Tag: indie

The next strategy game from “A.I. War” Developer Arcen Games: Skyward Collapse

Posted on April 17th, by Jordan Rivas in Preview, Video Games. No Comments

Back in 2010, Arcen Games founder Chris Park told me it might be five years before the studio returned to the strategy genre that put them on the map with their first title — A.I. War. This past week Arcen announced their return to the strategy genre with Skyward Collapse, a title that’s shaping up to be vastly different than A.I War.

Skyward Collapse is a 4X god-game in which you attempt to balance two warring factions, supporting both sides to maximize their war efforts without allowing an imbalance that leads to the total annihilation of either faction.

Your score in the game is going to be based on the lowest of the two factions, so keeping them within a tight range of each other is necessary to avoid losing, but achieving a high score means having to ratchet up each side’s war effort.

Peacekeeping isn’t the goal. Your goal in the game is to keep both factions going successfully in a war that neither of them can win. The goal is war, big time war, just as long as it isn’t the kind that leaves one side in ruins. The strange juxtaposition is that of carnage with … Read More »

This is a post about Super Hexagon and being shy

Posted on September 26th, by Jordan Rivas in Reviews, Video Games. 4 comments

Super Hexagon is difficult, exhilarating, minimal, and enlightening. The controls are uncomplicated, and precise. The visuals are colorful, but basic. The music is symbiotic with the frenetic pace of the puzzling, and progressively hypnotic in the later stages.

The game has one rule — don’t touch the spinning shapes twirling inward at you. “You” are a small arrow in the center of the screen. Played on an iOS device, you tap on the left or right side of your screen, and the view rotates accordingly. As varying colored shapes swirl like a whirlpool inward, sometimes in stymieing labyrinthine arrangements, you have to quickly rotate the screen to avoid them. As you progress, the movement of the pieces becomes quicker, their arrangements more complex, the order of arrangements more varied, and with little more than an infectious musical cue, the rotation of the shapes can change altogether.

Super Hexagon is addictive. It’s relentlessly hard, but success is exhilarating. Making it even 30 seconds into a game made me feel like a hyper-reactive, clairvoyant, maestro of spinning shapes and a little yellow arrow in the center of this techno-scored, spinning universe. That’s likely because I heard the synthetic female voice that ushers you into every game, pronounce, “game over” … Read More »

Whatever happened to the swordsman named Soul?

Posted on September 19th, by Jordan Rivas in Preview, Video Games. 5 comments

Whatever happened to Rainblood 2: City of Flame?

That’s the question I found myself asking. For months, we had no answer. An indie game, and an indie developer, had gone completely missing.

Rainblood: Town of Death, was originally released in China during 2007 and an English translation in 2010. It’s developed by a Chinese indie dev named Qiwei Liang. I did a review of the English translation version in September of 2010, but by that time a sequel was already in the works.

The sequel, City of Flame, didn’t hit my radar until the early part of 2011. The first images I saw were impressive. A five and a half minute trailer showcased an updated art style, new side-scrolling view, and combat that was improved over an already robust “wuxia style” inspired combat system of the original.

I contacted Qiwei then, and got a response. He said the game would be releasing in China during Summer of 2011, at which time an English demo would release, and the full English version a few months after that.

I never heard anything about it after that. Summer came and went. By late 2011, I had taken hiatus from writing on this blog. I still had a mild … Read More »

These are comments about Greenlight, Fun, Art, and Women

Posted on September 16th, by Jordan Rivas in Video Games. 1 Comment

I had the idea for a comments post when writing a comment on this article, talking about first-person shooters and war. While my comment was hurried, and unpolished, I thought I had something relevant to say. I tweeted the comment so more people could read it. I got a couple of appreciative replies.

Sometimes I’ve felt that typing a lengthy or well thought out comment on someone else’s site, while nice for them, doesn’t leave me with much. I spend time (and some times make money) writing well; unless I’m sure I’ll get some interesting discussion from it (almost a given on say, Electron Dance), it can feel like a waste to put time into writing a well reasoned point into a comment. In contrast, if I simply write a response article, I feel like I’m taking something away from the original site, which created content good enough to make me what to comment.

So I’ve decided to save all my comments, and make a weekly feature out of it. It will make sure everything I write related to games in a week gets onto this site, and give me more incentive to get out there and read more sites, which I admit … Read More »

This is a post about Greenlight

Posted on September 10th, by Jordan Rivas in Video Games. 2 comments

Jonas Kyratzes is a serious game developer, and a good one.

He has the right to criticize Valve for charging a $100 submission fee for Steam’s Greenlight program. Valve has the right to ignore him. Valve has the right to charge whatever they like for their service, and developers have the right to partake or not, criticize or praise.

Fellow developers and spectators have the right to assert Jonas is not a serious game developer because he does not have — through profits from prior art, or otherwise — $100 to spend on a game’s budget. They are wrong, but they can assert whatever opinion they like.

Regarding Valve’s decision, many people have asserted all sorts of things, called each other all sorts of names. At a glance it seems petty, and mean, and fiercely personal. This issue has stoked flames of personal identity. But moreover, it has caused contention about group identity, reminding us the latter will often be argued over with greater fervency than the former.


Greenlight is a selection process. Steam users can vote and comment on submitted indie games, and the reactions are tracked to highlight the games generating the most interest.

The name is derived … Read More »

Interview w/ Stream dev team

Posted on May 20th, by Jordan Rivas in interview, Video Games. No Comments

I recently got a chance to bounce some questions off of the team that developed the first-person platformer puzzle game, Stream. Designer Simon Chauvin fielded the questions on behalf of the team and relayed the group’s sentiments back to me. I found Stream to be an interesting, stark, but visually compelling and a well designed short game. You can find my full review here.

It’s a brief interview that touches on some of the process behind designing the game and some of the history behind development.


What inspired the concept for the game?

Stream Team: This is difficult to say, I was the one bringing the concept to the team and I must say that I don’t really have an idea of where that comes from. At first, it was just the mechanic, I liked the idea of controlling the environment, I wanted to make the player feel like an alien in the world. He controls everything that surrounds him just like if he was an observer.


I’m not too familiar with ENJMIN — what can you tell us about the program?

ST: ENJMIN is a french public school of video game development, we are around fifty students in different majors (programming, game design, sound … Read More »

Alphaland (review)

Posted on May 17th, by Jordan Rivas in Reviews, Video Games. 2 comments

Alphaland is a minimalistic platformer by Jonas Kyratzes where players explore a hidden level inside of a game they’re tasked with testing by a developer friend. Alphaland starts as a simple platformer, but as you descend this odd, listless lost level the game tips over into a surreal experience that touches on themes of existentialism, personification, reification and death.

Stream (Review)

Posted on May 10th, by Jordan Rivas in Reviews, Video Games. 3 comments

Stream is a first-person puzzle-platformer based on flow and environment manipulation through quasi-time control. You run and jump through black and white levels of increasing complexity, increasing the amount of manipulation over the moving elements in the environment as the puzzles become more intricate.

I found Stream by chance and my brief afternoon romp through its three short stages felt appropriately curious; the art direction in Stream is stark, all the rooms are made of black and white, thick edges, minimal gradient and strong shadows. The rooms are large, empty and mostly white through the first two stages. It feels eerily empty, still and quiet. Playing alone in my bedroom at 2:15 in the afternoon, the house quiet, I felt an odd compulsion to poke around this strange colorless world.

It’s not time control — it’s environment control

I think the team behind Stream used the terms “forward”, “rewind” and “pause” for simplicity — they’re recognizable words, but they also connote time control and that’s not what happens in Stream. In Stream most of the objections in a room will move and you have the ability to move them forward along their determined path, reverse that path or stop them entirely. An early example of … Read More »

Indie Game About Sex From “Beautiful Escape” Dev (NSFW)

Posted on April 22nd, by Jordan Rivas in Preview, Video Games. 7 comments

You are, a young male with an unknown sexual disorder captured by some mysterious agency and thrown into a bizarre parallel reality where everything gravitates towards sex. You’re set on a sexual quest to explore unknown lands, meet strange people, and learn more about your sexuality.

[dropcap2]I[/dropcap2]t reads unabashedly cavalier, precocious even. As I glance over the description for his next game, I’m reminded that Nicolau Chaud (Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer) is both honest and novel, perhaps in the most bold way possible. “Become so honest it makes people uncomfortable,” I often espouse to fellow writers. Nicolau demonstrates this paradigm exceedingly well.

The name of Nicolau’s current work-in-progress is Polymorphous Perversity, named after a concept by Sigmund Freud. It’s a game about sex. A game in which the objective is to obtain sexual gratification however you can in order to stay alive. The inspiration, Nicolau says, came directly from Freud’s observation: “According to Freud, a young child is, by nature, “polymorphously perverse” which is to say that, before education in the conventions of civilized society, a child will turn to various bodily parts for sexual gratification and will not obey the rules that in adults determine perverse behavior. Education however quickly suppresses the polymorphous possibilities … Read More »

Rainblood: Town of Death Review

Posted on September 17th, by Jordan Rivas in Reviews, Video Games. 3 comments

A stylish, hand-drawn, anime-noir RPG with a compelling story of a lone swordsman in a deserted town.