PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Hotline Miami is 50% off this weekend, FTL also cheap!">Hotline Miami thumb







Super Hexagon may have become our fast, frantic and brilliantly soundtracked game of choice, but Hotline Miami remains an excellent acid trip of revenge, violence and talking owl masks. It makes the 80s look cool, which is an impressive achievement in itself.



If you've yet to experience Dennaton Games' brutal top-down murder-ballet, now's the time to take a look. Steam have gone and chopped its price in half, cutting it down to a criminally cheap £3.49/$5.



The store have also got a 40% deal on the marvellous FTL, dropping its price to £4.19/$6. It's a decidedly more strategic affair than Hotline's hyper-kinetic ode to viscera, but still a panic-inducing experience in its own right.



Both sales will run until Monday.



That's enough exceptionally cheap indie games, now let's have an ultimately pointless argument about which song from Hotline's amazing soundtrack is the best. My vote's for El Huervo's Turf. Or maybe Sun Araw's Deep Cover. Ah, they're all good.
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title="Permanent Link to Hotline Miami interview: Dennaton Games on creating carnage to delight and disgust">dennaton interview







This article originally appeared in issue 247 of PC Gamer UK. To see what we thought of the game, read our Hotline Miami review.



Among indie developers, Jonatan ‘Cactus’ Söderström is legendary for his freakish productivity. He frequently makes games in less than a day, usually by himself, and releases them for free. But while his creativity shows no signs of running dry, his bank account does. So now he’s collaborating with artist Dennis Wedin on a larger game, one they can actually sell.



That’s Hotline Miami, a brutally violent, psychedelic top-down shooter about ambushing gangsters with everything from assault rifles to scissors. At PCG we thoroughly enjoyed it, so I asked Jonatan and Dennis about the thinking behind Hotline and what’s different about making a commercial game.



Do you intentionally work on ideas you can finish in a day, or do you just stop when you’ve had enough?



JS: I usually stop when it gets hard to push the idea further or doesn’t feel like it’s worth it to keep pushing. Some game concepts work a lot better if you keep them small and concentrated and would just get repetitive if you try to make something bigger from them.



I’ll admit that I’m not always confident enough in my attention span to fully explore ideas that could potentially be made into something bigger and better.



JS: My original idea, when I made the first prototype called Super Carnage, was just to make the goriest game I possibly could, with as many weapons as possible. I was only 18 at the time so it was a pretty silly and incomplete idea.



Then I remade it about a year later, this was after playing some of Ikiki’s games and I really wanted to capture that feeling of always being outnumbered and having to master the controls and plan your actions to beat a level. I had to quit though, because I couldn’t solve the pathfinding I needed for the AI. Then last winter I realised I was now able to do the whole thing without any technical problems, so I showed the old prototype to Dennis. He liked it a lot and started doing graphics for it before I knew it.



What was the original idea for Hotline Miami?Has the pressure to make a living from it influenced the design at all?



JS: Yes, a little bit. One of a few things me and Dennis really wanted to avoid doing was a tutorial, but it eventually became clear that a lot of people stopped playing before really grasping the controls. So we eventually gave in and did our best to make it somehow fit into the game. I think you can tell from the tutorial dialogues we weren’t really happy being forced to do this .



At the same time, we’ve worked very hard not to make any compromises, most notably the game’s difficulty is still pretty high and we worked really hard on finding the right songs for the soundtrack, and made sure we were able to license tunes from some relatively high profile bands like Coconuts and Sun Araw. Lately I’ve felt some pressure as I’ve started to run out of money completely, but Dennis has made sure we don’t cut any corners.



DW: Things always work out in the end, so I made it clear that we shouldn’t compromise anything because of deadlines. We have to make sure this is the best game we could possibly make, and I feel that this is just what we have done.



As for difficulty and people giving up, I think a lot of games hold the player’s hands too much. Pointing out how to do everything and making sure there are sequences where the player almost dies but right as things start to look dire a healthpack appears. For me games that literally slap you in the face the first couple of times you play are the games that really make me want to go on!



Do you hope players will be disturbed by the violence? Does it matter if they’re not?



JS: Yeah, we’ve thought a lot about the violence, and tried pretty hard to make it feel disgusting, brutal and harsh. The violence is a central theme to the game, the message behind the storyline is ultimately very related to it. In a sense it does matter to me if people aren’t disturbed, but at the same time I can understand if not everyone will get what we’re trying to say. I do hope no one will feel like we’re trying to glorify hurting people after having played the game.



DW: At Gamescom a lot of people’s first reaction was laughing at all the gore, but after a while they started to question themselves and why they reacted the way they did. I think that is what we are after. The dialogue asks several times things like “do you like hurting people?” and “why are you doing this?” I hope people really think about these questions when they play.



A good playthrough often ends up feeling a lot like a movie gunfight or massacre. Was that a goal?



JS: Yeah, we definitely wanted the game to make you feel a bit like the hero from an ’80s action flick when you perform well... You are constantly forced into situations that seem impossible, but with some good reflexes, a little planning and a certain amount of trial and error you’ll find yourself getting out of some really tight spots with bravado.
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title="Permanent Link to Hotline Miami 2 announced, “sweet tunes” confirmed for soundtrack">hotline_miami







Developer Jonatan Söderström casually announced a Hotline Miami sequel today by teasing the "sweet tunes of a preliminary Hotline Miami 2 soundtrack" on Twitter. Eurogamer caught the tweet and got in touch with Söderström, who says that Dennaton Games has "barely begun working" on the sequel—unsurprising given that Hotline Miami was just released late last month. It also appears that the previously mentioned Hotline Miami DLC add-on will instead become the next full game from Dennaton.



"Yeah, it seems like will end up bigger—in terms of the number of levels we've got planned—than the first, so it feels reasonable to release it as a full game rather than a DLC," said Söderström.



Hotline Miami is an '80s-themed, top-down shoot/beat/rip-faces-off 'em up with Super Meat Boy-style repetition—one bullet or braining kills you, so each floor of goons must be cleaned up with a flawless series of surprise attacks and combos. We liked it quite a bit, and if for some reason you're skeptical that Hotline Miami 2 will indeed include sweet tunes, the Hotline Miami soundtrack is awfully persuasive.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Pay what you want (above $1) for Game Music Bundle 4, with Dear Esther, Spelunky and more">Game Music Bundle 4







Whether you're partial to the melancholy strains of Dear Esther, the thoughtful plinky plonky accompaniment to Indie Game: The Movie or the bluesy rawk of Shoot Many Robots, there's probably something in the latest Game Music Bundle to tickle your ears. You'll get the soundtracks mentioned above along with Spelunky and Retro City Rampage for any donation over a dollar.



If you pledge more than ten dollars you'll receive tier two of the bundle, which includes the "exclusive Joypad EP, featuring a never before heard preview from Zelda: Twilight Symphony." The excellent Hotline Miami EP, the Kanto Symphony EP, Peter Hollens and Lindsey Stirling's rendition of the Skyrim main theme, Adventures in Pixels by Ben Landis, Jottobots and Pop Methodology Experiment One OST.



That's a lot of notes for $10. You can listen to excerpts of all the tracks on offer and buy the bundle from the Game Music Bundle site now. The bundle will be available for another five and a half days.
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title="Permanent Link to Let’s stop calling games “too repetitive”">Hotline Miami is all about learning through repetition, then executing a perfect murder-spree.



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?
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