Minecon wasn’t only about Minecraft. Mojang were good enough to invite along the bright lights of the indie dev scene to give a series of inspiring, funny lectures, describing how they got into the business and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Taking to the stage in chronological order: Hello Games, purveyors of deceptively chirpy stunt-biking game Joe Danger; C418, Minecraft’s maestro of electronica; Introversion, creators of Uplink, Darwinia and the tremendously tempting crowdfunded clink-sim, Prison Architect; Suspicious Developments, aka Tom Francis, aka maker of Gunpoint, aka PC Gamer writer, aka man sitting two metres two my right as I type this and looking rather dashing too, I might add; Mike Bithell, the dev behind clever platformer Thomas Was Alone; and Mode 7, creators of simultaneous turnbased-tactics masterpiece Frozen Synapse.
Hit the jump for the videos of each talk, and watch out for our PCG-helmed indie dev round-table which we'll publish in the next few days.
Hello Games / Grant Duncan
Hello Games' supremely talented artist, Grant Duncan, takes the mic to talk about conjuring Pixar-like delight from pixels and polygons in Joe Danger (and also to tease Hello Games’ next aesthetically divergent title, quite possibly coming to PC, currently going under the codename of Project Skyscraper).
C418 / Daniel Rosenfeld
The effervescent Daniel Rosenfeld, also known as C418, talks about the production of Minecraft’s electronica score, game music in general, his album, and the soundtrack for the upcoming Minecraft documentary (teaser clip within) - all in some impressive technical detail. A must for electronica nerds and aspiring musicians.
Introversion / Mark Morris & Chris Delay
British indie-dev double-act, Mark Morris and Chris Delay discuss the long and bumpy road they’ve taken, from early hits Uplink and Darwinia, to the calamitous production of Multiwinia and the aborted Subversion. But - spoilers! - it has a happy ending with the hugely successful crowdfunding of clink-building sim Prison Architect.
Suspicious Developments / Tom Francis
PCGamer’s very own tame indie developer, Tom Francis, discusses how being mean to games professionally has helped shape his development practices on Gunpoint, and how becoming a developer has changed his perception of the games he writes about.
The supremely affable creator of Thomas Was Alone discusses its origins as a rough-hewn Flash experiment and how the curiously emotive reaction to it - which saw players ascribe human thoughts to its simple cuboid avatars - snowballed into a project capable of attracting accolades and high-profile voice-actors.
Mode 7 / Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor, the co-director of Mode 7, who heroically multitasks as a musician and creator of hilariously terrible PowerPoint slides, tracks the company’s evolution, from its early swordfighting game Determinance, to the terrific tactical tour-de-force which is Frozen Synapse.
Aug 28, 2012
As part of Steam's regularly awesome Midweek Madness sales, the Best of British Indie Bundle packages seven indie games crafted by the skilled folks across the pond. Lasting until 4pm PDT Thursday, the $10 deal provides a sampler of excellent strategy and action timesinks, including Introversion Software's DEFCON, Alex May and Rudolf Kremers' Eufloria, Mode 7's Frozen Synapse, Positech Games' Gratuitous Space Battles, Puppy Games' Revenge of the Titans, and a double-whammy finisher of Size Five Games' Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! The value-candy gets even sweeter as most of the included games (with the exception of Gratuitous Space Battles and Size Five's goods) carry Steam Achievements for your hunting pleasure in addition to saving nearly $70 in your still-recovering-from-Summer-Sale wallet.
Aug 28, 2012
Announcement - Valve
Some of the best-rated indie developers from Great Britain have come together to create the Best of British Indie Bundle during this week's Midweek Madness*!
This Bundle includes:
This Bundle includes:
- Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There Dan That! Double Pack
- Gratuitious Space Battles
- Revenge of the Titans
- Frozen Synapse
Jul 6, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Alec Meer)
Simon Roth is best known as the newest recruit to Frozen Synapse creators Mode 7, but he’s also one of the most veteran developers in the entire history of the world, if my research is correct. And he’s moonlighting on a side-project all of his own, the Bullfrog/early Maxis-inspired sci-fi management game Maia. This isn’t a matter of keeping colonists happy with space ice cream and zero-grav toilets – we’re promised the likes of ‘up to 2KM X 2KM X 2KM of procedural world’, water and lava simulation, defensive structures to fend off hostile wildlife, bipolar robots and a first-person mode.
Oh, dare I dream ‘sci-fi Dungeon Keeper’? (more…)
"Owen. You killed Davis!" Alas, poor Davis, the VIP Owen and Tom F were supposed to protect lay dead, victim of a grenade throw gone bad. Who could have imagined that a convoluted plan to bounce a grenade off a fellow soldier's riot shield through a window could possibly go awry. Such was lunchtime in the PC Gamer office today when we tried out the New Red expansion for our strategy game of 2011, Frozen Synapse. Find out exactly what went down in Tom's account.
It already looks as though the co-op mode will prove to be the highlight of the update, but the Red expansion comes with a clutch of neat new features. There's a new riot shield unit that can deploy a silver barrier when standing still to repel enemy fire and deflect incoming grenades.The expansion also adds a 15 mission single player campaign and 10 challenge missions with additional rule mutators to add extra challenge.
It also adds red mode. What does that do? "IT MAKES THINGS RED" say Mode 7 in the Frozen Synapse Red trailer. The expansion is available to buy now for $9.99 from the Mode 7 site and Steam.
Full co-op for the single player campaign and all new single player content
A new unit (riot shield)
A new multiplayer game mode (“Upload”)
15 mission single player campaign
10 single player challenge missions
Three mutators (gameplay modifiers for advanced users)
6 additional music tracks by nervous_testpilot (2 previously available in the Humble Indie Bundle)
MP3 and FLAC download of all Frozen Synapse: Red music
Original music tracks “Deeper” and “Focus” unlocked during gameplay
“Impeccable Micro” - a chiptune album from _ensnare_ (MP3 and FLAC)
The infamous “Red Mode”…
Frozen Synapse's new DLC adds co-op play and a new shield unit. Owen and I tried out both at lunchtime, with disastrous results. Our 20 minutes of planning resulted in the 33 seconds of catastrophe below, so I should explain what the hell we were planning.
Our objective was to defend the NPC (cyan coloured) from incoming attackers, so I said I'd hold the north (I'm in green) and Owen (yellow) would hold the south.
My plan was solid: my machinegunner would provide overwatch from behind cover, my shield unit would block the only north entrance, then drop her shield a second before the turn ends, so my grenade guy could fire past her to flush out anyone who was hiding from my gunner.
It didn't go well. My shield unit put her shield back up at the end of the turn, ricocheting the grenade back at us. It didn't blow, but in my next turn, I have a very large and explosive problem at my feet.
Meanwhile, Owen was taken by surprise when an enemy shotgunner ran right up to the south wall, hugging it so he could peek in and blast us at close range. Shotgunners beat everything at close range, so Owen had to do something inventive. He moved both his shield and grenade units away from the windows, and had the grenade one shoot at the shield, angling it to ricochet out of the window and blow up the shotgunner. I was impressed with his guile.
What I didn't realise was that he hadn't simulated this. You can share your plan in co-op, so you can see how it'll play out, but only for the next five seconds. The grenade didn't land in that time, but I assumed Owen had seen from the trajectory that it would sail clear out of the window.
It did not.
It tinked pathetically off the shield and fell at its owner's feet. So in the same turn, both of us had to escape deadly blasts of our own creation, while enemies flooded in.
The difference was that my blast didn't kill the NPC we were here to protect.
What I love about the video is that it looks like Owen's two units disagree: the grenadier wants to do the shield-bounce, and the shield lady is having none of it. My guys manage to survive by dashing round a corner and huddling behind their shield, but it's no help: the mission was the NPC, and we killed the NPC.
The new DLC is called Red, and it's $10 if you own Frozen Synapse. If not, you can buy both together for $27. They're also both on Steam.
May 30, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Nathan Grayson)
The indie darlings of yesteryear are back with a vengeance. I mean, with titles like Wrath of the Lamb and Red, what else could they possibly be out for? A pleasant stroll? A picnic? No, this is a declaration of war – or at least “Hey, we still exist. Notice us>.” And I have! So everything worked out. Thank goodness. And wow, Frozen Synapse: Red, I must note in my trademark eloquent and considered fashion, contains a lot of stuff>. Foremost, the entire single-player campaign’s been retrofitted to include co-op, and there’s now another 15-mission campaign to top it off. You’re also looking at challenge missions, mutators, deployable cover, riot shields, and a new multiplayer mode. But most importantly, levels can be red now. Yes, that’s right: Mode 7 has included a new color>. Take that, Unreal Engine 4.
Mar 29, 2012
Product Update - Valve
In response to the fan outcry over the disappointing ending to Mass Effect 3, indie developer Mode 7 has changed the ending for strategy game Frozen Synapse to conform to community suggestions. Now it has a pony in it. And a dinosaur. And a message.
"This is the ending to a computer game," declares Frozen Synapse's new ending cut scene. "We don't care if you like it."
The new sequence was created in reaction to the overwhelming negative response developer BioWare has been met with since the release of Mass Effect 3, the final chapter in the saga of Commander Shepard versus the giant metal space squids. Distraught fans unhappy with the way the game's creators decided to conclude the story they were writing have made so much noise that BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka addressed the issue personally, informing the community that the Mass Effect team was working on "game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.
While this appears to be a win for Mass Effect fans, the issue continues to be hotly debated in the gaming community at large. Some argue that demanding a story be changed to better satisfy players' concept of what an ending should be is a blow against artistic vision and integrity. Others see this as an evolutionary stepping stone for video games, leading to a future where players don't just interact with the environments and enemies but with the story itself.
"We can't expect the outcome of our stories to conform to our own preconceptions" continues Frozen Synapse's new ending. While this new ending will only be around for a week or so its message and the accompanying explanation from of Mode 7's Paul Taylor should resonate for quite some time.
"This is not a criticism of Bioware or anything they have said / done. It is an experiment: I wanted to know how this felt. Honestly, it felt like vandalising my own work, which was interesting."