Blizzard confirmed late last month that, as pretty much everyone already suspected, Diablo 3 won’t be falling into our sweaty mitts this year. Yes, there are beta keys to pray for, but unless you’re some kind of elite journalist, media juggernaut or high-profile WoW guild, you’ll probably be praying a long time to no avail.

What of Runic Games, then, and their game which looks set to steal the ARPG crown in the meantime? Sticking true to the roots from which the team grew, they too haven’t let slip any official release date for Torchlight 2, other than the hallowed quote of “sometime in 2011″ – blargh, the suspense!

To ease the interminable wait, you might want to spare a glance toward one of these two alternatives.

Drakensang Online - hanging around street cornersFirst, you can dive straight in to Drakensang Online‘s open beta. It’s a browser-based game, and thanks to Java it’s far more playable and graphically attractive than you may initially think (no huge downloads, either!). The cash shop sells the usual selection of stuff like XP boosts and special item sets, but in my experience it’s entirely optional and – if you do have money to spare – it’s more balanced and better value for money than a lot of other similar games. While it only has two character classes and suffers noticeably from production-line armour making everyone look the same, the game is otherwise quite polished and the developers seem to be working hard to capitalise on its potential for the future.

Path of Exile - ooh, stompy!Something else to check out is Path of Exile, a much darker and grittier affair that fans of early ARPGs should definitely appreciate – it has a good selection of loot and a system of gaining skills through socket gems, alongside a novel way of recharging your healing and mana flasks by killing enemies. Unfortunately it’s in closed beta as I write this, so you’ll need to register an account there and hope you get lucky with their random hourly giveaways (or have some kind soul pass you a spare key). My words of wisdom would be that you should definitely try and play it through whatever means possible – it has “rising star” written all over it and has picked up some good press from the various gaming expos of the past couple of months.

There are other forms of free click-kill-loot entertainment out there but they mostly fall into the smelly category of “Korean grindfest”, so I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning them. What games (ARPG or otherwise) are you playing to while away the days between now and loot-filled heaven?

There are only 17 Assemblee games to go! No more half measures – let’s make a push for the finish with these six new contenders! Coming up in today’s exciting episode…

  • Space Smuggler
  • SpriteGears
  • Super Treasure Ball Gasm
  • The Birth of Selthar
  • The Girl and the Shadow
  • The Journey

For such a massive batch as this I’ll see you after the jump! Oh, and another new icon at this late stage in proceedings (which I should’ve possibly added earlier) – this one Java download indicates a Java file which you may or may not be able to play on all of Windows, Linux and Mac. Have fun!

Read more…

Another mini-TAR today with just two more contenders entering the ring. Let’s see if they’re any good…

Space Penguin - ridding the universe of purple aliensSpace Short Bus - but shouldn't it be yellow?

Space Penguin by harima555 TIGForum thread Download Space Penguin for Windows
Your cute ‘n’ cuddly space penguin has run out of food on his home planet, so he jets off in search of supplies on another world. The only slight complication is that he only has 5 minutes to do his job. Watch out for the penguin-hating locals! Use your dual-purpose laser pistol to both defend yourself and vacuum up those juicy bits of fruit. Pleasant enough; above average quality but a bit short. 73%

Space Short Bus by Bob le Moche TIGForum thread Download Space Short Bus for Windows
What we have here is a mix of Space Taxi and Gravitar including some nifty tactical ship upgrades. Navigate a series of landscapes to take the students of the future safely to school by braving inclement weather and avoiding the hostile turrets that try to stop you. Why are the turrets attacking you on an everyday school run? We’ll never know, but it’s all good. An enjoyable game let down a little by rockabilly ship rotation. 77%

Zolyx loading screenIt seems like a few of you who’ve stumbled across the site were looking for a way to play Zolyx, the classic Commodore 64 Qix clone, in your browser. Well, look no more! It’s taken long enough to get around to setting it up, but you can now do so on this ‘ere subpage:

Play Zolyx online!

Brought to you by the power of the Java Commodore 64 emulator created by Joakim Eriksson. Hope it brings back some memories ;)

It seems to be a tradition here in the UK to use bank holidays in order to get rid of all those DIY jobs you’ve been meaning to do for ages… so, in recognition of this, I’m not going to do anything constructive whatsoever! :P Alright, well, maybe a bit. My recent obsession with Minecraft has stolen time away from stuff I really should be sorting out. There’s a whole slew of other recent indie games that I want to talk about, not to mention some coding that I’ve been neglecting for way too long.

As you possibly noticed by the lack of the announcement, submissions for the Poing! PC community level pack are now closed. I’m moving the estimated release date back a week to somewhere around the first weekend in June. When it does arrive, though, you can look forward to at least two new levelsets with new graphics and a new “pastel” brickset to use in your own levels if you wish. I’m resisting the temptation to do a full visual makeover of the game because, honestly, with no access to the code in order to fix its long-standing bugs, that would be wasteful. It’s an old game and I think from this point it needs to grow old gracefully :)

Yeah. Any more work I do on a Poing-style game would be better spent on making a sequel… and sorry Poing fans, but no – that’s not a hint at a future project. Not for this year, at any rate! :D

The Minecraft Museum

The Minecraft Museum is a new page dedicated to screenshots of Minecraft [link], preserved on the interwebs for eternity. When the game gets uber shiny it’ll be fun to look back and say “Whoa, is that all there was?”. I’ll be trawling through various forum threads (and IRC) to refine and bulk it up later, if I get time.

I didn’t immediately take much notice of Minecraft [links: homepage / dev blog] after seeing it get a mention on Indiegames, but on a closer second look, this sandbox game from Markus Persson has the potential to be freaking awesome. Indeed, it already is! Don’t let the simple blockiness fool you. Embrace your inner cube… after all, you loved it when you played Wolfenstein 3D as a kid, didn’t you? ;)

A few hours passed after I first loaded the game up, and this was the result of its instant throat-grabbing effect. (Oh, and thanks to Markus for using it on the Minecraft homepage, even if only for a lil’ while!)

So, yes. Minecraft is just so amazingly uber that I invite you – for the first time in the history of this blog – to check out more information after the split. There’s more screenshots and everything! :D

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Not that I would ever consider doing such a thing when there is so much else to be done, but here (in no particular order) are five ways I quite often end up using the interweb to waste time…

  1. YouTube logoWatch stuff on YouTube. My personal favourites being anything in the Let’s Play… category. If you like retro games, and in particularly like watching other people suffer while playing retro games, my recommendation is DeceasedCrab‘s complete playthrough of La-Mulana. Yes, he does include Hell Temple. And yes, it’s quite frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious :P
  2. Tumbledrop - remove blocks and keep the pink star safe!Play random browser games. “You wake up in a room, but you have no idea how you got here. And wait – the only exit seems to be locked…” There’s more to online games than escape-the-room stuff! For example, the Java-powered Powder Game and Stick Ranger by DAN-BALL are famous around the net for good reason, and there’s also stuff like Desktop Tower Defense and Tumbledrop to suck up those idle minutes.
  3. Shiny!Find juicy loot in an MMORPG. My personal bad habit is World of Warcraft, but there are plenty of others (some – like Runes of Magic – are completely free). You could even mix an MMO with browser games and end up with Runescape. Hey, these days you can play it fullscreen with all manner of bells and whistles, so don’t turn your nose up just ‘cos it’s been around for ages!
  4. Just one link in a chain...See what other indies are doing. There are plenty of blogs and forums with interesting stuff that I check frequently, as well as the site of other indie developers. I won’t mention any specific ones because they’re pretty much all over to the left, just there, under “Fellow Developers” and “Links” :D
  5. SumoPaint logoCreate stuff. Okay, maybe this isn’t actually wasting time, but it can still use up lots of it :) There are more and more online tools around lately with which you can create and share content with others. A couple of my favourites that I stumbled across recently: FontStruct, a TTF font creator, and SumoPaint, a light-looking but fully-featured graphics app. There are also downloadable gems like MoonEdit, something Mauft told me about. It looks like a text editor, but it’s “multiplayer” – up to 14 people can edit a document simultaneously over the internet. Funky!

Gosh. I didn’t think this post would be so big. Never mind, eh… ;)