Humble Monthly Bundle's illustration of a person exploring a subterranean environment.

The Humble group have been curating digital content since 2010, with some of my favourite packages including indie titles BraidWorld of Goo, Bastion and Super Meat Boy. Their model takes the format of ‘pay-what-you-want’, with sales above a certain price unlocking additional content and of course, a percentage of their profit is also donated to charity.

Starting next month they will offer a Humble Monthly Bundle for $12 (about £8), which will include a selection of mystery games on the first Friday of every month. Early subscribers will also unlock the bonus title, Legend of Grimrock 2.

I’m quite tempted to sign up. Their page suggests that whilst games are for Windows, some will work on other platforms (Mac, Linux), so it’s pot-luck (in the case of my iMac) for what would be compatible.

It is a great offer though, and there’s no doubt that Humble will include some great titles, indie or otherwise, in this service. It similar to Loot Crate.

The Humble Monthly Bundle will be available from November 6th, for all subscribers.

"Something for the weekend" text on a pink background.

It’s Friday and work’s out, so it’s time for Something for the weekend part two! A collection of my personal favourite content from around the web this week.

Slightly shorter update this week. Whilst I haven’t been quite as active on my studies, I have been reading quite a bit. I hope the articles are of some use to others also.

As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see more of, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Whatcha Playin’?

I managed to complete Super Time Force Ultra. I mentioned previously that the design of the game was a big part of what drew me in, and today saw this article on Gamasutra which looks at the art direction in more detail. It’s really interesting to see how the art style has developed over time, building up detail. Worth a look, and you can still grab this title for free over the next few days if you have a PSN Plus account.

I’m still playing Metal Gear Solid V. I’m roughly 33% of the way through now, though I’ve done a lot of side missions, so I’m not sure how long it will take me to complete the story. It’s a real behemoth of a game though, there are so many features and things to keep you busy. I haven’t even tried Metal Gear Online yet.

I’ve picked up a few games this week that I’m hoping to find time to play once MGSV is out of the way. Namely, the Witcher 3 (PS4), Tomb Raider and The Beginner’s Guide (PC). I really can’t wait until the Rise of the Tomb Raider arrives on PS4 next year, so I picked up the 2013 reboot to play through again until the sequel eventually gets a wider release. It’s currently on sale for £2.99 on Steam.

Lara Croft - a young female adventurer, draws back her bow.

Lara Croft returns in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

There Is No Game is a fun browser title which was created for Deception Jam, and came in first place! Whilst I hesitate to call it a game (in case it upsets the narrator), it is fun, and not overly time consuming.

From around the web..

News of an impending “indiepocalypse” has been doing the rounds this month. Game developers everywhere have been running in terror. “It’s the end!”, they all cry, “We’re all doomed!”.

Phil Maxey looks at why this is the case, citing other recent articles and providing fairly conclusive evidence in his article, Can the last indie game dev please turn off the light.

Whilst it’s maybe not quite as bad as some suggest, the buzzword has been causing a stir, with others also suggesting the market is completely inaccessible to new developers. The reality is that there has never been an easier time to learn and develop your own games, though the market is oversaturated with poor quality titles and clones.

Another related article by SteamSpy‘s Sergey Galyonkin, writes that this isn’t the first time the games industry has seen ‘apocalyptic’ events and that there have been several noticeable peaks and declines over the years. On #Indiepocalypse: What is really killing indie games is a really helpful article, and worth a read.

Inevitably, you won’t become a millionaire from your game, and working on your own game title shouldn’t be motivated purely by financial success. Regardless, if game development is something you’re genuinely passionate about, then you should definitely pursue it.

In other gloomy news, WTF is Wrong with Video Games is a critical look at the world of video games and their shortcomings as art. He states:

After decades fighting the perception that video games are little more than diverting toys, the games industry won its most important battle: in 2011, the United States Supreme Court classified games as speech protected by the First Amendment. Games had arrived as a legitimate form of art alongside movies and music and books. Or so the industry and community claim.

Phil Owen, disrespected video game journalist and critic, believes otherwise. In WTF Is Wrong With Video Games? he sets out to lay bare all the fundamental issues with games, and the industry that makes them, that are holding this burgeoning medium back from fulfilling its true potential as interactive storytelling art.

There are some good arguments and interesting points to consider, though I feel there is a lot of comparison to other mediums, in particular film.

National Museums Scotland is looking for an experienced game developer to work with them on an upcoming Game Jam. Aiming to work with young people over a number of sessions, their goal is to produce several game titles involving the exhibits and features of the museum, making them available for public use. If you’d like to get involved, check out this post on IDGA Scotland’s blog for more details.

I’m also going to include a few articles I’ve bookmarked for weekend reading. They came from reliable sources, but feel free to leave me some feedback if they’re not of particular interest:


Polygon Longform (iTunes) this week talked about The secret developers of the video game industry. It’s a great piece discussing an area of the games industry which I didn’t know about until now.

I’ve been listening to The Game Developers Radio (SoundCloud) this week too. Updated almost daily, they cover various areas of game design (including the Indiepocalypse). Worth subscribing too.


Let’s Dev With Greg introduces the viewer to basic elements in Unity, in particular tilesets which form the basis of a 2D platform game. It covers quite a lot in just over 22 minutes, so add it to your watch list.

Whilst it’s been almost 6 years since my last visit to Japan, I have many fond memories of my time there. In particular, I spent a few late nights in the various arcades scattered around Tokyo. Even spending a short time in Akiba, it becomes evident that the gaming culture in Japan differs greatly from accepted norms in the western world. Whilst I never really caught a glimpse of the independent game scene, an upcoming documentary might offer some insight before I return next year.

French director Anne Ferrero (Twitter) and Assemblage announced recently at Indie Stream during TGS 2015, Branching Paths, a new documentary featuring Japan’s independent game scene. Filmed over a period of two years, the project begun as a series of video blogs where Yoshiko Kimura of Onion Games would interview indie game developers.

Young man sitting at a large tablet device. Gaming paraphernalia is scattered around his room.

Hard at work on his next masterpiece.

From the Branching Paths homepage:

The Japanese video game industry lead the world in creativity and innovation from the 1980’s to the mid-2000’s, but in recent years, Japanese studios had been unable to keep up with advancements in technology, and many have shifted focus away from risky projects and unique gaming experiences.

All around the world, many players long to play games like those that inspired and excited them in their childhood.

For industry veterans and young talents who aspire to the pursuit of originality and creative freedom, going independent is the answer.

Japan has a history of independent creators building lively communities, even within industries where large media companies rule. Comic Market, and events like it attract more than 1 million attendees yearly.

For the last several years, the Japanese game industry has begun to recognize the power of independent creators and the momentum of the fledgling scene, and in 2013, the Tokyo Game Show created a pavilion to feature indie creators for the first time in its history.

But is the Japanese game industry really changing? What is the price of creative independence? Why is there no funding or support from the Japanese government? These are just some of the questions we examine, to understand not only this unique scene, but its roots in culture. The answers tell a story of a struggle, not only for creative expression, but for survival as well.

The trailer includes some beautiful key shots from around Japan, and it looks like a great documentary for gamers and Japanophiles alike.

Branching Paths: A journey in Japan’s independent game scene will be released in January 2016. Keep an eye on the Branching Paths homepage for further details.

"Something for the weekend" text on a pink background.

I’ve decided to create Something for the weekend as a new regular segment for the site, containing a sample of my personal favourite content from around the web this week.

The first of these weekly updates contains content from the past couple of weeks, as I’ve experimented with the format a little (and it took me longer than I had expected). Let me know your thoughts – anything you’d like to see more/less of.

Whatcha Playin’?

Computer generated image of Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid V. He is holding his robotic hand over his face.

Big Boss looks amazing on PS4

Probably no surprise that I’ve been playing Metal Gear Sold V (PS4) the past few weeks. I’m about 25% of the way through the game, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it so far. Whilst it’s no doubt a incredible piece of work, I personally feel as though there has been a disconnect since Metal Gear Solid 4. I couldn’t really get into the mission based gameplay in Peace Walker, because of the way it interrupts the flow of the game so regularly, and it’s similar in MGSV.

Preview of a chicken catching game, which parodies Metal Gear Solid V.

The Chicken Pain

Yesterday I found this amazing parody called, The Chicken Pain. It’s a two-player arcade battle played on the same keyboard. It’s a silly, fun little time-waster, but it has a really nice feel to it. It’s simple to play and the low-poly style is adorable. It really works with the simple mother base environment. Even more impressively, this game was made within 7 days!

I played through a few hours of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4). Unsurprisingly, it’s great fun and makes use of the PS4s ability to spawn many more on-screen characters than the PS3. It’s absolute carnage! Hoping to get back into this once I’ve battled my way through MGSV. Using the same game engine as Dynasty Warriors, the game features the colourful pirates from Oda’s manga and takes itself a lot less seriously than the Dynasty Warriors series.

I grabbed Super Time Force Ultra whilst it’s on the PSN Plus monthly freebie list. It’s a lot of fun actually, though somewhat chaotic at times. The art style is very nicely pixelated and there’s a lot of meme-based humour and internet tropes scattered through the game. The basic gameplay reminds me a little of Metal Slug, but the time manipulation element makes it really unique.

I also picked up Gunpoint (PC). It’s a fun strategy title, where you play as a private detective who becomes embroiled in a murder involving a large corporation. Full of witty dialogue, upgradable tech and plenty of hacking, it’s a great game at an affordable price.

What have you been playing this week?

From around the web..

This week there’s been a lot of news about the Voice Actors Union voting on strike action against the games industry (Polygon, gamesindustry.bizForbes, BBC News). There are a lot of varied opinions, and I have mixed feelings about the situation also. I feel that everyone in the creative industry deserves fair compensation for the work they do, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the outcome of this situation. The topic has also been trending on Twitter, under the hashtag #PerformanceMatters – with voice talent and industry professionals weighing in.

The Long Shadow of Super Mario Bros. takes a look at how the series has evolved over the last 30 years – that’s right, 30 years. Mario, and the technology that first delivered him to my television screen is a couple of years older than me, so it was really interesting to read about the limitations developers had on the original Nintendo Famicom/NES cartridges.

The Art Direction of Bungie’s Destiny revisits a talk by Joe Staten and Christopher Barrett at GDC 2013 (Youtube). Featuring some gorgeous concept work and matte paintings, along with a demonstration Bungie’s Grognok World Building software, it really gives the impression that Bungie are still working to deliver the massively immersive environment that was promised years ago.

Pokémon GO could be the Pokémon game I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid. I don’t want to say too much more, as not a lot has been announced, but I’ll be keeping an eye on this with high expectations.

Whilst I’ve barely scratched the surface of the Shin Megami Tensei series, Persona 5 [Japanese] looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. The character designs are really outlandish, and the animation style is as cool as ever. Previous titles in the Persona series have mixed RPG style gameplay with an interactive story and 2D animation for great effect. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this.

The Art of Journey looks at the wonderful concepts behind the game.

The visual style of thatgamecompany’s Journey is dominated by gentle slopes, clean lines and flowing capes. The story of how the game’s art design coalesced, however, is peppered with rocky starts, bumps and sharp turns.

At GDC 2013, Journey art director Matt Nava presented the artwork he created during development and showcased how the characters, creatures, and architecture of the game evolved over time.

It was an interesting talk, in part because Nava summarizes creative processes, inspirations, challenges, and constraints that were encountered while formulating the visual aesthetic of what would become an award-winning game that was lauded for its art style.


This is really a great video. Matt Nava (Twitter) shares his process with aspiring artists, offering unconventional insight, including that he painted much of the environmental concept art for the game on his Nintendo DS. The talk is very inspiring, and it should definitely be on your watch list if you’re a fan of Journey.

Twitter – Follow Friday!


Miguelito has entertained me for a while now, with ridiculous gifs from his upcoming indie title, The Legend of ChickenSword. It’s been a lot of fun watching his game develop.


Javed is the creator of the Dear Sega video I posted a few months back. I’ve been watching him since then, hoping to gain new insight. His animation/video style has a very clean and modern style. Whilst his releases are infrequent, Javed often links to other interesting musicians and artists. He’s worth a follow.


The Sick Kids Save Point is a charity organisation run by gamers. Based primarily in Edinburgh, they run a 24 hour gaming marathon each year, along with smaller events with all proceeds going to the Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation (Twitter) – which looks after kids and young people whilst they’re in hospital. A very worthy cause, run by some seriously awesome people. Please donate via their Just Giving page if you can. This year’s marathon will run between the 9th-11th October, so keep an eye on their Twitter feed for streaming links closer to the time.


GAME IS A FOUR LETTER WORD is a relatively new podcast, which attempts to make gaming accessible to a wider audience. Modelled on the format of This American Life (also a great podcast), each episode centres on a theme and features soundbites and interviews containing a wealth of information. It reminds me a little of A Life Well Wasted, which was a great podcast, but had a total of 7 episodes in 4 years – the last of which was released in 2013.

Polygon’s Minimap has kept me thoroughly up to date on the daily gaming news, which was indispensable last week, with highlights and coverage leading up to the Tokyo Game Show. I really enjoy the pacing of the show, and the short but regular podcast is packed with useful information. You can also follow the show’s host, Dave Tach, on Twitter for updates.


This week I managed to pick up an Introduction to lighting fundamentals in Unity 5 over at Udemy. It’s a nice easy intro for anyone looking to get into using the package. When you start rendering 3D scenes for a game or animation, the lighting is incredibly important in directing the visual tone. It’s definitely worth picking up the basics.

I’ve also been watching the Math for Game Developers series by Jorge Rodriguez on Youtube. In high school, math was never able to hold my attention, but it’s a fairly fundamental skill when it comes to any kind of programming language. By applying lessons to interesting subject matters, such as Pacman, Rodriguez was able to hold my attention by adding context to mathematics in a way that makes it interesting to learn. Along with teaching the basic formulas and practices, he also shows how to apply what you learn in C++, which is a commonly used language in game development.

The Last of Us™ Remastered_20150607204932

I recently completed Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us.

Despite having picked up the game with my PS4 over a year ago, I found it quite difficult to make time for. The opening levels are fairly gloomy, and the stealth aspect was a little off-putting for me. Last month, I picked up the controller, determined to complete the masterpiece I was promised. I was not disappointed.

Joel, a ruthless survivor with few moral lines left to cross, lives in one of the last remaining Quarantine Zones. These walled-off, oppressive cities are run by what’s left of the military. Despite the strict martial law, Joel operates in the black market of the city, smuggling contraband for the right price.

Joel is asked by a dying friend to look after Ellie, a fourteen-year-old girl with courage beyond her years. What starts out as a simple job to deliver Ellie to another Quarantine Zone, soon transforms into a profound journey that will forever change Joel and Ellie.

As they journey across a post-pandemic United States, Joel and Ellie will encounter different factions of survivors that have each found a unique way of dealing with the infected humans, the lack of supplies, and the threat of other survivors. As Joel and Ellie struggle to persevere, they must learn to trust each other and work together in order to survive the realities of this new world.

Synopsis by Naughty Dog

Naughty Dog have designed and built an amazing world with a very strong, character driven narrative. Throughout the story, there is clear development of the characters and in particular their relationship as they fight to survive. It is this relationship between Joel and Ellie that pushed me to keep playing whilst the world was going to hell around me.

Despite the rich setting of the game, a post-pandemic middle America, the focus of direction was on the characters, making this much more than just another zombie title.


Satoru Iwata

It was with great sadness that I received news of Satoru Iwata’s death this week. Nintendo president from 2002, he was the first to inherit the title outside of the Yamaguchi family and saw the company through some difficult and prosperous times.

Although I would not consider myself a huge fan of the Nintendo franchise, I do have a deep appreciation for their consistent dedication to quality and the approachability of their titles. The first console I ever owned was the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES), which I remember very fondly. I would hurry to finish dinner so I could play Duck Hunt with my dad and since passed grandfather. I think they got even more from this game than I did, but I take some enjoyment from their frustration of being unable to shoot “that bloody annoying dog”.

I also owned the original Nintendo DS and was so excited to get my hands on it, I actually imported it from Japan months ahead of the UK release. It was around this point that Nintendo, under Iwata’s guidance, began to really explore making titles for all ages and preferences. Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training – part of my daily ritual at the time, had more in common with a modern smart-phone app than Super Mario Bros. And yet, it was an entertaining experience which promised the benefits of an active, healthy mind. It was the kind of thing even my grandmother could play and enjoy.

One of my lasting memories of Iwata, was when I discovered he reduced his own salary, and the salary of other executives within the company in order to reduce the loss of jobs at Nintendo during a rough financial period. It was such refreshing news, given that executives with capitalist mindsets typically tend to secure their own needs above those of their subordinates.

Ultimately, Iwata was a gamer. He was able to develop his career as a game developer as a result of his passion, and love for games:

On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.

Satoru Iwata – GDC 2005

Memorials to his life and accomplishments are popping up on Twitter (#RIPIwata) and news sites throughout the web:

Truly, his death comes as a blow to the gaming community worldwide. He has left a very large shadow.

Thank you, Iwata-san.

Academic and author Heather Chaplin delivers a clear warning against game developers who exploit addictive behaviours.

This trend [of Skinner Box design] is actually not only morally reprehensible, but actually bad for business if you just design down the hole leading to addiction.

Despite being a short video, it makes a very clear point.

Chaplin illustrates similarities in game development trends to those leading to alcoholism and substance abuse, and in fairness both cases generally have somebody who stands to profit by taking advantage of a person’s need to fuel their addiction.

A growing concern (though not a new one), is that games are becoming increasingly addictive. In May, changes to legislation in Nevada have seen skill-based slot machines with video game-style play approved for Las Vegas casinos. In an effort to identify with a new generation of gamblers, the idea is that the new machines will appeal to a fresh audience and continue to drive revenue.

Also of note is the potential move to legalise gambling in Japan, which some believe to have had a profound effect on the business model of Konami, a well known game developer. Following changes to the company’s corporate structure, and the loss of their figurehead, Hideo Kojima, many fear that the company responsible for Castlevania and the Metal Gear franchises, among many others, is all but giving up on console titles.

With such changes becoming apparent, it is important to ensure the competitive nature of gaming does not exploit the player.

Do you want to play to addiction in order to make money, or create a game that people want to keep playing?

Source: Gamasutra

Little Devil Inside

Neostream announced this week that they’re switching development of Little Devil Inside from Unity 4.6 to the Unreal Engine.

In their Kickstarter announcement on Monday, they stated the necessity of the switch was apparent after consulting with other professionals:

Development-wise, we’ve seriously been looking into shifting over to the Unreal Engine. We have been getting a lot of professional advice on this and although there may be a little lead time, overall, this just looks like a much more feasible option taking into account what we want to create and achieve.

Following a successful funding campaign which ended on the 25th of May this year, development on Little Devil Inside is due to start this month, aiming for an Autumn 2016 release. Their Kickstarter managed to crowd fund $306,515 (AUD) – A little over $56,000 above their initial target.

As a backer of this campaign (at the physical level), I’m somewhat relieved their decision to switch game engine has been made at this early stage. Whilst it’s a fairly big change, the team is still small and in the early stages of their development. As such, at this non-critical point, they have the time and resources to dedicate to learning the new software and refactoring their existing work.

Little Devil Inside - artwork

About Little Devil Inside

From the developers:

Little Devil Inside is a truly engaging 3D action adventure RPG game where you are thrown into a surreal but somewhat familiar setting with humans, creatures and monsters to interact with, learn and hunt – journey, survive and discover the world that exists beyond.

This game is not just about killing arch-demons and saving the world. Take in the atmosphere and live a realistic life in an unrealistic world. This is a game that tells stories about people with ‘unusual’ jobs such as hunting monsters and what happens in their everyday life doing so.

You can check out the first Little Devil Inside trailer below.

About Neostream

Established in 1998, Neostream Interactive Pty Ltd originated as a multimedia company and has transitioned fully into game development.

Experiences with projects in design, TV commercials, Animations etc. Based on these experiences, they now begin their first game title – Little Devil Inside.

Neostream’s founding members are two brothers; Kody Lee. (Founder, Creative Director, 3D / 2D artist, Concept, game design) and J.J. Lee (Founder, Programmer).

Source: Kickstarter

This video by Good Blood Games is the first of what I hope is an ongoing series of critical reviews called Dear Developer.

Javed, lead producer and animator at Good Blood, really seems to understand the problems facing Sega’s recent string of failures relating to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

Whilst his suggestions are by no means absolute or exhaustive, in this short video he presents ideas which are backed by solid data and research. He speaks about the 16bit titles with personal insight and passionately makes the point that there is still life to be nurtured from their flagship hero.

Source: Good Blood Games

I recently happened upon this interesting video which looks at the sheer scale of Minecraft.

The game, which last year sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion is huge in every sense, despite its simplicity. Developed by the Swedish game developer, Markus “Notch” Persson (@Notch on Twitter) and originally released in 2009 as a playable alpha, the game is an inspiring success story of an indie developed title making it big.

If you want to learn more about the game and the team behind it, the documentary Minecraft: The story of Mojang is an interesting and in-depth history which I’d recommend.

Source: WIRED