Half-Life 2
super meat boy bundle thumb
Super Meat Boy completely won us over with its slightly icky take on the good ol’ platform genre. To celebrate its first anniversary, the game has been released as part of a huge bundle on Steam, which includes the original game, Aquaria, Bit.Trip Beat, Bit.Trip Runner, Braid, Gish, Machinarium, VVVVV and World of Goo. You’ll also get the music tracks from Super Meat Boy, Braid, Machinarium, Bit.Trip Beat and Bit.Trip Runner. That’s a whole bunch of indie gaming right there, and it’ll only set you back £17.89 ($28) - or £1.78 per game. Oh yeah, it also includes Half-Life 2, for some reason.
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Jonathan Blow, developer of Braid and upcoming indie game, The Witness, has been talking to Edge about the negative effects that focus testing can have on games development. He uses Portal 2 to illustrate his point.

We spoke to Gabe Newell about the lengths Valve go to to create a polished experience last year. Gaze tracking, pulse rate, and skin galvanic response all come into it. Blow says a testing environment that thorough can potentially erode player's freedom: "Valve very deliberately focus tests its games, and see how people react to situations, and refine the game to that. When you start to do that to a puzzle game you start to get rid of the puzzles."

According to Blow, Valve's heritage and extensive playtesting techniques can result in restrictive gameplay: "Part of the way Portal 2 ended up seemed to be due to what happens when you have a group of game designers that make games like Half-Life 2, which are quite heavily linear, and then put them on this other game."

Jonathan would have opted for greater sense of freedom even if it resulted in a steeper learning curve: "To me, a game about portals should be inherently nonlinear. If you don't make a non-portal surface at all, it means I can go from any place in the world to any other place. What would it mean to design a game around that? It might be a much harder design problem, but to me that's the excitement.

"I couldn't help feeling, playing the game, that they're fighting the portals all the time."

The indie developer also stressed that developers are entitled to their own design ethic, and that his motivations might be completely different to the PC behemoths: "I'm trying to provide opportunities for experience, whereas Valve is looking for the optimal experience for you to have. And that's fine - very valid and legitimate. But if every game becomes that, then we're missing something."

"When you give people freedom, you're giving them the freedom to have a bad experience as well as a good one," he concluded.

Do you value a streamlined experience over player freedom? Let's talk in the comments. For the latest on The Witness, pick up the latest issue of Edge.
Humble Indie Bundle 3
The Humble Indie Bundle 3 has expanded in all directions. The pay-what-you want package originally offered Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, VVVVVV, And Yet it Moves and Hammerfight, then Mojang threw in a trial to let purchasers play Minecraft for free until August 14. Then rotating robo-blaster Steel Storm jumped in, but that still wasn't enough.

Now, if you pay more than the average contribution (currently $5.22) for the Humble Indie Bundle 3, you'll get the Humble Indie Bundle 2 games as well.

The Humble Indie Bundle 2 includes Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos and Revenge of the Titans. A great package. Donations are split three ways between the developers, Child's Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. You get to decide how your payment is divided between these camps, and you can drop the Humble Bundle organisers a tip, too.

The Humble Indie Bundle 3 will be available for another five days. The bundle has sold 261,476 copies and counting for more than $1.3 million.

Our wildest dreams have come true—or is it our nightmares? Indie mega-hit Limbo is finally making its way to the PC, set for an August 2nd release date on Steam. If you missed the console version's fanfare, Playdead's surreal, eerie puzzle game has no dialog to speak of, and a creepy shadow aesthetic that seems harmless enough, but will end up unsettling you to your core by the time you finish the game. Put it this way: if you're a fan of thought-provoking indie puzzle-sidescrollers like Braid, picking this up when it's released on Steam is a no-brainer.

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