Kickstarter Pick: Starr Mazer by Imagos to fuse adventure games and shmups

Besides sporting some absolutely stunning pixel-art and what seems to be the most appropriately silly voice-overs ever recorded, Starr Mazer has also reminded me of the real point of Kickstarter: funding wild ideas. Allowing for talented teams to try all sorts of new things and, in this case, even enabling them to attempt to fuse traditional point-and-click adventures with action heavy shoot-'em-ups.

Yes, Starr Mazer does sound like something 16-years old me would fantasize about and something way older me would definitely love to see happen, if only to see just how seamless this ambitious blending of the genres can be. It already looks pretty amazing and very clever if you have to know.

Starr Mazer is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and $15 pledge will earn you a copy upon release.

Kickstarter Pick: Starr Mazer by Imagos to fuse adventure games and shmups

Besides sporting some absolutely stunning pixel-art and what seems to be the most appropriately silly voice-overs ever recorded, Starr Mazer has also reminded me of the real point of Kickstarter: funding wild ideas. Allowing for talented teams to try all sorts of new things and, in this case, even enabling them to attempt to fuse traditional point-and-click adventures with action heavy shoot-'em-ups.

Yes, Starr Mazer does sound like something 16-years old me would fantasize about and something way older me would definitely love to see happen, if only to see just how seamless this ambitious blending of the genres can be. It already looks pretty amazing and very clever if you have to know.

Starr Mazer is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and $15 pledge will earn you a copy upon release.

Kickstarter Pick: Starr Mazer by Imagos to fuse adventure games and shmups

Besides sporting some absolutely stunning pixel-art and what seems to be the most appropriately silly voice-overs ever recorded, Starr Mazer has also reminded me of the real point of Kickstarter: funding wild ideas. Allowing for talented teams to try all sorts of new things and, in this case, even enabling them to attempt to fuse traditional point-and-click adventures with action heavy shoot-'em-ups.

Yes, Starr Mazer does sound like something 16-years old me would fantasize about and something way older me would definitely love to see happen, if only to see just how seamless this ambitious blending of the genres can be. It already looks pretty amazing and very clever if you have to know.

Starr Mazer is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and $15 pledge will earn you a copy upon release.

Kickstarter Pick: Starr Mazer by Imagos to fuse adventure games and shmups

Besides sporting some absolutely stunning pixel-art and what seems to be the most appropriately silly voice-overs ever recorded, Starr Mazer has also reminded me of the real point of Kickstarter: funding wild ideas. Allowing for talented teams to try all sorts of new things and, in this case, even enabling them to attempt to fuse traditional point-and-click adventures with action heavy shoot-'em-ups.

Yes, Starr Mazer does sound like something 16-years old me would fantasize about and something way older me would definitely love to see happen, if only to see just how seamless this ambitious blending of the genres can be. It already looks pretty amazing and very clever if you have to know.

Starr Mazer is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and $15 pledge will earn you a copy upon release.

PC Pick: care&control (Slimekat)

carecontrol1.pngcare&control is about creation and cultivation, but it also seems to be about destruction.

You play as the caretaker of a deteriorating world, and must travel across it planting flowers, harvesting seeds, and distributing them around dark chasms located on the planet.

The entire process, from the controls, visual effects, and sounds, is at first very soothing, but there are a few jarring moments once you begin to experiment.

In one moment, you can pour all your energy into a budding flower and watch it prosper into a large, pink blossom, and then immediately hammer it back down into a pulp. Doing so gives you seeds, which you can plant into the world's trenches to bring about larger, darker flowers.

There's a meanness to it that feels at odds with the game's subtle beauty, but also at place in its eeriness. It's even there in the name. To care is good, to control is a potential step into much darker territory.

carecontrol2.pngYou also don't have to play in the way indicated above. You don't have to play any particular way at all. The essence of care&control is in its pacing. It seems so begin in that middle ground between cultivation and eradication, and let you decide how to engage with those two things.

At the start, I spent a while just circling the planet and listening to the strange, howling winds that seemed to emanate from the warping void all around, which was a fulfilling experience in itself.

care&control is a remake of a prototype with the same name, made for last year's Toronto Game Jam. This new version is playable on Windows and Mac, still in early access.

You can purchase it for $2.99 on itch.io. It comes with a seizure warning for flashing colors.

Its developer, Arielle Grimes, also has several other games available for a donation or free on her itch.io page.

PC Pick: care&control (Slimekat)

carecontrol1.pngcare&control is about creation and cultivation, but it also seems to be about destruction.

You play as the caretaker of a deteriorating world, and must travel across it planting flowers, harvesting seeds, and distributing them around dark chasms located on the planet.

The entire process, from the controls, visual effects, and sounds, is at first very soothing, but there are a few jarring moments once you begin to experiment.

In one moment, you can pour all your energy into a budding flower and watch it prosper into a large, pink blossom, and then immediately hammer it back down into a pulp. Doing so gives you seeds, which you can plant into the world's trenches to bring about larger, darker flowers.

There's a meanness to it that feels at odds with the game's subtle beauty, but also at place in its eeriness. It's even there in the name. To care is good, to control is a potential step into much darker territory.

carecontrol2.pngYou also don't have to play in the way indicated above. You don't have to play any particular way at all. The essence of care&control is in its pacing. It seems so begin in that middle ground between cultivation and eradication, and let you decide how to engage with those two things.

At the start, I spent a while just circling the planet and listening to the strange, howling winds that seemed to emanate from the warping void all around, which was a fulfilling experience in itself.

care&control is a remake of a prototype with the same name, made for last year's Toronto Game Jam. This new version is playable on Windows and Mac, still in early access.

You can purchase it for $2.99 on itch.io. It comes with a seizure warning for flashing colors.

Its developer, Arielle Grimes, also has several other games available for a donation or free on her itch.io page.

2015 Independent Games Festival announces Student Showcase winners

The Independent Games Festival is pleased to announce the winners for the ninth annual Student Showcase, which celebrates the brightest and most innovative creations to come out of universities and games programs from around the world in the past year, in advance of the 17th annual presentation of its prestigious awards.

This year's showcase of top student talent include the fast-paced "five minutes or less" real-time strategy game Interloper from Dutch student development team Monogon Games, the stark, fast-paced falling action game Downwell from a student developer at Tokyo's University of the Arts, and strikingly topical arcade-style experience Rooftop Cop, a game from NYU Tisch School of the Arts student Stephen Lawrence Clark, which challenges people to play through a collection of five vignettes about a police force that has forgotten who they are meant to police -- and why.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in over 350 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the world's most prestigious universities and games programs, making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

All Student Showcase winners' games announced today will be playable on the Expo show floor at the 29th Game Developers Conference, to be held in San Francisco starting March 2nd, 2015. Each team will receive a $1,000 prize and two All-Access passes to the show, plus five Expo Passes, for being selected into the Showcase. All Showcase teams are also finalists for an additional $3,000 prize for Best Student Game, to be revealed during the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 4th.

The full list of Student Showcase winners for the 2015 Independent Games Festival, along with 'honorable mentions' to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, are as follows:

- a-part-ment (Team a-part-ment, University of Southern California)
- Downwell (Ojiro Fumoto - Tokyo University of the Arts)
- Close Your (GoodbyeWorld Games - University of Southern California)
- Even the Stars (Pol Clarissou - Supinfogame & Nicholas Gavan - University of Bialystok)
- Gemini (Echostone Games - Tisch School of the Arts, New York University)
- Interloper (Monogon Games - HKU Utrecht School of Art and Technology)
- Rooftop Cop (Stephen Lawrence Clark - Tisch School of the Arts, New York University)
- Stellar Smooch (Alec Thomson & Jenny Jiao Hsia - New York University)

Honorable mentions: A Story About My Uncle (Gone North Games - Sodertorn University), Ahoooj (Circus Atus - FAMU, University of West Bohemia, CVUT FEL, UMPRUM), Circles (Jeroen Wimmers, University of the Arts Utrecht), Drew and the Floating Labyrinth (Dust Scratch Games, University of Windsor), Lisa (Rubna, Elzendaal College Boxmeer) and Mecha Trigger (Team Casserole, Michigan State University).

This year's Student IGF entries were distributed to an opt-in subset of the main competition judging body, consisting of more than 375 leading independent and mainstream developers, academics and journalists.

Now in its 13th year as a part of the larger Independent Games Festival, the Student Showcase highlights up-and-coming talent from worldwide university programs, and has served as the venue which first premiered numerous now-widely-recognized names including DigiPen's Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint, which evolved into Valve's award-winning titles Portal and Portal 2 (respectively).

Other notable Student Showcase alums include USC/Giant Sparrow's Unfinished Swan, later released by Sony Computer Entertainment as an award-winning title for PlayStation Network; USC's The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (later published by 2K Games); and early USC/ThatGameCompany title Cloud, from the studio that would go on to develop critical darlings like Flow, Flower, and Journey.

For more information on the Independent Games Festival, for which Main Competition finalists were also just announced, please visit the official IGF website -- and for those interested in registering for GDC 2015, which includes the Independent Games Summit, the IGF Pavilion and the IGF Awards Ceremony, please visit the Game Developers Conference website.

Gamasutra and IGF are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech

Category: Uncategorized

PWYW Pick: The Static Speaks My Name

SCREEN3new2.jpgThe Static Speaks My Name is short first-person exploration game which is really quite disturbing. The environment makes it clear that the player's character is obsessed with this one painting, the given objectives start mundane but get creepy, and the audio cues do a fantastic job of setting the mood. It only takes about ten minutes to play, and although it doesn't currently support inverted mouse look, developer Jesse Barksdale is looking into adding that functionality.

iOS Pick: Minimalistic puzzle game Tile Enigma

tileenigma.pngTile Enigma is a puzzle game that tests the player's ability to visualize changing board states in advance. The player can slide a tile, flipping it over as the tile moves to an adjacent space, or tap a row with two fingers to flip all the tiles in the row over without moving them. Using only those mechanics, and later some special tiles, the player must make all the tiles in every row and column match at least once. The early levels are easy, but it isn't long before the player needs to bend their brain to solve the puzzles.

It's a universal iOS app that's free to download and comes with 40 of the 100 levels available. The game has some in-app purchases, one of which unlocks the remaining levels, one of which removes the infrequent ads, and several that can be used to give the player more moves to work with. All of the puzzles are solvable within the default number of moves, however, and star ratings for each level are based on how quickly the puzzles are solved rather than the number of moves used.

[Tile Enigma]

Category: ios

iOS Pick: Minimalistic puzzle game Tile Enigma

tileenigma.pngTile Enigma is a puzzle game that tests the player's ability to visualize changing board states in advance. The player can slide a tile, flipping it over as the tile moves to an adjacent space, or tap a row with two fingers to flip all the tiles in the row over without moving them. Using only those mechanics, and later some special tiles, the player must make all the tiles in every row and column match at least once. The early levels are easy, but it isn't long before the player needs to bend their brain to solve the puzzles.

It's a universal iOS app that's free to download and comes with 40 of the 100 levels available. The game has some in-app purchases, one of which unlocks the remaining levels, one of which removes the infrequent ads, and several that can be used to give the player more moves to work with. All of the puzzles are solvable within the default number of moves, however, and star ratings for each level are based on how quickly the puzzles are solved rather than the number of moves used.

[Tile Enigma]