Indie Gamer Chick posted an excellent article awhile back asking developers what Xbox Live Indie Games meant to them. I sent in a response I’d like to share here as well:
XBLIG gave me the tools to take my first baby steps into making my childhood dreams of becoming a game developer a reality. It helped me liberate an idea out of my head and onto a digital canvas that I wanted to share with the world. It spoiled me with its excellent XNA framework, a low-cost of entry, and most importantly, access to a close-knit community of supportive developers and gamers. Working on Pixel Blocked! was one of the most fun and stressful times in my life, and I’d like nothing more than to be able to do it all over again.
Read what other developers wrote here.
Every once in awhile I like to go check out the latest indie games that are released. I’ll download several trials all at once and try them out one by one, analyzing each of them. It’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon. One particular game I came across and purchased is Sketchy Tower Defense. I’m definitely not new to the tower defense genre, games I’ve played or own include: Defense Grid: The Awakening, Ninja Town and Plants VS Zombies. However, even as an indie game, Sketchy Tower Defense still manages to feel fresh and unique with some small but innovative additions to the genre that I haven’t seen before.
It’s a little rough around the edges in terms of performance, UI and controls, but it definitely makes up for it in terms of gameplay and fun. It has an appealing art style and allows you to build towers anywhere, which lead to some very creative tower placements. The two things I think Sketchy Tower Defense does very well that add to the genre are it’s PVP and Co-op modes.
In PVP, each player gets their own land and faces off against the same waves of enemies. The goal is simply to live longer than you opponent. It’s an amazingly addictive mode as you get to see and compare how your opponent thinks, the tower choices they make and the placement of their towers. It’ll keep you coming back for more as you adjust your strategy each round or try new things to see who can out live the other. I personally paid 800MSP for Defense Grid and it didn’t have a mode like this. Ninja Town has a PVP mode but it’s hard to find other people with another copy of the game. Plants VS Zombies has as a PVP mode which has one player controlling the Plants and the other controlling the Zombies but it currently retails at 1200MSP on XBLA. Sketchy Tower Defense on the other hand is 80MSP (roughly a dollar). It’s worth it simply for the PVP.
The co-op experience is also handled really well. One particular aspect I enjoyed was that money collected is split evenly between both players regardless of who collected it, which is unlike Plants VS Zombies where the player who collects the sunlight keeps it to themselves. Additionally because towers can be placed anywhere, it adds a deeper level of co-operation between players as you both try to design and converge paths for the various waves of enemies.