The RPS Xbox Indie Outreach Roundup

By Lewie Procter on August 11th, 2011 at 2:47 pm.

Yes, the same picture again. I like it.
Photo by Jeff Kubina

Last month, we spread the word that we wanted to poach as many Xbox Indie games as possible from Microsoft’s console based XBLIG service. Today, I’m here to tell you that the exodus is well under way. Here are ten eleven of the most promising-looking XBLIGs which are already planning to boost their audience by making themselves available to the millions of happy, sweet-smelling PC gamers. Strap yourselves in, web-travellers, we’re going on a journey into the heart of our Xbox Indie Outreach Roundup!

They Bleed Pixels

Spooky Squid games, who you may remember as the makers of Night of the Cephalopods and Cephalopods Co-op Cottage Defence, are currently busy working on the XBLIG version of They Bleed Pixels, but as soon as they wrap that up, they are planning to start work on a release for the PC.

It’s a lovely looking pixelated platformer, and that juggling centric, combo-building, combat looks like a real treat. Fast paced wall jumping and baddie killing action can be found in this trailer:

All the Bad Parts

Here’s a sidecrolling beat ‘em up from Well Bred Rhino. It’s a bit like all those games from arcades in the 90s, where you have to walk from left to right, punching all the dudes as you go, but it’s had a bit of a polygonal makeover. The PC version is still in “the final stages of polishing”, and the developer has “contacted Steam, and are reviewing other digital distribution options”.

The Rhino has a monocle.

Speedrunner HD

I wonder what the “HD” stands for. Hard drive maybe? I already had this grappling hook toting platformer in my line of sight, but it’s great to hear I’ll be able to play it on the PC instead of on the Xbox.

I like the big bright backdrops, and it gets pretty crazy when the levels start falling apart.

DoubleDutch Games say this about their planned PC release: “Nothing is set in stone, though, so we’re cautious about shouting this from the rooftops. Hopefully, we’ll have more details for you soon.”

Duality ZF

Duality ZF has been quite long in the making. I remember looking at this as far back as June 2009, but Xona Games have been busy working away at it for all that time, and they’ve also put out a series of brilliant smaller games, the Decimation X series.

Sadly the developers have had a few set backs:

“We are interested in having our games on PC and have been rejected from Steam due to (only due to) our low sales on XBLIG. It’s very sad. We even had unofficial acceptance at Steam for our games before the official review in which I was honest about our horrible XBLIG sales.”

It’s a real shame to hear that they ended up getting rejected from Steam for Duality ZF, especially if the main reason was poor sales on a platform that isn’t particularly adept at sorting all the wheat from the chaff at the best of times. Hopefully Xona Games are able to sort out distribution, because I’d very much like to play their game. If placing well in Microsoft’s own Dream Build Play competition isn’t enough to secure a decent distribution deal, perhaps Microsoft should be stepping up and publishing PC version of some of these games.

Little Kingdom

It’s got a grid of hexagons. What are they thinking releasing this on the Xbox?

Andreil Game are currently working on the PC version of this, but have some Xbox footage in the meantime. They reveal that “it’s a bit like risk”.

City Tuesday

Developer Chris Zukowski describes how City Tuesday works:

“You play a man who is stuck reliving the final 5 minutes of his life. At the same time, a shadowy terrorist organization has planted bombs throughout the city and if you can defuse them it just might un-stick you from time.”

More details on his website here.

Here’s a trailer. Watch out for that first step, it’s a doozy.

Astralia

Astralia looks like a mashup of a twin stick shooter, and an RTS. You fly around shooting up all the baddies, and at the same time commanding a team of wingmen, managing resources, and picking up the things that the baddies drop.

The developer, Astroboid, actually started off just developing this for the PC using XNA. Earlier this year they decided to release it for Xbox too.

Shadowdawn: Genesis

Here’s how Fox English (that is the developers actual name) describes this RPG:
“It’s a more traditional action/adventure RPG in the vein of Ys and Secret of Mana, but with deeper dialog trees and exploration with an influence deeply rooted in the classic Ultima VII – the game was made to be less of a hack-and-slash and more of a true RPG.”

Here’s some relatively early footage showing off some of the role playing and action bits. I’m told the music is just a placeholder.

Ninjah

Ninjah is a remake of Chris Mingay‘s freeware platformer from 2007 (still available here), which should be coming to “Windows PC and compiler permitting Mac and Linux too”.

Chris is also going to be adding a host of features to the PC version, such as “additional levels (including user generated ones), a level editor and my technical ability permitting some global highscores”.

Kings of Nevermore

Who’s harder? A lady with blue hair in a red dress, or blue dragon thing? Thanks to Kings of Nevermore, from Lone Dragon Games, we can finally answer that question. It’s a 2D fighter, in the vein of classics like Street Fighter, using hand drawn animation.

Originally planned as a cross platform release, the developer’s frustrations at the indie games service means they’re considering only bothering with the PC version: “Though with the indie games service pretty much forcing super low prices, and having bad visibility, I might end up going with a PC only launch at this rate.”

Trailer here:

Blocks That Matter

Already released for the Xbox, Blocks That Matter is going to be receiving a PC release within a matter of weeks. Developer Swing Swing Submarine have taken elements from both Minecraft and Boulder Dash, and come up with a new design for a 2D platformer. Check out it’s mad styling here:

That’s your lot for now, but no doubt we’ll see more XBLIG developers consider PC releases of their games in the future. If you missed the deadline for this roundup, we still want to hear from any XBLIG devs that are targetting the PC. Please get in touch here.

What do you lot think? Have any of these games successfully grabbed your attention?

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71 Comments »

  1. rocketman71 says:

    No Bomberman?. Damn.

  2. mehteh says:

    Its sad to see so many people get fooled by M$ to make indie games and see their games do incredibly poor. Thats what you get for abandoning the platform indies were made for

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      Yes, I too find it sad when indies are allowed to develop for consoles and more opportunities arise.

      Truly, a gutting thing.

    • Gnoupi says:

      It’s sad to see people still writing “M$”. I mean, it was fun the first years, but now there are probably readers here who were born at the same time as this appellation. Or even later.

      Find something else, maybe?

    • Giaddon says:

      Is this a joke? Microsoft makes Windows, which is what these games will mostly be running on… It doesn’t leave a Microsoft environment.

      Sorry, uh… Sorry to break it to you.

    • thegooseking says:

      It’s sad to see people still writing “M$”. I mean, it was fun the first years, but now there are probably readers here who were born at the same time as this appellation. Or even later.

      I think the main thing is that hiding away indies on Xbox Live is not a result of some sinister money-grubbing scheme; it’s just a result of the system generally being a bit rubbish. So the dollar sign is not making any appropriate commentary here at all; it’s just a knee-jerk reaction.

      Is this a joke? Microsoft makes Windows, which is what these games will mostly be running on… It doesn’t leave a Microsoft environment.

      There’s an open Microsoft environment and then there’s Xbox Live. You don’t need Microsoft’s approval to release something for Windows, nor do you need to release it through Microsoft. There’s a huge difference.

    • Vagrant says:

      I’m sure that the ‘game with zombies in it’ guy, and anybody who put avatars in their games, are real sad.

      There’s no real support on XBLIG, but I wonder if the chances are bigger for any of these games on PC if they don’t make it to either Steam or some major headline-grabbing Indie bundle. So far all the big stories of ‘I left Xbox for pc and make tons of money!’ that I can think of have been going to Steam.

      I’d be interested in seeing non-steam results for these developers. Hopefully IndieCity will solve this potential issue.

      EDIT: Also, you don’t need Microsoft’s approval to release onto XBLIG. You only need community approval.

    • thegooseking says:

      EDIT: Also, you don’t need Microsoft’s approval to release onto XBLIG. You only need community approval.

      You still need to follow Microsoft’s rules. That it’s the community checking whether the game adheres to those rules and not some Microsoft employee is, I would argue, a little immaterial. Actually it’s not so immaterial: It’s part of the reason the system is, as I said, a little bit rubbish.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “There’s an open Microsoft environment and then there’s Xbox Live. You don’t need Microsoft’s approval to release something for Windows”

      You don;t need MS’s approval to release on XBLIG really, its got a community moderation system I.E not directly MS

      TBH anything anti MS said by someone who replaces the S with a dollar can and should be ignored, as they tend to not be able to see anythign that MS does as good, reguardless of what it is.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      As long as Microsoft is willing to implement a little censorship to gain a few profits in China, they deserve neither and will lose both they deserve to be called M$.

      Profits should never be > human rights.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “As long as Microsoft is willing to implement a little censorship to gain a few profits in China, they deserve neither and will lose both they deserve to be called M$.

      Profits should never be > human rights.”

      What sort of machine you typing that message on? As i would bet that a fair bit of it was made in china, so don’t have a go at them when you are also aiding companies maknig a bit of money via china.

      So get off you high horse before you fall, you already look a bit silly.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      M$….

      *runs away giggling* ^_^

    • Vagrant says:

      Do you also use GOOGL€? How about App£e? Pretty much every major tech company makes concessions and sacrifices human rights to do business in China and other east asian countries.

      Is that wrong? Well, it depends on if you like buying stuff for cheap.

  3. Premium User Badge Jubaal says:

    I feel a bit like the boy in The Emperors New clothes, but I didn’t really like the look of any of them. Sorry.

  4. Memento says:

    No Blocks That Matter love ? Meh.

  5. Premium User Badge RobF says:

    Ninjah! Ninjah is ace! Updated Ninjah is acier. Can’t wait.

    • DeanLearner says:

      Wahay :) Thanks for the interest and I hope you enjoy it!

    • Shadowcat says:

      Ninjah (circa 2007) was really excellent fun, although I don’t think that video really shows it off very well. If you wanted to make a better trailer, I’d say ditch the tutorial level footage, throw some text at the screen saying something to the effect “change to the correct colour to not die”, and then mostly just show lots of clips of more exciting levels.

    • DeanLearner says:

      Hi Shadowcat thanks for your comments, as you can probably tell, I may have rushed getting some gameplay footage out for the RPS feature. Shamefully, you can tell that my laptop really struggled to record the footage too.

      I’ve taken on board what you’ve said and hope to have a proper trailer done before release.

    • Kerotan says:

      I’m totally new to it, and it looks like something I could enjoy. I await its release with interest.

    • m3metix says:

      I played a fair bit of the old version of Ninjah. Looking forward to an update!

  6. fuggles says:

    I fully applaud this now that I have found a working Xbox 360 gamepad emulator for those too lazy to bother supporting other pads (looking at you limbo/naval warfare/darksiders). Scott Pilgrim please. PLEASE!

  7. StingingVelvet says:

    Reading that Steam rejection part makes me really sad that most people won’t look anywhere else.

    • Premium User Badge Arvind says:

      The difference between being on steam and being on other DD services is comparable to being on XBLA and XBLIG.
      Notice how Terraria, Limbo and other such games have only bothered launching on Steam.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’ll look at other services, but honestly I want to use a service that’s successful already so my games are guaranteed to be there when I want to redownload them. Not have physical media makes ownership feel so tenuous that I suspect many like myself choose the most stable retailer, not necessarily the cheapest.

  8. Temple says:

    If only there was an online centralised indie distribution service on the way?

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      The solution to the problems of a walled garden is, in all likelihood, not another walled garden.

    • Vagrant says:

      I’m not sure I understand the metaphor? XBLIG and upcoming indie distribution services are far from walled gardens.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      “Slightly walled with an awkwardly shaped door that sometimes sticks” then.

  9. Joe Duck says:

    I feel interested by SpeedRunner’s 4 player mode and by They bleed Pixels. kings of Nevermore also looks cool. I have no idea why anyone would release these labours of love in a shop that is at the bottom of a shop that is at the bottom of a shop.
    Come to the PC!

  10. thegooseking says:

    Reply fail.

  11. RF says:

    It’s really silly to sell this stuff on XBLA. Don’t most of these games only generate like 500 sales there?

    • ankh says:

      It would be more if CAPITAL M AND DOLLAR SIGN would grant me the privilege to purchase them, but my money is no good to them. THEY WANT DOLLARS

      (Region locking rant)

    • Milky1985 says:

      XBLA is different from XBLIG, XBLA i beleive requires a proper publisher (so no indies) and uses different dev tools (not XNA).

      Some XBLIG have done really well, but its kinda like the app store thing, for every 100,000k seller theres 50 that sell next to nothing.

    • Baines says:

      Most of these games probably wouldn’t do much better as PC releases unless they get on Steam, and Steam has rejected some of them already.

      Releasing on XBLIG at least can get you noticed, and noticed in an environment where people at least expect to spend at least a dollar to play your game (as opposed to PCs where people expect good games for free when they aren’t buying them through Steam.) And maybe if you get noticed, you can then get on Steam where you can make more money.

      Porting an XNA title from XBLIG to a Windows PC release shouldn’t be difficult. The only real trickiness is probably in the reverse, porting a PC XNA title to XBLIG, where you have to be more memory conscious while using a language built around the idea of not requiring the coder to be concerned about memory management. (When XNA launched, PC support might have been more problematic, but now people tend to have graphics cards with the required shader support and the like.)

  12. smoke.tetsu says:

    Noticed there’s a fighting game or two in the mix. The problem with indie fighting games on the PC in my opinion is if they aren’t stellar they actually hurt… not help the PC’s image when it comes to fighting games. If they can’t compare to the likes of the most popular fighters out there on the consoles people point at them and say “this is why the PC should not have fighting games” I’ve seen this happen in the past.

    On the other hand I’m not begrudging small indies from releasing their fighting games on the PC just that we need a set of the best to offset the worst so to speak.

  13. chiablo says:

    Kings of Nevermore…

    I really hope that’s placeholder artwork.

    • thecat17 says:

      I’m going to assume it’s placeholder art, too. Because… man, it’s ugly.
      But the animation looks like it’s coming along nicely.

      That trailer really is terrible, though. This is a much better one (and much more recent, uploaded the same day as this article went up).

  14. JFS says:

    We shall overcome!

  15. dreadnaughthumbug says:

    Duality ZF looks great! How Steam could reject it is beyond me.

    • Dominic White says:

      Apparently Valve just don’t particularly like arcade shooters. The few that are on Steam took a LOT of convincing to get even the slightest bit of attention from anyone responsible for Steam publishing.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I kind of thought that it was about it being an arcade shooter too. I think the problem is that they’re pretty easy to make and it’s harder to provide a really unique experience with a shooter. When you start programming in XNA, even the best examples are shootem ups. I bet Valve doesn’t want Steam to get flooded with them.

    • matthewdoucette says:

      To be clear, Steam rejected a pre-release beta of Duality ZF that did not have the ghost continues or the additional level content (not shown in the new trailer) and also lack some of the cooler weapons such as a few hunter weapons. We believe if we polish off Duality ZF and potentially redo our art (depends on financing) that Steam will accept us.

  16. Miodrag Kovachevic says:

    Some excellent-looking games here. I’ll be keeping an eye out.

  17. Gar says:

    Do want They Bleed Pixels! Gevit hurrrrrr

    • Dominic White says:

      Some great humor on show in that trailer already. She looks like SUCH as happy little thing when she magics herself up some accursed blood-claws. And having it spout random Lovecraftian cliches (Eldritch! Necrotic! Gibbous! Non-euclidian!) as combo-praise is rather brill, too.

  18. Milky1985 says:

    “All the bad parts” and “they bleed pixels” more me to start methinks.

    Like brawler games and tehy bleed pixels make me think a bit of the megaman X with all the wall jumping

  19. Dominic White says:

    The sad part is that a lot of these games immediately LOOK like Xbox Live Indie titles. While a couple of them (such as They Bleed Pixels) have distinct visual styles and don’t look particularly attached to anything other than generally retro aesthetics, the majority of these games have that same ‘this is my first game with programmer art, please buy it for $3′ feel to them.

    If XBLIG allowed developers to make freeware releases, you probably wouldn’t see nearly so much crap in the paid categories.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Yeah, I definitely agree with you. Several of them look sloppy or like they have unoriginal gameplay. This sounds pretty harsh, but there are a lot of really good flash games out there that look more polished and more creative than many of these.

    • matthewdoucette says:

      Dominic White… this is great feedback and we are listening to you.

    • Tei says:

      *silly post deleted*

  20. Xercies says:

    Um City Tuesday, didn’t Source Code already do that?

  21. Khann says:

    This was my experience reading this post:

    “Hmm.. ‘They Bleed Pixels’ eh? Combo system you say?”

    *clicks video*

    “Hmm looks kinda like SMB with combat…. nifty!”

    *sips coffee*

    “What’s this one then…. ‘All The Bad Parts’? Ah, a side-scrolling beat-em-up. Never been much of a fan of those, but the art-style looks nifty”

    *clicks video*

    “Looks like it has a decent sense of humour. Nice!”

    *sips coffee*

    “Speedrunner HD? HD? Really? Oh.. haha, nice one Lewie. Great minds etc. Grappling hooks? Now you’re speaking my language.”

    *clicks video*

    “OH JESUS H. MOTHER-FUCKING CHRIST HOLY SHITBALLS THAT IS LOUD OH DEAR GOD”

    *coffee goes everywhere*

  22. DeanLearner says:

    Thanks for mentioning Ninjah, it is very much appreciated :)

  23. DeanLearner says:

    Also, every time BTM flashes on screen in the Blocks That matter trailer, I say Bee Tee Emm to myself. I had to tell someone.

  24. Fetthesten says:

    Well done! More of this, please. For some reason or other (perhaps no reason at all), Xbox Live Indie Games is unavailable here in Norway (even though it’s available in Sweden, which is like right next door) so I’ve yet to even see a real XBLIG in action.

  25. Veracity says:

    I could’ve sworn I’d played a version of Duality ZF at some point. Probably not: more likely just that it’s been kicking around forever.

    They Bleed Pixels looks potentially fabulous, like a much better Alice. Super Meat Boy sticky walls with kicky stabby? Yes, please. They have to have been thinking of Dark Messiah at some point, surely? Or not. I suppose gruesomely impaling everything wasn’t strictly invented for that.

  26. Wulf says:

    Shadowdawn: Genesis is speaking a language that I understand and relish every word of. It’s Ultima VII meets Secret of Mana? Well, just cherry pick two of my all time favourite RPGs, why don’t you! And it has a badass cat in it, of which I find there are too few? Possibly the most aloof cat since Red XIII? I can get behind that.

    Yes, after Dragons with Jetpacks: The Game blowing my mind, this is a lovely thing to come and see next. If they get it released, I’ll buy it three times, once for myself and for the others I know, all of whom love RPGs. My dedication to the sort of things I like isn’t inconsiderable, since there are so few things I like in gaming these days.

    But an RPG which is Ultima VII and Secret of Mana, and has a badass, aloof cat?

    I’ll buy that. I’ll buy that three times.

  27. MeestaNob says:

    Surprised (and annoyed) Duality ZF didn’t get a go on Steam, considering this is a real lack of schmups on PC.

    Hope they reconsider.

  28. fuggles says:

    I use this one:

    http://virusdev.ovh.org/files/xinputemu/x360ce%20vibmod%203.1.4.1.zip

    youtube how to video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqt9z0oBWiI

    I did find an older version:
    http://code.google.com/p/x360ce/downloads/detail?name=x360ce.App-2.0.2.92.zip&can=1&q=

    easier to use in terms of binding the controls. This writes to an output .ini file and I then copied the bindings part onto the .ini file of the newer version. Luckily, you only need to set up your bindings once.

  29. matthewdoucette says:

    Thanks so much for featuring Duality ZF. We are going to to bring Duality ZF up to XBLA/PSN quality which should land us onto Steam. We pay attention to all the negative yet constructive criticism that comes our way. We don’t wish our game to look like a flash game or a typical “crap” indie game looking for undeserved sales. If any of you wish to send more comments my way, please feel free to. You can also contact me directly via email and all my social nets off of http://xona.com/matt/. Thanks so much everyone! We want Duality ZF on Steam! And XBLA and PSN. Likely we will not be able to do all three, but we should be able to do at least Steam. Thanks again!

  30. Nightfox says:

    I really appreciate the mention for Shadowdawn: Genesis among so many other interesting and popular titles. The video here is 6 months old and just a basic engine demo (which my friend insists I call the “Barbecue Spare Ribs” engine); the game itself has come a very long way, including the addition of party mechanics, more polished UI, cleaner and more proportional sprite drawings – not to mention actually having everything animated, a novel’s worth of interactive dialog, and just better controls and usability. It still has a ways to go before an alpha and subsequent demo just due to the scope of the game, but it’s hard not to be excited about developing this RPG the further it comes along. :)

  31. DOLBYdigital says:

    I don’t know if this game is XBLIG but I NEED INSANELY TWISTED SHADOW PLANET!!!! Please oh please release on PC… It was originally for PC back when development first started but then M$ got its grubby hands on it and locked it down for exclusivity… Hoping its only for a period of time and then it will come to PC like Limbo

    • Laneford says:

      Nope, that one’s XBLA (like Limbo / Bastion / From Dust etc.)