[IndieCast] Bronze & Auralux

Two indie strategy games for you in this edition of the IndieCast, though they resemble each other in almost no way save belonging to the same rough genre. Variety is the spice of life, no? Let’s dive in.

Shrapnel Games has been around for more than a decade, and has become well known for their extremely deep war and strategy titles. Dominions, in particular (no relation to the card game Dominion), is a long-running and very well thought of series that still commands more than $50 per copy, nearly unheard of in my experience for an indie PC publisher.

The game of theirs being examined this time around, Bronze, bears little similarity to their other offerings. Playing much more like a tile-based board game than a traditional turn-based strategy title, Bronze demands a lot of careful tactical planning and a solid understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the units available to you and your opponent. It’s also a bit pricey at $30, but there’s an extremely large free demo available that I can’t recommend trying enough. I was quite taken with it, as you’ll hear in the show.

On the other side of the investment spectrum (both price-wise and time-wise), Auralux (originally “Aurora“) is a casual real-time strategy game by Edward McNeill that takes strong influence from games like Eufloria and Galcon, asking you to take a single planet that generates units at a constant rate, and expand from there to eliminate your enemies and conquer the galaxy. I’ve got a few concerns about the exploitability of the game design, and certainly if you’re looking for the next Sins of a Solar Empire, you’re not in the right neighborhood here. But for $5, it’s an enjoyable, sort of puzzle-like diversion, and since it too has a free demo, why not give it a try?

As usual, our expanded thoughts about both titles may be found within.

Want to join the discussion?  Come visit the forum thread over at Colony of Gamers.

[Episode 46] Hardware Rock

Colony of Gamers user LiquidRain joins us for a brief discussion of hardware and peripherals. We endeavor to answer a listener’s questions about the merits of the upcoming Razer Onza gamepad, which predictably touches on PC gamepads in general. We also discuss chic mechanical keyboards, and why you might (or might not) want to spring for one. And speaking of input devices: motion controls for PC? It’s more likely than you think.

Of course, we couldn’t let one of our resident hardware gurus get by without picking his brain about some of the high points of current hardware, especially the latest graphics cards.

In our opening minutes, we not only cover what games have been in the rotation for our heroes, but also revisit why Minecraft – greatness aside – wasn’t ready for the GOTY awards. Eric also gives us an Indiecast bonus round with the indie titles that tickled his fancy lately, like the little game that could, Magicka.

Start hopping to the Hardware Rock.

Hosted by James [Vigil80]
Participants are Eric [Ravenlock] and Rob [LiquidRain]
Produced by Clayton [Voodoo]

Our fingers can’t stay still in the discussion thread at Colony of Gamers.

[Episode 45] The 2010 IMmies

It’s been a long while since we did a monster-sized show.  Consider this your warning:  this is a monster-sized show.

2011 has begun, but before we rush ahead to the onslaught of gaming the coming year promises us, it is right to look back and give thanks for the year that was.  Join us as we bring a full house to the table and discuss our favorites of 2010, and the trends that drove PC gaming over the last twelve months.  You’ll notice we have some long-absent members rejoining us for this episode, and it felt great to have them back.

It seems a little cliche to call any year “The Year of Indie Gaming” at this point – I think everyone has acknowledged, tacitly or explicitly, that small dev shops continue to release quality products and compete well in the gaming marketplace.  That doesn’t lessen the happy surprise I felt when I realized that almost half of the games we brought up as the best of 2010 didn’t come from large developers or publishers.  We talk about a lot of games in this episode, and a lot of them are indie games.  And that’s awesome.

Also, you may be aware we ran a contest!  So we have the results of that.  Yes, of course I’m going to make you listen to find out who it was.  You can skip ahead if you want;  only your conscience will judge you.

Without further ado… welcome to The IMmies 2010!

Hosted and summarized by Eric [Ravenlock]
Participants are James [Vigil80], Steve [Dukefrukem], Chris [JPublic], and Jacob [MagGnome]
Produced by Clayton [Voodoo]

Want to talk about the show?  Join us in the episode thread over at Colony of Gamers.

What a year it has been for the platformer genre.  Terry Cavanagh opened the year by giving us the completely delightful and brain-bending VVVVVV back in January, and we’ve been off to the races ever since.  XBLA releases like Limbo, Wii blockbusters like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns, one-button jumpers like Canabalt… and, of course, a whole slew of PC freeware and indie titles, including the two games we’ll be focusing on for this episode:  Super Meat Boy and And Yet It Moves.

I feel like Super Meat Boy needs no introduction, so I’ll just say that if you love platformers, you probably already own it – and if you don’t, you absolutely should.  Even if you don’t love platformers, you owe it to yourself to check it out and re-validate your position, because this is one of the most content-packed, lovingly-made platformers of the last decade.  A lot of platformers are difficult.  Super Meat Boy absolutely revels in being unapologetically brutal, but it’s never unfair.  Mastering its levels is a daunting challenge, but not impossible, and the game is just chock full of bonuses for your success, largely in the form of unlockable characters from other games that change the way you play.  It’s a marvel, and I love it, and I suspect you will too.

Robert covers And Yet It Moves for us, but I’ve also given it a go so I can tell you that if you missed this one when it came out earlier this year, you should give it a look.  Like Braid or VVVVVV, it’s extremely basic in its mechanics, but uses those simple mechanics to stretch the boundaries of what a platformer does.  You can run, jump, and tilt the world; it’s that last bit that’s the trick, of course.  A well-implemented physics and momentum system combines with a unique and appealing art style to make And Yet It Moves something special.  Check it out.

Want to hear more?  We’ve recorded this IndieCast to meet your needs!  Enjoy.

Want to join the discussion?  Come visit the forum thread over at Colony of Gamers.