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Archive for the ‘indie’ tag

Free Games I Like: They Hunger

Posted on 29th Apr 2010 at 13:54 by Joe Martin with 8 comments

Joe Martin
I've always loved zombies and I’ve got piles of comics and books and games about them at home. The fascination probably comes from the fact that an apocalypse filled with slow-moving already dead things is likely the only type of survival situation I’d stand a chance in, though there are forum members who might disagree with me.

And as zombie games go, They Hunger is one of the best. Well, to start with anyway; the series was spread over three separate mods and, as time went on, they got increasingly ambitious.

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Games I Own: The Ship

Posted on 28th Apr 2010 at 14:26 by Joe Martin with 13 comments

Joe Martin
The Ship is, I think, one of the greatest examples of how a great idea doesn’t always make a good game. Of all the games I’ve ever bought (and this is a game I spent a long, long time umming and erring over before I purchased), The Ship is possibly the game I’ve played the least.

The problem, I think, isn’t the game itself though – it’s the players. In all of the few matches I’ve played of The Ship it’s been the players that have broken it, not the game itself.

The Ship is a multiplayer murder simulator based on a cruise liner run by a mad man, who has involved all passengers in a game of death. Everyone onboard has been given a target that they have to assassinate and matches involve you trying to hunt down that one single person and take them out, at the same time avoiding your own would-be assassin. You’ve also got to contend with the security systems on the ship too – you have to dodge guards, scavenge weapons where you can and commit your crimes away from the prying glass eyes of the CCTV cameras.

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Free Games I Like: Gravity Bone

Posted on 18th Nov 2009 at 10:43 by Joe Martin with 3 comments

Joe Martin
Gravity Bone is by Brendon Chung, an indie developer I’ve long been a fan of and who has made some of my favourite indie games ever. Gravity Bone is his most recent and complete game, as well as the most stylised and striking.

Like most of Chung’s games, Gravity Bone exists without any exposition or context. It just is and everything in it relies on inference, with explicit instructions being very rare and a streamlined level design ethic ensuring the common sense is all you need to play the game. Every game also contains a wicked sense of wit that makes them worth playing even if you hate everything else.

Gravity Bone is about a hitman or a spy, who goes around doing spy-type stuff. There’s but two missions in the game, which takes about ten minutes to finish. The first is a straightforward introduction with no real challenges. The second is where all the gameplay is, but I won’t spoil why.

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Free Games I Like: Black Shades

Posted on 17th Nov 2009 at 08:25 by Joe Martin with 1 comments

Joe Martin
Black Shades isn’t a new game, it’s just a free game that I really like. It’s basically the opposite of Hitman, but reduced down to twitch shooter basics and presented in a typically indie way.

Rather than playing as a hitman, Black Shades casts you as a bodyguard for a VIP who's wandering aimlessly through a crowded city. It’s your job to protect him from the increasing number of assailants who will try to kill him.

What distinguishes Black Shades from that old trope of the FPS escort mission is that the VIP is pursuing a random path through a city which is basically an infinite grid of buildings. Also, the assassins who come from him are randomly generated and will use a variety of weapons and approaches. Oh, and nearly everyone in the city looks alike too – grey and white polygon figures.

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Free Games I Like: Home

Posted on 12th Nov 2009 at 12:21 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
Another short post for another short game – Home is a tiny pixel-art game from Increpare about what it’s like to fall apart, bit by bit.

There isn’t a huge amount to say about this game as the entire experience lasts just five minutes at most and the artwork and mechanics on show have been streamlined to the extreme. Everything in the game has been trimmed down until all that’s left is a clunky orange graphic that would look outdated on a Spectrum.

The idea is simple: your name is Charles and you’ve just been put into an old people’s home. Your life is simple and easy, which is good because you’re not really capable of much. All you have to do is manage your four simple needs; food, friendship, going to the toilet and getting a good night's rest. Simple.

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Free Games I Like: Small Worlds

Posted on 5th Nov 2009 at 11:51 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
This blog post will be, like the game it’s about, small. I don’t really have a huge amount to say about Small Worlds, which was developed for a recent Casual Games Competition with the theme 'Explore', other than that it’s a remarkably elegant and effective piece of pixel-art brilliance.

A game which only ever alludes to having a deeper plot, Small Worlds opens with a single line before jumping to the gameplay – “There is too much noise”.

The gameplay itself is simple. At the start of each of the five levels the viewpoint is zoomed in on you – a small red line with a pale face and zero animation. The aim of each level is then to find the exit, which returns you to a hub level before you move on to the next world. There’s no fighting, no skill trees and no enemies. It’s just a gentle and rather lovely paced matter of exploration.

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Feedback on Custom PC's new games pages

Posted on 20th Aug 2009 at 08:29 by Joe Martin with 8 comments

Joe Martin
This blogpost was supposed to be about my adventures in Baldur’s Gate as a completionist wizard, but that plan was ruined by the fact that my copy of Throne of Bhaal has yet to arrive because of various mail-related issues and my refusal to start until I’ve got the entire collection. And also you might have noticed I'm in Cologne, Germany for the big GamesCom 2009 show.

So, instead I thought it would be a good chance to get some feedback on a little change I’ve introduced to the latest issue of Custom PC and which, if it goes down well, I’ll keep going. If you’ve got Issue 73 to hand (it's out in the shops today) then you can see what I’m talking about on pages 26 and 27 – the ‘Games Etc’ spread.

Basically, I’ve replaced the usual batch of four or five gaming news items with a hand-picked of really good free games from the last month which we think people will like. There’s some free flash adventure games there, some mods and some downloadable indie games – something for everyone and I’d like to do this every month instead of using that space for gaming news.

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Presentation versus Graphics

Posted on 23rd Feb 2009 at 11:16 by Joe Martin with 1 comments

Joe Martin
Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about what exactly makes graphics in a game good and why it is that some of my favourite indie games look better than the latest games despite having lower polygon counts.

What exactly is the difference between good graphics and great presentation?

To put it simply and dryly, good graphics are the type of unneeded visual flair that cause jaws to drop and eyes to dry. It’s hard to specifically define because it’s both indistinct and ever-changing thanks to the nature of the business, but good graphics generally means high polygon counts, lots of explosions and loads of light sources. Everything should be dynamic and smooth.

Good presentation however is totally different. It’s a singularity of vision that works itself through an entire game, emanating from core to keyboard. It’s how the graphics are used and the way that elements of the story are told through visual cues.

For me, the difference between graphics and presentation can be illustrated through one simple comparison.

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Elite Dangerous Review

Elite Dangerous Review

Frontier Developments' new space simulator is a grand sci-fi masterpiece.
SilverStone Fortress FT05 Review

SilverStone Fortress FT05 Review

The Fortress series is back - another awesome aluminium case with...

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