Indie Game: The Movie

Although shown locally at the Brattle Theatre, I watched Indie Game: The Movie on Netflix.  It really doesn’t feel like 6 months have gone by between each event.  Wow.  Anyway it is a great movie, and sums up a lot of the feel of the development environment of the Boston indie scene.

However, the movie paints an unrealistic portrait of indie game developers by focusing on just a handful.  In a way this is a really bad guide for people on the periphery (like myself).  It paints developers as Maniacs… In the truest sense of the word. High Highs and low lows. Almost the manic depressives of the design world. Stressing out about things which are super important, but ultimately out of their hands.

Also the movie focuses on a couple of producers that made it big.  Which is a rare thing.  There are plenty of ways to be happy in indie games without smashing success. Jonathan blows Braid best represents a guy in the industry that took a long time and did things a little more methodically.  But his success is also an outlier.

What about those of us that are willing to slowly work our way into the industry, because we love it. Those of us who are ok taking it slow. I feel like a middle of the road kind of guy. And indie game the movie is telling me that I have to be on the extreme end of life. I have to be committed to one pursuit and one pursuit only. Can’t have a life, can’t be a well rounded person who enjoys more than just an indie game.  That kind of slow burning passion, which supports the maniacs, is under represented.

The movie says only certain kinds of people make it in the industry and I think that’s a bad message to send to the vast majority of people looking to become game developers.  Where is the rest of the story?

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Orcs must Die!

And they are!  By the thousands!

Orcs Must Die! is a great game!  Fun and entertaining in both a mindless and thought provoking way.  You can play by carefully considering the placement of each trap.  You can develop complex mazes of interlocking orcish death…  Or you can plop down a bunch of traps and watch the orcs die!  Toss them around with spells and magic.  Sow chaos among their ranks…  Getting a bit carried away there.

From a development perspective it is a great example of a game with a straightforward design idea.  You place traps on a map, orcs run at you, they die.  Pretty simple scope with lots of nice additions to make them die in different ways.  The background story is mostly filled with tongue in cheek humor which stems not from the world, but rather from the protagonists personality. He is somewhat of a ‘loose cannon’.  Setting a humorous character in a serious world is a great way to inject humor into a grim fantasy setting without jumping the shark.

Perhaps it’s because I am a big fan of Dungeon Keeper II, but every game tends to get viewed in that light.  Robot Entertainment grabbed one aspect of DK II (the traps) and made a new really fun game from it.  Maybe they were playing DK II and really loved setting up complex traps, and decided to do just that.  It’s a great example of a small (ish) scope implemented really well, with some nice touches.

FPTD; first person tower defense.  Although not a completely new genre of game, OMD! is going to be a classic example of a well executed FPTD for a long time to come.  Other developers, and hopefully Robot Entertaiment, are going to look back to this game for an example of doing things simply and doing them right.  Hopefully it catches on with other game designers as well.

If you want more OMD!  goodness head over to the Core Elements Podcast #12.  Justin Korthof from Robot Entertainment talks about the slaying of orcs and community management.  The Orcs Must Die DLC is on sale for $1.99 over on Steam.  Two new traps and two new artifacts doesn’t initially sound like too much.  Trust me it has really changed the game and is completely worth the price.  The DLC is so worth it that I’ve added a new favorite strategy to the list.  Who wants more traps?  I do!  I do!

Favorite Trap Combo (List of Weapons):

At the moment my favorite trap combo is the Tar Trap + Swinging Mace combo.  Put a Swinging Mace on a ceiling, and line the floor below it with tar traps.  Initially I didn’t even think of this combination but found a review somewhere (which I cannot find again).  It’s obvious, and late game only, however very effective.   Particularly if you can squeeze more than one Swinging Mace into a ceiling.  1500 Coins for the Mace + (400 x3) 1200 for the Tar Traps makes this combo expensive.  But again VERY EFFECTIVE!  This trap can be enhanced by creating a little hallway with barriers that forces orcs to walk very slowly through the mace.  Great gibs!

Coin Vault + Floor Scorcher (DLC)

This needs a lot of terrain to work well.  Place a coin vault and then surround it as best as possible with Floor Scorchers pointed in to the vault.  With enough space you can surround one Coin Vault with 12 Floor Scorchers.  If you buy the upgrade that increases coin output by 66% from the Trap Weaver, you can afford the set up easily.  Even with smaller amounts of space, such as a hallway, a Coin Vault with 6 Floor Scorchers can still be effective.  Early stage set down the coin vault, then a row to three Floor Scorchers.  Use the Wind Belt to keep mobs on the Coin Vault.  Buy the Traps Reset Faster before the waves start to overwhelm you…  Or just add another row of Scorchers.

Right from the start the Barricade and the Tar Trap have made it to my inventory in every level.  Generally the Archer makes it in.  There are many levels where there are no convenient choke points, and the barricades are necessary to make them.  I love to make orcs weave through barricad created hallways of death.  Fill those hallways with the Brimstone and Grinders.

This post seems to get new information every few days.  So check back for more tips, strategies and combos as I find or learn them.  Any questions about the game?  Post below.  Also there appears to be a few posts on Reddit under OrcsMustDie.