Indie Game: The Movie is to get a special edition, bringing over a hundred minutes of new short films, and epilogues for each of the original's main subjects. Is there significantly more to that follow-up story than "everybody got extremely rich"? Will Phil Fish want to stone-cold murder anybody else? Will the movie's creators remember that not all indie games are 2D platformers. A new trailer may reveal the answers to some of these questions.
Damn, they really love that Jonathan Blow passage.
The special edition will also bring new commentaries from Team Meat and the directors of the movie. It will be available as a standalone purchase for digital owners, or as DLC for the Steam version.
In addition, DVD and Blu-Ray box-sets are being released, with over 300 minutes of new material. Details of that package are available at the IGTM website.
Indie Game: The Movie Special Edition will release July 24.
Nothing says “indie” quite like breaking down the walls of copyright and adding a bunch of characters from games you had no hand in making. And wouldn’t you know it, Gaijin Games is doing just that with their cardiovascular improvement simulator, BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien or "Runner 2" for those who need to work on their lung capacity.
Those who drop $3 for the “Good Friends Character Pack” will have access to Psychonauts’ Raz, Cave Story’s Quote, Machinarium’s Josef, Super Meat Boy’s Dr. Fetus, Portal 2’s Atlas (who’s Steam exclusive), Bit.Trip’s invisible Commander Video, and Spelunky's, er, Spelunky Guy.
We’re a little bummed that the DLC doesn’t offer new levels of some kind, but it’s hard to complain about anything when it’s a paltry $3, which, as developer Dant Rambo notes, is less than "a bag of hot dog chips." Still, here’s hoping we get some new levels to break in this new cast somewhere in the near future. In the meantime, why don't you watch these character introductions narrated by none other than Charles Martinet, aka, the voice of Mario. Yes, that Mario.
Just as promised, Steam Trading Cards is now live. The virtual cards can be earned by playing participating games on Steam, trading with other users, or buying on the Steam Marketplace. Complete a set to create a badge, earn rewards and XP, and level up. The user with the highest Steam level at the end of the year gets to high five Gabe Newell while announcing Half-Life 3. In space.
In other true facts, I'm already hearing from users playing the Steam marketplace to profit off the cards' initial popularity. One user I spoke to has been buying low and selling high to pad his Steam wallet, even creating scarcity by buying up low-value cards in quantity. I'll keep an eye on marketplace prices as more users start trading the collectibles.
I was hoping to find a good deal on a 1952 Mickey Mantle card, but unfortunately, baseball isn't a participating game. You can see which of the games you own are participating here.
Team Meat's take on piracy is just as blunt as its bloody platformer Super Meat Boy, with the two-man team stating in 2011 that it "doesn't #%@$ing care" about gamers stealing its game. Now, co-creator Tommy Refenes says in a tumblr post that a more worthwhile alternative to intrusive DRM systems is to forge trust with gamers and deliver a solid, reliable product. I know, that's just crazy talk.
"As a forward-thinking developer who exists in the present, I realize and accept that a pirated copy of a digital game does not equate to money being taken out of my pocket," Refenes begins.
Refenes believes it's impossible for a publisher to absolutely claim that the implementation of DRM made a game more profitable. "There is no way to calculate this because it is not possible to quantify the intentions of a person," he says. "Also, there’s no way of accurately determining which customers would have stolen the game had there not been DRM." He continues: "I do believe people are less likely to pirate your software if the software is easy to buy, easy to run, and does what is advertised. You can’t force a person to buy your software no more than you can prevent a person from stealing it."
Refenes boils the issue down to building trust between a company and its customers—if a developer or publisher shows consistency with its works and treats everyone fairly, he says, people will want to buy and show support with their wallets. "People need to care about your employees and your company's well being," he writes. "There is no better way to achieve that than making sure what you put out there is the best you can do and you treat your customers with respect."
And yes, Refenes does bring up SimCity as an example of What Not To Do in the case of customer relations and product quality, believing the waves of refund requests EA received during the game's messy launch are "much more dangerous" than piracy itself to the company's bottom line.
"When EA/Maxis create their next new game, how many people are going to be excited about it and talking positively about it?" he asks. "I imagine that the poison of their current SimCity launch is going to seep into the thoughts of potential customers and be a point of speculation like, 'Is it going to be another SimCity launch?'"
Read the rest of Refenes' comments on his tumblr page.
Are hard-as-hell indie games enough to satiate our hunger for a challenge, or should mainstream developers quit trying to appease everyone and start really testing us? In this Face Off from our archives (originally published October 2012), Executive Editor Evan Lahti gives former Senior Editor Josh Augustine a hard time for his willingness to take it easy.
Make your own arguments in the comments—debate team captains: it’s your time to shine.
Evan: Focus testing is the enemy of experimentation and innovation. It widens the audience of a game by watering down the experience. Portal was harder, and better, than Portal 2, which forewent feats like mid-air maneuvering almost completely. Skyrim gave us a detailed wilderness where falling into a freezing lake meant nothing and dragons weren't much more than giant mosquitoes. Remember what dying was like in Diablo and Diablo II? You had to bravely fight back to your corpse to recover your gear with whatever rented junk you could pull together. I miss that brutality, and the feeling of, y’know, actually losing something.
Josh: And Diablo III offers that: in Inferno and Hell difficulty. Either of which can be played with permadeath on. Knock yourself out.
Evan: I’d love to, but Blizzard insists that I can only earn the right to play on a difficulty that can actually kill me by spending hours churning through Children’s Mode, erm, Normal. For every new character.
Josh: So you’re asking to die more? Dying isn't inherently fun or interesting. It’s not the secret sauce of game design. Even if games are a little less hard, it’s only because we’ve grown out of the binary win/lose states of the ’80s and ’90s. Those were motivated by a desire either to get people to put in more coins or to artificially lengthen 8- and 16-bit games that were otherwise short and simple. We’re in an age of gaming diversity and accessibility. More people are playing games; that’s great.
Evan: It’s not about dying more. It’s about wanting game design that uses difficulty creatively. Look at DayZ: you spawn in a 225km2 world with no weapon, no map, and no compass. You have to eat and drink. Everything is trying to kill you, and death is permanent. Almost every weapon has discrete ammo. If I’m good enough, I can read the stars to find my way.
It’s completely brutal, but more than 400,000 people flocked to it in just a couple months. It’s led Arma 2 to the top of the Steam sales charts for almost as long. Why? Because it does something so few modern games do: it respects your ability to figure it out yourself.
Josh: Difficulty’s out there if you want it. Super Meat Boy, Dustforce, Dungeons of Dredmor, Legend of Grimrock, Amnesia, Mount & Blade... all of these games are variously unforgiving. Dark Souls’ PC release is called the “Prepare To Die Edition.” Dota 2 and League of Legends are making judgmental, complex multiplayer games mainstream again. In Tribes: Ascend, I have to make mid-air skillshots at 225km an hour. What more do you want?
Evan: All the games you mentioned are from independent studios. They’re from the fringes. No one in the mainstream is embracing consequence-driven gaming, and as long as that’s the case, I think game design will continue to stagnate. I’m bored of regenerating health and checkpoints. And MMOs, honestly, they’re some of the greatest offenders of this because they were born from a model where players were paying an additional fee. Almost all of their design is based around appeasement. There’s no concept of failure or loss or struggle built into them. Every victory is just an eventuality: if you grind or pay enough, you’ll get what you want.
Josh: Even if what you were saying wasn’t a complete generalization (have you played TERA or Rift or DC Universe Online? They’re all totally tough)—a lot of people relish the social freedom and friendly atmosphere that MMOs provide by not punishing you dramatically just because you aggroed one too many cave goblins, or whatever. Difficulty isn't some one-setting-suits-all concept.
Evan: Challenge counts, and modern games are missing it. Without it, we’re just passively consuming content, going through the motions, acting out a puppet show of animations, particle effects, and sound. Even with immediate access to YouTube walkthroughs the moment a game is released, most developers are still desperately afraid of upsetting players or scaring them away. When I play something like DayZ, I feel feelings. My pulse changes. I regret decisions. I get mad. That’s valuable.
Josh: Well, while you’re getting mad that games don’t make you mad enough, I’ll be having fun.
Super Meat Boy Galaxy is a prototype for a 3D version of Super Meat Boy set on a Mario Galaxy-esque globe. It was created by developer at Preloaded, Aubrey Hesselgren, as a 30th birthday present for Super Meat Boy programmer, Tommy Refenes. On his blog, Hesselgren has announced that he's decided to hold his own prototype to ransom in an attempt to raise £10k for the The Samaritans. Here's the ransom note.
Hesselgren describes the prototype as "just a bit of a throw away experiment. It was never intended as a “pitch” to make such a game." If the £10k goal is met, Super Meat Boy Galaxy will be released from its basement, wrapped in a police blanket, led away to safety and then released to the public for everyone to play. If it doesn't meet the target, those who donate will still get a copy of the prototype. Though Hesselgren has hinted that he'll probably end up releasing it for everyone to play anyway adding "I'm the worst ransomer ever."
"Bear in mind that this is a prototype, and as such will not be as friendly and polished as a final game," he adds. "Its main purpose was to investigate whether Super Meat Boy’s kinaesthetically pleasing platforming physics could survive the leap to 3D, given the right camera and level layouts." This video suggests that those pleasing platforming mechanics translate rather well, don't you think?
Developer Aubrey Hesselgren has released a video of his "completely unofficial 3D version" of Super Meat Boy, which he whipped up for Tommy Refenes' (one half of Team Meat) 30th birthday. Using Unity and Blender, Hesselgren - also known as HilariousCow - combined SMB's bloody walljumping with the wraparound worlds of Super Mario Galaxy, and the result is a demo/proof-of-concept that's far better than many commercial attempts to move a 2D series into the third dimension.
Of course, with this being a birthday present - and "a bit of a training exercise" - Hesselgren has said that he probably won't release it to the wider world. At least we'll always have this video, which shows that it is possible to convert something like Super Meat Boy into 3D, if you take the time to get over the camera hurdles. Can someone do Binding of Isaac next, please?
Hotline Miami is all about learning through repetition, then executing a perfect murder ballet.
Tyler Wilde, Associate EditorThe word "repetitive" commonly has a negative connotation, and it's especially used negatively (all the time, every time, forever and ever) when talking about games. And often it's followed by a bunch of no elaboration at all. That doesn't make sense. I'm sure I've done it before, but criticizing a game for being "too repetitive" and leaving it at that is—strictly speaking—meaningless. A game might lack variety, but every game is repetitive. We repeat some pattern of input—running and shooting, stacking blocks, bouncing balls off blue dots—over and over, and expect uniform feedback. Then the problem changes slightly, and we tweak our input pattern. And then again. And yet "too repetitive" is lobbed at games all the time.
Alright, I know that sounds a bit pedantic, and I do recognize the difference in tone between "repetition" and "repetitive." Lack of variety is a fair criticism, but "too repetitive" is an extremely vague way to say it, and it dodges the truth: when we criticize a game for being "too repetitive," I think we often mean that we just don't like what we're doing. "It's repetitive" is shorthand for "this isn't fun (for some reason)."
If we like what we're doing, repetition is desirable. I like solving puzzles in Portal, and once I solve one I want to solve more. I don't want to solve the exact same puzzle again, but I don't want to stumble into a surprise Sudoku chamber, either. So Portal gives me increasingly clever arrangements of portal-ey logic problems. The puzzles get harder, but they're all just iterations of the same basic spatial problem I solved in the first puzzle. So after all my twisty, knotty figuring arrives at a solution, it always seems just as simple as the first time. That sense of clarity comes from repetition.
Super Meat Boy replays your failures, illustrating your own learning process.
Repetition is also how we learn, and both Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami succeed by embracing that power. They present problems in small chunks—a level in Super Meat Boy and a floor of thugs in Hotline Miami—and rapidly reset them every time we fail. Each attempt gives us new information to apply to the next, building layers of experience on the way to that one perfect run. And that perfect run feels good: it's an accomplishment, like unknotting an especially tricky puzzle in Portal. Except in Hotline Miami there's more brain-stuff and skull chunks lying around afterward.
The same goes for Counter-Strike, StarCraft, and the rest. At their most basic levels, they're about repeating and mutating input patterns to solve variable, but not totally unpredictable, problems. The variables in Counter-Strike, for example, are the guns, maps, and opponents. That's been enough variety to keep us repetitively shooting at each other for 13 years.
Repetition can be pretty damn fun, so we've got to be specific, and always ask ourselves if it's really the repetition of a theme that bothers us, or the theme itself. I can shoot bad guys all day, so complaining that "the shooting is repetitive" in Medal of Honor: Warfighter would be confusing. Further examination would reveal that the guns, maps, and enemies have specific traits I don't like, which has nothing to do with repetition (except that the more I do them, the less I like them).
Fearing the dreaded "repetitiveness" may even be bad for games: that's probably how we end up with off-key phrases at pivotal moments, like a boss fight which takes away the gun I've been using the whole time and sticks me in a surprise platformer. It's variety, but it screws up the whole composition. A performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, for example, would not benefit from an unexpected dubstep interlude. No, I wasn't talking to you, Skrillex. Are you drunk? Go home, dude.
Anyway, if at first glance this looks like an ostentatious rant about a personal pet-peeve, then you may have seen correctly. But maybe not: try Googling any game name with the phrase "too repetitive." It's everywhere. I get what's meant by it (sort of, kind of, some of the time), but it says very little. It may not even be a criticism, because games like Hotline Miami wouldn't be fun without repetition. If dying and respawning didn't reset the level, and our prior kills stayed bloodied, it would be ruined. Maybe then we'd say that it's not repetitive enough?
Edmund McMillen, the man behind Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac has announced the release date for The Basement Collection. A grab bag of his earlier projects, many of the titles have been polished up with new visuals, music, and even content in some cases. It'll release on August 31st for $4 on Steam.
The promo on McMillen's website lists the following games:
Time Fcuk (updated with new content + levels and achievements) Aether (updated with new content, graphics make over, improved physics and achievements) Spewer (updaed with new content, graphics make over, improved physics, new levels, new music track and achievements) Grey Matter (added achievements) Coil (added achievements) Meat Boy(flash prototype) (no new content) Triachnid (no new content) Secret game (locked) (updated with new content, soundtrack, difficulty modes and achievements)
McMillen also boasts that "Every game will come with bonus content, ranging from development sketches to early playable prototypes and tech demos," and "will also feature four very large bonus unlockables that should make fans of my work quite happy." The Basement Collection will also come with a free soundtrack, including 10 fan-made remixes.
"Who would have thought a game about an abused child fighting off his mother with his tears could ever sell 700k copies in less than a year? Not me, that's for ****ing sure."
So begins an e-mail that Binding of Isaac co-creator Edmund McMillen sent us this morning. The popularity of the Wrath of the Lamb DLC has helped his weeping foetus roguelike rack up an incredible number of sales - but its launch, McMillen says, could have gone better.
"The limitations of Flash and the abundance of items caused an infinite number of variables that we simply couldn't effectively test, and it kinda sucked. We were able to squish all the major game breaking bugs in the 1st day of release, but it still left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth - so we decided to do yet another content update to the already bloated experience."
Wrath of the Lamb version 1.3 is out now and if you already own the DLC then the update doesn't cost anything. It adds new items, bosses, enemies, music and a new ending cutscene "that should shed some light on the game's story even more."
McMillen has also announced on his blog that he's working with Tyler Glaiel of Eyebrow Interactive on remastered versions of three of his flash games - Aether, Time Fcuk, Spewer and "an extra little unlockable game."
The games will be updated with achievements and bundled together as 'The Basement Collection', which will cost $3 on Steam.
Check out our Binding of Isaac review for more on why the game deserves your attention. The launch of Super Meat Boy is also covered in detail in Indie Game: The Movie, which we also liked.