take to make something great?”

Rob Lach is mostly known for his 2012 IndieCade nominated game POP: METHODOLOGY EXPERIMENT ONE, a game deliberately made by composing music and then making the first game concept emerging from that particular sound.

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GDC 2013 • Great games: Bennett Foddy

Bennett Foddy

Day 3 of our GDC 2013 special report. Kitty Calis and Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) want to know: “What does it take to make something great?”

You could call Bennet Foddy somewhat of a superstar. He is a professor of philosophy, ex-member of Cut Copy and now makes hard-to-play physics based games such as QWOP, GIRP, Pole Riders, Too Many Ninjas and CLOP.

How do you make great games?

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GDC 2013 • Great music: Daniel “C418″ Rosenfeld

C418

Day 2 of our GDC 2013 special report. Kitty Calis and Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) want to know: “What does it take to make something great?”

Daniel Rosenfeld, or C418 is a German freelance composer mostly known for creating the music and sound effects for Minecraft. He has released multiple albums, all with their own distinct sound and atmosphere.

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GDC 2013 • Great music: Jukio “Kozilek” Kallio

Kozilek

Day 2 of our GDC 2013 special report. Kitty Calis and Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) want to know: “What does it take to make something great?”

Finish electro producer, game designer and artist Kozilek makes music for games and parties. His work includes LUFTRAUSERS, Old Spice Saves the World and Wasteland Kings.

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GDC 2013 • Finding great games: Brandon Boyer

Brandon Boyer

Day 2 of our GDC 2013 special report. Kitty Calis and Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) want to know: “What does it take to make something great?”

After making music on casio keyboards, running a record label, writing for many print magazines and running Offworld on weblog Boing Boing,  Brandon Boyer is now chairman of the Independent Games Festival and editor of kickstarter-funded “website in search of beautiful things from the world of videogames” Venus Patrol.

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