Last but not least, I headed to the Xbox mega-booth. Having published two titles on the XBLIG service, I was curious to learn more about ID@Xbox and what games indie devs had coming out.
Again, there’s too many to mention, but here’s some that grabbed me.
It took me a second to grasp what Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was all about, but once I did, I loved it! You play 1 or 2 players (in one player mode you command your space-dog) in a tiny platforming experience within a round space ship. You must run your little guy over to a gun to shoot it, over to the shields to protect your ship, over to the giant steering wheel to steer, etc. By piloting the ship this way, you rescue space bunnies, but this will sound alarms bringing waves upon waves of bad guys. Without good cooperation from a friend, or enormous dog-commanding skills, these seemingly simple 2D battles become quite overwhelming. Working together with a friend however makes you feel like a real (tiny) crewman on a real (tiny) spaceship.
Fenix Rage by Green Lava Studios is a beautifully styled, HD and yet 16-bit looking “escape the level” game. You control a little dude who can jump infinitely, and zip quickly around the level with a horizontal speed boost. You can collect cookies and smash through walls. This is trickier than it sounds, and the game adds more as you go along; in the demo I played there are heated walls that make you ignite so you can blast through ice blocks, and a humungoid boss chase I didn’t quite get past (I kept going for the cookies). The frequent deaths and rapid restarts make for a fun frantic experience where you’ll find yourself saying “one more try!” more than once.
Next I met with Charles Cox, the very friendly CEO of 4gency who took time to talk with me about his new game, Habitat. In this game, you collect space junk to build a space habitat, while trying to take over enemy habitats. It sounds simple, but the physics based nature of the game makes for some wild experiences. In my play through, I connected two habitats and tried to wreck an enemy habitat, only to slingshot around it and smash my two habitats together in a spectacular display of destruction. Revenge was mine however, as part of my habitat was still attached to the enemy, and he went flying into a massive debris field to his doom.
Charles was kind enough to chat with me about his experiences with being an indie developer, share his positive feelings about ID@Xbox, and swap stories about the challenges and triumphs using the Unity3D engine — not to mention he stopped to pose for a blurry phone pic! Thanks again, Charles!
After hearing more about microsofts indie developer program, I chatted with one of the ID@Xbox guys about what it takes to get considered for the program. He made it clear that it isn’t the hobbyist-friendly service XBLIG once was. This program is for polished, high quality, professional indie games. I got a lot of good information about where Tipping Goat needs to be to reach this level of game.
In fact, I got a lot of qualifiers of this sort when talking to various people around E3 about indie games. There is a big push from the successful indie developers to distance themselves from the hobbyist level stuff (and the fart simulators and “massage” games that plagued XBLIG). I appreciate the sentiment, since that’s what I’m trying to do, but everybody got started somewhere. A taste of success is sometimes all it takes to push someone to go from hobbyist to pro.