Indie Game

  • Ninja Theory’s New IP: Hellblade

    From Ninja Theory, the creators of Heavenly Sword and DMC, comes a new IP called Hellblade. It has been set to be a timed exclusive for the PlayStation 4. There is not much known about the game other than the reveal trailer (link below) and a bit of a description on their official Ninja Theory website:

    "Ninja Theory is defined by three things: ninja-class melee gameplay, strong character stories and a unique art vision. On Hellblade, we will double down on what we do best to give you a deeper character in a twisted world with brutal, uncompromising, combat. We are embracing the creative spirit that comes with independence without letting go of the stunning production values that we are known for. It’s not indie, it’s not AAA. This is a third way. It's independent AAA."

    For now the game is still very early stages of development. But as all good studios do, the team is going to frequently update their state so fans can be with them throughout this journey. Maybe even provide feedback to help make the game that much better.

  • Two new PlayStation Games Discovered: Entwined and KILL STRAIN

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    More games coming to PlayStation, even though it is very early in its life cycle, the PS4 is seeing a host of games coming out. Most of these games for now are the indie titles everyone is enjoying and some AAA titles such as Knack, Killzone Shadow Fall and Infamous. We are still waiting on a few more of these AAA titles such as The Order: 1886 and Drive Club which are on their way.

    If we are to consider new trademarks filings as any indication, then I guess we will be seeing two new franchises pretty soon. For now we can only speculate if they will be PS4 exclusives or available on the PS3 and PS Vita but I guess we just have to wait till E3 to find out.

    The credit of this find goes to a NeoGAF user who somehow managed to find the two new trademark filings from the database of the United States PPatent and Trademark Office. Both of these filings were made sometime mid-April 2014 and are connected to Sony Computer Entertainment America.

    The first trademark is for a game called Entwined and the second one for a game called KILL STRAIN (in all caps, I am not adding this for dramatic effect). For now not much else in known about these games, not even which studios are responsible for them. The only solid info we have is that these trademarks are classified as - "Computer game software; Downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices; Video game software.", which confirms that these are indeed 2 new games.

  • Sony Jabs at Microsoft’s Publishing Policies

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    Well Sony has been civil for the past few months after their initial body hits at Microsoft at the reveal of the PS4. Since they made fun of Microsoft’s DRM policies, they have had nothing but supportive words for their competitors. Well seems they are switching up gear once again and decided to poke Microsoft one more time.

    This time Sony decided to target Microsoft’s console parity policy. Microsoft recently has revamped their attitude toward indie developers and their new [email protected] program has been getting more and more indie developers interested in publishing on the Xbox One.

    However their “launch parity” which stipulates developers have to launch their games on the Xbox One at the same time they are made available to other consoles. This essentially means that the developers will not be able to provide timed exclusives to any other company, including Microsoft’s main competition Sony.

    Microsoft did in fact come forward about this to Edge and said that they are currently looking to work with developers on a “case by case basis” when it comes to future exclusive releases. Guess this was not enough for Adam Boyes, Sony VP of publisher/developer relations, who went on twitter and said this:

    In the interest of transparency, I want to share our Dev clause that lists which platforms you cannot release on.

    What is your opinion on this matter? I mean every company does this sort of thing from time to time. But do you think Microsoft would reverse its policies one more time as they did with the DRM? Would the developers be able to provide the same kind of pressure as we the gamers did?

  • PS4 TO AVOID POST LAUNCH DROUGHT, SOLUTION IS INDIES

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    There were a few issues when the PlayStation 3 launched about 7 years ago. One was the fact that the inclusion of the Blu Ray drive made the console much more expensive. Back then it was considered what the Kinect 2.0 is being considered now, an expensive unwanted addition. The other and most important reason was the lack of games upon launch, mainly because the PS3 architecture was hard to code for.

    Honestly speaking it would be wrong to just blame the PS3, as upon launch the Xbox 360 and even the more recent Wii U has seen similar lack of games for anywhere between 3 to 6 months. Thus it was no surprise that Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida talked about the typical post-launch release gap that usually accompanies the release of new consoles and more interestingly how the Playstation 4 was going to avoid this norm.

    In regard to the drought of games that usually ensues the launch of new consoles he explained that it was due to the strategic decisions made by the publishers. He said,

    "By nature publishers see opportunities, especially very large publishers, and will always be there with five or six games at the launch of any platform. Large publishers typically target that date, not two months or six months after, so it’s natural that the first peak comes at launch and then there will be a drought."

    When asked whether PS4 will experience this drought he said, he is hopeful that the numerous indie developers working with Sony will potentially fill the gaps in the release schedule of major gamers.

    "Now there are so many games developed by indie teams. Of course money is important to these teams, but it is often not the primary motivation, and so they will spend extra time [in development] if they need to. So these games will be continuously released through next year. That is my expectation."

    He continued on to explain the justification behind Sony's determined to support and work with independent developers over the recent years. "We do think indie games are very very important, and we do think indie games can sell hardware. Games like Journey and Walking Dead showed a very strong message to the industry and consumers as well when they won various game awards. Small games can make a huge impact."

    In that I completely agree with Sony. Indie games are amazing and they keep on getting better on a day to day basis. As long as there is a fresh supply of these bad boys, there won’t be any drought in sight, at least for me!

  • PS4 Dev Kit Gratis for A Year, Developers Rejoice

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    The competition between Sony and Microsoft in the next-gen console wars covers all fronts, it seems. Not only does Sony prides itself on its less-restrictive DRM policies compared to the Xbox One (which Microsoft famously dropped due to public outcries), the company have brought some major fire power on the indie developers front. Get ready folks, because this one is quite a biggy; the PS4 Dev Kit will be entirely free of charge for a year to developers.

    That’s right. Gratis. Free, at least according to what sources told Polygon. The kit itself usually costs around $2,500, but it seems that Sony is loaning it out for free for a 1-year period. The sources also claim that no dev kits have actually been sold, as the company’s “Become a Registered Developer” website allows for that 1-year free-of-charge loan.

    One developer said “all the indies I know got them for free. Sony has been amazing about kits and developments thus far.” Another dev also corroborates this statement, saying that Sony is handing out the dev kits “like candy.”

    A Sony spokesperson added that self-publishing has been available on the Playstation platform for over five years now, a statement that no doubt would make some Xbox developers’ ears turn red. Sony gives indie devs “lots of options, including funding through the Pub Fund, which is back-end funding paid upon completion of the game.”

    To sweeten the deal further, Sony also waives fees for indies and all digital titles, and they embrace new business models such as F2P, episodic and subscriptions.

  • Xbox One Self-publishing Policy Welcomed by Many

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    The Xbox One announcement hasn’t exactly been a smashing hit that Microsoft was expecting it to be. Fan outcries about their DRM policies has especially been the sorest point; so much so that they did a U-turn on said policy to appease disgruntled gamers. Ever since then, Microsoft has tried their hardest to listen to fan feedbacks, and change things up to ensure that their next-generation console will satisfy gamers around the globe. Case in point: their latest policy change concerning self-publishing, which just made the console a lot more appealing to indies.

    Most indie developers have a lot of positive things to say about the change. Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail told Edge:

    “Microsoft opening up to more experiences, allowing for more diverse developers and allowing more content for gamers isn’t something we should applaud, it’s really something we should expect of any serious contender in a platform war in 2013. This is literally Microsoft removing arbitrary barriers that stopped us from releasing on Xbox platforms at all. Removing barriers between developers and gamers is always a good thing.

    NimbleBit co-founder David Marsh said, “The Xbox One announcement has definitely shifted our attitude towards the console from ‘don’t care’ to ‘very curious’.”

    The idea of every Xbox One doubling as a devkit impresses Gun Monkeys studio Size Five Games:

    “ It is one less barrier, one less hurdle to have to get past,” said studio founder Dan Marshall. “If I can pick up a console and know 100% for sure that my game’s going to run the same on everyone else’s that’s a godsend. This is a brilliant idea, and something Microsoft should be shouting from the rooftops. Massive saving for indies ultimately means more games, and better games thanks to that extra bit of cash flying around.”

    Still, there are concerns about how smaller studios’ games will be sold through Xbox One’s storefront, especially considering the software giants they have to compete with in the market. On this subject, NimbleBit’s David Marsh said, “ XBLIG had a big problem being represented as the ‘kids table’ compared to XBLA games. The curation and presentation is a big unknown at this point, and it’s the part that will make the difference. Self published games need to have the chance to be top billing next to bigger publisher games if they are popular enough, and be presented in the same store.”

    Clearly, there are still a lot of questions that Microsoft have yet to answer. Lucky Frame co-founder Yann Seznec puts it best:

    “For me, there’s not really enough information to draw any conclusions. I like the idea of an Xbox doubling as devkit, that seems like a really great thing. But ‘self publishing’ can mean a lot of things! What will be the approval process? How much will it cost? How will the storefront be designed? Will ‘self-published’ games be hidden in a million sub menus? Will there be a structure for marketing support? Will terrible games get rejected? If so, who decides what is terrible?”

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