Tag Archives: Independent Games

Kickstarting Gameplay Anew: Ambrov X’s Promise

A capacious chamber that appears open to the stars, with a woman levitating in its centre surrounded by elegant minimalist semicircles of machinery while a man looks on.

The Astrogation Resonance Chamber aboard the Beacon Ship, Unity One from Loreful’s Ambrov X, a new RPG they are currently crowdfunding.

Despite spirited opposition that has come to dominate the year’s headlines, there remains ample reason to be hopeful that games will evolve to tell new, more diverse stories, with pathbreaking mechanics undergirding it all. Consider Cincinnati-based game developer Loreful and their new game Ambrov X which was kickstarted just this past Tuesday. Under the direction of Lead Designer Ben Steel, and based on the classic feminist sci-fi Sime-Gen universe series, by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, Ambrov X promises an involving story premised on an abiding, mortally dangerous relationship between two members of the eponymous Sime and Gen species. Through the lens of this fraught partnership, the larger political story of an action-adventure plot set in deep space is told. The bond between your protagonist and their companion seems to be the beating heart of this story; Jennifer Helper minces no words:

“How much more intense could your relationship be with your followers if they were more than friends, more than romances – if they were both a part of your soul and the greatest threat to it?”

And yes you did read correctly; this project is erstwhile Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler’s next act, cheerfully announced in a Loreful press release. She is consulting for the company at present and, provided they reach the first stretch goal on their Kickstarter project, Loreful intends to bring her on board full-time as their Lead Writer and Narrative Designer for Ambrov X. Her ability to tell a challenging story will hold her in good stead here, I think. Hepler has long been an advocate of probing personal relationships for narrative grist, up to and including romance irrespective of gender; I could certainly see why this project would appeal to her. “The setting allows you to play with the difference between romance and sexuality,” she said when I asked her about Ambrov X and its source material, “and [it lets you] ask questions like: Can you be in an intense and physical relationship with someone without it being sexual? Can love help someone overcome the desire for violence, even if it is a basic part of his nature? and How much of yourself can you give up to another while still remaining you?” Continue reading

IGF 2013 Finalists Announced

Text: "The 15th Annual Independent Games Festival" showing 4 men in greyscale in front of an orange/yellow gradient background.

Each year, the Independent Games Festival takes place at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.  This year’s finalists have been announced, including an impressive list of innovative, beautiful, experimental, and fun indie games.

Particularly notable is Anna Anthropy’s game about hormone replacement therapy, Dys4ia, which is up for the Excellence in Narrative award and the Nuovo Award.

Excellence In Visual Art
Incredipede (Northway Games and Thomas Shahan)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Guacalamelee! (Drinkbox Studios)
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base)
Year Walk (Simogo)

Honorable mentions: Fly’n (Ankama Play); Eleven (Christoffer Hedborg, Datahowler); The Bridge (Ty Taylor and Mario Castaneda); Thomas Was Alone (Mike Bithell, David Housden and Danny Wallace); Hundreds (Semi Secret feat. aeiowu)

Excellence In Narrative
Thirty Flights of Loving (Blendo Games)
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Dys4ia (Auntie Pixelante)
Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Continue reading

Pirate Kart 2012 Logo

Want 300 indie games for free?

The Pirate Kart 2012 - a skull and crossbones against the IGF logo.

As a pretty novel and awesome entry to the Independent Games Festival (IGF) 2012, some enterprising developers have entered 300 games as a single torrent file. As IGF charges a $95 entry fee, this has allowed a lot of weird and wacky entries that wouldn’t have been able to enter normally – many of these games were made in 48 hours or less.

Read more about it on the Pirate Kart siteYou can download it for free, 100% legally. They’re mostly Windows-only games, however. Use the comment thread to tell us which games you liked, and why! I’ll be downloading this when I’m home from work.

Hasty edit – I didn’t get the chance to check some of the titles while at work, and some of them are beyond offensive, so trigger warning for rape, sexism, misogyny, etc etc. You can not play them, but the titles along are kinda trigger-warning-worthy. This could be the subject of a future article, but for now – presume all the worst internet stereotypes on a small percentage of these games. Sigh.