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Earlier this week, EA launched an indie bundle. Not-so-coincidentally, the Internet proceeded to explode, and I’m now typing this while holding a tin can with a piece of string attached next to my PC. I even said some things about it, though admittedly, mostly to kick off a discussion about an only partially related topic. However, off the back of that, I ended up getting in touch with Klei Entertainment technical designer Nels Anderson, who directly worked on four> of the six games (both Deathspanks, both Shanks) featured in EA’s bundle of befuddlement. And while he agrees that the name itself is “a little gross,” writing off the whole thing as yet another bile-drenched belch from a money-devouring giant would be to turn a blind eye to some pretty enormous benefits for the developers involved. EA Partners is not EA proper. It seems like an insane notion, but here’s the short version: “total creative independence.” And the long version? Well, it’s quite a bit more complicated than that. And it’s after the break.
It's not a move one would expect from a monolithic publisher, but Electronic Arts has released its own "indie bundle" featuring six games from developers under its EA Partners label. The move incited mixed reactions, with some questioning if anything from EA can be considered "indie."
The bundle, available for around $21 on Steam, features Deathspank (seen above) and Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue (Hothead Games), Gatling Gears (Vanguard Games), Shank and Shank 2 (Klei Entertainment) and Warp (Trapdoor Inc.). The sale goes until May 9.
While the release is a bit unprecedented, the buzz that followed had some bashing and others defending the move. Among the bashers, Mojang's Markus "Notch" Persson accused EA of "attempting to ruin everything," following up saying that "indies are trying to save gaming ..."
However, among the defenders, Halfbrick Studios' Ryan Langley said he didn't have a problem with it: "EA's got a bunch of things to be grumpy about, but this isn't really one of them."
Dev Mike Bithell effectively summed up the "controversy" with his own tweet: "so... did twitter decide who's indie and who's not in the end? Is there a list somewhere I can get hold of?"
You may not have heard of Electronic Arts, a boutique publishing label based in Redwood City, Calif. Well, I bet you will be raving about them once you pick up the "EA Indie Bundle" on Steam, the indie-friendly digital marketplace, unlike that Origin bullshit run by that place that screwed up the end of Mass Effect 3.
The Indie Game Magazine discovered the bundle was recently registered on Steam. It contains Shank, Shank 2, Deathspank, Deathspank: Thongs Of Virtue, Warp and Gatling Gears, and is currently live, for $20.98 (a savings of $13.96).
The offer ends May 9, so please, reach into those wallets and support independent games development. Thank you.
Excuse Me? EA Indie Bundle Registered on Steam [The Indie Game Magazine]
I've yet to play a Deathspank game. I want to at some point, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
But I'm not sure how this trailer for Deathspank's third outing, The Baconing, makes me feel. Actually, I know exactly how it makes me feel, which is kind of uncomfortable and a tad hungry at the same time. It's rather odd.
If queasy hunger and heroes in thongs are your thing, The Baconing will be out August 31st on the PSN (where you can save a bit of money), XBLA, PC or Mac.
If you've been neglecting the Playstation Network's downloadable offerings, then perhaps you'd like to drop by and take a gander at the Playstation Store's wares in the coming weeks as the first annual PSN P event kicks off. Beginning August 9, the Play lineup will highlight four new action games hitting the Network in the coming weeks, along with a few gifts thrown in for good measure.
Users who preorder any of the Play games will receive a free PS3 theme per preorder. "Hey, Kotaku!" you say, "Just how do I preorder a digital game? It's not I'm having it shipped to my house! " To which I would say that you were quite correct, and perhaps the word "preorder" is a bit of a misnomer (and it's not even proper English! But that's my own petty qualm). Maybe "preorder" in this instance should be, "deposit some money before hand and promise that you'll buy the game", and it's only called "preordering" because that's the name they gave the shiny new button on the PlayStation Store allowing you to do this.
Also worth noting, is that each game comes with its own unique gift for purchasing during the promotion that you'll only get for buying on day one, detailed below. In addtion, Playstation Plus members get these titles for 20% off. And if you buy all four, you'll get PAYDAY: The Heist absolutely free. Just make sure you turn eighteen first.
August 23: Street Fighter III Third Strike Online Edition – This highly-anticipated action-fighting title from Capcom features 20 playable characters, HD graphics, more than 200 pieces of unlockable content, more than 100 trials and more than 100 challenges. When Street Fighter III Third Strike Online Edition is purchased through PLAY, purchasers will be able to unlock GILL, the self-proclaimed god, without having to beat the game with every character, as day-one DLC. Street Fighter III Third Strike Online Edition will be $14.99 and will be available for pre-order through August 18. The independent Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates Street Fighter III Third Strike Online Edition "T" for "TEEN."
August 30: The Baconing – The latest action-RPG title from Hothead Games features the popular hero, DeathSpank, in an attempt to defeat the Anti-Spank and his army of Cyborques before they cast an evil shadow over Spanktopia. Discover exciting new worlds and battle hordes of enemies as you search to unlock the secret within the Fires of Bacon. When The Baconing is purchased through PLAY, purchasers will receive an additional co-op character, Roesha – One Bad Mutha. The Baconing will be $14.99 and will be available for pre-order through August 25. The independent Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates The Baconing "T" for "TEEN."
September 6: BloodRayne: Betrayal™ – This 2D side-scrolling platformer from Majesco Entertainment features 15 bloodthirsty levels where Rayne attempts to infiltrate a treacherous castle, take out a fiendish horde and stop an evil vampire massacre. When BloodRayne: Betrayal is purchased through PLAY, purchasers will receive a BloodRayne: Betrayal virtual item for their PlayStation®Home avatar and an exclusive dynamic theme. BloodRayne: Betrayal will be $14.99 and will be available for pre-order through September 1. The independent Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates BloodRayne: Betrayal "T" for "TEEN."
September 13: Renegade Ops – This top-down, driving shooter from SEGA features a huge variety of vehicles, guns and endless enemies. The game features Sandbox-style missions, so there are many different ways to play. When Renegade Ops is purchased through PLAY, purchasers will receive a Vehicle & Character Pack with two new vehicles and special weapons. Renegade Ops will be $14.99 and will be available for pre-order through September 8. The independent Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates Renegade Ops "RP" for "Rating Pending."
Bonus Gift: PAYDAY: The Heist – This gritty, first-person shooter from Sony Online Entertainment lets players take on the role of a hardened career criminal executing intense, dynamic heists in constant pursuit of the next "big score." A voucher code for PAYDAY: The Heist will be provided as a bonus gift to players, ages 18 and older, that purchased all four PLAY titles, for redemption when the game releases. The game can also be pre-ordered separately starting September 20, 2011. PAYDAY: The Heist will be $19.99. The independent Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates PAYDAY: The Heist "RP" for "Rating Pending."
All in all, is this a sweet deal from Sony—or even that appealing coming right off the heels of XBLA's Summer of Arcade? Unlike XBLA's summer promo, none of the four marquee titles are system exclusives, and at press time, only Street Fighter 3 is confirmed to hit the PSN first—but only a day before. Is the focus on action titles scratching an itch somewhere for you? Sound off and let us know what you think— I personally have yet to try a Deathspank game (though I've always wanted to), and I'll probably pick up Street Fighter 3 (on the PSN a day before XBLA) because I'm pretty sure they can't update it any more than this. In accordance with this line of thinking, I plan to purchase whatever version of Street Fighter IV is available when Street Fighter V comes out.
The Baconing is the new game that isn’t a Deathspank game, but does have Deathspank in it, coming “this summer” from Hothead. We’ve not seen much on it since it’s
Hothead Games, sans Ron Gilbert, have released the first visual details of their next game,
There will be a new DeathSpank game this summer and it will involve a quest for the Fires of Bacon. It will also be a greatly improved follow-up to last year's downloadable DeathSpank adventures, two comedic riffs on Diablo.
Like Hothead Games' previous DeathSpank third-person action games, the new one will put players in charge of a silly self-important dope of a hero, the titular DeathSpank. Our hero spends his games beating up packs of bad guys who are mostly walking fantasy-genre jokes. He will gather loot, collect weapons and take many more odd jobs from odd characters.
The folks at Hothead gave us news of The Baconing early, and the normal course of action would be for us to take their info, cut out the boring parts and get to the meat of things. But at the risk of stretching a pun badly, we need to quote their press release extensively, to retain the flavor of this summer-scheduled downloadable game that's planned for PC and consoles:
DeathSpank returns for an all new adventure in The Baconing as he faces his most dangerous foe yet in the Anti-Spank as he tries to locate the Fires of Bacon. Players will settle in for the fun and familiar Monkey Island meets Diablo experience as the Vanquisher of Evil sets out to meet new acquaintances and some old friends in an all new science fiction post apocalyptic world with lots of exciting surprises, quests, puzzles and enemies.
Battle four all new bosses like the Minorque, fight alongside a new sidekick named Bob from Marketing, tame an all new insane level of difficulty and visit all new locations such as The Forbidden Zone, The Forest of Tomorrow, Barnacle Lake and others as you seek out to find the locations of the infamous Fires of Bacon to once and for all destroy the evil power of the thongs.
Enjoy the feel of countless gameplay improvements to the combat system. Dizzy enemies with the shield bash, deflect ranged weapons back at enemies and use devastating charged attacks to send a message to foes. Players will feel more in control of the battle situations than in previous DeathSpank games, providing gamers with opportunity and choice when engaging the enemies which stand in DeathSpank's way.
DeathSpank begins the game within the confines of the city of Spanktopia which will eventually lead him to the first opening boss fight with the Minorque…let the quests of Justice begin. Get ready for an all new and improved adventure with everyone's favourite Vanquisher of Evil in "The Baconing!"
New levels, new moves.... and Bob from Marketing.
The developers at Hothead tell Kotaku that this new game, which was made without the involvement of the lead character's creator, Ron Gilbert, should be more satisfying to play than last year's games. While the earlier DeathSpank adventures were funny, their enemy-bashing, loot-collecting gameplay got dull quickly. (It was their script and attractive cartoon graphics made them worth playing.)
For this new game, Hothead says players can expect smarter enemies who flank our hero and smarter enemy healers, who will strive to keep their hordes alive against the game's ridiculous hero. Combat areas will now include cover points for DeathSpank to hide behind. An internal document about the game states that "player's will now feel compelled to use tactics and strategy to defeat their opponent."
Hothead is promising more than 100 new quests, a new story, more than 70 characters (mostly new), more than 80 new weapons, new areas and a new, tougher difficulty level. They also, disturbingly, list the following special moves for the new sidekick, Bob From Marketing: "Laser eye beams; Eat dead bodies to restore health; Eat live bodies as an additional attack option." The main missing detail was co-op... it seems like it should be back, but Hothead hasn't said. We're checking with them and will update this story when we find out.
We wish we could show you how the new game looks, but Hothead hasn't coughed up any screenshots yet. You can expect to see more as the game's summer release approaches. For now, admire this photo of bacon.
(Looks like today is the day for new Hothead game news... they've also announced a new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game.)
Ouch! I’ve just been shot by the news gunman. I hate that guy. So, it turns out DeathSpank pt. 2, Thongs of Virtue, will be released on November 30th and will include both console DLC The Snowy Mountain Dungeon as well as an exclusive co-op partner named Tankko- “half-man, half-spider and all awesome.” Caw, it feels like it was only yesterday that DeathSpank came out. Probably because it basically was. Four weeks between releases? I could do with some more of that in my gaming diet. Trailer after the jump. (more…)