Okay, I know this is a somewhat lazy and isn’t one of my own Game Music Monday videos – it isn’t even a remix! – but it still kind of fits the bill for recent events.

A certain game cause quite a stir on Friday and broke all sorts of records, at one point seeing about 280,000 people playing it all at once. I was one of them! Do I get a cookie? No? Pah. Well, fine – I’ll just nom into my bowl of mammoth snout steak, then. Meanwhile, there are still those who feel that Skyrim isn’t the be all and end all of modern gaming, and cling to the glory days they when Morrowind started to grace our hard drives for the first time over nine years ago. Feeling old yet? I am!…

Credit goes to SockandRock who did a good deed by uploading this legendary composition from the one and only Jeremy Soule. I played Morrowind only a little and mostly just as an experiment – I joined the Elder Scrolls at the bit where, just as all those dratted Oblivion Gates were popping up everywhere, someone kindly thought to deliver 15,000 watermelons to Chancellor Ocato. My soul was never quite my own ever since.

Normal service – whatever the deuce that is – will resume next week. Until then, enjoy the memories this tune effortlessly conjures up, and if you just so happen to be fighting dragons in snowy climes, may your Shouts be strong!

It was an extremely long time ago (coming up on three years, in fact) when, like a lot of other people, I first learned of Owlboy through a preview on the Indiegames blog. Although it stuck in my mind with its tremendously catchy music and pleasant, island-in-the-sky airscapes, to my shame I must admit that it only got filed into my “Follow With Vague Interest” folder instead of where it obviously should have been, the “Mash F5 On Homepage Until It Comes Out” folder.


Then, swooping through the internet with such speed and stealth that I only heard about it on a chance browse through Twitter, D-Pad Studios released a teasingly short but sweet demo a few weekends ago! Wonderful but frustrating, since I didn’t get chance to play it straight away – you can, though, by grabbing it right here. Lots of folks have since given it a shot and their views and critique have lead to the possibility that there may be a new, refined demo some time soon.

But rather than wait, I decided to go ahead and write this up anyway – how else can I preserve this blog’s true spirit of being weeks behind everyone else? :D Without any more blather, read on after the break to see how favourably the gameplay compares to the trailers.

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Stumbling upon PC Gamer‘s Big 10 of 2011 list of the games they’re anticipating for this year, I was rather surprised. PCG is one of, if not the most respected gaming magazine in the industry, and I’m sure there’s more than a little bit of insider knowledge going into this particular article of theirs.

PC Gamer logoThat said, the reason for my surprise was twofold. They think that both Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2 are going to be out this year! Whoooooaaa there, Nelly. As much as I’d be in RPG heaven were this to happen, I just really can’t see it… though of course there’s that leaked release schedule document which was all over the interwebz last month suggesting 2011 might be the year after all. Perhaps a combination of waiting this long and being generally cynical about everything has made me over-patient.

Anyhow, as I switched my brain into “lurk” mode in work today, I got to thinking about what games I’d like to play – if elephants could fly – this year. Daydreaming is fun! Keep reading after the jump to find out what I came up with.

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Eyewitnesses reported seeing several people fleeing from the Dedication Games Arena when a swarm of Coreplay-funded particles descended in their thousands and began causing significant brightness. All indications suggest that the surroundings quickly became too bright for the panicked arena patrons to tell what was going on, leading to overall confusion at the scene and complicating the task of emergency services once they arrived. ”The protective eyewear had no effect,” commented one disgruntled citizen shortly after being given a pair of sunglasses by a paramedic.

Ion Assault vs. Swarm Arena

Since they’ve been around since slightly before the dawn of time, particles aren’t especially a new phenomenon in gaming. However, over the last year or two, developers seem to have cottoned on to the fact that 3D graphics cards coupled with some clever coding can produce an environment where literally bazillions of the little devils can invade your screen at once – and what’s more, that they can actually be used as a proper gameplay element in their own right!

Enter the two most recent indie advocates of such thinking, Swarm Arena and Ion Assault. Both games wield an eye-watering amount of particles to make them look good and play good. But today, dear reader, I’m here to ask one thing: isn’t it all just a bit of a gimmick?

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Since the IGF 2010 finalists were announced only the other day, the internet has been working it’s magic to produce a couple of related early bits and bobs that are worth perusing. Here are just a couple.

Many people who submitted their game for the competition this year have posted the feedback they received from the judges on the TIGForums, and some of it is pretty gasp-inducing. For an event that’s become so prestigous in recent years, to see that games might be accepted or cast aside based on a one-sentence critique is really quite an eye-opener. The gory details are right here – you might have to dig in a few pages, but it’s all a stimulating read.

Of course, there’s always another side to the coin – if you are curious to know a little more about how judging for the IGF really works then I’ve got just the article for you. Entitled “Demystifying the IGF Judging Process”, Jens Bergensten (of Harvest: Massive Encounter fame) offers a considerably detailed insight into the proceedings and includes a couple of alternative opinions from Alex May (Eufloria / Dyson) and Michael Rose (editor of IndieGames.com), all of whom are judges in this year’s contest.

To all you people who are crazy enough to read this blog regularly – and even to those who are just passing through – I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

I hope your holiday season went well. It’s been a pretty good year for indie games and I’m expecting another great list of titles in 2010. Stay tuned and I’ll try to give my usual sporadic coverage of yesterday’s boring news… today! ;) There’s a ton to look forward to – Fez and a deluxe version of Spelunky for XBLA, Night Sky and the much-hyped-and-might-arrive-soon Cave Story for Wii, and who knows what else there might be for PC gamers!

In any case, we can kick the year off the way we want it to continue with Terry Cavanagh‘s VVVVVV very soon – he’s announced that it’ll be released in just over a week on the 10th of January. It will be available from thelettervsixtim.es and will cost a mere $15 / £9.30ish. Or you can still preorder the game for just $10 (by donating with the Paypal link on the Distractionware blog) until January the 3rd. Great stuff!

No more waiting! If you’ve wanted to have a go at the massive XBLA hit Braid then finally you can. A demo download is available from a few places including Big Download, FileFront and the official Braid homepage (which, understandably, is pretty snowed under). Enjoy, then grab the full version for a measly tenner on Steam!

Braid - is the Princess in this castle?

Happy April Fool’s Day! Time to catch up on some things I’ve neglected to mention over the past week.

Independent Games Festival 2009Well, let’s see… the major news would be that the winners of IGF 2009 were decided last Thursday, with the Seamus McNally Grand Prize going to Blueberry Garden [link] by Erik Svedäng. I can’t actually say what the game is, other than it being a charming 2D side-scroller – the teaser video doesn’t give a lot away. Plenty of other games were given commendations too, including Jason Rohrer‘s Between [link] for Innovation and Tag: The Power of Paint [link], a DigiPen Institute student entry, for Best Student Game. Check the full list of awards on this Gamasutra post. Sadly, my personal favourite Dyson [link] missed out… but I have every confidence they’ll be getting more awards in the future.

ScarygirlNext up is a pretty jaw-dropping preview video of Scarygirl [link], a game that will be completely free when released. There are some seriously lush visuals being shown off and although you may be ho-humming about yet another adventure platformer, that’s certainly not all this game has up its sleeve. Watch the movie and see!

The PC release of Braid has been delayed :( It will now hit the virtual shelves on the 10th of April.

Oh yes… and if you were wondering what was happening about the closing date of the Poing! PC community level campaign, I’ll talk a bit more about that tomorrow. For now, you still have time to send in your levels!

‘Til next time!