I was actually at the Roller Derby just last week and saw the Harbor Hellcats take on the Lake Tahoe Derby Dames so I guess it’s fitting that the latest virtual trading card is Fist Puncher’s own derby girl, Hella Fistgerald. And for those wondering, Warrant did not play at half-time and there was no crocodile pit used during over-time ties. The Roller Derby sure has changed since I was 12.
It’s official. Fist Puncher is in the mix at the 14th annual IGF this Spring in San Francisco. Visit
the Fist Puncher IGF page for more details. This year’s competition will include nearly 570 games! If nothing else, the indie scene is bursting at the seams. Congrats in advance to everyone else who put in those long, seemingly endless hours to get their game submitted before the deadline. Check out www.McFunkypants.com for a complete rundown of all 568 IGF games with thumbnails.
Let’s go back in time for a minute, way back in time. The first video game I can remember ‘making’ was a slot machine simulator on a Texas Instruments TI-994A computer. I put ‘making’ in quotes because I think I copied the BASIC code out of the instruction manual. Still, it was a great feeling seeing those cherries get drawn on our black and white tv because I had taken the time to do the data entry that would make it happen.
Through the years I made, or attempted to make, countless games on my own. JM Invaders, Trojan Horse (honorable mention at the East Troy middle school science fair), monochrome Batman, a Tetris clone, and international tennis with player names that sounded suspiciously like Boris Becker and Michael Chang. After high school I got away from making games, I moved to California and decided there were better ways to spend my time.
About five years ago I felt the urge to transition from making electronic music to a more mature artistic pursuit. I found all these free tools to make video games, and fell in love with rudimentary computer animations all over again. Whether or not video games were a more mature outlet or a step back towards my youth, I invested seemingly endless hours with AGS and Gamemaker trying to create games that matched the tone of my Ableton mixes.
Being a bit of a hermit, I had no idea the indie games phenomenon was exploding all around me. I stumbled upon XNA and started working on an Xbox Live Indie Game to focus my efforts. An internet search one night introduced me to the Independent Games Festival (IGF). Living in the Santa Cruz mountains, I couldn’t believe my good fortune to find such a prestigious indie game event was taking place in my own backyard. I slicked my hair back, combed my beard and took a day off work to experience the GDC floor and the IGF.
9 months later Fist Puncher has been submitted to the IGF, the first attempt at competing with the most talented competetion the world of indie games can offer. Limbo, Castle Crashers, Octodad, BITTRIP.RUNNER, Monaco, Bastion, Retro City Rampage, World of Goo… I could go on and on with the amazing titles that the IGF has honored over the years. This year the storylines range from Fez to Pirate Kart to Twitter flame wars. For us, Fist Puncher is the story. I pushed myself right up to the midnight 10/17 deadline and uploaded the best game I could. Win or lose, nothing could be more exhilarating than entering and competing with the best. Thanks IGF!
Marketing. It’s easily one of the hardest things about being an indie. Making a unique, original, fun game is one thing, but actually getting people to play it is another. Like many, we’ve started the process of establishing an online Team2Bit presence through all the standard channels (website, twitter, facebook, youtube). So you sit back and twiddle every day, but what next? I suppose that’s where you need to be a little creative. This past weekend at IndieCade we made our first pass at guerilla marketing, covertly stashing Fist Puncher trading cards strategically around conference sites (maybe “randomly” is more accurate). Maybe next we’ll make Fist Puncher cupcakes.
A few months ago I played Kung-Fu Fight on XBLIG for the first time and immediately thought, “I want to make a game like that!” I have no problem confessing to my source of inspiration – I loved the simplicity, loved the gameplay, loved the look, but most importantly I was really turned on by the idea of a continuous scrolling platformer. Now this idea isn’t new. A game like Moon Patrol is almost 30 years old and is one of the pioneers in the genre. SMB3 was famous for its continuous scrolling levels. So I began tinkering with graphics and ideas in both Flash and XNA trying to come up with the right look, theme, and gameplay. However, this past weekend’s IndieCade left me feeling a tad hesitant. After seeing talks by people like Gaijin Games and Adam Saltsman, I started worrying that perhaps there are already too many indie powerhouses in this genre (games like Canabalt and BIT.TRIP RUNNER). When is a genre played? When do you move on? I really don’t have an answer. I guess for me, I just want to make the kind of game that *I* want to make regardless of what else is out there. Anyway, T2B did some brainstorming and we have a list of ideas that could potentially put a new spin on the genre so we’ll see… Heck, if Pac-Man would have been the last of the maze games, then we’d never have seen K.C. Munchkin. Wait… that argument doesn’t sound right.
[Below: Kung-Fu Fight, Moon Patrol, Canabalt, BIT.TRIP RUNNER]
We’re back from IndieCade, and a bit of the Monday gloom is starting to sink in (like many indie devs we have day jobs). Nonetheless, I’m hoping I can feed off of the IndieCade inspiration for as long as possible. As first time attendees, the chance to just be around other people who have similar aspirations is pretty incredible. There was too much great content to mention it all, but I thought the Richard LeMarchand, Steve Swink, and Adam Saltsman talks were particularly notable. As for games, I didn’t get to play them all, but here are a few that left a lasting impression: Deepak Fights Robots, Fez, PewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewPew, Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure, The Witch (bummed that I didn’t get to meet the developer), BasketBelle (never managed to even play it but loved the visuals), The Bridge (incredible art), Skulls of the Shogun, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. Anyway, thanks to everyone who made IndieCade possible and we’ll see everyone again next year.
Heading down to Indiecade in a couple days, but we had just enough time to wrap up the new Fist Puncher trailer starring Dr. Karate, everyone’s favorite brain surgeon/martial artist. We’re hoping to release some more character-driven trailers over the next few weeks so stay tuned.
In case anyone missed it, here’s the first Fist Puncher trailer. Enjoy.