178: The (Free) Spirit of Christmas

The (Free) Spirit of Christmas

Empty wallet weighing you down this holiday season? Nathan Meunier recommends a handful of indie gems that won't break the bank.

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Indeed nice point made, for this is a crisis (the real one, not the game) year. In fact, indie game development is getting better each year and now we can surely have fun and not spend money in high-profile-heavily-marketed games.
I first got contact with indie games the year I spend abroad, with a laptop, a ultrafast college connection and one month of nothing to do during summertime vacation. What was certain boredom in one moment, turned out to be a new different world to try and please all those gaming tastes of mine.

For those who want a fast paced online FPS my suggestion is Nexuiz, a quake-like deathmatch game that won't make you disappointed. There are several servers to play online and the bots for single-playing present a nice challenge. It's open-source, has plenty of different maps and it's free!

For those interested in some Tron-like light-cycle arena (just to remember the old movie, or to get the feel of the upcoming TR2N) there are two great options: Armagetron and GLTron. Both are underdevelopment games but they can be quite funny to play, especially if you had such pink sweet memories of the flick like I do.

For those into puzzle-solving adventure games, well ask Mr. Yahtzee, he wrote some really good ones, but not only him. He used the Adventure Game Studio and you can go look for every adventure ever made with this tool in the section AGS Games.

Pilot, if space sim is your thing then you must get into the cockpit of a Vega Strike ship and do what WC:Privateer wanted us to do. In fact, you can enjoy some good old Privateer action in this fine remake that uses the Vegastrike engine. If you are more like a linear player, then there's the classical Freespace 2 gone open called Freespace Source Code Project, with plenty of new missions to keep you ready for the next Shivan encounter.

For those who think the space is too far, far way, there are flight sim fun for you. For those who enjoy a commercial flight there's Flight Gear, if you want some action them I'll let this blog do the talk.

Strategy is quite well represented in this indie universe. Turn-based madness, knights, liches, mages, orcs and dragons all fight each other in the Battle for Wesnoth, acclaimed for it's impressive balance and quality. Worth a shot and worst than heroine addiction.

The best part of most of these games is: you can help improve the game, either translating it, making adjustments, providing new artwork or new missions.

These are just a sample of what you can get by not paying anything. Look around for more, this surely is the tip of a huge iceberg.

Cheers

Two more for the list:

World of Goo: Physics puzzler.

Spectromancer: Collectible-card-game style of play, very similar to a simplified Magic: the Gathering (in fact, Richard Garfield is on the design team).

These are both available as free demos, with options to buy the full version. However, there's a lot of time to be wasted just on the free versions. Spectromancer even offers free online multiplayer for full *and* demos users.

Jagyr Ebonwood:
Two more for the list:

World of Goo: Physics puzzler.

Is not free, but cheap and awesome!

Thanks for sharing other indie goodies. There are a ton of excellent free games out there.

If you're into physics puzzle games, try out Magic Pen. It's a more complete version of a similar game, Crayon Physics, where you draw shapes to move a ball and pickup flags.

There's also Fantastic Contraption, if you feel like building mechanisms and machines to do your bidding. Build in the blue zone to get the red blocks to the red zone. Sound simple? It can be devilishly difficult. If you feel like tossing in a few bucks, you can even create your own levels to share with others and challenge levels made by other players. Guaranteed to keep you busy for weeks!

Anybody else know of any free/cheap indie physics games?

I'm saddened that Pandemic 2 didn't make your list. This one's particularly fun when it breaks out around an office and coworkers start naming their diseases after each other. Productivity? What's that?

Ooo, ooo!

AGD Interactive's remake of Quest for Glory 2 is both free and a beautiful remake of the original that will run in Vista easily.

http://www.agdinteractive.com/homepage/homepage.html

For a great 2-D Metroidvania experience, Iji is a blast to play with some interesting level up mechanics,

http://www.remar.se/daniel/iji.php

missing the ye-ole-Civ2? No sweat! There's FreeCiv for you!

Also in development, there are another flavours of TBS games, like a Colonization-look-alike (FreeCol) and a Master of Orion-look-alike (FreeOrion). Both are still in early betas but some good things may come out of it, like the interest in the FreeCol team to reproduce more accurately the real deal with the colonization process, by including the Portuguese and probably a slavery system as part of the game*.

The only poor field in open source free games is on the RTS, we have two good games, but in need of some nice treatment to improve. For those who want to go medieval on the computer, there's Glest. For those who developed a vice in C&C i recommend the Warzone 2100

Cheers

*Not saying that slavery was good, but pointing that historical accuracy can help us better understand the past and comprehend historical processes that later where responsible for social injustices and racist behavior.

The fact that I've played all but two of these makes me wonder what I've been doing playing all these flash games.

ReverseEngineered:
Anybody else know of any free/cheap indie physics games?

If you're seriously into physics games, it's worth trying Incredibots (http://incredibots.com/)

Moderately harsh learning curve, but very nicely done and you can have hours of fun messing about with it.

What about Tale of Tales?
Their stuff is some of the most artistic games ever.
More importantly, I find The Endless Forest to be just as entertaining, if not more than, many of those games... And since the deer can fly, isn't it perfect for the season?

Also, where on Earth is Nethack? One of the most peculiar games made, in my opinion. Free, fun, and...
I just got killed by a cursed amulet of strangulation.

Incredibots is a bot overcomplex sometimes, but a good game for any puzzle physics addict nonetheless.

Whoops didn't see the post before me on Incredibots...

Dom Camus:

ReverseEngineered:
Anybody else know of any free/cheap indie physics games?

If you're seriously into physics games, it's worth trying Incredibots (http://incredibots.com/)

Moderately harsh learning curve, but very nicely done and you can have hours of fun messing about with it.

You sir owe my employer one person-week of lost productivity. :D

It definitely has a lot more depth than most "build stuff" physics games. I'm an electrical engineer, so I'm comfortable enough with the complicated controls, but I can see how most would find it a steep learning curve. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable game that is giving me a lot more challenge than most physics games I've tried.

SimuLord:
I'm saddened that Pandemic 2 didn't make your list. This one's particularly fun when it breaks out around an office and coworkers start naming their diseases after each other. Productivity? What's that?

I'd never heard of that one before. Talk about challenging! I'll be damned if I can get anything into Argentina and Madagascar.

I don't tend to play many free Flash games, but when the source-code to the game is freely available, my interest spikes up - I just like playing cross-platform without having to go onto the ARPANET to play. While many of the great successes in open-source computer gaming have been re-releases of old commercial games, including the ScummVM project and the GPL licensing of the Doom and Quake engines, but games like Battle for Wesnoth, FreeCiv, Oolite and Nethack prove that the community can create some very fine games of their own accord.

Indeed, for indie games, I'd argue that the open-source approach represents a great direction to turn to. Most of the problems with engine programming would disappear as they re-used code which proved itself able to cope with the rigors of commercial games, and they could spend more time on the gameplay aspect. Flash may be a nicer programming platform than the C++-based engines of most commercial computer games, but it's also very limited. A pre-programmed game engine, anywhere from the 2D Allegro to the 3D id Tech engines, would give programmers more room to play with.

Slightly overdue, but Dwarf Fortress deserves to be on the list of good indie games, If only for the depths to which it goes to model a functional world.
That and the fanbase. Nowhere else can you go and discuss the fluid dynamics and pipe manufacturing logistics required to dump a thousand litres of magma onto innocently, peacefully trading elves.

Task:
Slightly overdue, but Dwarf Fortress deserves to be on the list of good indie games, If only for the depths to which it goes to model a functional world.
That and the fanbase. Nowhere else can you go and discuss the fluid dynamics and pipe manufacturing logistics required to dump a thousand litres of magma onto innocently, peacefully trading elves.

"Peaceful?" They're dick heads.

 

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