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

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.

Eurogamer


Pinball FX developer Zen Studios has jumped to Microsoft's defence after Super Meat Boy maker Team Meat savaged the Xbox 360 manufacturer.


In a podcast published on Gamasutra, Team Meat recounted its difficult experience with Microsoft and doubted it would ever work with the company again.


Zen Studios, however, feels the Microsoft bashing isn't fair, and told Eurogamer not all developers feel the same way about the company.


"They [Team Meat] totally have the right to talk about it," Mel Kirk, Zen Studios Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations told Eurogamer this morning. "It's terrible they had a bad experience like that. Where we're coming from is, when is enough enough? Let it go already.


"There are good things happening there and we're a company willing to stand up and stick by Microsoft. They were a great partner for us. They've done wonderful things with helping us with Pinball FX 2. If we can just get a message out there that we're willing to stick up for them, that's really what I'm trying to do."


A Twitter row of sorts erupted after Kirk sent press an email questioning Team Meat's motivation for speaking out about its experience with Microsoft. Braid developer Jonathan Blow waded in, telling Zen Studios directly: "trying to discredit Team Meat's negative experience is not cool."


Kirk rejected this accusation, however. "I'm really not trying to discredit their experience," he said. "The email left our press box without the 'not for publish' on it. It was meant to get inbound requests to do controlled interviews and control the message. Obviously this turned into something totally different. I'm not trying to discredit it. I'm just trying to put it in perspective. I'm not saying they're lying. I'm not trying to say they're making it up."


Zen Studios' experience with the Microsoft Game Studios' published Pinball FX paints a different picture.


"It's not evidence of a trend," Kirk continued. "I'm at liberty to speak for [Gunstringer developer] Twisted Pixel. They absolutely had the same type of experience as us and have a great working relationship with Microsoft. They would totally second our sentiments and echo what we have to say. There are a bunch of other studios as well. We've maybe broken the ice here. Hopefully there will be others.


"There are a few companies that had a bad time, and then there are a whole bunch of us over here who are having a great time and will continue working with Microsoft."


Kirk concluded: "Game politics are notoriously messy. We're a very negative industry at times towards each other. I don't want to be negative to Team Meat. I don't want to belittle their experience. I just want to simply say, Zen Studios has had a very good experience with Xbox Live Arcade, with our producers, with our team there. We're grateful for that experience. We feel like we owe it to them to stand up and just say, hey, we had a good time with you."

Video:

Eurogamer


The boxed PC special edition of acclaimed 2010 indie platformer Super Meat Boy lands on UK shelves on 26th August, courtesy of publisher Lace Mamba Global.


You'll have two separate versions to choose from: the Ultra Edition (RRP: £19.99) or the Ultra Rare Edition (RRP: £24.99).


The Ultra Edition includes the following content:

  • 40 page comic/sketch book
  • Poster
  • Digital soundtrack
  • Secret bonus content
  • Over 350 levels
  • Retro Warp Zones
  • 16 unlockable characters
  • Play as Alien Hominid
  • Full level editor


The Ultra Rare Edition throws in a Super Meat Boy T-shirt as well.


If you're still on the fence regarding Team Meat's fiendish creation, maybe our Super Meat Boy review will encourage you to do the right thing and open your wallet.

Video:

Eurogamer


The two-man team behind ruthless indie jumper Super Meat Boy has begun its next title, and it sounds like a far cry from the conventional platforming of its break-out hit.


Team Meat co-founders Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes confirmed to Eurogamer that work is underway on an "ambitious", "fun", "more experimental" project, though were coy on more precise details.


"I think it's safe to say that Meat Boy was a very straightforward game. We didn't really reach outside the box in terms of design," explained McMillen. "I think with the new game we definitely get a bit more experimental with the design.


"I think it's going to be more ambitious design-wise and it's going to be more of a challenge for us. It's a bigger project. It's going to be fun and that's exactly why we're into it. It's going to be pretty fresh."


Earlier this year the pair confirmed they were approved 3DS developers, though it seems like the platform is not currently foremost in its plans.


Though a 3DS port of Super Meat Boy was considered, that's been ditched in favour of the new game. Indeed, they currently don't even have a dev kit for the system.


"We said we're approved as 3DS developers," said McMillen. "We don't have dev kits though – not many people do. At least that's what we heard. Who knows, maybe they're lying to us.


"We've asked about when we could get one and they said there's stock coming, but we probably shouldn't even talk about this.


"We were originally kind of into porting Meat Boy to it, but the game we're working on now is very exciting and it probably won't work on the 3DS. I don't know if it will or not, or if it would be a good idea for it.


"We're going to approach the next game in the same way we did Meat Boy. We're just going to make a game and if it works on whatever system it works on then good, but we're not designing this game with a specific system in mind."


Team Meat isn't quite done with Super Meat Boy though. The pair confirmed a Mac version is still in the works.


"Later, later," replied Refenes when asked when it might be ready for release. "I'm doing my absolute best. It's something that's bugging the s*** out of me, that I want to get finished.


"It's a lot of mental effort getting back into working on a game that I worked on for 18 months straight. The difficulty is not in the work, the difficulty is in the motivation and the desire to open up the code again and work on it when I'd rather work on new stuff. I'm doing it, it's just taking a while."


Team Meat's sublime debut picked up a near perfect 9/10 when it launched on PC and Xbox Live Arcade last year. Take a look at our Super Meat Boy review for more.

Eurogamer


Steam users can now nab a level editor for sadistic platformer Super Meat Boy.


The free update allows players to engineer their own versions of the game's death trap levels.


There's also support for adding custom music, titles and more than 20 characters.


A post on Team Meat's blog reveals a final bug-fixing update next week will complete work on the game.


"After that we will be closing the book on the PC version, porting SMB to Mac and swiftly moving on to game #2 (because we can't seem to stay happy without working on something constantly)," Team Meat's Edmund McMillien explained.


McMillien previously told Eurogamer the two-man team's follow up will have nothing to do with their eponymous fleshy hero. "There will be another game but it won't be Meat Boy. It'll be totally new."


Hoping for a reprieve in the future? Bad news. Team Meat's blog post confirms this is the end. Full stop. "It's time to hand the reigns to the SMB community and retire."


"There won't ever be a Super Meat Boy 2."


Eurogamer Editor Tom Bramwell basted the game with a golden 9/10 upon its Xbox Live Arcade release last year.

...

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