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Best Indie Games So Far This Year

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the holiday-games dept.

Games 30

cyrus_zuo writes "Game Tunnel has just finished and published its yearly mid-year article 2005 Independent Game Mid-Term Grades. This article, the mid-year equivalent of Game Tunnel's year-end Game of the Year awards, captures the best indie games so far in 2005 while also grading each game genre. The article is set-up just like a school report card, grading genres, such as action, adventure and strategy, with a letter grade from 'A' to 'D' while also spotlighting two of the best games that have been released so far this year in each of the genres and listing what game GT is looking forward to most in the genre."

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Journey to Rooted Hold... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12980357)

Your really missing something if you haven't played this one; i'm glad its been recognized by this contest. http://caravelgames.com/ [caravelgames.com] . They didn't forget the linux users, either.

Re:Journey to Rooted Hold... (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980960)

I'm just glad to see Game Tunnel getting mentioned on Slashdot at all. It's wonderful to finally see a game site devoted to indy games. Though I doubt it'll make the front page :(

Re:Journey to Rooted Hold... (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981327)

This isn't the first time Game Tunnel was mentioned on Slashdot (far from it, I guess). I discovered the site via Slashdot, and regularly read it now. Their layout is terrible, but it's a nice resource, and the indie games are always fun for a short while.

Re:Journey to Rooted Hold... (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981583)

They don't have flash menu's and obnoxious ads all over the place, so I'd say their layout is a far sight better than IGN and Gamespot's ;)

Slashvertisement (3, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980390)

Note that most of the links are referrals, so the site is getting paid for people clicking on them.

Anyone care to link to some quality free games? My current favorites:

Warning forever: http://www18.big.or.jp/~hikoza/Prod/index_e.html [big.or.jp]
Truck Dismount: http://jet.ro/dismount/ [jet.ro]

Re:Slashvertisement (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12980526)

" Note that most of the links are referrals, so the site is getting paid for people clicking on them."

They're also reviewed in the site, fucktard. It's not like it's a page out of a catalog. But, since we're all capitalist-haters, how about my favorite game:

Grand Falcon Yeager [amishrakefight.org]

Re:Slashvertisement (4, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980537)

I should keep the list somewhere...

Cho Ren Sha 68k [3web.ne.jp] (shmup)
Kenta Cho's games [asahi-net.or.jp] (mostly shmups)
Destruction Desire [vector.co.jp] (fighting game)
Mind Arms [seikyou.ne.jp] (fighting game)
Galax [so-net.ne.jp] (Shmup)
Frequon Invaders [springnet1.com] (weird)
Doukutsu Monogatari [romhack.net] (platformer)
Every Extend [cool.ne.jp] (kamikaze'em up)
Glace [tommyvisic.com] (platformer)
Frontline [mclover.net] (sidescrolling shooter)
Minebot [zauron.net] (... Action?)
N [harveycartel.org] (Platformer)

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981466)

Frequon Invaders [springnet1.com]

This is the most geeky concept I've ever seen for a game (in a good way). From the author's site:

"Your mission is to destroy each invading Frequons by moving the cursor on top of it. What could be easier? Except for one itty bitty detail: the Frequons are not displayed in the usual spatial domain, but in the Fourier Domain. Frequons look like colored waves. Your "self" is a wave too, with opposite polarity. Instead of manipulating some local point on the screen, you manipulate a global wave pattern. You destroy Frequons by achieving destructive interference with them."

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

NicklessXed (897466) | more than 8 years ago | (#12987802)

N is the best game I have played in a very long time. Beat every single level... Glad to see I'm not the one who seriously plays it.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

Alkaiser (114022) | more than 8 years ago | (#12987959)

I liked Geom [geomgame.com]. I thought that would have made it into the Puzzle section, but apparently they haven't reviewed it yet.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

braindead (33893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12994709)

Another game I really liked (and it works in Linux, too) is gate 88 [queasygames.com]. It's a space shooter (single- or multiplayer) with RTS elements thrown in.

Re:Slashvertisement (2, Insightful)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980904)

It's a very small independent game site asshole. And these developers don't have the cash to pay off sites to review their games....otherwise you'd see them plastered all over IGN and Gamespot.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981344)

It's a very small independent "game site asshole".

"game site asshole", eh?

i am interested in your newsletter and would like to know more..

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981602)

The regular subscription is $4.99 a month on regular one-ply, and the premium subscription is $9.99 on quilted two-ply ;)

Warped experiences? (3, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980397)

Am I the only one who finds independant games often difficult to get "comfortable" with? I mean, I've been so warped by non-stop playing of games like Quake and Counterstrike or Civilization and Baldur's Gate that anything that doesn't involve running around in a multi-player environment blowing people up, running missions in an MMORPG with other players, building terran forces to avoid another player's zerg attack or building up my party in a single player RPG feels... akward.

And don't get me wrong - there are some wonderful independant games out there. As a recent convert to Mac, I'm almost forced to hunt such games down, because there either aren't a lot of choices of modern games (say, Rome Total War) for the Mac, they won't run well on the Mac or I simply dont' want to buy them all over again just to play them on my mac instead of the PC. Fortunately, lots of neat little independant games are made for (or ported to) the Mac.

It's just that having spent so much time in the last decade on the games I mentioned in the first paragraph, playing anything else feels a lot like playing Mine-Sweeper. Or more - it feels like going without an internet connection for a long time. Disconnected. Seperated. A backup alternative for when you can't play the other games.

Maybe this sounds insane and nobody knows what I'm talking about. It's just been so long since I've played at an arcade and I dont' play console games, so my main experience has been very much as described previously.

I think it also speaks to the lack of unique popular and mainstream publisher games out there, that some of us have become so molded to a single type of gameplay.

Re:Warped experiences? (2, Interesting)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980939)

Your last comment is the most important. Mainstream/Popular games are getting very old and stale as far as gameplay goes these days. Small/Independent developers are the only place that real innovation still occurs (much like the music and film industries). Sure there are alot of bad games in the indy scene, but that's just a statistical probability there.

Trying to decifer your opinion though...Are you complaining that indy games tend to have more bugs? If so, it's pretty obvious why. Game testers cost money, and most of these people dont' have much. There are even independent testing companies now that many of the big guys will outsource to, but I doubt any of these small/indy studios can afford it. Still, for the difference in budget these guys usually do a damn good job if you look at how much money went into it.

Or maybe you're just complaining about a lack of online multiplayer in indy games? Well, that's probably because the net code is one of the hardest parts to write for a game. And unfortunately there aren't many good free/open-source toolkits to work with for it either. Network code is the one major thing SDL is missing that DirectX has...but once again, when you're working on a shoestring budget, how are you supposed to afford that?

Re:Warped experiences? (2, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981006)

I'm not necessarily complaining about anything involved in indy games. It's just that I'm so used to playing the "norm" that anything else feels... secondary. Perhaps a way to explain it is - if you have a decent computer and a fast connection, you're going to play Counterstrike and WarCraft - but if all you have is a half-assed laptop with no net connection and you're stuck in the waiting room at a doctor's office for two hours, maybe you'll pop out the single player side-scroller or something.

I think a lot of us have just become so used to multi-player, online, FPS/RTS/SIMULATION everything that' switching out of that is like watching an old silent black and white movie with the little breakaway "reader-board" dialogue every few seconds. It's still a movie. It's still entertainment. And perhaps it's even good entertainment. But it still doesn't feel like the color movie with audio and a film score and dialogue that you're familiar with.

I don't play a lot of games anymore, but there's some neat stuff out in the smaller scene now that (even though it feels weird to someone like myself who has been involved in multiplayer/online everything for so long) are enjoyable. Especially in the office when you're stuck with a lot of down time. Things like GooBall, Maelstrom... OH! BZFLAG! I forgot about BZFLAG. There you go - Multiplayer. Online. Networked. Simple graphics. BIG player base. Insanely fun. Free.

Of course, that's unique. I can't think of another game in the same boat.

I really am hoping that as more people switch to Apple, the indie scene will blow up even more. Mac users are hungry for good games and smaller developers don't have to compete against as many big players. If you have a good $30 little game for the Mac with some serious quality and gameplay, you will reach people. But a lot of developers just don't see a reason to port (or develop from the beginning) for 5% of the market. Especially when that 5% of the market probably just uses consoles if they even play games at all.

Re:Warped experiences? (1)

Max_Abernethy (750192) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981227)

DirectX is free (as in beer! as in beer! don't yell at me richard stallman!), because it increases the value of the Windows platform. DX's network API, DirectPlay, is depreciated anyway.

Re:Warped experiences? (2, Insightful)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981565)

If you program your game with DirectX you're excluding a large portion of the indy market. Linux and Mac users are much more willing to play indy games because of the lack of support from mainstream developers.

Re:Warped experiences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12983650)

Network code is the one major thing SDL is missing that DirectX has...but once again, when you're working on a shoestring budget, how are you supposed to afford that?

Two points:

(1) SDL has a network library [libsdl.org].

(2) The DirectX SDK is a free download [microsoft.com].

Even Microsoft's command-line C/C++ compiler is a free download [microsoft.com]. Snag that, the platform SDK and DirectX SDK and you're set. The only thing you don't have is the IDE.

I use Visual C++ and DirectX at work for making multimedia applications - but there is an alternative. At home (because I'm cheap and also because I run Windows, OS X and FreeBSD) - I use the MingW32 [mingw.org] which lets me use GCC, OpenGL and SDL and to make cross-platform code that compiles on any of my machines. I also use IBM's free Eclipse IDE [eclipse.org] with the C++ plugin and the Scons [scons.org] build system - because those also work everywhere.

Re:Warped experiences? (2, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#12981320)

Ironically, there was a time when Counter-Strike and Quake were considered independent games. CS started as a free mod to a different game, and Quake was shareware, for pete's sake!

What you're really pointing out is that games are a social construct. Without an opponent, games are closer to a puzzle. It's only after the advent of the computer and video game that the idea of a single player game really took off. PC games that reintroduce this concept quite often last a long time. There's still plenty of people playing Starcraft, and

But a lot of the games on the list are shorter games. Five minute solo games. I tried out Oasis, and it's okay. It's definately not the spend all night building a starship to Alpha Centauri kind of game, but it does have a certain appeal. Those Kenta Cho abstract shooters are fun for a few minutes at a time as well, but don't hold up well over a few spare hours (lets just say I've got a boring and simple job that underwhelms me).

No, it's just your tastes there (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#12984261)

So basically what you tell me is that you can't enjoy anything that isn't multiplayer. Almost everything you mention there revolves around having a human opponent. You explicitly state that going to other games is like basically losing your internet connection.

Which, of course, is as good a criterion as any, and a very valid market segment. It's not just you, and you're not alone. There are lots of people who indeed are multiplayer-only.

You have to realize, though, that it's just one segment. Arguably, not even the dominant one. Most of the world's gaming seems to happen in single-player and off-line.

Anyway, there are a lot of us who really _don't_ feel a need to compete with other players. Even in MMORPGs, i.e., something by definition multi-player, there are people who prefer to solo, turning it into SP.

So I'm guessing there is a market for these games too. You're obviously not in that market. But I'd guess others might be.

Darwinia! (2, Informative)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980504)

I was pleased to see Darwinia [darwinia.co.uk] in the list - it's easily the best game I've played this year. And I'm not usually that keyed in to the world of independent games, so I'm definitely looking through the list for other things I might like...

Re:Darwinia! (2, Informative)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 8 years ago | (#12980816)

Thanks for the advice! Amazing game, i love the looks of it - feels like a mixture of Tron (the movie) and Rez. It was about time someone did something new in the PC world. And it's available for Linux!

Only 11 comments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12981162)

Looks like no one gives a shit!

Bontago (2, Interesting)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 8 years ago | (#12983399)

Through a penny-arcade post, I discovered Bontago [bontago.com]. I'm a complete gamer, and I haven't been this hooked on a new game in a long while.

The game is physics-based: you drop blocks on the field, and the higher your pile, the larger its control area. You can only drop blocks in your control area. Your goal is to have a majority of flags in your control area. Thus you have to balance making a high, but fragile, tower, or make lots of small stacks.

To make it a little more complicated, you can find special blocks on the field with some special effects, like the rocket that whizzes around and knocks down stacks, or the dreaded earthquake.

The rules are simple, and that's what makes it so addictive. It's a great balance of strategy and a touch of luck.

You can play alone against computer players, and of course network multiplayer (though I haven't tried it out yet)

And for you eye-candyers out there (but then, who truly isn't), it has nice 3d graphics! Check out the screenshots on their website, and you'll see what I mean.

The game is free (as in beer). It was developped by students at Digipen, a gamedev school near seattle. It's a breath of fresh, clean, mountain air (with that whiff of summer flowers) to see that people can still produce an original and goddamn fun game, and instead of an impressive but yet another FPS [smu.edu]

Bontago! [bontago.com]

PS: the download was hell slow. Maybe someone could put up a mirror? Otherwise, take the light version, the full just has unnecessary extra fluff.

The best: (2, Informative)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 8 years ago | (#12984336)

The best three indy games so far (just look on google for URLs, I haven't them on me at the moment):

Zombie Smashers X2
Jets n' Guns
Mount & Blade

Re:The best: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12984385)

Zombie Smashers is great :) Jets'n'guns actually came out last year. Mount & Blade isn't out yet...but it may be great as well :)

Re:The best: (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 8 years ago | (#13072267)

Mount & Blade is very much out, I've been playing it for a while in several forms. They're releasing the stable works-in-progress as the game is built. Combat is more or less complete (and is excellent), and the author is currently working on a module editor to write the actual plot/quest/dialog bits for the game (since it is now basically a open world with a war and an economic model and some 'random' missions).

Doukutsu Monogatari (2, Interesting)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 8 years ago | (#12991190)

How can any list of the best independant games of the year not include Doukutsu Monogatari [romhack.net]? It's not only one of the well-written and emotional games I've ever played, it's also one of the best side-scrollers, period.
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