This hardened gamer still has literal nightmares about that VVVVVV level where you hop along the undersides of wildly ping-ponging platforms while trying not to fall into a pit of spikes—you know, that level. And let's not even talk about how quickly my fat fingers fail at the psychedelic Super Hexagon. Terry Cavanagh's notorious for laying out challenges of immense difficulty—what will happen when he sinks his hands into the puzzle genre? We'll be finding out soon.
Over on his Distractionware blog, Cavanagh has posted a screenshot of his next work-in-progress, a puzzle game with the oh-so-appropriate working title Halting Problem. Something tells me that the simple level layout and the happy little dude are not indicative of the near-frustrating challenges we will be posed.
Puzzling is something I actually quizzed Cavanagh on a couple of years ago, and he has some rather strict opinions on what actually constitutes a puzzle game; he feels that the term has been misapplied with some of his previous work.
"I don't really consider the challenges in VVVVVV 'puzzles,'" Cavanagh told me in an email. "I think the term 'puzzle' gets thrown around in games all the time for things that aren't really puzzles, like Tetris or whatever."
Despite his own work having shied away from puzzling territory, he's long been a proponent of games such as DROD, who he cites as an influence on Halting Problem; it'll be exciting, and possibly a little terrifying, to see what Cavanagh can accomplish in the puzzle genre.
To coincide with IGF, PAX, GDC, OMG and WTF, Steam have slung up one of their impromptu sales, discounting tons of indie games to ensure that our libraries continue to heave under the sheer weight of unplayed games. How nice of them. I hope you've hidden your wallet after last time, because there are some cracking deals to be had, including Super Hexagon, Binding of Isaac and Terraria for silly money.
There's no countdown, so I'm assuming the many games on sale are going to stay the same price until the sale ends on March 29th (the 'Featured' games will likely rotate day by day, without offering any additional savings). There's a lot of games going cheap - more than is evident from the main page - so be sure to poke around for the ones you're interested in. Here are few of the better offers:
FTL - £3.49 (50% off) Hotline Miami - £3.49 (50% off) To The Moon - £2.79 (60% off) Amnesia: The Dark Descent - £3.24 (75% off) Miasmata - £5.99 (50% off) Lone Survivor - £3.39 (50% off) The Blackwell Bundle - £3.74 (75% off) Retro City Rampage - £3.99 (67% off) Ultratron, which came out like yesterday - £3.49 (50% off) Euro Truck Simulator 2 - £12.49 (50% off)
Don't worry, the Humble Bundle for Android 5 may name-check Google's telephonic operating system but, in typically Humble fashion, the latest round-up of pay-what-you-want indie games is available for PC, Mac and Linux too. This version of cross-platform indie pick 'n mix includes four games as standard, with another two available to those who beat the average. Among them is the excellent Super Hexagon.
Joining Terry Cavanagh's geometric avoid 'em up are music based schmup Beat Hazard Ultra, 2D action adventure Dynamite Jack, physics toybox Solar 2, and atmospheric puzzle platformer NightSky. You'll also get Dungeon Defenders plus its DLC for paying more than the current average.
As always, your payment can be split a variety of ways between the individual developers, the charities EFF and Child's Play and the Humble Bundle organisers. Pay over $1, and you'll also receive Steam keys for all of the games.
BAFTA have released the nomination shortlist for the upcoming 2013 round of their Video Game awards. PS3 exclusive Journey tops the nomination leaderboard - it's up for eight categories. But Telltale's The Walking Dead and Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 aren't far behind, receiving nods in seven and six categories respectively. There's also strong indie recognition. Dear Esther is nominated for five awards, Thomas Was Alone for three, and both Proteus and Super Hexagon both receive a mention.
The ceremony takes place on March 5th, and will streamed live on Twitch.tv. Tune in to find out if we live in a world where CoDBlOps2 can be given an award for "Game Innovation".
Full list below:
Action Borderlands 2 Development Team Gearbox/2K Games Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Development Team Treyarch/Activision Far Cry 3 Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methe Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Hitman: Absolution Development Team Io – Interactive/Square-Enix Mass Effect 3 Development Team BioWare/EA
Artistic Achievement Borderlands 2 Development Team Gearbox/2K Games Dear Esther Robert Briscoe Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Far Cry 3 Jean Alexis Doyan, Genseki Tanaka, Vincent Jean Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
Audio Achievement Assassin's Creed III Mathieu Jeanson Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Beat Sneak Bandit Simon Flesser, Magnus "Gordon" Gardebäck, Simogo/Simogo Dear Esther Jessica Curry Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Far Cry 3 Dan Hay, Tony Gronick, Brian Tyler Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Best Game Dishonoured Development Team Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Far Cry 3 Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methè Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft FIFA 13 David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy EA Canada/EA Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Mass Effect 3 Casey Hudson BioWare/EA The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
British Game Dear Esther Daniel Pinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Forza Horizon Development Team Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios LEGO: The Lord of the Rings Development Team TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment Need for Speed Most Wanted Development Team Criterion Games/EA The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games Super Hexagon Terry Cavanagh, Niamh Houston, Jenn Frank Terry Cavanagh/Terry Cavanagh
Debut Game Deadlight Raul Rubio, Luz Sancho, Oscar Cuesta Tequila Works/Microsoft Studios Dear Esther DanielPinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry Thechineseroom/thechineseroom Forza Horizon Development Team Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios Proteus Ed Key, David Kanaga Twisted Tree Games/Twisted Tree Games The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games The Unfinished Swan Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Game Design Borderlands 2 Development Team Gearbox/2K Games Dishonored Development Team Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Far Cry 3 Patrick Methè, Jamie Keen Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale XCOM: Enemy Unknown Development Team Firaxis/2K Games
Family Clay Jam Chris Roem Iain Gilfeather, Michael Movel Fat Pebble/Zynga Just Dance 4 Alkis Argyriadis, Matthew Tomkinson, Veronique Halbrey Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Jon Burton, Jonathan Smith, John Hodskinson TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment LEGO the Lord of the Rings Development Team TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment Minecraft: XBOX 360 Edition Development Team Mojang/4J Studios/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade Skylanders Giants Paul Reiche, Fred Ford, Scott Krager Toys For Bob/Activision
Game Innovation Call of Duty: Black Ops II Development Team Treyarch/Activision Fez Development Team Polytron Corporation/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Kinect Sesame Street TV Development Team Soho Productions/Microsoft Studios The Unfinished Swan Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary Development Team Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Wonderbook: Books of Spells Development Team London Studio/ Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Mobile & Handheld Incoboto Dene Carter Fluttermind/Fluttermind LittleBigPlanet (Vita) Tom O'Connor, Mattias Nygren, Lee Hutchinson Tarsier Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe New Star Soccer Simon Read New Star Games/New Star Games The Room Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games Super Monsters Ate My Condo Development Team Adult Swim Games/Adult Swim Games The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
Online - Browser Amateur Surgeon Hospital Development Team Mediatonic/Adult Swim Games Dick and Dom's HOOPLA! Adam Clay Team Cooper/CBBC Merlin: The Game Development Team Bossa Studios/Bossa Studios Runescape Development Team Jagex/Jagex The Settlers Online Christopher Schmitz, Guido Schmidt, Rainer Reber Blue Byte Software/Ubisoft SongPop Olivier Michon, Thibaut Crenn, Daouna Jeong FreshPlanet/FreshPlanet
Online - Multiplayer Assassin's Creed III Damien Kieken, Mathieu Granjon, Yann Le Guyader Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Borderlands 2 DevelopmentTeam Gearbox/2K Games Call of Duty: Black Ops II Development Team Treyarch/Activision Halo 4 Development Team 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Need For Speed Most Wanted Development Team Criterion Games/EA
Original Music Assassin's Creed III Lorne Balfe Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Diablo III Development Team Blizzard Entertainment/ Blizzard Entertainment Journey Austin Wintory That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Thomas Was Alone David Housden Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell The Unfinished Swan Joel Corlitz, Ian Dallas, Peter Scaturro Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
Performer Adrian Hough (Haytham) - Assassin's Creed III Danny Wallace (The Narrator) - Thomas Was Alone Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett) - The Walking Dead Melissa Hutchinson (Clementine) - The Walking Dead Nigel Carrington (The Narrator) - Dear Esther Nolan North (Nathan Drake) - Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Sports/Fitness FIFA 13 David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy EA Canada/EA F1 2012 Development Team Codemasters Birmingham/Codemasters Racing Forza Horizon Development Team Playground Games/Turn10 Studios/Microsoft Studios New Star Soccer Simon Read New Star Games/New Star Games Nike+ Kinect Training Development Team Sumo Digital Ltd/Microsoft Studios Trials Evolution Development Team Antti llvessup, Kim Lahti RedLynx/Microsoft Studios
Story Dishonoured Development Team Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks Far Cry 3 Jeffrey Yohalem, Lucien Soulban, Jeffrey Yohalem Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Journey Development Team That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Mass Effect 3 Mac Walters BioWare/EA Thomas was Alone Mike Bithell Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell The Walking Dead Development Team Telltale Games/Telltale
Strategy Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Development Team From Software/Namco Bandai Games Diablo III Development Team Blizzard Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment Football Manager 2013 Development Team Sports Interactive/SEGA Great Big War Game David Moss, Steve Venezia, Paul Johnson Rubicon Development/Rubican Development Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai Development Team The Creative Assembly/SEGA XCOM: Enemy Unknown Development Team Firaxis/2K Games
BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in association with Dare to Be Digital Pixel Story Martin Cosens, Thomas McParland, Ashley Hayes, Benhamin Rushton, Luke Harrison (Loan Wolf Games) Project Thanatos Hugh Laird, Andrew Coles, Thomas Laird, Alexandra Shapland, Thomas Kemp (Raptor Games) Starcrossed Kimi Sulopuisto, Vili Viitaniemi, Minttu Meriläinen, Petri Liuska, Andrew MacLean (Kind of a Big Deal)
Given that they've been recognising games for a few years now, shouldn't BAFTA update their acronym to reflect the fact? BAFTGA, maybe? BAGFTA? Perhaps not.
The shortlist for the 15th IGF award finalists has been revealed. There were more than 580 entries this year, across an incredibly diverse range of genres, requiring the attention of some 200 judges to help pare down the games into seven award categories, with five nominees apiece.
Contenders for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize are as follows:
Meanwhile, honourable mentions went to Gone Home (The Fullbright Company); Thirty Flights of Loving (Blendo Games); The Stanley Parable (Galactic Cafe); Super Hexagon (Terry Cavanagh); Starseed Pilgrim (Droqen & Ryan Roth).
Head over to the IGF site to see the full list of nominees each of the categories - visual art, narrative, technical excellence, design, audio and the Nuovo award for "abstract and unconventional game development". The winners will be announced as part of the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, on Wednesday 27 March.
Terry Cavanagh, the man behind the indie hits VVVVVV and Super Hexagon (and, as such, the man whose name I've cursed thousands of times) has announced he's no longer to develop Nexus City, or its spin-off game Selma's Story. Nexus City was to be an RPG collaboration between Cavanagh and writer/developer Jonas Kyratzes, whose previous games include The Sea Will Claim Everything and the free Twine game Moonlight.
Posting on his Distractionware blog, Cavanagh writes, "Originally a very small game, over time it grew completely out of control – at this point, Jonas and I have worked on it on and off for over two years. However, that doesn’t really paint an accurate picture – I haven’t worked on Nexus City itself since 2011, and I only worked on the spinoff game, Selma’s Story, for two months last year."
"I’ve been thinking of Nexus City as “the thing I’m working on” since 2010. As a result, for a long time now, I’ve felt like I wasn’t really in control of what I can work on. Promising games would come along, and I’d stop myself from getting too deep into them, because I had to finish Nexus City first. Everything became a big ordered list of what I could work on and when, how long I could spend on it."
Cavanagh admits that despite the game promising an "amazing world with an amazing story," the momentum has long since run out. So what's next for the game-maker/engineer of perversely enjoyable frustration? "Right now – for the moment, I think I may just take some time off ... After that? I don’t really know! I have a clean slate again for the first time in a very long time, and I’m very excited about that."
Monday's review: You're a small triangle navigating a maze as its walls pivot and spin toward you in predictable patterns and with increasing speed. Avoid the walls for as long as you can and compete for the longest times. It's fun, but too small, simple and hard to provide lasting pleasure. 60%.
Tuesday's review: I came back to it just for the music. It's 8-bit, but less concerned with high-pitched bleeps than dirty, throbbing beats. The music doesn't become repetitive either, despite dying and restarting dozens of times each minute, as it begins at a different place in the song after each death. There's a moment at one minute forty seconds into the track Courtesy that's all I need to beat my best time. 72%.
Wednesday's review: There's a surprising amount of nuance in the design. The lovely way your ship slightly sways in the direction you're turning, or how your sides can safely graze surfaces so you're always surfing the edge of failure. Even the female voice that announces the game's name is canny, making it feel like you're plugging yourself into an entrancing futuristic machine. 78%.
For a while, this was my best time.
Thursday's review: Super Hexagon has three controls: left arrow, right arrow, and your brain. My leaps in ability, small though they are, all feel like I'm hacking my brain rather than improving my dexterity. I've learnt to use my peripheral vision, so I can start each turn earlier. I've discovered I play better when I'm in conversation with someone at the same time, so I start chatting to whoever's nearby while I play. When my times begin to plateau, I skip up to higher difficulty levels, play those for 15 minutes, and then return back down. Everything looks slower, because I've wired my brain to run faster. When I turn away from the game now, the real world keep spinning. 84%
Friday's review: Super Hexagon is about reaching escape velocity from your own feeble reflexes. It's about defeating a never-ending, corporeal chiptune. It's a game you dance to, as much about surfing music as AudioSurf. It's a puzzle game, about memorising routines and overcoming mental blocks. It's the ludological purist's answer to Hotline Miami. It's about momentum, speed, grace under pressure. When I play it, I don't blink. When I die, I'm never frustrated. In moments when it has me in rapt attention on its dancefloor, it's the greatest game in the world. 96%.
Saturday's review: The sobering light of the morning always brings perspective. Super Hexagon is fun, focused, elegant and compulsively challenging. For some, it'll be an intense months-long relationship. For most, it'll be more like a single life in the game itself: thrilling, a worthwhile learning experience, and over quickly.
Chris, Marsh and Tom Senior discuss Darksiders 2, Little Inferno, Long Live the Queen, Super Hexagon, Far Cry 3 and much more. Features at least two rants, the Steam charts, and your questions from Twitter.
Marsh's Darksiders II review. Tom F's Far Cry 3 review. Super Hexagon. Long Live the Queen (borderline NSFW, or at the very least you'll get a funny look). Little Inferno. Jenn Frank's Allow Natural Death. The #1reasonwhy and #1reasontobe hashtags.
Awful if true answers:
Darksiders II developers Vigil have not been closed.