Burly Men at Sea offers up a whimsical world where players shape the narrative not just through their choices, but where they point the camera. It’s a beautiful game with a Scandinavian-inspired storybook aesthetic and high degree of replayability. Indie Fund is pleased to play a part in helping this game (and story!) come to life.
Burly Men at Sea is the second “quiet adventure” from Brooke and David Condolera of Brain&Brain. The wife and husband team already won critical acclaim for their first attempt, Doggins, but the introduction of a widely branching storyline and unique control scheme where players move the game’s viewport rather than characters within it, make Burly Men at Sea even more ambitious. Not unlike the wandering bearded brothers that star in the game, Brain&Brain kept costs low during development by living and working on farms across America through WWOOF.
“I first met Brooke and David in person when they were showing Burly Men At Sea at the Indie Mini Booth at PAX Prime — they are really a charming team and have a wonderful way of telling stories with games in a way I don’t see very often”, said Aaron Isaksen, one of the Indie Fund partners.
Burly Men at Sea is coming to PC and iOS later this year, and is 20% off on pre-order in the Humble Store. You can learn more about the game by charting a course to their site, or following Brain&Brain on twitter.
Alone in the dark, isolated, surrounded by old gritty tech that can only give you a partial picture about what’s going on around you – a motion sensor that goes off, but doesn’t tell you exactly what’s out there. Duskers, launching today on Steam Early Access, is a deep dive into the feeling of complete dependence on technology in a (somewhat) fictional era in which tech can limit you almost as much as it empowers.
Developed by Misfits Attic (a studio led by Tim Keenan, who also made A Virus Named TOM), Duskers is a game in which you pilot drones into derelict spaceships to find the means to survive and piece together how the universe became a giant graveyard.You are a drone operator, surrounded by technology that acts as your only eyes and ears to the outside world. What you hear comes through a remote microphone. What you see is how each drone sees the world. Motion sensors tell you something’s out there, but not what. And when you issue commands, you do it through a command line interface.
Cliff Harris, head of Positech Games and Indie Fund investor says, “The minute I read the pitch for Duskers I knew it was a game I was going to love, before I even saw a screenshot. As someone who grew up with the Aliens movies, the idea of replicating that claustrophobic ‘can’t see whats going on’ feeling in a game really appealed to me. And for once there would be a tense action/strategy game where my ability to type fast might actually give me an advantage. Misfits Attic have done an amazing job in producing an innovative game that has tension and
atmosphere, as well as a truly original art style.”
Intrigued as much as we are? You can check out Duskers starting today on Steam Early Access (Windows to start, Mac and Linux coming shortly).
We’ve got some exciting news to announce about the future of Indie Fund. We have restructured how the fund is organized, which allowed us to add more investing partners.
This means more ways to contact us, more brains to pick, more available funds, and hopefully more games! We’ve funded a couple games under this new model, and we are proud to announce the new expanded Indie Fund is now funding Armello, due to launch later this year. First, a little bit about Armello and why we funded it, and then we’ll explain some of the changes at Indie Fund.
Armello is a procedurally generated, turn-based strategy game where one to four players vie for the throne of a mad king through loyalty, hostility, or treachery. It combines the best elements of card and board games with the capabilities of digital platforms for an experience that’s simple to start but deeply complex and replayable. While stories within individual sessions will differ, Armello is set in a rich and beautiful world reminiscent of Game of Thrones- were the warring houses of Westeros replaced by clans of woodland creatures.
“Armello is both extremely pleasing to the eye and crammed full of creamy gameplay goodness; it somehow manages to feel simultaneously familiar and innovative. This is the kind of game that makes people willingly sink a huge amount of time and I’m excited to contribute to it as our first investment via Indie Fund,” said Paul Kilduff-Taylor of Mode7 Games, the team behind acclaimed strategy game Frozen Cortex and one of the latest developers to join Indie Fund.
More details about the new Indie Fund:
The original 7 partners started Indie Fund in 2010 with the goal to support the growth of games as a medium by helping independent developers get and stay financially independent. We’ve helped fund over 30 great independent games, and almost all of them have met our internal success benchmark in that they allowed their developers to self fund their next game from the revenue of the game we funded.
However, after doing anything for 5 years, life changes — kids arrive, people start new projects, games come and go — and we started to feel like we needed to change the way the fund operated. Fortunately, many more independent developers have had their own success in the last five years, and have now come on to help out.
Last year we started partnering with individual investors outside of the fund with good results. More people got to participate, which meant developers had access to more capital, ideas and advice. With this more ad-hoc model, investors could vary the amount they wanted to put into each game, allowing more flexibility depending on life changes, interest in the specific projects, and how much money is available. Games like Future Unfolding, Duskers, and now Armello have been funded with this more flexible model.
Internal structure aside, all the fundamentals behind the fund, including our investment terms, will remain the same. We will continue to be selective about the projects we fund, be transparent about our work, and judge our own success by the success of the developers we fund.
We’re now fully adopting this model, and Indie Fund will be managed by a much larger group of investors moving forward. We’re especially pleased that some of the new partners are developers we’ve funded that are now looking to invest in the next generation of developers. We have a list of current partners, along with our updated guidelines on how to apply.
Fans of crime stories that blur the line between fiction and reality rejoice! Sam Barlow’s Her Story is now being supported by the Indie Fund. A game about reopening a cold case set within a lovingly-crafted period interface, no other game has focused so unforgivingly on the words of a single “NPC.” It’s a game that rewards a certain kind of detective work on the part of the player, the type of work that we don’t often see on the screens of popular drama. Through careful listening, cross-reference, and archiving, you’ll begin to forge a version of the truth that others have failed to see.
It’s a bit like watching a TV show where the scenes are connected by your own ingenuity and logic rather than the dramatic missteps of others. Yet Her Story also forces the player to question their excitement for the cold dissection of an alien subjectivity—here played with nuanced desperation by Barlow’s friend and collaborator Viva Seifert.
Indie Fund partner Ron Carmel describes his experience: “Her Story came across like a nostalgic toy to me, at first. I remember that CRT glare and those ASCII UIs that tried to look like Windows 3.0. But as I watched more videos, I was drawn in not only by wanting to understand the unfolding story, but by the detail and craftsmanship of the game. The acting is convincing and reinforces the constructed reality, and with costume changes and time codes in the videos there were multiple layers to pay attention to in guiding my investigation. Before I knew it I had an actual pen in my hand and was taking notes on the back of an envelope that was laying around on my desk.”
Barlow is best known for his role as the lead designer and writer of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, a complete reimagining of the series that stands as one of the great Wii games. Prior to his time in AAA development, Sam invented a unique subgenre of interactive fiction with 1999’s Aisle; it’s a game that only lets you make one move—think of it as The Garden of Forking Paths for grocery shopping. His passion for exploring the many possibilities of nonlinear storytelling has paid off, and in March Her Story was honored as one of the Leftfield Collection at EGX Rezzed.
So congratulate Sam on entering the home stretch in his development process! Her Story is launching simultaneously for iOS and PC/Mac in June of this year. If you’d like to read Sam’s thoughts on interactivity and narrative, check out his articles on the Her Story blog (the piece about FMV games and the crucial domesticity of early video is especially good). Otherwise, follow him on Twitter for news and musings on the project.