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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.
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.
Microsoft's Major Nelson has revealed a few more deals just for today. These are live now and last 24 hours:
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:
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.
"They are changing their internal rules all of the time," Dvorský continues. "They didn't want to publish it [Machinarium] as a first-party publisher. If you want to make an Xbox version, then we would need to approach some third-party publisher, a big one.
"It doesn't make much sense to me. Why would we need a third-party publisher? The game is ready. We do all the PR and marketing. You just need to put it there on the platform. Why would we need an EA for getting us there? It doesn't make any sense.
"So we decided to approach Sony and they agreed they wanted the game, so we started to port it" - an explanation, then, for why PS3 owners will get to enjoy Machinarium, and Xbox 360 owners will not.
"If your game has come out on another platform before they will never publish it, except if you're dealing with a big publisher," says Phil Fish, creator of upcoming Xbox Live Arcade exclusive Fez. "Big publishers get to bypass these rules and release whatever they want whenever they want, which is kind of bullshit, because, like, why?"
Why indeed. "We're doing it without a publisher," Fish continues. "Meat Boy did it without a publisher. Braid did it without a publisher. It's not an open platform like the App Store, but the fact is, a single developer could make a whole game and put it out there without the need for the middle man, the publisher. It's not like we're printing boxes and shipping them and sending them to stores. You just have to put the game on Microsoft's server. That's it. That's the publishing. It's done. So I don't know why Microsoft has these special rules and privileges for the big publishers."
If convincing Microsoft to publish your game is tough, creating it is even tougher. There are a number of rules and restrictions Xbox Live Arcade games must all adhere to. Achievements are one example. Leaderboards are another. And then there's the odd issue with Avatar items, which are mandatory for Microsoft Studios games.
With these, some developers are charged money by Microsoft so they can pay an outsourcing company to create the assets. If the developer isn't happy with them, then they are done again - for another charge. This cost is taken automatically by Microsoft when the game is eventually released and the money starts rolling in.
"It took over six months of pitching and document writing negotiation and since then it's like months of work to deal with the controller stuff," Provinciano says. "The menus have to have the right items and when they unplug the controller it's gotta do this, and blah blah blah. The leaderboards, the Achievements, the Avatar items were a real pain in the ass.
"They're done by some external company and the external company was not doing a very good job. I wish we could have done it. We tried to and they wouldn't let us, because we're not the "experts". It was just many revisions and time wasted. It's like, hey, that's wrong. You've got to change this and change that. Hey that's wrong again. That's wrong again.
"Everything has taken longer than you would expect. You submit the stuff for localisation and then, it's like, wait a second, this is supposed to be a game of innuendos, and those are really crude blunt translations. Being the one guy, that's why this game has taken so long to finish."
All the concern over Avatar items and other silly necessities pales into comparison with the constant worry that, at any point, Microsoft may simply pull the plug and cancel an in-development game - whether a contract has been signed or not.
"Microsoft constantly changes their portfolio manager," Fish explains. "There's a constant rotation of staff at Microsoft. Sometimes you'll have a new portfolio manager who comes in and he decides, no more racing games. We're done with that. And if they had a racing game in development they would cancel it. They make a random decision like that based on whatever fact.
"I was afraid for years that would happen to us, we would have a new guy come in who would be like, no more pixel art games, no more 2D platformers and we would just get cancelled. That's happened to people I know, that they had a contract with Microsoft, they were greenlit for release, but for whatever reason Microsoft decided they were no longer interested. And they don't even give you a reason at that point. They just say you're no longer coming out on XBLA. That could still happen to us. It's ridiculous."
Provinciano is less worried about Microsoft cancelling his game than he is about it launching at a time that will give Retro City Rampage the best chance of success.
"Microsoft chooses the slots when you get released," he says. "It is a wide window. I could submit it in December and it could be several months after. But it'll probably be released relatively soon after I submit it. Fingers crossed. But it's luck of the draw. It's really tough. There's no guarantee on anything.
"There's no guarantee my game won't be released next to some $3 million, $4 million budget XBLA game. That's really screwed a lot of developers in the past, where they just get released on the wrong week against the wrong game, and get buried in the dashboard. There's a lot we don't have control over."
This, famously, is what happened to Super Meat Boy, the superb hardcore platformer that launched as part of Microsoft's 2010 Fall GameFeast promotion.
Developer Team Meat was vocal in its criticism of Microsoft over the way it was treated. Super Meat Boy was discounted on release (according to one developer we talked to this was because Microsoft prefers high unit sales to revenue because it makes XBLA look better). But, also, the game didn't enjoy dashboard promotion, which had been promised. Microsoft told Team Meat it would be promoted once it achieved a certain number of sales. When it did, the dashboard promotion, again, failed to materialise.
"I'm crossing my fingers they'll do their best to keep me happy," Provinciano says. "I'm sure they don't want another Team Meat situation.
"But what keeps me smiling is just the fact that I'm going to make more money on the other platforms than Xbox combined. So even if I get screwed on the Xbox launch I'll still be okay."
Fish is talking with Microsoft to work out how Fez will be promoted when it goes live next year - though he's being cautious with his hopes. "I have to work on the assumption that they're going to do nothing and I have to do all the promotion myself," he says.
"With certain publishers, I know some friends that have these clauses in their contract that says, you're not allowed to do any of your PR and marketing. We're the publisher. We're going to do it. And then they do a terrible job or they do nothing at all, and your hands were tied the whole time.
"Lucky for us that wasn't the case in our contract. We enter the game in every festival and every contest systematically. I do a lot of interviews. We do a lot of private demos we send to people. I have to do everything myself. I assume they're not going to do anything. If they do give us a good dashboard placement and do a whole load of promotion, amazing. That's really going to help. But I have to do as much as I can on my own."
When a game finally launches on XBLA the money starts rolling in. How much the developer gets depends on the contract it negotiated with Microsoft or its publisher. While developers and Microsoft refuse to divulge the terms of their contracts, we understand Microsoft, PSN and Steam offer developers a decent chunk of that 1200 or 800 MS Point cost.
The amount of money a developer gets can also be tied to the number of units their game shifts. The more units you sell, the higher the percentage of the sale you get - but there is a cap, an industry-wide standard across Steam, PSN and XBLA. "If I was a recording artist I would make a cent out of every album," Fish says. "We're going to make a bunch of dollars of off every unit sold. It's good."
It's a good thing, too, because game developers who sign with Microsoft do not get cash advances. Xbox 360 developer kits, which are valued at $10,000, and testing and translation costs are all provided up front, but recouped automatically when the game goes on sale.
Microsoft usually decides how much an XBLA game costs, as Fish knows well. "I thought for a while Fez was going to be 1200 points because that was becoming the standard," he says. "But they're trying to bring back the average to 800, because they believe it's the sweet spot and we're going to sell so many more units that way. I'm not convinced. If it was up to me I would charge 1200 points. I just spent five years working on this. I'm not going to give it away for free."
It's important to point out that for every Team Meat situation, for every Jonathan Blow nightmare, game developers have positive experiences with Microsoft. For all the trials and tribulations both Provinciano and Fish have endured making their game to the XBLA standard, they insist Microsoft has treated them well.
"We always get asked how has it been working with Microsoft, and they've been great with us," Fish insists. "Every time I say that people assume I'm being sarcastic. No, they've been great. Every other story I've heard from my friends and colleagues are horror stories. They've made a lot of weird decisions. I don't know if it's just because they really like Fez, but they've been great with us. They've let us make our game however we want it. They've never tried to interfere or change the game. They've been supportive. We've had to delay the game so many times and every time they were cool with it."
"The thing with Microsoft is it's tons of different departments and not necessarily a lot of communication," Provinciano says. "A lot of people don't have control. I look forward to being in a position after this game is sold to have made enough money that I don't have to worry so much about all these things I don't have control over."
But what of the future? Earlier this month Joe Danger: Special Edition was announced for XBLA. This came as a surprise for a number of reasons, but chief among them was that it seemed to contradict Microsoft's own exclusive policy.
According to developer Hello Games this was a one-off, an exception to the rule. But does it suggest Microsoft is willing to follow PSN's lead and relax its rules?
"It makes sense for Microsoft to take one of the more successful PSN games across if they're up for it," one game developer, who wished to remain anonymous, tells Eurogamer. "When there's a title that's done really well on PSN and the developer owns its own IP, then why not? Why not take it? It doesn't make sense for them to take, say, Critter Crunch. There's only a few other titles that would be released that would be independent studios that own their own IP. But say if Sony didn't own Fat Princess or something like that, it makes sense to make an exception for that.
"But it's an exception that hopefully changes their rules. They might think, well okay, this has worked quite well. Maybe we'll take a few others. That's good news for developers because right now if they don't go on XBLA first time then they can never go on XBLA, and that's really horrible. Right now if you release on Steam first, it's really difficult to get onto XBLA. That's quite crappy."
Why Microsoft may be willing to change its approach remains a mystery, but Eurogamer has heard from a number of sources that XBLA game sales have stalled since 2010's hugely successful Summer of Arcade promotion, which saw the likes of Limbo sell hundreds of thousands of copies. 2011 releases From Dust and Bastion enjoyed some success, but XBLA, overall, has hit something of a plateau.
This, combined with the incredible success that is Steam, the more open platform that is PlayStation Network, as well as the wild frontier that is the App Store, means that XBLA in 2012 and beyond could well be a very different place than it was only last year.
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.
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".
"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.
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."
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:
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.
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.
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.