The official - and tiny - Super Meat Boy figurines from Voxelous and Team Meat have been revealed. Just two inches high, they're $12 each (plus $3.49 shipping for one, $3.99 for two or more). The first set includes Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, Brownie and the pathetic Tofu Boy.
"We want to release toys for every playable character in the PC and XBLA versions of Super Meat Boy," says Voxelous. "The next set will likely be the 10 Bandage Set which will include Gish, Headcrab, and Goo Ball (and maybe Potato Boy!)."
The figures are made with a color 3D printer using powder and colored glue. They're then dipped in superglue and given a UV coating. They are, on average, 2 inches tall by 1.5 inches wide by 1.25 inches deep.
As of last Friday, April 1, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead developer Valve has been dropping cryptic clues in its own games (Team Fortress 2, Portal 2) and games made by others (Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, AudioSurf). The common thread? Potatoes.
What appears to be a complex alternate reality game, or ARG, started last week with the announcement of the Potato Sack Pack, a collection of 13 indie games ranging from Amnesia: The Dark Descent to Killing Floor to Toki Tori. Purchasers of the collection were promised a Potato Hat in Team Fortress 2 on April 5.
Then things got interesting.
Valve and the developers of the titles included in the Potato Sack Pack began sneaking glyphs, codes and hidden messages into those games. Some messages were buried in simple text files. Some games had all-new levels based on potato themes. Super Potato Boy became playable in Super Meat Boy. Potatoes were popping up everywhere.
Today, encoded messages were discovered in the latest Portal 2 promotional video. Decoded, phrases like "You found many.Find the rest." and "Here's Da Beens, Dougtato:" were discovered. Team Fortress 2 was also updated via Steam, making the Potato Hat available but further deepening the mystery with the game's update notes, which read:
Team Fortress 2
- [ restricted ]
What does it all mean? Right now, we've got more questions than we have answers. But the exhaustive Valve PotatoFoolsDay ARG Wiki is archiving everything that the community has unearthed from the 15 games involved.
Is this all leading up to some Portal 2 announcement? Is this related to the surprise that Valve's Erik Wolpaw promised us last month?
What we do know is that the last time Valve went to such lengths to confuse and confound its biggest fans, there was a Portal 2 announcement at the end of it. So we'll keep watching.
You thought playing Super Meat Boy was hard? Because making the notoriously difficult indie platformer sounds like pure hell, according to a Super Meat Boy post mortem that lays out what went right (fun design environment, Steam) and what went wrong (financial drain, Xbox Live Arcade).
Team Meat's Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes recount the ups and downs of making Super Meat Boy in the new issue of Game Developer Magazine.
In it, they tell terrible tales of bank accounts being drained—"There was one point where I had emergency gallbladder surgery that put me in the hole $50k due to the fact that I couldn't afford health insurance," McMillen writes—to an endless, vicious cycle of bugs, testing and development crunch hell—"We were basically developing features during bug checking, which meant every single time I turned on the computer and checked the bug database, the work I did the night before was pretty much rendered irrelevant. I would work and fix 100 bugs in a night and get it down to 50, then wake up the next morning and have 200 bugs to fix."
Part of that crunch, Team Meat writes, was due to trying to squeeze the last four months of development into two in order to make Microsoft's "Game Feast" promotion for Xbox Live Arcade.
After scrambling to get the game out for the fall push, "We were told our price was too high, our visuals too rough and simply not as eye catching and flashy as the other Game Feast games Comic Jumper and Hydrophobia," McMillen writes. "Our hearts sank when we were informed that we were projected to sell as much if not less than Hydrophobia, which would be the second-highest grossing game of the Feast in their minds." The game launched alongside Costume Quest and without strong support from Microsoft, they say.
Team Meat says they never felt that Microsoft gave Super Meat Boy the attention it was promised and "in the end, we felt very confused and taken advantage of." McMillen concludes "the biggest mistake we made during SMB's development was killing ourselves to get into a promotion we would gain basically nothing from."
Granted, that's not the first time the rascally two man Team Meat has railed against The Man.
Of course, it wasn't all bad over at Team Meat during Super Meat Boy development. The duo say they had a great development environment, loved working with composer Danny Baranowsky and Steam, and thrilled at the chance to visit the Sears Portrait Studio for official head shots.
You can read all about it in the forthcoming issue of Game Developer Magazine.
It started with a lunchtime brainstorm by the guys who make Monday Night Combat: Maybe Valve would like to do a Team Fortress crossover? That began a process that required all of a 15-minute drive and a handshake.
No money changing hands, no strings attached.
"For us, it was like, ‘Really? That's it?'" said Chandana Ekanayake, the art director for Uber Entertainment, a Seattle-area developer located just up the road from Valve. "It was a handshake agreement, completely free."
Team Fortress 2's signature hats, plus Penny Arcade's - ahem - Fruit Fucker will appear in Monday Night Combat for those who order the game before Tuesday. It's the latest in a string of recent high-profile crossovers touching the indie community, with Valve as a player in nearly all of them.
Telltale Games produced "Poker Night at the Inventory," uniting Penny Arcade, Homestar Runner and Team Fortress 2 with its Sam & Max franchise. Super Meat Boy's been extremely visible of late, bringing in a whopping 18 characters from other games across its PC and Xbox Live versions. The headcrab from Half-Life makes an appearance in the version available over Steam.
Robin Walker, the creator of Team Fortress, said Steam availability isn't so much a business requirement for the crossover as it is a design component serving them. "It's hard for us to do a tight connection between two games if they aren't operating within a system where they could ‘talk' to each other," Walker said, "which is what Steam is doing in the crossovers so far."
Certainly, adding something to a game that sells over a service Valve maintains benefits both parties, without the need for additional lawyers or fees paid. But the manner in which this is done creates a sense of indie development solidarity, and gamers have demonstrated their willingness to join that cause.
Valve makes a lot of money with several major brands, is a big player in games development and, through Steam, distribution. It's still an indie company in both philosophy and design. "Their teams are tiny," Ekanayake said. "On the Steam side of things, we dealt with just three people. It is very much indie in that sense. They respect the team, which is really cool."
Once Valve agrees to the use, their symbols and characters are in the hands of another developer. But the discussions about Team Fortress 2 involved that team's members, Ekanayake said, basically Walker and a few others. No brass hats or high-level meetings, just folks who could relate to one another as games creators.
"Our core assumption is that developers of another game understand their game and its community better than we do," Walker said. "The challenge in crossovers is to find a way to benefit the audiences of both games, and legal paperwork just isn't an interesting part of that. It's also hard enough already without placing some arbitrary constraints over what a partner is or isn't allowed to work with.
"Instead, we prefer to start with a wide space of possibilities, and narrow down to good choices through an ongoing conversation, trusting each of us to protect the other from making a decision that's bad for their game or audience," Walker said.
There's a reciprocity; those who have both Monday Night Combat and Team Fortress 2 will see items from MNC's Pro Gear System. So as Uber was figuring out how Valve's property best fit in with its game, Valve was doing the same with Uber's content.
Ekanayake said early plans called for Scout in Team Fortress 2 to get the oversized grinning head of Bullseye, the Monday Night Combat mascot, as a hat. It turns out the item was just too big and unwieldy to be fun in the game, so it was discarded in favor of the rest of the rest of the mascot costume plus a couple of other items.
The crossovers aren't entirely an altruistic thing; the limited availability is meant to drive sales of Monday Night Combat on Steam, which benefits both Valve and Uber Entertainment. Perhaps that's why these content-swapping deals can be done with a minimum of hassle.
Walker said Valve's door is always open. "Different products have different goals and requirements, so what works in TF2 might be a terrible idea with Half-Life 2. But if another developer wanted to do something interesting with our [intellectual property] in their games, we'd be happy to see if it made sense."
In the end, Walker said, a big reason crossovers come to pass is because both sides just think it'd be cool.
"It should be simply about finding more ways to make our customers happy, but I'd be lying if that was the only reason," Walker said. "We're gamers and fanboys too. Sometimes we like to do something fun with the people behind games that we like, especially if they're made by people who worked on games that made us want to work in the industry in the first place."
Super Meat Boy is a 2D game with relatively simple graphics. That's what it looks like, at least. This action-packed fan film by Joseph Manalaysay captures what beating one of the game's brutal levels feels like.
As anyone that's been playing games since the Atari age will tell you, video games don't need elaborate visuals to be entertaining. Back in the days of the 2600 it may have looked like we were merely shooting dots at slightly larger dots, but in our minds' eyes we were participating in dynamic gunfights, narrowly avoiding obstacles as bullets, arrows, or lasers whizzed by our heads.
In the same way books leave visuals up to the imagination of the reader, games with less complicated visuals allow us to flesh out the experience in our minds.
Or in this case, a rather impressive little fan film.
Bandage Get!!! [YouTube - Thanks Wazzup4567]
Who were the best dressed, the most memorable and the most visually striking video game characters of 2010? I've made my picks for the best video game costume and character design from the past year, let's see if you agree.
Just like our picks from 2009, which included Bayonetta, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, these aren't the games with the best graphics or the boldest moves forward in fashion. They're games with great characters, complex and simple, pretty and ugly, evil and adorable. I considered games released in any territory in the past calendar year, not just North American releases.
Read on for my favorite characters and costume choices for the year, with plenty of pictures to illustrate my point. Let me know your picks in the comments.
Without a doubt, my favorite costumes and character designs came from BioWare's Mass Effect 2. Beautifully designed, gorgeously rendered, they fit perfectly into brightly lit but grim Mass Effect universe. Some Mass Effect 2 characters are better remembered for their personalities, not their looks, but BioWare's talent at creating unique-looking alien species and very attractive humans deserves extra commendation.
This Wii game may be more deserving of a "best art style" award, but Kirby's Epic Yarn deserves credit for managing to make Kirby, King Dedede and Metaknight feel fresh. Kirby's transformations into alternate forms like a rocket, a tank and a submarine showcase this art style's flexibility and inventiveness.
Even more whacked out rock 'n roll designs from Grasshopper Manufacture. The characters and costumes of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle may not be as surprising or as dazzling as those of the original, but Travis Touchdown and crew still stand out as some of 2010's most original creations.
Really, Dr. Fetus locked this one in.
Even so, Super Meat Boy is packed with character for what is essentially a cube of bloody meat with a few more cubes of meat attached. Team Meat's character animation and a series of hilarious cut scenes helped to make Meat Boy memorable in 2010. Even in tofu form.
Few will accuse Castlevania: Lords of Shadow of being inventive with its gameplay mechanics, but developer Mercury Steam made the bestiary of the decades old Castlevania series its own with a re-imaging of the franchise's most famous monsters. Key characters like Cornell, Carmilla, Pan and Baba Yaga stood out among the year's non-player characters. Gabriel Belmont and his brethren sport some smart looking armor.
Maybe I'll catch hell for giving John Marston his dues as I did with the dressed-down cast of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Maybe it's Marston's personality and voiceover work that really won me over. But the visual style of Red Dead Redemption's cast of characters was solid, consistent and believable, with Marston's alternate outfits always looking fresh.
Russia will be the first country to score a retail release for the PC version of super Meat Boy, and creator Edmund McMillen sends out this moving call for Russian-inspired cover art. Good thing he's okay with the Cold War.
Hopefully the Russians can look beyond Edmund's lack of knowledge about their lovely country and produce the sort of stellar Super Meat Boy box art the game deserves. I'm not sure they'll get over being mistaken for Canada though. There are some insults that can't be waved off.
Oh Canada, you know I love you guys, and I say that without mentioning the constant struggle with the giant ice spiders.
There's not much meat to this clip showing off the Brawl hack, via Destructoid, but it goes to show you that Kirby is definitely the most flexible of Super Smash Bros. fighters. Grab said hack here, if you want more Meat Boy in your life.
The creators of PC and Xbox 360 hit Super Meat Boy have aborted the game's WiiWare release, saying they're unable to fit a quality version of the game under the size limit Nintendo imposes on titles for the download service.
Team Meat's struggles to pare down Super Meat Boy delayed its originally planned November release. The indie developer said it was able to get the file to 50 megabytes then, but 40 megabytes is the WiiWare cap, and the sacrifices made to get the game there left creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes unhappy with the game's quality.
"It's mostly music," McMillen told Kotaku this evening. "We got it close to 40 (MB), but we only have five music tracks, one retro and one boss, and no cutscene music. ... The cut scenes might as well not be there, and if you beat the game, I'm sure you know the final cutscene needs a musical score, to have any impact at all."
McMillen said Team Meat "blindly assumed we could submit a bit higher. ... We assumed we might get a 5 to 10 megabyte addition." He noted that the discussions with Nintendo were not adversarial. "We loved working with them," he said. So they're pursuing leads on publishing a retail disc, but the prospects are not good.
"So far, the three biggest [publishers contacted by Team Meat] say there's no money in third-party retail (on the Wii)," McMillen told Kotaku, "but we are still asking."
Despite the difficulty, McMillen said he and Refenes remain committed to the platform. "I will tell you, we will do a game on a Nintendo platform," McMillen told Kotaku. "That's for sure." Whether that game will be Super Meat Boy, however, remains to be seen.