Interviews

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Indie Game Interviews

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    The fluid nature of the video games industry, especially in the indie sector, can sometimes make titles like Art Director difficult to define. Different studios expect different things even from project to project. Art Director Mike McCain of Harebrained Schemes painted a pretty broad picture of the kinds of responsibilities his title could come with, especially considering one of the studios newer developments, Necropolis.

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    *Warning this interview contains spoilers for The Banner Saga*

     

    Reviewers generally agreed that The Banner Saga, released in January 2014 and developed by Stoic, did an amazing job of bringing a Viking inspired setting, incredible soundtrack and hand-created animation to life.

     

    The Banner Saga is no easy journey because catastrophe is as much a part of the landscape as the unique and appealing scenery. Players will trek through rigorous environments and will encounter a variety of characters and it’s never easy to tell if they be friend or foe. It is up to the player to make the meaningful choices that will shape each narrative, but in the end, The Banner Saga is really all about the relationships and we wanted to know more about the how and the why surrounding its character development.

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    Based in Jakarta, Indonesia Touchten Games contended with the unique challenges of game development in that part of the world and have managed to establish a foothold in the market with their simple, yet consistent, game projects. Most recently they celebrated the successful Kickstarter funding of one of their larger projects titled, Target Acquired.

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    A lot of what makes games truly shine happens without the players consciously knowing. Characters and scenes just look really good sometimes, but without even a rudimentary understanding of programming or software, it becomes a lot more difficult to identify why something looks good. German software developer Dennis Faas believes that one key component to quality looking games is dynamic lighting effects. It just so happens that Faas has announced a Kickstarter campaign for his program Sprite Dlight that claims to make implementing dynamic lighting a whole lot easier for any developer.

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    Indie development studios all have different methods of operation. Some set strict deadlines for themselves to push forward and not get caught up on details, others determine whether or not they make a game based on successful funding strategies like Kickstarters or investors. The two man team of Eneme Entertainment have decided to take however long it takes to make their game Eitr exactly as they envisioned.

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    Finnish game studio Almost Human has about as humble of an origin story as you’d imagine for an indie game developer. From their meager beginnings they created what would quickly become a hit among fans of dungeon crawling adventures with their first release Legend of Grimrock (LoG), and are currently taking a step back after the release of the sequel Legend of Grimrock II (LoG2).

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    Back when Ken Levine announced his departure from Irrational Games, to pursue a different creative experience, it came as no surprise that others also wished to focus their efforts in a small studio environment. The Molasses Flood is a new studio created, mostly, by former employees of Irrational Games including Art Director Scott Sinclair, and Lead Level Designer Forrest Dowling, who was kind enough to sit down and talk about their first project The Flame in the Flood.

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    Living in the quickly growing space between book and video game resides the genre known as interactive fiction. Interactive fiction generally focuses on character interactions and story engagement through text based commands or devices. Developers Aaron Reed and Jacob Garbe decided to utilize the video games category to announce their Kickstarter project Ice-Bound, which may not adequately describe the successfully funded project.

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    If developing a game around writing being the primary engagement factor sounds too difficult to consider, then you probably aren’t part of the Dejobaan Games team developing Elegy for a Dead World. This independent studio recently ended a Kickstarter campaign after acquiring over $70,000 towards their original $48,000 goal. Their purpose? Make a game where players get interested in writing while exploring abandoned alien worlds.

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    Perhaps one of the most memorable and talked about aspects of Supergiant Games titles Bastion and Transistor, is the quality of the games soundtracks and audio design. From the ever present narrator of Bastion, to the interplay of narrative themes with vocal performances in Transistor, what was heard throughout the games, for many, made the experiences vastly more impactful.

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    Our recent coverage of Erin Robinson’s Gravity Ghost provided an opportunity for us to speak with several of the individuals whose talent is highlighted and crucial to the development of the atmospheric indie game.

     

    Best known for his role as Rucks, the omnipotent narrator of the hit indie game Bastion, Logan Cunningham, of Supergiant Games, sat down to talk about his experiences with voice acting and, among other things, his roles in Gravity Ghost.

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    While most Indies would probably agree that finding monetary success in the video game world isn’t easy, many still prefer the creative freedom of staying "indie" over fast track development. This creative allure is what drew Greg Kasavin, now the Creative Director of Supergiant Games, to leave not one, but multiple jobs in the video game industry throughout his lifetime in order to pursue his dream of making the games he wanted to see.

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    As more and more roguelike games are created today developers are forced to find unique avenues to keep the genre fresh and interesting. For Australian based studio Defiant Development that unique twist came in the form of meshing the conventions of a traditional roguelike with the mechanics of a trading card game (TCG) for their Kickstarted project Hand of Fate.

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    Before the word gaming became synonymous with sitting in front of a computer screen and clicking buttons, it usually meant that friends and family were gathered around a table rolling dice, writing on sheets of paper, and moving little plastic pieces around a board. Brothers Chris and Johnny O’Neal are now attempting to bridge those gaming worlds by creating a digital version of their hit board game, Boss Monster.

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    If you were ever curious about what it might look like to see fruits and veggies go to war against meats and cheese then Organic Panic might be just the game for you. Developed by brothers Damon and Anatole Branch of Last Limb Games, the “Worms meets Little Big Planet,” styled title is mostly an effort by the duo to showcase some creative mechanics and level designs with some original characters.

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    How confident would you need to feel in your own abilities, the abilities of your team, and the overall design of a game to quit your job to create it? Well for indie game designer William Dubé and his small team at Thunder Lotus Games, that confidence seems to be wrapped up in their newly announced Kickstarter project, Jotun.

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    While interesting and innovative indie games have been successfully funded through sites like Kickstarter over the last few years, fewer seem lucky or organized enough to make it through and deliver on the product that backers were excited enough to fork over their cash to help create. Thankfully for everyone involved, Shovel Knight was not one of those games.

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    It has been said that, "everything old is new again," and that seems to be exactly the case with the successful Kickstarter campaign of indie game Candle. Why old? Because Candle utilizes traditional crafting of watercolor artistry, the hand drawn, frame by frame character movement (old Disney design) without software generated technology or (HUD). Candle's uniqueness also lies in the "light" that is carefully manipulated throughout the game, a touch that adds depth, mystery and movement in the journey.

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    Retro mixed with a modern flair is the perfect recipe for indie game developer Moise Breton's shoot em up RPG mash up A.N.N.E.

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    It seems that the indie game craze has given voice and opportunity to many developers who might have otherwise gone unnoticed and is creating a trend among individuals leaving careers in the AAA games industry in order to forge an independent path of creativity. This was the case for Bodie Lee who left a fairly lucrative career to pursue the life of an indie by creating his own studio Lunar Ray Games and launching his dream project called Timespinner.

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    For many, some of the most memorable moments in gaming come from experiencing it with friends and family. Whether that meant in the same-room or same-server it stood out because of having shared it with someone special. Capturing that idea seems to be the main focus of Lyle Cox, Owner of Mount Olympus Games studio, with his game Together: Amna and Saif.

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