Not all “games” are games

By definition an electronic game is an interactive software where:

  1. Your decisions change the inner state of the software in a meaningful, preferably irrevocable way. Think something along the lines of moving a piece in a chessboard: you just can’t go back to the initial setting because your opponent won’t let you.
  2. You can lose. Every game has an end. You can win big, win small, win different, but there must always be the possibility to lose. This is part of the thrill of playing, be it against a human opponent, an AI opponent or simple immovable obstacles.

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Source: minecraft.net

Graphical interfaces, storytelling, score keeping, character building, lore and music are all beautiful additions but they don’t make your digital interactive media a game. Ergo, not everything that’s sold as a game is actually a game (e.g.: interactive novels). Some features can actually render a game into a non-game, such as the ability to save/load at any point, which makes the player’s decision irrelevant to the game state because he or she can try endlessly until reaching the “optimal decision”. But it’s up to the player to do that or not. If you could avoid having a predefined optimal route and go with a couple of different end scenarios, all the better.

So, as you can see, the term “game” is used very loosely nowadays, which is wrong because it paints an inaccurate picture of the whole industry of digital interactive media out there. There is nothing wrong with developing an interactive novel, a simulator, a pixel art map editor, etc.

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Global Game Jam highlights

For what is now 10 years, an annual event called Global Game Jam (GGJ) has been happening, and as the name implies, it’s been happening all around the globe. Global Game Jam 2018 took place from the 26th to the 28th of January in 109 different countries; including, of course, Brazil and other countries from Latin America. With more than 42.000 people participating at this year’s “jam”, this was “the biggest Game Jam ever”.

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If you don’t know what the GGJ is all about or how it works, it’s an event with sites at different states and cities of various countries, where the “jammers”, who are developers, students, designers, musicians or simply people interested in learning and challenging themselves, gather in groups, to program – or better said: to put a game together, in 48 hours. What they don’t tell you until you get there is the theme of the game; each year has its own theme, and this year’s theme was: “Transmission”, a multifaceted theme that can be interpreted in many ways, and so it was; with more than 8.000 games on many different platforms, spanning desktop PCs, mobile, virtual reality, eye-tracking, cardboard for tabletop games and much more.

In this article, we are going to talk about the amazing games developed at this year’s GGJ by Brazilians, Australians and Latin Americans (more specifically Colombians).

Before we start, it is important to note that it can be said that all games developed at the Global Game Jam are indie, since the games are developed using the same free software (Unity) in small groups (the biggest group had 19 participants). It is also worth remembering that some of which today are super famous indie games were created at a GGJ. A few great examples: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Surgeon Simulator. So, it is possible to learn more about developing indie games at this event, as well as appreciating this growing market and the hard work put into every project – because being an indie developer is challenging, and not always rewarding. That’s why we are going to talk about some projects that deserve special attention.

As we already know, many awesome games were created at this year’s GGJ, but for today, let’s talk about two games per country.

Brazil Game Jam

It is no secret that every Brazilian game displayed at the GGJ official website is not only creative, but also very well presented; you can tell they are made with passion and care. Brazilians are known to be great indie game developers. Since the game market is still growing at this tropical land, small groups of developers are common; that’s why all of Brazilians games have such high quality: only real passionate programmers program!

At this year’s “jam”, 510 games were developed by Brazilians; the greatest number between the three countries we are discussing in this article.

Music Paper

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Music Paper was created by programmers at the Brazil Game Jam site called Manaus (Ocean). With the “Transmission” theme being very clear and well put in this game, you play as a passionate musician who, after putting his feelings into writing a sheet song, throws it out the window so it would reach anyone who gets it. The gyroscope and swipe are the main controls of the game, and the main objective is to reach musical rings, making the before grayish and sad scenario again colorful with the power of music. Music Paper is available for Android, iPad and iPhone and was developed by Flameseed Game Studio.

Love Link

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Developed at the Indie Warehouse site in Brasília (DF), their game criticizes people who care too much about their phones and too little about real social interaction, displaying them as zombies with phones in their hands. Love Link is available for MS Windows.

Australia Game Jam

Australian programmers developed 251 games at this year’s Global Game Jam, and prepare to laugh, because Australians have shown that they have a great sense of humor, since most of their games are centered on a funny or unexpected story, for example, these two games bellow:

Robo Love Triangle

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Made by only three participants from Melbourne, this is a two-player (PvP) platformer with a cute design, a funny story and a simple objective. You have to compete against the other player at collecting alien letters to then send them to the Robotta – a cute robot. The one who sends the most letters will win her heart; and the game! Robo Love Triangle is available for MS Windows.

SasWatch

SasWatch.jpgDeveloped at the AIE Canberra site, in this game you play as a little girl who wants to prove to her family, her town and the whole world that the Sasquatch really exists. In order to prove that the Sasquatch is real, you have to set up sensor trackers around the forest and also get video footage as proof. This super fun game is available for MS Windows.

Colombia Game Jam

Colombia had a small but strong “collection” of games this year, with 52 games spanning various themes and styles.

Eclipse

Eclipse.jpgDeveloped by a large group of nine people at the Global Game Jam Medellin site, this game draws attention by its beautiful and colorful scenario, creative story and well thought gameplay and controls. You play switching between two characters; Magnus, the sun automaton, and Muuya, the moon automaton. They must cooperate to meet each other while living in parallel worlds. Eclipse is available for MS Windows.

Global Sick Jam

Global-Sick-Jam.pngWith a lot of humor involved, this game was also developed by a group from the Global Game Jam Medellin, drawing attention not only for being funny, but also for being very well programmed and designed. This game takes place at the real Global Game Jam site at UPB Medellin. Your objective is simple: get every other team sick, so your team will be the only one to submit a game in the end. This game is available for MS Windows.

As you can tell by now, the Global Game Jam is a great event for people who are interested in entering the indie game market. All games made there (from the first event in 2009 to the latest this year) are available at their official website here. Let’s all be inspired by these passionate programmers and enjoy their awesome projects! And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next year’s GGJ.

The Story of Tetris

Two days ago, the YouTube channel Gaming Historian published a masterpiece documentary on one of the greatest games ever released: Tetris (Electronika 60, Alexey Pajitnov & Vadim Gerasimov, 1984).

The documentary covers the humble origins of this addictive game in the Soviet Academy of Sciences, its difficult break into the West and quick rise in popularity in the late 80s and early 90s. The video is around 1 hour long, but it is worth every single minute.


Watch it on YouTube:

NESmaker will allow you to create your own NES games

 

If you are a hardcore retro gamer, you’ve probably played NES a lot. Now, what if you could create your own games for this classic platform? Well, thanks to Austin McKinley and Joeseph Granato now you can!

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NESmaker is a software that allows you to create your very own NES game using your own graphic assets and, better yet, store it into an actual, playable cartridge! Wanna learn more about this amazing project? Check NESmaker page on Kickstarter:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1316851183/nesmaker-make-nes-games-no-coding-required

A New Year in Indie Gaming

Every year is different in the gaming market; since the first game ever programmed, each year or decade has its favorites or more popular games – in all categories, including indie games, the ones that we are going to talk about here – and of course, in 2017 it’s still the same way. Today, we are going to talk about the best indie games – or the most popular ones – from Brazil, Latin America and the World.

Foxhole

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First game on the list of best indie games of 2017 (players choice), according to the 2017 Indie of the Year awards from IndieDB. Foxhole is an MMO (massive multiplayer online) real time strategy game developed and distributed by Clapfoot. It’s a game where you work with many other players to shape the outcome of a persistent online war. Every player contributes with building, combat, strategy and much more.

Foxhole is available at Steam for US$ 13,99 and at HumbleBundle for $19.99.

Distortions

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Chosen best Brazilian indie game at 2017’s Big Festival (Brazil’s Independent Games Festival), according to IGN. This game is still being developed by a Brazilian company from São Paulo called Among Giants. The game is described in their official website as a “musical psychodrama” with various genres in one game, where you play as a young woman on her journey of self knowledge, exploring an open world full of memories, wonders and puzzles to be solved. The unique aspect of the game is that the only “weapon” in the game are the songs played by a violin, an instrument found by the young woman, wich will help her in her path in many different moments and ways.

The game will be available soon for PC at Steam and Windows Store for pre-order in February, 8 and for regular purchase at February, 15.

The Deadly Tower of Monsters

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Chosen best Latin American indie game at 2017’s Big Festival, according to IGN. This game was developed by “Ace Team” from Chile, the same developers behind “Rock of Ages”. The game is a science fiction, action packed adventure, with lots of good humor. The game is set in a giant tower where the player fights against various monsters in order to save the world from a tyrannical emperor.

The game is available for PS4 and PC at Steam for US$ 3.74, HumbleBundle for $14.99 USD, and Playstation Store for $14.99 USD.

Now, what to expect of 2018? There is one way to know! Check out some of the gaming events that are going to happen this year, in Brazil, Latin America and around the World.

Brazil Gaming Congress

The Brazil Gaming Congress is an event focused on the discussion of important aspects for those who wanting to enter the gaming market. Latin America is growing in the gaming industry and Brazil is up front with great projects; there has never been a greater need for information and discussion on subjects like the processes, taxation, regulations and such regarding the gaming market; and BGC 2018 will be a great opportunity to learn about them and also to meet people interesting people in this growing Latin American gaming market.

The Brazil Gaming Congress will take place in April 22-24 in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, click here to visit its official website.

Game Developers Conference 2018

Known as the biggest event for game developers of America, this international event provides the opportunity for gaming industry professionals to interact, expand their network and promote their products. It’s also perfect for developers to find publishing, distribution partners, service providers and so on. Publishers and distributors can find new games and look for projects with potential, as well as service providers and international partners. Service Providers, on the other hand, can find publishers, distributors and developers looking for services.

It’s also worth noticing that Brazil is going to play a huge role in this event; Abragames (Brazilian Association of Digital Game Developers) is going to be there with 80 entrepreneurs from 26 brazilian companies. Check Abragames’s calendar here.

This event will happen in March 19-23 in San Francisco, USA. For more information, click here to visit its official website.

The second fastest-growing game market is waiting for you. Are you ready for it?

Game developers are gamers, and gamers have become developers; nowadays, they want to develop games that they truly care about, games that are not only about selling, but giving them independence and freedom to create their own world. That’s how many independent games are born, and like birds, they fly; and they can get far if you let them.

Indie games are getting out there and conquering space amongst all kinds of devices, genres, players and places; including Latin America. Just so you know how big the game market is growing here, research (Newzoo, 2016) shows that we are the second fastest growing region in the gaming industry after Southeast Asia. We have more than 371 million gamers, with more than 110 million paying gamers having generated about $4.1 billion in 2016, on all types of gaming devices, with mobile in the frontline with a 56% year-on-year growth, consoles with 9% and PC with 6%, and this game is not over. Latin America gaming industry keeps growing and showing the world that we play to win: Abragames (the Brazilian Association of Digital Game Developers) has plenty of events scheduled for the next year to showcase upcoming Brazilian indie games projects and releases. Brazil even has its own indie-only game portal: SplitPlay which was created with the aim of selling and promoting only original Brazilian indie games.

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Source: newzoo.com

Some say we’re actually becoming a hotspot in the indie game industry, since the game industry is growing and taking big steps here. Many independent groups, full of potential and creativity are rising, and of course, small groups or individuals can grow big; we have games like Chroma Squad, Toren, Heavy Metal Machines, and much more. All those started as small projects and then ended up being awarded and mentioned in various game events all over the world.

It’s no secret the indie game market is growing (very fast) here, but I want you to notice something very important. We Latin Americans do always translate our games into English because we understand that indie games are unique and people all around the world deserve to hear our stories like we deserve to hear theirs. Indie developers need all the help they can get to fly as well as big game companies are flying; this definitely includes getting their game to reach a wider public. Translation and localization help developers to reach out to people who care about their games, and that’s what we do.

It’s frustrating when you recommend a game to a friend and they get disappointed by the fact that the game is not available in Portuguese or Spanish. Most of gamers only have a basic command of English, so, many times they get the hype for a nice indie game, they want to play it, but they keep craving and waiting for a translation. If a translation never comes, they end up playing games that do not require reading or happily play those games that were translated into their native language. Every player who cannot get a game in his or her mother language is a missed opportunity for an indie developer to grow.

So now you know: keep an eye opened to Latin American gamers, because we not only want you to play our games: we want to play yours! We are waiting for your game to be translated so we can appreciate it to the fullest.

Cinco jogos novos para consoles velhos

Se você tem um console antigo que conserva com carinho, talvez volta e meia ainda jogue algum daqueles clássicos que alegraram a sua infância e adolescência. Mas o que talvez você não saiba é que nem só de colecionismo e emulação vive a comunidade retrô. Neste exato momento, estúdios e desenvolvedores apaixonados por nossos velhos consoles estão desenvolvendo jogos novinhos em folha para eles. Esta é uma lista de quatro incríveis exemplos que vão desaposentar seus velhos amigos:

Unholy Night (SNES, FoxBat)

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Produzido pela Foxbat em parceria com a Nu-Gaia e a Blazepro, a equipe de desenvolvimento deste jogo é formada por ex-membros da SNK que já trabalharam em títulos como Art of Fighting e Samurai Shodown. Este jogo de luta 2D explora a temática de vampiros e lobisomens e será lançado em um cartucho de 32 Megabit.

O protótipo do jogo conta com 6 personagens jogáveis: Blaze, Reinhardt, Emily, Cronos, Wurzel e Nightmare. É possível ver mais imagens sobre o jogo no site oficial da Foxbat (www.foxbat.co.jp), que infelizmente não tem tradução em inglês.

Paprium (Mega Drive, WaterMelon Games)

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Desenvolvido pela WaterMelon Games, do igualmente nostálgico Pier Solar (Mega Drive, 2010), este jogo do gênero briga de rua apresenta excelentes gráficos 16-bit rodando em 60fps, mais de 24 níveis e 5 personagens jogáveis e modo para dois jogadores. O jogo está disponível para compra antecipada e será distribuído em cartucho (imagino se será disponível com o novo Megão da Tec Toy).

Como se não bastasse, na página oficial do jogo (paprium.com) você ainda poderá adquirir o controle Grandstick III, no melhor estilo fliperama, compatível com o Mega Drive e com dispositivos de porta USB.

Intrepid Izzy (Dreamcast, Senile Team)

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Outra produção da Senile Team (senileteam.com) para você jogar no Dreamcast, ainda há pouca informação disponível sobre este jogo. Mas uma coisa é certa: Intrepid Izzy será um jogo de plataformas com lindos gráficos 2D e animações fluídas. O jogo está captando financiamento coletivo no Kickstarter e, contribuindo com 30 euros ou mais, você receberá uma cópia física do jogo em CD Dreamcast.

The Sword of Ianna (ZX Spectrum 128K e MSX-2, Retroworks)

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Esta joia do estúdio espanhol Retroworks é o seu mais recente título para ZX Spectrum, também disponível para MSX-2. O título apresenta elementos de plataforma, aventura e RPG. Nele, você controlará Jarkum, o último herdeiro e detentor da lendária espada de Ianna, e deverá repetir o feito de seu heroico ancestral Tukaram: derrotar o Senhor do Caos e seus acólitos. O jogo já está disponível para baixar totalmente de graça na sua página oficial.

Full Quiet (NES, Retrotainment)

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Achou que o seu Nintendinho ia ficar de fora? Full Quiet ainda é um mistério para todos nós, mas os desenvolvedores da Retrotainment asseguram que o jogo explorará novas mecânicas de jogo, apresentará controles bem polidos e cenários que exploraram toda a capacidade do console. Tudo indica que haverá passagem de tempo (manhã, tarde, noite) e o mundo será bastante grande e aberto à exploração em sentido tanto horizontal como vertical. Além disso, o jogo também explorará o cenário em profundidade para tentar criar uma experiência 3D única no NES. O jogo deverá estar disponível tanto na Steam como na loja oficial dos desenvolvedores.