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VVVVVV

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Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Developer Terry Cavanagh is at it again. And this time, he's made a social multiplayer game starring cats.

With highly-respected titles like VVVVVV, At a Distance, and Don’t Look Back already under his belt, Cavanagh's name is already synonymous with great indie games. His latest release is a free browser-based Flash multiplayer game called ChatChat. It's distinctly unique, on top of being adorable.

ChatChat's only instructions to the player are "be a cat." Players quickly name their randomly-generated feline avatar and then run around the world doing all sorts of cute cat-tivities.

As with much of Cavanagh's work, ChatChat is much better experienced than described. A lot of this is because much of the game's charm comes from discovering its various systems and the possible actions to take. Some might interpret the game's humorous construction, delivery, and subject matter as a subtly backhanded commentary on the current state of mainstream MMOs, but for me, ChatChat's brilliance is in its simplicity. The game basically boils down some of the traditional pillars of an MMO into their core essences, and then wraps them in a framework that most folks can immediately understand. It also lends more weight to the notion that you can have an entertaining multiplayer experience that doesn't revolve around killing things. Except mice, that is.

ChatChat is deeper than one might expect, but don't necessarily expect multiple hours of entertainment. In fairness, however, that doesn't really seem to be the point. What the game does do quite well is get the player attached to their avatar, while posing the question: "What would I do if I were a cat?" There's no combat to speak of, and the game instead allows players to find and explore their inner kitties. It's social, it's strange, and you should probably check it out.

Cavanagh also indicates tentative plans to add a few extra things to ChatChat with the help of fellow developer Hayden Scott-Baron who made the game's crude but charming graphics. "There are a few small things I'd like to add to ChatChat, if @docky is up for doing more artwork. Will have a go tomorrow at CB2 :)," Cavanagh tweeted earlier today.

You can play ChatChat for free on web-based gaming portal Kongregate.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The charming indie platformer VVVVVV will make it to the 3DS just in time for your New Year's Eve party. You can distract yourself from Ryan Seacrest and the Black Eyed Peas with some gravity-swapping puzzles. The game is scheduled for release on the eShop this Thursday, December 29, at a price of $7.99.

Nintendo (via Joystiq) gave word of the release. The game has already been around for a while in PC and Mac for $4.99 and a free Flash incarnation, but the 3DS version adds a few features to warrant the new price tag. You'll get new featured levels, a real-time map on the second screen, and "surprisingly nice" 3D support according to fellow indie dev Robert Meyer.

Here's what it looked like at IndieCade:

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Indie developer Terry Cavanagh's stonking gravity-flipping platformer VVVVVV is coming to Nintendo 3DS as an eShop download, publisher Nicalis has announced. It'll come with shiny 3D support and a smattering of new features and content.

The 3DS VVVVVVersion boasts "full 3D awesomeness," which has been described as "subtle, but surprisingly nice" by indie dev Robert Meyer, who got to play it. It also has a real-time map on the second screen, new featured levels, and the promise of more content down the line.

VVVVVV was originally released for PC in January 2010, and was later featured in the Humble Indie Bundle 3.

There's no word on the price or release date yet.

Nicalis is also working working on an eShop port of physics-based indie platformer NightSky, and a retail 3DS version of the much-loved Cave Story.

If you're at the IndieCade festival in Los Angeles this weekend, Nicalis says you can have a go: "Just find Terry Cavanagh or [Nicalis head] Tyrone Rodriguez and ask them to play!" Terry's the delightful tall Irish chap who'll be politely informing very confused people that no, he is not Notch.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Sales for the "pay what you want" Humble Indie Bundle 3 have passed the $2,000,000 mark, an impressive factoid which also provides a handy reminder that today is the last day you can snap up the mega-bargain. If you haven't yet, do so!

The Humble Indie Bundle 3 is now the most successful of the four Humble Bundles so far (1, 2, the Frozenbyte Bundle, and 3), comfortably passing #2's record of $1.8 million. And it's not over yet: you have until 4pm Pacific today to buy the Bundle. If you already have it yourself, you can always buy more Bundles as gifts, to give away now or save for later.

For the very reasonable price of 'as much or as little as you jolly well please,' The Humble Indie Bundle 3 gives you And Yet It Moves, Atom Zombie Smasher, Cogs, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Hammerfight, Steel Storm, and VVVVVV. All games come DRM-free for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and can be activated on Steam and Desura too.

If you pay more than the average price (currently $5.81), you'll also receive the five games from the second Humble Indie Bundle: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, Revenge of the Titans. These can also be activated on Steam and Desura. Ultra-bargain!

By default, the Humble Bundle money is split between the HIB 2 and 3 developers (27.5% each), the EFF and Child's Play (15% each), and the Bundle's organiser, Wolfire Games (15%), though buyers can adjust the shares. Assuming people don't tinker with the percentages too much, well, that's a whole heap of money for everyone involved and for charity.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Given the dearth of high-profile releases this time of year, it can be particularly challenging to find something new to tide you over until the next Deus Ex, or Madden (or whatever AAA title will next float your boat) shows up. This week, I came across a new (free) DigiPen student project called "It Belongs in an Ancient Ruin!" My review sums up how I felt about the experience, and Indiana Jones fans will find it hard not to enjoy the adventures of Pennsylvania Smith, a fedora-wearing archaeologist who steals artifacts from museums and returns them to ancient ruins. Honestly, I'm so in love with the concept that I really hope developer Back Table Productions banks it into a larger project.

Serious Sam Double D

I've also been having fun with a relatively new game for Android (and iOS) called Burn the Rope by Big Blue Bubble. The control-scheme is quite cool. Fire only burns upward, requiring users to physically rotate their mobile device to burn as much of each stages' rope pattern as possible. There's a free, lite version available, but it's well worth the $3 price tag for the full version.

Indie Games Channel's own Ozzie Mejia has been hard at work gathering interviews with the developers participating in the Xbox Live Indie Games channel's upcoming Indie Games Summer Uprising. They all provide some good insight into how some top-tier XBLIG developers approached their latest games. This week, we have interviews with the creative minds behind Cute Things Dying Violently, Take Arms, and Raventhorne.

Alex Jordan of ApathyWorks on Cute Things Dying Violently

James Petruzzi of Discord Games talks about Take Arms

Milkstone Studios' Alejandro González on Raventhorne

Explosionade developer Mommy's Best Games also dropped their first official trailer for the Croteam-sanctioned spin-off, Serious Sam Double D, which is headed for PC and XBLIG this August (also shown in the screens above). In short, the gun-stacking mechanic looks pretty awesome, and probably makes a certain Mr. Nukem a little jealous.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Out of the blue, another stonking 'pay what you want' Humble Indie Bundle launched this morning. The Humble Indie Bundle 3 packs DRM-free versions of VVVVVV, Hammerfight, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, and And Yet It Moves, bristling with new features and coming to new platforms.

As with the three previous splendid Humble Indie Bundles--the original two and the Frozenbyte Bundle--you can pay as much or as little as you please for the bundle of indie loveliness. You also get to choose how your payment is divided up between the developers, charity Child's Play, the EFF, and Humble Indie Bundle organiser Wolfire Games.

The Bundle includes Windows, Mac and Linux versions of all the games, which are new for several and debut here. You can also redeem the games on Steam and Desura, which is awfully handy.

As if that weren't all wonderful enough, new features for several games debut in the Bundle too. VVVVVV scores a level editor and some third-party levels, including one made by Minecraft creator 'Notch.' And Yet It Moves has new achievements and bonus content, plus Hammerfight scores a new survival mode.

Wolfire's Humble Indie Bundle series has proved hugely successful. The first made a touch under $1.3 million, the second raked over over $1.8m, and the Frozenbyte bundle earned a very respectable $909k. Across the three, they've raised over a million dollars for charity.

You only have two weeks to snap up the Humble Indie Bundle 3, so hop to it, head on over to the HIB 3 site to buy video games.

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