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DUTCH INDEPENDENT GAME DESIGNERS CONQUER THE GAMESINDUSTRY

Dutch Indies 1ST EDITION 2014

THE NETHERLANDS ACCORDING TO VLAMBEER

KYN BOUNDEN PENARIUM WESTERADO ACTION HENK LETHAL LEAGUE THE PIGEON MAN FRAGMENTSOF HIM CHECK IN, KNOCK OUT RENOWNED EXPLORERS

GAMESCOM SMEPET THEE CSTUI A L DIOS BEHIND THE INNOVATION

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GAMES EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW


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COVER ILLUSTRATION

FROM THE LAST INUA SEE PAGE 27

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AMAZING GAME FUND GAMES

11 games that the Game Fund supported. Starting at page 22

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GAMES ON SHOW

Cello vs players

CELLO FORTRESS

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10 impressive, innovative or downright fun projects are starting to take shape at the hands of independent developers. Starting at page 6

Pointing at pigs:

PIG CHASE

Tree huggers:

BOHM

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Designed for two

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IBB & OBB

KYN

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Developed by a two men army

Fun with cars

AUTOPRET

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WRECK FADER

Double barreled

WESTERADO

Art of scratchin’

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9

ROCKET RIOT MOBILE

A mobile game that actually makes you dance

THE LAST INUA

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BOUNDEN

Exploding pixels paradise Artic ventures

PENARIUM

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Survive this sadistic circus extravaganza

Fiendishly scary, fear-inducing & frighteningly fun

THE FLOCK

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An emotional experience

FRAGMENTS OF HIM

Shock & awesome

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Brain bender

Run, Fat Man Run!

AWESOMENAUTS

ACTION HENK

METRICO

4. INTERVIEW

14 18. THE NETHERLANDS

20. THE GAME FUND

LETHAL LEAGUE

Batter up for a game of extreme baseball

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THE PIGEON MAN

Strange stories in Virtual Reality

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RENOWNED EXPLORERS

Leader of the expedition

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CHECK IN, KNOCK OUT

Fighting over things that matter 2


ILLUSTRATION BY DICK GRINWIS • GRINWISE.COM

CREATIVE EXPLOSION Eric Bartelson Editor in Chief and co-founder Control Magazine

As Editor in Chief of Holland’s development magazine Control I have witnessed the Dutch games industry grow and mature. In the last ten years there has been a steady rise in number of game studios, number of developers and number of games released. However, in the last couple of years the Dutch indie scene exploded onto the international stage with highly creative games that got players fishing ridiculously, lock fingers in a suggestive way, negotiate with giants, fight intergalactic wars and traverse cooperatively through upside down worlds. Did you recognise the games I described? Ridiculous Fishing by Vlambeer, Fingle by Game Oven, Reus by Abbey Games, Awesomenauts by Ronimo Games and ibb & obb by Sparpweed. These are just a handful examples of

a wide range of Dutch indie games that have come out in recent years on all possible platforms. Often made by small teams consisting of just a couple of motivated and above all creative minds that love what they do. In this magazine we’ve collected over twenty examples of Dutch indie games that are worthy of your attention. All of these games have had some help along the way by the Game Fund. An initiative to support the development of artistic games. Ten of them are playable at the Holand Pavillion at Gamescom 2014. Or play them soon on a platform near you. Enjoy Dutch Indies.

GENERAL INFORMATION PRODUCTION

PUBLISHED BY

THE HOLLAND PAVILION

Control Magazine www.controlmagazine.net www.control-online.nl (Dutch)

creative industries fund NL

The Holland Pavilion at Gamesom is made possible by

Publisher Matthijs Dierckx matthijs@controlmagazine.net Editor-in-chief Eric Bartelson eric@controlmagazine.net

www.stimuleringsfonds.nl/en Grant Officer Marjoleine Timmer M.Timmer@stimuleringsfonds.nl

DGA

DUTCH GAMES ASSOCIATION

+31 (0)10 436 16 00 info@stimuleringsfonds.nl

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES FUND NL The Creative Industries Fund NL began operating on 1 January 2013. It operates within the context of the Dutch government?s culture policy and focuses on all the designing disciplines and on E-culture in a broad sense. The Fund issues project grants in order to foster substantive quality in architecture, urban design, landscape design, product design, graphic design, fashion and E-culture, to foster innovation and cross-sector approaches and to professionalize entrepreneurship. An important concern is the improvement of the links between designers/makers and clients/manufacturers. By commission of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a programme is being set up to focus on expanding the international market.

www.creativeindustriesfund.nl

facebook.com/Stimuleringsfonds 3

info@stimuleringsfonds.nl


the interview: game fund

“There is no typical Game Fund game, they are all unique” They have a great job in handing out money to support the development of artistic games, but for Bas van Berkesteijn, chairman of the Game Fund Committee and Marjoleine Timmer, grant officer for the Creative Industries Fund NL and Game Fund it’s also a great responsibility. “It is also possible to apply for a grant at the Creative Industries Fund NL, at the Grant Programme for E-culture. This is one of the ten grants the Creative Industries Fund NL has to offer for designers within the creative industries. Through this programme the Creative Industries Fund NL supports projects that promote the quality of e-culture and augment its societal and economic added value from a cultural perspective.” “This grant programme focuses on cultural productions at the interface of applied art, science and technology that stand out thanks to a strong innovative component. The artistic aspect is less important here, and, as opposed to the Game Fund, it is not obligatory to collaborate with designers, animators, or cultural institutions. The Creative Industries Fund NL is interested in the research part of the development or the dissemination of a project. There is however also a tough competition from other projects, institutions and artists in the field of e-culture. The grant is not solely focused on games.”

How did the Game Fund start? Bas van Berkesteijn (BvB): “During Picnic’08 in Am­sterdam the Media Fund organized a competition with a development budget of 10K as a prize for new artistic game designs. The enthusiasm was overwhelming and after doing some research a permanent fund was created. The motive is to build a bridge between the art world and the games industry and stimulate the emergence of artistic, innovative and independent games. Games that are not purely designed for commercial success, but try to investigate the medium itself and try to push the field of game design forward. This is also why, at the Game Fund, there is a focus on artistic games.” Who is entitled to a grant? Marjoleine Timmer (MT): “The main goal of the Game Fund is to give a boost to the development of artistic games. Entitled to a grant are game developers or artists in the broad sense of the word, who collaborate with designers, animators, and cultural institutions. The Game Fund always ensures that there is room for experiment.” What kind of games get selected? MT: “We get applications from all sorts of games and game developers and for all platforms. The competition is tough though; there is only a limited amount of money available. The committee really focuses on the artistic part of the project and the innovation in the gameplay or the game. They always ask themselves: what is the value for the games industry? How does this project investigate the medium of games and push its limits? You can see this in the games that are selected. There is not ‘a kind of game’ that is typical for the selected games of the Game Fund, they are all unique in their own way. What they have in common, is that these games explore or research the fundamentals of game design.”

the game fund: Giving artistic games a gentle push Chairman of the Game Fund Committee Bas van Berkesteijn has been involved at the Game Fund from the very beginning. Grant officer for the Creative Industries Fund NL and Game Fund Marjoleine Timmer is present during the Gamescom Cologne.

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Is the grant for a specific part of development? MT: “No. One can apply for each stage in the development or production of a game. However, you can’t apply for costs already made or projects that are already finished.” Are there any restrictions, or rules that developers have to follow to get/keep the money? MT: “Apart from the things I already mentioned, it is required to have a financial contribution by another party next to the contribution via the Game Fund. The Game fund requires a reasonable contribution with respect to the whole budget. To keep the money, developers will have to carry out their project as stated in the application; it’s not allowed to completely change the project. Minor


“A big publisher would probably interfere in the design process in an early stage, with purely commercial motives”

changes are of course no problem, but you should always inform us about them.” What would you say is the biggest triumph of the Game Fund so far? BvB: “Because of the broad scope, there are many ways to measure success, but to name one: I am very pleased we could help ibb & obb to be developed according their own creative and artistic standards and then go to a big publisher like Sony instead of the other way around. A big publisher would probably interfere in the design process in an early stage with purely commercial motives.” MT: “The biggest triumph so far is that we have been able to help developers of all the granted games to explore and experiment, without having to give up eating in order to do so. And, by doing this, being able to let the games industry investigate itself. We have so many talented developers and brilliant games!” What was the biggest success in terms of your own ‘rules’? BvB: “Initiatives like Pigeon Man, catch22, ibb & obb, Perloo, Bounden and Bohm have contributed to stretch the limits of gameplay and ‘played’ with the gaming experience of the end user. The fund has created room for studios to do research and experiment with new rules of play within an independent, critical and explorative context.” Is the Game Fund only for Dutch developers? MT: “No, but there should be, as we call it, a ´Dutch interest´ in the project. The money we are able to supply is from the Dutch Government, so projects should have a value for the Dutch games industry. Foreign developers apply the same way as the Dutch do: via the website.”

Promo art for METRICO. Published by Sony. 5


GAMES ON SHOW W PLAYABLE AT GAMESCOM Discover 10 of the most promising upcoming indie games.

ith a seemingly infinite pool of talent, it’s If nothing else, it at least shows the depth of talent and not an easy job selecting the 10 most the blindingly bright future for Dutch indie developers. promising indie games of The Netherlands. And now it’s time to take a look into the near future. ‘Not an easy job’ may be an understatement Which games are currently in development? Which if you consider the Experimenimpressive, innovative or downright fun projects tal Gameplay Session at this are starting to take shape at the hands of year’s Game Developers Conindependent Dutch developers? Here are ference in San Francisco. At ten of them, presented in this segment holland pavilion this popular talk a dozen of and playable at Gamescom. Games that hall 4.2 the most innovative games in range from an ambitious action RPG to booth D40 the world entice the audience pixel brawlers and from an emotionally with their witty and unexpected charged experience to a nostalgic adrengameplay. This year, half of the games aline pumping rush. that made it to the session originated in The Neth- But whatever they are or will become, erlands. A mean feat considering the hundreds of these games need to be played. And at Gagames from all over the world that were considered. mescom, these games will be played.

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kyn

Developed by a two men army When looking at the highly detailed world of Kyn you’d never guess it’s the work of just two men. Are you ready for an adventure? Out of nowhere came this trailer showing of a it and build the game we really want.” The two seemingly massive game with highly detailed men had some experience in game developbackdrops and well animated characters. Two ment, but never together. Yet it’s remarkable to men set out for an epic quest using a sheep see how much work they got done already. to carry the heavy weaponry. Surely Legerstee does everything from game this was the work of a renowned studesign to engine programming, as dio with a large team of developers. well as art and graphics, level design started as a Or was it? In fact Kyn is the debut and sound effects. Ozturk works on tower defense game of two man-studio Tangrin pathfinding, AI and quests. game Entertainment. Victor Legerstee In the game the player controls a and Cavit Ozturk have been quietly group of Warriors that set out on adchipping away at this game for about ventures in a massive world. Each chartwo years now, mostly working from home acter has its own set of strengths and weaksince they don’t have an office yet. nesses so it’s important to manage them well and Kyn started as a sort of tower defense game train their skills. They are fully customizable with where players had to build and fortify villages to armor, weapons and magic. Enemies use differprotect them from attackers. But it slowly grew ent tactics to attack you just to keep you on your into something much more ambitious. “It’s my toes. Day and night cycles come into play as well love for fantasy action RPGs”, says Legerstee as different seasons. All in all a true adventure for with an apologetic smile. “It just took over the adventurous types. Kyn is signed by indie publishwhole game design. We then decided to go for er Versus Evil and slated for release later this year. 7

KYN

GENRE RPG REAL TIME FANTASY RPG PLATFORM(S) PC/MAC/LINUX STATUS RELEASE SOON DEVELOPER TANGRIN ENTERTAINMENT CAPELLE AAN DEN IJSSEL (NL) WWW.TANGRIN.COM INFO@TANGRIN.COM


westerado double barreled after attracting millions of players online, the souped up edition of these wild west pixels are making their way to steam.

WESTERADO: DOUBLE BARRELED

GENRE ADVENTURE STORY DRIVEN • WILD WEST PLATFORM(S) PC Windows STATUS IN DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPER OSTRICH BANDITOS UTRECHT (NL) WWW.OSTRICHBANDITOS.COM TEAM@OSTRICHBANDITOS.COM PREVIOUS GAMES BY OSTRICH BANDITOS HIGH VAULTAGE (WEB)

When indie duo Vlambeer turned professor for a couple of weeks at the Utrecht School of the Arts, they aptly named their course “Monetize that $hit” and made student teams develop a game in the term of the Vlambeer professorship. Subsequently, the duo flunked everyone that did NOT manage to sell their game to a portal or publisher. Ostrich Banditos, then students, managed to pass Vlambeer’s course by striking a deal with Kongregate for their weird and psychedelic High Vaultage (no, that’s not a typo). A pixelart driven game about a pole vaulter who… well, just google High Vaultage – the game’s still online. Back to the now: the Banditos graduated and developed (and sold!) their second game: Westerado. A story driven Wild West adventure that garnered raving reviews from most of the top sites in the world. The game attracted over two million unique players at Adult Swim’s portal, which made the portal owner 8

decide to ask the Banditos for a downloadable edition of the game. Called Westerado: Double Barreled, this 1.5-edition which is currently in development. Double Barreled sports all the obvious desktop features (think fullscreen, controller support and – duhuh – savegames) and loads of additional content as well. If everything, well most of it, will go according to plan, Westerado will celebrate its Steam debut somewhere at the end of 2014.

AWARD WINNERS The browser version of Westerado was developed while most of the team was still studying. However, the game managed to win two prizes at the prestigious Dutch Game Awards. Not in the student category, but in competition with games such as HALO: Spartan Assault and Ridiculous Fishing.


bounden

“LITERALLY 5 OR 6 PROTOTYPES AND HALF A YEAR LATER, WE HAD FOUND A METAPHOR”

a mobile game that actually makes you dance Bounden is a mobile game that breaks out of its confines to get two people dancing together in real life. There is something special about the games of ecution took some very clever thinking and codGame Oven. You can label them mobile games ing. “Literally five or six prototypes and half a year –they are playable on smartphones and tablets later, we had found a metaphor that was able to after all– but the act of play always exists out- fluently guide people to swing the phone around side the device. They are all about human inter- and move almost exactly like we had designed”, action, the games are just a tool. says De Jongh. How does it work? There is Take Fingle. A surprise hit for iPad that an orb in the center of the screen, and had players touching each other’s fina little crosshair radial that must trace gers in a suggestive and sometimes little paths all along the surface of the dutch intimate way while keeping contact sphere. Two players tilt and roll national ballet the with the moving blocks on screen. it together to align the crosshair and is co-developer basically dance. Or Friendstrap, a game in which two people hold on to one phone and the With the mechanic in place, the game one that lets go, loses.. This game could badly needed some quality choreogrago on for hours so it gave the players converphy. They found it in an unexpected place: sation topics. And this being a Game Oven game, the Dutch National Ballet. “We just called them the topics were deliberately awkward. and asked if they would help us”, says De Jongh Co-founder and gamedesigner Adriaan de Jongh with a large grin. “Choreographer Ernst Meisner found the inspiration for his next game in an un- and I worked closely together to develop the expected player behaviour while playing Friends- dances. It was a challenge for both of us. He had trap. “We implemented a feature to prevent play- to stay within the constrain of having the phone ers to pull the phone out of the other player’s guide his choreography, while I had to make sure hand. But what happened was that they really, that his choreography would fit in the game too.” really slowly tried to rotate the phone and move In the end, it all came together perfectly. De me into an uncomfortable position so that I basi- Jongh: “The moment when people get it, when cally had to let go. And in that process, we were they suddenly understand how the game is making all kinds of slow and weird movements tricking them into dancing, is really divine to and rotations... It was beautiful!” me. Those are the moments that motivate me Hence, the idea of Bounden was born, but the ex- to continue making the weird games we make.” 9

BOUNDEN

GENRE DANCE CO-OP BALLET DANCING GAME PLATFORM(S) iPHONE & ANDROID PHONES STATUS RELEASED IN JULY 2014 DEVELOPER GAME OVEN UTRECHT (NL) WWW.GAMEOVENSTUDIOS.COM INFO@GAMEOVENSTUDIOS.COM PREVIOUS GAMES BY GAME OVEN FINGLE (iPAD) BAM FU (MOBILE) FRIENDSTRAP (MOBILE)


penarium

Survive this sadistic circus extravaganza What starts as a fun day at the circus turns into a gory bloodfest. Every kid wants to go to the circus, but no kid wants to die in one... PENARIUM

GENRE ARCADE 2D SURVIVE ‘M UP PLATFORM(S) PC Windows / MAC STATUS RELEASE 2014 DEVELOPER SELF MADE MIRACLE UTRECHT (NL) WWW.SELFMADEMIRACLE.NL INFO@SELFMADEMIRACLE.NL PREVIOUS GAMES BY SELF MADE MIRACLE PAPER VS PAPER (iPAD) TEEK AWAY (WEB)

Penarium is a frantic 2D arena arcade game where players take on the role of young Willy. A naive, slighty overweight fella that just isn’t having his day. When going to the circus, Willy takes the wrong entrance. Instead of spectator he is now the main attraction. For as long as he stays alive that is. Penarium is set in a sinister circus show where contestants, much like gladiators, are forced to entertain a sadistic crowd at the risk of losing their lives. Willy needs to run, jump and avoid an array of killer death traps while being cheered on by the crowd that’s out for his blood. Survive the ever ongoing armada of destruction and there is a possibility to make it out alive. Maybe. But before that moment comes be prepared to die. Over and over again. Like a murderous Groundhog Day. 10

The word ‘Penarium’ is a play on the Dutch word ‘penarie’, which best translate as trouble, and boy are you in trouble. Death will come from all sides when jumping the platforms to get to a new crate. Five new crates will change the death trap and the way you play. Heat seeking missiles require a different tactic than flesh melting lasers. And rapidly rising water affect gameplay differently than giant rolling boulders. The four members of Self Made Miracle are longtime school friends. They all attended the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht. After the release of their first game Paper vs Paper the guys at Self Made Miracle felt they needed to do things differently. Says Teun Westenenk: “We did so many thing wrong with that game. Classic rookie mistakes like hardly any marketing and too little polish. This time around we are much more focused on fun, atmosphere and blood. Lots and lots of blood.”


fragments of him

“PROVES THAT WE HAVE BARELY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE OF THE EMOTIONS THAT CAN BE RAISED THROUGH INTERACTION.” - JEFFREY YOHALEM, LEAD WRITER FOR UBISOFT (ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD, CHILD OF LIGHT)

an emotional experience ‘fragments of him’ is an empathy game in the vein of ‘gone home’ and ‘papo & yo’. no grief-simulator, but a profound story about loss. Fragments of Him is a narrative game played in storytelling medium, in line with the other classic the first person. The story revolves around a entertainment media such as books and films. tragic accident, and the life of the victim and his When creating the concept for Fragments of Him, loved ones before and after the incident. The I wanted to make an experience for players that player plays through the events and the loca- spoke to them on an emotional level, but also tions as if they were the spirit or intellect of the one that reflected parts of my own life. By sharcharacters, making decisions and starting acing our stories, society becomes a kinder and tions that progress the story. Through more compassionate place, so I wanted this snapshot of their lives we see to create gameplay that told a small that when a young man suddenly story with a theme that many peo“powerful dies, there will always be ‘Fragple would be able to relate to. As storytelling ments of Him’ left behind. games creators, we often tell big medium” stories of saving the world, but it’s The game is made by Sassy­Bot Stuthe small, personal stories that are dio, with Dr. Mata Haggis from NHTV most important in our real lives.” University working as the consultant game and narrative designer. The team that is cur- “Many games are focused on themes of high adrently working on the game consists of two full- venture and empowerment, but far fewer look time employees, a freelancer, and an intern. at the moments of sadness. These moments come most strongly when we lose people that Mata Haggis explains the reasons behind the we loved. Fragments of Him was inspired by real game and concept: “Graphics get more de- events and emotions in my life. Fortunately, I tailed, simulations more accurate, but if we have not lost a partner in the way that happens in keep on addressing themes such as revenge, this story but, like many people, I have sadly lost then we are going to find that the games feel close friends and family, sometimes very sudshallow and soulless. There will always be den and at times that felt far too soon. Also, the space for games of mayhem and destruction, sudden break up of a relationship, even without or brilliant arcade mechanics that create com- such tragic circumstances as in Fragments of Him, pelling and exciting experiences, but I hope that can make you feel a form of grief as if you are in as video games gain credibility as an art form, mourning: a person has vanished from your daily we can start to create games that reflect the life and you are helpless to change that, even if diversity of the audience that plays them. I be- that person is still living. I wanted to tell a story lieve passionately that games can be a powerful that explored this, using gameplay interactions.” 11

FRAGMENTS OF HIM

GENRE EMPATHY GAME NARRATIVE / FIRST PERSON PLATFORM(S) PC Windows STATUS IN DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPER SASSYBOT STUDIO BREDA (NL) WWW.SASSYBOT.COM TEAM@SASSYBOT.COM PREVIOUS GAMES BY SASSYBOT STUDIO ATUM (IGF NOMINATED) SMALL BANG THEORY (MOBILE)


action henk

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Run, Fat Man Run! Watch your childhood zip by at breathtaking speeds as Action Henk tries to regain his title of fastest toy in the world.

ACTION HENK

GENRE 3D PLATFORM RUNNER NOSTALGIA OVERDOSE PLATFORM(S) PC / MAC STATUS RELEASED AS EARLY ACCESS JULY 2014 DEVELOPER RAGESQUID UTRECHT (NL) WWW.RAGESQUID.COM INFO@RAGESQUID.COM PREVIOUS GAMES BY RAGESQUID CRASHDRIVE 2 (WEB & MOBILE)

Stepping into the small studio of RageSquid evokes a strong feeling of nostalgia. Wall to ceiling are covered with all sorts of toys you may remember from your childhood. Action Man, a lot of them, litter the scene. Hanging from lamps and hiding behind plants like setting up a perfect ambush. RC cars, a couple of helicopters, a wind up shark, all sorts of monsters and heaps of Lego. This is a perfect trip down memory lane and an everyday reality for the guys of RageSquid.

Ezendam: “We applied for the Gam Fund and took a year of work-for-hire to build up a financial reserve. We figured we needed six months to complete the game, so we saved enough money for that.” Then with a wide grin: “We almost made it.” Six months turned into nine and money’s been tight. But the game is finally out on Steam Early Access.

Action Henk is a fast-paced running game where you compete for the best time in 15 custombuilt racing tracks. Playout now on You can argue the toys ers have to meticulously steam are there for research study every corner, bump early access purposes. After all the and slide of the tracks to world of Action Henk is shave of seconds of the that of a child’s room where best time. “The levels are deelaborate racing tracks are build signed in a way that they are fun to from all sorts of toys. But looking at play for both beginners as well as exthe young developers in their own little pert players”, says Ezendam. “We use world, you can see they actually love it level design tools to roughly calculate this way. The guys at RageSquid have the different paths players of differbeen friends for years now. They fol- ent skill levels will take. By spacing lowed a game education together and each jump to have a landing area that entered several game jams as a team. feels good for both the slow and fast Every jam reinforced the idea that they people, we ensure that the player will should start their own company. always maintain a nice flow. Because the game is about mastery and perfecThe big break came when they bluffed tion, the levels are usually very short, their way into a Dutch event called roughly 20 to 40 seconds. This enables Game in the City. “We said we wanted the player to quickly iterate and master to showcase our game there”, says the levels.” Roel Ezendam, one of the founders There has been playable Action Henk and Lead Programmer. “They said yes, levels available on the game’s website but we didn’t actually have a game yet! from the beginning and it has gone So we had to come up with a concept, through some rigorous testing. All very prototype it and build it in roughly two necessary according to Ezendam: “By months.” That prototype was Action having a constant stream of feedback Henk. The game turned out to be a real we can keep steering the game in the crowd-pleaser and got picked up by best direction. The concept of Action one of Holland’s biggest gaming sites. Henk has had a tremendous amount They had the early prototype and the of iteration already and we think this is momentum, but they lacked the funds. necessary to create a great game.” 13


lethal league Batter up for a game of extreme baseball Lethal League is a competitive projectile fighting game where the goal is to launch a ball into the face of your opponent. Ready? Fight!

LETHAL LEAGUE

GENRE FIGHTING 4 PLAYER PROJECTILE FIGHTING GAME PLATFORM(S) PC Windows STATUS OUT NOW DEVELOPER REPTILE GAMES WWW.REPTILE-GAMES.COM TIM@REPTILE-GAMES.COM PREVIOUS GAMES BY REPTILE GAMES MEGABYTE PUNCH (PC/MAC)

Not many Western developers are capable of capturing the essence of a Japanese 2D fighting game, but young Dutch studio Reptile Games is doing just that, with confidence and lots of style. Lethal League is an outrageous four player brawler that lets players battle it out with a baseball. Opponents can’t hit each other directly, but instead use an anti-gravity baseball as an deadly projectile. Each hit speeds up the ball that violently bounces off walls, ceiling and floor. When hit by the ball, the player loses part of his stamina until finally he gets knocked out. The action comes with plenty of breaks, hypers and specials that turn battles in true tests of skill, timing and reflexes. Oh, and some luck of course. Every player needs that in this frantic fighting/party game. Developer Reptile Games is a two man outfit that started working together the moment they graduated Art School. Their first game Megabyte Punch was released on Steam in 2013 and featured some of the elements we see now in Lethal League. Co-founder Tim Remmers remembers the inspiration for what they call ‘competitive projectile fighting’: “The idea came from a gameplay feature in Megabyte Punch. One player could fire a missile and the other player could shield 14

and reflect it back, the first player could in turn reflect it back again and so on until one of them missed and exploded. We loved that, so we quickly created a prototype in Flash which had baseballs instead of missiles and where the ball would speed up with every strike.” This prototype went on to be featured as the grand final mystery game on the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament in Chicago. Afterwards, the full game was playable on the Evolution Championship Series (or EVO), the largest fighting game tournament in the world. Players are drawn by the fresh visual style of the characters and environments. Art direction and character design of Lethal League comes from Dion Koster. His background in street culture clearly shines through and inspired this visual and audial flavor originating from hip-hop, street dance and skating subcultures, as well as games like the Jet Set Radio series. Team Reptile’s manpower has expanded for Lethal League, including a netcoder for the online components and several voice actors for bringing the characters to life. Says Remmers: “As for the future of Team Reptile, we’re planning to stay original and passionate, but to size up our games and company.”


The Pigeon Man strange stories in vr it took the oculus rift to turn a years old idea into reality. The Pigeon Man is part of the Shoebox Diorama, a collection of dioramas for the Oculus Rift. It’s the first entry into a longer series of strange interactive stories. Think: The Twilight Zone. Creator Daniel Ernst is an interactive illustrator who was half of the team that created Cargo Commander. After the release of that game in 2012, he decided to pursue his love of 3D and start his one man game company and experiment with everything 3D. A diorama is an interactive illustration in which the viewer can puzzle together a weird and wonderful story by exploring richly detailed environments. For every diorama Daniel collaborates with different artists and technicians to bring his vision to life. His first diorama Blocked In is one of the top downloaded experiences for the Oculus Rift and was many first introduction into the Oculus Rift. His second diorama Der Grosse Gottlieb is accompanied by a physical installation to enhance the virtual experience of the diorama. The next addition to the Shoebox Diorama series is a four part episodic “look & shake” oculus Rift adventure game: The Pigeon Man. It’s an illustrative adventure game in which you engage in conversations with weird and wonderful characters

and explore fantastical environments to further the story of the pigeon post office. The story is about the once majestic pigeon post office that got lost amidst the towers of glass and steel. The player interacts with the characters by shaking their heads and looking around. The story structure of the game can be compared to Aardman’s ‘Creature Comforts’ and the gameplay takes notes from Telltales’ The Walking Dead. The game is the first ‘interview’ oriented for the Oculus Rift. It will not focus on winning or solving puzzles, instead the gameplay is used to emphasize the presence. The in-game environments are all handpainted and in full stereoscopic 3D. Ernst did most of the design and story from his temporary office in the building of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. He got the chance to have a temp office on the 4th floor of the empty government building. He takes regular trips to the 16th floor to enjoy the view and gather reference material. “The idea for the concept of The Pigeon Man dates back to my graduation project about 3D stereoscopic design”, says Ernst. “Back then, I was unable to find a form for The Pigeon Man story, it wasn’t until the Oculus Rift was released that the concept finally clicked into place.” 15

THE PIGEON MAN

GENRE VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE OCULUS RIFT GAME PLATFORM(S) Multi STATUS IN DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPER DANIEL ERNST THE HAGUE (NL) WWW.THESHOEBOXDIORAMA.COM DANIELERNST@GMAIL.COM PREVIOUS GAMES BY DANIEL ERNST BLOCKED IN (MULTI VR) CARGO COMMANDER (PC/MAC)


Renowned Explorers leader of the expedition ambitious strategy exploration game that is breaking conventions. RENOWNED EXPLORERS

GENRE STRATEGY TURN BASED / EXPLORATION PLATFORM(S) PC Windows STATUS IN DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPER ABBEY GAMES UTRECHT (NL) WWW.ABBEYGAMES.COM INFO@ABBEYGAMES.COM PREVIOUS GAME BY ABBEY GAMES REUS (PC/MAC) 2013

After the success of their seemingly over-ambitious Reus, Abbey Games embarked yet again on a pretty big adventure. Manuel Kerssemakers explains: “Renowned Explorers is a game that builds on that what made Reus successful: A colorful, complex and slightly oversized project. While we didn’t want to put all our resources in Renowned Explorers, there’s still a lot of pressure on this project. The planning is tight, and the game’s success is important.” “So about the game: It’s a turn-based strategy game, which means that it usually employs two things: 1. Combat, 2. A square or rectangular grid. We’re changing both. While we do have combat, we’re using it in tandem with an emotional system. While most conflict situations require tactical thinking, you can choose to disarm your opponents with intimidation or charm, rather than violence. The grid on which this all takes place is entirely irregular. It’s something called a Vo16

ronoi grid, which is used a lot in computer science. This changes a lot for the gameplay and the sense of space as you don’t have some artificially regular grid under your characters’ feet. The challenge is to combine this innovation with smooth gameplay.” “We’re making a game that we think a lot of people are waiting for. Everyone knows Indiana Jones and Dr. Livingstone. Games like Uncharted, Spelunky and perhaps the new Planet Explorers prove that people love that explorer experience. However, there isn’t a game that offers this experience from the perspective of the expedition leader, and that’s what were creating. You’ll manage the recruiting, you choose the routes and determine which legends are legit. Then you get to command the crew to ensure a successful return from the adventure. We think that this strategic and broad experience gives a deep sense of exploring the world.”


check in, knock out fighting over things that matter hotel guests battle it out for the last remaining room. Ready? Fight! The three guys that make up Lionade Games Lionade Games started bugging (or should we are still students. Nick Aarts, Menno Stas en Ti- say begging) school for financial aid to bring the jmen Tio met during a seminar titled ‘Learn to game to local game event Indievelopment. And finish a game and make it juicy, in just 3 weeks!’. it worked! It was the first real public showing of Not long after deciding to join forces, they came Check in, Knock out and the public loved it. up with the basic idea of using pieces of The trio spent every free moment to conthe environment to throw at your optinue to work on the game. “We wanted ponent. That idea stuck and they to steer clear of the beaten path”, haven’t looked back since. After says Nick Aarts. “So for instance no school is a week prototyping in GameMastandard character select screen supporting ker: Studio the trio felt confident like most other fighting games. That development enough to start polishing and go for proved much more difficult than anthe ‘juiciness’ the title of the seminar ticipated by the way. We had a lot of was reffering to. discussions and plenty of brainstorm sesAfter succesfully finishing the seminar, the stu- sions before arriving at the hotel theme where dents had a week off and left for home. A week players pick their chracter in the hotel lobby and later, when back in school, all of them turned out have them go up the elevator to start a match.” to have spent the week playing their own game. It Ideas that didn’t make it include gods playing with was then they realised they had struck gold. Still clay puppets, monks on a mountain fighting as in their first year and living of cheap energy drink, initiation and toys fighting inside a crane game for vending machine coffee and 37 cents pot noodle the privilege to be picked up by the claw. 17

CHECK IN, KNOCK OUT

GENRE EMPATHY GAME NARRATIVE / FIRST PERSON PLATFORM(S) PC Windows STATUS IN DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPER LIONADE GAMES HILVERSUM (NL) WWW.LIONADEGAMES.COM NICK@LIONADEGAMES.COM


The Netherlands: a Perfect Storm

Promo art for RIDICULOUS FISHING. Published by Vlambeer.


Rami Ismail, half of the famous indie duo Vlambeer, reflects on the success of the dutch independent game development scene. Is it luck, or is there more to it than meets the eye? “God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands” The Netherlands are a strange little country. Firmly lodged between Belgium, Germany and the North Sea, there’s no way you can drive two hours in any direction from the center without leaving the country. It’s a country known for elegant and effective design, for football, for beer and for windmills. The most striking feature about the country might be how much of it resides under the sea, protected from the water only by dikes and dams. It’s a country of builders, of people that construct, design and create. “Act normal, that’s crazy enough” The Netherlands are also a country that, over the centuries, has grown to appreciate normalcy. Fitting in, more than elsewhere in the world, is expected. It might be because the Dutch definition of ‘fitting in’ is rather inclusive, but regardless – ambition is something that was long seen as treacherous and risky. While many countries reward a push for the extraordinary, the Dutch very much like to claim everyone as ‘normal’. For a celebrity, the most worthy compliment is to ‘remain normal’. These two sayings have been contradicting each other for centuries now, and at the center of it is a country filled with people that want to achieve extraordinary things. Numerous Dutch studios have gone under after making notable impacts on the world, other studios merged and grown into current-day industry titans. It was a small industry with a mostly national focus, with exceptionally strong web-, educative and applied game development. In a flurry of growth in the early 2000’s, universities started offering game design courses around the country. From those schools, we saw the early rise of the 2008-style independent development. A small student team managed to create De Blob, an IP that would be sold to THQ eventually and allowed a small group of friends to start Ronimo Games, who later ended up making smash hit Awesomenauts. Monobanda, from the same school, created whimsical and wonderful playful installations and games and earned itself an Independent Games Festival nomination in 2010.

indie icons vlambeer: dutch duo Rami Ismail is half of indie development studio Vlambeer, as he puts it. He’s development director and business guy. And an industry icon, speaking all of the world multiple times every month of the year. Together with Jan Willem Nijman Ismail has been responsible for a string of successes. Their Ridiculous Fishing, made with the help of some indie friends, won a prestigious Apple Design Award and was named official iPhone Game Of The Year in 2013. Vlambeer recently released Luftrausers for PlayStation 4, PS Vita and desktop machines. Their current project is the ambitious Nuclear Throne (PlayStation 4 and desktop). Currently available on Steam Early Access. vlambeer.com

Along with them were two other Dutch nominees: Jeroen Stout, with his heavy and intimate exploration of an individual’s thoughts in Dinner Date, and our little studio, Vlambeer: fresh college dropouts making arcade games about shooting fish.

– something that many countries outside of the Western world sadly still lack. Through the attendance of the Dutch independents at conferences it was easy to communicate about problems, opportunities and projects.

Growing independents independently I’ve travelled around the world to many a place since, slowly growing into a role that includes both Vlambeer and industry-structural work. As part of the latter, I’ve visited the beating hearts and the fringes of our industry around the world. I’ve seen communities grow, flourish and fall, and the signs for those events are easily recognizable. Even though we didn’t realize it at the time, The Netherlands in 2010 were at the brink of something important.

And finally, the Netherlands provided role-models to look up to and rebel against. In 2010, studios like Guerrilla Games and Ronimo provided both the proof that it was possible, and the status quo new studios could stubbornly rebel against. Since 2010, Vlambeer and many other studios have organized meetups, offered advice and turned part of the role-models for an aspiring generation to look up to and rebel against.

The infrastructure for starting game companies in the Netherlands was and continues to be unique throughout the world. For such a small country, it has a national industry magazine that almost every games-related company and school receives. Besides that, the Netherlands have the Dutch Game Garden, a business center and accelerator in the center of the country. The business center functions mostly as a large building currently housing over 50 different game-related studios, while the accelerator helps new studios gain a footing in the industry. More than anything, these create a sense of community and communication, both paramount to growth. A diversity of company types is essential to a healthy game development scene. Having both AAA developers and independent developers creates an ecosystem in which vertical movement (in both directions) doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of talent. On top of that, strong game-focused education allows for an additional layer of upwards verticality, ensuring new and fresh insights into the local community. The Netherlands have a long-held perspective on global trade as a ­positive thing, being a tiny country with high mobility and high levels of language education. Having access to often native-level English writing and speaking skills allows for Dutch developers to interact with existing structures in the industry 19

And have things paid off. We’ve had hits from Abbey Games with their Steam hit Reus to Game Oven with their experimental iOS games like Fingle and Bounden. Digital Dreams is finishing up their infographics platformer Metrico and we at Vlambeer are working on Nuclear Throne. But beyond that, a new generation is arising. New studios like RageSquid working on Action Henk, which just launched in Early Access, student team Vogelsap is creating the assymmetrical multiplayer shooter The Flock, and the Ostrich Banditos are releasing their 2D western game Westerados. The Netherlands have managed to convert their world-famous design sensibilities and business know-how to videogames. The average studio in the Netherlands is lean, capable and adaptable. The larger studios are sponsoring local events, helping out with small financial investments in small studios and helping in bringing larger institutions like the MEGABOOTH to Europe. They’re spending time on mentoring and growing the industry, not because they have to, but because that’s how they made their claim to fame. Because that’s the way things simply are. It’s a small scene that’s feeding on itself, but growing on its own successes while doing so. More than anything, that’s the sign of real growth: a slowly growing self-sustaining community.


“Shape the game world with real sand, explore it with a virtual character. Create your own games!” – Project Mimicry by Monobanda

20


WHAT IS THE

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES FUND NL? And what does it do?

People working in the games industry can apply for grants at the Game Fund and the Grant Programme for E-Culture at the Creative Industries Fund NL.

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The Creative Industries Fund NL (in Dutch Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie) started January the 1st, 2013. It operates within the context of the Dutch government’s culture policy and focuses on all the design disciplines and on e-culture in a broad sense. The Fund provides project grants in order to strengthen substantive quality within the creative industry, to promote innovation and cross-sector approaches and to professionalize entrepreneurship. An important concern is the improvement of the links between designers/ makers and clients/manufacturers. By commission of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a programme is being set up to focus on expanding the international market. The Fund has three basic grant programmes: • architecture, urban design and landscape design • product design, graphic design and fashion • E-culture in a broad sense. There are three multidisciplinary grant programmes, and in addition the Fund supports projects, talents and activities programmes in the creative industry. For more information, go to: www.creativeindustriesfund.nl Next deadline to apply for a grant within the e-culture programme is 8 August 2014.

GAMES

RECEIVED FINANCIAL SUPPORT SINCE THE START OF THE GAME FUND IN 2008. The Game Fund gives a boost to the development of artistic games. Special focus lies at the design of the game, the innovative nature, the extent to which triggers are built-in to promote the game element and the challenging nature of the game world.

The Latest Evermore

game to receive a grant from the game fund is by Ludomotion & Fourcelabs Evermore is a tactical RPG that combines modern deckbuilding mechanics with rich tactical gameplay set in a world that is transformed by the actions of the player. Play with generations of heroes whose legacy shape the genesis of a mythical world unique to each player. Evermore revisits the classic tactical RPG genre and explores new boundaries of procedural content generation, interactive storytelling and adaptive game worlds. 21

There must also be an interdisciplinary collaboration between designers, animators, game developers, cultural institutions or other disciplines or organizations involved in the development or production of the game. The Game Fund is an initiative of the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Media Fund. Grants are awarded for different phases of a game project. Developers are allowed to commercially exploit their games that are supported by the Game Fund. A lot of the supported games have end up on numerous digital game stores like the Apple AppStore and Sony’s PlayStation Network. Next gamefund deadline to apply for a grant is October 2nd. Look at the next eight pages for 11 of the most prolific games that came to be at least in part due to the Game Fund.


11

AMAZING GAME FUND GAMES

1 cello vs players

SOMETIMES GAMES JUST NEED A LITTLE HELP. A GENTLE LEG UP THAT ENSURES THEIR CREATION.

CELLO FORTRESS • JOOST VAN DONGEN The instrument being the controller, this is a fresh take on music games.

Especially the games that don’t have a mass market appeal, that traverse the fine line between games and other forms of media, in other words games that put artistry above all.

Cello Fortress is a unique combination of game and live music performance. A solo cellist defends a fortress by playing music on his cello. His actions on the instrument directly influence the on screen action. Melodies control the guns, dissonant notes activate the flamethrowers. Up to four players from the audience use game controllers to steer their tanks and attack the fortress. It’s a co-operative effort to take down the mighty empire and most of the time it’s the empire that wins.

The Game Fund is a Dutch grant programme through which the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Media Fund support projects that inject quality into the development of artistic games. In addition, the funds aim to foster cooperation between artists, designers, animators, game developers and cultural institutions.

Game creator Joost van Dongen is lead programmer and co-founder of Ronimo Games, the studio behind hit games like Awesomenauts, Swords & Soldiers and De Blob. In his spare time he likes to relax with... making games. Before Cello Fortress he made the trippy racegame Proun, based on paintings from his favorite painter Lissitzky.

So far 51 games received a grant. Here we present 11 of them. WWW.GAMEFONDS.NL

WWW.CELLOFORTRESS.COM 22


3

2

tree huggers

pointing at pigs

BOHM • MONOBANDA This game is not a game, according to its creators. But it is...

PIG CHASE - HKU SCHOOL OF THE ARTS / WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY Playful interaction with increasingly lively livestock. Studies have shown that pigs kept in captivity are more likely to suffer from boredom, which results in unwanted behavior such as damaging tail-biting and bar-chewing. Since 2001 EU legislation has instructed pig farms to provide rooting to alleviate boredom, but it soon became clear this would never keep a confined pig entertained. Research group Playing with Pigs asked if it was possible to design a game that not only entertains the pigs, but allows their captors – us humans– to interact with them in a novel way. To make their lives easier and to change our perception of pigs as prepackaged pieces of bacon in a supermarket. The game? Pig Chase.

Players control a ball of light on their iPad and move it around until they can see the snouts of real-live pigs. When the pig touches the light on a special touch-sensitive display, it emits sparks. If the human and pig move in sync through a goal triangle, then they set off a fireworks show. The Playing with Pigs project is a collaboration between the Utrecht School of the Arts, Wageningen University and Wageningen UR Livestock Research.

WWW.PLAYINGWITHPIGS.NL 23

Some concepts sound so dim-witted, it’s hard to believe somebody was foolish enough to actually turn them into a proper and finished project. Take Bohm, by Dutch artsy game studio Monobanda. It is, for all intents and purposes, a tree simulator. Even better (or worse), it’s a tree growth sim. The player slash gardener has a subtle impact on the way the tree and its branches grow. How? That remains a mystery until you actually immerse yourself in Bohm. And once you do, you just might discover the concept wasn’t that dim-witted after all, but a game so different you’d find yourself lost for words to describe it properly. BOHMTHEGAME.COM


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4 designed for two IBB & OBB • SPARPWEED Surprisingly original, beautiful and addictive co-op puzzler. An odd couple these ibb & obb. One short and green, the other tall and pink. Not quite sure which is which to be honest. Kinda clueless as well. Endearing? Yes, but clueless. They need the help of two people to guide them through their wonderful world. One with a clever twist. In the bottom half of the world gravity is reversed, enabling ibb and obb to walk on both sides of the horizon. Warps allow you to move from one half to the other. This premise together with just a single button control scheme (jump) allows for some truly ingenious co-op gameplay. Its calm pace means it’s suitable for both young and old. The stylized graphics and soothing soundtrack make it a feast for almost all the senses. The game started as a graduating project for Richard Boeser. He studied Industrial Design but didn’t want to end up drawing new designs of vacuum cleaners as he did as an intern. Instead he applied his design skills to the upside down world of ibb & obb. He joined forces with Guerrilla Games art director Roland IJzermans and gamestudio Codeglue to develop the game he envisioned. It took him six years. IBBANDOBB.COM 25


5

fun with cars AUTOPRET - SANDER VAN DER VEGTE C.S. In a super felixble environment players make their own rules. Sander van der Vegte is a game designer. For the last twelve years he has worked independently to create many smart and fun games, both entertainment and applied. A year ago or so, he had some time on his hands, so he set out to master Unity. How? To turn his passion project of creating a virtual city on the fly into reality.

art of scratchin’

6

WRECK FADER - KYPSKI Be the needle in this vinyl world of groovy moutains and rocking ravines. Scratching is an art form. Yes we said it. An art form. Now we know it’s basically moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable while manipulating the crossfader on a DJ mixer. But that’s just the basics. The real turntable wizards use this technique to create new beats, sounds and melodies. From scratch!

He made Cty. An easy to use tool to digitally create urban environments and have traffic populate it immediately. Virtual cities in a snap. Cty received interest from outside the gaming industry to use the technology in applied ways. Examples are urban planning, simulations, serious games, and branding. To keep true to his more playful side Van der Vegte started Autopret (or ‘Car Fun’) on the same tech. Autopret has no objective, and no win or lose condition. This game is about escapism, exploration, and simply having fun. A flexible in-game tool allows you to draw roads and drive on them straightaway. Smart computer controlled vehicles populate the city, creating a lively environment for you to play around in.

Six time Dutch DJ champion and scratching virtuoso Kypski wants to share his vast knowledge and experience with scratching with a new audience by giving them the opportunity to manipulate a record and sound in a videogame. In Wreck Fader players are the needle that finds its way through the grooves of the record. In the highly magnified world of Wreck Fader grooves look like mountains and ravines and something seemingly inconspicuous like a speck of dust can in fact drastically change the sound of your scratch. Part promotion for his new record, part videogame and one hundred percent scratchin’ fun. WWW.KYPSKI.COM

AUTOPRET.TUMBLR.COM 26


8 artic ventures THE LAST INUA • GLOWFORTH A cold environment with a warm heart, engaging mechanics and a gripping story.

7 exploding pixels paradise ROCKET RIOT MOBILE - CODEGLUE Shooting pixels has always been fun. But not this much. Rocket Riot was one of the first Dutch games to make it onto Xbox Live Arcade. Codeglue’s funny, fast-paced shooter has legless characters, with jet engines as a torso, flying around 2D platforms shooting the hell out of each other and the enviroment. The 8-bit inspired pixel art is vibrant and colorful, making for a flashy, modern game with retro appeal. Players have a side view of the action but all the blocks are rendered in 3D which allow them to explode in an orgy of tiny blocks. The environments are entirely destructible so you can blast paths

through anything in your way. A few years later smartphones got their own version of the rocketlaunching-extravaganza. An over the top story mode has players battle through countless levels in hunt for the infamous pirate Blockbeard (yes, pun intended). Now, five years after the initial release, Rocket Riot is still going strong. Still finding new platforms to keep on blastin’.

WWW.ROCKETRIOT.COM 27

Last Inua from Glowforth is based on Inuit mythology. It’s a story about a father and his son that set out to find three sacred keepers and ask them for help. The world is under attack from an evil spirit named Tonrar and young Hiko and his father Atataaq are the only ones capable of stopping him. Both characters have their own set of skills and abilities. Hiko is small and what he lacks in physical strength he makes up with special spirit powers. His father Atataaq is big and strong and can punch through walls and climb icey cliffs with his ice picks. To safely traverse through the cold white world of Inua the player has to pick the right character in the right situations. The game looks absolutely stunning. The artwork of both the environments and characters work beautifully together. The cold barren landscape of the arctic conjures an eerie sense of loneliness while the father and son inject a much needed warmth into it.

WWW.GLOWFORTH.COM


9

fIENDISHLY scary, Fear-inducing and frighteningly fun THE FLOCK - VOGELSAP This asynchronous multiplayer actioner pits hunters against the hunted. And only the hunted gets to score points. Seemingly out of nowhere came a trailer that showed a creepy game in a dark dungeon where monsters were hunting down a solitary figure holding a lamp. The game looked amazing, but it was the dark brooding atmosphere that took center stage. It was clear The Flock -as the game was called- was going to be something special. The fact that this game was being made by a group of eight students only added to that. The Flock is a thrilling asymmetrical online multiplayer game. Players can play as the monsters - the Flock - but can also become, and will want to become, the prey or as it’s called the Carrier. Each player starts the game as one of the Flock, a race of large and agile monsters, who seek out 28

the coveted Light Artifact. Once one of the players grabs the Artifact, he/she turns into the fragile, slow, more humanlike Carrier. That player also accumulates score over time, and with enough score the player wins. Surviving is key. The other players in the game, who are still Flock, will now have to hunt down the Carrier to take the Light Artifact for themselves. The Flock have a lot more freedom in movement, and thus can attack the Carrier from all angles. But the Carrier is not completely helpless, he can kill the Flock with a beam of light emitted by the Artifact. This game of cat and mouse makes for a psychological experience. WWW.VOGELSAP.COM


11 shock & awesome

10

AWESOMENAUTS - RONIMO GAMES Over a million players flocked to this marvelous 2D multiplayer.

brain bender METRICO • DIGITAL DREAMS Metrico’s mechanics challenge the player’s perception of games.

Ronimo Games isn’t your everyday run of the mill game studio. For instance, all seven founders have an equal share in the company, which means they are all boss. All decisions have to go through the democratic process of voting. Sounds counter productive doesn’t it? Miraculously Ronimo Games pulls it off with style. Awesomenauts turned out a great success and made it possible to further grow the company.

Metrico is an atmospheric puzzle action game that centers around infographics. Every move the player makes influences the world that’s made up of different kinds of infographics. Figuring out what effects your movements have on the landscape is key. And there is an enviromental puzzle around every corner with hardly ever the same solution. Metrico likes to mess with your head and you love being messed with.

Awesomenauts is a 2D Multiplayer Online Battle Areana (or MOBA) and an accessible 3-on-3 action platformer. Both sides try to take out the other team’s base and each other. A cast of bizarre characters look like they belong in 80’s cartoons. There’s Yuri, the jetpack-flying soviet space monkey or Clunk, a giant robot/ vacuum cleaner with anger management issues and Voltar, a brain in a jar with an appetite for destruction, and many more. Ronimo Games keeps updating the game so the dedicated fanbase constantly has something to look forward to.

The idea was born a few years ago at the Global Game Jam. The team of Digital Dreams noticed just how beautiful infographics can look as an art form. It was reinforced by the fact that infographics have become increasingly important in contemporary pop-culture. They felt videogames were a perfect fit for the many odd shapes that create alien yet elegant landscapes. An early prototype of Metrico won the Indie Propeller Award in the category of “Best Design” in 2012. Metrico is the first Pub Fund deal by Sony for a PS Vita only title and the first game built in Unity for Vita.

WWW.AWESOMENAUTS.COM

WWW.METRICO-GAME.COM 29


Press Start > THE FIRST GAME FUND GAME In 2008 the Amsterdam-based contemporary art museum Stedelijk Museum and game studio Submarine Channel won a DING! Award for a research project which explores the concept of artistic authorship within the context of video games. It was the starting point of Game Fund. In 2011 three games of the A Split Second-research project were presented in the Stedelijk Museum. Sollmann (Part 1: The Harbour), Styleclash – The Painting Machine Construction Kit and FLX (pictured here). In FLX. four players each control one character, and each character is physically connected to the other. Thus, players are forced to collaborate in order to navigate through a series of linked spaces. Like playing poker, the behaviour of each fellow player is the only means of communication.

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Profile for Control Magazine

Dutch Indies 2014  

Magazine about indie games from the Netherlands.

Dutch Indies 2014  

Magazine about indie games from the Netherlands.

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