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mrimer
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From the mouth of Patrick:

Browsing through my local gamestore's selection the other day, I gained an expanded appreciation for independent game developers. In a world filled with Halo clones, repetitive online RPGs and Sims expansion packs, it's comforting to know that there are companies out there still wanting to venture out into the unknown and try to genuinely get people trying new ideas. Those people are independent game developers, and in the past couple of years, more and more of them have been entering the spotlight.

The best success of an independent developer I've seen this year is Audiosurf, a clever little game made by Dylan Fitterer. When this game was first announced in February of this year, I prepurchased the game the second I read the line "Ride your music". I'm a huge music buff, and any game that promises me to experience my music in a new way certainly has my money. As well, I've also become a fan of the Crazy Machines series of games, which is made by German company FAKT Software. While their game hasn't reached the amazing success that Audiosurf has (sadly, probably because it is a puzzle game), it's also done a lot of things that, in my mind, are things that set independently-made games above the rest.

So, as opposed to me praising both of these games like a salesman, I want to focus on a few of the many things that Audiosurf and Crazy Machines have done that set it aside from the rest of the mainstream games (and in Audiosurf's case, have kept it on Steam's Top Seller's list since its release):

1. Breaking the Mold

Audiosurf is a difficult game to characterize, mainly because it's something completely new. It's part racer, part puzzle, and part action. Call me crazy, but any developer gutsy enough to try something completely new right off the bat tells me that it's at least worth a shot.

2. Keeping it Simple

Even though Audiosurf does something as adventurous as create a new genre, it keeps the premise very simple and easy to pick up. In any game, the key thing is to capture the player's interest right away, as opposed to making something needlessly complicated. Crazy Machines does it as well, by having a very mild difficulty curve and actual useful tutorial sessions. Once you get started on the game, it still gets progressively more challenging, but it's not head-smashing frustrating.

3. Reasonable Price

While games have gotten a little cheaper in terms of the money-to-playtime ratio, independent game developers have taken the opposite approach of their mainstream counterparts by offering their games cheaper in order to sell a higher volume of product. Working in retail, I can confirm that this is an excellent way to spark interest in their product. Heck, at only $10USD, I'd consider Audiosurf more of an impulse buy than an actual purchase.

4. Knowing Raw Multiplayer Isn't The Only Online Option

While playing against humans is usual a good way to milk some extra playtime out of any game, indie developers have been finding original ways to add online connectivity to games. High scores and seeing what my friends are playing is a great way to make use of online functionality in a relatively unique way. As well, custom downloads and expandability are always added bonuses.

5. Instant and Free Expandability

This is where independent game developers shine. While mainstream game developers box expandability into a box and charge another $30 for it, indie developers find ways to keep the game alive and fresh for years. As long as there are people making music, Audiosurf will always have a new track to surf on. As for Crazy Machines, it's taken the same approach as DROD and allowed users to create custom, uploadable challenges. Some of them get a little complicated, but no more frustrating than something like, oh, Perfection, right?

---------------------------

Since the release of DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold, Caravel Games has done four out of the five things listed above, and they've done it very successfully. While breaking a genre certainly isn't an easy task to accomplish for any game developer, independent or not, it also takes guts to take a game that's already out there and rework it into a different genre. And, lo and behold, that's exactly what we've done!

DROD RPG: Tendry's Tale Released!

Caravel has just released their latest title, DROD RPG: Tendry's Tale, thanks to the Caravel dev team and a stalwart band of play-testers who did their job very, very well in order to help get this game out the door as scheduled. It takes place in the DROD game world but takes the DROD franchise in a new direction. The game is part DROD, part RPG, and part puzzle/adventure/exploration/dungeon-crawler. I guess it's a lot of things, and it should be a new experience for you.

Head on over to the Caravel Games website to try it out now!

http://www.caravelgames.com/Articles/Games.html

Erik Hermansen's Still Alive

No, he wasn't transferred to an Aperture Science lab. He's simply decided to take a break from game development and focus on other projects. His next project looks to be a very interesting feat and a very honorable thing to do, which I personally have high hopes for.

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=26502

Robobob's Picks o' the Month:

If the forums were a sea, and every topic were a fish, Robobob's the one bringing in the contest-winners.

Google's new forte
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=26670
Google's got a new browser out there. On which browser did you first hear about it?

To my fellow pirates
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=26465
One forumite opens up about their piracy habits, which leads to some interesting discussion. And then there's some talk about apple farming? I'm not really sure either.

Guess what it is
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=21058
Run a forum search for topics including the word "guess". Guess how many hits you get. There's 189 pages worth! I guess you probably need to get in on this. Bust out your monocles have a squint at this game, wherein you must guess what images are being displayed as they're slowly revealed, piece-by-piece. Guess.

Give me random sentences to help me create a hold
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=26529
TMSTF asked for a teaspoon of inspiration, and we buried him in a landfill of it. Help us add to the pile, or take a little nibble of it for yourself!

Enjoy trying out the new game this month, everyone!

-Patrick

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Gandalf? Yes... That's what they used to call me.
Gandalf the Grey. That was my name.
I am Gandalf the White.
And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide.
09-14-2008 at 09:56 PM
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roach strangler
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Glad to see DROD RPG is finally released.

Great post Patrick. :P

Updated.

[Last edited by roach strangler at 09-15-2008 09:12 PM]
09-15-2008 at 12:15 AM
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Beef Row
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quote:
mrimer wrote:
From the mouth of Patrick:
1. Breaking the Mold

Audiosurf is a difficult game to characterize, mainly because it's something completely new. It's part racer, part puzzle, and part action. Call me crazy, but any developer gutsy enough to try something completely new right off the bat tells me that it's at least worth a shot.



I'd actually disagree with Audiosurf being part racer. Visually it has the look of a racer, but since you have no control whatsoever over your speed, and focus on hitting or avoiding objects I'd say it's really part rhythm game, not part racing. In the Mono modes it's also a lot like the infamous vehicle section(s?) in Battletoads.

Its incredibly hypnotic and gets you to notice things about your music you haven't before. And thats the coolest thing about it: it's your music, not music someone thought would appeal to the broadest demographic.

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09-15-2008 at 02:17 AM
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mrimer
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quote:
roach strangler wrote:
Great post Mike.
I can't take credit for most of the writing there. It's Patrick's commentary and blogskillz at work. (two thumbs up)

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Gandalf? Yes... That's what they used to call me.
Gandalf the Grey. That was my name.
I am Gandalf the White.
And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide.
09-15-2008 at 02:51 AM
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Vike91
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Shouldn't mrimer write here some monthly hold picks, too?

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09-15-2008 at 06:26 AM
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mrimer
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quote:
Vike91 wrote:
Shouldn't mrimer write here some monthly hold picks, too?
Sorry we missed it. Anyone is welcome to propose some newly-published holds that they liked.

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Gandalf? Yes... That's what they used to call me.
Gandalf the Grey. That was my name.
I am Gandalf the White.
And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide.

[Last edited by mrimer at 09-15-2008 06:50 AM]
09-15-2008 at 06:41 AM
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Vike91
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How about Below Witherwood?

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09-15-2008 at 06:43 AM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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quote:
Vike91 wrote:
Shouldn't mrimer write here some monthly hold picks, too?

No, he shouldn't. He's already got more than enough to do working on the new RPG. I'm not sure he even has time to play the great new user-made holds. But if people are interested in some hold picks, I'd be happy to contribute some from August 2008.

Medium difficulty picks:
Down the Grimmish Hole - A varied set of aumtlich manipulation puzzles that ErikH2000 made last year. They are arranged in order of difficulty and seasoned with that special brand of humor only Erik can create.
Directions of the Compass - A nice first hold from brian_s. This is a short set of JtRH puzzles where you cannot turn your sword. In each room, you face a different type of monster with a different required sword direction.
Murder in the Basement - An interesting first hold from lopsidation. These very original TCB puzzles have a sense of humor built right in - they often don't turn out the way you expected.

Tougher picks:
Entropy - Dischorran's second hold features impeccably matched storyline, level design, and puzzle themes, as well as an interesting custom monster. I particularly enjoyed the puzzles using Guardians (the custom monster) and the level with the monster sorting theme. There's plenty of serious stuff to sink your teeth into here.
Choose Your Adventure - This is really six mini-holds from Jacob, each with a different theme. If you like mazy levels, the Shape Shifting level challenges you to find the correct player roles that can reach and conquer each room. If you like lynchpin puzzles based on different monster behaviors, the Stalwarts and Guards level will teach you a lot. And then there's the Brain Pathmaps level, which I thought was impossible for the longest time... (it's not impossible though)

And since the last Illumination, these other holds have also hit the DROD Holds board: An Citizen Quest (The Architest), Stalwart's March: Devil's Castle (The Architest), Cludo's Arena (mxvladi), 12th Stalwart Escapes (Kwerulous), Evil miners' fortress (mxvladi). They're worth checking out too.
09-15-2008 at 07:14 AM
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Beef Row
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Quick question: is there an english language site, demo, game, etc for Crazy Machines? Or is it German only?

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09-16-2008 at 04:21 AM
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Dolan42
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quote:
Beef Row wrote:
Quick question: is there an english language site, demo, game, etc for Crazy Machines? Or is it German only?

http://www.crazy-machines.com/CMNH_ENG/CMNH_ENG.htm

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"To understand recursion you must first understand recursion."
09-16-2008 at 07:37 AM
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kyevan
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To my fellow pirates
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=26465
One forumite opens up about their piracy habits, which leads to some interesting discussion. And then there's some talk about apple farming? I'm not really sure either.

Great monkey dandrif! Are you guys DEDICATED to shattering my preconceptions of how game companies are supposed to act? ;)

Anyway, might as well give an update on that, since it's been pointed out even to DRODers who don't bother with the forums: I have the money, and it's earmarked for DROD. I'm now working on the 'get it to Caravel' part.
09-17-2008 at 11:18 AM
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kyevan
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After 19 days it's not a doublepost, right?

I'm 40 dollars poorer, and one copy TCB and one copy JtRH richer :)

edit: Just fixing a thinko :P

[Last edited by kyevan at 09-28-2008 10:41 PM]
09-28-2008 at 10:37 PM
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Syntax
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quote:
kyevan wrote:
I'm 40 dollars poorer, and one copy TCB and one copy JtRH richer :)

Congrats! :) Hope you enjoy those as much as I did...
09-29-2008 at 03:35 AM
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