Eurogamer


A new version of blood-soaked platformer Super Meat Boy will be released for iOS devices, developer Team Meat has revealed.


Now-renamed Super Meat Boy: The Game, the fresh incarnation will be remade "from the ground up" to rework the Xbox 360 and PC's precision controls for a touch screen interface.


Explaining the need to remake the game, Super Meat Boy designer Edmund McMillen wrote on Team Meat's blog that "there was no way in hell [the original] would work on a touch screen with buttons all over it, Super Meat Boy isn't a game we want to make a sub-par version of just to cash in".


Hence the new version for iOS.


McMillen went on: "what the game isn't: a shitty port of an existing game with non tactile buttons spread all over the screen blocking the players view and making for frustrating controls."


And neither is Super Meat Boy: The Game "the Super Meat Boy you're used to, there are aspects of Super Meat Boy in there, obviously, but this is a brand new game with new art, new sound, everything".


The first image of Super Meat Boy: The Game lies below, showing more rounded, cartoon graphics akin to the original game's cut-scenes. No release date was mentioned.

'Super Meat Boy: The Game announced for iOS' Screenshot 1
Eurogamer

UPDATE: Microsoft has confirmed that as of next month, all Xbox Live Arcade titles will have the option to increase from 200 to 400 Gamerscore points, with the addition of up to 30 Achievements.


The new 400 Point ceiling will be mandatory in all new XBLA games releasing from June this year.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Achievement limit for Xbox Live Arcade games is about to be doubled, a new report claims.


A fresh set of rules from Microsoft will double the current 200 Gamerscore base limit for downloadable titles to 400G.


XBLA games will also be able to include a maximum of 30 Achievements, up from the current 20 limit.


The new Achievement policy, unearthed by Xbox360Achievements, will apparently be mandatory for all XBLA releases beginning 1st June, while downloadable games launching from 1st April can opt in to the new system.


Achievement rules for XBLA DLC packs are also changing. The current standard for XBLA games is 50 extra Gamerscore and five more Achievements per quarter, up to a limit of 350 Gamerscore and 35 Achievements total.


This will increase to 100 Gamerscore and 8 Achievements per quarter, up to 800 Gamerscore and 62 Achievements total, meaning XBLA developers can add Achievement-infused DLC for a full year after release.


Eurogamer has contacted Microsoft for comment on the report. We'll update if we hear back.

Eurogamer


Team Meat is currently tinkering around with a smartphone version of its hit platformer Super Meat Boy.


Studio co-founder Edmund McMillen told Eurogamer that it has an idea for how to make the precision jumper work on a touchscreen and is prototyping the concept.


"We are currently developing tech for the next game that might be a touch remake of Super Meat Boy for both [iOS and Android] platforms mentioned," he explained.


"If we end up doing it it won't be anything like the version people are familiar with but something new that embodies the SMB spirit.


"Bottom line, SMB on a mobile device is by far the most requested thing we get asked and a few months ago we started playing around with a very odd idea that could make SMB work on a touch devise," he added.


"It seemed fun and inspired so we decided to start prototyping it to see if it was worth making. That's where we still are.


"Who knows if it will happen or not, if it sucks we won't release it, if it's fun we will continue working on it."


Team Meat hasn't exactly been vocal in its enthusiasm for smartphone gaming in the past. Back in March 2010, McMillen's colleague Tommy Refenes publicly stated that he "absolutely f****** hate[s] the iPhone app store", likening the service to the failed '90s Tiger handheld.


However, McMillen explained the pair are now slowly starting to come around.


"As for the 'U-turn', Tommy and I decided to question the platform's strengths and instead of being pessimistic at least make an attempt at making a good game for the platform rather than just say it's all s***. There have been quite a few good games that have come out since Tommy's rant so there is hope.


"FYI, the rant about the iPhone was from about three years ago and about how porting games to iPad was like Tiger handhelds of the early '90s, and also how the store sucks (it still sucks).


"You can't get away from how the mobile market is pretty bad these days, especially with its horribly encouraged copy-cat mentality and everyone out to make a quick buck.


"But there have been good games made for the platform that are unique and well done, we would like to attempt to be one of those instead of simply poo-pooing every aspect of the platforms."


Team Meat's notoriously unforgiving debut launched on Xbox Live Arcade to rave reviews back in 2010. See Tom Bramwell's sweat-flecked 9/10 Super Meat Boy review for details.

Eurogamer


US cable TV network HBO has optioned the rights to make a fictional TV series based on forthcoming documentary Indie Game: The Movie.


According to Deadline, the film's directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky signed on the dotted line at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah over the weekend, where the film premiered to glowing reviews.


Initial reports that HBO wanted to turn it into a half-hour comedy have proved wide of the mark, with a post on the movie's Facebook page today stating "HBO has optioned IGTM for the basis of a (fictional) series. It is NOT a comedy. It is NOT a sitcom."


Hollywood veteran Scott Rudin - whose credits include 2011 Oscar winner The Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Queen and Wes Anderson's take on Roald Dahl favourite The Fantastic Mr Fox - will reportedly produce. No word on potential casting choices, but the mind boggles.


It's worth noting that not every property that gets optioned by a network necessarily makes it through to full production.


The film follows a number of recent indie titles through development, including Super Meat Boy, Braid and Fez. Take a look at a trailer for the flick, which is due out later this year, below.

Eurogamer


Rock hard downloadable game Super Meat Boy has sold over one million copies, developer Team Meat has revealed.


"Fun Fact: Super Meat Boy past [sic] the million sales mark last month!" the indie developer wrote on Twitter. "PLATINUM BABY."


Super Meat Boy, designed by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, launched on Xbox Live Arcade in October 2010 as part of Microsoft's GameFeast XBLA promotion. It later launched on PC and Mac.


The two-man studio is now hard at work on its "ambitious", "fun", "more experimental" new project.

Eurogamer

UPDATE:

Microsoft's Major Nelson has revealed a few more deals just for today. These are live now and last 24 hours:

  • Fallout 3 - £14.99 (25 per cent off)
  • Full House Poker - 400 points (50 per cent off)
  • Warhammer 40K Kill Team - 400 points (50 per cent off)
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 - 320 Points (73 per cent off)

ORIGINAL STORY:


Microsoft has halved the price of over a dozen pieces of Xbox Live Marketplace content, allowing UK gamers to download some US Black Friday-style bargains.


Brutally addictive 9/10 platformer Super Meat Boy has carved off half its price, available for 400 Points - the same discount given to Sega racer OutRun.


Charming Double Fine adventure Stacking comes cheap at 600 Points, as does the latest DeathSpank game, The Baconing.


There's discounts for game DLC, too. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's enjoyable extra episode The Da Dinci Disappearance is 400 Points, while Left 4 Dead 2 add-on The Passing is 280 Points.


More titles should join the sale later this week.


Here's the full list so far, as spotted on NeoGAF:

  • Happy Tree Friends False Alarm - 400 points
  • Bejeweled Blitz Live - 200 points
  • Bejeweled 2 - 200 points
  • Magic the Gathering Duels 2012 - 400 points
  • Super Meat Boy - 400 points
  • OutRun Online Arcade - 400 points
  • Bejeweled 2 - 200 points
  • Stacking - 600 points
  • Fancy Pants - 400 points
  • The Baconing - 600 points
  • Weapon of Choice - 200 points
  • Phantasy Star 2 - 200 points
  • Sega Soccer Slam - 600 points
  • Flotilla - 200 points
  • Pinball FX Marvel Pack - 400 points
  • Pinball FX Classic Pack - 400 points
  • Pinball FX Core Pack - 400 points
  • Homefront: The Rock map pack - 200 points
  • Homefront: Fire Sale map pack - 120 points
  • AC Brotherhood: Da Vinci Disappearance - 400 points
  • Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing - 280 points
  • Battlefield: Bad Company - 25 per cent off
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - 25 per cent off
  • Battlefield 2: Modern Combat - 25 per cent off
  • Civ Revolution - 25 per cent off
  • Bulletstorm (PC) - 50 per cent off
  • Street Fighter IV (PC) - 50 per cent off
  • Section 8: Prejudice (PC) - 50 per cent off
Eurogamer


Canadian developer Brian Provinciano spent two months negotiating his contract with Microsoft to get Retro City Rampage on Xbox Live Arcade. It was, to say the least, a tough process - and one that he could have done without. It delayed the creation of the game, but in the end he thought f*** it, and signed on the bottom line.


Retro City Rampage was first announced as a WiiWare game. Then, all of a sudden, it was delayed on Wii and coming to Xbox first. Money hats, the Nintendo faithful claimed.


"I got a lot of flaming and hate and trolling from when I announced it was delayed on the Wii because it's coming to Xbox first," Provinciano tells Eurogamer. "Everyone thinks I got this big, huge chunk of money from Microsoft. I didn't. I'm poor and I've got nothing. They haven't given me anything."


So why go with the big M rather than the big N? Put simply, Provinciano had had enough.


"I had been pitching the game, doing documents, vetting all sorts of review stuff for months and months and months," he recalls. "The contract negotiation alone was two months for Xbox, trying to negotiate the nickel and dime of it. It was a really rough process. I'd say a good 85 per cent of developers you talk to have had unpleasant experiences. It's like, stop nickel and diming us. If you just let us make our awesome game it'll be better and it'll make more money for all of us anyway. That's my opinion.


"It's one thing to go through the difficult process of going through the gate and getting your game approved, but once it's approved it's a really rough process of negotiating and trying to get a fair deal for yourself. That's a tough part everyone has to waste time on. In any case, I was talking to a number of other big publishers as well, and some smaller ones. And I was talking with Sony. But it got to a point where I was so drained.


"It was the most unpleasant experience of this whole project. It's like, years and years and years have gone into this and the worst part of it all was doing the contract. I was so drained with it, and so tired. Every day I wanted to finish the game and get the game out the door, but I had to deal with emails and contract negotiation. After all of that time I was like, okay fine, I'm just going to sign it! I just want to get it over with! And so I did."


Provinciano's contract stipulates that Retro City Rampage must not appear on other platforms for a limited period of time. But some other platforms, which he refuses to divulge, are not covered by the clause. "If I really get screwed on the launch I can put it out on some other platforms immediately, because they aren't covered in the contract," he says with a glint in his eye.


Provinciano's story will be familiar to most who have made or are making games for Microsoft's hugely successful downloadable platform - and even to some who haven't. Take Amanita Design, the Czech Republic maker of enchanting adventure games Samorost, Botanicula and Machinarium, a game due out on PS3 early next year.


"First we wanted to create an Xbox Live version of Machinarium," Amanita boss Jakub Dvorský says. "Microsoft contacted us some time ago. They were interested and very nice. But after about half a year of negotiations, they told us they were not interested anymore because they decided they don't want to support games which are not Microsoft exclusive. We had already released the game for Mac and Linux, so they said they were not interested anymore."


Dvorský's experience is in part the result of a Microsoft policy exposed by Eurogamer earlier this year. In short, Microsoft reserves the right to not publish games on the Xbox Live if they have appeared on other platforms, such as the PlayStation 3 or Steam, first.


There are other rules. To get your game published on Xbox Live, you either need to sign with a third party publisher, such as EA or Sega, or go through Microsoft Studios directly, in which case you are forced to sign an exclusivity deal. "And they don't give you a penny," Provinciano reveals. "It's just an unfortunate thing."


Microsoft has defended its policies, and Sony has attacked them, but the reason for them is clear: Microsoft wishes to maintain quality control over XBLA, preventing it being overrun by below average games, and it wants to make as much of what's on offer exclusive as it can.


On the face of it, this means Xbox 360 gamers will not get to enjoy games that have launched elsewhere, such as Machinarium, but for developers there is an additional frustration.

Eurogamer

This weekend, 10 notable - and in some cases, brilliant - PC games are bundled cheaply inside The Super Meat Boy Anniversary pack/bundle on Steam.

For £17.89, you get:

Separately, that lot costs £71.40.

The Super Meat Boy Anniversary pack/bundle is available until Monday, 21st November.

Soundtracks for Super Meat Boy, Braid, Machinarium, Bit Trip Beat and Bit Trip Runner are also thrown in.

The games you already own on Steam will become gifts you can give to friends.

Plus, the price of Super Meat Boy alone has been halved to £5.99 for the weekend. The soundtrack has temporarily dropped in price to £2.49, too.

Eurogamer


Has Xbox Live Arcade really peaked, as World of Goo creator Ron Carmel yesterday argued? No, analysts have told Eurogamer.


"But Microsoft should take a look at Ron Carmel's piece," declared Billy Pidgeon of M2 Research, "which eloquently makes the case (and backs it up with data) that XBLA has peaked for a specific group of independent developers who are responsible for high quality games that outsell the average XBLA game.


"Sony is acquiring more unique content for PSN, and in many cases it's exclusive content, which will cost Sony more but will clearly differentiate their online games store from XBLA and other competition."


"In terms of digital games delivered through a home console, Microsoft will continue to be the market leaders," stated Jesse Divnich of EEDAR.


"I am not disagreeing with Mr. Carmel, I believe some of his points are valid and any digital service provider has its own restrictions and hurdles. Not every game is the right fit for every service.


"We certainly are seeing some fracturing among developers, and Xbox Live and PSN are no longer the only option for game distribution."


"That doesn't sound right to me," said Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan, responding to Carmel's claim. "If anything, there are more titles than ever, but we haven't had a Braid or Limbo so far this year.


"As the 360 price comes down and the installed base continues to grow, there should be a significantly larger addressable market for XBLA games, so I think it continues to grow."


Ron Carmel surveyed 200 independent developers. His results, which he admitted weren't sacrosanct, showed dwindling support for Xbox Live Arcade. Part of this is due to laborious XBLA constraints. The other part can be attributed to the rise of PC, Mac, iOS and Android gaming. Billy Pidgeon said that "viable alternative marketplaces" are "good news for developers and gamers both". Whereas Xbox Live Arcade and PSN are "predictable", he said, other markets can be "risky".

"Indie games are like indie songs: most of them suck, but the ones that don't are unique and deserve to be bought, played, talked about, discovered and awarded."

Billy Pidgeon, analyst, M2 Research


Divnich said the investment in social and mobile gaming "is not necessarily at the cost of XBLA and PSN titles". There's greater flexibility there, but "the recipe for success is not as established".


"Of all the online games markets," added Pidgeon, "I think Steam may have the best offering for gaming enthusiasts so far. The PC is the ideal platform with the most reach, Steam's timed specials help games sell more but hedge price erosion, and it's a great experience for gamers who use it.


"Nintendo's online shops are getting better, but still have a long way to go. The App Store has got great reach, but the best games get lost in the crap and rapid price erosion is a given. Android download stores are the worst, with all the downsides of the App Store and none of the upside due to fragmentation."


Apple has made iOS an easy platform to develop and publish for. One of Ron Carmel's suggestions was for Microsoft to make every Xbox 360 a dev kit, and relax the submission process so that more content can get through. Xbox Live Indie Games already does this, to a degree.


"The Xbox Live Indie Games market seems a waste of a good opportunity," Pidgeon went on to say. "What should be a showcase for indie games is more like a swap meet.


"It's worthwhile to let anybody make a game with XNA, but there should be a 'top shelf' for the best independent games. Indie games are like indie songs: most of them suck, but the ones that don't are unique and deserve to be bought, played, talked about, discovered and awarded."


Nicholas Lovell from Gamesbrief, in a lengthy dissection of Ron Carmel's piece, accused Microsoft of "artificially trying to restrict consumers to a limited number of choices, similar to a retail store". Whereas Carmel had hope Microsoft could turn it around, Lovell isn't so sure.


"Ron is relatively upbeat about the future, if Microsoft adopts some of his ten-point plan. I am less so," Lovell wrote. "I think that the company is stuck trying to recreate the limitations of the physical distribution market, rather than embracing the opportunities created by the digital market.


"I was going to say that I hope that I am wrong, but I'm not sure that's entirely true. The sooner the world becomes more open, the better."

Eurogamer

World of Goo developer 2D Boy believes Xbox Live Arcade "peaked" last year (2010) and that "Microsoft is not yet aware of this".

Studio co-founder Ron Carmel surveyed 200 independent game makers, some of which are responsible for significant - but undisclosed - XBLA titles.

He discovered that more developers want to make PSN games now than titles for XBLA. He also found PSN and XBLA seventh and eighth in a list of target platforms for 2011. The most popular was Windows, followed closely by Mac, iOS, Linux, Flash/browser and Android platforms.

Nearly three quarters of the developers surveyed said ease of working with a platform holder was paramount - followed by installed base and platform suitability.

When asked about specific platform holders, the majority deemed Steam, Facebook and Apple "very easy" to work with. Sony's PSN majority, like Google's Android, was "so-so". Most people found WiiWare "difficult", whereas Microsoft's XBLA was "excruciating".

"Given that ease of working with the platform owner was voted the most important factor in choice of platforms, it becomes perfectly clear why XBLA, despite being a very strong channel with a large audience and huge earning potential, is dropping in popularity among these developers," observed Carmel.

"But if things keep going the way they are, and XBLA keeps losing talented developers, I believe the diversity of games available on XBLA will diminish, quality will suffer, and revenue numbers will drop as players start to move away from an unremarkable portfolio of games. We will see a lot more 'genrefication' and big publisher franchises."

"XBLA is no longer the king it used to be. Microsoft is no longer in a position to demand exclusivity now that PSN has more developers and is growing."

Ron Carmel, co-founder, 2D Boy

"Once players start to leave in large numbers it will be too late to turn things around," he added. "Given that it takes at least a year or two to make an XBLA game, no developer would want to start working on one knowing that XBLA is declining in popularity and could be significantly weaker by the time the game is ready.

Carmel believes full-scale gamer "migration" away from XBLA is "a few years away", which allows "more than enough time for XBLA to change course".

To this end, Carmel shared "10 Things Microsoft Can Do To Improve XBLA".

  1. Create a fair contract that doesn't require negotiation. "It's the most exploitative, one-sided distribution contract I've seen. We each waste months of our time and Microsoft's time negotiating the same stuff out of the contract, over, and over again."
  2. Solve the content discovery problem. "The platform owner needs to make it super easy for their users to buy software."
  3. Stop requiring independent developers to publish through MGS. "Every other distribution channel allows independent developers to self publish, without a producer, and I see no evidence that having a producer on a game makes it better."
  4. Drop the TCRs, make updating easy. "TCRs add months to a game's development time that could be better used polishing the game."
  5. Get rid of the exclusivity requirement for independent developers. "XBLA is no longer the king it used to be. Microsoft is no longer in a position to demand exclusivity now that PSN has more developers and is growing."
  6. Drop the greenlight process and open up development to everyone. "Players judge the quality of a platform by the quality and quantity of the best games available on it, not by the average quality of all games."
  7. Make every console a dev kit. "It may require a lot of work, but there is nothing stopping Microsoft from doing this as well. This is actually one of the reasons Microsoft is the console maker best-poised to undergo this transformation."
  8. Automate everything. "With the App Store, everything is automated and a developer can release a game without ever talking to a human."
  9. Drop the ESRB in favor of a self administered rating system. "It takes weeks, and thousands of dollars, to get a game rated by all the domestic and international ratings agencies needed to launch a game globally. The ESRB in particular is a nightmare to deal with."
  10. Make avatar related requirements optional. "I don't know a single developer who wants to make toys for avatars. It's not fun and it inflates the game's budget."

"XBLA played a pivotal role in the popularisation of independent games," concluded Carmel, name-checking N+, Castle Crashers, Braid, Limbo and Super Meat Boy.

"Microsoft proved that indie games can be million sellers on consoles, and then sat on its laurels for half a decade as more nimble and innovative companies like Valve and Apple took the lead.

"I would love to see Microsoft rise to the challenge of adapting to new digital distribution landscapes," he wrote. "More healthy platforms means more interesting, creative games that push the limits of our medium."

Video: World of Goo.

...

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