Dead Space’s Isaac Clarke once had to drill into his own eyeball in order to survive a ship infested with mutated freaks. Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad of Assassin’s Creed fame was made to part with a portion of one of his fingers in order to join the Levantine Brotherhood of Assassins. Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft once had the misfortune of falling onto a piece of sharpened rebar that pierced her midsection — and all she was trying to do was go for a nice little exploratory boat ride. And that’s not even mentioning the myriad scores of locust soldiers that have found themselves on the wrong end of Marcus Fenix’s trusty chainsaw or colossal boots over the years.
You don’t hear any of them complaining about having to endure those, shall we way, slightly disagreeable circumstances, though, do you? That’s because those mere flesh wounds were nothing when compared to the great tragedy of our time: working with a certain platform holder to release your independent studio’s game on Xbox Live Arcade. I shudder at the very thought.
If you’ve followed Xbox Live Arcade over the past several years here and on other sites, then you already know of what I speak. There lives in Redmond, Washington a great beast, massive in size with glowing red-ringed eyes of fury. It is a devious creature hellbent on tricking those smaller than it into believing they’re partners, only to turn on them in their hour of need, stomping down on their hopes and dreams harder than Fenix has brought down his boots on so many locust heads. Such disdain does this gluttonous monstrosity have for the smaller creatures roaming the forest of the game industry, that it is more than happy to sacrifice its own interests if it means snuffing out the light of those cowering under its great shadow.
So evil is this…Wait. Isn’t this getting just a little out of hand? Is Microsoft really that terrible of a company? Does it truly care nothing for the needs of independent game developers? Is its thirst for video game console dominance so insatiable that it doesn’t mind torpedoing its, um, pursuit of video game console dominance so long as it means making life miserable for independent game studios that, by developing games for its platform, are actively working to help it succeed with its, uh, video game console dominance? It is if you’ve listened to the little guys with big megaphones.
Following on from some of the negative XBLA press that has recently hit the headlines, Ska Studios’ James Silva has decided to set the record straight on his experiences …
Here we are once again at the start of what’s sure to be another fantastic year of XBLA releases. Each day this week XBLAFans will be rolling out a list of eight of our most anticipated Xbox Live Arcade releases of 2013. While we can’t possibly cover every single XBLA game planned for this year, we’ll be giving you a varied list of 40 of the most promising titles we expect to release on XBLA in 2013. Once it’s all done, be sure to check back in next Monday when each staff member makes his/her picks for the game he/she is most looking forward to.
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Developer: Double Fine
An upcoming platform-adventure game, The Cave is the brainchild of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion creator Ron Gilbert. Channeling Gilbert’s earlier work, The Cave employs classic adventure-style gameplay within an action-platform framework. While we expect The Cave to release this month, an official release date has not yet been announced.
The pesky mythological creatures filled the sky, regularly swooping down to wreak havoc on the undead rock band engaged in a fracas with other, less well-intentioned zombies below. Our group of zombie rockers had been punching, grabbing and throwing its way through the streets towards a cemetery for maybe 15 or 20 minutes at this point, with seemingly everyone but the screaming living trying their darnedest to send us back to hell for good. There was enough chaos being caused by the slow, lumbering zombie baddies and occasional “accidental” punching of each other that the airborne aggressors were being largely left to their own devices.
But there is only so much pushing that a bulky undead drummer is willing to take before he grabs an agitator by her throat and repeatedly smashes her face into the ground. It had fallen to me to make the skies a little friendlier, so that’s what exactly what I did at PAX Prime while playing Ska Studios’ Charlie Murder. Another scream escaped from her throat as she bit the dust, and that was that. However, the magical flying creature impeding our progress had friends. Well, two can play at that game. The other members of the group had continued on their merry little way pummeling the crap out of the enemy zombies, causing various pickups to drop, including guns.
A few pulls of the trigger later and the XBLA Fans crew had achieved complete air superiority. The screams of a unicorn ringing through the headset were music to my ears. On-screen, the tormentors actually took the form of witches on broomsticks, but they were voiced by the studio’s very own one-horn. Ska Studios Art Unicorn Michelle Juett-Silva smiled proudly when explaining that she and her husband, Lead Dishwasher James Silva, had performed nearly all of the voice-over work for their game.
Another stretch of the demo showed off the unicorn’s pipes even more. A quick cut-scene showed some NPCs attempting to escape from the zombies with their lives intact by navigating through the clearly haunted cemetery. They ran right smack into a ghostly little ghost that bore a striking resemblance to the girl from The Ring. (Silva would later admit that they are indeed his homage to Japanese horror films.) The girls can’t attack, but operate more as environmental hazards moving in fixed patterns. Coming into contact with them elicited one of Juett-Silva’s recorded screeches and meant death for the player.
The Indie Mega Booth at PAX East this year held a ton of content for us. We had previews from everything from Charlie Murder to Runner2 to Super Time …
Full disclosure: I didn’t play much of the Dishwasher games prior to visiting Ska Studios at PAX East but me and the team were looking forward to Charlie Murder. A four player brawler with RPG elements is the next game for James Silva and it looks mental. Conceived originally as a super short game for XBLIG, Microsoft really wanted it on their XBLA platform, James said he could make it bigger than a short 20 MB.
After The Dishwasher series, James Silva and gang at Ska Studios have been hard at work on the XBLIG-turned XBLA game Charlie Murder. We finally have our first trailer …