PC Gamer
Alan Wake
Some inquisitive fellows on NeoGaf have been raiding the Steam content registry for clues, and seem to have come across some entries suggesting that that Alan Wake may be heading to PC.

In further support of the Alan Wake PC release rumours, Just Push Start spotted an interview on Finnish site YLEX in which Aki Järvilehto from Remedy said "we have received feedback from a lot of PC gamers, and I have to admit that yes, we somehow ignored that. Let’s see if in the near future we could have some positive news to tell you about dating!" We love positive news about dating!

Way back in 2006, Alan Wake was the poster boy for Intel's Core 2 Duo CPU, and was regularly demoed on PC to show off its multi-threading tech. Then, all of a sudden, it became an Xbox 360 exclusive, and the PC version vanished. As a PC version was worked on heavily in the run up to its release, it theoretically shouldn't be too hard to resurrect it for a Steam release. It'd coincide nicely with the downloadable Alan Wake follow up story, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, which is heading to the Xbox 360 early next year.

It's not just Alan Wake haunting the Steam registry files. DIY Gamer have spotted evidence of a very tasty new Humble Bundle. The registry entry suggests that a new bundle may include Super Meat Boy, BIT.TRIP.RUNNER, Jamestown, Nightsky and Shank as a starting lineup, with Gratuitous Space Battles and Cave Story+ to be added after the bundle has kicked off. If accurate, that's a fantastic collection. How much would you pay for that bundle, and would you like to see Alan Wake come to Steam?
PC Gamer
Indie Soundtrack Bundle
The Steam sale is doing a good job of expanding our game collections, but what about our ears? They need entertainment too. The Indie Game Music Bundle is here to help. You can pay what you want above a dollar for the collection, which includes sountracks from ten games, including Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV and Cobalt, from artists like C418, Souleye, danny B, Jake "virt" Kaufman. Find the full list below, with links to each album page, where you can listen to samples of many of the tracks on offfer.

The Indie Game Music Bundle includes:

Super Meat Boy
Impostor Nostalgia
Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion
A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda
Return all Robots!
Mighty Milky Way / Mighty Flip Champs
Tree of Knowledge

The deal is available "for one day only," so grab it soon if you're interested.
PC Gamer
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.
PC Gamer
In this week's collection of free PC games, we explain how you can play Super Meat Boy for free! Well, sort of - and in a way that's well worth checking out. Elsewhere, we've got snakes, robots, werewolves and disgusting, lazy students. Computer games are awesome...

Line Bender

Increpare. Play it on the website.

The latest title from renowned indie studio Increpare is Line Bender - a small but smart twist on Snake. You know, that game you played on your enormous Nokia brick phone ten or eleven years ago. Yes, it's still going strong.

The idea here is that the middle section of the play area makes your 'snake' skip across to the other half of the screen. It's a wormhole, if you like - a big, blank space in the centre where nothing can exist.

It's a minor twist, certainly, but it completely transforms the way you play, as you learn to re-evaluate the game space. The simple presentation could have done to be spruced up a bit, being a straight-forward black-and-white job, but it at least allows you to focus entirely on the game's smart hook.

MFA Prep Course

John Bruneau, Marek Kapolka. Play it on the LudoGenesis website.

A very strange 'game', MFA Prep Course plonks you into the lazy boots of a filthy student. You're sitting at your desk. You should be doing work. However, because you're a student, you're looking for any possible reason to procrastinate.

You can drink coffee. You can spark up a cigarette. You can play with your phone a little. But that's it. Alongside the blocky, MS Paint-style visuals, it should be a recipe for disaster.

It's interesting, though, because of the control input. In order to perform these mundane actions, you've to control each of your protagonist's hands separately. One hand's mouse-controlled, the other keyboard-controlled, and it's surprisingly taxing to try to manipulate each limb in the manner in which it needs to be manipulated. It's a game that's worth playing for its form, then, rather than for the extremely limited content.

Super Meat Boy

Terry Cavanagh. Play it on his website.

This is just a quick one, but it's well worth playing. Basically, it's Super Meat Boy remade by VVVVVV developer Terry Cavanagh, vaguely in the visual style of his own brutal platform game.

In a blog post, Cavanagh explains that Team Meat asked him to draw a title screen Easter Egg for last year's famously challenging indie game - which Tyler Wilde very correctly score 90%. In the end, though, he ended up making his own version - and when he came across it again recently, he decided to throw it online.

There are only a few levels, and they're relatively easy to navigate. It would be great to see this expanded into a fuller product, though I suspect such a game is unlikely. Nevertheless, the combination of Meat Boy's platforming style and Cavanagh's visual touches make for a really interesting few minutes.


Ant Karlov. Play it on Armor Games.

This is a surprisingly adept side-scrolling shooter, which hopefully won't become lost in the sea of slightly inept side-scrolling shooters that frequently dominate the free PC gaming space. It's another zombie game, but it stands above the rest for its excellent use of physics and distinctive visual style.

It's a sort of hand-drawn, cartoon look, but one with some impressive attention to detail and some often beautiful depth to the images. And some neat physics enable you to take out the zombie hordes in new and interesting ways, mainly involving crushing them with boxes, barrels and suchlike.

If there's a complaint it'll be about the controls, which are a little wayward and floaty in that way that PS3 hit LittleBigPlanet became famous for. Personally, I don't think it's a problem, but you might. Either way, you get to shoot and crush zombies in a very pretty environment. Oh, and you play as a robot, which is awesome.

Where I Go At Night

Pat Kemp. Play it on Pat's website.

Two players. One human, one wolf, both part of the same body. By day the man searches a town for an elixir. By night the wolf takes over and goes on a rampage.

This is a really interesting take on a two-player game, asking players to work against each other in intervals. The daytime player's job is to build barricades to stop his nighttime alter-ago from chomping on the lovely townsfolk, while collecting elixirs to hopefully cure his ailment. Then the nighttime player must tear down those barriers and, y'know, aggressively murder people. During the switchover period it's a frantic fight for those few seconds where both forms are lucid. It's clever stuff.

While the game looks blocky and basic, it still manages to paint quite a lovely picture. People appear to go about their business in town, and the nighttime scenes take on a lovely glow that transcends the pixelated image. Well worth a look.
PC Gamer
Super Meat Boy
When Team Meat released the level editing tools and the Super Meat World update for Super Meat Boy, they said it would be the last update before they moved on to their second game. Turns out they have one last new feature to add in the form of the new 'Enter the Unknown' mode. This mode strings together a 20 level chapter made up of the highest rated user created levels, making it easy to jump straight into some of the best new maps without having to search through the portal

Team Meat have also streamlined the user voting system and added a "recommended chapter" tab to the level portal. Team Meat will use this to showcase the chapters they deem most awesome. They've also made a few final bugfixes before they definitely, definitely start work on their next game. You can find full details of the latest update on the Team Meat blog. If you're hoping for more Meat Boy in future, it's best not to get your hopes up. Team Meat say that "there will never, ever be a Super Meat Boy 2."
PC Gamer
SPOILER: once you beat the Light World in Super Meat Boy, you unlock Cotton Alley: a bonus world that lets you play as Bandage Girl, listening to bubbly music while sawblades slice you up again and again. Get an A+ in all of those levels, and you can play through them in the Dark World, where they're exponentially more difficult. Beat all the stages without dying, and you'll unlock the Impossible Boy achievement, which a measly 0.1% of SMB players have accomplished. Record yourself doing this in one clean sweep and post it to YouTube, and you become a legend. SPOILER AGAIN: watching this video may bring you to enlightenment.

I don't know about you, but if I had reached the second-to-last level without dying yet, my palms would be sweatier than wearing mittens in a sauna. Kudos to Bullexcrements aka srakaaaaaa for literally achieving the Impossible, with some heart-stopping close calls thrown in for good measure. Check out the rest of his channel for more SMB nuttiness, including a valiant effort by Tofu Boy and a Wood Boy run with quite the varied cast.
May 8, 2011
PC Gamer

Freeman's Mind is one of the best gaming series on YouTube. The premise is simple: creator Ross Scott plays though the original Half-Life, narrating with the thoughts of mute protagonist Gordon. It's frequently funny, but episodes have been a little thin on the ground recently. Thankfully, episode 32 has been uploaded this week. Take a look, and if this is your first journey into the mind of a theoretical physicist, ensure you take a look at the back-catalogue of Gordon's adventures in Black Mesa.

Dead Block was announced this week, and is looking to be a cartoony take on Call of Duty's zombie mode. Players will have to defend their homes from an onslaught of zombies, playing as a construction worker, tough girl or a seemingly sandwich-addicted boy scout that appears to be stolen from Pixar's previous characters list. You can see the trailer at the game's official website, along with some other bits and pieces from this comedic zombie fest.

You know an RPG is good when you're perfectly willing to take time out from questing and just be a tourist in the world the developer has created. The Witcher 2 is destined to be one of these games, and here you can take a look why. The trailer is entirely comprised of simply shots of the game's environments, but even without blood-soaked swords it's exciting.

Portals are overrated. At least that's what this player thinks, solving one of Portal 2's test chambers without the use of the game's core mechanic. A little clever use of refractive lenses and a high-powered laser goes a long way... or at least as far as the door. Alternatively you could take a look at this montage of tricks performed in Portal, which contains far more of the game's namesake, but more impressively contains some pretty slick cube throwing.

Brink is on its way. Released at the end of this week, we're anxiously awaiting it in the office. It's a game that could achieve instant greatness with its blend of single player and multiplayer, or could plummet to unimaginable lows by missing its lofty ambitions by miles. The above trailer shows off the cool looking parkour in the game, spliced with some IRL footage filmed from the perspective of pro free-runners. It's a little bit nauseating, but a fun taster of what's to come.

The guys behind Dungeon Siege 3 have released a new trailer boasting the benefits of co-op. Essentially, the narrator just barks about how the game's heroes will be better united, and does little to show the true benefit of playing co-operatively. Looks like we'll be waiting until June 17 to see if it's worth buddying up for this dungeon crawler.

It's been a while since we saw a good Kinect hack, but this latest one is interesting. It combines Kinect and an iPhone to control a bespoke created game on a PC. The first player uses the iPhone's touch screen to control a twin set of gattling guns, whilst the second player uses the motion sensors on the Kinect to fly a spaceship. It's a pretty neat idea, despite being almost completely pointless.

And finally, to keep you busy for the rest of the week, a bunch of decent tutorials for Super Meat Boy's level editor has appeared on YouTube. It's split into six videos, providing an hours worth of tips on how to get the most out of this intricate tool.
PC Gamer
Super Meat Boy Thumbnail
Super Meat Boy's levels make marvellous torture chambers. Crumbling walkways, crumbling walkways positioned over circular saw blades and laser beams are just a few of the perils that await your slippery chap. Imagine, then, being on the other side of the equation, designing challenges to drive other players mad. The brand new Super Meat Boy level editor is out on Steam now for free, and will let you do just that.

The level editor is free to download in the “Tools” section on Steam. The launch of the editing suite coincides with the launch of Super Meat World, a new world that will act as a hub for the best user made maps and new levels from guest contributor devs from other studios.

The level editor will let players create anything they’ve seen in the main game, apart from boss fights and warp zones. It’s even possible to bundle a group of levels together into a full chapter with its own par times, custom titles and soundtrack. All new levels can then be submitted to Super Meat World to be rated by the community.

Team Meat announce that, apart from one more update next week that will fix a few level editor bugs, this will be the last addition to Super Meat Boy before they move on to their next game.

Team Meat add that “there will never, ever be a Super Meat Boy 2.”

For more information on the new level editor and Super Meat World, head over to the Super Meat Boy blog.
PC Gamer

Rare is the day indie games can enjoy this kind of success, crossing over into the physical realm to take corporeal form on store shelves and in your hands. Earlier this week, Super Meat Boy received a retail release. This "Ultra Edition" isn't a simple repackaging of the game you know and love into a cardboard box--it's packed with bonuses. Check out what you get (besides the deliciously-brutal game itself) inside.

Within the confines of this blood-red box, you'll find the following extras:

A 40-page booklet that is half-comic and half-sketchbook
A mini-poster by Dave Rapoza
The ability to play as Alien Hominid (formerly an Xbox-exclusive character)
A digital soundtrack including songs by retro-maestro Danny B.
The game itself (300+ stages, unlockable characters, a level editor, etc. etc. etc.)
The fuzzy feeling one gets from supporting one of the best indie games around

If you're already a SMB veteran, you owe it to yourself to adorn your walls with Meat Boy's likeness and see what the game looked like in its early stages with the sketchbook. If you've somehow managed to miss SMB until now, you just lost your last excuse to go out and buy a copy.

PC Gamer

If you played Super Meat Boy, you didn't hear better music in a game last year. Last month at GDC, the game's composer Danny Baranowsky and I wandered down one of the Moscone Center's carpet corridors to chat about chiptunes, hipsters, The Shield, and music's unique function within gameplay. With Super Meat World adding juicy bonus content to SMB last week, now's the perfect time to learn more about the sounds that accompanied so many buzzsaw deaths.

Evan Lahti: You actually got your start as a game composer while you were a member of the internet's biggest videogame remix community, OC ReMix, right?

Danny Baranowsky: Yeah, I found the site 10 years ago when I first got started, and I would make CD-Rs of all of the remixes. I eventually got to be a judge on there, so I got to be a part of the quality control. Basically, starting there and starting to do remixes was kind of around the time I realized I wanted to do music for a living. I was curious if doing OC Remix would lead to a music job, but the general consensus from everyone I talked to was, "No it won’t."

And in a strict sense it’s true, that by doing remixes you won’t get hired or anything, but you are getting into this community of people that are passionate about something that's very specific to games, so therefore they are people who are all about games in general. I kind of just viewed it as a way to get better at the production of music without having to come up with my own melodies and stuff and also just because I enjoyed doing it. Getting things out there, getting things published and hearing some people tear it apart and some people love it. It’s just getting used to that cycle of releasing your ugly baby, getting it made fun of or praised, and repeat. I just did that for years. And since I was a judge I got to be a part of the quality control, so I had to just…learn how to do the impossible, which is objectively appraise something that is so subjective.

So, basically that all kind of led to me meeting Adam Atomic, who did Canabalt. He would send me games from time to time and I would send him s#*#$y stuff that would never work. But eventually he sent me this game called Gravity Hook, and there was no music—

EL: —That’s one of my favorites. I think it’s, uh, I think it’s the “B” theme that I like the most?

DB: Nnneh, nnneh, nnneh, nnneh, bl-neh-neh, bl-neh-neh…


DB: …So, uh, he sends me this, and I’m like: "It’s cool, it just needs music." And he said, “No, I think I’m going to go silent on this one,” and I literally told him “F$*# you, I’m writing music anyway.” And he’s like, “Whatever, dude.” And 40 minutes later I sent him Track A. I tell this anecdote because this is like the moment that it all started. From there, Adam, y’know, he’s told me since then that he was blown away, like he was really impressed by it. Adam had already been a pretty big player among the indies, so Edmund McMillen found out about me because of him, along with the Flash Jam guys. I got to go to TIGJam and meet him, so after a long, convoluted process, OC Remix got me to that moment where not only could I write music that was good, but music that was game music. Remixing music for eight years really forced me to understand what makes game music good.

EL: So, obviously, there are things that are different between game music and other music, but is there something that game music has to “do” for the user? Does it have to leave space for sound effects, and things like that? How would you describe that?

DB: My current theory on that is that game music should serve a similar service to film music but more…I don’t want to say generic because that seems like a negative connotation…but, you know, the music in Super Meat Boy, the idea was that, OK, you're in this haunted hospital with creepy needles and all this stuff, and you have 90 seconds to loop this music, and anything that can happen on the screen during that particular track should be scored by the music.

I actually started in film. While I was doing the OC Remix stuff I was trying to get into film. I never thought I would be a game music composer. I thought I was going to get into film, be the next Danny Elfman and all that stuff. In film it’s very direct. It’s, “Oh, this guy is crying about some bull$&# so you should do some sad string stuff,” so it’s very one-to-one, but in games, you're providing an atmosphere. And like you were saying, there are going to be sound effects so it can’t be super, super…

EL: It can’t dominate the experience.

DB: Yeah. So when I mix stuff, I usually cut off the top frequency of the spectrum because when you have a really high end… Like in club music when people have tweeters in their car, the high frequency, that’s the #*$& that pierces into you and you can’t escape it. Usually I roll that stuff off, because the sound effects are what should pierce out and the music should sit in more. So that’s definitely a consideration.

EL: I know it’s complicated—it depends on the game, it depends on the song, but how do you go about building a song, from conceptualizing it, to what tools you use, to the final product?

DB: First, I like to inundate myself—if I can play the game without music, or at least the game’s art, I love looking at art and rolling it around in my head until something occurs to me. But I guess it’s like any creative thing, where you just start doing it and things start happening. Sometimes the very first thing you write is awesome and inspirational and you’re good to go, but sometimes you have to write for an hour before something finally sticks out to you, and you delete everything else you did until finally you’re at that core idea. As far as my process, I click in everything with the mouse. I audition samples and I get an idea on how things are going to sound by pressing the keyboard but I don’t record them and I do recordings that are on guitar but other than that it’s all clicked in. So, it’s almost…me writing music is almost like a videogame, it’s almost like a puzzle game, because it’s all a big grid with all these parameters and stuff. I think I definitely do it differently than a lot of other musicians who will just get on their guitar or piano and just jam and record and let it happen organically. I’m more methodical and empirical. “This group of data is superior to this one, so I’ll take that one.” It’s like Mario Picross.

EL: How do you feel about the state of game music today?

DB: I mean, I think it’s probably like anything—there's a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff.

EL: What are some of your favorites?

DB: Katamari Damacy, Plants vs Zombies. I was playing Super Mario Galaxy for the first time about a month ago and that was awesome. I am kind of disappointed that Final Fantasy has gone downhill so badly. Final Fantasy X was the last one with decent music, and IX was the last with great music.

I do think there seems to be a little too much cynicism when it comes to videogame music, in that a lot of people are like: games like Call of Duty and the big epic games like that or games that require an ambient soundtrack, just because it isn’t melodic or you can’t listen to it in your car doesn’t make it bad music. I think some people equate good music with super-poppy melodic stuff and to me it’s more about what serves the game. I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of people say. I hear a lot of, "game music isn’t what it used to be," but I think it's our expectations that have changed a lot. It isn’t like in the '80s, where all you had was four channels and the games were so simple that the music was a huge part of it. Uncharted 2 has a great soundtrack, Greg Edmonson is awesome, but the dialog is a huge part of that game. There wasn’t dialog 20 years ago.

EL: It really seems like a modern challenge, with how much context matters in game music. Like, on the one hand, context should matter in the game because that's part of building a good song, it has to fit the theme or the level or the art. But at the same time, as a composer, are you still hoping that your songs can stand on their own so people don’t need to know that “this the theme that they played when Aeris dies” for it to be meaningful to them?

DB: Yeah, totally. One of the examples that comes to my mind—did you ever see The Shield? The show?

EL: Just an episode, I think.

DB: I loved that show. And it had absolutely no music. And it was awesome. Being someone who writes music for a living, you'd that would bother me, but it doesn’t. I guess why that sticks with me is: game music does not always have to be incredible art—it can just be complimentary to something else. I’m lucky in that way…Super Meat Boy left room for ridiculous synth solos and just…bombastic s$*#. It was a ton of fun to make. That wouldn’t be the same in Fallout. You aren’t going to hum any melodies for Fallout, but that doesn’t mean that music wasn’t f*#$ing perfect for it, like dead-on.

EL: Can you talk a little bit more about how Edmund got in touch with you?

DB: Edmund knew me through Adam, and he had seen Gravity Hook and some other stuff. When they contacted me for the original Meat Boy, there wasn’t time for a soundtrack, so he said “Just send me what you have lying around." So I sent him like 12 random tracks, and he somehow made a reasonably cohesive soundtrack. That was the original Meat Boy. For Super Meat Boy, I put those tracks into it. The Main Theme, the Forest music, the Salt Factory music and the Rapture music—all of them are from the Flash game. That was cool in that it was so meta at that point. I was remixing my own videogame music.

It’s really cool to have people like Adam and Edmund. Everything they let me do, they let me write for it. I don’t have to go out and look for tons of gigs—everything they do, I love, and it’s awesome. Adam and Edmund and Tommy all appreciate how important game music is. You can’t really ask for more than that.

EL: Are there any other composers out there that you really like? Mainstream, chiptunes, etc.?

DB: For chiptunes, my favorite artist right now is Disasterpeace--

EL: Yeah!

DB: --Rich Vreeland. I met him last night for the first act . He’s amazing. He makes chip music sound far more…varied than it has any reasonable ability to be. With such a limited set of sounds he does such ridiculous things.

EL: Yeah. His stuff is very rarely, like…saccharine, in the way that, like Anamanaguchi might do, or something. It doesn’t feel Japanese.

DB: Anamanaguchi is really good. I don’t say this to be down on them or anything, but when it comes to chiptunes artists, I don’t know if “it bugs me” is the right phrase, but what doesn’t interest me is when people make club music with chip sounds. It’s kind of like the whole hipster thing, where they’re co-opting the nerd look. It’s like, hey--I got the nerd look by being a nerd. So I’m not saying it’s not genuine or whatever, it’s just doesn’t interest me to hear music that would be a club track with chip instruments. That’s why I love to hear what Rich does because he does just crazy, original compositions with these sounds we loved growing up. Anamanaguchi is awesome, those guys are fun to listen to, and the Scott Pilgrim game soundtrack was awesome but—y’know, we all have to have preferences, I guess.

EL: Are you satisfied with the recognition that game music has?

DB: I think it's important to understand the difference between chiptune and game music. Because when people say a videogame soundtrack is a chiptune, that's kind of strange to me. The retro tracks are chiptunes—they’re the chip instruments and everything—but the latter half of the game is all orchestral music, those definitely aren’t chiptunes.. I understand why because people don’t have on top of their mind at all times the distinctions between types of game music, so I know why I’d be more cognizant of it. But, y’know, my parents—when they hear any chiptune, you could play them Stairway to Heaven in chiptune and they will think it's noise. I think it sounds awesome. But it kind of parallels the acceptance of games. Games are becoming more accepted and I think game music is too. Films have been around 100 years—would you say film music is accepted in mainstream? Probably not. I mean, people buy soundtracks, but only when it’s the full club cut of the Rob Zombie song from the movie, or something. If we get too hung up on the recognition I don’t know if that's really healthy on the creative side. It is cool to have people into it and have a big audience and everything. I guess one of the things that's interesting is that I heard a Katy Perry song where she used a Game Boy sound in it, and that's cool. It’s cool that it's crossing over. Part of what's helping that acceptance is that the people who grew up with those sounds are consumers now.

And will it ever be as big as regular music? I don’t know, I don’t really think I care, they’re different genres, which is strange because game music isn’t a genre, it’s just a thing, and there are as many genres in game music as in anything else.

Listen to music from Super Meat Boy at meatboymusic.com. Danny's other work can be heard at dannybmusic.com. Follow Danny on Twitter here.