It’s time for that little link at the top to shine a little brighter: I’m very pleased to announce that the Venus Patrol Shop is now, finally, open for business, which also brings even better news — the official, worldwide release of Keita Takahashi’s Videogame Romantics T-shirts.
In addition to the remaining “Sunset” stock we originally made available at our Wild Rumpus / Venus Patrol GDC Party, we’re also introducing two new colorways: “Octopus”, with pink on heather-purple, and “Treasure”, with sparkly gold on black (which, to Keita’s dismay, is not made of actual gold).
The Venus Patrol Shop is also currently stocked with a small selection of other items from friends of the site, including T-shirts, prints and zines from artists & writers like Maré Odomo, Cory Schmitz, Zac Gorman and Mathew Kumar. You’ll even find a few super-premium items in stock, like these hand-woven scarves featuring art from Faraway creator Steph Thirion’s debut game Eliss.
Be sure to let Keita & I know how you like the shirts! Photos for our scrapbook/future Tumblr posts can be submitted care of that Submit link at top. And overall, I genuinely hope you like what you see at the store, and thanks much to our superpals at Fangamer for all the hard work they put into making it a real thing — stay tuned for news on many more things I’m working on bringing to it in the coming months!
Wondering why Mossmouth’s overhauled and entirely essential Xbox 360 game Spelunky has had a slot for DLC? Now we know for sure: while the world is twiddling its collective thumbs for today’s PlayStation reveal, the dev quietly dropped its first two new bits of content since the game was released last July, in the form of new characters & multiplayer arenas.
The “Explorers DLC” adds “the Eskimo, the Robot, the Viking, the Round Girl, the Round Boy, the Cyclops, the Ninja, and the Golden Monk” to your stock of avatars (all pictured at top), while the “Arenas DLC” drops in 24 new multiplayer stages.
Every month, as part of the regular monthly meetings of the Austin, TX independent game community JUEGOS RANCHEROS, we do a very casual & chatty rundown of the ten or so games from the previous month — both local and global, and both indie and occasionally a bit-bigger-budget — for the audience, to give people — especially those curious onlookers from outside the indie community itself — a look at what they may have missed.
In keeping with the tongue-in-tobacco-packed-cheek tone, we call these run-downs A Fistful of Indies, which are be presented here on Venus Patrol for your reference, each fully-annotated, -linked, and off-the-cuff blurbed, in addition to their home on the JUEGOS RANCHEROS site.
See more posts about: A Fistful of Indies, ASTRONOT, DayZ, Dean Hall, Diluvium, Europa, Gravity Rush, JUEGOS RANCHEROS, Kitty Lambda, Les Collegiennes, McPixel, Mossmouth, PixelJunk 4AM, Q-Games, Quickfingers, React Entertainment, Sony, Sos, Spelunky, The Act, The Real Texas, Wade McGillis
This was the surprisingly large, warm and receptive crowd that turned out for my early-morning session at the opening day of GDC Austin’s debut Indie Game Summit, and the reason they’re all smiling will be clear by the time you reach the end of this post.
My task for the session was to give the attendees here a snapshot of the best of what indie gaming’s currently got to offer: some old and unmissable, some never before seen, and some seen, but never before played live. Here’s the run down — for reference and further research and download — of everything I showed off.
By far the most widely played and important indie game of the past several years (even in prelude to its upcoming Xbox Live Arcade port), I found out quickly just how hard it is to play live and talk in front of an audience, in a quasi-Game Center CX series of embarrassing failures.
2.) Glum Buster
Too few people have still taken a trip through Austin-native Justin ‘CosMind’ Leingang’s fantastically surreal world — hopefully playing it live gave everyone an even more compelling reason to.
Even just the tiny shred of a teaser for Craig ‘SUPERBROTHERS’ Adams’ indie debut was enough to impress, with his inimitable graphic style, and the promise of its simulated grueling mountain ascension.
4.) Time Donkey
The inherent charm of Flashbang’s latest made it one of the most popular playthroughs of the session, judging by audience reaction. I very regretfully haven’t had the time yet to do it justice here, but will surely do when GDC Austin madness dies back down.
5.) Captain Forever
As I said before, this will probably end up topping a lot of best-of-2009 lists when word reaches out further, and a round of applause rose as soon as the name was dropped. Creator Farbs was kind enough to drop off a debug build of the game for the session, which meant that I could cheat my way into demonstrating the jaw-dropping muted disco-dance-rain-of-destruction that you’re ultimately fighting to build toward. Expect much more on this game here soon.
The first surprise of the show was the latest game from oft-mentioned Offworld favorite Cactus, with a rare sneak preview of his previously blogged and yet to be released “game about killing everything you love”, now titled Tuning. Even with early warnings from Cactus about playing through it ahead of time to be sure I could do it justice live (which I did, I swear, and I got so far), with its constant, progressively more sadistically perception-warping, it was the second time of the morning that proved how embarrassing public play can be.
And the session’s biggest surprise: Polytron’s Phil Fish made a guest appearance to give the first live demonstration of what the studio’s been cooking up for the past few years.
The game’s grown even more rich and complex than I’d expected since I last saw its 2007 Indie Games Festival debut, and impressed the crowd enough (see: the photo at top) that we cut well into the planned coffee break to hang on main star Gomez’s every dimensional shift.
Thanks to everyone for coming out and putting up with what I can only imagine was a rambling, too-early, caffeine-addled, ranty awkward set of playthroughs!
The biggest late night bombshell that could be the most excellent news of the week: creator Derek Yu has simultaneously announced that his long-in-development procedurally generated 8-bit platformer Spelunky has officially hit its 1.0 milestone for PC, and is now freely downloadable from its new home at spelunkyworld.com.
But that’s not the bombshell bit: that would be the greyed out icon for an upcoming Xbox Live Arcade version of the game, which Yu (and his newly established studio moniker Mossmouth) has confirmed will be arriving in 2010, adding:
It’s going to be much more than a straight port of the PC game – I’m planning on stuffing it with new graphics, audio, and other features for XBLA users. With all the other great independent games on XBLA or coming to it, I’m hopeful that Spelunky will feel right at home there. I think it’s a cool platform and I’m excited about what I’ll be able to do to make the game special.
If you haven’t played the game since I last mentioned it here in December, you’ll be surprised to see just how much its evolved, just how much more rich and complex it is, and — even through it’s as punishing (if not more) than it ever was — it’s still one of the most vital indie developments of the past five years.
There’s an easy way to tell when you’ve got a veritable indie hit on your hands: its TIGSource forum thread goes from 0 to 34 pages in just over a week, before the game’s even been properly finished. So it has gone with Derek Yu’s Spelunky.
You might know Yu from his work as co-creator of the previously mentioned Aquaria, TIGSource itself, or more mischievously from his 2006 freeware gore-em-up I’m OK, a fully playable answer to Jack Thompson’s ‘Modest Videogame Proposal’ (which I wrote up slightly more in depth at the time).
Most easily and commonly described as Spelunker meets Rogue, Yu’s game retains all of the unforgiving difficulty of both (though much more forgiving than the former’s trip-to-death strictness I noted before), but excels at the latter’s sense of procedurally-generated loot collecting and cave crawling, just now in 8-bit sidescroller form.
In your travels downward, you will die — you will die a lot, sometimes within seconds of entering the first level, for stupid reasons and even when you’re at your most careful, but every cheap death is a necessary part of the learning process (its readme.txt implores, “Don’t be afraid to die! But also don’t be afraid to live!”), and the sense of accomplishment for a smart and successful run is one of the best we’ve seen in some time.
Yu hits all the right notes from simply its run/jump physics (not since Cave Story has it felt so joyous to just move), to its itchy-trigger-fingered shopkeeper, destructible landscape and Indy Jones boulder chases, to that burdensome sense of dread that builds with each successive bar of gold you collect, knowing how important it is that this time you make it out alive. His algorithms are able to smartly weave together endless scenarios with those building blocks for players to create their own stories in ways the code couldn’t possibly have conceived.
Now thankfully natively supporting joypads (its somewhat clumsy initial keyboard configuration being the only thing hampering full-on recommendation at the time), Spelunky would have made an apt ‘best indie’ of 2008, but let’s now call it a bar set very, very, high as we plunge into 2009.