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Archive for the ‘indie’ tag

Cheating in Game Design

Posted on 16th Mar 2009 at 11:09 by Cliff Harris with 16 comments

Cliff Harris
One day, the cheapest laptop will have a quantum graphics computer that can render pixel perfect photorealistic images at 70 frames per second with infinite complexity.

Until that happens, games programmers will do bodges, cheats and sneaky optimisations that you probably don't notice.

I remember a comedy sketch from years ago that ridiculed the kids puppet show Stingray for having a character in a high-tech wheelchair-style device that he slid around on. The joke was that this made him easier to film as a puppet, because it was always the walking that looked rubbish. Game developers do the same thing all the time.

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The Curse of Darwinia

Posted on 9th Mar 2009 at 13:23 by Introversion Software with 9 comments

Introversion Software
The Curse of Darwinia, as it has become known at Introversion, actually began way before we ever got near the Xbox Live Arcade deal with Microsoft three years ago. So before we delve headlong into a discussion about the murky world of commercial independent game development, let me give you a quick recap for those unfamiliar with Introversion and the infamous Darwinia.

Darwinia was released on PC back in March 2005. It got a lot of critical acclaim, but suffered from a bit of a botched retail launch (our fault for over-pricing it), and seemingly had only a small hard core following online. That all changed in late 2005 when Darwinia was released on Steam as only the second non-Valve game on the platform. Sales shot through the roof, and almost seemingly overnight everyone knew about the game and Introversion.

After that we got an email from CMP, the folks who run the GDC games conference. They suggested that we'd be eligible for the Independent Games Festival which was running at the next GDC in March 2006. We entered and waited. Sure enough, we soon found that we'd made it to the short-list of games and received some complimentary invites to the conference which was being held in San Jose. Yay!

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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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My New Game: Space Battles

Posted on 12th Feb 2009 at 11:29 by Cliff Harris with 14 comments

Cliff Harris
People love space battles. Oh, we may pretend we really care about whether or not Anakin will betray Obi-wan, or whether Ben Sisko will ever marry Cassidy, but deep down, we don't care what happens as long as people end up resolving their differences in a giant battle in space with things going zap and bang.

That's the idea behind my next game. As an indie developer on the PC, I'm 100% free to make whatever game I want. There is no publisher to 'pitch' the game idea to, and I don't need to aim for a specific demographic, because as a one-man outfit, I can basically target any niche big enough to earn back a years salary (that's how long my games take).

In any case, I reckon big space battles are a safe bet. Making a game about space battles is like offering someone chocolate biscuits. Nobody ever pretends they don't like chocolate biscuits, and nobody really dislikes big over-the-top space battles.

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