A MAZE opens submissions for Indie games award

14 January 2013

We’re still 3+ months away from this year’s A MAZE festival but someone has to win the new edition of one of the biggest indie gaming European events right? So even if last December the doors opened for a few hours, it is officially tomorrow that the submission period for the 2013 contest begins.

2012 A Maze winner Ed Key (photo by Jens Keiner)
2012 A Maze winner Ed Key (photo by Jens Keiner)

Much like last year A MAZE. will award the “Most Amazing Indie Game 2013” during the DGT – Deutsche Gamestage which will take place in Berlin April 24-26, 2013. Prize and conditions stay very much the same… 5000€ cash prize, and also the 45€ submission fee; and as many of you are aware, last year’s winner Ed Key highlighted some important issues that took place with the organisation and the prize giving.

As Ed points out you should approach your candidacy (if you finally decide to submit your game) as if “you’re paying the entry fee for a cool, passionate, creativity-oriented festival with a great atmosphere“. Whatever comes on top of that it’s a bonus.

A Maze award  (photo by Jens Keiner)
A Maze award (photo by Jens Keiner)

There is truly a need for a European large representative festival like A MAZE., a referent in the local scene which includes all the positives (and some of the negatives) this type of event usually comes with, and if the organisation keep finetuning their set of conferences, workshops, exhibitions… etc with an immaculate developer-relationship then we’re pretty convinced things will continue to move forward.

As for this year’s edition…. the deadline for submissions is March 1st, then the ten finalists will be announced April 1, 2013. A month and a half left to submit ladies & gentlemen! Get your consolidated playgrounds ready! More info this way.

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Global Game Jam 2013

2 January 2013

Game makers rejoice as your favourite game jam is back this month, and if last year over 47 countries participated in this crazy game hackathon with over 2000 games, expectations are high for this fifth edition too…

This year takes place the weekend that goes from 25-27th of January, 48hours of gaming love creation for designers and developers who are willing not-only to create joy under pressure but maybe get noticed and earn some funding for further development.

As it usually happens despite the growth and dimension of the event not all locations can give room or host as many people as desired so maybe it’s worth registering and checking if there are still places left to attend to from one of the already-created locations. More info this way.

Still from Madrid Game Jam 2011 (photo via MediaLab Prado)
Still from Madrid Game Jam 2011 (photo via MediaLab Prado)
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GameOn Competition

14 December 2012

This past Monday Mozilla opened their very first “GameOn” competition, as a way to promote their own products (how about Firefox and their upcoming Firefox OS) but also as a way to promote web-based games and the technologies that make it possible…. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, but also other open options like WebGL and WebRTC.

A competition divided in  three categories:

– Best hackable game (where any player can remix game mechanics, fork code, or use assets from the web to create their own version.

– Best Multi-Device game … to “explore” concepts like asymmetric gaming, alternate reality games, and companion apps

– And best Web-only Game (for games that can only be played on the web).

And what do winners get? Besides grabbing get a Nvidia GeForce GTX670 if you’re one of the 3 category winners there will be a special prize for the “Grand Champion”… an all expense paid trip to San Francisco for GDC 2013 with hotel accommodation, tickets to the GDC …and a large etc. Sounds about fair.

Bananabread still
Bananabread still

You’ll have to submit your playable prototype by Feb 24 built using open web technologies and the game should run plug-in free on the browser of course. And to get things started properly they’re organising 2 simultaneous game jams in New York and London this weekend (apparently more are coming later on) so if you’re around…. (more info here).

Rules and more info on the GameOn website.

GameOn poster
GameOn poster
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Fuck this jam

24 November 2012

“Stay ignorant, but once you’re going, carefully research and try what you’re doing”, these were the wise words Zach Gage gave the game developer community a few weeks ago right before “Fuck this” jam started. A game Jam centered around the theme of making a game in a genre you hate. “Through utter ignorance for conventions and hate for the established rules of a genre, beautiful things will happen“.

WhereAreYou by Andrei Marks
WhereAreYou by Andrei Marks

And beautiful things have come out of this jam indeed. From truck driver simulators which will make you experience the German Autobahn at night…. to sophisticated board games, moral titles or even first person research shooters.

Some of them unique, most of them enjoyable for a second or two but a few interesting ideas were proposed like Andrei Marks’s “Where are you“, where where one person is playing an FPS, and the other is playing a top down strategy game… something to explore really, although you’ll need to find a friend to play with.

One another “interesting” title is Gerop Orbital’s “Portraying The Terran Condition”, simply, a very surreal FPS you could end up loving.. if you like history on acid. The rest, can be explored this way, and hopefully we’ll get more “hated” games next year.

Portraying The Terran Condition
“Portraying The Terran Condition…” by Gerop Orbital

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Double Fine Amnesia Fortnight 2012

20 November 2012

The surely made history early this year when they reached over $3M on Kickstarter to fund their Double Fine adventure… and now they’re proposing a rather interesting approach to game-creation by opening their internal prototyping process to the masses…

Amnesia Fortnight is how Double Fine call their annual prototyping period, and just a couple of days ago the team decided that this year’s edition would be internetized… and partner with Humble Bundle to allow readers to vote for a “potential” full development.

For this edition they’ve posted 23 games that could be developed into prototypes. The only problem is that no-one assures any voter (or funder if you want to grab those early 2 prototypes + the top 4 ideas) the most-voted games will ever be produced & released.

Still, most readers will appreciate the peek inside Double Fine’s annual open-hack-day-equivalent… with games, and learn how some of those crazy ideas come to fruition. Some great proposals are already being favored like LeBreton’s “Spacebase DF-9” or Brandon Dillon’s Hack n’ Slash but there’s still 5+ days to vote… so up to you!

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The Space Invaders – In search of lost time

3 October 2012

Documentaries about gaming culture? Mmmmm…. Level up, Get Lamp, Chasing Ghosts… or the latest Indie Game: The Movie, those are just a few examples and yet… we get new initiatives pretty much every month. “In search of lost time” is our latest discovery… and maybe a documentary many arcade purists will appreciate.

“Beginning with Space Invaders in 1978, arcade games began to appear everywhere. In 1982, 13,000 dedicated arcade locations existed across North America, generating $3.2 billion dollars in 1983 alone, the hard way: one quarter at a time. By 1985, revenue had fallen 97%. Atari declared bankruptcy. Arcades began to disappear. Most of the old games were converted or destroyed. A few, packed into warehouses, largely forgotten for another decade.

Anthony Pietrak (still from the movie)
Anthony Pietrak (still from the movie) 

Yup, that’s the true and sad story about one medium and a distribution model that came to an end, today is all about your “live” stores and digital copies paid with digital tokens, and yet those who came from the analog generation still want to defend them. Seems like “The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time” more than another story of “classic obsession” is a real statement with a big nostalgic compound, but who can blame them…

The movie should be released next year, although there are some lucky people who are already enjoying it these days as it screens around San Francisco.

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Game City Nights goes on Tour

2 October 2012

Americans have the IGF or PAX … and way too many local & national events for that nerd hobby called gaming, in the UK…. well…  you have Insomnia, or the LGF and then you have something which up until now was too local, too studentish, too…. special to become mainstream. That was up until now, because Nottingham’s famous Game City Nights (an extension of their GameCity festival taking place later on this month) are making their way out into the rest of the UK… and also Ireland!

What started nearly 3 years ago with a monthly exploration of gaming culture has quickly become one of the UK’s referent events for videogame lovers, and the best of all is that many of the talks, debates and nights’ extracts have been continuously uploaded to their youtube channel for everyone to watch. This gaming-must is now prepared to take over the UK as they are bringing their night to 10 venues from mid-November to late February. (Full list of dates & venues on their tour page).

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Bosch Art Game

20 September 2012

Here’s one of those contests that actually make sense…. taking an old classic and making some entertaining and didactic product… or a completely twisted and rather surreal game from the underworld… I bet Jheronimus Bosch would have preferred the latter.

And his foundation thinks the same, that’s why with the support of the EU and many local partners (who have nothing to do with the gaming world but… have enough money to invest in these kind of initiatives) just recently launched the “Bosch Art Game” contest. The rules & conditions are very simple… “Invent an original, artistic game, inspired by the paintings of Jheronimus Bosch reliving his work in a new way” ….. and win 2500€ for the full-game development.

Doesn’t sound that bad after all. This is how it works.. you propose a pitch before the end of December to the Bosch 500 foundation and if you get selected then you enter the second round of the competition next year where you would have to develop a game prototype from Feb to July… and if you win … then you’ll get the €€ and exposure.

The garden of early delights… Bosch’s most famous painting today owned by the Prado museum

There are no specifications or rules regarding the platform or channels to use… so we’re even imagining interactive games, platforms or even public spaces could be considered by all of you (this is something one of the Jury members would particularly like) .

A rather original initiative (we hope to see many more like this coming from other European art museums…) that has so much potential given the complexity, divine, human and supernatural dimensions this work concentrates. Sexuality, temptations, hybrid aberrations, biblical and inexistent creatures … the choice is yours, and we expect to see some good gaming. More info on the contest page.

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Indie Game The movie finally released

12 June 2012

Yup, it took them two years to send today’s e-mail but James and Lisanne finally did it! Indie Game: The Movie has been 2 years in the making, about two years since the first Kickstarter founding campaign and 12 months since they got the extra $71K from their their second KS campaign…

An awful lot of game developers, gamers, bloggers and fans have been waiting the doc which follows the creation of some of the flagship games of the so-called indie game movement… Fez, Braid, Super Meat Boy…

Tommy Refenes - Edmund Mcmillen from Indie Game the Movie
Tommy Refenes and Edmund Mcmillen still from Indie Game the Movie

It all started in September 2009 when James & Lisanne were commissioned to produce a short documentary on Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo and Aquaria fame. The short introduced then to a universe they weren’t familiar with… independent gaming, they took it seriously and started thinking about a videogame documentary. After a 6-month research period they both attended the 2010 GDConference  and filmed a ‘test piece’ with Edmund Mcmillen & Tommy Refenes of Super Meat Boy, the beginning of everything.

The rest is known by all of you, 2 highly successful crowdfunding campaigns, a lot of media coverage (and  hype) and today IGTM sees the daylight via iTunes, their own website store and the gaming platform Steam for $9.99.

Phil Fish (still from Indie Game The Movie)
Phil Fish (still from Indie Game The Movie)

A documentary which includes the collaboration not only of the game developers themselves but many other people like Jim Guthrie (from Sword & Sworcery) adding the soundtrack  and that has proven already successful (Sundance last year, an HBO deal to develop a series…). Highly recommended.

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Airbird’s ‘Trust’ reviewed.

Airbird. Image courtesy of Bang On.
30 May 2012

When you listen to the music of artists like Joel Ford, it’s as if the 90s never happened. With long time collaborator and childhood friend Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), Ford jumped straight from his Boston-born soft-rock band Tigercity, enmeshed in its 70s and 80s jazz-funk influences, to the archaic production techniques of the same era in Games, later rechristened the appropriately disco-sounding Ford & Lopatin. There’s not a flannel shirt to be found in the mix, and this from a musician born in Boston and educated in Amherst, MA, before moving to Brooklyn over seven years ago.

Joel Ford. Photo by Bryan Derballa.
Joel Ford. Photo by Bryan Derballa.

Since then there’s been a handful of releases, never to see the metallic sheen of a compact discs 0s and 1s, instead either released on vinyl or straight to download. For Ford’s second solo release under the Airbird moniker, Trust is a freeing excursion beyond the hustle of New York City and out into the Appalachian mountains.

Continue reading Airbird’s ‘Trust’ reviewed.

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Game City Nights

7 March 2012

It’s been a looooong time since I last recommended a website. Sort of… January, when Portals was about to go live, ok not that long ago. Today is one of those little jewels that make the blogging community and always auto-refreshing source of invaluable publications: Game City Nights, one of the best indie-game blogs around (not the best WordPress theme around but…. the content is what matters).

GCNblog is pretty much the summary of evenings, talks & laughs that Game City Nights represents and the weekly summary of that educational and enjoyable philosophy that the big, huge, massive GameCity Nottingham festival has spread since the N. Trent University created it back in 2006.

A lot has rained since (especially in Nottingham), but a couple of years ago the after-dark monthly gatherings started to happen, because 1 event a year wasn’t good enough, then the blog came to life with the second season, and the movement is now hyping global. Next Thursday 29th Dan Pinchbeck (from Dear Esther, one of this year’s IGF finalists btw) will be conducting the evening, taking about his game, about games development and share his knowledge with the crowd, from launching a start-up to bringing a game to market….

from last month's GCN
from last month's GCN

Enough GCN advertising! (because if you’re around the UK or Nottingham that day, or any other last Thursday of each month then you should go), what counts is the website, which like the GCN journal itself, is probably the best way to follow the indie game movement… with a British accent… and a great source for new game creators profiling, interviews, game previews…. and blablabla. Just visit it, will ya?

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